Monthly Archives: January 2016

A Different Kind of Prayer

Even though I’d volunteered to deliver the prayer at my recent MFA graduation from Seton Hill, I was a little nervous about how my version of a prayer would be received. Seton Hill is a Catholic university, and I am not Catholic—or even Christian. Instead, my faith tradition is Unitarian-Universalist. Believe it or not, the UU umbrella is wide and there are UU Christians, but they’re in the minority. We UU’s tend to be big on things like intellectual inquiry, finding our own spiritual path, and social and environmental justice and equality. As a group, we’re less big on prayer. In fact, so many of us are wounded from the traditions we’ve come out that the idea of praying is enough to give us indigestion. But I do pray. There is so much to pray for and about, and I do believe in the transcendent wonder and mystery of our universe and above all, in the power of love and life that lives within us and between us. Surprisingly, instead of turning off folks at commencement with my prayer, several people said they really appreciated how “inclusive” it was. I was reminded how desperately we all want to be part of a community that doesn’t break down into “them” versus “us,” and why the politics of division is what gives me indigestion. So, for what it’s worth, here’s my graduation prayer: Spirit of Love and Life, Today our hearts are filled with gratitude for the abundance of blessings that have [...]

By |2016-01-27T15:43:45-04:00January 27th, 2016|Prayer|0 Comments

Why I Miss the Holidays

Three weeks out from New Year’s Eve, and at least seven folks have said to me, “Thank God the holidays are over.” I can sure relate. My stress-o-meter zooms to new heights the week before my family arrives. Between finishing up last minute shopping, worrying about the holiday cards I haven’t yet started (oops), and cleaning our house—my least favorite activity in the world—I’m on overload. And the thing is I even like my family. I don’t have an annoying uncle who drinks too much and wants to know when I’m going to get a “real” job (Writing doesn’t count.) Still, I get stressed to the max. And yet… I miss the holidays when they’re gone. For one thing, there’s the thrill of getting mail that isn’t a bill or a catalog (not that there aren’t plenty of those). The daily trip to the mailbox suddenly becomes an “event.”  Who knows what might be inside? Handwritten cards, letters, and pictures from folks who aren’t trying to sell me anything appear. Receiving them seems different than being messaged on e-mail or Facebook. Someone took the time to send me something I can touch and savor. Somehow, it feels more personal. Plus, I actually enjoy Christmas shopping and still like going to stores, even when they’re crowded. Any other time of the year, I feel guilty spending hours shopping. After all, I’m a writer with a schedule to keep and pages to produce. But the holidays give me an excuse to take [...]

By |2016-01-20T10:37:15-04:00January 20th, 2016|Holidays|1 Comment

Cleaning

I like to imagine that I’ve really “evolved” and matured over the years. And then every once in a while, I realize there are some things that haven’t changed at all. The other day, I came across something I’d written years ago (back in prehistoric times when there was such a thing as video stores, and Dick Clark and Ed McMahon were still the big guns for Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes). Lo and behold, there I was in all my “will do anything to avoid this” glory: The Time Had Come I was afraid of what might happen, but I knew the time had come. What was my tip-off? Well, it could have been those little dust bunnies full of my three cats’ fur. Or the fact I could write on the surface of our coffee table and leave notes for my family. Maybe it was the caked food bits on the stove or the piles of unrecognizable papers in my office. Whatever the reason, it was here. The scary time, the awful time—the time when I must clean. Why, you ask, is this such an agonizing thought?  I’m not sure—but I think it stems from a strange disorder. In this disorder, I feel terrified about starting to clean, because I truly hate to clean. Once having begun, however, I find it impossible to stop. In fact, this may be my greatest fear—that once I’ve started, there’s no end to cleaning—and by the time I think maybe it’s done, it’s already [...]

By |2016-01-13T15:26:57-04:00January 13th, 2016|Work|0 Comments

Playing the “What If” Game

The other day I put my one year old grandson Milo down for his morning nap and retreated to my desk to do some writing, baby monitor in hand. He fell asleep quickly. I eagerly opened up my lap top, figuring I had a good hour and a half to work before he woke up. I dove in and it was a while before I came up for air and looked at my watch. Whoa, more than two and a half hours had zoomed by, and the green light on his monitor hadn’t moved. Milo never slept this long. I pulled up the fuzzy picture on the monitor and gazed at his still form. I’ve always been reluctant to wake up a sleeping baby, but still… Just as I was getting up to sneak into his room and make sure he was breathing, he began to roll around his crib and finally decided he was ready to get out of there, having set a record for his longest nap ever. I raced in to retrieve him, pressed his little warm body against my own, and covered him with kisses—all the while chiding myself for being so paranoid. But what if he hadn’t been okay? Becoming a parent, and later a grandparent, unleashes a whole new set of primal fears. We love these little people so fiercely, so completely, that the thought of anything bad happening to them hovers at the jagged edges of our consciousness. Suppose something had gone wrong [...]

By |2016-01-07T16:36:05-04:00January 7th, 2016|The Writing Life|0 Comments