Yearly Archives


Walking a Path of Love

Glimmers December 18, 2020

Dear Friends,                                   

I was walking the grounds of our local Christmas tree farm the other day. The tree was selected, sawed down, and traveling up the path on a very cool tree cart. In that moment, my little-girl-self appeared. She was content. I was content. The sky was blue, the air brisk, but comfortable, and the tree had two pine cones! Brown, oblong, their scales open in response to the dry air. No other decorations were needed on this tree, though more were sure to come, because these nature’s ornaments held on and were coming home!

She has shown up before, sweet little Lisa. With her set of memories and expectations, she’s often caught in the narrative from long ago. She sees the world around me through the lens of loss and tragedy – but that was her world, not mine. Christmas is filled with similar opportunities of getting lost in time, memories and expectations are everywhere! Perhaps it’s one of those “thin places” that mystics tell us about. Our long ago experiences are with us still… haunting us, reminding us, seeding the memories of joy, of loss, of whatever our hearts encountered in years past.

This particular Christmas brings its own set of challenges, doesn’t it? I do not need reminders of past losses or limitations, for this Christmas has plenty to spare.

And so, I greet the pine cones hanging on the Christmas tree. Today they are surrounded by colored lights and happy bells, clever elves and angels of peace. And so am I. You will find me sitting in the silent dark of each morning, taking in the wonder of Christmas. These humble pinecones remind me of the gift of small things, of the taken-for-granted things that are all around me. They remind me of steadfast friends and moments of peace, and yes, the cycle of death and life. This Christmas I return to the humble stable, and praise the birth of Love.

That is my gift to you, dear friends, the reminder that Love is in our midst  – in one another, in our own hearts – all the time!

What ‘love’ is I don’t know,
if it’s not the response of
our deepest natures to one another.

~William Carlos Williams

With love,


Preparing for the Holidays with Love

Glimmers November 24, 2020

Dear Friends,

Our holiday-season journey has begun. Though this year is unlike any other (please forgive this over-used phrase of our incomprehensible reality), we carry the expectations and traditions of all the years before. Holidays are all about tradition… ritual… returning to a place of cozy remembering.

It is that very reason that the holidays are often a most challenging time for those who grieve. The call to celebrate is a stark reminder of who is gone, what was lost, how everything is so different. This year, many of us hold very personal losses and fears and, at the same time, are overwhelmed by the unending losses that face our country and world. Our collective grief is numbing, exhausting, or filled with deep sadness. How do we enter this time of seasonal joy when joy might seem like a foreign concept?

As Bereavement Chaplain at the Hospital of St Raphael in New Haven, CT, I helped facilitate a yearly holiday program that honored loss in the midst of the seasons of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and the New Year. Folks found comfort in the acknowledgement of their loss and experienced compassion in supporting one another’s pain. This is how we humans heal from loss: acknowledgement, expression and compassion. Here are some ideas to support you on your journey these days, whether you’re grieving a death of a loved one or the great sadness of our times. Let us come together as community, with gratitude for the safety we offer each other and with hope for the days of healing ahead. Let the tender places that we touch, lead us toward the reality of Love that has never left our side.

Acknowledgement: Too often, losses are solitary, even disenfranchised, as folks move forward in their busy lives. Our current situation adds to that pattern and prohibits traditional services and rites. To take care of ourselves, its important to find ways to name and honor our loss. Open to Hope offers online support for all sorts of loss. Thanksgiving could be such a time by lighting a candle, stating what is in our heart and sharing a moment of silence. Even done alone, this acknowledgement moves our silent prayer further on its way into God’s care.

Expression: Journals, collage, house-cleaning or decorating – with intention, any activity can become an expression of our feelings. When we give ourselves permission to voice what’s inside, we enable healing’s tender hand. Poet and teacher Marj Hahne ( is offering a 7 day series, “A Hole in the World: Writing the Elegy,” in December that supports a process of expression, click here if you want to check it out.

Compassion: Our capacity to care for another, to light a candle for their pain, for example, is an essential part of our humanity. Our choice to “suffer with” becomes a part of the healing that we all need… actions, prayer, donations, or small gestures make a difference. At the same time, our efforts of self-compassion are vital to support our grieving or overwhelmed hearts, particularly during the holiday season. I close with Sr Doris Klein’s words, as I offer my deepest gratitude for your place in my  journey.

“We are the only ones who, with God, can truly hear our heart. Yes, we need outside witnesses and supportive others to companion us, but, ultimately, we must sit with ourselves on this dark shore and acknowledge the truths around us. We must be the voice in the night that says, “It’s going to be okay. I will stay here with you. I will not abandon you. I will not go away.”

