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Yesterday afternoon, I made it to church as a thunderstorm rolled up.  Three of us quickly harvested kale before the the rumbles began.  We didn’t have time to do more because, obviously, we can’t slow down an incoming storm.  But we could deal with our jangled nerves and the stress of daily living.

In the fellowship hall, we walked the labyrinth.  It isn’t anything fancy.  This is a pattern and position we are testing out so my husband and I taped it out on the floor.

Among the three garden workers was an intense young adult.  She’s a chronic worrier who has problems making decisions.  Honestly, we are two peas in a pod (garden symbolism!).  I explained to her that when she walks the labyrinth, she can walk in taking stock of the troubles she carries with her.  Stop at each turn.  Breathe.  Contemplate God.  When she reaches the center, it she can make a longer pause and leave the problem with God.  Sure, she might still think about it but she no longer has to wrestle with it.  Then it is time to retrace the path and reenter the world.

Walking the twisting turning path of the labyrinth helps to slow you down.  It gives you time to contemplate and to listen not to your own shouting thoughts but for that quiet voice of God.  If you have a labyrinth in your area, make time to visit it.  It is an amazing tool.



Our first house was about a mile from the university where I worked.  Sometimes I took the bus.  Other times I walked.  When I worked in archaeology, I took the bus and then I walked because we weren’t located on the main campus but through a residential neighborhood.  I was a lot thinner than then I am now.

When the time came around for the annual pow wow, I walked from work across the fields to the main campus.  One of the ladies pointed out that she had seen me walking.  “They sure do keep us down by not paying us enough to buy a car.”

I knew what she meant, not having a car can be a huge hardship.  But I actually enjoy walking.  It is my favorite exercise.  When I walk, I don’t listen to music on my phone.  I think.  I listen to birds and dogs and the wind.  Every now and again, I hear a still small voice nudging me to take action.

Walking can be a great way to orient yourself not only in this world, but with Him who made it.


Admittedly, it is easiest to get God’s message, and get it right, when He’s super specific.  Give me words and give me the details, Lord!   But there are many times when I get a nudge.  Or something that is oh so subtle and quiet – a feeling.

These messages are just as important but in the business of my life, I wonder how many of them I miss.  I think I’m going to go sit in the other room and finish a knitting project.  Knitting is a great time to sit and listen.


Listening to God is step #1.  Once you discern what he would have you do, you really have to do it.  No really.

This is as much a note to myself as to anyone else.  Hear his voice and then look for a way to begin.  Then do it.  You really do have to do it.



As I write this late Friday morning, I’m popping back and forth to check the local news.  A former police officer was just found not guilty of first degree murder. The victim was a black man the officer was accused of planting evidence on.

Guilty?  Not guilty?  I don’t know.  The plaintiff waved his right to a jury trial so only the judge had to decided.  He just released a 30 page document detailing the evidence and his decision.  So I don’t really have an opinion.  If you go with the media and the protestors, this is the wrong verdict.  Me?  I need the facts.

It’s unsettling to watch people’s reactions to this.  No one has had time to read all 30 pages.  No one.  But people are swearing that they have and that the judge is right.

Or the judge is wrong.

People have ruts and they are falling right into the same old predictable patterns.

As I listen to them rant and watch them posture, I wonder what will happen.  This is my polite way of saying that I’m wondering if there will be riots.  I’m wondering who has missed what because they think they KNOW.  What opportunities for peace and love have been missed because people went into this with their eyes shut, fingers in their ears, and their minds made up.

If only we would let go of what we believe about ourselves.  About other people.  We might be able to hear that still small voice of God.




The last two weeks have been trying without being disastrous.  My son graduated from high school, we had a huge party, he started his first real job (life guard), he is coaching on the swim team during his last season, my mother-in-law has moved back to the area but doesn’t drive, a friend is undergoing cancer treatments,  my father’s dementia is acting up because he knows he is going to move, we’ve all had a virus, and the rewrite I’ve been waiting for 2 months showed up 9 days before the next book is due.   And, as the icing on the cake, I agreed to help organize a workshop series a year ago and the woman who talked me into it has disappeared.  The second workshop is today and she’s at the beach on a long-planned vacation.  She wasn’t there for the first one either.

Hmm.  When I type it all out, I think I see why I’m so tired.  And more than a bit cranky.

And no matter how hard I try someone is there to tell me that I’m not trying hard enough.  I’m not doing enough. Or I’m doing it wrong.  Or I should just tell this person over here to …

You get the picture.  But most of the people telling me what to do have no clue.  But God does.  In fact, He’s a big picture kind of guy.  He knows what is coming.  He knows where we’ve been.  But he knows what is going on in all the other lives as well.

Maybe that’s one of the reasons that as Christians we are encouraged to listen for that still small voice.

And the best way to do that is in quiet.

So if you’ll excuse me…


windowThe choir stood in line, ready to enter the sanctuary for Christmas Eve service. But what was that sound? The rapid beeping increased to a wail before I realized it was the fire alarm. Move two candelabras and you add a fire engine full of firemen to your evening service.

How do follow up something like that?

Not surprisingly, we did our best. This was, after all, Christmas Eve. The choir performed a cantata. Pastor Carol delivered a masterful sermon. We celebrated Holy Communion. All of this we did for the glory of God.

Yet when the Presence joined us, it was still and small and witnessed by only a few.

We end Christmas Eve service by darkening our sanctuary. The overhead lights are turned off with the flip of a switch. The youth process through the church with candle snuffers extinguishing one flame after another until only the Christ candle in the Advent wreath still glows.

Pastor Carol emphasized how this candle symbolizes the light of God. She explained that we can pass this light from one person to another. As she said this, she lit a smaller candle from the Christ candle. She then lit candles for the youth who then lit candles held by members of the congregation. Little by little, the light in the room grew.

When everyone held a gleaming candle, Pastor Carol asked us to hold them overhead. The light in the room grew still brighter. The pastor explained that we can do much the same thing with Christ’s light which glows within us.

Everyone lowered their candles and we sang Silent Night. As the first tentative notes filled the air, a glow came from the stained glass window at the front of the church. Not the whole window. Only one small part was lit – the letters Chi Rho, one of our earliest symbols for Christ.

One of my friends saw and nudged another friend who in turn nudged her husband. Only a handful of people caught a glimpse before the light faded.

Sometimes the voice of God is still and small and not easily heard over either our songs of praise or the wail of a siren. But it only takes a few to Witness His presence and to let other’s know.



Have a Mary Little Christmas

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