Who Gets to be Human?

“One is my name. The other is not.”

BBC America just showed two of my favourite Data episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. They are disturbingly fitting to what is happening now.

I never liked Dr. Pulaski. Her casual disregard of Data’s personhood bristled maybe as much as when Commander Bruce Maddox tried to get him declared property.

The idea that any being capable of acting on the behalf of others would be Othered seemed (& continues to seem) beyond comprehension. Maddox wanted to manufacture an entire race of Datas to perform dangerous tasks, which Captain Picard rightly pointed out is a form a slavery. Pulaski just didn’t care how to pronounce Data’s name, or tried to send him out of a delivery room (the mom put the kibosh on that malarkey).

Both are acts of depersonalizing another being. It is the greatest injustice — to deny the humanity of others. It is used to justify horrific acts, & it is also used to justify reaction to horrific acts.

Every time you hear yourself saying “All [blanks] are [something derogatory],” replace the group you are talking about with yours & see it if still rings true. It isn’t true, is it? Does it feel terrible? Yes. Does it lead to healing? No.

You may feel justified based on an experience with someone you have decided is a representative of that group, maybe even more than one. But you will never be right, because your basic premise is Othering, is depersonalizing. You are denying the humanity of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of people you don’t know.

An army of Datas, programmed to do your will, if only they thought like you. The greatest injustice.

History shows it always leads to violence. Why be historical? Be the future. “Love one another as I have loved you.”

Sorry, nerds. This one was never going to be funny.


What we crave is really inside us.

I woke today in an utter panic, trying to recall exactly which scheduled activity was next so I could time the process of extricating myself from my bed & my own muscular pain. I was quickly relieved to realize this was the last Saturday for probably 3 months that I had NOTHING planned…except to read a book for class. NOTHING.


And then the dream from which I had just awoken came flooding my consciousness. To say it had a related theme to the night’s before is an understatement. I cannot get into details because they would reveal real-life secrets about others in the dream, but the overall gist was the Eucharist, a profound desire to partake of it at every opportunity, and a marked longing & misery when it is not possible.

The liquid of the first dream was quite clearly wine. I recall the taste of it on my lips like it just happened. But the liquid of last night’s dream was…Gatorade. Yeah. The sport stuff. A priest was unpacking it from a box and making the sign of the cross over each bottle filled with garishly coloured electrolytes.

“Liturgical Gatorade?” I joked. “Why?”

“Here, have one,” he said to me, handing me a fruit punch. That’s when I woke up.

In my reading today I started laughing out loud when I came across an analysis of the woman at the well. She’s in The Gospel of John, chapter 4 somewhere. Jesus asks her for a drink because he’s thirsty, & then he tells her he can give her living water. The Psalm about the deer longing for running streams comes to mind.

We are all longing. From the cheerfulest youth pastor to a billionaire exec, a single mom to a happily married person with abundant resources, to the homeless guy yelling at you outside the market, to the soldier to the teacher to the priest to the baby to the doctor to the Queen to Beyoncé, we all long for holiness (though we may call it different things).

The kingdom of God is literally among us & we completely fail to participate in it. It’s like that episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where Geordi & Ro are phase shifted & can’t quite reach the people in the correct phase. They’re on the ship, but not quite home.

We’re here, people. We’re the kingdom of God. Be in it. It’s a simple matter of making a phase shift.

A simple matter, she says.

Well, yes, years of spiritual direction later…anyhow, I phase shift out of the kingdom all the time. We all do. Some people live within breathing distance of it, but don’t breathe it in. Their whole lives. Pray for them. It’s so hard. You remember.

Heck, you may be there now. Spiritual desolation comes to the most devout. It lingers as long as you need it to teach you.

There are a couple of major things for which I thirst. The Kingdom of God is one. Perhaps if I keep pursuing that relentlessly, the other will come.

My Cat is Obsessed With…

Over the Christmas season, basic cable plays Star Wars & all the Harry Potter movies over & over & I am here for it. And my cat Sabu is here for it, too. He’d hop up on his ottoman & stare at the TV longer than I would, because I’ve seen them all 100 times & my phone requires my attention.

