St. Margaret and Seeking Peace

I’m tired of being angry.

I’m angry all the time. Angry at the world. Angry at my (lack of) parenting skills. Angry at how little time there is to think or reflect or write anything meaningful. Angry at racism. Angry at the church. Angry at scarcity and shame. Angry at the copious amount of dandelions peppering our lawn, and one more thing on the to-do list for this suburban life. Angry at sexism. Angry at bigotry and prejudice, violence and oppression. Angry at my exhaustion.

I’m tired of being angry.

Since the twins turned 9 months old I’ve been on a generic form of Zoloft for post-partum depression. The dosage is much less these days since diet and some exercise, and of course, the occasional sleep, lunch with girlfriends, and massages help a great deal. But, it’s still there, like an undercurrent, a discordant melody, and I suppose, one of those realities that will remain in my life for a while. I’m always in recovery from something, I think, but I was reminded that almost anyone who is breathing is likely in recovery no matter what side of those steel bars you are on because maybe the fences around our houses are prisons in their own way. I’m in recovery from a handful of struggles and ailments – the latest being a depression that looks more like anger than numbness, and one that has seeped into so many facets of my life.

I’m tired of being angry.

But, some anger is good, I hear people say sometimes, anger can give you the fuel you need to do the work. To bide the course. To keep the steam going and stay in the fight. Anger certainly does that for me in some things but if it becomes inert and stagnant it turns into cynicism rather than something useful. And I think for me it’s come to a head lately.

Because I’m tired.

Not just the “I haven’t had normal sleep in over five years” kind of tired. Not just the “long run of the day is killing my feet I need new Brooks” kind of tired. Not just the deadlines coming out of my ears kind of tired. Not just the emotional and physical exhaustion of keeping up with the schedule of children – mine and college-aged. I’m tired of maintaining anger as if that is the only nourishment for this life. I’m hungry – seriously, on my hands and knees famished – for something else.

I’m longing for peace.

It’s constantly chasing me down especially these last couple of years, and lately it comes to me in snippets and morsels, like crumbs tossed off a table or scraps that have fallen off the kitchen counter. Like flashes of light on my periphery as I grope my way through the darkness trying to find a way out. Like the sound of a melody I once sang without even thinking about it but now I can’t remember the notes or words.

Thankfully, it’s persistent, peace won’t give up on me.


A friend from high school sent me this lovely artwork last week. It was born out of dreams and stories, conversations and revelations about St. Margaret.

St. Margaret of Cortona came to me as I contemplated more intentionally working in spaces that provide not only hospitality, but also solidarity with those labelled homeless in our community. One such place is the Shalom Community Center, and as I’ve blogged already it has become a place for me to simply be and serve, to receive and learn. St. Margaret of Cortona is the patron saint of the disenfranchised and the marginalized, and she came to it after losing the love of her life. But she’s not the only one. St. Margaret of Scotland was a Reformer in her own right as queen of Scotland. She was faithful in her work and ministry through helping to enact numerous ecclesiastical reforms, being spiritually and religiously devout through attending church services and personal prayer, and finally, caring for the orphans and poor. The other St. Margaret is a bit more provocative but important to me – Margaret Cho. A rare Asian American female comedian I have grown to admire her moxie in connecting art and politics. She is unabashedly who she is – something so refreshing in light of the culture of our childhood upbringing. All these Margarets advocate for a bigger dream and another possibility, and reflecting on their stories has nourished my heart. And, this gift, this icon of St. Margaret stands as a guide.

I realize though that more significantly all these Margarets embody the possibility of a life lived in peace and in pursuit of peace, a life that is rooted in peacemaking, and what I am seeing as an expression of wholeheartedness. I want to follow in the way because this is the way of Jesus.

“Wholeheartedness. There are many tenets of wholeheartedness, but at its very core is vulnerability and worthiness; facing uncertainty, exposure, and emotional risks, and knowing that I am enough.”
Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Perhaps one of the most difficult challenges in my life right now is knowing I am enough. Who I am is enough for the writing, the very periodic speaking and preaching, the parenting, the mentoring and ministering, the living. I try too hard to do too many things awesomely, I realized this last weekend. I think it made me see how much this stems from a fear of scarcity, of not being enough, and that ultimately, it is what fuels my anger. Living in pursuit of wholeheartedness, in peacemaking within myself and thus, outside of myself, this is what I need for recovery – recovery from anger and self-loathing, resentment and ingratitude, bitterness and jealousy.

