Memory and Home

Spring brings the momentum of rituals: Mother’s Day and Father’s Day,  First Communions, graduations, weddings and engagements.  Like every tentative budding plant, there is the wonder of expectation and promise.  Moments glide by with predictable angst and emotion and celebration and then they are somehow confined to memory in tidy photos and posts.  Some are shelved; others become vibrant realities, genuine turning points.  Some simply burn out,  and there are the ones that are recast by owners, reshaped to fit shifting realities and norms.  Most invite some reflection now and then.

There is a certain pagentry to it all, the parade of a person’s life, that allows for conscious choice to be significant as memories are made, recalled and explored again later.  The process gives meaning to the journey, evokes questions and sometimes provides answers that matter.  Sometimes it unravels mystery to meaning, and sometimes it invites mindfulness of the mysteries that surround us.

Today, standing beneath a blue sky and then within a softly  lit chapel, the process became clear again. There was stained glass with its flow inviting vision, and there were the decidedly simpler Stations of the Cross, pegged unobtrusively to the walls in monochromatic brown, earth tones.  Somehow, looking at what is so very familiar can be so very revealing….each mirrored the process of remembering.

One captured the scalding pain that life can produce, the bitter brutality and the inescapable cruelty.  The other celebrated the other side of it all: the dynamic and colorful threads that weave life together, the moments that easier to live and somehow help surviving through the other side.  Both, amazingly, offer tender reminders that none of this human landscape is navigated in isolation; wherever I am, someone has been before me.  I am never completely alone.  There is always another if only I have the courage to see who has gone before me.  The context may be different, but the human journey remains essentially the same over centuries and generations, cultures and ethnicities.

There is some whisper of wisdom in that awareness, some comfort and compassion, the kind that sustains and motivates and invites to more.  There is that common denominator that somehow defies differences and enables possibilities.  But that would be the same awakening of spring after the weight of winter, the same sense of new beginnings and rebirth and hope.   And that can be discovered in very heart and  home.









occasion of grace

Things happen. Perspective matters. Choices are made.  Civility counts. Recognizing the validity of divergent views does not necessarily alter personal ones, but it can inform and assist and deepen the opportunities for understanding and moving forward.  In a whirlwind world of news and information, of reports contrary to expectations or hopes and the constant charges of fake news, discovering what we value may be more important than ever.  Because it is only then that it is possible to navigate these turbulent waters and discover the many occasions of grace.

Grace is an elusive concept but a pervasive experience, if recognized, named and known.  Grace is the splash of the divine in the flood of mediocre.  Grace is the gift of awareness of God’s presence in the most mundane of circumstances.  It is the assurance that in a world populated by luminaries and stars, the anonymous are beloved as well, that daily experiences have meaning and purpose, and the depth of what it means to be human is available to each of us.  Grace is the moment of revelation that saves and salves, decontaminates and deescalates, invites and enthralling.  Grace is gift and it knows as many incarnations as human experiences generates.

The grace of the shepherd is fidelity to mission as well as to the sheep, to see and grasp the broad perspective and know the joy and singularity of the narrower one.  Grace is the sense that God can be present in every moment with even the most tentative of overtures.  For the shepherd, the disposition towards goodness, balance, solidarity all speak.  And for the sheep, protection and comfort are paramount.

Grace is finding an absence of privilege, a simplicity of being who we are flawed and yet unblemished, and somehow accepting of the mystery of all that.  Grace flows when we can get out of our own way, step past ego and welcome humility.  It is born in a thousand points of light and does not subside in darkness.  Grace is the sliver of divine light that animates a broken world and offers something so much greater than self.

Grace emanates from the divine and is transmitted through the human.  It is fuel of compassion and the strength of initiative.  It is the impulse towards goodness and the catalyst for initiative.  It is here when things happen, when suffering is reborn again in injustice, imperfection, and inequality.  It is what moves each one towards becoming the hands and heart of Chrost in those situations.

