May 19, 2019

Spring in Nevada: Roses, Orioles and Eden

It’s spring in Nevada And the benefits of my March cleanup efforts are everywhere I look. The ponds and streams constructed years ago now flow cleanly and powerfully.  The roses are magnificent. I can recall so readily what this house looked like when we came here…can it possibly be seventeen years ago? There was nothing. Sage brush and bare dirt where our predecessors had begun a lackluster start at landscaping but managed only to remove the sagebrush. Granted, sagebrush is not pretty, even slightly so but it sure does a bang up job preventing soil erosion. When the winds blew […]
May 12, 2019

We Do What We Can: Or Do We?

We Do What We Can: Or Do We? These words sound weak: “we do what we can” in this culture of superlatives where someone is not just good but “amazing”, where a movie is not merely excellent but “awesome.” Recently, I spoke with a long time friend about why the phrase, “we do what we can” echoes in my mind and heart. And no longer connotes weakness or insignificance. There are 3 reasons: During Lent on Fridays, I walk the Stations of the Cross if at all possible. The sixth station pictures a woman stepping out of the crowd holding […]
May 5, 2019

In Praise of Work

In praise of work “So Lin, what will you do when you retire?” My friend Steve, then an intensivist at the Texas Medical Center where we both worked knew my answer. He just wanted to see what happened when I said that I didn’t ever want to retire in front of the group of burned out physicians and administrators we sat with. His eyes twinkled while he waited for me to begin speaking in praise of work. Back in those hundred plus hour weeks I balanced a more than full-time job with finishing my doctoral dissertation. I knew that Steve […]
April 28, 2019
not about sin

Death, Hope, Heaven- What Are We Here for Anyway?

Death, Hope, Heaven, What are we here for, anyway? In my pre-Catholic ‘pagan’ years, I worried about death. Mostly because I feared standing before a God I did not think I believed in and explaining why I had wasted knowledge, understanding, and time. After twenty years as a Catholic, I would like to think that anxiety gone. Unfortunately, I think it’s merely changed its shape. Which is why a book called, Surprised By Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church, has excited me so much that I am compelled to write about it. One could object, […]
April 21, 2019

Your Life Is Worth Dying For

Your life is worth dying for… Exactly what are we worth? We usually think about our worth in dollars and cents. In terms of salaries, bonuses and raises.  Each of us asks the question at least once, probably several times during the different phases of our lives: From the beginning of our careers and the process of evaluating job offers.  Then when negotiating for raises with our superiors. Once we attain notoriety, we lay claim to increased value, usually others agree. But later in life, we think about our worth differently. Maybe worry about our diminished value to the world […]
April 14, 2019

The Real Spiritual Battle

The Real Spiritual Battle We’re approaching Holy Week, the days of silence, reflection and accounting we’re given by the Christian liturgy each year to reply to the question: How did I do during these forty days? Will there be reason to feel jubilant on Easter a week from today? Whatever we choose to call them, we  fight our spiritual battles alone; in the silence, in the reflections, in the accounting. The real spiritual battle is forgiveness, not of others, but of ourselves. And that work is exhausting, asks everything we have and then demands more. Annually we spend millions- more […]
April 7, 2019

Writing: A Surprisingly Effective Antidote to Stress

Writing as an antidote to stress? How can that be true? Seems to the casual observer that spending days, sometimes months studying opaque topics like epigenetics, or court cases about physicians wrongfully convicted of murder or former combat marines wrongfully convicted of raping a child would cause stress, not relieve it…and not just the research going into the story that all that rest that goes into creating…and then publishing a book. How can all that work possibly relieve one’s stress? Stress is both over and under estimated. “I am so….stressed out right now!” Usually when we think or say this, […]
March 31, 2019

King David, You, Me And Idleness

King David, You, Me and Idleness It isn’t as if King David opened his eyes that morning, to ask, “What are the 3 most effective ways I can take this blessed God-Given-Life and invoke the worst conceivable miseries upon me and on everyone I love, am obligated to?” Or “How can I best take the sacred anointing I was gifted with and immerse it in the depths of depravity?” Every time I read the tragic account of David, I feel profound sympathy for this courageous warrior, this great leader consecrated by God as he falls victim to momentary temptation, for […]
March 24, 2019

Making an Oratory of the Heart

Making an oratory of the heart… When I first read the phrase, “oratory of the heart,” in Brother Lawrence’s Practice of the Presence of God, I had to stop and think about the word oratory. It’s not one we hear in daily conversations. It’s one of those words, I thought I knew but upon looking it up found two very different meanings of the noun. Oratory is defined as eloquence in public speaking and as a place of prayer. Clearly Brother Lawrence refers to the second meaning. It’s an arresting phrase, isn’t it? Coupled with the image of the Oratory […]
March 17, 2019

St. Peter: Buffoon Or Hero?

