Advent Meditation: Tuesday, December 8, 2020

: Psalm 27  •  Isaiah 4:2-6  •  Acts 11:1-18 Who was I that I could hinder God? (Acts 11:17) In today’s reading from Acts, Peter receives a vision in which he is reminded that human practices are often at odds with God’s divine way. In the vision, God instructs Peter to eat animals considered unclean … read more


The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like shining from shook foil ….                                                             —Gerard Manley Hopkins What might it mean for “the world” to be “charged with the grandeur of God?” One obvious meaning — which you may have learned if you read Hopkins’ poem in school — […]


Ernest Hemingway once wrote a six-word short story that goes like this: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”  The story has given birth to an entire industry of six-word-story contests, publications, and websites. If someone were to announce an eleven-word short story contest, I’d immediately nominate this recent utterance by our current U.S. Senate majority […]


Psalms 26, 28; Isaiah 5:13-17, 24-25; Luke 21: 29-38   Listen to the author read their meditation and prayer: Dr. Claire Colombo, Advent Meditation   In Luke’s Parable of the Fig Tree, Jesus tells us to “look at the fig tree and all the trees” (21:29) and that as soon as there are leaves we […]

Shakespeare’s Atoms

“A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.” —Hamlet, IV.iii.27–28 In A Short History of Nearly Everything, the endlessly fascinated Bill Bryson reminds us of our entanglement with the Bard: “We are each so atomically numberous and so vigorously […]

Two-Toned Heart

As I write this, the pope’s new exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”), has just been released. I haven’t yet read the document, but as I scroll through the newsfeed, I see a post with this lead: “Pope restores conscience to its proper place in the church and asks pastors to meet people where […]

Storied Love

  During last week’s Payne Lecture, Dr. Brené Brown reminded the SSW community that the brain is hardwired for story—that it “wants and demands a story that has a beginning, a middle, and an end, regardless of whether the story is true…. It needs a story to be safe.”1 This observation reminded me of a […]

Who Needs a Hygge Today?

I recently learned that Danish people live by a concept known as hygge (pronounced “heurrga,” with some guttural action involved).1 Though difficult to translate, the word—which can be a noun, an adjective, or a verb, and which may be related to our word hug—means something like “taking pleasure from gentle, soothing things.” Warm pools of […]

Marks of Love

Before Mom died in 2004, she and my dad lived in a beach house on the west end of Galveston Island. Afterward, Dad moved to Dallas, but the beach house stayed in the family, and a number of our collective belongings remain there—including Mom’s books.

Among them are many volumes I know she read: Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea, Kathleen Norris’s Cloister Walk, and Rosamunde Pilcher’s The Shell Seekers, to name a few. Others, I know she never cracked; they’re too pristine, lacking the warps and creases of beach-combed books.

Still others I know she only partly read. I know this because of the bookmarks she left in them.

Some of these bookmarks are of the Hallmark variety, with colored tassels and wacky sayings such as “Reading is Forever!” Others come from her travels with Dad (the Moby Dickens Bookshop in Taos) or her devotional life (“Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!”). Still others are faded dry-cleaning receipts or rumpled grocery lists.

Anchors Aweigh

The pounding rain was the least of our problems, though we didn’t know it at the time. My son and I were traveling home to Austin after a week on the coast. I gripped the wheel and squinted into the watery I-10 corridor as Gabe pretended to read. Some cars poked along with us. Others bullied their way by in a hair-raising blur.

As we approached Katy, just west of Houston, the rain let up. I could breathe again. Tentatively, I accelerated. Buildings emerged from the mist. Gabe began to read for real. I moved back into the fast lane. Everything would be fine!