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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“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.  

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Friendship

For reasons I can’t entirely explain, I recently downloaded audiobook versions of The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and A Little Life: A Novel by Hanya Yanagihara.  I had read both of these books within the last three years, so their plots and characters were still very much on my mind.  Perhaps that is why I wanted to re-read them.  

In rereading (or in my case, having the book read to me) one has the pleasure of seeing how the author is unfolding the plot and relationships.  Details that one missed the first time through are more fully understood.  Foreshadowing is more vivid.  It is as if one has gone from black and white to Technicolor.

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What kind of person does God want me to become in 2018?

NewYearsResolution1915SecondPostcardChristmas decorations tend to linger around our house until Ash Wednesday.  I’m always reluctant to sweep them away too quickly after December 25th.  After all, there are twelve days of Christmas—it’s a season not a day.  Certainly any decorations associated with the Three Kings have their place in our home through Epiphany.  

Those who know me well will tell you that once I’m done with something, I’m done with it.  Off to Goodwill go clothes I’m not wearing anymore.  Out goes leftover food that hasn’t been touched.  Half drunk glasses of water go into the dishwasher.  Time to move on.  I’m not sentimental about things in the rearview mirror.   Continue reading “What kind of person does God want me to become in 2018?”

Fanfare for the Common Man

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For the last several years my wife and I have marked the passing of one year into the next with a quiet dinner, sometimes with friends, sometimes just the two of us, followed by an 11 p.m. organ concert at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church here in New York City.  The program for the concert varies from year to year, except that the final piece is always Fanfare for the Common Man, accompanied by timpani and gongs.  

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