With a grateful heart, Lisa




Going Forward with Love

Glimmers October 25, 2020

Dear Friends,         

You’ve been on my mind. Here we are in the last week of October, and the reality of living in America is heating up. How are you doing?

I wanted to be in touch before the election, before another layer of adaptation is required. However it turns out, we will be turning a new corner as a country, as a people sharing resources, land and a promise of freedom. I have limited experience with the great differences that fill our land, but at the same time, have been blessed by the human hearts that I have encountered over the years. My ground is the depth of our humanity and the Sacred Reality that sustains us.

We are, fundamentally, human beings building a life for ourselves and those we love, as we travel around the sun on this blue planet. We have different lifestyles, and certainly different opportunities, as we adapt again and again to the circumstances that come our way. 2020 has slapped us in the face with anguish and struggle. How do we possibly adapt to such challenge?

A reminder: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

These words, attributed to Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit philosopher and paleontologist, change the lens a bit. We are invited to look at our journey with less attachment to our very human needs and “requirements.” What if it was true? What if the essence-of-who-we-are chose this life to learn, to grow, to love? Teilhard de Chardin’s work is astounding, other quotes are here, he speaks to a vision of the universe, and it’s evolution, that is dependent on love.

“The day will come when, after harnessing the ether, the winds, the tides, gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And, on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”

I share this with you, friends, sitting in the comfort of a warm and safe home.  As a white woman of privilege, I cannot fully grasp the influence of poverty, racism, and Covid in the world. At the same time, I am unwilling to minimize my place in the universe, or yours! We have the capacity, for “a universal love is not only psychologically possible; it is the only complete and final way in which we are able to love” and the call  because we are “driven by the forces of love, the fragments of the world seek each other so that the world may come into being” to participate in the transformation that is before us. 

I invite you to consider Teilhard’s invitations and to ground yourself in the moments when you can choose love, justice, forgiveness and hope. Let your choices in daily life – response to a misunderstanding, an extra measure of patience, speaking truth with love – reveal your heart in the world around you. May we harness the energies of love together.


peace, Lisa

I recently received and am sharing here, information about a free Pre-Election Meditation with Sharon Salzburg and Election Survival toolkit, through a Buddhist lens. All hands, and traditions, on deck!

The State of Your Heart

Glimmers October 11, 2020

Dear Friends,   

Officially speaking, my last Glimmer was in September. (If Not Now, Tell me When) Emotionally speaking, what happened? what is it about time? It seems so long ago since we last connected. I hope you are well and safe. I hope you are taking care of your self as best you can.

The pandemic has added to our complicated relationship with time, as has the constant bursts of news and opinions (and resulting reactions) coming throughout the day. As an elder (ha), I claim an additional awareness about time, having lived seven decades. On some days, I fear there is less awareness as I try to narrow my focus on what or who is in front of me. It helps to have moments of purpose in “these times.”

One of the resources in my life, a peer supervision group for spiritual directors, invites me to ask the question, “What is the state of my heart?” I sit quietly with the question, opening myself to the month’s memories, images, feelings and stories. But mostly, I just wait and listen. I breathe into the question and let these elements of my life wash over me. The answer I am seeking is found in a place of prayer.

It is a helpful practice, it so easy to get caught in the details of life. When I ask, “what is the state of my heart,” the details become less demanding and I’m able to listen a little more deeply. Words come to the surface, they guide my conversation with the Holy One and support my path of authenticity. Grateful…anxiously hopeful…sad…all are welcome in my awareness, joining heart and mind together in the present moment.  I offer here, friends, a treasured bit of wisdom from Jallaludin Rumi, “The Guest House,” translated by Coleman Barks  (clip includes Barks reading this poem, 4:35) I suspect that most of us are experiencing “new arrivals” all the time, so let us learn the ways of hosting a Guest House. Let us listen to our hearts… lean into their tenderness, honor their truth, trust their wisdom.

The Guest House.

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

With love, Lisa

If Not Now, Tell me When

Glimmers September 1, 2020


Dear Friends,

You have been on my mind throughout these past weeks.  I hope you’ve found ways to take care of yourself in these uncertain times –  resources to sustain your heart and moments of beauty to remind you of the gift of being alive. These elements of our human story have become central to survival, I am grateful for the opportunities when they appear.

This morning’s invitation came in the form of a loud squawk over my head. Looking up, I saw a Great Blue Heron’s prehistoric form flying up above. Another squawk, and I realized there were two of them circling my little corner of the world. I see them standing on water’s edge, then crouching to take flight, but today’s arrival was much louder and more particular than usual. Their early morning conversation drew my attention and seemed to say, “Go forward, Lisa. Trust what has led you to this moment. Embrace your place in the Mystery.”

