Friday, March 30, 2012

Dancing with Robin

There's nothing like dancing with a 16-month old to make you feel like you've got rhythm!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pushing a Stroller

It's a bit difficult to explain but as Laurel was pushing Robin in the stroller during tonight's cool breezed sunset I held one of Laurel's hands.  Somehow then I felt the sensation of pushing Robin, too.  Beauty and family can work like that!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Familiar

After a ten day break from classes that included two out-of-state visits to family and friends, a housing move, and a 12-page research paper, there's something comforting and even exciting in the familiarity of the normal schedule that began again today.  It can be too easy to overlook the grace within the mundane.

Friday, March 23, 2012


You know that feeling of zero gravity you get after taking off a heavy backpack, or stepping on to a moving walkway?  Relieved exhilaration: we're done with our move!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

NPR Short Story Part 4

Day four: At the doorstep I look around once more to be sure no one is hiding and ready to jump.  Home is nowhere, but in this moment it is here beside me.  Lazaro, my kid brother, my twin inseparable, my playmate and confidante and only friend for thousands of miles: you lie beneath me now, crumpled, and I will bury you.  Upon entering the house, in fruitless search for a spade, something feels familiar about the door and the book at the table.  It is the Bible and it is opened to the Book of John, chapter eleven.  A brother too is deader than anyone knew and Jesus raised him, but he is not here, not here right now with me.  Or Lazaro.

The morning breaks quietly, as if on tip toe around Marta’s sacred space.  She breathes in deeply, searching, crying, collapsing.  Jesus, God, hold me!  Sunrise: day now.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

NPR Short Story Draft 3

A chilling quiet and blood as she’d never seen it before.
Day two: running away hadn’t been as difficult as finding water, and later food.  Animal-like instincts engaged surprisingly; besides, she had rage driving her.  Marta’s heartbeat became to her head a steady siren warning her to stop, rest.  Her need to run tangled again and again with the urge to return, wreak havoc, revenge.  But now she comes, drawing nearer the hollow pit of her stomach, dreading to discover what they did with this body.

Day three: Hope comes in the form of a kind lady in the Alpine McDonald’s.  A bacon, egg, and chees biscuit, and water.  Her parched body expanded deliriously with each cool cup.  In this sacred space, Marta prays: Lord, come to me and my brother.  Be with him and hold him.  As you refused to do while he was alive.  Anger flushes her face, last moment’s indulgent enjoyment overtaken by the betrayal.  Ah, to make it right, to return to that deadly argument and—what?  I will.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

NPR Short Story Draft Part 2

Then the border coyote, the money (but not enough!) and the mountains.  Now her thigh muscles ached, the angle of the land steepening: the tense days and promises to pay, anxiety deepening as everything fell open to exhaustion.

Moment one: morning's nearly broken over the remote shack, oh too many of us packed into dark places.  Lazaro in the room next door with the men.  Then an argument, his voice rising and twisting as if pain, despair, flight: "Marta!"  Her name still ringing in her head.  "Here I am!"  I'm coming for my brother because you didn't.

Monday, March 19, 2012

NPR Short Story Draft Part 1

I'd like to submit an entry to NPR's Three-Minute Fiction contest, so I'll put a bit of it together over the next few days.  Let me know if you have any suggestions for improvement!

She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally, decided to walk through the door.  The night air's coldness surprised her.  Her footsteps echoed vaguely along the vacant drive, the darkened trailers forlorn against the empty desert sky.  Soon, the sound of sand -- not soft but hard -- skiffed up from her soles.  I prayed and prayed to you and death came instead.  Carlos' voice filled her head overwhelmingly, its reassuring tone strong and confident.  "We'll make it safe, mi hermana.  Trust me."

Minutes ticked toward sunrise, she supposed, but the four days since It happened collapsed upon her world and imposed itself over the cactused landscape.  If you won't, or can't do it, then I will.  She traced her way back to Tegucigalpa, the sacked streets of Guatemala City (the catcalls), the Mexican trains past depressed lands, quietly desperate.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Smells like Rain

When there's more air than rain
when it's just started to fall
its soiled smell opens up
the afternoon Salvadoran shower:
mango leaves rustling, road dust mingling
reminder that rain cleanses, stirs up
and puts to rest.

Friday, March 16, 2012


Even with a mild winter, spring seems to be coming in expected bloomed sequence: redbuds, then dogwoods.  Both trees maintain a generally low profile, but come this time of year they jump out from behind their more regal wooded companions with awesome displays.  After their flowers fall, for months I try to guess which trees they were.  I love that I can't tell: I think people blossom this way, too.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


This morning I tag-teamed with a seminary mom to watch three toddlers Robin's age (including Robin) because our normal childcare had closed for the day due to a petri dish of diseases going around.  At snack time all three were (gloriously) seat belted into their chairs munching on mango, black beans, (and most definitely in Robin's case), cheese.  For a moment they all looked at me expectantly, as if to say, "Well?  How are you planning to entertain us?"  It wasn't an impatient or entitled look, just a simply curious one.  Thanks be to God these three kids have thus far experienced life to be a series of loving, challenging (but surmountable), and fun times!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Words and Grace

Grace came tonight through a book I'm reading on confirmation for my liturgical history research paper. Words on a page penned 25 years ago caused comprehension to dawn on my research effort to date.  Once I got over the initial (ungracious) feeling of frustration that I hadn't seen this book earlier (!), I felt grateful that my paper was going to have a satisfying conclusion after all!

