Category Ruminations

Old canoes and old sermons

Some years ago, a fellow from the Adirondacks called Willem Lange, one of Vermont’s treasured storytellers, wanting to know if he had the time to restore an old canoe. Lange didn’t have the time, but since it was the kind of thing he could do in the evenings, and since he loved old canoes, he […]

One true story

“There is only one book to a man,” John Steinbeck believed, only one book each author has it in him or in her to write. He considered East of Eden to be his and wrote that he’d been practicing for it for thirty-five years, more than half his life. I’ve heard it said each preacher […]

The ruckus of the birds

It’s the season for sleeping with open windows – even as the dog days begin – and waking to the sound not of an alarm clock but of birdsong. When I carried the burden of more outer commitments, I’d turn to the television for an early news and weather report. Had another act of terrorism […]

God’s dark side, and mine

I take it to be a sign of growth into wholeness, and not of laziness, self-absorption, or degeneration, that I’m more accepting of the less desirable aspects of my nature. “I must have a dark side also,” Jung believed, “if I am to be whole.” The dark aspects of my nature – parts I don’t […]

The blessed life

Jesus took the most ordinary life and revealed it to be the extraordinary life we’ve been seeking. He did so not by changing it or promising a different and better version of it in the future but by changing the way we perceive it and enter into relationship with it. The blessed life we call […]

Know the wind

For two days the wind has blown, slowing or perhaps bringing on its heels the approaching summer’s heat. It comes not as a whisper but as a sigh, a soft song rising and falling to some freshening rhythm I can’t catch. “If you would know yourself,” Rod McKuen wrote, “know the sea.” It seems it’s […]

A God named Fred

My barber once kept in his shop a goldfish named Fred. Being given a name did nothing to identify Fred’s nature or reveal his character. (I assume Fred was male only because of his name, not because anyone knowledgeable about such things had sexed him.) Certainly it did nothing to change his experience of being […]

Passing the baton

[For two years I have served as transition pastor for Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Tonawanda, New York, as the congregation searched for its next regularly installed pastor. Most of these ruminations are messages I shared with them during worship on Sunday mornings. A new pastor set to begin ministry on May 17. This is […]

A true Mother’s Day

Twenty billion dollars, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s roughly the amount Americans are expected to spend this year for Mother’s Day. No other holiday is as popular for dining out; Hallmark reports it generates the third highest number of card sales, behind Christmas and Valentine’s Day; and only on Christmas are more gifts […]

Brief encounter

The season for commencement addresses is approaching. In a single event at high schools, colleges, and universities all around us, a door will close, a door will open, and speakers – class valedictorians and distinguished guests – will try to make sense of the bittersweet stew of farewells and new beginnings. “For everything there is […]