It’s my experience that cats, like all little boys & frat guys, love CGI. A dear kitty in my life many years ago, Katie, used to chase Discovery Channel’s CGI dinosaurs across the screen & behind the TV. Cats also really like R2D2. Baby Neil Cat sounded like him, & Sabu will approach the TV when R2 is on a rant.

So imagine my surprise to find that Sabu, after being put in his Pokeball backpack & taken to my mother’s house for Boxing Day, was utterly entranced by Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade. It’s not a CGI-heavy picture, as least not where we joined it, but he was watching with wrapt attention.

And that’s when it hit me. What’s the common denominator for the Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Indiana Jones franchises? They were all scored by John Williams.

My cat doesn’t like movies. He likes scores inspired by the work of Gustav Mahler!

As an experiment, I’ve been saying “Alexa, shuffle music by John Williams” before I leave the house every day for a week. And you know what Sabu has been doing?

Sleeping through the night. Not waking me up at 5 AM (except the one time he sneezed, poor dear). He’s been relatively cheerful and pleasant, which is saying a lot for that grumpy, fluffy, adorable jerk.

There may be something else at play, but I’m not taking my chances. My cat is going to listen to music from Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List & he’s going to cry all through the Luke & Leia Suite until it stops working.

I like sleeping.

I also do seriously burst into tears pretty much one measure into the Luke & Leia Suite. Here! See if you can stand it.

A Personal Relationship

Pic by Gage Skidmore.

We are about to have the dumbest conversation. You are going to laugh at me. I’m okay with this.

First, since perhaps 10 people read this blog, I will have to answer your question, which is “Why is there a picture of Chris Hemsworth on your blog? You’ve never mentioned Chris Hemsworth to me in conversation, you don’t follow comics, & you never watch superhero movies. This is literally the first time I have ever even seen you acknowledge that Chris Hemsworth exists.”

And you would be right, dear reader, if this was a picture of Chris Hemsworth. And…okay, technically, it is. But wait! There’s more!

On June 15, I awoke & wrote the following in my personal journal, which I will now share with you after some encouraging words from my spiritual director:

Dreamt I was at a dinner party with Simon Helberg, who was about to eat a chunk of poisoned chicken until Jesus walked in & took it before he could. I burst into tears because for some reason I was the only one who knew what was happening, that Christ was dying, died, but came back almost immediately. Nobody else knew what was going on.

He winked at me upon Returning, & after that, everyone was at peace, even the ones who didn’t know what was happening. I was still sobbing, so he took me over to a corner to talk.

I could have asked my Lord & my God anything at all in that moment, but first I started with “Are you okay?”

He laughed & put out his arms in front of him as if examining them, then twirled around. “Yup, right as rain!”

So my follow up question was, “Uh, Jesus?”

“Yes, Kellie?”

“Why do you look like Chris Hemsworth?”

He laughed. “Now now. I look like Thor.”

Note: Jesus was not costumed like Thor. He looked like Chris Hemsworth going to a casual California dinner party.

This was unhelpful. “Okay…why do you look like Thor?”

He made a face that wasn’t unkind, but seemed a little weary. “Well, my child, so many people here [he gestured, indicating the whole Earth] don’t know me anymore. They have no concept of God, or what concept they do have is scary.” He brightened. “But everybody knows Thor! He’s the only god some of them have even heard of!” He laughed.

“But Jesus,” I went on. “I don’t watch those movies or even like that whole genre. Like, I don’t read super hero comics.”

Jesus laughed. “That’s exactly my point! Even you know who Thor is. So there you go!”

This was supposed to satisfy me, so it did. I then woke up. And now every time I think of Jesus, I think of him looking like Chris Hemsworth, & smiling, & being my brother who is very supportive & sometimes laughs at me (not unkindly).

Jesus appears to all of us in a way that will make sense to us (or not, in my case, but I have a high tolerance for weird). Christ may come to you with the face of a beloved family member or favourite teacher or for you it may be Robert Downey Jr. How the hell should I know?

The Christ concept I had previously created in my head was a young Jewish…I guess realtor, but usually dressed like he was about to play racquetball. This is the Jesus I prayed to & spoke to, especially in the car. I will say it never quite rang true to me, though. I was very conscious that I had created a modern Christ, that he was someone I purposefully created to talk to, & that he himself never presented as an ’80s stereotype (replete with sweatbands).