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Robin was extra whiny tonight because she was extra tired, which put me on edge.  Laurel's chiding me about the choking-hazard sized carrot I gave to Robin poked my insecurity around parenting competency.  So I (immaturely) tried to take over bathtime, which resulted in some rhetorical wrangling.  But after Laurel later emerged from the bedroom having put Robin to bed, a hug and apology was enough.  Routine forgiveness for inevitable ungraciousness is a refreshing God gift!

Thursday, March 8, 2012


I may sell these some day.  I most certainly will eat them.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Profundity after Midnight

Robin's sick and didn't sleep great last night.  Even Laurel's mom tricks weren't working.  As a desperate last effort, I took her on a walk at one in the morning.

Fortunately, the moon and breeze were both full and it wasn't too cold.  With Robin strapped to my front, we ventured quietly and increasingly reverently through our bare backyard forest.  I'd stop from time to time and look up to the dizzying sway of fifty-foot beech trunks.  Then we arrived at our lake: its surface scurried toward us on the wind, breaking weakly but constantly on the bank.  Clear sky rose above us lit strangely by the brazen moon.  "Robin," I whispered.  Her eyes met mine.  "That's the moon," I declared, pointing.  She stared fixedly and curiously.  I watched her.  A lonely tire swing witnessed the scene, ghostlike.

Most everything gains profundity after midnight.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Where's the grace in a pan of freshly baked brownies powdered with sugar?

That's a dumb question.

Colin's Spanish homily for 2 Lent

I gave a short homily in Spanish today at the Chapel of Apostles in Sewanee: the English follows, and the Spanish text can be viewed here.

“But to those who keep in my way will I show the salvation of God.”
Universal Studios in Hollywood offers tourists the chance to experience movie sets, including one in which a flash flood utterly ravages a small Western town and almost consumes its audience as well.  The inescapable power of the sudden wall of water projected along its chosen way is simply awesome.
The LORD’s way, and our place in relation to it, is the subject of today’s psalm and this week’s collect.  To be sure, there are those who have ventured far astray of this way, and for those we pray God will return them to the divine fold.  But where are we along this way?  Which direction do we face?  And where is the LORD on this path?
Halfway through the psalm, heading the section excised from today’s recitation, the psalmist shifts his intended audience to “the wicked”.  It seems likely these poor souls are the addressees of the rest of the poem, including that final portion which we picked back up today.  The psalm’s end, “But to those who keep in my way will I show the salvation of God,” then can be read as a threat, blessing, or both.  The Book of Common Prayer offers “but” instead of the NRSV’s implied “and”, suggesting the final line contrasts rather than complements its couplet (both readings work in the Hebrew).  Could “keep in my way” be a bad thing?  What about the “salvation of God”?
If we stay in the LORD’s way, we discover some answers to these questions.  Perhaps we travel this Lenten season in humble obedience, trudging toward Easter with eager anticipation.  At other times, we might turn around—in frustration, or anger, or despair, or sheer obstinance—and sit right in the middle of the path, or even run the other direction.  But maybe our movement does not ultimately matter so much as the ravined way we inhabit, however cheerfully or despondently.  For many waters are coming—the salvation and deliverance and liberation of God—and we shall we swept away clean, and so quickly moved into union with the LORD’s mighty way.

Monday, March 5, 2012


A Sunday afternoon nap
waking up next to Laurel and
freshly baked apple pie:

Trinitarian love doesn't rest on the Sabbath!

Saturday, March 3, 2012


An all-Saturday workshop isn't all that fun, even when it's enriching (thanks to great facilitators from Member Mission).  But it is a true blessing to be able to leave Robin in childcare for the day a mere 50 feet away with a babysitter she sees every week: no crying when we left, a 45-minute nap, and a tired but happy baby this evening!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Touching down

Tornadoes swirl irredeemably: Does God know where they will touch down?  Does God care?  Yes.

Sat in a convenience store hallway with a few friends for an hour during this morning's tornado warning.  The employees shared gum, Pop Tarts, and soda with us.  Sweet.

Storm's passed.  Houses across the Midwest have been destroyed.  Be with those, O Lord, whose lives have been cut short, whose homes have been shorn.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Harsh Moment

The preacher in our seminary chapel stands behind and to the side of the podium while the deacon reads the Gospel.  It's a harsh moment that calls for quieting prayer, because once the reading finishes, once the Bible is removed, once the deacon stands back, it's time for her to step up and meet the expectant eyes of the still standing congregation.  Laurel did this tonight, and leaned on grace, I think, for steadiness.

Laurel's Lenten Sermon

Laurel delivers her first sermon in the Chapel of the Apostles!