In death, we learn the story of love

My sister and I used to get season’s tickets to the ballet. They brought colour, beauty and music to long winters, and gave us an opportunity to visit. They also took us to performances we wouldn’t normally select, which is how we ended up at a performance of Swan Lake. We had tickets, so we went.

Unconditional forgiveness is betrayal’s companion

What does the title “Divorce Busting” suggest to you? A law firm, perhaps? Actually, it’s a counselling service for couples on the brink of divorce. I attended a workshop by its founder, an enlightening tour through the labyrinth of betrayal. 

Unconditional forgiveness is betrayal’s companion

What does the title “Divorce Busting” suggest to you? A law firm, perhaps? Actually, it’s a counselling service for couples on the brink of divorce. I attended a workshop by its founder, an enlightening tour through the labyrinth of betrayal. 

Finding meaning is essential to life

Jesse is in a tough spot. Having lost his business after personal troubles, he lives on a small pension. His grown-up children visit once in a while, bringing the grandkids, but he has few social contacts and seems unneeded in the world. How has he coped? “Faith in God” is his ready response to this question. Yet he’s angry with God, too, with himself, and with the systems that didn’t rescue him. 

The periphery, where livin’ ain’t easy

A concert I attended last month included George Gershwin’s “Summertime.” Not a favourite of mine, but that evening I felt the song’s appeal. In music and words, it carries a sense of relaxed fullness, an invitation into a lush, protected place where the “livin’ is easy,” the harshness of the world far-off at the edges: “fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high... there ain’t nothin’ can harm you, with mama and daddy standin’ by.” 

Hearts on fire

It can be tough to speak up even when something burns inside you. Especially if everybody seems happiest not saying or hearing it, and you wonder if you’re crazy or misguided, and won’t you look like a fool or a downer if you do say it.

We can’t always trust happiness

One of the most gifted actors I’ve observed is Robert Duvall. From fearless napalm-loving Lt. Col. Kilgore in Apocalypse Now, to shy retired Cuban barber in Wrestling Ernest Hemingway, or mild-mannered consigliere of The Godfather, he gives life to an astonishing array of characters.

Striking gold with a Lenten prayer vigil

Did I really want to spend a long evening sitting alone in a chapel — not getting done any of the things I wanted to get done, not visiting any of the people I wanted to visit, not having any of the adventures I wanted on a Friday night? Instead, a seven to midnight Lenten prayer vigil.

The Church’s great treasure hunt

In one of my favourite stories, four children travel to a secret country. On their second trip, they discover the ruins of a castle. Together they descend a dark, cold staircase into a vast underground chamber. Shining flashlights all round, they discover it’s filled with gems, jewels and treasures, all covered over with thick layers of dust.

Having coffee with God

On one of the darkest, chilliest days of the year, I met an old friend. This day had been long coming: I’d accidentally managed to stand him up a couple of times before this rendez-vous. He forgave me.

God is the gift that insists on giving

“What’s wrong with you?” the young woman asks her co-worker, Joe. She’s been trying to convey a message from their boss, but Joe seems to be on another planet.

Combat emptiness with Advent

Do you ever get that empty feeling? For me, it often happens in grocery stores — nowadays so big you could easily get your day’s exercise there — crammed with foods, tastes, colours.