This new version that came to me in a non-lucid dream is not anything I would have imagined, dreamed up, or picked. It sounds inauthentic, but upon encountering him, it is absolutely correct. Don’t ask me why that is…it makes no sense & it doesn’t have to.

Christ may appear to you as Ben Vereen or Danny Trejo or Phyllis Diller for all I know. It’s none of my business. But if you can have a 100% honest conversation with that image of Christ & be open to love unimaginable because of it, GO THERE. BE WITH THAT. Rest in that joy!

Maybe Jesus wants everyone to know that whatever happiness you get from watching Thor do things or thinking about Thor or whatever Thor means to you (& I 100% literally have no idea so don’t @ me) is what he wants with you. I don’t know. Jesus knows that I write, so maybe he wanted me to write about this. I was keeping it to myself pretty much, but here we are. Now all 10 of you know.

Maybe in prayer tonight, ask Jesus to come hang out with you. See how he appears. He may be a movie Jesus or a Discovery channel Jesus, or he may be something totally unexpected. Most importantly, he doesn’t have to be the authentic human creation that walked this earth for 33 years over 2 milennia ago, because he’s infinite again. HE CAN BE LITERALLY ANY IMAGE THAT SPEAKS TO YOU. It’s okay!

For me, this above picture perfectly illustrates our relationship. He is always smiling because he’s usually on the verge of laughing at whatever I’ve said, but kindly, like you’d laugh at a child’s meandering story. He is always interested to hear what I feel & sometimes is just waiting for a chance to give me a hug. And he wants us all to come & live with him in light everlasting. Forever.

Go say hi. See what happens.

The New Loudmouths

I have a theory that will annoy & offend a good deal of you, & that’s fine, because theories are meant to be tested. But I have observed something over the past few years with tremendous consistency, & I am confident I will be proven right by one of the behavioural sciences within the next ten years.

The new extroverts are all the people sitting at home, binge watching television, & posting angry crap online from their phones. They never leave the house, but they make pronouncements & yell at hundreds of people they don’t even know every. damn. day.

The new introverts are the people who have pretty much sworn off social media & go outside the house a couple few times a week to go be with actual people face to face.

“Now you wait a minute here, jerk,” says you from your couch, on your phone, binge watching Game of Thrones (whole posting criticism of people who have never seen it). “I am a delicate flower who cannot be around too much People Energy. Hence, I am an introvert. I express myself online because it’s hard in person.”

Oh pish tosh. The only difference between pronouncing to a Facebook group of 10,000 women that you hate someone’s wedding dress & standing in front of 10,000 people pointing at a bride & saying “I hate her dress” is that nobody can throw Jordan almonds at you online. You can just block people whose criticisms & opinions annoy you.

That’s not introversion. That’s cowardice.

Imagine having to say to that girl in person, “I hate your dress. It’s stupid. You’re stupid. You should have the designer shot, except I hate guns.”

I used to find the wedding bashing groups amusing, for about a month. Sometimes they were funny, & sometimes there were fun facts about different cultures. But what I realized fairly quickly was that when thousands of women who have been locked behind their phones nearly their whole lives encounter novelty, they go for the kill. This includes ideas they’ve never thought of, people they’ve never encountered, & things they’ve never seen.

And if those new (to them) people explain their ideas or customs, they get reamed by hundreds of mean spirited little delicate flowers behind their phones.

What is “introverted” about having a strident, uninformed opinion that you yell without hearing any discussion? You may as well head on downtown & start screaming random obscenities at passers by like some of the homeless people. That’s exactly what you sound like.

Conversely, my friends who avoid social media like the plague, text infrequently, & attend a number of conferences & events come across like introverts in this new weird society. When they sit down to talk to friends, they don’t whip out the latest angry clickbait diatribe. They don’t (usually) talk about things that happened on tv (though they may recommend a show).

They give a lot of speeches or they themselves perform, but they talk with and listen to a select few people. They don’t value the opinion of talking heads on cable news, they think the Internet is filled with half-assed infotainment, & they have clear boundaries when it’s time to go home & rest. Does that sound extroverted by your own definition? Probably not.