Our regular, sometimes hourly, adjustment to a Covid lifestyle in the United States has demanded deeper and more intentional spiritual practice from me. Perhaps that’s the case for you? Life has slowed, priorities have surfaced, feelings continue. As I say good morning to our garden, my heart relaxes into her beauty. The cobwebs shimmer in the sunlight, dewdrops create crystal-like points of light... I greet the day and respond to the heron’s call.

And you? How might the plants and creatures in your life be speaking to you? What scripture or poetry sings to you of love’s abiding presence? Where does wisdom reside for you? Go forward, friends, trust what has led you to this moment. You have what you need to come into the fullness of who you are, to bring your light into the world around you. We are grateful you are here. Embrace your place in the Mystery and let Carrie Newcomer’s lovely song “If Not Now” (click here) nourish your heart as you travel down the road.

“Hope is holding in creative tension all that is, with everything that could and should be, and each day taking some action to narrow the distance between the two.” Parker J. Palmer

With affection, Lisa

Sent to you with Love

Return to the Lake August 1, 2020


Dear Friends – This amazing prayer comes through the ministry of Mercy by the Sea in Madison, CT. It is sent to you, with love, on this day. Through their newsletter, online and in-person programs and retreats, MBTS offers consistent and beautiful reminders of the many faces of the Divine, each a doorway into Love. Let us join our hearts in prayer, friends, “there is yet beauty in this scarred, strident world.” Let us be that beauty for each other and for all of our hurting brothers and sisters. May it be so – Lisa

There is Yet Love – Ted Loder
O God of stunning surprises and uncanny support,
your foolishness is our hope,
your lavishness our sustenance,
your toughness our encouragement,
your gentleness our ease and re-creation,
your gifts within gifts within gifts our awe and joy.

Even as we pray, deepen us in the ways of gratitude,
of alertness, awareness, imagination, discernment,
not to celebrate fantasies
but to see what is profoundly real:
blessings so close and constant
we scarcely notice or name them as such.
Now before you, with you, we would so see and thank you.

There is yet beauty in this strident, scarred world,
for we have heard strains of it, seen splashes of it,
felt the shock and power, draw and renewal of it,
and been quickened for a time,
even jolted to add a jot and whit
to creating a new, brighter world.
We thank you and ask for keener ears,
sharper eyes, bolder minds, stronger voices.

There is yet love in this violent world,
for we have experienced it undeservedly,
even risked it in moments that claim us,
and been changed by it little by little.
We thank you for it and ask for larger hearts,
wider reach, more daring spirits, more permeable time,
more generous intentions, more inclusive communities.

It’s Not “Just a Number”

Glimmers July 30, 2020


Dear Friends,

I never understood what people were referring to when they offer this platitude on the subject of age. “It’s just a number,” they would say and I would wonder, “Yeah, but it’s still the number of years I’ve been alive, right?  Are you suggesting that we can pretend our body isn’t aging?” (This is a sincere question, I can’t figure that idea out.)

I feel the weight of these years, both the lessons and the gifts. Or is it the physical weight I am feeling as a premier member of the Covid Continuous Consumption Club?  In the quiet of evening…or when I see the news… or just remember … I feel the weight of seventy years of living and these days, it feels heavy. (For comic relief, click here.)

I cannot look at the next year of my life without a deep and humble thank you for all these years that preceded it. Yes, some were painful, but so many were filled with moments of joy, of love, of beauty, of wonder. This number, this 70, is an invitation to open my eyes and see the me that I have become. It’s not just a number…

It’s an accumulation of life experiences that, combined with my inherent qualities,  weaves together the complex and “rooted in love” being that I am.

It’s the quiet mornings, stillness, as life is waking up to a new day, light returning once again.

It’s being with people, ahhh people, whose presence I sorely miss these days…whose presence I took for granted much of the time.

It’s each of those life moments that create a secret snapshot, or a serenade with a sweet, saucy, slithering sigh.

It’s the moments of love between hearts that illuminate my humanity, the moments of love I experience, within, that define it.

It’s the living, squishy vibrations that are ricochetting throughout my body, in record speed.

It’s listening to the breath of Spirit that whispers tender reminders of hope and forgiveness.

It’s that child of God, dancing among the stars or tenderly toe-stepping in the tulips, wherever her whim might take me.


