I made it to Istanbul, a place I have wanted to visit for a long time. The first night I took a walk to Taksim Square, the scene of recent protests. The protests have been pointedly peaceful for the most part, and in the last two days have taken a new twist—people just standing. Here is Taksim square with a few hundred people just standing, facing the portrait of Atatürk on the National Opera. Atatürk was the founder of modern Turkey, bringing it out of the Ottoman Empire and forging a new, pointedly secular government. 

The Gospel today is  Luke 7:36-8:3, about a woman who washes Jesus' feet with her tears. I offered a reflection on it for theWord, based on a homily gave at a youth retreat in Kintbury, England.

Two things I dearly love—hiking and theological debate—come together beautifully when I get the chance to take some time off with Peter Hunter. Peter is a Dominican of the English Province from South Africa, and he is one of the few people who will stay in a theological debate with me literally for days. Here Peter is walking next to a field of canola in the Wiltshire countryside as we discuss Wittgenstein and what it means “to know”, after a long debate about the nature of the world and a discussion of the state of the intellectual life of the order.

Dominican friars doing dishes after supper in Oxford, England

I made it to Oxford, England, visiting the brothers here at Blackfriars Hall. I love this community and its great mix of study, prayer and common life. The brothers live together in a charming neogothic shoebox, and while their prayer is a bit more formal than I would care for (they are English, after all), I love the fact that they all show up for it (or mostly, I suppose) and all pitch in to put supper on the table and to do the dishes afterwards. There is something very essentially Dominican here that always challenges me to embrace our life a bit more fully.

First stop on my around the world tour is the Catholic Theology Society of America's annual meeting in Miami. Here, Catherine Cornille discusses the question of "Multiple Religious Belonging as ‘Unachieved Conversion’?” As much as I hate meetings, I love these gatherings—cathing up with colleagues and friends, discussing their research and how their lives are going, getting re-connected to the theological currents of America each year. 

I guess you have to be a theologian to get excited about these things, and I guess I really am a theologian at heart. Who'd have thought.

sunset from the airplane

Today I set off on a trip around the world. I am excited, but not without a bit of consternation. What did I bring, what did I forget, what will I find… so many things to worry about.

Then we flew off into the sunset. This photo is from the window of the plane at 36000 feet. The setting sun lit the clouds from below, so that they glowed from within.

I am on a short sabbatical, to learn more from interreligious dialogue. My real purpose is to reacquaint myself with the transcendent beauty of the world by seeing it from a different perspective.

aspens in spring

June, but it is just spring in the mountains of Colorado. The new green leaves on the birch and aspen trees shine against the dark green of pines and spruce.

I am on retreat in Colorado this week. Out walking with God this morning, I was climbing out of the canyon and had just run into some deer who were not used to seeing people walking on these slopes. Following where they went I came to a ridge. This was the view.

Woman in Canaan Heights, Jamaica

Community is a blessing—the people you know, the people you meet each day, the ones you share your life with. Canaan Heights is a good community, like so many in Jamaica, neighbors helping each other, but all of them quite poor. This woman lived in a one room shack typical of the area, built out of scrap, with no running water or electricity. When the rains came, as they do every day this time of year, she huddled with her children in one bed and put pots around to catch the water leaking through the roof.

In the category of "pictures I wish I had so I could share" would be one of Deanna Wilson. Deanna lives in Jamaica at Martha's House, a home for abandoned children who are HIV positive.

Deanna has the heart of a dancer, but legs and feet that are permanently bent. She can only walk on her knees or the tops of her feet.