Category Archives: Spirituality and Health

The Withdrawal and Isolation of the Terminally Ill

It was on March 15 (the Ides of March) 2017 when our world began to shrink.  My wife and I left the neurologist’s office in Springfield, MA after the diagnosis and were sitting in the car outside when the process of withdrawal and isolation began.  “I suspect you have Lou Gehrig’s Disease” he had stated gently, leaving open the possibility that he might be wrong – a possibility we clung to for a few weeks – but he was not wrong.  The diagnosis of ALS marked the beginning of a journey in which the pace of our lives slowed down and became more isolated from those of you who are still living what we call “normal” lives.  In spite of the love of family members and the incredible support of friends and local community, the person with a terminal illness feels so very alone – some of the time.

The following excerpt is from a book by K. D. Singh titled The Grace in Dying.  It describes the feelings expressed by my wife, who has ALS, in words far more eloquent and accurate than either of us could write.  It is shared because she wants you to know how it feels….


Continue reading The Withdrawal and Isolation of the Terminally Ill

We are apart of – not a part from Mother Nature

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Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh says a spiritual revolution is needed if we are going to confront the environmental challenges that face us. Photograph: Plum Village

Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh has been practising meditation and mindfulness for 70 years and radiates an extraordinary sense of calm and peace. This is a man who on a fundamental level walks his talk, and whom Buddhists revere as a Bodhisattva; seeking the highest level of being in order to help others.

Ever since being caught up in the horrors of the Vietnam war, the 86-year-old monk has committed his life to reconciling conflict and in 1967 Martin Luther King nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize, saying “his ideas for peace, if applied, would build a monument to ecumenism, to world brotherhood, to humanity.” Continue reading We are apart of – not a part from Mother Nature

Who are we and what are we doing here?

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The Tree of Life and the Cosmos are One

This morning I prayed….. in fact, I pray every morning.  I pray for the knowledge of God’s will for me and the power to carry it out.  I pray to a God that is beyond my understanding. I pray because doing so has resulted in long periods of serenity, moments of clarity, and the chance to practice using spiritual tools that allow me to get through the difficult times and dark periods.  I pray for peace – and I work for a more sustainable world that will be free from want and fear – for all.

I was born into a religious tradition that taught me to fear that I would be punished (for Continue reading Who are we and what are we doing here?

Catholic Church “sustainability superhero” needs our help

lambPope Francis has become something of a sustainability superhero today, finding his picture on the front covers of Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, and TIME magazine. He has been an outspoken critic of the dominance of the human desire for short term financial success at the expense of the other two sustainability goals of social justice and environmental quality. But I have to wonder if we are not expecting too much from just one man. If we are to realize positive change and a more sustainable world, this Pope needs our help.

Pope Francis surely deserves praise as he has courageously used his bully pulpit to challenge his own management team, the Roman Curia, to examine their collective Continue reading Catholic Church “sustainability superhero” needs our help

A question of faith – struggling with being a Catholic academic

With a deep breath and a prayer, I wade into a topic I have avoided writing about (or even talking about).  Although I’ve posted more than 100 blogs on Changing the Story over the past few years, I’ve rarely shared any thoughts on spirituality and never on religion.

So, why would anyone in their right mind want to write about something as controversial as their own particular form of religion – especially one as unpopular among academics as the Roman Catholic Church?

Why speak out now?

I’ve struggled with my own Catholic identity for more than 50 years, but over the past 15 Continue reading A question of faith – struggling with being a Catholic academic

Catholic leader calls for an end to “business as usual”

Pope Francis declares global capitalism the “new tyranny”

The Pope wants his Church to be a voice for the poor – as he himself speaks out against economic ideologies that promote “the absolute autonomy of the marketplace” and reject the right of nations to protect people from exploitation by multinational corporations – but he needs our help.  Pope Francis decries global capitalism as a deadly “new tyranny” which imposes its own rules on the poor and powerless.

“Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘Thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills.”

Pope Francis in “The Joy of the Gospel”  (paragraph 53)

NOTE:  I’ve included some “Pope tweets” in this blog.  Pope Francis gets five to twenty thousand retweets for each post like the one below. Follow him here!

Inequality is not inevitable, but rather the result of economic institutions designed by Continue reading Catholic leader calls for an end to “business as usual”

American Nuns deal with “power-over” Vatican hierarchy in a productive way

I was impressed while reading a story on the response of the American Catholic Nuns to an investigation and subsequent rebuke by the (all male) leadership of the Church.  If you don’t know the background to this story, the short version is that the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (representing most of the American Sisters) were accused of “undermining the Church” and instructed to reform their ways in order to come in line with the accepted teaching of the Roman Catholic Church as determined by Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (which interestingly was established in 1542 as the Congregation for Universal Inquisition).

The U.S. Sisters were accused of radical feminist themes that were deemed Continue reading American Nuns deal with “power-over” Vatican hierarchy in a productive way