Category Archives: Reflection

Thought for contemplation

Kinetic words for a soul in transfigural space

“Count me worthy to take my fill of delight in Thee, that dancing with joy I may magnify both Thy comings, O Lord who art good.” (from the Irmos of the Second Canon of Matins for the Feast of the … Continue reading

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Thoughtful essay in this week’s Lancet:  

Posted in Overheard, Reflection

Just because

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A few thoughts on disease, community, and grief

read the essay

Posted in Educational resource, Op-Ed, Reflection, Web resource

Holy (week) Light

revisiting this gift, and the quiet strength of indoor, natural light in a holy week

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Medieval advice on handwashing

“If you want to be healthy, wash your hands often.“ -Regimen Sanitatis Salernitanum 4, written in the 11th or 12th century, translated into modern English by Patricia Willet Cummins (Chapel Hill: North Carolina Studies in the Romance Languages and Literatures, … Continue reading

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I Must Go Down to the Beach(es) Again…

  (the title of this post is of course a variant on a famous poem by John Masefield, one recited to me repeatedly throughout my childhood, by a beloved bard for whom it was, far more than a poem, a lifelong … Continue reading

Posted in Photo essay, Reflection

“I am at the house of God. But the angels are holding their breath.”

Yes, half of the time he is on the other side of the world; and yes, I’ve seen him maybe once in the past 3 years – but this emergency medicine physician is still my friend, and neighbour, here speaking … Continue reading

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Meanwhile “Scotland Outdoors Podcast” Lowers Blood Pressure

Yesterday’s podcast proves that it is still possible to enjoy the great outdoors (safely) at this time–and a caller (not me) attests to it also measurably lowering her blood pressure. Listen and download recent episodes.      

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Reaching for light: Photo meditation

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Short Audio Reflection: On Psalm 43

Susan Holman, John R. Eckrich University Chair in Religion and the Healing Arts at Valparaiso University, offers a reflection for Monday Morning Prayer at the Chapel of the Resurrection Feb. 10, 2020. Speaker series: Journeys of Faith: Wilderness, Hope, and … Continue reading

Posted in Online Lecture, Reflection, Web resource

Bearing Winter : Valentine for Bibliophiles

To step away from the endless grey of mid-winter, let me introduce you to this little friend glimpsed reading last summer in a deep afternoon light: And lest you wonder what it is that keeps him so fascinated with his … Continue reading

Posted in Booknote, Reflection



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Thank you, Ellen Aitken: Updated

I posted this originally in 2014, when I first learned of the tragic death to very aggressive cancer on June 14 of that summer of Ellen Bradshaw Aitken. This post is a slightly updated “remembering again,” adding a few more … Continue reading

Posted in Reflection

“But nobody noticed when the albatross had disappeared”*

Apropos of not much else on this blog: I’ve had a warm spot for the albatross ever since, one very special summer in college, living a short train ride from Geneva in Switzerland, the children in my apartment generously let … Continue reading

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“God made man upright but they have sought out many devices…”

(Ecclesiastes 7:59, RSV) (illustrating how my mind reads the Bible these days…?)

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Remembering: A Poem for Little Redcoat

It’s raining cornflakes, brown and red, So crisp they crunch beneath my feet. Perhaps they’re waiting to be fed To winter’s hungry, milk-white street. They crackle in the frosty air And trickle down, one under one, As rain strips sugar-frosteds bare … Continue reading

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Celebrating Spring Turns

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Thy will knows no end in me.

“I thought that my voyage had come to its end at the last limit of my power – that the path before me was closed, that provisions were exhausted and the time come to take refuge in silent obscurity. But … Continue reading

Posted in Booknote, Overheard, Photo essay, Reflection

Climate change for children, 1924: Revisited

  A driller named Doyle made a fortune in oil And built a great mansion so high That sparks flying bright from his chimney at night Burned a hole in the top of the sky Frederick J. Forster, On the … Continue reading

Posted in Overheard, Reflection

The littlest tree

I came late to gardening. After nearly a half century convinced (by sad empirical evidence) of a “black thumb,” I found myself suddenly with muddy knees every weekend, tearing out weeds and vines as if in some primal rage for … Continue reading

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João Biehl on Shaping a Sense of What is Possible

“Life stories do not simply begin and end. They are stories of transformation: they link the present to the past and to a possible future and create lasting ties among subject, scribe, and reader.” João Biehl, Vita: Life in a … Continue reading

Posted in Booknote, Overheard, Reflection

Christmas Reader

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In Glass: Medicine, Science, and Liturgy

The arts of medicine and science, detail in the stained glass windows behind the high altar, Chapel of the Resurrection, Valparaiso University. Click to view enlarged.

