Here’s how this week’s arts and culture column begins:

The full embrace of life, from conception to death, is one of the most basic tenets of our faith.

There are many ways that we can try to limit this embrace. One of the most extreme is abortion, of which birth control is a subset; another is suicide, of which euthanasia is a subset.

But there are many other ways. I remember lying in bed one morning in LA, gazing out across the rooftops, and thinking, Hmmm, drapes might be a good idea. My next thought was: I’m 50—why buy a curtain rod now?

Now that 50 seems like mere infancy, the impulse to shut down early arises more and more often. I’m too old to take a trip, I might think, or Why plant a garden? The planet will be dead in 30 years, anyway.



  1. This post struck me so deeply that I just had to comment. I recall my father, who died at the age of 86 with 20 years of sobriety, hollering at us children to “stop all that laughing!”. Father Rolheiser’s quote helped me understand and smile to myself. My father was a very angry, scared alcoholic just trying to care for 6 young children. As a recovering alcoholic myself, it explains my own behavior as well. Miserable alcoholics love to create misery. However, in my father’s sobriety, he loved laughter and the telling of a great story. I too have learned to laugh and embrace it all.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      You know, Bonnie, it’s interesting, I recently attended a litle parish discussion group. I was in my obnoxiously gushing way going Oh I’m so grateful and how can I be a better servant etc. And the other three people at the table did nothing but bitch the entire two hours about how the Church has let them down, and doesn’t do this, and should do that etc etc. Turned out two of the three had at least one alcholic parent. And I couldn’t help thinking that part of the anger may have been projected from unworked-through stuff with their mother or father…Not that there’s not plenty to complain about, if complaining’s your general way of responding to the world…which it certainly is for me, many days. Still, I agree: I always know I’ve gotten off track when I’ve lost my sense of humor. I’m so so glad your father got to the laughter, in his sobriety!

  2. Thank you for this article Heather! It really hit me like a 2 x 4! I am an adult child who grew up in a very dysfunctional home and working on my recovery every day. I, too, often think because I am now 69 years old ‘why bother’ about continuing my gardening, or getting a new puppy because I am too old. I don’t want to buy a new winter coat or a bathing suit because I think how long do I have to wear it? Your writing today really helped me to begin to live fully each day that I am given as a gift. I love reading Dorothy Day also and have said to myself that I could never live with unrecovered addicts, prostitutes and down and outers. But now realize that being married to a sober alcoholic and a recovering alcoholic son, I am indeed doing what she did on a very small scale in my own little recovery center. God is good! I must continue to trust that everything is going to be ok, not matter how bleak life on earth seems. Thank you again! Please keep writing! I have read all your books but one, Famished. I can’t seem to find it anywhere. Is it out of print?

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Kathy, that is so brilliant, your insight that you are actually LIVING alongside “the poor”…I am going to save that thought and maybe elaborate on it in a post down the line, giving you full credit for the thought. God bless you all.

      Re Famished, the publisher refuses to put the title on amazon, the result being that no-one can buy or find it. You can buy it directly (I hope) through them at this link. Thank you for supporting my work and reading my books!

  3. Thank you! for “Mary’s yes”! Dear Heather! And Thank you that you keep beltin’ ’em out! choosing subjects where no one else goes but you with a Light at your feet!

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      You’re my girl, Glenda–thank you Sister!

  4. Thank you Heather for your very kind reply!

    My son , Peter, didn’t come home from work one night. He had been sober for 9 years. In the morning the first thing I did was call the local hospital to see if he had been in a car accident. They said no one by that name had been admitted. I got a sinking feeling in my stomach and knew I had to call the local police station next.
    The officer who answered the phone told me that my son had been arrested last evening and was in jail and would not give me any other details, just the phone number of the jail which I called to no avail. I figured at least I knew where he was and he was alive!

    Peter, eventually called me to say he was ok, but he had been arrested for driving under the influence. His blood alcohol level was extremely high even for his very large frame so he was kept until it came down. He came home very sick from the effects of the alcohol. He wrapped himself up in a blanket and laid over my open recliner with his head hanging and legs draped over the arms of the chair. Suddenly I remembered Mother Teresa’s words about the ‘distressing disguise of Jesus’, and saw instantly my son , in the distressing disguise , as Jesus taken down from the cross laying in his mother’s arms. I kissed Jesus on the cheek!

    Thank you for the contact info for Famished, I ordered it last evening and look forward to reading it!

    Peter has a court date on February 23. Please pray the judge is lenient. The DWI laws in Virginia were made very strict and even thought it’s a first offense his blood alcohol levels can land him in a prison sentence. Prison is not the answer for addiction.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Oh the distressing disguise of the poor–yes, Kathy! I will pray that Peter finds his way to sobriety and recovery for sure. I did prison panels in LA for years. Jail is not the answer to addiction, though some people do get sober in there…Al-Anon, s you may know, is a great help for many in your position. Blessings to you as we go out into our own “Bowerys” today–


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