They focus on their families & their friends…not their followers. As a reformed Twitter addict, I get it. I definitely made some good friends via Twitter, but it is impossible to receive the same soul-gratifying satisfaction of real human connection from interacting with thousands of people every day. Every statement is a performance. It’s like you’re doing a bit all the time, which is why it’s a fantastic platform for comedians.

I don’t want to be “doing a bit” all the time. I want to love & be loved by my own precious, carefully curated circle of trusted, beloved people.

That makes me sound introverted, but I’m constantly accused of being a high energy extrovert. Y’all should see my ass in the morning, struggling for hours to get the energy to “do the world.” But once I have it, I like to be in it, Doing the Things.

When you’re out in the world, your concerns are merely whoever’s in front of you. Your focus is on another set of eyes.

Turn off your notifications & go do things with people. Sit across from someone who might even disagree with you, & you’ll have to solve it civilly rather than uSinG ThIs sUpEr iRriTatiNg tRoPe. Imagine treating people with respect, rather than opening an app & revving yourself up with self righteousness.

Disconnect from the Collective. Resistance is not futile. You’re not always right. Your selfies are never ugly & you know that or you wouldn’t post them. I’m talking to millions of women right now. Millions.

Go. be. pretty. in. person. You can’t delete that later. Idk.


Because I’m barely on social anymore, you’ll just have to learn about my books here in paperback & Kindle formats.

…and safe from all distress

This has been a crappy week, as was the week before it. I will not go into why, & I promise you don’t care. You don’t have to; it’s fine.

The reason I am writing about it, or rather around it, is not because it is still bothering me. It is not, though my body still bears the mild wounds of this past fortnight (bruises, celiac nonsense).

I am writing rather because what defines a crappy week for me has changed, & that’s miraculous.

It is cause for gratitude.

And it’s easily processed & handled.

This was not always the case. I am one of those people whose difficulties all came early in life. Meet any tough old broad, & that’s generally the case for her. She started as a terrified child, & her world was darkness. This is why all your problems seem trivial & ridiculous to her, & why she says things like “Put on your big girl panties, buttercup.” I imagine her name is Arlene, & she smokes Marlboro Reds & refinished her own kitchen & has a son that died in childbirth that she never talks about.

You think she’s mean, & you hate working with her. She’s a font of wisdom. Make any excuse to be with her.

I am not an Arlene, though I have my moments. Arlene is tougher than me. I prefer Arlenes to Karens in accounting, who always tell you they like your hair but whisper to all & sundry, “Doesn’t that girl have an iron?”

Bitch, I’ve pressed more palms than you have shirts. Nobody likes you, Karen. I’ll pray for you.


When I was younger, “crappy week” was a euphemism. Now, a crappy week is really just actually a crappy week.

This is cause for celebration! My problems are no longer dark nights of the soul — vigils in terror. They’re just having to deal with dumb crap. It’s amazing.

“Wait, wait, hang on,” says you. “Don’t you write all the time now about giving things to Christ & love & prayer & how that’s all awesome?”

YES. Yes I do. And this is that! It may not seem like that. But it is!

Jesus never said that being part of the Kingdom of God was like…I don’t know…an all inclusive resort package. Don’t confuse Heaven with the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is right here. We’re it. We’re supposed to be making things as loving & awesome as we can here. That doesn’t mean we’re immune to all the other crap here.

During the Lord’s Prayer, as many of you know, the priest says the embolism, which to some of y’all may sound like a medical condition you desperately want to avoid. For the latter folk, this is generally how it goes…

“…and deliver us from evil.

[Priest] Deliver us, Lord, from every evil.

Graciously grant peace in our days, that, by the help of thy mercy, we may be always free from sin, & safe from all distress, as we await the Blessed hope and the coming of our savior, Jesus Christ.

[all] for the Kingdom, the power, & the glory are yours now & forever.”

That sounds like we expect God to just make us happy all the time, but that’s not true. An earlier translation of this prayer explicates the true sense of the word distress: “and safe from all anxiety.”

God’s job isn’t to protect us from the world any more than it’s your earthly father’s job to stand in front of you 24/7 just in case a train comes hurtling at you. That’s weird.

