Accepting the Challenge to Be Cool & Read

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Kristen dared us to find a cool spot and read this month. That’s a little like daring me to breathe or eat cookies, so I was excited. Success was in the bag.

She also issued an “extra credit” dare to re-read something we read when we were younger. This excited me even more–she probably doesn’t know it, but I was voted Most Likely to Do Extra Credit in high school. (Yes, really. I like to hope that I’ve mellowed a bit since then, but I’m going to do the extra credit even if I already have an A-plus and you can’t stop me.) As it happened, by August 1 I was on vacation with my family and had at least five books in my backpack, two of which I had requested from the library because I’d read them as a kid and wanted to reread them. I gleefully spent a few minutes each night revisiting a world that had enchanted me as a seventh grader.

But then we came home from vacation. We came back to reality, to piles and piles of laundry, to grocery schlepping and meal planning and back-to-school shopping. Suddenly it was hard to keep my eyes open for a few stolen minutes of reading each day, even in the middle of the afternoon. I’d get through a sentence just fine, the next would blur a bit as my head bobbed, and before I knew it I’d be mumbling “hunh” to a kid’s question, which they’d take as a “yes” and run off to do I’m-not-sure-what with what they presumed was my permission.

In other words, this dare is just what I need to force me to carve out purposeful time to read. The end of summer will get hectic—it always does. My youngest two don’t start school until after Labor Day, so they’ll be wanting to pack in fun activities while they still can. This will take some planning, and will probably require the use of an earlier wake-up alarm for some quiet time. But I am eagerly anticipating returning to the pages that initially captivated a much-younger me.

The Feast of the Transfiguration

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How many times have we heard this story?

Peter, James, and John join Jesus on the mountain, when suddenly everything is glowing white and there is Moses and Elijah! The three men are terrified, but Peter, bless him, though terrified, can’t NOT say something, so he jumps in with, Let’s build three houses—one for you, one for Moses, one for Elijah.” A voice tells them that Jesus is his son. Then, as suddenly as it began, it is over. It was a terrifying, but brief encounter with the power of God.

Well, this week, as the liturgical calendar celebrated the Transfiguration, I was in the middle of something BAD. And for the first time in a long, long time, I found myself–like Peter, James, and John–terrified.


I was sure that my husband, and possibly myself and my children, were in terrible danger, and it shook me to my core. When was the last time you were terrified? Not anxious, not uncomfortable—TERRIFIED.

Let me tell you, fear that is strong enough to terrify you is a game changer. Fear that is terrifying is TRANSFIGURING. So, this entire Gospel story takes on a whole new light to me. I forgot how powerful terror is.

In the story, it is noted that the change in Jesus—his transfiguration—was TERRIFYING. Think about that for a minute. This is not written as a happy little Sunday School story to be portrayed with puppets and a cute song. Something big happened on that mountain. Jesus transformed into “radiant glory”—HE TURNED INTO LIGHT, PEOPLE, WITH RAYS OF LIGHT SHOOTING OUT OF HIM–and was joined by not just one, but two of their long-dead, spiritual heroes. If that is not enough to undo a man, there is this huge voice without a body attached that starts admonishing Peter, James, and John. These three men–Jesus’s favorites, Jesus’ closest confidantes, the folks who knew HIM best–were rightfully terrified by the whole experience.

And then everything goes back to normal, and Jesus turns to his best mates and tells them to not tell anyone about any of what just happened. Only Peter, James, and John will never be normal again. The transfiguration transfigured them.  Perhaps that is the point. All of Christ’s teachings and miracles and advising to this point had not yet changed the men dramatically enough.  They were the closest people on the planet to the Creator of the Universe. Until the Transfiguration, though, they didn’t really get just how big and powerful the Creator of the Universe really is.

I get it now. I get how you can find yourself in an experience that terrifies you, and changes how you look at your life, your normal, your Creator.  I cannot yet articulate how I have changed, but I know that I have. This will be unfolding for a while longer, I am certain.




A Challenge for the Dog Days of August: Find Someplace Cool to Rest and Read a Good Book

The Seventeenth Week of Ordinary Time–John 6:1-15

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Each month, we extend a challenge aimed at teaching us something about ourselves, our community, our faith, or maybe just to amuse us!

 Last month, Mary challenged us to sweat , and we did.   Gosh, did we ever sweat. It has been so ridiculously hot and steamy! This month, stay cool, and feed your mind, and maybe your soul.

I challenge you to step away from screens (AFTER YOU READ OUR BLOG!), pour yourself a tall glass of iced tea, get comfy in a beach chair at the edge of the water or maybe under some trees, and read a book or two or more!

I further challenge you to go to your local library to find that book or two or more. Libraries are the most magical places on earth! There are books about EVERYTHING, magazines about ANYTHING, and newspapers from EVERYWHERE. There are film dvds and music cds and audio books. There are art exhibits and special events. The library is where you can find ALL THE ANSWERS. If you haven’t been to one in a while, GO, and be astounded.

And for you super competitive types, I double dog dare you to spend the dog days of August RE-reading a book or two or more that you read when you were younger. Notice what is different for you this time around. Maybe you will discover new levels to the story. Maybe you will find that you have outgrown the tale. You won’t know until you pick up the book and read it again!



Perhaps like us, you are Made for Ordinary Time? Welcome!

Do ordinary things with extraordinary love.–St. Theresa of Calcutta

35143559_10156401429343948_7542596642092875776_n1The Little Chapel, Talbot Valley, Guernsey

We are two women in the middle of our lives. We both thought that we would, well, have it all together by now.

We don’t.

We’ve been through a lot. We have weathered financial troubles, battled health problems, buried parents. We have made legion mistakes.

We have gotten a lot of things right, though.

We have been in happy marriages for a long time. We have gotten some of our kids launched into adulthood.  We have built some really strong, beautiful friendships.

We come at matters of faith from fairly different places, but we both agree on one thing, all the best things happen during Ordinary Time.

Grab a cup of coffee and join us as we keep trying to find the divinity in our everyday– from the days when we are standing on the peak of Mt. Whelm and get dizzy, to the perfect days where it all goes right, and we even find time to sit on the screen porch with a good book and a cool drink.

Marybeth Chuey Bishop lives in Annapolis, Maryland with her husband and children, two dogs, and some scruffy plants. She likes to read, walk, wear socks with kraken or Poe on them, and write. Her work has appeared in the Convivium Journal and on the Sick Pilgrim and Suspended in Her Jar blogs.

Kristen Allen teaches preschool and coaches college students at Brandeis University. She lives in central Massachusetts with her remarkable husband, two sons (because her daughter had the good sense to move out of town) and two incorrigible dogs.  She’s written about family life, education, community service, and her ongoing battle with the Almighty at The Prodigal Son’s Mother (,  Sick Pilgrim, the Woonsocket Call newspaper, and other publications.

This is the duo’s second blogging project together.  They also blogged together at Crone Café (