Things do happen.  Bad things.  Perspectives and potions are taken.  Choices are made.  And always, there is the chance for the moments to become “an occasion of grace.”


The chapel is quiet, silent.  A single candle burns in the sanctuary, and on the altar sits the cross-shaped monstrance, its gold glittering in morning light.  There is frame centered at the intersection of vertical and horizontal.  Somehow, attention rests on what really matters: there, in that center, is the Eucharist.  And kneeling there, spread among the pews, are believers, each in silent prayer.  There is the paradox of individual and community life.   There is the possibility of comfort and hope, and there is a deep sense of belonging.

Belonging, simultaneously knowing welcome and purpose, giving and receiving, is far more than physical presence.  But in this space, in this place, there is something sacred.  And it rests in the simplicity of that center: the gift of Eucharist, the shared belief in the Presence of God in the world.

There is a tenderness to that space, to  memories evoked, to the very origin of it.  There is the Gathering of friends for Passover, the presence of friends to one another and the broken bread,  Jesus’ words: “This is my body…..”  And  so One gives to many love and caring, awareness and recognition.  And in doing that, giving that Presence, presence is invited from so many others.  Centuries have slipped past since those words were first spoken; repetition, sharing, communicating, gives new life in each generation.

And so this morning, that silent cluster of persons, knows the power of those words, the meaning of belonging to and with the moment.  Humbled and home, each one experiences Presence uniquely.

And here, prayer in all its forms has life.  Prayer confides the unbearable, comforts the confused, allows life to conscience and articulates joy and gratitude, fear and possibility. Prayer is the testimony to mystery and the path to knowledge and awareness of God.  It is intuitive for some, and structured for others.  It bears the mantras of repetition, and the depth of silence.  It is a path to discovery of self and other, a path to knowing, exploring Presence.

Presence is the gift of relationship; prayer is the path to knowing and experiencing Presence.  Theological writings steady the intellectual and give reason and rationality to the practice.  But prayer opens the door to the gift of love that is the Presence of the Eucharist.  And somewhere in the world, there is someone kneeling in a church or chapel quietly belonging to something far greater than self.



Transitions in life abound.  From the giggles of preschool to the steady structure of kindergartens, change is essential in the parcel of life.  There is movement from one stage to another: relationships, careers, locations, income, health and family.  And at times, these overlapping strengths have tsunami proportions.  Overwhelming and sometimes unpredictable, they wipe away what is familiar and comforting.  We stand alone in that moment.

WE stand alone.  The gift is not the agony of that, but the reality that others have stood here, have known the messiness as well as the beauty of transitions.  Opportunity and possibility dwell in that very moment.  Ironically,  to be alone is to be part of the “we”. And the Easter story dramatically demonstrates that.

To stand before the empty tomb as Mary Magdalene did in her search for Jesus, is to stand on the edge of that transition.  To see the skepticism of her report, to realize others cannot grasp the story is part of transition.  And then, at Emamus, to sit and realize, in the breaking of the bread, that Jesus is alive, that was transition for the apostles.  It is stransition for today as well.

Easter is not confined to a moment or to history; Easter is alive in each expereince of transition.  It holds hope and promise in the chaos of great waves of change,  and it offers the sense that there is so much more to life than what is anticipated or known.

Easter provides a pattern for living life’s transitions.  It is the promise that something greater awaits, and each of us, no matter how humble, no matter how lost or broken, belongs to that moment.  It provides the embrace that love transcends all else, and most importantly, that can be re-visited, re-learned, more deeply understood, at every phase of life.  And so the transitions continue.

It is about realizing that how transitions are lived, chosen or not, opens up new story lines.    But of course, it all requires Magdaelne’s breathless look in the tomb, that moment of discovery that things are not at all as they seem.  It requires that grappling with new realities, the hard work of deciding what to believe and proceed.

Easter is about multiple transitions, and it is about openness to the  graces of the very real challenges that present each day.  It is the promise that no transition needs to be faced alone.