We collectively made a decision as humans to exercise free will (illustrated beautifully in the creation myth), & because of that we’ve chosen to live in the world rather than the figurative Garden. God’s like, “Okay, I love you, but y’all crazy.”

But we pray to God to give us our daily bread, forgive us, fortify us in temptation, & strengthen us spiritually so we can be in this world without tripping out about dumb crap.

This, too, shall pass. It really will. It may pass like a kidney stone. It may take decades, depending on how long it takes for you to stop standing on your own proverbial dick.

So I’ve had a crappy two weeks, & I’m exhausted & achy. But it will pass. And it will pass sooner than the early stuff. It will pass sooner than the dumb crap I got myself into trying to process the early stuff.

Have you ever seen a little bunny or a kitten or puppy get themselves into something they can’t get out of? And the more they struggle, the more they hurt themselves? Or like that fat German rat? Screaming & screaming while the guy saved him?

That’s one of the best analogies I’ve witnessed for God & ourselves…ever. “I HATE YOU! GET AWAY FROM ME! GET THAT THING OFF ME! PUT ME DOWN oh hey I’m free, thanks.”

And then sometimes the silly creature goes & does the same damned thing again.

I mean. Is that not us?

The other glorious thing is that I had pockets of comfort & joy during the crappy two weeks, which is a novel concept for me. Most of them came at church, with my friends lovingly laughing at my foibles & giving me opportunities to help them in meaningful ways, so I didn’t feel totally ridiculous. Mastery, even of a small thing, reinforces our connection to God.

If you don’t believe me, get up right now & wipe down a counter top. Don’t try to win a fight with your cat; I just tried that, & even with soft paws, he bested me.

My sparring partner is fluffy, yet brutal. Look at this black belt of reflexes:

Anyhow. Be the bunny. Let Him lift you out. Then your crappy weeks will really just be silly, crappy weeks. Forgettable. Funny, even, like a month later. Or to the Arlenes now.

For Those Who Persecute You

There is probably nothing in the universe that will calm & change your heart faster than praying for people who make you insane with rage.

It’s also a fantastic way to alienate & annoy the sort of people (nearly every human on Earth) who feel entitled to their rage.

I haven’t written here in a while. I was keeping a private journal, then stopped, writing nothing at all, which is an odd thing for a writer to do, let alone an economically disastrous thing. But as is the case with me when I suddenly stop doing something, I was exercising a spiritual practice.

I am vexingly given a great deal of these by my priest, whom I grudgingly admit is always right. I had been reading Story of a Soul, which many of you (okay, 5 out of my 7 readers) know to be the autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux. It is delightful, and, as another priest in my parish says, “So beautiful. Also, such drama.”

Therese is a little French girl, & therefore slightly over the top.

But it is really quite spectacular, & essential reading for anyone whose vocation is love, no matter what they are doing with their lives.

So I’m reading this lovely book & having a somewhat spirited conversation with priest & teenaged goddaughter when he whips out a hardbound copy of Imitation of Christ and exhorts me to read that first. After all, it’s the source material for St. Therese’s entire existence.

“Fine,” I say, & take it.

It takes me a while to get through. It was written during a time when it was incredibly useful to tell people they were going to Hell. We don’t really do that anymore; we spend more time telling folks how easy it is to get into Heaven, since Jesus died for us (also love the Lord your God with all your heart & all your soul, etc). But back then, people used to randomly stab each other, gut cats for medicinal purposes, and literally believe that red haired women were brides of Satan (imagine such a thing!). Yes, people do that now, but they were much worse back then.

Everybody loves to talk about how awful the world is now but have you seen history?! The entire story of man’s day to day life shows a progressive trend upwards toward love. We are actually doing much better. We really are. Since Christ’s death & resurrection, people have been gradually becoming less awful on the whole.

Day to day life is less brutal. Complain all you want about a barista getting your Starbucks order wrong. It’s a hell of lot less stressful than having a marauding band from a neighbouring city-state murder your whole family. Sadly, that still happens in some parts of the world. But it still happens less. Marauding a neighbouring city-state & murdering whole families is pretty much frowned upon by all people at this point in human history.

