A Moment of Holiness

Some time ago our family went on a summer road trip that included visiting Zion National Park. Zion is a steep, stone cathedral carved in granite by the meandering Virgin River.  A favorite activity for the many visitors is to hike the “Narrows,” a spot at the upper end of the park where the river tapers into a vertical gorge.  The farther you wade up river, the narrower the gorge gets until at times, it is only two or three arm spans across.  I took off with the hope of working my way upstream until I was completely alone.  I passed young families, teenagers and groups of college kids singing on islets of rocks until I rounded a bend.  Here the going got tougher as the gorge constricted even more.  The canyon walls rose straight up, flat and speckled by lichen, as the Virgin murmured and roiled around flat table rocks midstream.  I climbed up onto one of these stony mesas and sat there in the cool gorge while the clear, clear waters went rushing by. Hundreds of feet above, the sky was a ribbon of blue with bright white clouds moving like herds against an indigo canvas. There was a holiness there, a moment woven together by water, rock and sky, that connected me to all of humanity, from early man to Native Americans who found in nature, hallowed ground.

by Andrew

Mini Vacation

This past weekend I sailed over to Catalina with my friend Steve, his 23-year-old daughter Mia, and her friend, Imogene. We picked up a mooring at Cherry Cove just a bit west of the Isthmus and spent the days snorkeling, reading, snacking and napping. We talked about the challenges and fun of college life while spotting bat rays lazily gliding through the turquoise blue water below the boat. We enjoyed nightly dinghy rides to Two Harbors Store for ice cream and barbecuing the bass and barracuda we had speared that morning. I’ve known Steve since UCSB in 1973 and now our families are close, loving friends. Lying in my berth our last night,  with the swell gently lulling me to sleep,  I thanked God for the blessing of it all.  These small mini-vacations out on the water wash me clean and soothe my soul.  They iron out the wrinkles of life and remind me of how beautiful life is when I stop to breathe and have a heart awakened to the miracle of the moment.

by Andrew

Happy 4th of July!

“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descendants of immigrants and revolutionists.”  Franklin D. Roosevelt

Today we celebrate freedom!  We Americans treasure our freedoms and pride ourselves on being fiercely independent.  The great American Dream of rags to riches, of picking ourselves up by our bootstraps, and making a life for ourselves is an aspiration that every immigrant who has been welcomed by Lady Liberty at our eastern shore has carried in their hearts. We pride ourselves as a melting pot, melding our native cultures with our new home, making America that much richer and complex with diversity.  Today my wife and I will take a walk through Doheny StatePark where the rich aromas of cooking food will mix with the musical voices of Farsi, Spanish, Korean, English, Hindi, Arabic, Vietnamese and many more ethnic tongues.  Jesus always loved a party and I can only imagine the joy he would have winding through Doheny and breaking bread with his kids.  God bless this big, evolving, often messy and complex dream that we call America.

by Andrew

Grateful Heart

“Gratitude is a flower that blooms in noble souls.”  Pope Francis

I am grateful for my friend Adela who shows me how wonderfully lives can change when hearts are opened.

I am grateful for my friend Daniel who reminds me of my youth; the eagerness to build a life and the fear that this entails.

I am grateful for my prodigal friends who wander from the path but who are blessed enough to return from the darkness to share their tales of perdition and of their journey back into light.

I am grateful for my family of origin and for those who are my family of choice.

I am grateful for the triune God, the divine dancers, who together receive and give love and life.


by Andrew

Keeping It Simple

Summer means salt water, sailing, surfing, snorkeling and beaching it.  As a boy, it meant days of collecting Bubble Up and Coke bottles found on the beach to turn in for candy money at the store on 62nd street out on the Long Beach Peninsula.  It meant the first peel of skin after a sun burn and a thickening of calluses on my always bare feet.  It was about chatter with pals in the small shore break, laying down wet on hot sand and pulling out splinters from running on the boardwalk.  It was a season of innocence and play and the great adventure of growing up; puffing tobacco for the first time, holding a girl’s hand and evening fires on the beach. To this day the smell of camp fires takes me back to the sweet and carefree days before the rigors of adulthood. Keeping it simple this summer.  Long summer days with God and you. Weiner roasts and s’mores sounds just about right.

by Andrew

Loving The World

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13:1

The theme of “Holy Leisure” has given me reason to pause and reflect.  The suffering of my brothers and sisters around the world, wars, famine, families fleeing their homes, political unrest and hunger, make my contemplation of leisure seem self-serving and banal.  I enjoy First World problems of working long hours, having to watch my weight and wondering what new Netflix shows I may be missing.  Meanwhile my human family is unemployed, hungry and living in refugee camps.  But as someone who cares deeply and attempts to see the crucified one in the faces of all people, I know in my heart that a life of work and service will only lead to burn out without the spiritual nurturing that  “time-outs” with God brings.  Mother Teresa said, “I can do no great things; only small things with great love”.  Without intentional use of unstructured time my love for the world will be a “resounding gong” devoid of holy joy, a burden, a resentment.

by Andrew

Music of Creation

“Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?” Job 12:7-10

On this day, at the end of May, I awake to the sounds of birds playing in the hedges  while others take their places in the treetop choir stalls singing out their daybreak songs.  The mourning doves pour out their laments from the bass section while the sparrows spike the still cool air will chirping arias. An early morning crew of honey bees hover like buzzing blimps over the flowering rosemary gathering purple pollen and adding their humming  voices to the burgeoning chorus.  Even a humming bird flatters the air with her blurring wing-song and high pitched peeps in search of precious nectar, God’s ice cream.  Not wishing to be a party pooper, I arise and do my best to take my place among the animals on this extraordinary day in God’s creation.

by Andrew

Learning How to Serve

One of the many lessons I have learned about service  from Fr. Greg Boyle ever since touring Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles is, “God can get tiny, if we’re not careful.” For years, the lessons in the spiritual life have taught me to continue to challenge myself to open my arms, to intentionally expand my heart and mind and look with new eyes on everyone and everything I encounter.  I’ve spent the past thirty years focused on a deliberate and deep relationship with God.  The more I learn, the more there is to learn. Every day, the Holy One beckons and teaches me about an abundant love I could never fathom on my own. As a human being, ever restless and wanting closure, I need to make God tiny and in my own image. But, as I am so humbly reminded every day, God cannot be categorized, put in a box, or labeled with certain descriptions. God is anything BUT TINY!  I pray I don’t forget.

by Andrew