Faith and dying

We tend to nurse a certain naiveté about what faith means in the face of death. The common notion among us as Christians is that if someone has a genuine faith she should be able to face death without fear or doubt. The implication then of course is that having fear and doubt when one…

The frustrating struggle for humility

It’s hard to be humble, not because we don’t have more than enough deficiencies to merit humility, but rather because there’s crafty mechanism inside of us that normally doesn’t let us go to the place of humility. Simply put, as we try to be self-effacing, humble and non-hypocritical, variably we take pride in that and…

The grace within passivity

A friend of mine shares this story. She grew up with five siblings and an alcoholic father. The effect of her father’s alcoholism was devastating on her family.  Here’s how she tells the story: “By the time my father died his alcoholism had destroyed our family. None of us kids could talk to each other…

Grieving as a spiritual exercise

In a remarkable book, The Inner Voice of Love, written while he was in a deep emotional depression, Henri Nouwen shares these words: “The great challenge is living your wounds through instead of thinking them through. It is better to cry than to worry, better to feel your wounds deeply than to try to understand…

The scent of humility

According to Isaac the Syrian, a famous 7th-Century bishop and theologian, a person who’s genuinely humble gives off a certain scent that other people will sense and that even animals will pick up so that wild animals, including snakes, will fall under its spell and never harm that person. Here’s his logic: a humble person,…

On late migrations

Jesus says that if we follow him the cross, pain, will find us. That message is chronically misunderstood. Maybe we would understand it better if Jesus had worded it this way: The more sensitive you become, the more pain will seep into your life. We catch the connection then. Sensitive person suffer more deeply, just…

A lesson in aging

We live in a culture that idealises youth and marginalises the old. And, as James Hillman says, the old don’t let go easily either of the throne or the drive that took them there. I know; I’m aging. For most of my life, I’ve been able to think of myself as young. Because I was…