Wow, that was divergent. Anyhow, it took me a minute to get through Imitation of Christ. I didn’t rip through it like I was ripping through Story of a Soul. It needs more thinking. It’s basically a collection of 4 smaller books (the third one seemingly interminable at times) telling you that you are a piece of crap, the cause of all your own problems, & that you need to do better.

And it’s right. At this point in my adult life, isn’t every problem I have my own damned fault? Didn’t I create every situation I’m in? Didn’t I allow someone to treat me that way, didn’t speak up soon enough to prevent something, neglected to do something I should’ve done days ago?

I’m now back to reading St. Therese, & she says pretty much the same things as Imitation (hell, she quotes it all the way through), but in this breathless girly style that speaks to the child inside me that still aches for love.

And of course the only way to receive love is to give it abundantly, even when it is spurned, misused, ignored, or trampled. Give love abundantly anyway. If you cannot find a thing, be a thing.

Love, actual burning love like Therese goes on & on about, does weird things. It inspires random weeping in front of an icon of Mary holding the infant Jesus. It inflames inconsolable sobbing during a particular beautiful piece of music. It leads you to merrily injure yourself in ten different little ways helping out someone who will never know what you did, whom you’re not even sure you like. And you will do it gleefully.

Love also helps you pray for people who, let’s face it, totally suck. People who hurt you, who hurt themselves, who hurt others. People whom you would rather punch. People who probably deserve a good punch.

Pray. For. Them.

And don’t do this thing we all want to do, which is, “Dear God, please make So&So stop being a prick. May they burn in Hell for all eternity if they don’t stop.”

No. When Jesus asks us to pray for our enemies, he means like he did upon the cross. “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” These people were in the process of killing him & he prayed for them.

Notice he didn’t invite them up for tea & bickies. But he did pray for them.

You can pray for someone you know you can’t even be around again. You can pray for someone you hate but never met (I don’t understand how people do that, but apparently some of y’all hate people you have never & will never meet). You can pray for internet trolls. You can pray for abusive parents (only if you are ready & feel safe to do so). You don’t have to hang out with these people. Just pray.

You don’t even have to ask forgiveness for them. You can just say, “Heavenly Father, I pray for So&So.” You don’t even have to use the words “help” or “be with”. Any time you want to punch someone, pray for them.

If they make you cry, pray for them.

If they boggle the mind, pray for them.

You may never see them change. What will change is your heart. Your mind. Your sense of peace. Your ability to live fully. Usually. You’re still a person. You’re still going to hate everything from time to time. Take a second & pray.

You know what else changes? Sadly, some people get annoyed with you if you start doing this. Even if you don’t tell them. It’s like when you quit drinking or eating fried Snickers. The people who still drink & eat fried Snickers see you over there not drinking & eating fried Snickers & they feel oddly betrayed. You haven’t told them even once that they need to quit, too, but they are judging you. For being healthier & less judgy. I don’t know what to tell you. That happens.

When you pray for others, your desire to participate in addictive outrage & the constant turmoil of public discussion diminishes. Imitation spends a lot of time on shunning the advice & thoughts of people, & it is not wrong to do so, because every human on Earth is a flawed creature who could be telling you something while suffering a hormone imbalance or hunger or maybe they’re a manipulative jerk. Who knows? Hell, don’t listen to me. I’m getting over a migraine & I’m loopy. I’m just telling you a thing I’ve been doing.

You may want to try it, too. Whatever. It’s all in scripture.

There Were Questions

The following is a very short work of fiction.

Abigail Sheft had it tough growing up, at least to hear her tell it, & as such knew absolutely exactly how anyone was going to react to her in any situation. She claimed her various traumas (never described) helped her develop her third eye, giving her insight into humanity inaccessible to mere mortals.

Until she met the woman at the counter at CVS. This bitch just kept smiling at her as she finally rang up her purchases, listening to Abby (her friends called her Abby) list all the ways this line could have been handled better & nobody should have to wait 15 minutes for anything, least of all the purchase of fucking drug store mascara because of an emergency.

But the lady stood there, ringing up the emergency mascara & the pack of gum & the diet Red Bull & the nine other items Abby needed to salvage this evening.

