All in Hospitality

Picture Perfect?

 I know this puzzle has holes in it, yet I never throw it out. I like its scene, the kind of place you might escape to in a novel. I enjoy the safe and secure process. But I also value the reminder that our planet is marred, that this desire for a stress-free ordering of a perfect and predictable picture has its place as an amusement or diversion but is not part and parcel of this world, already redeemed but paradoxically not yet.

A Romantic Celebrates Christmas

Driving home in the rain a couple of weeks ago, the red lights from the new Mexican restaurant mixed with the green traffic lights, creating a slick of holiday color. Instead of a wet mess, it felt like a gift, a cacophony of color for my damp drive home. I wondered if I would have seen it if I hadn’t been paying attention, keeping my eyes peeled for moments of wonder.

Key of David

Advent is not only about what has happened; it is about what we still need to happen. It is about waiting, about that quiet, anticipatory, mildly uncomfortable moment before the song starts up, the lights come on, the guests arrive. Advent takes place in the dark.

Stalled by Grace

My dear Britney, I felt, take note of this: You should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. Not simply because it will end in less frustration and hurt feelings, but because it is how we are surprised by life, and grace, and God.

Small Things, Slow Work

To love our city and care about the arts and creativity has been about loving and caring for individual people. And I think for any of us it comes down to that. Loving a city and its people in general doesn’t mean a whole lot. Loving a city and its people in specific, however our callings lead us, means everything. 

A Sojourn in Sweden

Twenty years ago this past summer I traveled to the land of my ancestors. A land I had heard about my whole life, a storybook country of lakes and forests and flaxen-haired princesses. Of blue and yellow flags and three golden crowns atop many a spire. It was “the old country” of my grandparents on both maternal and paternal sides. Surnames like Lundberg, Holmberg, Appelquist, Boquist, and Engwall wrapped my childhood in their soft sing-song melodies. And I was one small variation on that theme, about to join the main chorus.

You Are Here to Kneel

I decided that I was the wrong kind of person to visit a monastic order. I was too uncivilized and unlearned, too ornery and idealistic, and maybe even too Protestant. But during our final breakfast with Father Donovan, I scooped jewel-red currant jam I’d helped prepare onto homemade Irish bread and listened to the monk discuss theology, politics, and the proper method of a coffee press. I began to wonder if maybe I'm exactly the right sort after all.

Tell Me a Story

We can never overestimate the value of listening to someone’s story, for it takes great courage to share a hurt or even a joy with another person. The fear of rejection, misunderstanding, or criticism often keeps us from telling someone what has made us who we are. But when another person takes the time to sit with us and listen to what we have lived, our hearts grow stronger.

On Honest Art

For a day we considered our deepest disposition, sons of Adam and daughters of Eve that we are: we compartmentalize, we believe one thing to be true and behave as if another thing is true, we say “This matters most!” and then live as if it doesn’t really. This tendency has profound implications, for learning, for labor, for love, for liturgy—for all of who we are, for all of how we live.

How do we begin to find our way to coherence? Can we even imagine a way of seeing and hearing that honestly connects what we believe with the way that we live?

I will grow in the waiting and be stretched in the loving, and I will be there to smile and wave every time she emerges from this process of becoming. I will choose to bend towards trusting a God who is big enough to hold us both. Heart of my heart, flesh of my flesh, Grace will explore this world in her own way, just like I continue to do. 

Spaces for Hope in the Margins

I cannot make my neighbors less fearful, uncertain, or afraid. I cannot change the world or stop the violence. I can, however, in my little place on the margin of life, faithfully seek to live, think, and speak hopefully. Perhaps it will be a spark that will spread more widely and do some good—after all, hope is life-giving, generative. Perhaps not, but that is not my concern. My concern is to make culture faithfully, culture that will encourage people to flourish in this broken world. And being hopeful is culture making because creativity and art and flourishing is impossible without hope.