Five Days in a ‘Thin Place’

A Pilgrimage before Coping

As someone who has volunteered in hospice for ten years and has written on the spirituality of dying and death, I am often asked about grief and coping with loss. I used to balk and say, “I do dying and death; not grief. I know nothing about coping with loss.” While I still do not presume to claim that I have clinical expertise or professional pastoral experience... Read more

Finding Friends of God on the Streets of Seattle

And Listening to the Dreams They Offer the World

She said it with a cool indifference, and like she meant it: “If I stayed in Salt Lake City, I would have killed myself.” She said she had options. She had an underwear drawer full of “benzos.” She could cook a lethal overdose of heroin. The drugs weren’t really for lethal possibilities. They were medications, she said—psychic shields to absorb the pain pillaging... Read more

Bearing Witness at the Border

People of Faith Welcoming Strangers to a Hostile America

Coming back from what seems to be an increasingly shorter summer hiatus, we often incline to focus Bearings on somewhat more congenial concerns by way of ramping into a publication season that we know will face its share of challenges. But this time around, living in the world we all inhabit together, that didn't seem to the responsible way to go. That doesn't... Read more

Ministry, Marriage, and Immigration

A Love Story

I was raised in Eatonville, Florida—the oldest all-black, incorporated town in the country. Eatonville sits between Daytona Beach and Orlando. We are smack dab in the middle of central Florida (thus the name of our university, the University of Central Florida). Eatonville was not a hot bed for immigration issues. It was a small all black town with dirt roads and... Read more

What the Parrots of Telegraph Hill and Other “Invasive Species” Can Teach the Church

Some years ago, while living in San Francisco, I encountered the parrots of Telegraph Hill. I was walking through a park on the Embarcadero, the city’s western waterfront, when I heard a racket overhead. Looking up, I could see bright flashes of color moving in the branches and occasionally taking flight among the eucalyptus trees. Startling to hear and see,... Read more

Don’t Fence Us In!

And Other Lessons Learned from the Real Lives of College Students

Do this. Don’t do that. Spend your time this way. Pray this way. Believe this. Reject that. This is the kind of rigidity that young people like me cannot stand when it comes to religion. We just don’t get it. Indeed, although many would probably not say so outright, my hunch is that there is an underlying assumption among the increasing population of nonreligious... Read more

Practicing Gratitude as Healing

How do people who’ve been robbed of so much ever come to feel grateful for anything again?

  As a rare breed of news reporter with divinity school training, I sometimes feel like I own the tragic violence beat. Editors send me in just as the TV news trucks are pulling out after a horrific event. When eerie stillness looms and survivors are crying out to God or to the abyss in the wake of disaster, I wipe away my own tears and straighten my tie... Read more

Where Can I Run To?

Creating Sacred Space as a Black Woman

The 1990s R&B girl group, Xscape, has a famous song entitled “Who Can I Run To?” The song discusses the complexity of whom to rely on when one needs love. I can relate. I entered my thirties this year full of hope, only to be hit with three significant losses in a six-month time span. I lost the love of my life, then my job, and then my father passed. It... Read more

Navigating the Crux of 21st Century Ministry Wilderness

Aram Mitchell, executive director of Renewal in the Wilderness, and Pam Shellberg, the BTS Center’s scholar-in-residence, have been collaborating on a program* for progressive faith communities facing significant changes in embodying their missions. The Crux* takes its name from hiking terminology for “the most difficult section of a hiking route or where the greatest... Read more

Plato, Basketball, and Your Life Work

Lessons I Have Learned, and Other Clichés

Mark Collins launches our regular Creative Insights section with a video on his, um, adventures making furniture from repurposed basketball court boards. His “Plato, Basketball, and Your Life Work” explores vision, revision, and purpose as, well, often something of a poke in the eye. Literally. “Varnish,” Collins tells us, as he considers how we build lives that... Read more
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