Abby was waiting for the retail sigh or the rigid eyes or some other minuscule sign of irritation. After all, the customer in front of her had been trying to exchange something she clearly bought, like, a whole year ago. And she was rude about it. And barely spoke English. Like, wtf?

But the lady ringing up everyone had smiled through the whole thing. Warmly. It was weird.

Abby was about to remark that this bitch was weird when the bitch said, “I’ve emailed your receipt. I hope your night gets better.” She said it in a tone Abby had never heard before.

She was about to clap back, but she just took her bag and left, silent, getting back into her Uber. She wanted to tweet something about the encounter, but found herself without words. She instead decided to post a backseat selfie to Insta, holding up the mascara to her face.

She had, after all, saved the day.

I’ve written some books, which you can get here if you are so inclined.

Adoration Part Two

As I mentioned last week, Father Michael’s been putting out a monstrance for Adoration these last couple of weeks of Advent. My last experience was pretty emotional & very intense.

Tonight’s was also, but in a very different way.

This time I went having heard much less bad news, which didn’t mean I was necessarily having a good day. I had a weird day. But it wasn’t an awful day.

I went in a cheerful mood. I was happy to be ending my day in this manner, knowing that everyone else was busy with a vestry meeting, & I’d selfishly have Christ all to myself again.

I knelt for a bit, & in my head I sang the little chant Father Vladimir taught us:

Here’s my heart, Lord.

Here’s my heart, Lord.

Here’s my heart, Lord.

Speak what is true.

I did that for a good long while with a smile on my face, then just said “Speak, for your servant is listening.” And then I was quiet in my mind.

Here is where some of you will think I am crazy.

I perceived Mary sitting on the pew next to me. I knew she wasn’t actually there there, but she was there. She looked so young & yet spoke with such an aged, wise voice, in a slow, deliberate way, like English was her second language, but she was very good at it if she took her time. She glanced up at the monstrance subtly. “You can sit back,” she said gently. “You’re in pain.”

So I did.

She said, “I knelt by his cradle when he was a baby. And I fell to my knees when he died on that cross.” She said it so carefully and lovingly. I burst into tears.

She spent a good long time telling me some things that might not make any sense to you, but they made perfect sense to me. She said to love him as she loved him, because he is both her son and her God. She knew it was strange.

She said that he never didn’t love me, even when I denied him. You want to talk about a Jewish mother guilt trip. But she didn’t mean for me to feel bad. She just wanted me to know. I felt bad because I felt guilty.

And then Christ was there. I mean, he’s always there, but he was part of this conversation. “Hey, you were a child,” he said, & for some reason Mary sounds like she’s from Israel, but Jesus sounds like he’s from Yonkers. There is nothing I can do about that; he always sounds like a 30-something rabbi from Yonkers to me.

I was basically sobbing at this point. “You were a child & you were in so much pain.”

“He cried with you,” she said. “He cried for you.”

So basically I’ve completely lost it alone in this dark church & Jesus is walking me through some stuff I feel like crap about & he’s explaining where he was during all that & helping me love & understand difficult people. He’s also forgiving me for not getting things at the time.

He & Mary are also consoling me on some difficult people & things now. And telling me that no, it’s not fair but if anyone can handle it, I can.

But where I completely surrendered to the conversation & cried like a child was when he very plainly said to me, “I love you so much. Hey, I love you. You have no idea.” And Mary said it too & I just kind of crumpled on the kneeler & sobbed like a child.

Which of course is when Father walked in & had to lock up the church. But his timing was impeccable; if he’d come in a couple minutes earlier, I would’ve missed all that.

I’m not telling you this because it’s a special experience just for me. It’s a message for you, too. Jesus loves you. You have no idea how much. You can’t possibly comprehend it. I can’t.

Also I get the impression Mary feels a little sorry for men, because they have a hard time being vulnerable. And sometimes they are mean about it. That was really good mom advice. Jesus was basically like, “Ya know, she’s not wrong.”

So that’s the story of my near hour with Jesus & his mom. She thinks of the church as her daughter-in-law. Isn’t that sweet?

I am going to see if other parishes have weekly or daily adoration, because there is nothing like it & I want to go again. I don’t know if it’ll be the same as St. Nicholas — a dark, cold church lit only by a few candles with lingering Sunday scents I know & love — but I want to try.


