Pruning. . .

not only speaks of

cutting back

but also of the

ultimate blossoming

that takes place

when it is done properly.

-Henri Nouwen

In horticultural, pruning encourages growth. But knowing where to cut to maximize growth requires expertise. The image of pruning has become increasingly important to me. One place I’ve tried to prune is my natural impulse to solve someone else’s problems rather than support that person’s own decisions.


One thought

my Mother

shared with me-

if you have one real friend in your lifetime

you are very fortunate.

I am


with a

bouquet of friends.

Each is like a different flower.

Our reciprocal  relationships

have brought out

our many

interests, talents

and ways of being.

When a family member

is also a friend,

the splendor

of each of us


The special depth

with some friends

makes them

Soul Friends,

Anam Cara

in Gaelic.

My Mother

would be so


to know

how many really

wonderful friends

fill my life

with love.

Healing From the Inside Out

Wounds that heal superficially need deeper healing.

Sometimes the wound needs to be reopened to heal completely.

A friend, a nurse, helped a patient with a compound-fracture wound

that had become infected after the scar had formed.

She described how she cleaned the reopened wound daily.

Gradually, the festering cleared up and

the new healthy layers grew and sealed the wound.

My friend’s ministries are a good metaphor for treating

psychological pain and emotional wounds.

These wounds develop

a scab, then a scar, but may not heal deeply.

Some time later, sometimes more than once,

these wounds need to be reopened.

This reopening is very painful, but creates an

environment for deeper healing.

I have thought of this metaphor many times and experienced the reopening of emotional wounds that needed to heal more deeply. At transition times in our lives, body and spirit call out for a more intense exposure of our pain. Once the pain has been faced, we can grow and thrive again.

Living Lines 270

Parallel Lines


the Boston Marathon

from a warm and dry

vantage point,

the runners,

wheelchair competitors

are the focus.

Reaching the one hour mark,

then the two hour mark,

the white street lines

catch my attention.

This is the second

Boston Marathon

since the horrific day


two brothers


pressure cooker bombs

near the finish line.

Shock, chaos, blood

drastically changed the

color of the day.


of lives,



punctured the crowd.

Days later

in the dark

shots rang out a mile

from home

as the brothers

in a car,

took a hostage,

killed again

and tried to disappear.

The older brother died.

The younger drove over his brother

and headed to the next town.

For fourteen hours,

one million people

were in


We could not leave our homes.

Helicopters overhead,

sirens blaring,

the younger

was found in

a covered boat,

in someone’s backyard.


begins the second part

of the trial.

Death penalty

or life in prison?

An eye for an eye,

a primal

human dilemma.


Families deeply affected by

death and loss.




in prison.

Will the wounds heal

with grace

with this




What will the jury







Out of the darkness of winter

Primal celebration

Holy Week



Some continue to come together


those who have gone before.

Some are too busy

or don’t believe rituals and traditions

are important anymore,

at least to them.

Have we lost a gift of community

leaving rituals and traditions

in the past?

Can we find a way to be grateful for the gifts

of life, light, new growth?

Seeing beauty

All around

Can bring dissonance

into harmony.

Seeing beauty, being grateful

for a bird’s song,

green shoots poking through layers,

for the smile of another.

Love is the ritual we can

all share.

Being Mortal

Being Mortal

is something all

human beings


Most, if not all of us

ignore the reality.

When and how we die

is perhaps one of the


we don’t like to think about.

Being Mortal is

a best-selling book

written by a physician, the son of two physicians.

Composed of profiles of people

who are faced with illnesses,

they and their families

often are faced with

decisions about how much medication,

how much  technology

they might choose to use

to prolong life.

Some choices

may lead to

a poor quality of life.

When faced with his father’s illness,

the author, his mother and his father-

physicians all

did not find talking about these choices

and making choices about treatment

any easier

than most people.

The Conversation Project,

available to all on-line

gives an outline for individuals and families

to begin talking about these most challenging and

painful decisions.

Using “extraordinary means” at one time

meant feeding and hydration

and was not required by some religious practices.

Twenty years ago,

when I had to have a conversation

with my mother

I started by saying

“When Daddy’s patients died, they died,

but now sometimes, a person can be brought back to life.”

She replied,” I want anything that can be done

be done. I still have things to do in my life.”


there are so many more things

that can be done

to extend life,

the choices can be

less clear.

A Conversation with

family and loved ones

can prepare


to honor the person’s choices.

Bless The Mess

Wishing the grandchildren lived closer and she saw them more often,

she remembered the holidays when everyone was camped

out at her house and there was a lot of noise and chaos.

Such a mess!

Now, when things are too quiet,

she and her husband laugh about the craving for the mess of the family.

By the time we have grandchildren, we know there are is an ebb and flow in life. Sometimes we have too much of a good thing, and other times, too little, and we miss it. ¬†Savoring the moment, really trying to “be” with what is going on helps soften the craving during the absences.