When I can’t pray I often turn to the end of Romans 8. Here Paul
pulls back the velvet curtain of revelation. What we see is amazing: a
never-ending festivity where there sounds a strained, melodious,
mysterious prayer that all the suffering in this present world cannot
drown out. At the heart of the festivity is the Triune God praying for
When Jesus tells a story, he compels us to look at holy things with new eyes, and he illustrates his stories with references to ordinary, homely things. If he were operating in the 21st century, I doubt that he would need a blackboard for complex mathematical formulas, or the arcane jargon of a modern expert—whether economist, computer maven, biochemist or theologian.
I was raised in a middle-class, suburban family for whom religion, like sex, was a taboo topic. My Uncle Paul, a monastic known as Brother Leo, would join us each year for Thanksgiving dinner, but we never offered grace for the meal. Uncle Paul was an oddity in his black suit and drab, community-owned sedan. But I sensed that spiritually he was on to something.