The word "‘mother" denotes a biological relationship, a maternal branch on the family tree. Everybody has one, and everyone’s is unique. The word itself comes in many languages — mother, mater, madre, mère, mutter, mzazi — and breaks down into many nicknames — ma, mama, mom, mum, mami, marme…

Mental flashbacks to 2002 have plagued my brain lately. That was the year, dramatized in the movie "Spotlight," when a series of Boston Globe articles exposed the scandal of the clergy’s sexual abuse of children in the local Catholic Church. In 2002 I worked for the church across the country…

On what was supposed to be a four-day beach house getaway with three of my four daughters, I missed a step. I don’t mean this metaphorically: My right foot literally missed the step down from the porch as we were unloading our bags from the car.

As a woman over 50 (ahem!), I have some thoughts to share with Yann Moix. Who, one might ask, is Yann Moix? I confess I’d never heard of him either before I came across his provocative assertion that women over 50 are “invisible” to him. I have since learned that he is a 50-year-old French n…

While I was out-of-state over the Christmas holiday, I went to Mass at a parish not my own. The thing about Mass somewhere new is that even though the building and the presider and the music and the liturgical details and the people around you are completely unknown to you, the Mass is the M…

My mother, God rest her soul, was a smart woman in her day. She was an excellent student up through her high school graduation. She could calculate numbers quickly. She could spell any word. She read a lot, and she remembered almost every detail she either read about or came across in real l…

A certain car magnet seems to have been slapped onto every vehicle in the church parking lot: “KEEP CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS” it reads, captioning the outline of a manger scene. Some men are handing them out. An old guy gives me a dirty look when I don’t take one. I assume he is one of the Warrio…

When I was a kid, I was afraid of Frankenstein and Dracula, which was understandable because my brother told me that these two monsters actually lived in the closet in our basement. But I wonder now, how come the thing I feared most of all as a child was lava? I was terrified of the rush of …

My husband and I met and became friends and fell in love when we were theater students at the University of Dallas in the last century. Decades of marriage and four daughters later, we’d been invited to a reunion covering 50 years of the UD drama department.

We know that feeling: the awe and wonder that washes over us when we find ourselves amidst the splendor of God’s green earth. We know this feeling when we marvel at the expanse of the ocean or look up in a forest of tall trees or hike through a blooming meadow or climb a steep high peak. At …

When the women warriors who fought for equal voting rights saw the 19th Amendment become law, they probably did not imagine that 98 years later, we’d still be slogging though the swamp of sexism. But we are. Female folks, please realize that our vote matters more than ever this November.

Every now and then, or perhaps more frequently, we ponder the Big Questions. Is there such a thing as a benevolent creator? Do we live on after death? Does anyone’s life matter? Stuff like that. A Big Question can even tackle a smaller matter. For example, when a day passes that seems incons…

“Ou est la Bastille?" is a question that is asked by many an ill-informed visitor to Paris. In response, Parisians can only point out the square where the Bastille once stood, because little trace of the infamous state prison remains. History enthusiasts may want to stand in the Place de la …

Just when we think the world is going to hell in a hand basket, someone we love gets married. Last week that someone was my youngest daughter, who married her true love. She greeted the day with something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. She was our very own princes…

If such a thing as a spiritual bucket list exists, the top item on mine would be the Camino. Specifically, El Camino de Santiago de Compostela. It’s roughly 500 miles across northern Spain. I hope to cover those miles before I leave this earth.

When I was a kid, milk was milk. It came in a glass bottle from the milkman, by way of a cow. Simple. There was skim milk, which my mother bought when my grandmother visited. It was watery and not exactly white, more like a sickly blue. My grandmother took a splash of it in her Sanka. (She a…

You may know her: the church lady (or gentleman) who gives her all to the church community. She volunteers with seemingly every ministry group. She is on multiple committees. She may even have a paid position with the church. She is everywhere. She is a pillar. She is a servant of God extrao…

Prison is not the place I ever expected to learn anything about God. But I have. The God of Surprises is always evident in my workplace, gently reminding me that every person, no matter how guilty, is a gifted and beloved child of our God.

The beloved and timeless heroine Dorothy Gale learns an important life lesson when she travels to Oz and back: “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again,” Dorothy says, “I won’t look any further than my own backyard.” It’s wisdom from the Wizard.

A lovely Christmas picture book I used to read to my children was “The Donkey’s Dream,” written and illustrated by Barbara Helen Berger. In it, the little gray donkey carries on his back the Virgin Mary, on the Holy Family’s arduous journey to Bethlehem. I remembered this book with its beaut…

If you have ever been subjected to sexual harassment, abuse, or assault — and if you are female, the chances are excellent that you have been — you know why it has taken so long for so many women to come forward with allegations and personal stories about men in power.

A trip back in time: My brother’s friend Stephen got the news on a Sunday in 1967 that his father was Missing in Action (MIA) in Vietnam. Stephen’s dad was a fighter pilot, and for two years our whole Catholic grammar school prayed for his safe return. Then my family moved to another state, …

Fire can be a blessing or a curse. It can cook our food or destroy our neighborhood. It can save our lives by warming us in the cold or kill us if we get too close. Fire has captivated the human imagination ever since Prometheus stole it from Mount Olympus. (A similar theft appears in many o…

Six plays in four days. That was our plan upon arriving in Ashland, Oregon, in August for the annual Shakespeare Festival. I’m happy to report: mission accomplished. My husband actually saw seven plays, when a last-minute ticket for a sold-out matinee became available. Shakespeare penned fou…

My youngest daughter is engaged to be married. The wedding date is nearly a year away, but she is already making arrangements. I get it. She wants to know that things are handled, and I understand, because the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. She and her fiancé have already secured the …

An impending move prompted my family to go through several dusty storage bins of photos. It was not always a pleasant stroll down Memory Lane, like when my twenty-something daughter held up her school portrait from sixth grade. “How could you even love me?” she demanded. “I was so ugly!”

Flashback two decades: We are all in the car, ready for one of our family camping trips — four daughters, two parents, trail mix and water bottles, pillows and blankets, an amazing amount of overnight bags and camping gear that my husband always manages to pack into the car and still maintai…

The feral kitten joined our family after he’d been separated from his mother. I had met his mother on occasion, and although she was prolific, she was not especially maternal. I thought the kitten would be better off with us. Now I’m not so sure.