Kate Braestrup with Game Wardens

I edit and produce a national public radio show called On Being with Krista Tippett. It’s played on about 250 public radio stations at different times throughout the week. Part of my gig is deciding our programming line-up. Why do I tell you this?

About a week ago, we had a gap in our schedule and I suggested rebroadcasting our interview with Kate Braestrup, a UU chaplain who works with Maine’s game wardens on search-and-rescue missions and such events. She also lost a husband early in her life. For some, it seemed counter-intuitive to put a show on about death, loss, and grief during this festive time of year. But we know that the holidays can be a lonely time of despair, depression, and loss for many; I hoped our program could meet those people suffering in some minor way — and remind all of us of the gift of grace and happiness during this season.

I never could’ve envisioned (nor wanted to) this horrifying scenario before us. And so I worried about the programming decision.

Well, my beloved wife Shelley and I just finished listening to the production on MPR News (yes, believe it or not, on the radio). Kate Braestrup’s stories and insights on love, death, and loss are profound — and more relevant than I could have ever imagined. It’s wise people like her who are most needed during our country’s darkest hours and brightest holidays. Bella and I cried a little; we danced.

This show doesn’t make sense of the tragedy in Connecticut; nothing can. But, Kate Braestrup offers a framing for how to think about love and tragedy, how we live forward. If you’re looking for something to listen to with your loved ones, listen to this show. And, if you do, please write me and share your thoughts. It would mean a lot to me: tgilliss@onbeing.org or @trentgilliss.

Share Your Reflection



God works in mysterious ways; thank you for prescient awareness to human spiritual needs. On Being is a vital program.

I can't tell you how throughly enrapt I was listening to your show, Sunday morning. The woman who sang to her husband touched me, especially. I needed a fresh look at the meaning of life and its circle. Thank you for airing the show, after the tragedy in CT; no mistakes, there.

I have heard this program before and was so glad you decided to air it again. I have read her books and was so inspired by them. This weekend I streamed the entire interview and was inspired all over again. And it is so relevant in light of what happened in Connecticut. Thank you.

I listened to it on Sunday morning. I needed the reminder that the presence of God is seen in everyday events and acts, and that we can and must go on after catastrophe. Thanks, I needed that.

If it isn't the Season of Peace, what is it? It's not the 'Season of Peace' because we have it, it's 'The Season of Peace' because we need it, need to think about how to get more of it. ('Peace' meaning not 'sweetness and light', well maybe some sweetnss and lots of light, but mostly just less killing of each other and blowing up of things...more figuring out how and why we're going to survive on the planet.) Thanks--I invariable find 'On Being' both "profound" and "relevant"!

Thank you many times over. That story was perfect and Kate's saying we don't lose our minds and we know how to do this has sustained me through all of this.

This is an excellent choice for any week end, but especially for December 16, 2012. The messages you bring each week are needed for our nation to correct it's course. WE THE PEOPLE ARE THE NATION. Thanks for you encouraging discussions.

This is amazing timing- I found myself this week wishing to hear from Kate Braestrup about this week's tragedies. I loved her book and interview on your show so much, she kept coming to mind as I heard and talked about these horrible events.

I listened to the podcast on Thursday evening. I had liked it the first time it aired and liked it even more this time. (Lots changes in a life in the span of a few years.) Then after Friday's Connecticut tragedy, the interview came to mind time after time. To me, the timing of the re-broadcast was serendipitous. It actually seemed to fit with Braestrup's points about random unbearable events co-existing with acts of love and wisdom. In addition to the clear acts of love and wisdom at the Sandy Hook school, your program provided it for all the rest of us, as it does every week.

This wonderful program was such a solice to me having raised a large family and worked in schools. Kate's finding love as the way in which we find the presence of God in this world, and just showing up for each other as the strongest way to help, spoke volumes.

It was the perfect "choice." I knew that you must have "chosen" this before Friday's events, and I was so grateful that this is what I heard early Sunday morning. I have been telling some of Braestrup's stories to friends and family. I value her wisdom and courage. The show was really a balm to my spirit. Thank you.

This is one of my favorite interviews. I heard it when it was first broadcast, and listen to it a few times per year. I immediately went out and bought Braestrup's book and read it in an afternoon. It is especially insightful at times like these. I have never before or since hearing this show heard a better, more reality-based, more wonderful definition of "miracle" that what you'll hear in this interview. When communities large and small are affected by tragedies, natural disasters, or horrific crimes, we should always ask "what kind of community to we want to be?". And the answer should be that we want to be the kind of community where miracles, as articulated by this extraordinary person, can happen.
I had the opportunity to meet Kate Braestrup at a book signing and she is just as fantastic in person as she comes off in the interview. Thanks for introducing her to this wider audience.

I listened to the interview today and found it to be incredibly timely, as you mentioned. As a yoga practitioner and teacher, we think a lot about the concept of Ahimsa, non-harming, and how much love and kindness there can be alongside suffering and devastation. This was so eloquently discussed in this interview. I loved it and thank you so much for this.

My husband and I get up at 7 am every Sunday to hear On Being. On the day of the shootings, we remembered and talked about the Kate Braestrup interview, especially the parts where she talked about being the one to tell people that their loved one is dead. It was sweet to hear it again that weekend. As we are UUs, it was also helpful to us to hear a teaching that did not depend for its usefulness on holding Christian beliefs about life, death, and the role of the Dvine in the world.

I, also, heard her years ago....and then read her book......Her wisdom and insights are tremendously supportive at any time....and I feel would be appropriate and helpful to people repeatedly. I have worked with hospice for many years, and with all the material I engage with all year, every time I re-encounter her words I learn something more, my thoughts are refreshed, reinforced.....thank you so much for airing it, and I look forward to hearing it again!....r.

Greetings from Melbourne.Last Saturday (Nov 5) was a significant day in the hitosry of our parish.Our Archbishop,Dennis Hart was in attendance to formally open and bless a new seminary building in our parish grounds.The hitosry of this goes back to 1993 when our then parish priest,the late Fr.Bill Durkin offered the vacant convent in our parish to the Missionaries of God's Love for use as a seminary.The MGL's are a new order of priests that was founded in Canberra in 1986 and they needed a suitable premises to house their steadily growing number of seminarians here in Melbourne who were training for the priesthood.Numbers have continued to grow and in 2006,pastoral care of our parish was handed over the MGL's.Presently they have approx 20 priests,several deacons and about 30 seminarians and are in the process of being formally recognised as an order by the Vatican.Their seminarians spend a novitiate year in Canberra then come to our parish inMelbourne.At this point ,it looks at though they may have as many as 10 new recruits in 2012.So next year St Benedict's will look like this-25 or 26 seminarians occupying both the new building and the existing convent with 3 priests attending to their formation and pastoral care.These priests offer masses in our parish and other parishes in the archdiocese as well as giving retreats.Our parish will have our parish priest Fr Dave,together with a newly ordained assistant priest and deacon.The MGL's are a very orthodox order and are sticklers for good liturgy.Say the Black Do the Red is followed to the letter.We are blessed to have them.So it is onwards and upwards for St.Benedict's and for that we say a huge DEO GRATIAS.