Rest in Peace, Fr. Matt Torpey


Father Matt Torpey, OCSO died this morning. I don’t know how old he was, but I’m sure he was well into his 90s (I’ll post more info here on this blog once the monks post an obituary on their website). This picture of me (yes, that’s really me) and Matt was taken in 2005, I believe, at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit’s annual Christmas party for employees and volunteers. I was a new employee (I...

Lessons From a Feral Cat, Part II: Little Mama’s Final Legacy


Little Mama, one of Fran’s and my adopted feral cats, died yesterday, and we are devastated. We made the heartbreaking decision for her to be euthanized after several weeks of an illness that led to her refusing to eat and rapidly losing weight and even losing the use of one of her back legs. She was only about 9 years old — far too young for a cat, especially a pampered house cat, to die...

Unraveling the Myths of Grief: Sign Up for this Free Online Retreat Led by Mirabai Starr and Willow Brook


One of the great joys of my work has been the opportunity to meet other writers, teachers, retreat leaders and spiritual directors who are also engaged in the heart-centered work of calling people into a deeper relationship with the Mystery-with-a-capital-M. And of the many wonderful people I have met in the contemplative community over the years, few have touched me as deeply as Mirabai Starr. I...

Brother Elias Marechal, OCSO (1936-2023)


Friends, I am heartbroken to report that my dear friend and mentor, Trappist monk and author Elias (Paul) Marechal, passed away last night at the age of 86. He had been suffering from a variety of health conditions in recent years, and recently embraced hospice care in the infirmary of his monastery in Conyers, Georgia. Elias was the author of two books: Dancing Madly Backwards published under...

Videos of Rhiannon and Fran


If you’ve read chapter one of Unteachable Lessons you know all about my wife Fran and my late daughter Rhiannon (who passed away in 2014). Thankfully, we have a number of videos of Fran and Rhiannon singing together, as they often performed especially for events related to the Atlanta L’Arche Community. Here is a collection of some of the videos we have posted to Youtube over the...

Julian of Norwich, Francis of Assisi, and Centering Prayer: Three Mystical Books for Children


Yesterday I received an advance copy of a wonderful book coming out this fall, that tells a simple children’s story about grief and loss, while using the wisdom of Julian of Norwich to underscore the message that “all shall be well.” All Will Be Well: Learning to Trust God’s Love by Lacy Finn Borgo, illustrated by Rebecca Evans, will be published in October, so you can get...

Cindy Lou Harrington (1953-2021)


Friends, I am sad to have learned of the passing of our dear friend Cindy Lou Harrington. If you have read Eternal Heart you met Cindy Lou on page 59. She was my daughter Rhiannon’s teacher for many years, but in addition to her work as a special educator she also had a career as a singer-songwriter; she released several albums and was a regular in the Atlanta country music scene for many...

Seven Years in Heaven


Yesterday — August 30, 2021 — marked the seventh anniversary of the 2014 passing of Fran’s and my daughter, Rhiannon. It was a stormy evening here in Atlanta, as we began to feel the wrath of Hurricane Ida. So Fran and I just grabbed carryout personal pizzas from Rhiannon’s favorite pizza joint, Uncle Maddio’s, and then came home and watched one of her favorite...

The Communion of Saints Who Watch Over Me As I Write


Today’s post is just for fun! This morning on Facebook my cousin Danny, up in Manhattan, made a comment about the beautiful icon of the Holy Cross, written by iconographer Fr John Walsted of Staten Island. I decided it would be fun to show Danny that I have a replica of that icon right above my computer. So I took the picture, and then realized, “Well, he might want to know about some...

Pictures of Rhiannon


My saving angel was… a chronically ill little girl. If you’ve read Unteachable Lessons, you know that the “star” of the title chapter of the book is my stepdaughter Rhiannon. As I wrote the book, I mentioned several friends and memorable moments from Rhiannon’s life and our shared life as dad and daughter. I thought it might be nice for this blog to collect some of...

Requiem for a Not-Quite-Friend


On the day before my 58th birthday, a man who was just a few weeks older than me died. I’ll just call him “H.” I met H. when we were in the seventh grade. We went to the same church — my family and I were newcomers, joining the small…... Read more at Patheos

Lessons I’ve Learned from a Feral Cat


We first noticed feral kittens in our front yard last spring. At the time we just thought they were cute, and didn’t try to interact with them — like all undomesticated animals, they ran away if my wife or I walked anywhere near them. One was a grey tabby and the other almost all black. From time to time we’d see them streaking across the driveway as we walked to our cars...

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