It’s not just a number, it’s a call to be the best me in a time that needs everyone of us to live with integrity and hope. Will you join me? No age requirement.

with my love and gratitude, Lisa















Dear God, Please Bless America

Glimmers July 3, 2020

Dear Friends,                                                                                                       

I have to confess, I have been thinking so much about my 70th birthday this month that I was not paying attention to July 4th. We raised our children with the joy of parades and wearing red, white and blue at neighborhood get-togethers. On our own, we have delighted in fireworks reflecting in the waters of Lake Beseck. But this year, the 4th of July feels entirely new. 

Preparing for a July 18th Zoom program, “The Wisdom of Grief, The Promise of Hope,” for my friends at Pilgrim’s Landing on Cape Cod. (click here for information) has added another lens to my patriotic ponderings. My last in-person grief-retreat was with these folks in Chatham MA on March 7, just as the virus was on the horizon. We experienced the nourishment of community that day, as we shared the personal pain that each brought into the room. I was asked to return, via Zoom, to address the losses we are experiencing, particularly as Americans, due to the virulent presence of Covid 19 and the painful, impossible to ignore, revelations of systemic racism in our country. On July 18th, we will come together to recognize and process the collective grief we share at this time. You are invited to join us.

I bring all of this to my prayer today. Our flag is up, potatoes and eggs lay waiting for their role in the day, the lake is getting busy – but July 4th, 2020 is like no other. My heart returns to the lyrics of “God Bless America” with a new layer of awareness. I reach out to you to join me in a prayer of grief and of hope – each holding the other – as we walk through the landscape of loss together.

God bless America, land that I love. Stand beside her and guide her, through the night from the light up above.

Irving Berlin, a Jewish immigrant, wrote these lyrics as a soldier in a World War I army camp. The song was set aside from a musical revue, because Berlin felt it was too somber for their theme, “Yip, Yip, Yaphank.” Singer Kate Smith needed a patriotic splash during World War II, and Berlin was approached. The song became Smith’s signature song, singing it nearly every day for two years, rivaling the national anthem in popularity for years. The story goes in a July 3, 2019 New York Times article (click here), that Kate Smith’s long held “ownership” of the song was tarnished in 2019, when her early career, racist songs came to light.

My prayer invites me to step back through time… my hands reach out and part the shadows of Smith’s well-meaning and intentionally commercial invocation for God to bless America. I see, but look past, her racist history embedded in our American story. Further back, I imagine Berlin, a new citizen in the military, writing the piece as the love song it is. And even earlier, I watch his parents bringing this 5 year old child from Russia to escape anti-Semitic persecution in Russia. An immigrant’s prayer of gratitude becomes my prayer of hope and healing. 

God, please bless America. Like all of us, she is waking up to her flaws and failures, while trusting her gifts and goodness. God, please bless America as she navigates a needed transformation to maintain a safe home for all of your children that live here.  Bless her, O God, as she seeks to offer a light to those hurting in the world.

God bless each of you, dear friends,


“The Mountain is Out”

Glimmers June 26, 2020


Dear Friends,

My heart aches. Oh, it’s been a glorious June in New England, the temperature has warmed up, roses are lush – birds are happy, and so am I. At the same time, my heart aches as I experience the serious divide over human value in our country. I watch a black father playing with his little girl, such love is shared between them, and I pray for his safety. At the same time, I receive an email from a high school classmate that diminishes human beings into a political statement.  My heart aches.

Recently, I experienced a lovely memory of my mother….. We are sitting together in her white 57 Plymouth Fury, on either end of a long bench seat. She’s in the driver’s seat, I never question how she manages the gas and brake pedals. Her crutches lay next to her purple, paralyzed legs. Before us, Mt Rainier rises up into the sky. “The Mountain is out,” a familiar phrase in this part of Washington state, means any overcast or cloud cover has eased. Instead, grey, and sometimes, purple ridges build upon one another, snow and shadows shape the familiar spaces in between. We gaze in wonder, as the Mountain speaks her message of presence and wholeness. 

Looking back to that time in my childhood – my father dead, my step-father abusive, my crippled mother doing the best she can – these trips were lessons in contemplative practice. I learned the gift of “being” without expectation. When we three – my mom, the Mountain and I – sat together in silence, I learned the beginnings of prayer. My heart shifted into a stillness that transcended thought,  even feelings. I didn’t have to “divide the field,” as Richard Rohr describes it. I was exposed to a moment

“where you don’t have to eliminate the negative, but let reality get to you as it is – without judging it, analyzing it, explaining it, critiquing it or even understanding it.”

