By Heather Varner
Heather Varner has written for xojane.com and time.com about grief.
At the age of 23, I lost my mom to a tragic motorcycle accident.
Losing her was unforeseen, unpredictable, and the pure definition of ‘earth-shattering.’ My life didn’t change because of her death – it stopped. Now, four years later, I look back and see my life not as one continuous narrative, but a two-parted tale, that in many ways is disconnected. There was Life Before, and Life After.
Andrew Wicks is a 6’4 physiotherapist who enjoys wool socks, leg room, and eating pizza. He is thankful for his family and Lactaid.
A recent patient had an unusual and very specific goal. She wanted to be able to ride an escalator again.
This woman was a vibrant being before her car accident that left her with a traumatic brain injury (TBI). She taught exercise and dance classes. She was an avid downhill skier. She ate life with a knife and fork and asked for dessert.
After her accident, she had to work like mad to regain the ability to walk and talk and think and be. Most things eventually came back. Most things.
Sara Parks is Assistant Professor in New Testament Studies at the University of Nottingham. Her PhD in Early Judaism and her MA in New Testament and Christian Origins are from McGill University in Montreal. Sara hails from Moncton, New Brunswick—home of the highest tides in the world as well as the most beautiful French. (Désolée, Paris et Montréal!) Sara is a muggle. (Originally published by Oxford Biblical Studies Online.)
Christmas is over. Bing’s gone back to a global-warming green Christmas after severe winter storms. Clarke Griswold has taken down the lights one strand at a time. Tiny Tim survived, thanks to Scrooge’s repentance and intervention.
Yet, this Christmas felt more like Carol of the Bells than Jingle Bells, didn’t it?
Just before Christmas, I found myself burned out, edgy, and tired. The sprayed on painted snowman and reindeer display in the window at Burger King didn’t help my lack of spirit nor did the smells of the Christmas tree lot kick start the eggnog in my veins when I walked by each night as I listened to podcasts and processed my day on my urban trek through the Christmastide.
Robert Pirsig wrote, “The only Zen you find on a mountain top is the Zen you bring.”
I thought of that as I worshipped in an historic church recently.
I watched the young couples practicing personal piety.
I saw students bow their head in prayer for the entire service.
No one welcomed me, no one said goodbye.
And it was perfect.
Richard Kerrigan is a chef working at The Goat’s Toe in Bangor, Northern Ireland. He works relief for mental health support charities, and he has a background in mental health nursing.
It’s difficult to ignore the references to food and cookery in the Bible. From the first bite of that seemingly perfect, shiny apple in Genesis to the Last Supper and the feasts and wine in the New Testament, there are scores of nods to the culinary world. Many are metaphors for knowledge sharing (unless Christ really did feed thousands using a couple of cod fillets & a few baps). Indeed, a lot of Jesus’s teaching and preaching is done at mealtimes & when else would be better to feed the mind than when you are feeding the belly? Folk are more likely to listen if there’s free sandwiches and a pot of coffee. It’s the reason most of us turn up at training days.
Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg writes books about the messy business of trying to be a person in the world, and how spirituality can inform and transform that work. Sometimes that’s about parenting, sometimes feminism, sex, God, justice, or joy. It’s all interconnected, isn’t it?
She’s a highly-sought keynote speaker and lecturer who has been named by Newsweek and The Daily Beast as one of ten “rabbis to watch,” and one of the top 50 most influential women rabbis. Continue reading
Philip Kosloski is a writer and author of the book, The Last Monks of Skellig Michael, and creator of a comic book under the same name. He is a spirituality writer for Aleteia.org and a big Star Wars geek.
The Rev. Robert W. Lee (IV) is an ordained pastor and author of the book, “Stained Glass Millenials.” A sought-after speaker, Rob also writes for several publications. A friend of the Abbey, we are pleased to present Rob’s writing to you on this first Sunday in Advent.
Friend of the Abbey Lily Burana is a novelist and spiritual writer, whose works include: I Love a Man in Uniform: A Memoir of Love, War, and Other Battles; the novel Try; and Strip City: A Stripper’s Farewell Journey Across America. She has written for The Washington Post, GQ, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weekly, the Village Voice, and the New York Observer. She was a contributing editor at New York Magazine and SPIN. Her newest book, “Grace for Amateurs: Field Notes on a Journey Back to Faith” can be ordered here. Continue reading