Hey! I’m Phil LaBelle, AKA the Rambling Priest. I’m an Episcopal priest, husband, dad, writer, and hiker. I love what I do, and I especially love finding those places where faith and life intersect. I try to get out and ramble outdoors as much as I can to stretch my legs, breathe in fresh air and track down signs of God’s work in the world.
Many out there look for the ways life and faith are disconnected—it’s easier to divide things up, isn’t it? We live one way on the day we worship (if we do that) and another way the rest of the week. Yet Jesus didn’t live in a dualistic world, he brought things together. The common and the spiritual; the sacred and the profane. I’m reminded of this each week when I receive bread and wine that are also Christ’s body and blood. I see it in conversations about God with a friend over a cup of coffee. Real life and real faith intersecting.
Things I write about:
- Biblical texts through my Sunday sermons — Nearly every week I’m preaching to a faithful congregation of 100-200 people in the Boston area. Every time I use a written manuscript to preach from I’ll post it. I look for connections and making the sacred text relevant to life today.
- The reality of life — I’m honest about life and the pain and difficulties we sometimes face. I know I’ve faced experiences that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. You won’t ever here me talk about God’s secret plan to make you rich overnight if you just do these 5 specific things. Instead I try to talk about an authentic life with all its great times and its dark times too.
- An authentic faith — I’m also honest about faith. An authentic spiritual life isn’t one that has all the answers, in fact I’ve found the more I learn about God the more questions I have. Sometimes the people who think they’re faithful don’t have a deep spiritual life at all. And sometimes the opposite holds true as well. Jesus himself often pointed out the people who many assumed weren’t faithful but were and how the religious types had a long way to go. I share practices and things I’ve learned along the way.
- Living a better story — Don Miller’s work at Storyline is fantastic resource. I’ve read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years a few times and give it out as a gift often. I am living a better story because of it and I encourage others to do the same.
- Films and Books — We don’t sit around the fire anymore telling stories. Instead we gather round a screen or read a story from a book (often now also on a screen). These stories tell us an awful lot about faith and life, so whenever I can I’m making connections.
- My Rambles — You can often find me in the outdoors hiking and kayaking and exploring. I sometimes write about those experiences too.
I call myself the Rambling Priest for a few reasons:
- I love to hike. Sometimes when I’m out on a ramble, I discover something I hadn’t anticipated finding. Every walk becomes a possible Emmaus Road experience, a chance of meeting Jesus along the way.
- Life is a ramble. We’re heading toward something, although often we have no idea what it is. While I’d point to this elusive goal as a connection with God through the person of Jesus, others might put it another way. No matter the words, we’re prone to ramble in life and I’m one among the many.
- It’s a well known fact that those of us who make our living by the sweat of our lips can sometimes ramble. Call it an occupational hazard. While I hope it doesn’t often hold true for me, well, I’m a realist.
I hope my ramblings will be helpful for you on your faith journey, wherever it takes you.
In case you’re wondering, I’m the rector of St. Mark’s Church in Southborough, MA. I married the woman of my dreams over 25 years ago now, and have two of the greatest kids you could ever imagine. Besides hiking, I go to movies, read, cook, play board games, and hang out with my family in my spare time. Sometimes I forget, but I’m living the life of my dreams.
I grew up in Shrewsbury MA not far from you so welcome to the neighborhood. Glad you and the family are back East.
Much love to you all,
Sally and Clark
Susan and I certainly enjoyed meeting you and Melissa at Erin Overstreet’s reception. It was a pleasure to talk with both of you and Susan and I wish you luck on your journey on the Camino de Santiago.