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Let me tell you about Frankie, of whom I’m terribly fond. I just saw him on Sunday, and though he slept through my visit, I could tell he was content — after all, he was where he loves to be, in a giant pen with a bunch of horned beasts. Frankie’s a llama, by the way. He lives at an animal park just outside of town where he spends his days raising generation after generation of pygmy goats. (Exception: For a brief while he was employed in pulling train-fulls of children around a track. It broke my heart — and his. Thankfully, he was quickly reunited with his foster children.) Frankie doesn’t know he’s a llama among goats. He’s just doing what he loves to do — gently guiding and nurturing his hoofed pals, lying down so they can climb him like a furry, brown mountain, policing caprine shenanigans.

No one has ever told Frank that he cannot be a goat mama, both because he is male and the wrong species. I’m glad they haven’t. So many of us are discouraged from doing God’s work, from being our fullest selves, because the world tells us we can’t. We’re not important enough. We’re women. We’re out of our depth. Those people are wrong. If a male llama can tend to goats, if a stutterer (Moses) can speak for the people of Israel, if an illiterate fisherman (Peter) can head a church, then why can’t you do what God is calling you to do, however unlikely?

To call myself a spiritual poet in a world where poetry (much less spiritual poetry) isn’t wanted, needed or read is as ridiculous a calling as a llama aspiring to goat-tending. But Frankie’s doing his thing. And I’m doing mine. Maybe no one will ever notice us much, but neither of us cares. The goats know. I know. God knows.

And maybe, just maybe, someday I’ll be as good at poetry as Frankie is at raising goats. Not a bad goal, wouldn’t you say?

In her last post, Lori wrote about seeing God at work in our lives.

Sometimes it is easier than others. When my friend’s stage 4 cancer disappeared, we sang praises to God. My cousin just had a healthy, wonderful baby girl.  Thank you, Lord!

But there are other times that seeing God isn’t so easy.  My local community is again in turmoil.  After the City Planner and Police Chief resigned in the city of Ferguson, people again took to the streets in protest.  The night before I wrote this, two police officers were shot.

These officers weren’t arresting a robbery suspect.  They weren’t answering a domestic call.  They were standing in front of the police station to discourage whatever nonsense people might decide to get up to.  One of them was shot in the face.  The other in the shoulder.

At times like these, it is very hard to see God.

Just before the turmoil started up again, I got a message from my editor.  Would I be interested in writing about a headline topic?

Of course.

They need a book called “Black Lives Matter.”

Normally, when I work for this publisher, they give me a list.  “We need books on these ten topics. What are your top three choices?”  Not this time, this time they gave me a specific topic.  Not ebola.  Not GMO.  Not ISIS.  Black Lives Matter.

I e-mailed my editor.  “Do you know where I live?”

“No. Why?”

The truth of the matter is that I’ve been struggling to truly hear what everyone has to say. There is so much hate and so much anger that it is hard to listen.  I’d much rather pull into my shell.  I know that things won’t change unless we listen, but still. . .

I could have been assigned a book on any one of ten different topics.  I got “Black Lives Matter.”  Even when it makes me squirm, I will have to listen to both sides.  Even when I want to tell them both to hush and go away, I will have to listen.  But when I do, I will have the opportunity to put together a book to teach young readers.

Who but God could pull this off?


If TV and movies have taught us anything, it’s that the person you seek — whether it’s a fiendish murderer or some luckless gal’s soulmate — is always the one you least suspect. That good-looking, solid, nice-as-pie guy? He will be discarded in favor of the man our heroine claimed to hate and has bickered with for a full 90 minutes. The FBI agent? Actually a KGB spy in disguise. It’s gotten to be such a common ruse, the astute watcher can guess the outcome based on the premise that whoever-dunnit will be the person who appears most ridiculously unlikely to have done so.

We apply this principle to pop culture, but seldom examine its application to our own lives. When we make that big sale, land that elusive account, garner the attention of a significant other, whom do we look to for praise? Ourselves, of course. When we bungle the big sale, lose the account, get dumped or overlooked, whom do we look to for the assignation of blame? Probably someone else. Maybe ourselves. But what if, in every instance, we are wrong? What if, all along, it really is the one we suspect the least — God?

Sure, we sometimes remember to thank God for the good things in our lives. It is easier to see God as the engenderer of positive things, less easy to see God’s presence in things like war, death or tragedy. But The One You Least Suspect has a hand in all things, all ways. You may not see it, but it’s there.

Someone once described understanding God’s movement in the world to the following: A single page of a huge manuscript is torn from a book. The page is battered by wind and weather until it consists of a few legible sentences. Someone finds this scrap of paper, and based on it, claims to understand what the entire novel was about. It is ridiculous on the face of it. So, too, is it ridiculous for us to claim to understand how God works in our lives…or to discount God’s existence based on a similar, crabbed view.

You are a part of God’s divine providence. God has a plan for you and for the world. Perhaps it is time to recognize The One You Least Suspect for having outwitted us all — though I suspect none of us will understand this fully until our deaths. In the meantime, give God more credit, even for those things that seem hopeless or wrong. God has stronger eyesight than we do. God sees the big picture. God will surprise you, whether you expect it or not.


Have a Mary Little Christmas

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