Spirituality of the Ordinary Blog

Some Notes on Fasting (Or Why Doing “Something Extra” for Lent is Not Enough)

The conversation starts as Ash Wednesday approaches: “What are you giving up for Lent?” Over the years I’ve heard people respond, “I’m not giving anything up this year. I’m doing something extra.” I used to be one of them - that is, until I realized that isn’t enough. That “something extra” can be a great…

Embracing Vulnerability in Motherhood: Lessons from “Little Women”

Twenty years ago, I curled up in the backseat of my parent’s Nissan Quest and spent an eight-hour road trip with only one book: Little Women. By the time we returned home from visiting my grandparents in North Carolina, I loved the four March sisters as if they were my own.  Over time, the exact…

How to Choose a Lenten Penance

Lent is a great experience of spiritual solidarity for Catholics. We fast together, pray together, and fall in love again with the central beauty of our faith: suffering never has the last word, and always has meaning in light of the cross.  The spiritual practice of fasting has the unique capacity to remind us of…

Letting Go of Perfectionism by Embracing Weakness

Even before the age of Instagram, the impetus to present an idealized image of our lives to the world has been a pervasive temptation. Somewhere along the line, humanity bought into the lie that success and strength are products of independent self-reliance, rather than shared reliance on community. The more we buy into this lie,…

Dismantling the “Just a Mom” Myth

One of the hazards of bearing a baby bump is the avalanche of advice on how best to raise your children. Friends and strangers suddenly feel the impulse to touch you without warning and share harrowing stories of traumatic birth experiences. And they always want to know, “Are you going back to work?” For some…

The Key to a More Contemplative Advent

I’ve always wanted to be a runner. Despite my lack of skill or experience, the romance of a morning run appealed to me: simple, solitary, and powerful. I wanted to emulate that. When I finally started running, it was hard - harder than I expected. It still is sometimes. In my enthusiasm, I start out…