Story Selection

When I was staying home with our infant son, he and I spent the Chicago winter by listening to a lot of audiobooks. Among them was Walter Issacson’s biography on Steve Jobs

The audiobook clocks in at just over 25 hours. That is about three workdays of audio.

That is to say, almost everything of his life is left out.  Even under this constraint, Isaacson weaves a masterful, productive whole.

We make choices, too, about which stories of our lives to rehearse to ourselves and to present to others.  This choice matters a great deal for who we become. 

Our lives, no matter how messy in the moment, can become a productive whole.


Rare is media that can entrance and teach both adults and children. 

For books, the master is Mo Willems. For television, a show called Bluey sets the curve. I do not remember who turned us onto the program, but our family owes them big.

Though ostensibly for children, I am certain that this show, in its 7-minute episodes, makes me a better human being.

I fear to over explain it.  It is best to just to experience the genius. So, go beg someone’s Disney+ password and treat yourself tonight.  Especially brilliant episodes are: “Omelette”, “Dance Mode”, and “Hammerbarn”. 

The people who produce the show are masters – in illustrating the depth of the interior lives of children, in shepherding parents toward courageous light-heartedness, and helping us all see how wonderful it is to live on the earth and attend to simple things.

The Other Two

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how the daily emails I read went from two to three (when I signed up for The Daily Difference, a source of reliable and easily understandable knowledge on climate change.)

A few people asked me about the other two.  Here they are!

The Daily Meditations from the Center for Action and Contemplation: Most of the meditations are adapted from the writings of Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM.  They translate the depth and challenge of the Christian tradition in a way that is consistently inviting.

Seth Godin’s daily blog: Godin riffs on marketing, empathy, being a human today, and the endurance needed to make a difference.

Most days, I marvel that they give all of this away for free.


Our sons wanted to practice some German songs that they were learning at school, so I found them on YouTube, set the playback speed at one click under full-speed (75%), and we all sang along.

It was (and is) great fun.

One time, though, when queueing up the songs, I forgot to set the speed at 75%, and the songs began at full speed.  Both of them immediately protested. 

Whoa! Why is everything going so fast! Turn it back to how it was!

“Normal,” it turns out, is way too accelerated.

And in our lives, too, it may be that we are going way too fast, but have only ever considered it to be normal.

What would a test run at 75% look like this week?

This, Too, Shall Pass

The strain of caring for a young person through a trying stage.

A disorienting heartache.

The pain of having let someone down.

This, too, shall pass.

And yet, do I truly want to wish it quickly away? If I do, I very well may miss the meaning of the experience. I may short-circuit the work it wants to achieve in me.

So, yes… this, too, shall pass… but before it does, I promise to be present with it.

And No One Was Thinking About Being a Monster

I hope that you, some day, run into The Monsters’ Monster, a witty, subtle tale about the power of gratitude.

Let’s all, like the Monster, say “dank you” a bit more.

ps – Happy Thanksgiving, all.

pps- And Katie and I are grateful to Fr. James Martin for this post about The Examen Book.  Thank you, Jim!

As Broken and as Whole

I read (and then re-read and re-read) the following this week.

“The neurosis of our age is the fear of being all that we are. And in the fear of being all that we are, we pretend that we are less than we are. And in pretending that we are less than we are, we are anxious. And we are anxious because we are afraid that someone might pull the curtain back and we might be discovered and we might have to stand up and be what we are. We might have to stand up and in an open-faced, vulnerable way, acknowledge… just how broken and how whole… how fleeting and eternal, how human and divine we are.” -Jim Finley quoting Rollo May in Christian Meditation: Entering the Mind of Christ (around 5:24:00 in the audio version)


The point Finley was making is that in meditation practice, we are able to (very slowly and patiently) accept the totality of all that we are, and so live differently.

But I think we also need relationships for this level of acceptance. We need people who are able to see the broken, the fleeting, the human – and who love us anyway – and who help us hold it all gently. And we need people who can, at the same time, mirror back the wholeness, the eternal, the divine in us.

This is a profound gift to receive and to offer. Let’s try to do it more often.

People Like Us Do Things Like This

The other day, I saw a car and a bike heading toward each other on the same narrow-ish street. Then I saw the car slow down, pull over, and actually put two tires up on the curb to give the bike more space.

I see similar deference to bikes here routinely. It’s “how things are done around here.”

Sometimes, we are so immersed in the culture of a place or institution that we do not even name or acknowledge the reality of “how things are done.”

But when we slow down and observe (and/or listen to people who are not like us), we see this “how things are done” more clearly. Once we have seen it, we have the choice to consider if this kind of culture contributes to our common flourishing.

If it does not contribute to our flourishing, we can then choose to live and speak a different way.

There is a profound power in the reality of “people like us do things like this.”

Presentation Two

The shelves of our sons’ Montessori classroom are lined with work activities. Many of these activities have multiple “presentations,” ways to engage the work at a deeper and deeper level. (They once reported that one work had eight presentations.) They feel energized and fascinated by the unfolding complexity and richness of the work.

The child would likely not know how to access this depth of experience if there is not a guide to accompany them and a community of practice with which to engage.

I think the church, at its best, is characterized by this kind of interaction, that we might learn the next presentation of the complexity and richness of the sacramentality of our world.