I was recently out walking, but not for exercise. I was traveling. My steps were carrying me down the Costa del Sol, beneath the bright sun for which it’s named, toward a place that’s home, but not home. Maybe I can explain. The place where I was headed used to be our home, and it still feels like home, but it’s someone else’s home now. I was just going back for a visit. So I was walking home, but not home—a place of sweet hospitality, both then and now. That matters because I know the path well. It was a path we had walked many, many times during our years there: right up the coast, looking out over the Mediterranean […]
Shoveling Mulch onto the Leaf-Mold of the Mind
When we built our house on this back corner of the neighborhood, we told the builders to leave as many trees as possible because the line of woods at the back of our property gives way to family land. We cleared out the underbrush to make it traversable and brought in loads of mulch to protect the barren ground from erosion. That was four years ago. Our back lawn is still a work in progress. We aerate and overseed season after season, trying to get enough grass to grow to choke out the weeds. The clay that they dug for the foundation just makes for poor soil. In the woods, however, all the mulch we put down has mixed with […]
She Has Done What She Could
This morning I discovered what I want for my epitaph. (No, I’m not dying. At least, not any faster than anyone else. I just think about these things.) I read it in this passage in Mark: While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave […]
The Trust-Fall of Faith
I reached the top of the wall and turned my head to take in the view. I was higher than I expected to be, and for the first time I noticed that I could feel no tension in the belay line. Was there supposed to be tension? I hadn’t thought it necessary to prove it first–why should I? But perched near the top of this wall, I suddenly realized the gravity of my mistake. I tried to lean back to put tension on the line, to feel it catch me, but the line gave me as much slack as I desired to allow me to climb freely. We were climbing at an indoor facility with the boys to honor a […]
Rejoicing in the Waiting
It’s 4:30 in the morning in the middle of Advent, and I am waiting. Over the past 48 hours, eight people have been vomiting in our home. As I sit in the stillness between sick bay and those who are now resting, I wonder. Will it hit me? Will I suffer, too? How long, O Lord? You have spared me thus far, but what is to come? It’s not the kind of waiting that’s typically associated with this season. Yet in the midst of it all, my heart is stirred. “Rejoice,” said the apostle. “Rejoice,” said the preacher. “Rejoice,” said a friend. “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” I hear restless stirrings, and I pause […]
The Many Meanings of “I Love You”
These three little words that we use every day have many more nuanced meanings today than they did seventeen years ago. I remember the first time he said them. It was right after our first kiss (which also happened to be my first kiss). I had made him wait because I was determined to make that first kiss a special one. He had been ready to say “I love you” for a while, but he didn’t want me to feel like he was just pressuring me to kiss him, so in love, he waited for that, too. I remember the first time I said it back to him. It was a couple weeks after our first kiss. Even though he […]
When we started our vacation, we had planned on a full week unplugged at Bald Head Island, hoping to see sea turtles hatching and doing a bit of volunteer work with the conservancy. We even found a house in the middle of the salt marsh with treetop views for studying wildlife during the day and stargazing at night. When we asked our five-year-old what he was looking forward to the most, he enthusiastically replied, “Seeing dolphins!” “Well, son, we might see dolphins. We can definitely look for them while we’re out there. Who knows? Maybe we’ll see one.” As we backed down the driveway with eight people in a packed suburban, we kept an eye on Dorian as it approached […]
Have you ever been talking to someone when you were suddenly struck by their humanity?
It’s usually some kind of detail that does this for me. Bloodshot eyes, or crow’s feet, or freckles, or acne… something that makes me notice the skin the person is wearing, in all of its frailty and beauty.
These moments usually surprise me, but they make me want to pay more attention.
If even one…
The other night I attended a webinar for writers. The question was posited: How big does your audience need to be to make your writing worthwhile? Anyone would be happy to be read by millions, but what about thousands? Hundreds? What about ten? A friend joked that it felt like Abraham bargaining with God over Sodom. I responded with “If even one…” (The voice in my head was overdramatic and funny.) But there was some pushback: Is one really enough? Who is that one person? Hold that thought. Last night we watched the last installment of Tim Keller’s Questioning Christianity livestream. The series has been looking at the existential side of Christianity and how it compares with secularism (and other […]
Kicking the Habit: Managing Electronics (and Managing Me)
Kicking the Habit: Managing Electronics (and Managing Me) Last night we were reminiscing with some college friends about the good old days. “Remember when you had to print out MapQuest directions to get to someone’s house?” “Oooh, or when you had to actually give directions on how to get there? ‘When you see the Waffle House, turn left and go about two miles until you get to the neighborhood… take the first left, then the first right, then we’re the fourth house on the left.” “Haha! Yes! Oh, and what about the days before the internet? Remember those?”“Yes! They were glorious.” “I would go home from school and play outside and not have to deal with those people any more […]