Michael T. Dolan

Writings, Reflections, and Commentaries

Building a fire in the snow

The night is silent save for the compression of snow as my shoes slog through the yard. God mutes the world with snowfall, and suddenly the slightest sound we make is an intrusion on that peace. The snow below talks with each step I take just as the snow above begins to its place. I […]


The Deserter

I look left, then right, and left again. The road is clear and, pushing pedal toward the floor, I pull onto the winding road. As I accelerate into the turn, a hawk merges with me, flying a few yards both above and ahead of my vehicle. For half a mile we keep pace with one […]

The Parable of the Smile

To the casual observer she appeared quite normal. She met the required features of a little girl, which is to say she was cute as a button through and through. Fine hair, an adorably distinct nose, and eyes that smiled for the world. Any parent would be blessed to have such a child, which is […]

The red light

Driving along the highway, my eyes lay on the road before me – the cars, the turn signals, and the race to wherever home may be. “Hey, Dad!” calls the four-year-old voice from the back of the car. “Look at that sunset – it looks just like a red light!” I turn to my right and see the […]

Black-eyed Susan and the sun

The sun beat down on the growing cluster of black-eyed Susan as each flower below stretched skyward, a sea of yellow and black hoping to touch the fiery heaven above. Like looking into a kaleidoscope when gazed at too intently and too long, the colors danced in circles in my mind’s eye. The yellow and […]

There’s an app for that

Man looks down in his hands and taps on his toy, checking the weather and reporting his findings. God already created an app for that, I think to myself. And I look toward the sky…

Easter morn

Looking out the kitchen window on Easter morning, I discover four cardinals perched in the branches of the ornamental dogwood tree. Though spring has arrived, the tree still holds onto its winter dress – woody branches and nothing more. Its buds, leaves and blooms have not yet begun to take form. The four birds dance […]

The litterer

My daughter is a litterer. Coming home from work at night, or taking out the trash, or while picking up fallen branches in the yard, every so often I’ll discover a piece of bright construction paper perched in a bush or laying on the lawn. I smile each time I see one, for I know […]

Heaven on earth

If there is ground in heaven, I believe it must be covered with a thick layer of fallen pine needles. If there is music in heaven, I believe it must be the wind brushing against the land as spirits travel through the sky. If there is an aroma in heaven, I believe it must be […]

Cicada killers

The wasp glided by my legs, slow and low like a giant airliner that somehow takes flight despite its enormous size. Likewise, the wasp seemed to defy gravity, for it carried in its legs a motionless cicada nearly twice its size. Paralyzed by the hunter’s stinger somewhere high above, the cicada floated toward the ground […]

"Let it be."

A friend wrote to me today: “Life is only too busy if we let it be.” It was a shared sentiment. Too often the busyness of life prevents us from getting down to the business of life. That is to say, living. Days and weeks pass by, weeks turn into months, and pretty soon years […]

"…and there was light."

As I climb out of bed in the dark of night, electrons dance across the static-laden sheets in a crinkling display of blue light. A moment later and I peer out the bathroom window. Fireflies are busy taking ownership of the night with their random, silent display of flickering lights. I look skyward and see not […]

The snake

The woman’s voice was frantic as she called across the yard to me. I hurried over to her with uncertainly in my steps, not sure what lay in store for me. Having moved into our house just weeks before, I had met the neighbor just once. Our second meeting, and a call of distress. When I […]


Big sister and big brother, ages 5 and 3 respectively, walked down the corridor of the maternity wing. Tucked behind the glass window where the nurses cared for the newborns, their younger brother, all of three hours old, awaited their arrival. When they reached the glass window, the two tip-toed and used the window ledge to pull […]

Flight to heaven

She died two years to the day after her husband. They spent their later years within earshot of the ocean, and called the beach their home. After the funeral, again two years to the day after her husband, family likewise gathered within earshot of the ocean. I stepped out onto the deck on the brisk […]

Sunday morning

The boy sat there in his high-chair eating breakfast. Between spoonfuls of cereal, he looked up and declared: “It sure is a good day for having a great day.” I laughed at his words, but at the same time realized how simplistically profound they were. His sentiment unknowingly implies a choice we are all called to make […]

Antiphon of the goose

Sister Moon and the stars shone above, while Brother Fire danced his playful dance below. I sat in the glow of both, their light warming both body and soul. Alone. Time literally flew by while the world wobbled on its axis, Sister Earth spinning and circling Brother Sun. Wood burned, embers grew brighter, and the […]

Sleeping moon

Looking skyward, the crescent moon stood out in the winter eve, its light reflecting off the snowy ground. Something seemed amiss, however. When one pictures the crescent moon, the image that inevitably comes to mind is a lunar sliver pointing left or right in the sky. Tonight, however, the moon was on its back, as […]

Red fox

Our eyes met at the same time, both of us intruders in one another’s lives. I looked out the window, sleep still in my eyes, and froze. Likewise, his gaze caught mine. Frozen, he looked in at me from the backyard, a nocturnal creature caught staying out late. We both stared at each other – […]