While we have breath

2013-09-03 11.13.17On Sunday, I preached a sermon about finding a solid foundation in this world (spoiler alert: I testify that it’s Jesus). On Tuesday (bleeding into Wednesday), I met a saint who lived it.

Paul Kalanithi

I don’t have to regurgitate his biography here, he gave his own testimony in a book recently released, When Breath Becomes Air. His story is of spending decades preparing for the future–degrees and schooling–and then finding that the future won’t happen. As he travels through stages of grief, reflecting on the investments he’d made in his 30-some years, he finds, I think, that there isn’t too much he would have done differently.  Continue reading

(another) quotation of the day, with comment: Emily Dickinson

 One who wrote unflinchingly of death, Ms. Dickinson’s poem (below) has been bouncing around in my head and heart this week.  I don’t know that I quite agree with her that we shall not use our love again until eternity, but I know the busyness of funeral-planning that often overtakes one (or an entire family), and the urge to vacuum up broken bits of heart.

The Bustle in a House

The Morning after Death
Is solemnest of industries
Enacted upon Earth –
The Sweeping up the Heart
And putting Love away
We shall not want to use again
Until Eternity –

I hope we do use that love again; even the same love I had and have for Grandpa used for his children, grandchildren, and hoped-for great-grandchildren.  I think that’s a piece of resurrection in the midst of death.  Hope in the middle of darkness.

happiness list


1. I’m alive & well!  I was in a car accident last night, and was able to walk away from it (maybe more later, maybe not).  It was an honor to wake up this morning, feed my menagerie, make a cup of tea, and sit quietly–like “normal.”

2. a section from Learning to Dream Again that I read this week, which challenged me to respond to others’ sin and shortcomings with grace–not with resentment, or with justice, or even with mercy, but with grace (more than justice & mercy–complete forgiveness and acceptance).


light through the West window at Evening Prayer this week; Trinity Cathedral, Columbia, South Carolina

3. autumn sunshine.  There’s something warm, quiet, reflective, and somehow cool at the same time, about the light this time of year.

growing in the dark

Since early this year, moss has captivated me.
In February, I went to Kanuga with the diocesan youth, and the cold ground boasted plenty of soggy, fallen branches covered in moss and lichen.

A few weeks ago, back in the mountains of Western North Carolina, I found more, and couldn’t stop taking photos.20140507-182505.jpg

I wondered why these funny little organisms had such an effect on me; it made me think about their make up.

Moss grows in the shade–when I was little, my dad taught me that if you couldn’t quite tell which way was which (cardinally-speaking), you could tell north by what side of a tree had moss growing on it.  Lots of plants and growing things prefer sun, the more the better!  But moss, with its soft, fragile, hardy growth needs some shade to thrive.  If we acknowledge and honor even the shady moments of our lives, we can grow and thrive in and through them.

20140507-182456.jpgSpeaking of hardy, there’s no better word to describe lichen.  It grows in the most inhospitable places–on rocks, in deserts, even in the arctic!  Lichen also grows in rainforests, on soil, and in more temperate areas; no matter where it finds itself, lichen hangs on and determinedly grows.  This fierce fungus not only survives, but boasts a frilly natural beauty.  What an example of how to live our own lives.

All around us are resolute, haunting, quiet witnesses to the brutality of this world and to the strength of living things.  Whether you believe in a God or not, it’s clear we’re not really alone (thank goodness!!).