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Bells for Haggis

Reflecting back on a cheering (if not quite heart-healthy) lunch of haggis and chips a few weeks ago at award-winning Bells of Durham. Haggis fans in the United States: Stahly Quality Foods (Fife, Scotland) produces a Stateside canned haggis. Those … Continue reading

Posted in Marketplace photo, Reflection

Thank you, Jonathan Kranz

It strikes me this morning that a public thanks is long overdue to the fellow writer who inspired me to begin this “Jottings” blog in the first place, Jonathan Kranz. It was back in November of 2012. We were chatting … Continue reading

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Hermit’s glimpse

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Highlighting Summer…

and recalling the light of living things in winter:

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Weeping with God

The pain and grief [an individual] suffers over his own situation, alone, in isolation, can break a person. He may even fall so far that he becomes immobilized by it. But the crying that a person does together with God … Continue reading

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On my mind these days, during a sudden window of poignant loss,     from a very old calendar (click to view enlarged)

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By the Waves

“…a photograph of the garden of the spirit…may we all relax and put our hands in our pockets by the waves where god lives…” (inspired by lines from RS Thomas and friends)

Posted in Photo essay, Reflection

“The social construction of our interpretations” (Paul Farmer)

Dr. Paul Farmer reflects on the importance of anthropology in health care, in a recent Harvard Gazette interview: “…Q: How important to your career is the blend of medicine and anthropology? A: It was and is very important. … each … Continue reading

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With Watering, Can

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On Speech: A Gentle Reminder

(This photo–cannot find credit but will post here if found–was taken after the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans and was broadly posted online, where I found it in 2015, as “a solid and bold reminder of how important it … Continue reading

Posted in Marketplace photo, Overheard, Reflection

News In Context

click image to enlarge

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Take a Walk in the Woods

itching over the green of spring and feeling a bit too stuck in a city (or perhaps a windowless room somewhere)? follow the walk from map to sign Better Solution: Turn The Computer OFF and Go Take a Real Walk!

Posted in Photo essay, Reflection, Web resource

Keeping Balance

  Much was possible to a man in solitude…But some things were possible only to a man in companionship, and of these the most important was balance. (Charles Williams, The Place of the Lion)

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And yet the books…

Taking inventory of these much-dog-eared companions always evokes Milosz’ poem…

Posted in Booknote, Photo essay, Reflection

Recipe for Worthy Leaders …”and most of all hope”

“Leaders should not seek riches, fame, or even recognition for their efforts….They should see their vocation as one of service and sacrifice and should lead by example. This kind of leadership requires integrity, resilience, a willingness to speak hard truths … Continue reading

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Life These Days

one of my very favorite reminders that sometimes, just sometimes, amazing journeys  (if with a bit of wipe-out here and there) are possible. [click on video image above or here to view]

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Remembering Fred Norris and Heather Adams (update)

In October 2016 I lamented the passing of two profoundly inspiring friends, colleagues, and amazing human beings. One was patristic scholar, Frederick W. Norris (left), who inspired many of us to creatively “re-read” (or, just plain read) Gregory of Nazianzus. The … Continue reading

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Garden Lines for Advent

  Light is that geode, planted like a seed, his body a seed buried in stone. And he is the word… from an Advent poem by Sarah Crowley Chestnut. (click on the image to read more of Sarah’s poems)

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Honored to be named Senior Fellow

I’m immensely honored by the invitation to be a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Initiative on Health, Religion & Spirituality. Learn more about this wonderful group of scholars, researchers, and practitioners.

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Feasting St. Martin of Tours

“A Saint, His Cloak, and Us” by the Rev. Dr. Andrew McGowan

Posted in Educational resource, Marketplace photo, Overheard, Reflection, Web resource

Study in Blue

The figure on the far left was one of those slow-speaking old-country men you just want to put up your feet by the fire in a room with and listen with to the long silences. He passed away a long … Continue reading

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Truly the Light is Sweet…

            “Liyt is sweet, and delitable to the iyen to se the sunne.” (Ecclesiastes 11:7, Wycliffe translation, 1395)  

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Faith is a difficult artwork: On God, depression, and anxiety

“Faith is a difficult artwork: continually giving, ever unfinished. Might it not then better serve our battered selves (and our threatened earth) to imagine religion as something other than an avatar of shame or opiate against death? We might recall … Continue reading

Posted in Overheard, Reflection, Web resource

Just Health in Religion (update)

To those of you who might wonder what happened to the “Just Health in Religion” page on this site and its related activities (since I don’t otherwise blog this is my social media for such things to anonymous readers): The … Continue reading

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Summer Study: Remembering

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Refugee Voices in City Hall (Hamburg)

Also inspired by this photo exhibit at the Rathaus (city hall), smack on the central plaza of the city of Hamburg, Germany, featuring the faces and everyday stories and interests of just a few of the more than 35,000 refugees … Continue reading

Posted in Educational resource, Overheard, Photo essay, Reflection