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Kate Braestrup

Anchor and Flares: Stories of Motherhood, Hope, and Service

Unitarian Universalist minister Rev. Kate Braestrup is the long-serving Chaplain to the Maine Warden Service.  In this role, she joins wardens as they search the wild lands and fresh waters of Maine for those who lost their way or disappeared, offering comfort to those who wait for their loved ones to be found and providing support for the wardens. 

As she describes it, this is “a ministry of presence; it is showing up with a loving heart.”  When faced with a death, she tries to “walk fearlessly into the house of mourning, for grief is just love squaring up to its oldest enemy.”

The daughter of a foreign correspondent, Braestrup spent her childhood in Algiers, Paris, Bangkok, NYC, and Washington, DC.  Educated at Georgetown University, she earned her Master’s degree from Bangor Theological Seminary.  In 2010, she received an honorary doctorate from Unity College. In 1985 Braestrup married Maine State Trooper James Andrew “Drew” Griffith, who was killed in the line of duty in 1996.  She and her second husband Simon van der Ven have six beloved children.

Braestrup’s award-winning books include Here if You Need Me (2006); Marriage and Other Acts of Charity (2009); Beginner’s Grace (2010); Anchors and Flares (2015). She has appeared on The Moth, in TED talks, and NPR’s “On Being.” In her Lyceum talk, Braestrup will weave together stories of motherhood with her work as a pastor, including tales of loss and suffering along with those of hope and love. 

As Rev. Braestrup notes, “A grateful heart beats in a world of miracles; if I could speak only one prayer, it would be that your hearts would not only beat but grow ever greater in gratitude and that your lives, however long they prove to be and no matter how they end, continue to bring you miracles in abundance.”