No one has known more suffering than Christ. I know that now. I know it.

He suffered on the cross & he suffers now. Every time we wound one another, be it something as heinous as murder or simple as indifference, he aches with sorrow.

This hit me during adoration this evening. It hit me long enough to sob for an hour in front of a monstrance. It hit me long enough to sob in the car on the way home, though I did manage to hold it together long enough to buy my stupid sensitive skin soap.

Now that 87% of you think I’m crazy, let me explain what adoration is. Actually, let Brother Jim explain it. This is a lovely piece of writing Father had me email to everyone in the church (yes, someone has entrusted me with yet another database).

Father then announced at Mass this Sunday that during Advent, we’d have adoration on Tuesday evenings. I spent a blessed hour alone in the church, Christ all to myself, kneeling in the front pew.

It occurred to me after maybe 2 minutes of gazing at the Host that I would need tissues, which we apparently don’t have in the sanctuary. I wandered into the sacristy & snagged a couple. I came back, began to pray for Christ to speak to me, & was besieged with inconsolable sorrow.

Every hideous news story I’d read that day hit me with a furious sadness I was incapable of feeling while scrolling my FB feed. A 9-year-old girl who hung herself, a pregnant teenager stabbed to death by her boyfriend. Starving children. The homeless who visit our very parish hall 3 times a week. The unbearable fear & isolation & loneliness of these souls pierces Christ as surely as any spear.

There were visions of friends who are dead, one who killed herself & another who ODed. A friend’s niece who died stupidly, horribly, unnecessarily. My friend’s beautiful brother who recently passed. All walking strong & joyfully with Jesus now, but his own sorrow for them was so much.

I thought of a friend who is going through a tremendously painful, scary medical mystery, his lack of faith, & even pure hatred of God.

I spoke to him. “Is this you all the time? How do we end your suffering? What can I do to end all the suffering? You control the universe! How do we console you?”

I had the sense that all human rage & hatred is only suffering & pain, expressed in sin.

I didn’t get any answers today. All I knew is that after a little while, I stopped crying, & I looked at my watch. I had been there an hour. I figured Father probably wanted to lock up the church & go home. I got to blow out the candles surrounding the monstrance. That felt like a reward.

Sometime during this hour, I also thought of Mary, giving birth to this glorious child who was destined to suffer & die for us. That also made me sob. That never doesn’t make me sob.

On the way home, Garmana’s version of “Virga ac diadema” shuffled up. It was written by Hildegard von Bingen. These are the words in English:

O branch and diadem in royal purple clad,

who like a shield stand in your cloister strong.

You burst forth blooming but with buds quite different

than Adam’s progeny—th’ entire human race.

Hail, o hail! For from your womb came forth another life,

that had been stripped by Adam from his sons.

O bloom, you did not spring from dew

nor from the drops of rain,

nor has the windy air flown over you; but radiance divine

has brought you forth upon that noblest bough.

O branch, your blossoming God had foreseen

within the first day of his own creation.

And by his Word he made of you a golden matrix,

O Virgin, worthy of our praise.

O, how great in power is that side of man,

from which God brought the form of woman forth,

a mirror made

of all his ornament, and an embrace

of all his own creation.

The heavens’ symphony resounds, in wonder stands

all earth, O Mary, worthy of our praise,

for God has loved you more than all.

O cry and weep! How deep the woe!

What sorrow seeped with guilt

in womanhood because the serpent hissed his wicked plan!

That woman, whom God made to be the mother of the world,

had pricked her womb

with wounds of ignorance—the full inheritance of grief

she offered to her offspring.

But from your womb, O dawn, has come the sun anew;

the guilt of Eve he’s washed away

and through you offered humankind a blessing

even greater than the harm that Eve bestowed.

O Lady Savior, who has offered to the human race

a new and brighter light: together join the members of your Son

into the heavens’ harmony.

Like, seriously. That happened. Of course, I burst into tears again.

I don’t really know what to do with this information except to try super hard to never cause anyone sorrow, ever. I mean I already have a No Sorrow policy, & I try to make as many people happy as I can, & alleviate pain as often as possible. But it must not be enough.

I don’t know what to do.