I’m in the gentle nudges
the whispers in your ear
the dreams you will remember
and the reasons for your tears.

I’m in the words of mentors
the interrupting thought
the lyrics of a long-held song
and the “can” more than the “ought”.

I’m in the spirit’s movement
the lifestyle of my son
the sudden inspiration
and the prayers you have begun.

I’m in your deep reflection
the matters of your heart
the lessons found in seasons
the promise of fresh starts.

I’m in the sacred moments
the holy presence near
the wisdom of creation
and the life you have right here.


In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted. ~ Bertrand Russell

As Jim and I enjoyed a hike through the woods, our narrow path eventually merged onto a gravel roadway. I blissfully continued on this wider route until Jim called from behind, “Honey, the path continues over here.”

I had completely missed the little blue and yellow triangles that marked our route! (If you look closely at my photo, you can see these triangles on the larger tree trunk.) Since the roadway was easier to see and follow, I neglected to pay attention to the trail marker and smaller path leading elsewhere into the woods.

These wider roadways – the usual route, the obvious path, the popular way – beckon me as I travel through this life. At times, I have been drawn to the paths that are more familiar, practical, convenient, or traditional when making life decisions. And I’m grateful that these paths brought me to this time and place in my life, but I sometimes wonder if I missed some other opportunities along the way.

For a variety of reasons, Jim and I have left our long and well-traveled path of serving within a church community. Our departure began when Jim took a leave from pastoral ministry during the pandemic. This was the first time our path didn’t simply merge onto the next one; there was no new church waiting for us, no previous community to reconnect with. In that time of isolation, while we observed our faith practices at home, we missed the gifts of belonging and serving within a church congregation. But – like so many others – we also began to question some of the purposes and practices of organized religion.

Last spring, feeling muddled about where to go from here, I designated a one-year pilgrimage, a journey of spiritual reflection and discovery. As I prayerfully discern new ways to live in faith and community, I’m watching for the easily missed trail markers, the subtly veering paths, the routes that are unfamiliar yet beckoning. My word for this year is venture, which helps foster a new sense of exploration and open-mindedness. This wandering feels unfamiliar – and yet feels right for now.

I trust that God is holding Jim and me as we continue discerning this next path.

I also trust that God is present when we gather with family and friends to share a meal… that God is hearing our praise and gratitude when we hike in the beauty of creation… that God is moving when Jim and I read, reflect, and pray each morning… that God is speaking through conversations with friends over coffee… that God is nudging when we are prompted to kindly bless another… and that maybe God is the One who initiated this restlessness in our hearts – and is guiding us to find our most faithful way home.

Have you been following a path that is familiar and convenient, but no longer feels right? Do you feel a longing to venture into new and unexplored trails? May you feel God’s companioning presence with you in these days of discovery and discernment.

Photo by Karen, Meeks Mountain, WV



“Three strikes and you’re out!”

When the rules
and the world
suggest we can’t win,
you gently encourage,
“Let’s try this again.”

“I’m sorry, but we are all out!”

When there isn’t
for people in need
you lovingly nudge us,
“Please, go and help feed.”

“I am outdone!”

When the day
and our plans fall apart,
you quietly promise,
“You’ll have a fresh start.”

“Keep out!”

When these words
are proclaimed
on borders and walls,
you warmly invite us,
“I’m open for all.”

“I’m completely worn out!”

When we are
and this is our plea,
you peacefully whisper,
“Come, rest in me.”

“I feel so down and out!”

When souls are
and days feel so drear,
you kindly assure us
“For this I am here.”


“And remember, I am with you always…”

And we are
so grateful –
when out, you draw in,
when empty, you fill us,
when done… you begin.

Photo by Karen
Bible verse is Matthew 28:20 NRSVUE, found at https://www.biblegateway.com/


Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven. What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.
(Matthew 18:10-14 NRSVUE)

When I was a high school freshman, our marching band traveled to the Ohio State Fair to participate in one of the parades. After our performance, my friends and I were happily enjoying all the fun and food of the fairgrounds. Our group eventually passed a restroom, and I told them I needed to stop for a few minutes. I naively expected that they would wait for me – but when I came back outside, they were gone. I frantically looked all around the area but couldn’t find them.

Reflecting on this now, I understand their excitement to continue on their way. I also recognize that I wasn’t the most popular or exciting friend. But I had a miserable afternoon as I roamed the fairgrounds, timid and alone, until I met a group of older band members who kindly let me come along. When I met my friends back at the bus to return home, no one mentioned that they had missed me or wondered where I was. I felt alone, unloved, and excluded.

After this experience, I have found comfort in the story Jesus tells of the shepherd with the lost sheep; the shepherd leaves the ninety-nine sheep in the fold to seek out the one who is missing.