St. Peter: Buffoon or Hero? Each year on this Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus, I think about St. Peter and wonder if he was a buffoon or a bold, brave hero. Putting aside for a moment that the man is a saint, we are told enough about Peter to wonder about the man…buffoon or hero? They are mutually exclusive descriptions, right? Or could Peter be both a buffoon and a bold and brave hero? Certainly his reply to Christ’s query, “Who do they say that I am?” is far more than heroic… But on this second Sunday of Lent, […]
March 10, 2019

A Joyous Lent

A joyous lent? It isn’t something you can understand easily. At least I can’t. That essential connection between joy and sorrow. The sorrowful agony of the man on the cross and the joy of the resurrection. I think it’s why we write poetry. Because the two emotions sound wholly opposed, as if they live in different realities. But with even just a little life, like by our late teens and early twenties, we know that there is a relationship. About the age I was when I first discovered Kahil Gibran, If only because the two emotions are so primal, universal […]
March 3, 2019

Cool Interview from Feathered Quill

Cool interview from Feathered Quill. I am reposting this interview for a couple of reasons. First, although it is the end of the week, I have gotten very little writing done on My Name is Saul. Therefore cannot afford the time to create a new article for Sunday. Hope you’re okay with such candor. Secondly, I think you may enjoy it. FQ’s Amy Lignor, comes up with some splendid, albeit challenging questions. Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Lin Wilder, the author of I, Claudia: A Novel of the Ancient World. FQ: I’ve spoken with a few authors on […]
February 24, 2019

Certainty: Is There Anything More Seductive?

Certainty: Is there anything more seductive to those of us so hungry for…what exactly? Is it knowledge and wisdom? Or is it more often for affirmation that what we think and believe, even insist, is the truth. In the year 1900, Lord Kelvin took the podium at the British Association of Science to announce: “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement.” At the same time, writes Maria Poplova in her new book, Figuring, young Albert Einstein is “incubating the ideas…that would irreversibly transform our fundamental conception of reality. […]
February 17, 2019

High Desert Winds

High Desert Winds “For me, walking in a hard Dakota wind can be like staring at the ocean: humbled before its immensity, I also have a sense of being at home on this planet, my blood so like the sea in chemical composition, my every cell partaking of air. I live about as far from the sea as is possible in North America, yet I walk in a turbulent ocean. Maybe that child was right when he told me that the world is upside-down here, and this is where angels drown.” I read Kathleen Norris’ Dakota, A Spiritual Biography,  fascinated […]
February 10, 2019

In Pursuit of Excellence: TB 12

In pursuit of excellence: America’s national passion for football was for many, many years pure mystery to me. I could not understand the attraction of watching a bunch of guys pushing and shoving and occasionally badly injuring one another. For me, football was a total bore. Despite that history, I am one of Tom Brady’s (TB 12) admirers: unabashedly, wholeheartedly so. Consequently, I was on my feet jumping up and down in glee at his sixth Super Bowl win last week. He is a happy man, living a life of extreme discipline in his diet, workout regimen and total dedication […]
February 3, 2019

A Silent Mind

“Hold fast to patience with a silent mind.” These words from St. Benedict’s fourth chapter on humility seem to burn through the muddled and distorted thoughts of a mind overwhelmed by the horrors of today’s politics, more accurately described by TV character Garrett Moore of Blue Blood’s wry comment to New York Police Commissioner Frank Reagan, than of statecraft: “The circus came to town and they never left.” But it is the contemporary climate of major universities that sears my heart and psyche even more deeply as I write on this cold morning…an apt metaphor for the wisdom eclipsed by […]
January 27, 2019

