Remembering Brennan Manning, Part 1

Sally's eggs

Friday night at a potluck dinner with friends, I bit into a potato latke that one of our guests had brought, and I started to cry. I blame those tears on Brennan Manning.

The crispy pancake slathered with chunky applesauce took me back to the Fridays of my childhood, when my Catholic family fasted from meat. I saw my dad grating potatoes in our cramped kitchen, mixing in the eggs and milk and plopping lumpy batter into spitting oil. Dad didn’t cook much. He sizzled bacon for Sunday breakfasts, grilled meat for summer dinners and fried potato pancakes for Friday suppers.

The bite I took this past Friday connected me with Dad, whose physical abilities are now limited and who I only get to visit a few times a year. The memory pricked, and the sadness over Dad’s lost abilities and our separation spilled out. My ability to feel myself bleed is because of Brennan Manning.

Brennan was an alcoholic, turned priest, turned husband, turned speaker to evangelical Christians, whose brokenness brought him to Jesus again and again. He knew the audaciousness of God’s grace, and 15 years ago his words helped crack open my calcified heart. He taught me to stop beating myself up and to love and accept myself for who I am, Beloved of God.

Brennan Manning died Friday. I hope to honor him in the next day or so by writing about that discovery, but today I remember him by quoting from the introduction of his book The Ragamuffin Gospel in which he explains who he was writing for:

The Ragamuffin Gospel was written for the bedraggled, beat-up, and burnt-out.

It is for the sorely burdened who are still shifting the heavy suitcase from one hand to the other.

It is for the wobbly and weak-kneed who know they don’t have it altogether and are too proud to accept the handout of amazing grace.

It is for inconsistent, unsteady disciples whose cheese is falling off their cracker.

It is for poor, weak, sinful men and women with hereditary faults and limited talents.

It is for earthen vessels who shuffle along on feet of clay.

It is for the bent and the bruised who feel that their lives are a grave disappointment to God.

It is for smart people who know they are stupid and honest disciples who admit they are scalawags.

Brennan Manning wrote for himself. He wrote for me. And I’m extremely grateful.


  1. Trying a six word tribute:

    Knees skinned, again. Grace known, again.

  2. Fragile and beautiful. Life is that way too. Nicely done, team Lueck.
    I have benefited from that same team. with my heart, Lori

  3. I too have very fond memories of potato pancakes. I always looked forward to them. I think I never make them because the reality probably won’t be as good as the memory. We are just starting a study on Grace. I’m going to have to get that book. I’m finding that I still have a works mentality at times.

  4. Lee, your writing is so moving. I can feel my eyes welling up with tears as I read about your father and I think of my own mom and dad, so far away, slowing down. Your post has made me excited to read the Ragamuffin Gospel. I’ll have to look it up. Thank you!

  5. Elizabeth Koehler says:

    It’s time for me to read Ragamuffin Gospel…can’t believe I haven’t yet. That excerpt had me in tears. Thanks for sharing!!

  6. Mary Chandler says:

    Another new memory that I did not experience since I was the ‘baby’. My Friday memories are fish frys (fries?) at the local bar! Thanks for sharing. Thanks for feeling. And leading me along that beautiful path too.

    • Lee Lueck says:

      Fish fries started around the time you were born – once meatless Fridays were changed from every week to only during Lent. We went to the Elk’s Club in Lima and then, once we moved to Rockford, to a Long John Silver’s-type place. I guess you started having them at the bar after I was in college! The potato pancakes were in Mom and Dad’s more frugal days, which I returned to the moment I ate the latke.

  7. Lee, your blog post is very touching. My eyes filled with tears as I read about your dad and Brennan. How lucky both were in your life.

    Those are the best looking eggs I’ve ever seen. Fitting they are in a nest.