Barefoot & Preaching is a syndicated monthly column in The Catholic Register.
For years, I’ve been dreaming about hosting a marriage preparation and retreat event, and I’ve finally had the chance to make it happen. I would love to see you there. Please register by clicking here and filling out the form: https://forms.gle/S3xfK9ypU6dxBSqLA
For now, it’s happening in person. If I get ten couples interested, I would repeat it at a later date online. So if that appeals to you, please click on the Contact page and send me a note. We will see if we can make that happen.
A beautiful mess is a privilege. The resources you need to love in it are right in the mess itself. Its imperfection is an invitation rather than a threat.
In writing the story of my life, however, I live through a lot of moments that won’t make the cut in the highlights or the bloopers. Our world is currently obsessed with capturing the moments and sharing them, but there is so much (and maybe more) value in the things that happen between photographs and bonfires.
In all the sifting, I am seeing the moments that make up my life.
The forest floor is a mess. Dropped pine needles, interrupted with deer droppings. Broken branches and fallen trees from the windstorm days before, layered on the trunks from seasons past. Grass and leaves and tiny flowers breaking though wherever enough light and water allows.
Even while we hold our own and the world’s pain, we can practice resurrection. We can take a walk and delight in the signs of spring. We can count the buds forming on trees, the flowers breaking through cold earth. We can set our prayers for the suffering in the arms of God for an hour and let ourselves laugh till our sides ache.
As the world feels like it might give way into dust, I’m clinging to a promise of hope. I can still feel the faint dry spot on my forehead where it was marked with ashes.
Complexity is piling up like snowbanks on my lawn. We just get one wet snowfall shoveled in time for the next one to blow into a bank around the door. The piles started out neatly enough. But it is late winter now and the ice threatens to freeze my heart along with the missing mittens. The chaos and division desperately need some spring.
After a major trauma, it has been my experience that human capacity for intentional progress on goals is diminished. My therapists reminded me constantly that healing is rarely linear, and though we participate in it, we respond to life in healing ways rather than direct our own healing. I dislike this. And still, I have found it to be true. Healing is a flow of grace that comes from beyond me.
But mostly, we will spend our lives waiting. For a special day. To see a favourite person. For a goal or dream to be realized. To be healed. For a baby to be born.
Photo Credit: Michelle Parley Interrupting is a bad habit I have been working to break for a long time, with some success and more work yet to do. And every struggle has a flip-side strength: while I need to stop speaking over people, the weakness is driven by a...
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…
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.