a conversation with Kale

I’ve just released a podcast episode with a friend of mine, Kale Zelden, in which we have a conversation about a broad range of topics: the self-conscious church; distinctive garb and priestly identity; the church as an expert in humanity; the naked public square and moral unbelievers; self-exploitation, social media and grifters; the institutional and the charismatic; the long wait for renewal; and Catholic identity and liturgy.

looking forward with hope

Beginning this month, I’ll be releasing several episodes that I recently recorded with a longtime friend of mine, Kale Zelden, as we engage in a close reading of a letter by Pope Benedict XVI on the theme of hope. This letter, entitled Spe Salvi or “The Hope that Saves,” has several points of convergence with the work of C.S. Lewis.

being released

large-wave-capsize-boat2020 brought many changes in the world… a good deal of upset and the unveiling of many things. 2019 was like a rehearsal for me, on a personal scale.

I posted this song by Carrie Newcomer on January 1st, as my prayer for 2020. I think I chose well, in ways I could never anticipate.

May you bless the place you live,
And bless the spot you fell,
And let go of hidden stories
Too dangerous to tell.
Let there be no stones to throw,
And someone to watch your back,
And some prayers be never answered
For the things we think we lack.

May we be released;
May we be held dear.
May we listen to the wisdom
That we didn’t want to hear.
May we be released.
May we….

May you leave and walk away,
Kick the dust and shout unfair.
May we finally stop and think
Of the blame that we both share.
When you stand in gale force winds
And home a passing thought,
When the truth catches your eye
May you have the grace to stop.

May we be released;
May we be held dear.
May we listen to the wisdom
That we didn’t want to hear.
May we be released.
May we….

May you get fed up and finish
Old obsessions past their prime.
May you find the silent center
And leave all undone behind.
May there be bread and honey.
May somebody love your flaws,
Give a stranger your umbrella
And love a grateful dog.

May we be released;
May we be held dear.
May we listen to the wisdom
That we didn’t want to hear.
May we be released.
May we….

May we finally see
May we finally hear
All the perfect lies
That kept us here.
And all the skills we learned
Just to keep us whole
Be thanked for what they were
And finally let go.

May the unseen world be present
Invoked into your life.
May you have the strength to question
All the things you thought were right.
May you sense the light around
The very old and very young.
May you go ahead and quit
What you should never have begun.

May we be released;
May we be held dear.
May we listen to the wisdom
That we didn’t want to hear.
May we be released.
May we.

May We Be Released, from the album Everything is Everywhere

Christmas Eve

ski trailThis afternoon
as flakes of powder
buried the Nativity scene
in the front yard
I shovelled
a deep canyon, white
to the road.

Now dusk advances
and firelight dances back and forth
across cherry-panelled walls.
Enormous Norway branches
stretch colored constellations
across the room
above a drift of packages.

Silence is interrupted only by
the occasional shifting of glowing embers.
Looking out, I see that
my boot prints have been lost
in approaching darkness, drift and
accumulation.

Earlier today I went skiing
through the pine woods behind the slough
and through the sloping meadow.
After descending Swanson’s hill,
I paused to look behind me —
above my solitary tracks
which sliced the pale earth,
motionless pines stood alone
against the grey, snow-heralding sky.
My ears grasped for the fading song of the chickadee,
but it was gone,
and the stillness enveloped me.

I felt required to remain in the quiet,
as if the moment would last while I stood still.
But I felt my wool socks soaked with melting snow
so I decided to move,
to return to the house and
to light the fire and
to see if the mail had come.

Now night has arrived
and the fire has burnt itself grey.
The meadow is still quiet, I imagine.

I go to bed early; tomorrow will find the house busy.

from the collection Only Say the Word

advent longing

Beginning on December 17th, the Church’s ancient liturgy heralds the coming of Christ by singing the O antiphons.

December 17th: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
December 18th: O Adonai (O Lord)
December 19th: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
December 20th: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
December 21st: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
December 22nd: O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)
December 23rd: O Emmanuel (O With Us is God)

Even while nights are still lengthening, joy permeates a longing infused with hope:

“Gaude!” “Rejoice!”