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Last week, I spent some time up at church harvesting kale from the community garden and walking the labyrinth with one of our teens.  I don’t know what question she contemplated as she walked, but I considered what we (or I) should do to take God’s word into the community.

The answer I got?  Quiet.  Stillness.  Peace.

It wasn’t too hard to interpret.  Help people see that walking the labyrinth, working in the garden and even worship can be a time of quiet, stillness and peace.  By the time I finished washing the kale, got it into the frig and walked another mile, I felt pretty chill.  I was looking forward to taking the kale to the pantry the next day.

The next day was another matter.  Because I had to take the kale at the beginning of the day.  And the beginning of the day means a new to-do list.

I don’t know about you but my to-do lists tend to look like a little kid’s Christmas list.  Three items turn into ten items and soon I have two full pages to accomplish in a week.  What does this have to do with freedom?

We are free to choose.  Smart choices mean maintaining freedom in the form of free time, quiet time, stillness and peace.

I’d love to say that I’m skilled at this, but I’m not.  But then neither are a lot of people.  We are all too busy rushing from one event to another and piling on additional activities.  How can we possibly find the energy to do the things that need to be done, to make sure that the weak and the vulnerable are seen and protected if we are so overscheduled?

I truly believe that this is something God wants me to work on for my own benefit as well as the benefit of others.  It has to start with recognizing the freedom that we have to say no to busy-ness and yes to a bit of space and the stillness we need to hear God.


I think that one of the things I like most about knitting is that no one tends to talk to me while I knit.  Which is strange.  If I put in an audio book, they flock into the room.  “Oh, I forgot to tell you…”  “Turn it off.”  “What?” “If you are going to talk to me, turn it off.”  An audiobook, which requires my listening, means nothing.  But knitting?  All I can hear is the whisper of needles and yarn.

And it’s into this stillness that my mind roams.  It doesn’t take long before it, my mind, meanders back with a possible solution.  Maybe this will work.  This could be a new way to approach the problem. Redoing a room. Writing a book.  What to get someone for their birthday.  How to draw someone into the peace they need in their lives.

All of these things benefit from stillness and just a bit of quiet.  Because it is in this still silence that we can hear that still small voice, urging us along.



Is it me, or does the world seem particularly noisy right now? Arguments abound — about who’s at fault in the government shut-down, about the kids from Covington, about how long a person ought to be able to last without a paycheck (“Just get a loan,” says one out-of-touch billionaire), about whether and how quickly political events are dragging Venezuela and England and the US and Zimbabwe (and a whole host of other countries) to hell in a hand-basket. It’s getting loud out there.

We cannot, of course, ignore current events. I mean, we can, but the minute we tentatively extend our ostrich heads out of the hole we’ve planted them in, the problems will still be there. Hiding won’t make the news go away. But being quiet and centering one’s self and getting away from social media (as Ruth has wisely done) can give us the space to get our heads together and form our own opinions. So —

Crawl into the smallest place in your mind,
the darkest, the most in-dwelling, and breathe.
Get entirely quiet with yourself.
Bring a book if you are uncomfortable with silence.
Turn inward on yourself until you are wrapped
securely in a sheet of inner tranquility.
When you are ready, release yourself into the world.
You will be different —
one look at you and mouths will still.
This is a good thing.

As is the case every week, I have a ridiculous number of things to get done.  I’m creating a new Facebook page for our church. I have a critique group meeting Wednesday which means I have a picture book manuscript to finish.  Why this meeting?  Because I have to turn it in this weekend if I want this agent to look at it.  And I have to write 1000 words on my novel.  Add to that the class I’m taking over several weeks, the class I’m taking Thursday, and on and on.  It can be easy to get scattered.

So what did I do when I got home this morning.  I got my weeding bucket, a hand rake, my gloves and my hat.  I planted myself by the front bed and I pulled up zoysia.  I filled the bucket.

I listened to . . . I’m 90% certain it was a sassy squirrel.  We also have a hawk and whatever it was remained out of sight.  I listened to the wind. I took a moment and just sat.  For 20 minutes I sat and puttered along.

Can I say it was amazing?  I feel closer to God when I’m puttering along outside in the wind and the sun.  I am in the moment.

It is something I highly recommend you do at some point in your idea?  Me?  I’m going to try to fit it in again this evening.



Have a Mary Little Christmas

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