My Rocky Spiritual Journey

You don't have to be a big believer to find something interesting to read here . . . You'll find excerpts from the spiritual journeys of people I've met on the religion beat as well as reports of my own fraught encounters with religion and spirituality.

Dead Stuff – Which I Will Be Too One of These Days

A woodpecker has wedged an acorn  into a crack in a dying valley oak tree, at bishops ranch, sonoma county, CA. Photo by BF Newhall

An acorn wedged into a crack in a dying valley oak tree at Bishop’s Ranch. Photo by BF Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

The fifth-century Saint Jerome kept a human skull on his desk to remind him of his mortality – memento mori.  But if you’re like me and you like to take walks in the woods, you don’t need a skull taking up space on your desk to remind you that sooner or later everything dies, including you. That’s because the woods are full of dead stuff. [Read more...]


Christmas Eve in Mexico — It’s All About the Baby Jesus

Hand painted clay creche with Joseph, Mary, Jesus & Star of Bethlehem, Mexican folk art. Photo by BF Newhall

I bought this hand-painted clay folk art creche depicting Joseph, Mary and Jesus a few days before Christmas in San Miguel. Photo by BF Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

If you wanted a Santa-Clausy Christmas this year, complete with tinsel, elves, Frosty the Snowman, and abundant gift-buying opportunities, Santa Claus, Indiana, might have been your destination of choice.

But if it was the Baby Jesus you were looking for, [Read more...]


A Festive Christmas in San Miguel de Allende

Fresco in atolnico church near San Miguel de allende

We’re just back from Christmas in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where Santa was no where to be seen — and the baby Jesus was everywhere. Families presented their baby Jesus dolls to be blessed at church — and kissed by the neighbors. This fresco is one of many at the Sanctuary of Atotonilco not far from San Miguel. Photo by BF Newhall

[Read more...]


Winter Solstice — My Mother’s Last Words to Me Before She Died

Tinka Falconer enjoys Nordstrom Cafe chicken and berry salad. Photo by BF Newhall.

A few months before she died, my mother celebrated my birthday with a chicken, berry and candied walnut salad at the Nordstrom Cafe. Photos by BF Newhall

My mother died three years ago this Christmas season. A friend remarked earlier this week that when her mother grew close to death, “There was nothing left but the love.” That’s how it feels to me. [Read more...]


Austin — A City With Its Soul on Its Sleeve

The face of Jesus painted on a cross on the door of a control box next to a pay phone at a check cashing establishment in Austin TX. Photo by bf newhall

A crucified Jesus appears on what seems to be a fuse box outside a check cashing establishment in East Austin. To the right of the pay phone, the Virgin of Guadalupe is highlighted with mirror shards. A mirrored Gandhi is glued to the wall around to the left. Photo by BF Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Austin has the reputation of being not your typical Texas town — it’s more liberal and more secular than the rest of this Bible Belt state. Perceptions notwithstanding, there’s plenty of religion going on in Austin. You can see it from the street. [Read more...]

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