Implicit Bias Check

Something humbling happened at Trader Joe’s yesterday. 

When I got in the checkout line, there was no one in front of me—just the customer being rung up.  Only when it was my turn did I realize that I was standing on the wrong side of the checkout stand; instead of taking my place behind the customer, I was standing next to the cashier.

Cash Register

I shook my head and relocated myself, puzzled that I would make such a weird mistake. Then I realized something.  The cashier was white.  The customer was Black. Is that why I mindlessly got in line behind the white lady—because I assumed she was the one being waited on? 

Here’s the thing: I don’t know. 

My good friends will tell you that I am a dramatically unobservant person. (Odd for someone with an eagle eye for typos, yet true; I joke that my attention is focused on deeper realities.) In this case, however, I ignored a stunning array of visual data, starting with the fact that I was basically standing behind the cash register instead of in front of it. The cashier was wearing a TJ’s vest and nametag, for pity’s sake. And the customer’s grown daughter joined her, called her mom, and struck up a conversation, leading me to muse only that it was unusual for someone to visit her mother at work in this job.  (Years ago, at a rest stop on a road trip, I walked into the men’s room and mused only that it was unusual for the ladies’ room to have urinals.  I’m telling you—I can be dense!)

I say all this neither to excuse nor condemn myself.  It is possible that I was just distracted and clueless.  But it is also possible that my implicit bias was showing—that, glancing at two women in a suburban grocery store, I assumed that the white one was being served and the Black one doing the serving. If that’s what was happening in my brain, it saddens me. Profoundly.

We are in the home stretch of the Lenten season, when I always encourage people to be on the lookout for God’s daily invitations to prayer, sacrifice, and generosity. I think I need to add one more invitation to the list: repentance. (This is where the Ignatian daily Examen can be helpful.)

Noticing the negative movements in our hearts is humbling (from the Latin root humus, meaning “earth”). Being humbled recalls us to our earthy origins, our limitations, and our need for one another and for God.  In this season of repentance, I pray that God will continue to open my eyes and—like a good gardener—help me uproot implicit bias from my being, one weed at a time.

Virtual Launch Party

Many thanks to Mary McGinnity and the Ignatian Volunteer Corps for hosting and recording last week’s virtual launch party for Finding God Abiding.

Our conversation starts at 4:46, and my favorite bit comes at the 33-minute mark, when (with Mary’s encouragement) I read “Finding God in a Juicy Peach” and lead the audience in a moment of reflection.

If you missed it, grab a refreshing beverage, click the IVC logo below, and enjoy!


All That You Can’t Leave Behind

On this fifth anniversary of my dad’s death, I’ll let my brother’s words speak for me. Sending love to all those who mourn . . .

The Masu

Today is the five year anniversary of my father’s death and I’ve been wondering for a few weeks what I might say about it.  I’ve been wondering how I would feel about it, and honestly, nut much is coming up.  It feels like an important date to pause and offer a quiet prayer of thanksgiving for his life and for everything I learned through his death.

Decade Challenge #DecadeChallenge fail

I’m conscious, however, of how many people in my life are currently experiencing grief from the loss of a parent, a loved one, or a sudden turn of health.  Losing my parents at a relatively young age made me a kind of pioneer in this rugged terrain of grief.  “Welcome to the Dead Parents Club,” my now-dead cousin Susan said to me way back in 2007 after we said goodbye to my mom.

In my previous blog post, I wrote about…

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It’s Time for Ordinary Time

What’s that I see peeking out of the sacristy closet?  Green vestments?  After six weeks of Lent and seven weeks of Easter, it’s time for Ordinary Time at last.

Although I’m always a fan, this year I have a special reason to be excited about Summer Ordinary Time: we have finally entered the season in which Finding God in Ordinary Time will be published!  Seventeen weeks from now, on the 17th of September, my book will be out in the world.

Now all I have to do is get people to notice.  Can you help?

If you’d like to generate some buzz for the book, here are some practical things you can do:

  • If you have a GoodReads account, add Finding God to your “Want to Read” shelf.
  • Consider pre-ordering a copy (or two).  I’m encouraging people to go through my local indie, the Open Book Bookstore in Elkins Park, to get a personalized, signed copy.  You can indicate whether you would like to pick it up at the store, get it from me, or have it shipped ($3).
  • Check out my listing at Midpoint Book Sales & Distribution, where you can see other pre-ordering options like Barnes & Noble or (even better) your local indie, and also share on just about any form of social media.
  • Follow me on Amazon (check out my author page)!
  • Write a review for posting on GoodReads and/or Amazon, or anyplace else you can think of (your own blog, a newsletter to which you contribute, etc.).  Advance Reader Copies are almost available, so if this is something you can do, let me know and I’ll get you one.
  • Share with abandon!  Scroll down to the bottom of this page and see which social media options work for you.
  • And be sure you are following this blog so you don’t miss an update.  You don’t have to create a WordPress account; one of the options below is just joining the e-mail list, which is a great way for me to stay in touch.

Thank you to everyone who has encouraged this adventure.

This summer, and always, may your ordinary days be extraordinarily blessed!






Author Photo Dilemma

Friends, I have a decision to make.

When Finding God in Ordinary Time is out in the world, people who DO NOT ALREADY KNOW ME are going to be thinking about buying it.  Maybe they will pick up a copy in a bookstore and flip through it.  Maybe they will check out my author page in Goodreads (after I create it, of course).  Either way, one of the things they are going to look at is my author photo.  Which means I need to hurry up and decide which one to use!

Here are my two choices.  I like them both, but they definitely give off two different vibes.  I don’t want to predispose you by saying what I think those vibes are (though I have my opinions), so for simplicity’s sake I am just going to refer to them as “Glasses” and “No Glasses.”  (Don’t worry about the varying image quality; Green Writers Press has a good version of each.)

So, which should it be?

Which is more likely to encourage a stranger to flip or click through?

Please weigh in by commenting “Glasses” or “No Glasses,” and feel free to explain why.  

If you like, you can even insert the rant of your choice:  about the judging of books by covers, about contemporary standards of beauty, etc.  It’s your rant; have at it.  (Goodness knows I’m doing it in my head.)

Thanks for your help!

~ Christine

A Mother’s Day Prayer

Although I have a complicated relationship with Mother’s Day (Mom thought it was silly and now she’s gone), I wrote the following blessing for Mother’s Day at St. Vincent DePaul last year, and offer it again today for the amazing mothers I know on this on earth as well as the dear ones in heaven.  Special thanks to the great women who raised me (but whose taste in hats I did not inherit).

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Blessings to all the women to whom this day applies.  You know who you are.

A Mother’s Day Prayer

Loving God, you have graced the women we honor today
with the gift and the awesome responsibility of motherhood.

Their children are young and old, near and far.
Many are living; some have gone home to you.

Some have been theirs from the very beginning;
others were welcomed when a young person’s need
met a generous heart.

Bless these mothers today, we beg you, with every grace they need.
Equip their hearts for the love that never ends, but always changes.

Fill them with the gifts of your Spirit, that they may be wise and understanding,
fortified with courage and with wonder all their days.

We pray in a special way for all those for whom this day is a source of pain.
Wash their grief in the gentle rain of your love.

Bless all our mothers, living and deceased.
Keep us grateful for their gifts and forgiving of their flaws.

Renew in each of us a commitment to peacemaking,
and a ferocious, protective love:
the true gifts of motherhood.

We ask all this through the intercession of Mary our Mother,
and in the name of Jesus her Son.

Happy Mother’s Day.