I love the Easter season in the life of the church. Although Christmas Eve has more pomp & circumstance and it’s a helluva lot cozier gathering in a big circle of love in a warm church than it is standing in a field beside a cemetery in what is inevitably an either rainy or snowy morning. The sun rarely cooperates for the sunrise service. Dagnabbit, I’ve always thought Halloween should be moved to summer, and Easter later in the spring.

Still, I love how the date for Easter is chosen: the first Sunday after the full moon after the Vernal Equinox. It’s hard to remember, but cool once it sets in. It’s about the moon, and that reminds us of the ancient and deep meaning of the season.

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It’s a tough pill of a story to swallow, no doubt. A guy came along and posed a threat to those in power because he … was really nice and did things to help people no one else would help. Sure, he performed some weird miracles, like raising his buddy Lazarus from the dead, but if you’re ever journeyed with a friend through chemo treatments or depression and came out the other side together, you’ve raised someone from the dead, too.

He was lovely, that Jesus, so humble, the original social activist. Unafraid to make waves, unafraid to live and breathe and preach an unpopular way of living: sell all your crap and give the money to the poor, you don’t need more than one pair of sandals, show up when someone needs your help, hang out among the folks most people want to pretend are invisible.

Totally nonsensical and deeply threatening to the status quo everyone was working so hard to maintain.

T’is the season for babies.

T’is the season for babies.

A timely story in 2019, of course.

They hung him up to die which was a staple in the law enforcement tool kit back then. Every time I start to try to imagine how awful that must have been I have to stop … because it’s unimaginably horrifying. The penal system created by man has always had vast swaths of room for improvement.

He died. And then apparently he … didn’t die. This is where it gets dicey for a lot of folks, no doubt. Dead … alive … undead? … half-alive? Bah, who knows? Who cares? It’s a terrific story and I love everything about it. I don’t need all the details, I’m not worried if some things were out of place in the re-telling. Something terrific happened in the life story of Jesus, according to the four different written drafts, and I’m willing to buy into it.

If you’re willing to buy into the idea that money will make you happy, that the right house will make you important, that a good outfit is all it takes, that the right partner is out there somewhere, that one day you will be able to get everything done, when all the fates and stars are aligned, that good grades are the ticket to success in life, that the politicians have it figured out and should make important decisions for us, that … do you need me to go on? We start buying into things that aren’t really all that valid from the day we enter this lovely world, and it isn’t usually until our deathbed when we begin to see what this is really all about. We’re buyers-into, so why not start buying into the things that matter now? And maybe buy into a little of the magic that’s all around you while you’re at it, too.

Quite honestly I don’t really care all that much about the circumstances of Jesus’s death and resurrection. I love the story, it gets me every time. More than the events of that day, however, I love how he lived his life.

When Jesus was alive it was the powerful people who controlled the temple who dictated everything about how a god, God, gods were to be worshipped. Naturally, those in power wanted to keep their power, and so they spread a message of fear. Jesus came along and split that nonsense wide open. “He mediated access to God apart from the temple,” and by golly that’s my kind of faith. Access to a loving, benevolent energy via service to the world, self-forgetfulness, kindness and more love. I dig it.

Happy birthday beautiful Nanny!

Happy birthday beautiful Nanny!

I love everything about this gorgeous season. The whole world is coming back to life. I love the sounds of the birds in the morning, I love holding baby Keene, watching Coco hold a baby chick, seeing kids rush up to Raina and me with a handful of frog eggs; I love walking through the gardens seeing what’s popping up anew: little flowers and the first greens rising from their winter slumber … here come the rhubarb and the asparagus all over again! My mom’s birthday is this week; my parents were married in May. It’s my season, too: I was born in May and I am a snake in the Chinese cycle of birth. I love the longer days, the warmer sun, the hope and promise. Kids are back out on bikes, people are walking the streets holding hands. It’s all so good.

I’ll close with the words I’ll close with tomorrow:

We all know loss and pain.
Let none of it divide us.
In the rising sun today
Let us do together
what we cannot do alone.
Roll away the stones that close our hearts.
Amen.


Nothing like a windy day. And also babies. Whoever designed babies really knew what they were doing.

