Thursday, May 17, 2012


One of my goals of the day today was to find Tamarind for an East Indian inspired barbequed chicken dish.  My father sent me the recipe.  In my search I came home with three species of Tamarind - none of which are really what the author of the recipe had in mind. 

Monday, May 14, 2012



What's the difference?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Spiritual Biographies

Meditation give between Stations of The Cross and Benediction at The Episcopal Church of the Atonement on Friday, March 16 2012.


We all have spiritual biographies. Where we’ve been and where we’re going.

If we’re honest with ourselves - we could say there are parts of our biographies where we’ve come to great enlightenment, and there are part of our biographies where we come to great doubts.

I am going to share briefly a couple slivers of my own spiritual biography. After my story I would ask that each of you not so much think about what I have to say (but if it resonates with you - all the better) - rather I would ask you to think about your own spiritual biographies of where you’ve been and where you’re going.

I grew up being quite “churched” My family regularly attended a Roman Catholic congregation in Northeast Minneapolis. Our family regularly attended holy day services in addition to Sunday services. I grew up in a tradition of observing Lent from Ash Wednesday, until the very long Easter Vigil Service. We would periodically participate in Stations of The Cross.

I grew up in a catholic tradition where observance and participation took precedence over any particular deep dive into scripture. Eventually my family moved around the United States, and then I myself moved around the United States. After leaving Minnesota - I became exposed to the idea of being “Saved” and having a particular personal relationship with JESUS. Up until then, somehow, even being churched - I had a rather abstract concept of God. The idea of proclaiming one’s faith in order to be “SAVED”. There were times when I tried to espouse this model of faith, but it has never felt right or true for me.

I left the Roman tradition for a myriad of reason. But as time went by I felt the need to be with other spiritual persons and I started church shopping. Where ever I went - I felt welcome by others - but then there was that talk about a personal relationship with JESUS.

About two decades ago, my mother was visiting me from Minnesota here in Chicago, and we happened to arrange to be on the Architecture Tour of Edgewater. The last stop on that tour back then was The Episcopal Church of the Atonement. I will never forget walking in and immediately feeling at home. One thing I remember most from that initial visit was the wood carved stations of the cross. Knowing there were Stations of the Cross, or in other words, walking the way of the cross, gave me a particular context that I understood and made me feel at home.

Years pass. A new Rector is installed at Atonement. One from The South. One from the land of having a personal relationship with Jesus. Recently, in a brief homily from Fr. John David vanDooren; Fr. vanDooren mentioned another via media or middle way that the Episcopal Church has, where one Firstly makes the effort to participate in liturgy as a way to better understand God and God’s will but Secondly where one can have a personal relationship with Jesus. I think, “Oh My God, what I am going to do with that?

I don’t know how or when the lightening bolt hit, but I realized that I may have had the makings of a personal relationship with Jesus all along. The form my “personal relationship with Jesus” has taken is: walking the way of the cross. I came to realize that for me, the tradition of the Stations of The Cross, something I’ve had since childhood - is where I best meet Jesus face to face. To me, this is where Jesus is most human. Aspects of all the characters of the way of the cross are things that resound with me and I find true.

I invite you to think about where you’ve been.

I invite you to think about where you’re going.



Sunday, January 22, 2012


I love these hand written signs in local businesses near where I live.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


This first bag wishes me THANK YOU

and with sort of a half smile - to HAVE A NICE DAY (exclamation point)


Don't call the police, but I'm sorta playin' with this bag as a toy right now.


This second bag says ....

THANK YOU in a sorta orangey tropical way. It notes: WARNING: To avoid danger of suffocation, keep this plastic bag away from babies and children. MADE IN CHINA.

This bag has no toy restrictions. You KNOW I'll be playin' with this bag. If the police come, tell them I was playing with the orangey tropical thank you bag.


Both bags are "2" HDPE recyclable. HDPE means high-density polyethylene. This sort of material is in demand for recycle firms - so whenever you can reduce/reuse/recycle. I am a nerd and happen to save these to reuse. When I have more than I need I donate to thrift stores who may use them when they sell items.



