Days of Birth & Death & Life

How to find February light

Oh, February.

I barely have words for you, now. Your short days and lengthening sun. Your ragged determination to hang onto deepest winter like jagged icicle claws.

The way you hold life and death together, unbearably close to my heart.

If you’re new here, you might not know why February means so much to me.

Five years ago today, our twin daughters were born prematurely. They had developed a rare complication of identical twins and were too sick to survive. Maggie lived one day, and Abby lived two.

Till the day I join them, that will forever be the shortest sentence that steals my breath like sub-zero cold.

There’s no good way to go through hardest days, but there are still a thousand wandering ways through. I’ve tried many, but each year I am humbled to relearn that there’s no getting good at grief.

You cannot write your way to a tidy conclusion. You cannot exercise any satisfying success. You cannot make meaning enough to heal the wound.

You cannot get over it.

You can only sit at the edge of the shore, where water meets land and death meets life, and let every wave crash into you again.

So here we are, letting the grief waves crash, grateful that so many of you still sit here with us, reaching out to share your love.

(To have the news of half a million deaths from Covid in this country break in the same week as our own hearts is a stunning reminder of how much grief hangs thick around us.)

I have learned by now that the days leading up to a grief anniversary are harder than the day itself. So I tried to fill these past days and weeks with a few good things.

Here are some to share—and more ahead.

What’s saving my life right now

Morning prayer. Does anyone else feel like the spiritual life is simply showing up to the simplest rhythms, forgetting them, then remembering them? I’d be adrift without lectio divina. (Check out my friend Kathleen’s daily lectio here if you’ve never tried it.)

Poetry, always. John O’Donohue. Every poem shared by SK Mooney. Wendell Berry reading his own words in this delightful video from On Being.

Speaking of On Being, I devoured this interview with Katherine May on her book Wintering: “Whenever you start talking to people about your own winterings, they start telling you about theirs, and you realize what huge community there could be if we talked about this in a different way.”

Speaking of loss, this is a powerful testimony from Britt Luby in America Magazine about miscarriage and how parents hold this wound and love for decades. (For always.)

Speaking of hard topics, I found this essay on marriage to be searing truth—especially for relationships during the pandemic.

Speaking of writing, if you’ve got a budding author in your homeschool (virtual school/whatever we’re doing this week), my friend Lauren is offering a chance for kids to dip into the work of being edited. Contact her to have your child’s story edited complete with video chat.

Speaking of friends, so many are birthing beauty into the world. Check out Hallie Lord’s latest book Falling Home. Shannon Evans re-released Embracing Weakness, and it’s stunning. Keep your eyes peeled for Mary Lenaburg’s new book Be Bold in the Broken out in March. Kayla Craig’s book of prayers for parents is a shining gem that I can’t wait to show you soon.

If you want to join us

Franco and I have been amazed by the response to the fundraiser we launched in honor of our daughters. Learn more here about how we’re trying to do outrageous good in Maggie & Abby’s memory by supporting Second Harvest Heartland, one of the biggest food banks in the U.S., located here in Minnesota. Together we have raised over $36,000, which translates into more than 100,000 meals for people experiencing hunger. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to each of you who have given.

The Myrrhbearers Lenten Retreat starts in less than 2 weeks! I’m thrilled at how many of you will be joining us on this virtual journey through the Gospels from March 11-14. We still have spots (and scholarship funds) available, so check it out here and contact me with any questions.



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Find my books here: Everyday Sacrament | Grieving Together | Prayers for Pregnancy & Birth | To Bless Our Callings | Living Your Discipleship

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