Marwan’s Story

Marwan and I met when I was in Jordan earlier this year visiting Syrian Refugee Camps.  He stuck out right away because he was the only male teacher amongst several dozen female teachers.  Moreover, as I watched him teach, I was struck by his energy and joy.

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After observing him teach, we had lunch together and I heard his inspiring story. I’d like to share it with you.

Continue reading “Marwan’s Story”

One billboard outside Sandusky, Ohio

Each year my wife and I attend St. Bartholomew’s three-hour Good Friday service.  Each year I wonder how on earth I will sit through three hours of music, extended periods of silent prayer, readings on the seven last words of Christ, and a homily on each.  Each year the time disappears. Continue reading “One billboard outside Sandusky, Ohio”

An Australian Parable of the Return of the Prodigal Son

Palm Sunday and Holy Week are not my favorite liturgical season.  I endure them in anticipation of Easter. And so, this year I’ve frittered away the final days of Lent and Holy Week binge-watching The Heart Guy, an Australian television series.   I have a soft spot for Australia, and Australian television programs give me the sensation of being there, if only for the duration of the show.

368px-Rembrandt_Harmensz_van_Rijn_-_Return_of_the_Prodigal_Son_-_Google_Art_ProjectThe Heart Guy isn’t brilliant television, but it’s fun and harmless.  It chronicles the misadventures of an arrogant and infallible Sydney heart surgeon, Hugh Knight.  Dr. Knight has bad boy habits involving drugs and other misbehavior that result in his surgery license being temporarily suspended.  The medical board sentences Knight to a year’s probation at a country hospital in a town called Whyhope. The aptly named Whyhope also happens to be the town where Dr. Knight grew up and where his family still lives.

Knight returns to Whyhope with his tail between his legs and quickly begins the process of re-integrating into his family and community.  Complications ensue.

At a deeper level, however, The Heart Guy is a retelling of the parable of The Prodigal Son as found in Luke 15:11-32. Continue reading “An Australian Parable of the Return of the Prodigal Son”

Sinking into Silence

0EE325D5-71E6-4199-9E41-E36950CDD34C.jpegEach year I try to spend a week in silent retreat. With my travel schedule, that can be a challenge. However, if I attach the retreat to other travel, so that I’m already away from the temptations of the office and the “to do” lists of home, I can sometimes swing it. Continue reading “Sinking into Silence”

And yet…

I try not to regret much in life.  God knows I have no cause for regret.  I’ve been abundantly blessed from birth.  Just about any white male born in the developed world starts life on at least second, if not third, base in the baseball game of life compared to the rest of humanity.  So regret is nothing but self-indulgence. And yet…silhouette-1082129_640

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And the winner is…

Several years ago our daughter talked us into hosting an Oscars night party.  We were initially reluctant.  Now it’s a thing.  

We think up a thematic menu to serve, distribute ballots to our guests, award points according to categories, and then at the end of the evening award a mini-Oscar trophy to the person who wins the most points by predicting the most winners in various categories.  

Each year I’m determined to win.  Each year I’ve failed.

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Continue reading “And the winner is…”

“The silence has been broken.”

liberiaToday I find myself in Liberia where I am learning about Episcopal Relief & Development’s work to mobilize faith leaders in the effort to end violence against women and children.  It’s innovative and impressive work (and I’m not just saying that because I’m the president).

Often, approaches to working with faith leaders “instrumentalize” them.  That is to say, it uses faith leaders to deliver messages, usually created by outsiders, around good and bad behavior.  This approach has met with modest success.

Here in Liberia we are trying a new way.  

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Fog Over the Promised Land

stock-photo-17181584-mountain-manLast Thursday afternoon, just before heading home to New York, I stood on Mount Nebo in Jordan and looked west to the Promised Land.  Mount Nebo is where Moses stood at the end of his life, having led the Israelites in the desert for forty years, and died.

Today there is a modern Catholic church built over the remains of an ancient Byzantine church on Mount Nebo.  The mosaics from the Byzantine church have been beautifully restored and are displayed as part of the modern church’s design.

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Abir and Smadar

IMG_2132A good pilgrimage leaves one with more questions than answers and this one has not disappointed.  Several evenings we were blessed to have guests come and talk with us about the current situation here in the Holy Land.  It’s hard not to be discouraged.  How does one get to a just peace?  What does that even mean?

But I did see God moving in the lives of those most heartbroken by the conflict.  It was in their brokenness that I found hope.

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“Do not be afraid…”

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Today I find myself in the Holy Land—on a pilgrimage.  This is not my first pilgrimage, nor, do I suspect, will it be my last.  Moreover, this is my 5th or 6th time visiting many of the sites on this trip.  Yet, each visit is a little different.  Each visit challenges and rewards me in unexpected ways.

This time I have the luxury and challenge of not being the group leader.  I can enter into the visit as a true pilgrim.  

What does it mean to be a pilgrim? Continue reading ““Do not be afraid…””