Tag Archives: faith

5/4 May-be


Most people set out on a pathway to get to a designated destination:
a viewpoint, the beach, mountain top, parking lot.

I’ve been on walks like that.
I’ve looked at a map, read the trip advisories,thought about possible side trips.

But once in a while,
I’ve set out on an unknown path,
without a map, without expectations for vistas or stops along the way,
without knowing where I might end up or
thinking about how I’ll get back home.

It is one thing to do this on a physical path somewhere –
in my neighborhood, county, world.
It is quite another experience to do this in life.
And what do I think about that?

It seems I’m most aware of my journey through life
when I’ve checked the maps, taken advice, looked at destinations,
considered round trip or homeward bound possibilities.

But I have had rare and wonderful occasions
to just step out into the world and walk.
I think it takes a special kind of trust, faith, grace,
to just walk like that in the world

I know I love how that kind of walking feels.

I’ve learned that when I’m on that kind of walk,
my heart has a map,
and if I open my eyes wide,
there are companions by my side.

(a picture from just such a journey)


April shorts – 9

When I walk the sidewalks of my every day life,
I can feel the grit seep in and fill the cracks in my heart.
It would be easier to walk in a garden, a forest, along a ridge with a view….
but I know I need that ever present silt if I’m to make any pearls over time.



imageI’m amazed to hear about various kickstarter campaigns that have been started – some of them goofy like the goal to make the largest potato salad, some of them tear-jerkingly commendable like raising money for a special treatment needed by a Seattle police officer.

And now with social media, we have the opportunity to hear about these commitments to help others made by regular people like you and me all the time. If we choose, we could be inundated with information about good stuff happening in the world – this world, right now every minute of the day. Imagine!!

At the same time it is just as easy to access the bad stuff – crazy rhetoric and horrible images of hateful acts against humanity.   I am not advocating that we put our heads in the sand or become Pollyannas but I am asking for more assertiveness in lifting up and shining lights on the positive rather than the negative.

Ghandi said: “The enemy is fear.  We think it is hate, but it is fear.” I believe there is amazing power in positive thinking and action and the fact that so many kickstarter campaigns get funded is proof that people really only need the teensiest nudges to do good in the world.

It’s all in the power of the narrative – so get out there and tell good stories folks – and spread some good around.

Here’s a video to get your positive juices going – 22 random acts of kindness.







Know this:

inspired by a conversation between Margie and her 100 year old mom…

There is no greater gift1-IMG_0191
than to know in your heart
you are loved.
So I will tell you today
and tomorrow
and forever:
I love you.
But my deepest heart prayer
is for your every breath to whisper
“I know.”


a week of journeying

I am re-reading Luci Shaw’s book, Breath for the Bones, because I was invited to take part in a church youth group experience exploring the work of an artist.  I wanted to help the young people think about how art and faith connect.  Shaw poses two questions in the forward of her book, “How does faith inform art?” and “How can art animate faith?”  I love these questions and have been pondering them now for a month.

In her chapter on metaphor, Shaw writes: “Truth is a touchy topic, a daunting word….Because of its disconcerting abstraction, its largeness and inscrutability, we must choose symbols to make it seem more manageable, more concrete, more complete, more than simply propositional.” p. 40

Here are a few vignettes about a week punctuated by metaphor helping me think about truth:

The Sunday before last I finished a delightful book titled The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating: A memoir, written by Elisabeth Tova Bailey, who became bed-ridden for a time by a strange viral illness.  The unwelcome gift of a land snail became a surprising metaphor for the author as she educated herself about this small guest during her convalescence.  June rains have brought these amber colored creatures with their “Cinnabon” shells to my own sidewalks and now that I know more about them, I find myself stooping in puddles to contemplate what they might teach me.

On Wednesday I decided at the last minute to attend our mid-week church service.  I hopped on my bike and journeyed safely over side walks through the 5 o’clock traffic to arrive a bit breathless but  just in time.  As I sidled into a pew and took a breath to calm myself I noticed the communion table was lined with ceramic mugs of every shape, size and color – and a few were broken.  Songs and liturgy about clay and potters and vessels themed the evening.  After the service I sat for awhile on the stair with a friend’s daughter. She is a special needs girl adopted from Guatemala.  I asked her which ceramic piece she had chosen to identify with that night. She pointed to a broken cup and although she is difficult to understand, I listened carefully as she explained why.  Metaphor speaks to even the youngest among us. I rode my bike slowly home thinking over our conversation.

Sunday came around again along with the parable of the sower and the mustard seed.  In his desire to challenge us to listen with new insight to this well known story, our pastor shared that the idea of planting a mustard seed was actually akin to us planting Scotch Broom in our back yards – a weed recently deemed noxious by our state.  He carried the metaphor further by asking us to compare ourselves to “dumb weeds” – those that grow tall and showy but with shallow roots or to “smart weeds” – those that grow close to the ground with deep and permeating roots. A group of us gathered afterwards to share our response to the service;  the power of the various metaphors supported these people with disparate backgrounds to communicate ideas and feelings with each other.

Later, I finally attended the youth meeting I mention above. Together we watched a video of the Scottish Eco-artist, Andy Goldsworthy, work his magic on a landscape.  While only a few of these students considered themselves artists, they were each involved in some hobby or activity and were able to relate to Goldsworthy’s expertise and enterprise.  Shooting hoops, playing the cello, acting in plays all demand a kind of skill which they could equate to creating art. These thoughtful students shared their perceptions on his work and pondered the questions I presented from  Luci Shaw’s book.  Once again, metaphor opened windows to wonder and understanding.

I’m almost done with the fabric art piece I started a few months ago.  It is a metaphorical piece but it is still working on me – so I will wait to write and share about  it.

questions, gifts and grace

It was a treat, plain and simple.  To stand and talk with this young Muslim woman for half an hour as we greeted people coming in for the  service was an absolute treat and I felt gifted by the opportunity and her presence.  Of course the fact that we were at an interfaith service open to the community set the stage for great conversation but it was simple happenstance that put us together in the role of greeters for our respective faith communities.  Or at least that was my take on the experience.

But her comment as I told her this when we parted left me with a question I’ve been pondering over ever since.  “Everything happens for a reason,” she said.  I’m not sure if this belief is faith-based or personal.

It is not a belief I hold to be true.   I was especially bothered to hear sentiments like this when my son was born with spina bifida, twenty three years ago.  “Everything happens for a reason.”  “God knows you can handle it.”

It isn’t only bad things happening to good people that have me doubting this belief system; I don’t think God makes special choices with rewards either.

All that aside, I will admit that I’ve discovered many gifts and graces from challenges and successes I’ve had over the years.  I’ve always felt it was the discovery of these that had God’s hand in them rather than the events themselves.