Tag Archives: Jesus

A Long Goodbye

Click below to read my recent essay about gun violence, as published in the Albany Times Union.




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This, Too, Shall Pass

Too late, I spotted Baby Jesus’ feet sticking out of Punkin’s mouth – snatched from the tabletop nativity scene. I flew across the room to rescue the Prince of Peace. Punkin took a big gulp, and Jesus disappeared down his gullet.

I’d had that creche since childhood. Each day, I’d hop-scotch the shepherds from table to table across the living room –– bringing them closer to the manger where Jesus would be making a grand entrance on Christmas morning. As an adult, I still moved the Wise Men closer, following the star, even though I’d long rejected the literal narrative of his virgin birth. The story still holds magic and nostalgia for me.

But the Savior had disappeared into my dog’s stomach. Like Jonah and the whale.

This was unusual behavior for Punkin. Unlike Dolly, he was not a forager. He didn’t typically eat our stuff; it was more his style to crash into it. But since a mast cell tumor had invaded his golden body, he’d been on oral chemotherapy, which dramatically altered his behavior. The potential cure turned my joyful, interactive dog into a recluse who hid under the piano rather than interact. Knowing that was no life for Punkin, we discontinued treatment to try to re-kindle some of his spark before he died. The Universe granted us a couple more months.

During that time, he ate Jesus. Seemed fitting in a way.

I called the vet’s office: “My dog just ate Baby Jesus from the manger.”

Silence. Crank call?

I repeated myself.


“I’m serious. It was ceramic – about one square inch. I’m quite sure it went down whole – I didn’t see Punkin chew him.”

Pause. “Well, that gives a whole new meaning to ‘the body of Christ,’ doesn’t it?”

I allowed myself to laugh, despite concern for my dog and the disappearance of the lead in my childhood nativity scene.

“Unless he shows distress, just watch for Jesus to exit the other end.”

“I think he’s too big to come out the other end.”

“You’d be surprised what Jesus can do. Don’t underestimate him. It’ll pass.”

Laughter in the background tells me I’m being broadcast. That clinic had quite a run (and financial boon) with Punkin’s antics over the years.

I hung up and told my husband we had to monitor every poop, searching for the baby. Like King Herod.

“Jeezus,” he replied.


Over the next few days, we watched for the Second Coming. Nothing that appeared was recognizable as the body of Christ. After three days, we had to assume he’d found another way out.

-Excerpt from Healing with Dolly Lama: Finding God in Dog

by Patricia A. Nugent Copyright 2021

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Resurrecting Jesus

An Easter message, re-posted from two years ago – more relevant than ever.

Resurrecting Jesus

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Resurrecting Jesus

Click below to read how a Muslim helped me find Jesus…again.  My Easter message as published by Vox Populi.

Resurrecting Jesus

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Telling and Living the Story of Jesus

Wearing t-shirts that read, Today I am a Muslim too, twenty of us piled into the United Church of Christ’s bus to head to our local mosque. When we disembarked, three times our number were already there. People of all denominations and ethnicities were gathered on that cold December night for the same purpose: To show solidarity with Muslims, defending their right to worship as they are called to do.

While Muslims prayed inside the mosque, we stood outside with candles and sang a hymn written by the mission’s organizer that included the refrain, You’re never alone because we stand beside you. We were then invited to join the worshipers, leaving our shoes at the door. The mosque was strikingly bare with no statues, paintings, or furniture; no “false gods before” them. The men prayed up front, women in the back, heads covered – admittedly ruffling my feminist spirit.

The imam spoke in Arabic, the sound disarming with its harsh consonants coupled with our inability to comprehend the foreign tongue. A tongue showcased by the media as radical and violent.

We stood in the back as worshipers bowed prostrate to their God. Our God.

After the prayers, we were invited into the worship area. The imam explained that we’d been asked to remove our shoes so that the area would remain clean for God; typically, we’d also have been asked to wash our hands to be pure for God. He explained that the worship area was stark so nothing would distract worshipers from focusing their attention on God.

He told us the prayers recited were about “the beautiful story of Jesus and Mary” – that Muslims also commemorate the birth of Jesus this time of year. There was at least one audible gasp in the group, reflecting our collective ignorance of the Muslim faith.

As the imam spoke, children ran around, playing games, and laughing. Muslims love their children too, a parody of Sting’s song about Russians, went through my head. We were hugged and photographed in appreciation. We laughed, cried, and broke bread together.

The imam expressed gratitude for support received since bullying and hate crimes against Muslims are on the rise. When asked if they have an outreach plan to teach other religious, educational, and civic organizations about their faith, he said they’re a humble people who don’t want to push themselves on others. But they’d be delighted to explain their beliefs when invited to do so.

It’s important to understand the basic precepts of a religion before condemning those who practice it. If the Roman Catholic Church were to be judged solely by the Crusades, the Inquisitions, witch hunts, Nazi-collusion, Timothy McVeigh, or bombings of Planned Parenthood centers, it would be judged as one of the most dangerous and violent religions. As Pope Francis said in August of this year, “There is always a small group of extremists in practically every religion. We have them too.”

In Jesus’ day, there was violent hostility between Jews and Samaritans. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus exhorted followers to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” When asked, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus told the story of the Samaritan who had stopped to care for a Jewish man who’d been beaten, while others – even the most holy – had walked on by. Jesus answered that the neighbor was “the one who had mercy on him.” Then Jesus instructed, in his native Aramaic tongue, “Go and do likewise.”

If you are a school leader, member of a religious or civic organization, invite the imam of your local mosque to speak about the Muslim religion. They are our neighbors; they deserve mercy.

Patricia A. Nugent
December 2016


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Why Some Jews “Do” Christmas and Some Christians Don’t Follow Their Messiah

Reflections on what Jesus means to me this Christmas season…


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