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He nails it again: David Brooks on the foundational lies of our lives.

But people looking back on their lives from their deathbeds tell us that happiness is found amid thick and loving relationships. It is found by defeating self-sufficiency for a state of mutual dependence. It is found in the giving and receiving of care.

Amen, brother.


New life. All in a day. Spring really is quite a thing.

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Day at the museum.

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My name is Joy and I’m turning 95 tomorrow.

My name is Joy and I’m turning 95 tomorrow.

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We’re from Boston. The marathon goes right past our home, that’s why we had to get out of town.

We’re from Boston. The marathon goes right past our home, that’s why we had to get out of town.

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Funny, I came home with no pictures of the art, only people.


I can’t actually link the two things, but I would like the record to reflect that before I went to sleep last night I wrote, “I wish Facebook would disappear forever; the world would be an infinitely better place without social media.” I had, earlier, written something similar to my friend, Margaret: “The world would be a better place immediately if Facebook disappeared.”

News outlets are reporting this morning that Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are not working.

I had been reflecting on how much I enjoy walking through the world with my camera, how it gives me entré people’s lives, how I’ve met so many beautiful people just walking around and asking, “Hi, can I take your picture … who are you?” I was lamenting on how the use of social media platforms has actually made us less connected, not more; less present, not more. And so I wished the big wish … that it would all disappear.

So awesome when wishes come true.

Before you get all panicky because you’re disconnected from your pretend life online today, put your nice clothes on and go to church. Seriously. Find a church, wherever you are and go. Also, visit your friends in real life, have a conversation with an actual person, in the flesh. Check in and see how the people you care about are doing, with your actual voice.

Walk down the street and introduce yourself to a stranger. Ask them to tell you their story.

After church, do that. Amen!

This is my church suit.

This is my church suit.


Weirdly, I went and saw live music three time this past week. That’s some kind of record, surpassing my late-80s habit of seeing every Dead show within, well, a something-mile radius. That was before kids, back when I could stay up past 9; before I had to write a sermon for Sunday morning. But I’m on some kind of roll here: STIG, then Darlingside in Saratoga—go see them asap— and today some bluegrassy-stuff at Stratton to bid adieu to one season and welcome to another.

Lots of shiny faces, lovely humans, groovy sounds, fanny wagging, good stories, mediocre pizza. And, as always, the girls. And … the SUN!!

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I mean. Come on.

I mean. Come on.

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Yo. I know you.

Yo. I know you.

Keep the drinking out front, kids.

Keep the drinking out front, kids.

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☀️🕶⚡️

☀️🕶⚡️


Happiness isn’t something you experience, it’s something you remember.
-Oscar Levant

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Also, I have long admired this writer and enjoyed reading her site.

It starts with a carefully color-coded selection of the 9 photos that occupy the instagram feed on your page. Beige? Likely. Maybe the colors gently slide into an ombre as you scroll. That's an advanced technique I appreciate as a colorist myself.

But in this color-coding lies a very dangerous analogy to the way that social media allows us to sort ourselves into carefully curated groups that all think exactly alike. We find ourselves safely in tribes that consume alike and think alike. We wear the same brands, eat the same food. Think about politics in the same way. This is comfortable, but it is stagnating and dangerous because outside ideas from people we disagree with are what stimulate real conversations and provide catalysts for change.

Happy Easter week, friends.


This piece by David Brooks is so good.

Please re-think your life if you’re still climbing the first mountain.

In the wilderness the desire for esteem is stripped away and bigger desires are made visible: the desires of the heart (to live in loving connection with others) and the desires of the soul (the yearning to serve some transcendent ideal and to be sanctified by that service).

I can now usually recognize first- and second-mountain people. The former have an ultimate allegiance to self; the latter have an ultimate allegiance to some commitment.


It was a beautiful night. A lot of people came; the band was fantastic. The cost for admission was $20 and one gentleman handed me a hundred and told me to keep the change. The room was fairly vibrating with generosity and love.

