08 May 2015

In A Glass Darkly

Have you ever seen a photo of yourself, or caught your reflection in a window and wondered, Who is that person? Sometimes I see my reflection in the mirror and I catch wisps of the flyaway, carefree girl that I am. Yet there are moments, usually in photographs, when I see the old soul inside of me. Hopefully that means I look wise and thoughtful, rather than crinkled and worn down by cares. But I

Johanna Byrkett 3
07 May 2015

Round Table: Baptism

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20) Since Jesus’ delivery of this Great

Johanna Byrkett 6
24 Apr 2015

Living Vapour

Fresh morning sun peered into my eyes as I swung my car onto the main road in town. I cruised toward a church I had never entered, realising—as I pulled between the mustard-coloured lines to park—that I did not know where to go. I stood uncertainly, looking back and forth between the looming church and the sad-looking parish centre behind it. I made the decision to poke my head in at the parish centre, as

Johanna Byrkett 0
10 Apr 2015

Speaking Scary

 Don’t let the sun set till you’ve done one thing that sort of scares you.1 —Ann Voskamp Clear Colorado skies are a rich cyan blue, beckoning me to jump into an adventure. Sometimes I receive the call of all that glorious wild and go for a long drive in the mountains, looking for a pull-off where I can tromp. I like adventures, after all. Some days, though, I stay home and watch the cotton-clouds sail

Johanna Byrkett 0
27 Mar 2015

Why?

Oh, the questions we ask you, Begetter of the universe… You, who spun waves and particles into golden light, we question if your hands are big enough to hold us. You, who breathed life into our spirits and our dusty frames, we pause to ask if you care about us. You, whose finger carved words into the dirt, we ask if you care enough to write our stories, to show us what you want from

Johanna Byrkett 3
13 Mar 2015

Even in the Valley the Stars Still Shine

Deep red light streaked across my kitchen panes yesterday morning. In the fog of sleepiness I thought of the line, “Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning,” then rolled over for a little more precious slumber. When evening came, I honestly have no idea what colour the sky was… I only knew that the red dawn was followed by an evening call. “She’s gone.” Words I had been anticipating for a week. Words I

Johanna Byrkett 4
27 Feb 2015

A Chalice Remade

Well-worn, chestnut-coloured floorboards creak beneath the many feet entering the hushed room. A reverent quiet is—mostly—kept, it is a time of preparation for the special yearly observance. My friend and I arrive early, a rarity for me, to settle our hearts and minds for the Ash Wednesday service. Yet my mind is awhirl, reflecting on the day’s conversations, expectations, frustrations, and disappointments. In spite of outward tranquility, my thoughts are uneasy. Without sound or ceremony,

Johanna Byrkett 2
18 Feb 2015

Rising from Ruin

Ash Wednesday Reflections   Tonight, ashes smear Across my face From priest’s thumb— Sin’s dark drear Mingled with oil Leaves a smudge On my skin And my soul   Last year’s palms Burn deep upon My flesh and In my memory— All I see Is ashen, grey, Charred remains of Promises and dreams I peer inside At my soul Crumbling to coals Dead and lifeless— Not a spark Or an ember Of élan appears To

Johanna Byrkett 2
13 Feb 2015

Splendour in Every Crack and Crevice

The night skies sing the glory of God! Dark and light, clouds and constellations are crafted by his deft hands. Daily they declaim, night upon night they raise a chorus of praise. Even though our ears cannot hear their speeches and symphonies, Still their message of God’s glory and splendour has filled Every crevice and crack in all of the cosmos.   Thus I paraphrased the opening verses of Psalm 19 a few weeks ago.

