Barefoot & Preaching is a syndicated monthly column in The Catholic Register.

Hair and holy Saturday and the hole in my heart…

Hair and holy Saturday and the hole in my heart…

I got my hair cut this week. My hair lay on the floor and I remembered how long it has been since a haircut was drastic enough to not recognize my reflection. Abbie’s hair rarely stayed the same from one month to the next. The memory made me smile.

And then, the next day, I walked by a window and I saw her in my reflection. When I stopped to look again, she was gone and I remained.  Both the recognition and the being alone are true.

Two long years have passed since Abbie’s death, and I might believe it was yesterday if five inches of hair hadn’t grown since then. Last year, I was in shock that we had all survived a year without her. The second year has been harder still, facing the permanence of lifetime of her absence. There’s still a big hole in my heart.

This year, the anniversary falls on Holy Saturday, the awful space of wandering lost and confused between Jesus’ dying and his rising. My faith tradition marks these days so that we practice in ritual and remembrance the stuff that we will live in real life. Only rarely do the seasons of the church year and the seasons of my life align like this.

The violence and death are behind us, though each stage of the legal process pulls us back into the agony. All Fridays are followed by Saturdays, just as all losses are followed by some measure of lost. I feel like this Saturday holds all the devastation of her death and all the possibility of my life. And so, these two years, and probably for some time yet, this longest Saturday of my life is a liminal space.

And while I wander, there are glimpses of Abbie.

I can hear her cheering when my kids ride their bikes, and even more when sarcasm falls off a friend’s lips. Just when I wish I could call her, someone says just what she would have said without knowing it. I pour her favourite wine, and my hand holds the glass and a reflection of the angle of her twin wrist.

The sound of her children, laughing her glorious laughter. The dimes she leaves for me in the washing machine, on the seat of my car, and behind every piece of furniture I move for cleaning. The colour of the sky. A dream where I meet her in the airport and want to skip the flight, but she pushes me through the gate after a tight hug, saying, “You need to go.”

Lost is a place that Abbie and God live too, until we all feel a little more found. One moment at a time, she’s filling the hole in my heart with the sights and sounds and smells of her, even while she shoves me back into my life.

Someday, her death isn’t going to hurt quite so bad. The legal process will eventually end. The wandering will give way into a clearer path. This never-ending Saturday will be followed by an inevitable Sunday. And no amount of anticipating or forcing will make the sun to rise on that Sunday today.

The world still doesn’t make any sense without you, and somehow wandering through Saturday is healing the hole. It has always been a gift to see glimpses of you in myself.  My hair feels a little lighter and so does my heart. Thanks for that.

I will carry you with me while I hug your kids and mine today. I will swear loud enough for both of us when stupidity seems to have won another battle in the world next week. I will pack you in the bag with my book when Dad takes me on a fishing trip this summer and hear you laughing when I don’t catch anything.

Also, I will eat your share of the chocolate.

Missing you still.

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In pursuit of a bit more peace…

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On Being Barefoot…

Before the burning bush, God asks Moses to take off his sandals, to notice and reverence that he walks on holy land. This holy land continues to burn before me, before us, signaling God’s presence before we arrived rather than because we did. This life we are living was holy before we existed in it. This land and creation we call home is the first book of revelation, God’s love letter to us, bearing witness to the Creator of it all.Our lives and the moments that make them up are the stuff of sainthood, our invitations to participate in Divine life to be swallowed up and fulfilled by God. At the grocery store, in the false solitude of our cars and commutes, in our laundry rooms, and over text messages. My shoes run the risk of “protecting” me from the sacredness of this naked moment. And how I love shoes, and how my sensitive toes resist the prickles of grass and the mess of sand. But barefoot is how my spirituality works, daring to live an embodied and earthy love of Jesus who took on flesh. I’m wandering through this life, yearning to let go of my shoes, to walk reverently and with deep attention to what passes under my feet and to what isn’t yet my path. Barefoot is how I write, how I speak, how I work. Experience shored up against an insatiable thirst for knowledge; direct honesty honed by sensitivity; and vulnerability chained to a commitment to competency. And an unapologetically barefoot tendency to speak it as I feel it, which leads me to…

…and Preaching

I’m a preacher without a pulpit, with words that burn until they are spoken ~ aloud or on a page.

My ministry is one of colliding words and ideas, reaching out to find a connection with God’s amazing people.

The world seems to me to be spilling over with grace and we seem to be people who, all too quickly forget that all of this is pure gift.

When I’m driving, eating, visiting, resting, cleaning, working, playing, and almost everything else, I’m frequently stunned by the pure miracle of what simply is.

It’s not all promised joy and ease, but it is all presenced and remembered by the One who gives it. And I can’t stop talking about it, proclaiming it, preaching this good news that we have not been forgotten or forsaken in any moment of this life.

For reasons I don’t quite understand, my words seem to be given to encourage and inspire. In a world where women and girls are still too-often silenced or secondary, I’m barefoot and preaching because my soul won’t rest any other way. If my words can be a gift to you, then that is a gift for me.

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