Friday, January 20, 2012

Study in White

My Amaryllis and Paperwhites are blooming at the same time this year. Usually the Paperwhites bloom first. I bought a white amaryllis this year (they were out of red). To me, forced bulbs are the antidote to mid-winter. Along with the theme of white, here in Chicago we are supposed to get a significant amount of measurable snow starting now.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Discerning God's Call

It has been more than a year since I have posted.

This past Wednesday I had the privilege of preaching to my own community: The Brotherhood of Saint Gregory.

I preached on the following text

1 Sam. 3:1-20
Ps. 40:1-10
Mark 1:29-39

Then the Lord said to Samuel, ‘See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle.

In the name of The Father....

Many of you know, I made a big deal out of turning age fifty this past year.

I joined AARP.

Got the colonoscopy.

For the first time in my life I had wax removed from my ears - and had my hearing tested.

In spite of the wax removal - I am getting to be the age where I periodically experience that awkward moment when you can’t understand what someone’s said even after they’ve repeated it four times

So, I’m all like

Praying to God that it wasn’t a question.

Samuel, in today’s scripture, and I are the same in that we knew that we heard something; but, we’re not sure what we heard.

Samuel, Samuel!

Samuel’s time was after the period of The Judges. Samuel’s time was nearly a millennium before the time of Christ. Samuel is the person God chooses to anoint Saul as Israel’s first king.

This favorite bible-story of the boy Samuel is framed by the comment - “The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread” In other words - the people of Israel were not hearing what God was saying to them - until - somehow God, with the help of Eli, get’s Samuel’s attention.

Initially it is not Samuel, but Eli who perceives God is calling. Eli instructs Samuel what to say.

Samuel, Samuel!

‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

The Lord has a message - however ominous.

Hugh Laurie in his role as Dr. House in the second season of the television series “House” noted...

If you talk to God, you’re religious; if God talks to you, you’re psychotic.

So here we are with a story about listening, listening particularly to God.

What does this mean for me? What does this mean for you?

I think it is safe to say, that to some degree every one of us here has perceived a call to something greater. To something different. Yes, likely we’ve perceived somehow a call from God. That call has landed us here in this religious community.

It has been over a decade since I was interviewed by council to consider my postulancy to the The Brotherhood of Saint Gregory. One question that was asked of me - “How is that we will know that you are called to the religious life?” I thought to myself, “How the hell do I know?” I did say, “Y’know, I don’t hear voices from God.”

While that question bothered me then - I cherish it now. How is that I know that I am called to religious life? The answer is: Discernment. With the help of this community; through formation and mentorship; through making mistakes and being transformed - I learned the particular vocabulary of discernment. With experience, I’ve learned that discernment is an ongoing journey and not a particular destination. I learned I need experience and perspective to know indeed that not only have I been called to religious life - but to life profession.

James Martin, SJ in his book The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything - writes of the connection between Ignatius of Loyola’s spiritual exercises and discernment for us today. The sixteenth century Saint Ignatius was rather sober and practical - not particularly romantic.

Ignatius in his spiritual exercises makes use of prayer, imagination, and experience. Ignatius made mistakes in his own spiritual endeavors and allowed for “do-overs” or trying to re-evaluate God’s call with new data.

Ignatius himself - noted if you try something and feel peace, it’s likely God’s presence or consolation. If you try something and you feel disquiet and agitation - you are on a path of desolation.

Contemporary Jesuits note that discernment - through experience is “recognizing the action in human-consciousness of the Holy Spirit” - In other words - knowing God’s will or hearing God’s call.

As the months and years pass there are times for each of us when the call is loud and clear, there are times when the call seems distant and faint. Either way, in hearing and answering the call, we are discerning what we are called to by God.

Each of us; with God’s help; over and over; finds our calling. Some of us are called to heal as Jesus does in today’s unvarnished Gospel of Mark. Some of us will pray, some of us will preach The Good News - all of which are aspects of Jesus’ life noted in today’s Gospel - where we can find peace.

In the 1979 Book of Common Prayer - the gerund “discerning” makes only one appearance; this happens in the prayer immediately following a baptism. This prayer is my prayer for each one of us today.

Heavenly Father, we thank you that by water and the Holy Spirit you have bestowed upon these your servants the forgiveness of sin, and have raised them to the new life of grace. Sustain them, O Lord, in your Holy Spirit. Give them an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works. Amen.