If We Are Not Frightened by Brutality

If we are not frightened by brutality are not my words, instead, they are those of St. Augustine as he wrote about the serene, loving and Christlike words that poured from the mouth of the brutally tortured and dying martyr, St. Vincent during yet another of the successive regimes of persecution against Christians in the early fourth century. I thought of these words repeatedly while watching the movie Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer. Because I am. And, I wager, so are you… frightened by brutality… More on that later. By closing our eyes and sanitizing the names of […]
January 20, 2019

The Times Are So Serious That Even Children

The times are so serious that even children “The times are so serious that even children should be made to understand that there are vital differences in people’s beliefs which lead to differences in behavior. This little story, I hope, will appeal to children so they will read it and as they grow older, they may understand that the love, peace and gentleness of the Christ Child, leads to a way of life for which we must all strive.” The words were written close to eighty years ago, in the midst of a world at war, by Eleanor Roosevelt in […]
January 13, 2019

Delicacy: Sharing Two Posts from Serious Reading

Since I, Claudia is now published, I have been writing a number of articles to promote the new book. And thought you may be interested in reading a couple of them. Here is the article called Delicacy first published at Serious Reading. “I was worried when my latest novel declared itself done at just under 65,000 words. But not surprised. The apprehension was warranted. My first foray into historical fiction had produced a finished manuscript that was not only far shorter than any of my series of medical mysteries, but the word length of my new novel, I, Claudia A Novel […]
January 6, 2019

Writing As A Spiritual Practice

Last year, I selected one from a list of preset questions that comprise “author interviews”: “Do you view your writing as a spiritual practice?” Surprised at the question, I stared at the words for a while before realizing that yes, I did think of my writing as spiritual… even a spiritual practice. And wrote this in reply: “Although I have never thought about it in those words, yes, this is true for me. When I started writing fiction, I approached the first book (The Fragrance Shed By A Violet: Murder in the Medical Center) the same way as when I’d […]
December 30, 2018

A House in Haiti: A Counter-cultural Christmas Present

A House in Haiti: A Counter-cultural Christmas Present “Wow…Really? It’s all paid? Someone in Haiti will get a house?” I was dumbfounded… I had emailed Food for the Poor because the money that had been debited from my account each month had stopped. I thought there was a glitch of some kind, it never occurred to me that the cost of the house had been paid. When the woman from Food for the Poor called on Christmas Eve Day to tell me that the year and a half commitment had been paid in full, I was stunned. And maybe even […]
November 21, 2014

Leadership: Wisdom of Edwin Friedman

About ten years ago, I took the advice of an Episcopalian priest and read Edwin Friedman’s A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix; I was so intrigued by the content of this book that I bought several copies and sent them to friends. Recently, I have re-read the book and once again been astounded anew by the rare insight of this man, so very relevant to these troubled, turbulent times. Family therapist and ordained Rabbi Edwin Friedman died suddenly in 1996 prior to the completion of this book; it was his family and friends whom […]
November 26, 2014

Going Camping

I remember when camping meant a tent, sleeping bags, listening to the raccoons nimbly flip off the top of the metal garbage container and nights where the stars were so dense and the milky way created such a wide swath through the sky that most of the black night is obscured. That was camping. For close to six weeks now,we’ve been living in an RV resort with huge rigs like ours, three to four slide-outs so that the mammoth bus can fit on the road while traveling, then expand about 30-40 per cent to somewhere between 400 to 500 square […]
December 4, 2014

Communion in Diversity

Communion in diversity, legitimate diversity, is the phrase Pope Francis used in the Joint Declaration created by Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras at their joint meeting in Jerusalem last week, to describe the “unity to which only the Holy Spirit can lead us, that of communion in legitimate diversity,” reminiscent of John’s Gospel: That they may all be one; As you, Father , are in me, and I in you, That they also may be one in us Had we been home, where daily Mass is a three hour endeavor, I’d not have noticed this rather extraordinarily clever phrase which […]
January 16, 2015

Don’t Need Church To Pray?

Of course we don’t need to be in a church to pray, ‘I pray while I am hiking’, ‘while walking in the forest’, ‘while fishing’; I have heard many statements like these, in the past I would nod somewhat uncomfortably; not infrequently, I felt the comments were said as if to ward off contagion from those of us who do go to church. Like me. Recently, I am rethinking the connections between landscape, church and prayer, realizing that the spirit behind the comments may not be the religious antidote I had always assumed; rather that the spirit animating the words […]