I dislike online church, but that’s a good thing.

Much as I appreciate the intentions of those replacing covid-cancelled gatherings with online substitutions, I find myself unmoved by screen-time stand-ins. So many things have gone online: college courses, pub trivia nights, family reunions, dates, happy hours, book clubs, visits with grandparents, and of course, church. I honestly hope these replacements work for many people—that [...]

Fragile

In quarantine, I’m of normal mood most days; other days I tear up a lot. Part of my Plan For Wellness involves feeling my feelings. Yet some days the feelings are so knotted and complex and all-inclusive that I need help teasing them out. Music helps. At times of past sadness, I avoided music. It [...]

The Other Part of the Miracle

{First appeared in Northwest Coast Magazine, Spring 2009} The Other Part of the Miracle is the red-wingeds’ return, black birds with a revel of crimson on their shoulders, a call that sags like a drawl, like the short-long-short of their flight. March has finally come. Mind you the birds perch on cattails sprung and faded, [...]

God is in the Obstacle

There is something archaeological about moving—the artifacts of past lives and forgotten experiences we unearth, the evidence of emotional layers long since covered over. When I recently moved, I came across a 4x6” piece of paper on which I’d written in large letters, “God is in the obstacle.” The words were likely written four to [...]

The Mercy

{Excerpted from Season of Wonder by Tricia Gates Brown, 2016} “…The mystery of life in its totality is incomprehensible, and what can be understood often speaks in a language so slow that we seldom stick around long enough to hear it.” —Mark Nepo As Mark Nepo states so beautifully, what can be understood of life’s [...]

Everyday Mysticism

{The following long piece is from a book-in-progress on the subject of 'everyday mysticism.'} When I set out to attend a PhD program in Scotland—in the captivating town of St. Andrews, the stirrings of my imagination went wild. Every fantasy I’d conjured watching Jane Austen movies, or PBS’s Masterpiece, of living in a stone cottage [...]

What of Mercy?

Sunday’s lectionary reading from Luke, about Jesus healing on the Sabbath a woman afflicted with illness for eighteen years, illustrates that in the ‘Reign of God’ as Jesus taught it, mercy is to be valued over other concerns. To Jesus, the freedom of this woman ranked so far above any law, that Jesus abraded the [...]

All Done with This

Interesting what sends the past bubbling up and burning. We’re at a soaking pool one evening, my then-husband and I, steeping like leaves of jasmine. A woman enters with a baby, less than two months under his little elastic waistband. My eyes gravitate toward the infant the way my eyes gravitate to all the wrinkly [...]

Undone

Beach is a teacher. Let it undo you. Let it rattle your perceptions and discipline your senses. Observation matters, the beach tells you, wake up. Beach is how the “aum” would look if it were a land form, extending in a line that encompasses shape and non-shape, galaxies and their smallest particles, disappearing at beginning [...]

The Circle Dance

In the fourth century, Christian teachers in an area called Cappadocia came up with a term to help illuminate the concept of God as ‘trinity.’ They called the Trinity a ‘circle dance.’* A circle dance. Imagine three dancers engaged in complex choreography. They are interlocking and cooperating in all of their movements, separating only momentarily [...]

Seeing Enchantment

I sit with Brother Martin Gonzales, over sixty years a monk and reflecting on the nearness of life’s end. We are at Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey on a summer day when the perfume of magnolias stretches across the way and birds sing, as he reiterates words he likes to share: “I don’t care [...]