It’s times like this, of course, when living in small town and being known to everyone is a beautiful thing. I remember once a conversation about going to church; about everyone’s ideas about “spirituality” and the sort-of individual quest for meaning so many seem to be on now—I take this class, that class … I walk in the woods, etc. I know you can find meaning in those places and most certainly a respite from the wearing world, but the person speaking made a good point: “that’s all great, but your yoga teacher isn’t going to bring you a casserole when your mom dies.”

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I’ve never taken yoga so I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I do know that to be a part of something larger than oneself most definitely has its benefits, especially in times of need. I have witnessed the casserole-bringing in action for the four years I’ve been a pastor. It’s real. It’s profound. It brings you to your knees.

Small towns can be exhausting because you have no choice but to know everyone. You can’t go to the post office in under 20 minutes—you will always run into someone you know and it will always be a long conversation. Sometimes this feels oppressive, but in your time of need it’s everything. It’s all things, it’s … surreal, when you learn just how generous and eager to be of help all of your neighbors are.

I remember with perfect clarity the day I was sitting in church, after I had gotten out of the hospital, in the summer of 1987. I was in church, the one I had grown-up attending, alone that day, stretched across the pew in my leg brace, and when we came to the prayer list my name was spoken out loud. I had no idea, no idea that that an entire church had been praying for me the entire time I was in the hospital. And believe me when I tell you, I spent a lot of time in the hospital that summer.

It meant something; it meant everything, actually, that strangers were praying for me, my mother’s friends were praying for me, kids were praying for me.

I don’t really care about research or evidence that prayer works. I don’t need scientists or gurus to tell me anything about the power of prayer. I’ll tell you this: when an entire room of people intentionally come together to mingle their voices in song and prayer and your name is one of the things that gets lifted up into the sky, it matters, it’s powerful. Things happen.

So, yes, the night was great. We raised a goodly amount of money for Emily to support her in her new adventure. She is alive and well, navigating the world in a chair with wheels now, vibrating on a whole new plane. Everyone who gathered at the Barn Restaurant came out on a rainy spring night to support Emily. It was lots of fun. It’s what small towns do so well—pick up the slack, pitch in, show up.

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Mark and Margaret McChesney, the owners of the restaurant, pulled the whole thing together; their staff came to work on a night they usually have off. Mark and Margaret have been doing this kind of thing for as long as they’ve owned the restaurant in this little town (where Mark grew up). They have hosted countless fundraisers: worked their asses off to get silent auction items, cooked all day, cleaned up half the night and then given the proceeds away. Their son, Jack, and his magnificent band, played; their fabulous daughter, Olivia, worked the floor.

Everything about the night was beautiful: all the folks hanging out together and talking; FaceTiming with Emily so everyone could see her and talk with her; the staff working so hard; music and dancing; tacos!

But there was one moment; two actually, that stick out for me. The first was when Margaret took the mic and thanked everyone for participating. She tried to deflect the credit to me, for having planned the event, which was nonsense. I conceived of the event and I asked them to help and they took it from there. So there was Margaret being grateful and humble in her chef outfit, working hard in the shadows the whole night and not wanting to take an ounce of credit.

The other was a fleeting moment and if I was not a photographer I would have missed it. I prowled the room most of the night with my camera; it’s one of my favorite things to do. It allows me a measure of intimacy I would otherwise not have.

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I watched as Mark and Margaret went to look at the table with the silent auction items. They were going down the table, looking at each thing with a kind of enthusiasm only those two muster. They’ve been married for a million years now and they are still totally adorable together, still a force of nature. They just bought the most dilapidated house in town and are renovating it together, because running a restaurant and a catering business and the continual restoration of their own gigantic old house isn’t enough. Mark and Margaret’s is a world in which there is always room at the table for one more, always time for a meaningful conversation, always about ten kids spending the night.

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I watched them look at all the auction items and so I got to see Margaret gently touch Mark’s arm. And I saw in that moment a whole world, of kindness and love and generosity. Two tired, overworked, underpaid, people, in a moment of real and true and abiding love and generosity that runs so deep they’re probably not even aware of what they’re doing.

It means everything. Stay on the look-out for those moments, those kinds of people and when you find them don’t stray far. They are the treasure of this life; from there springs everything. Amen.