I’m often paralyzed by this – whether it’s feeling acutely that lack, or feeling in crashing waves that anger, or feeling hollow from the absence of peace, and it was enough to throw me off when it came to any kind of expression lately. But, I will take a cue from St. Margaret. To listen and wait. To trust those scars and markings of the journey on my life. To keep on seeking and living that peace because it will sustain my life.

Being a peacemaker means cultivating more than just an aura of sleepy calm. It means embodiment of Gods promise in the midst of chaos.Click To Tweet

The Day After


I’m waiting on the resurrection.

Easter happened a little more than two weeks ago. The brass and fanfare, the choruses and lilies all of it giving me that familiar jolt. I was momentarily resuscitated by the promise of life persisting despite death’s clutches. The resurrection as the tenacity of joy, the irresistible power and work of love. The embodiment of hope. I was caught up in it all, and humming Handel’s tunes all day on Monday.

And all around I could feel it. The weather starting to finally turn and the wind blowing sighs of relief throughout the streets. The trees laughing and flowering while crocuses stretch to the sky like children after they wake from an bizarre and rare lengthy sleep. 

The tomb is empty. But, I realize I still am, too. I’m waiting on the resurrection.

I joked with a seminary student that we never stop discerning, but I guess I was serious. I am nearly 38 years old, and I am still seeking out my call. Every day I wonder about my vocation, and what this means as I look at various possibilities and projects in front of me strewn about like all the children’s blocks and Legos and puzzle pieces. It’s paralyzing, sometimes. I want to get a shop vac and clear it all away, and then sit on a bench in a park somewhere and just stare at the sky. But, no. There’s work to do, and responsibilities, and lunches to pack, and where are their damn rain boots? 

Because it’s raining, and these days are dark once again. I drive around in a little bit of a haze knowing that just beyond the rains the sun and heat will scorch the earth, and yes, for sure, though I long for that heat, I will curse the humidity. I catch a glimpse of someone in a dingy camouflage jacket and orange cap late at night pushing a shopping cart full of black garbage bags down Walnut Street. The Interfaith Winter Shelter is done for the season but it still feels like winter hasn’t let go quite yet. I wonder where he will sleep tonight.

After another excruciating attempt at putting the children down for sleep – constant negotiations and the never ending requests for one more apple or one more cup of water or one more story or one more back rub or one more song – I collapse in bed myself. I look at the clock and it’s only 9:30 pm. I will get up one more time to check on them because I love the way they look when they sleep. Desmond sleeps balled up – his body curled and blankets already twisted around and under him as if he had a brief wrestling match with the sheets just before he gave in to sleep. Like Jacob wrestling those nighttime angels except Desmond would wrestle them because he’d assume they stole his superheroes. He is extra vigilant about them at night. Oz sleeps on his side with his mouth open slightly. Cheeks puffed out, and I see those baby days slipping away too quickly. He’s trying to grow up as fast as possible so that he can keep up with the twins. He’s practically there. Anna sleeps on her back with her arms wide open, a posture perfectly expressive of her personality. She takes in the whole world with her whole self. I wait to see their chests rise and fall, and to hear their breathing, and even to see if their eyes will flutter open a little only for a second.

I’m reading the lectionary texts for the Easter season with college students every Monday. Each time I feel a momentary burst of light as though the clouds have moved aside and I’m awash in a warmth that tells me summer really is right around the corner. But I feel the grief and angst of the disciples locked in rooms trying to make sense of the sightings of Jesus. I wonder if each time they see him and touch his wounds if it feels like a reminder of that sun hidden behind the gray. So, like them I want to go back to the former life, what makes sense, and what my mind and body naturally do when I’m trying to sort it all out, fishing for anything that might make sense, but when I pull up the nets they’re empty.

The tomb is empty. I’m waiting on the resurrection.

It’s only the beginning of the Easter season but already the lilies are starting to wilt and the hallelujahs have long faded away. The people are whispering again, Is he really the Messiah? And I am mouthing the same questions, too, even as Jesus responds, I’m here. I’ve got you. 

The day after began two weeks ago and it stretches into the horizon. But, I see the dawn. Though I barely feel the rays beginning to brush my skin, it is enough. It’s enough to keep my heart and arms open, waiting and hoping.

True spirituality is about keeping your heart space open. It is daily, constant work. The temptation is to close down: to judge and dismiss and hate and fear. If you don't have some spiritual practice that keeps your heart open, even in the midst of suffering and 'hell,' it's easy to end up grumpy and filled with fear and negativity. You have to work to live in love, to have a generosity of spirit, a readiness to smile, a willingness to serve. Regularly check in with yourself, asking, 'Is my heart open? Is love flowing from me? Or am I constricted?' ~Richard RohrClick To Tweet