Johanna Byrkett 2
30 Jan 2015

Thirty

It is getting late, as I tuck in a full day, the wind wrestling its way ’round my cabin. Snuggled under the blankets, I think back on the day… I awoke in the golden arms of the sunrise, a day older. A year older. A decade older. It is not often that these round milestones are placed in our palms, slipped into the pockets of our lives. They are a gift, marking a still moment

Johanna Byrkett 2
16 Jan 2015

Endings Are Beginnings

Feathery snow traces dark, bare branches—edges clearly seen, crisp in Winter’s garb. Juxtaposed with these stark lines, a low fog tucks my little town into hushed, hazy seclusion. The world wears the physical contrast of things clearly defined and things hidden in the blurred perimeter. New years themselves are the edges of one season blending into another, of one year gracefully giving way to the next in the steps of a great dance. The past

Johanna Byrkett 6
02 Jan 2015

Johann’s Unexpected Gifts

ONCE upon a time, in a village across the sea, there lived a boy called Johann. He ran through the back alleys with several other urchins, stirring up trouble like dust. When there was enough food for his mother to make dinner, Johann would invariably arrive at that meal with dirt wiped across his face and holes ripped in his threadbare trousers. Very rarely was he in school, because he often got into fights with

Johanna Byrkett 0
19 Dec 2014

If God Is with Us, Why Are We Lonely?

“Our two little granddaughters have a sense of community which many adults have lost; people have developed less a sense of community than a loneliness which they attempt to assuage by being with other people constantly, and on a superficial level only…The loneliness, the namelessness of cocktail-party relationships surround us. We meet, but even when we kiss we do not touch. We avoid the responsibility of community.”1       —Madeleine L’Engle   There is

Johanna Byrkett 0
16 Dec 2014

Round Table: Incarnation

‘Tis the Christmas season. Our music, parties, concerts and plays, nativity scenes, lights, eggnog, and (if you’re lucky enough) snow tell us that Christmas comes swiftly. Gifts are being purchased. Plans to see family are being finalized. The busyness and joys of the Christmas season are pervasive, even for those who don’t celebrate Christmas. But why do we celebrate Christmas? The “Christmas Wars” rightfully remind us the real reason for the season: the birth of

Johanna Byrkett 22
05 Dec 2014

Home

Jesus wrapped our frail flesh around himself in the Incarnation, but he did not stop there. He delved deeper, coming to live in us—through the Holy Spirit—once he returned home. This seems a paradox: Jesus going home to then make those who believe in him his home. I cannot pretend to explain holy mysteries like this.

Johanna Byrkett 0
21 Nov 2014

Childlike Wonder

Chill air makes me pull my covers closer just as my alarm buzzes. I roll over, swat my phone, and snuggle back under the blankets. Then I slit open one eye to see what the morning has brought. Suddenly I am all awake: the sky is grey, but the evergreens are shadowy jade, frosted with feather-flakes of snow. Snow! It is early this year, and cold, and…delightful. I can hear sleigh bells in my dreams,

Johanna Byrkett 2
13 Nov 2014

Round Table: Image of God

Round Tables are where several Conciliar Post writers get together and offer their thoughts on a particular topic or question. These forums are intended to demonstrate the similarities and differences between various Christian viewpoints, to foster civil and meaningful discussion, and to provide a place to wrestle with important issues. At the heart of all discussions are central questions, sometimes explicit, but more often assumed: Is there a God? Where do we come from? Why

Johanna Byrkett 23
07 Nov 2014

Wild November Choir

Silent morning—a fog like the ghost Of autumn trees and brush and leaves Rises up to the skies, a wavering host Of spirits climbing to clouds, their winter post.   Farmers are nearly done gathering sheaves And stalks stand like sentinels—grave stones— Encumbered by rooks whose coarse song weaves Harvest into winter, as Earth her life heaves   Into barns and bins. She creaks and groans From the heavy toil of summer, spent, To lie

Johanna Byrkett 0
24 Oct 2014

Afraid of God’s Answer

Be willing to be only a voice that is heard but not seen, or a mirror whose glass the eye cannot see because it is reflecting the brilliant glory of the Son. Be willing to be a breeze that arises just before daylight, saying, “The dawn! The dawn!” and then fades away.1 “What prayer are you praying right now that you’re afraid God will answer?” Dark, questioning eyes probed my startled face when my friend

Johanna Byrkett 0
10 Oct 2014

When the Cards All Fold

Imagine Dragons begins their song “Demons” by painting the scene of a hopeless man in the cold, watching the cards fold. The only saints he can see are made of gold rather than flesh and bone. All that is good is extinguished from his life and he can turn nowhere for help because the problem lies with the demons inside… But what if the saints were clothed in sinews and skin? What if they had

Johanna Byrkett 0