The One Thing I’ll Never Write About (Or, Don’t Come to Me for Tips on Talking to Kids About Gun Violence)

The One Thing I’ll Never Write About (Or, Don’t Come to Me for Tips on Talking to Kids About Gun Violence)

I get questions here and there about talking to kids about gun violence. As in, “How do I talk to my child/classroom/Sunday School about school shootings/movie theater shooting/concert shootings.” After Sandy Hook, I was asked by a local preschool to do a training for their teachers and parents on this topic, which I did and that’s when I swore I’d never do it again. You know what did it to me? It was the request to “come back next year…

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Spirituality and food across religious traditions

Spirituality and food across religious traditions

One of the shifts I’ve been making recently is to take seriously the role that food plays in my spiritual life. In the past, I’ve thought of the connection between meals and spiritual development primarily as one of convenience. Food brings people together. Community is important for spiritual development. Rituals concerning food and eating can be a powerful way to deepen spirituality. This is why one of the family rituals I’m a stickler about is prayer before eating. I see…

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Food and Our Spirit: 3 Reasons to Eat Mindfully

Food and Our Spirit: 3 Reasons to Eat Mindfully

When I first started thinking about spirituality and food, I was originally thinking about why so many of our rituals involve eating, and I was pretty sure it was mainly because it was convenient. After all, we eat regularly so why not use it as a time of prayer? As I pondered religious traditions like Christian communion (a ritual of eating bread and wine), Muslim iftar (the daily breaking of the fast during Ramadan), Sikh langar (the tradition of community…

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Why Spirituality Matters and What You Can Do About It

Why Spirituality Matters and What You Can Do About It

Back when I worked for the Department of Human Services, I was part of an early intervention team focusing on mental health and young children. We helped families sort through resources and develop plans for issues ranging from the stress that comes when a sibling is born to situations of trauma. The beauty of the approach was that it was interdisciplinary. We had therapists, counselors, doctors, social workers and physical therapists on the team. Thanks to this network, we were…

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Is Spirituality for Everyone?

Is Spirituality for Everyone?

As a child, my image of a spiritual person was stereotypical. I imagined a man in a turban sitting cross-legged on a beach, blissful smile on his face. If pushed to think of a woman, I suppose she was also in a turban sitting cross-legged on the beach. If this image tells us anything, it’s that we imagine spirituality to be something removed from our day-to-day experience. We tend to believe that the spiritual life happens in exotic places, to…

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Rhythms, rituals and the thoughtful creation of space

Rhythms, rituals and the thoughtful creation of space

“Architecture is the thoughtful making of space.” Louis Kahn said that, which is an interesting thing for an architect to say. If I’d been asked, I would have said that architecture was about making buildings. Beautiful buildings, but buildings nonetheless. Apparently a lot of people think so because if you google Louis Kahn, he’s described as being an architect and a professor “renowned for his weighty buildings and use of heavy materials.” But here’s a picture: It seems that if…

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The Day We Prayed for Santa Claus

The Day We Prayed for Santa Claus

Christmas Eve in 2006 fell on a Sunday.  The air crackled with the excitement of the children as the congregation gathered for church that morning.  As was our custom, I started the service by asking if there was anything people would like to pray for.  One girl, a quiet, reflective preschooler, raised her hand. “I’d like to pray for Santa Claus.”  She paused, looking up quickly at my face. “Because it’s very cold out and his job is dangerous.”  Her…

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Strangers in a Christmas Land

Strangers in a Christmas Land

I borrowed my title for this blog from the clever folks on our church’s worship planning team. The title came about as we discussed whether to hold a “Blue Christmas” service this year. If you’re not familiar with Blue Christmas, sometimes called “Longest Night,” or “Darkest Night,” the service is a lament service offered sometime in December. The goal is to offer a time for people to experience sadness in the midst of all the holiday cheer. If you’ve ever…

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Christmas is Messy (An Annual Reminder to Breathe)

Christmas is Messy (An Annual Reminder to Breathe)

“Life is messy. Would that every puzzle piece fell into place, every word was kind, every accident happy, but such is not the case. Life is messy” This bit of wisdom comes from Christopher Moore’s The Stupidest Angel and fittingly enough, it’s a Christmas book. (Sort of.  I mean, it’s wildly inappropriate and not a family read at all but its set at Christmas time and it has a surprising dose of holiday spirit.) It’s fitting that such wisdom comes…

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Saints and Strangers: Standing Together in Love (a sermon for a divided country)

Saints and Strangers: Standing Together in Love (a sermon for a divided country)

In 1620 a group of about 40 religious refugees boarded a merchant ship leaving England and sailing for the “new land.” Others called them the “Separatists,” or the “Congregationalists” because of their desire to separate from the Church of England and return to the ideals of the Protestant Reformation. They oh-so-humbly called themselves the Saints. With this, they clearly aligned themselves with the religious cause: they were holy people, distinguished from the “Strangers,” the other people on board the ship…

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