As I sit here today, grateful for such glimpses of wisdom, I’m also aware of the heartache of loss and uncertainty around me. I’m even more aware of my human experience of fear and doubt, anger and sadness. But as Rohr explains in his wonderful video, “Becoming Stillness,” (click here) we humans always face unresolvable contradictions. The path that I choose at this time of Covid-19 and a call to social justice is the path of paradox. I seek to hold all of it, gently, and also with compassion…for the world, for the broken, for the angry, for the heroic, for myself.

I invite you, friends, to join me at the foot of your own Mt Rainier. Recall, find, or create a space that allows you to let go of control – a space that teaches you the simple lesson of being. These reflective moments may last only a few seconds, but cumulatively they might lead us into awareness.  They might comfort and guide us as we balance the heartache of the transformation we’re experiencing with the “softest of mornings,” as Mary Oliver so sweetly teaches,

“No doubt clocks are ticking loudly all over the world. I don’t hear them. The snail’s pale horns extend and wave this way and that as her finger-body shuffles forward, leaving behind the silvery path of her slime. Oh, softest of mornings….how shall I go on, with my introspective and ambitious life?”

Thinking of you with affection, Lisa


The Web of Loss, The Web of Hope

Glimmers May 30, 2020

Dear Friends,

My work in grief ministry has given me the opportunity to observe very personal, and at the same time, “universal” responses to loss. And into that mix, I bring my own unique experiences of loss. One thing that is painfully clear, losses know other losses. Maybe they’re all part of the same web, in the way that trees are interconnected under the grass in my backyard.

Our maple trees are being “cleaned up.” That translates into 1) cut out dead and dangerous branches off of five trees and 2) remove one of our trees and our neighbor’s tree. I sit here in the middle of our house, listening to the sounds of the tree’s “death,” I feel loss.

On Friday, May 29, 2020, that isn’t the only loss I’m experiencing. My soul vibrates with the losses that surround me: Three hundred and sixty thousand people have died from Covid-19 around the world. The city of Minneapolis is screaming with agony. Our black brothers are being hunted.  Individuals and families are facing hunger, homelessness, illness, and deep despair. Our fear of dying has moved way past a literary question, into a haunting echo. Our, seemingly, collective lack of trust IN ANYTHING has infiltrated our very private conversation with trust. All of these movements in our collective consciousness are losses.

Our experiences of loss vibrate together like the caterpillar’s silks connecting their chrysalis homes. The trees , clamoring down around me, are pulling at my heartstrings, and as a result, I am vibrating with other losses in my life, all at varying frequencies.

This tree work will end. The yard will be cleaned up, the newly discovered tree rot will become a pat on the back. I will sit outside, ask the trees to forgive me, and enjoy a few extra rays from the Sun. At the same time, I will be holding my brothers and sisters, in their anguish, a little more closely to my heart. As I experienced our collective grief, I named their experiences. I do not return to the Land of Hope alone. I carry the hearts of those I’ve met in prayer with me. 

People ask me, “What can I do? How can I, possibly make a difference?” Our sense of helplessness is a common response to loss and it is everywhere. I know what I have to do, I have to change my daily routine to include quiet time with the God of my understanding. I have to experiment with many other names for the Divine, to develop and deepen our love-relationship. I have to surrender into the Love that Knows No End, surrender everything, even if it’s just for that time of morning prayer.  I have to trust that my singular effort to shine the light of Love in my life could somehow support you in your life. I have to proclaim that we, like the trees, share an interconnection.… my brother’s pain is my pain, my sisters joy, I share too. Our souls

“experience a coming together, a communion of hearts, knowing that, as philosopher William James puts it, ‘the trees also commingle their roots in the darkness underground, and the islands also hang together through the ocean’s bottom.’ ” *

Let us embrace the idea that in addition to collective grief, we also experience collective soul, collective hope. We have the capacity to share “good vibes,” the Spirit…. Love. Let us, together, bring our broken hearts into moments of connection. Let us rest with the God of our understanding and the abiding strength found in union. Let us say, “Yes!” to Hope. I close with words from Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault from Mystical Hope, to nourish your relationship with Hope as you, dear friends, nourish mine.

Hope’s home is at the innermost point in us, and in all things. It is a quality of aliveness. It does not come at the end, as the feeling that results from a happy outcome. Rather, it lies at the beginning, as a pulse of truth that . . . will send us forth in hope, regardless of the physical circumstances of our lives. Hope fills us with the strength to stay present, to abide in the flow of the Mercy no matter what outer storms assail us. It is entered always and only through surrender; that is, through the willingness to let go of everything we are presently clinging to. And yet when we enter it, it enters us and fills us with its own life—a quiet strength beyond anything we have ever known.”

Peace to you this day,

*Grieving – The Sacred Art: Hope in the Land of Loss,” Skylight Paths/Turner Publishing, 2016