First Lesson in Obedience/ First Step Toward Conversion

I mow my lawn as obsessively/compulsively as I do a number of things.  One time I’ll mow in rows running north-south, the next time east-west, then diagonally one way, then diagonally the other way.  Back when I lived down south and had lush St. Augustine grass, my yard would rival a major league baseball diamond. Since we moved to Iowa, I’m happy if any grass grows at all; “lush” is no longer in my lawn-related vocabulary.

Fifteen or so years ago, I can remember mowing along a perfectly straight row one hot July or August day when it occurred to me, out of the blue: “turn around and go the other way.”  It wasn’t an audible voice, but it was definitely one of those attention-getter “thoughts” that have now and again over the course of my life turned out to be God’s way of communicating with me. Continue Reading

Finding forgiveness is bloody business

I cut my finger last Tuesday. No, I mean, I really cut my finger. Four stitches worth.

I had sharpened the little knife I like to use for cutting vegetables and I was really proud of its new razor’s edge. It just floated through all those fresh tomatoes I put into the tava, a wonderful Kosovar dish I had discovered earlier in the summer. I put the tava in the oven and I was ready to go to work on making preserves out of the big basket of peaches we’d gleaned from some friends’ tree. I hurriedly rinsed the knife, reached for the drying towel, looked down just in time to think, “Oops, knife blade is turned downward; it may cut a hole in the cloth.” Continue Reading

Benedictine jihad

A few weeks ago I was in a bar to hear some musician friends. Shortly after our arrival–Cynthia and daughter Emma were with me–I met an acquaintance who, without the usual chit-chatty preamble, abruptly said, “I heard you became a Catholic. Is that true?” When I responded in the affirmative he quickly asked, “Why would you do that?” Continue Reading