The Journey Backward

We talk a lot about “moving forward”—whether in a business meeting or a relationship or an aspect of personal spirituality. United States culture is generally obsessed with productivity, profit margin, and success. And we can carry that obsession into our attitude about moving forward. Progress is the key! Some of the most powerful spiritual practices, however, aid us in moving backward. The journey backward can balance our constant anxiety about going forward. What does the […]

Try Story

I love that Christianity is all about story. It is rooted in the immense narratives of the Old Testament and comes to bloom in the strange and wonderful story of Jesus. We believe that true life is not a string of truths or a complex philosophy or a system of rules and moral codes. No, our faith is best represented by a phrase such as, “In the beginning . . .” or, “There once was […]

Story Hoarder

We get donations from families of deceased hoarders occasionally at St. Vinnies. They bring in boxes and bags of everything imaginable, most of which should have been discarded decades ago. Hoarders are a trendy fixation. There are reality shows about hoarders, books about hoarders, magazine articles about them, and jokes about them. There are newspaper hoarders, food hoarders, fabric hoarders, and cat hoarders. With all the recent press about hoarding, many people are looking into […]

When Did You First Encounter the Risen Christ?

I took a long sip of my hot coffee to give me a minute to process his question. Sitting across from me was a man in his late twenties who had just asked me, “When did you first encounter the Risen Christ?” His question made me pause. Not only was I thrown off by the depth of his question within minutes of meeting each other, but I was not prepared to be the one asked this […]

Stories in Stones

I have a little bag of pebbles. They’re so attractive that I use them as visual aids for retreats and workshops. One day during a retreat in Ireland, I spread out the stones on a table. To my delight, one morning I find two of the participants poring over them, handling them as if they were diamonds, and marveling to one another. When I express my surprise, they explain that they have been missionaries in […]

Finding Dory, Finding My Grandmother

The hype has started for the release of Disney-Pixar’s new movie, Finding Dory (the sequel to Finding Nemo), and it has me thinking of my grandmother. Yes, the movie is making me really miss my grandmother, and not just because the release date happens to be the day preceding my grandmother’s birthday. Finding Nemo came out when our daughter was a toddler and when my grandmother was battling Alzheimer’s a few years before her death. […]

Thoughts about the Imagination and Narrative

Storytelling is crucial to how we as human beings make meaning of our lives. Ricoeur observed that while life is simply lived, we attempt to make meaning of life’s events only after the fact. We tell and retell, construct and reconstruct, our stories in order to develop a sense of our own and others’ identities. The Gospels are four different narratives that try to make sense of the life, suffering, and death of Jesus for […]

Catholic Storytelling

Frank Cottrell Boyce, a renowned screenwriter, writes about film and  faith on the website of the British Jesuits.  (Boyce wrote the splendid film Millions, about a boy who talks to saints.) Conventional storytelling is all about consequences, about the merciless chains of cause and effect; but the great religious stories – The Prodigal Son, for instance – are about how mercy and grace will cut you free from those chains. I believe strongly in unearned […]