Prodigal Singing

Prodigal Singing

—by Betty E. Landis As we rounded the curve of the con­course, a child’s cries ricocheted off the tiled bathroom walls, into the carpeted gate area. It was ear­ly morning, and the howling was getting louder. Women and chil­dren spilled out of the bathroom with expressions of determination more pronounced than the typical I-must-get-to-my-gate look. […]

Alleluia! Hallelujah!

Alleluia! Hallelujah!

by Meghan Johnston Aelabouni— In the last few weeks of my grand­mother’s life, while she was still alert enough to talk with us, she started recalling old memories: her childhood in New Jersey, seeing the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall and a certain snowy night she spent during World War II decorating the church […]

Ash and oil

Ash and oil

—by Jordan Miller-Stubbendick When mixing ashes, the trick is to use just a little oil and go slowly. Too much oil, and they become a soupy mess, stuck at the bottom of a greenish-yel­low shimmer. If there’s too little, add more just a few drops at a time. The only way I can ever get […]

‘Tis the season…for hospitality

‘Tis the season…for hospitality

By Anne Basye— Make a list of twenty things that matter deeply to you: your children, your parents, your congregation…your great grandmother’s tea set… Are you up to 20 yet? Now cross off five of them. Cross off five more. And then another five. “When you’re a refugee, you can only take five things with […]

When wolves come to dinner

When wolves come to dinner

by Liv Larson Andrews— A wolf killed my uncle’s favorite llama. She was old and weak, with dark brown hair and kind eyes that would follow his truck up the dirt driveway. For many years my uncle has kept eight or nine llamas on his plot of Montana hill­side. One winter, this wolf, large and […]

Maybe you’re not feeling Advent-y

Maybe you’re not feeling Advent-y

By Michelle Derusha— I’m not feeling very Advent-y this Advent. I don’t have that sense of anticipation—the expectation that is often present in the weeks leading up to Christmas. I’m not feeling all close and cozy with Jesus or particularly prayerful or joyous or even spiritual. I’m just…here. Slogging. Going through the motions. It can […]

The songs of Advent

The songs of Advent

by Kathryn A. Kleinhans— Advent is a season of waiting, but not just waiting. Advent is also a season of anticipation and preparation. Anticipation reminds us that we are waiting for something that is worth waiting for. Preparation reminds us that waiting is not idle time; there are things we can do to get ready […]

An “Oh yeah” Advent

An “Oh yeah” Advent

by Sarah Carson— Recently I needed to clean out my medicine cabinet. On one shelf were prescriptions from ailments past—pain medications, antibiotics, several jars of cranberry cap­sules (there must have been some sale at the pharmacy when I needed those!). On another shelf I found a half-used bottle of anti-nausea syrup, a travel-sized tin of […]

Just notice

Just notice

by Cara Strickland When I’m overwhelmed by my feelings, my schedule or my circumstances, my therapist often tells me to “just notice.” As I begin to slow down and focus, I see things more clearly. Often, this motivates me to action, but perhaps more often, I am content to linger a moment, realizing that my […]

Mountains with many faces

Mountains with many faces

by Liv Larson Andrews for saints Florence, Leonard, Thomas and Pamela Over the phone, Grandma Florence’s voice was weary. “I just don’t know if I can do it anymore,” she said. “Do what?” I asked. “Say the creed.” “Oh.” My 95-year-old grandmother explained how she felt uncomfortable speaking the words of the creeds aloud when […]