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jbap

John the Baptist's DNA test

Gosh, it is hard to believe that it is Advent already.  I say that every year, and this year I’ve had plenty of time to anticipate its arrival.  We’ve had snow on the ground at Collegeville already since November 10.  Nevertheless, it has caught me unaware yet again… even as all the readings the first week are about staying awake and being ready. 

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worlds largest ball of twine

News from Lake Wobogon

Apologies for ghosting you all the past six weeks.  As mentioned earlier, I’ve been on a sort of writers sabbatical at the Collegeville Institute this semester working on a new book.  I’d imagined long, luxurious days of uninterrupted silence in which I would make so much progress that I would need extra craft projects at night to keep me occupied.   Are you surprised to hear me say that it hasn’t turned out like that?  No, probably not.  Nevertheless…

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st Francis of Assisi

Walking Around with a Chirp on the Shoulder

With the feast of St. Francis of Assisi right around the corner now, I found myself thinking back to the fall when my son was four.  Halloween that year fell on a Sunday and College Church– wishing to avoid a deluge of frightening costumes that might thrill some little ones and terrify others—suggested that the children come dressed up as saints.  Micah (whose middle name is Francisco) consented to put aside his Pokemon Squirtle costume for the morning to come as St.

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Montana sunrise

Grasshoppers and Red Sunrises

The past two weeks since I last wrote have been filled with morning mist hovering over the lake waters, long walks serenaded by grasshoppers, and brilliant red sunrises and sunsets.  The beauty of early September makes evident why the Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitros first proclaimed September 1st as the Orthodox Day of Prayer for Creation back in 1989, and why his initial effort has been joined by so many other faith communities around the globe that now the whole month—through the feast of St.

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gregory the great

Remembering Gregory the Great

This week we mark the memorial of St. Gregory the Great, one of the saints from Redeeming Administration who has left the most lasting impression on me.  Mostly because when he found out he’d been elected pope, legend has it that he hid himself in a wicker basket, had himself lowered over the walls of the city and escaped to the forest for three days before the people tracked him town and yanked him back.  Some of us hear God’s voice to leadership and say, “Here I am, Lord.”  Some of us take for the woods.  

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upright

Thank you, Flint Friends!

Not two hours after I posted my last newsletter—alas—I tested positive for Covid.  Which meant no visit to family in Pasadena and San Diego. Which meant no catching up with one of my great mentors in life in Alahambra.  Which meant no gathering in person with the teachers I’d been preparing to meet with.  It was a genuine bummer. 

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cauliflower

Leaning into Life

When I was driving from Tampa, FL home to Atlanta at the end of last month, I passed the first billboard just south of the Georgia border on I-75 for “Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland” in Frankenmuth.  I don’t know why this surprised me.  Being from Missouri I know that the signage for Meramac Caverns starts long before one arrives in the Midwest.  And who hasn’t seen the billboards for Wall Drug in South Dakota? Anyone?  I think those start somewhere in Maine.

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awards books

Celebrating!

Good morning from the humid glory of Florida in July where I am enjoying working with a new group of Catechists of the Good Shepherd only a mile from the beach.  Yes, it is very rough, but someone has to do it!  We are on Day Three now and swimming in work more than waves, so I’ll be brief, but I wanted to share that last week I got wonderful news from the Catholic Media Association.  Two pieces I wrote received awards at their 2022 awards ceremony. 

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hanbleceya

Black Elk's Hanbleceya

I’ve enjoyed the gift of spending a good amount of time this past month at the Terra Sancta Retreat Center outside Rapid City, SD.  If you ever get the chance to go there, you should.  A wonderful, sacred setting in the Black Hills with marvelous hospitality and lots of space to roam.  This time round there were no rattlesnake or mountain lion sightings as there have been in the past… but my friend Karen did get charged by a wild turkey.  (Fortunately, there was a glass door between them.)  The groundskeeper explained that this was rare, bu