I recently read this story again, and I noticed that we are not given a reason why this sheep went astray. I have usually regarded this lost sheep as being foolish, contrary, or stubborn – but in the verses leading into this story, Jesus is speaking of humble, innocent, little children, as well as our responsibility to look out for them.

Yes, this lost sheep could have been contrary or stubborn. But this sheep could also have been ill, injured, unaware, detained, or distracted. This particular one may have been timid and quiet, unnoticed by others. The flock may have even shunned this sheep for a flaw or weakness.

No matter the reason, the shepherd misses the sheep and makes every effort to bring it back. What a gift to know we have this Friend who will always watch over us, never abandon us, and never give up on us. We are never alone or forgotten.

As always, the story assures me of the constant, watchful, welcoming, inclusive love of God. But today I find another insight. Like a good shepherd, I am to keep a watchful, generous heart for the lost, lonely, errant, or left behind. And I am to reach out with a heart that is empty of judgments and assumptions – to welcome in with a heart that is full of God’s healing, restoring, all-embracing love.

A generous heart is always open, always ready to receive our going and coming. In the midst of such love we need never fear abandonment. This is the most precious gift true love offers – the experience of knowing we always belong.
― Bell Hooks, All About Love: New Visions

Photo by Robert Ramirez on Unsplash



I want an arrow, God.

I would like a sign that shows
what I am meant to do,
what is the proper path to take,
what goal I should pursue.

Isn’t it enough to know
that I go along with you?

I want an arrow, God.

I would like a sign that points
me in the right direction
so everything I say and do
will be your pure reflection.

Isn’t it enough to know
you’re filled with my affection?

I want an arrow, God.

I would like a sign that gives
your lifetime guarantee
that every action, every thought
will merit love for me.

Isn’t it enough to know
my love is kindly free?

I want an arrow, God.

I would like a sign that says
just how to run the race
so that I may not come in last
but maybe win first place.

Isn’t it enough to know
that you can walk in grace?

I want an arrow, God.

I would like a sign that keeps
my life from grief and pain,
that shows me every step to take
to avoid life’s stress and strain.

Isn’t it enough to know
my peace and hope remain?

I want an arrow, God.

I would like a sign that shares
your wisdom from above;
so that I may know my purpose
is the one you would approve.

Isn’t it enough to know
you can simply live in love?

I want an arrow, God.

I would like a sign from you,
a clear, directing sign,
so I will know that I am on
a road that is divine.

Isn’t it enough to know
that you’re already mine?

(Photo by Karen)


I stood in the lobby and pushed the elevator button to go up to our tenth-floor hotel room. Several people soon joined me, and we chatted about the beautiful day while waiting for the elevator to arrive. When a few more minutes passed, I pulled out my phone to occupy myself. The wait continued, and I began to wonder if I should climb the stairs instead…

Most likely you have been in similar situations. When is the right time to try another option? Obviously, I find that the higher my destination, the more time I’ll give the elevator. The longer my wait (and the greater my frustration), the more I’ll consider climbing the stairs. There eventually comes that one threshold of time and effort, when I’m compelled to move and get on with my plans for the day.

Recently I’ve reflected on these elevator moments and the destinations I hope to reach in my life. I have a few dreams and goals I’d like to pursue but, like standing before the elevator doors, I’m often willing to wait. I’m willing to wait for an additional confirmation, or a more convenient time, or the completion of other obligations. I’m willing to wait if I believe there’s an easier way coming, especially for the greater challenges. Yet, as more time passes, the greater urgency I feel.

The difference is that this waiting doesn’t keep me from getting on with my day. If I’m unsure of my next steps, I can busy myself with other projects or other routines to pass the time (such as chatting or looking at my phone 🙂 ). If I doubt my stamina for the journey, I can continue along the same level ground. If I assure myself that a better, proper time will be here soon, I can remain very patient. If I’m content in other areas, I can dwell in this feeling of anticipation and hope for quite some time.

I am apt to linger too long. 

Today I find an invitation to be more mindful in these “elevator moments” of life; to choose to…

enter the stairwell a little sooner – just to try the first few steps,
recognize that the stairs may be more difficult but also more certain,
understand that time is more precious than ease,
find that the effort is a gift of growth, too.

May I learn to regard all of life as an adventure to be explored, find the pursuit as worthy as the goal, understand that mistakes are also lessons, and trust that God goes with me – even into the stairwell.

Photo by Russ Ward on Unsplash. Thank you!



“Scenic View” the sign displayed,
but I’d have to take my time,
for the sign went on to warn me
of the steps and uphill climb.

I started out with vigor,
then the path curved to the right.
My steps are now uncertain
as the end is not in sight.

Will this be worth my effort?
I can’t see around the bend
to know where this is leading,
where and how this all will end.

But as I look around me
the forest, lush and green
is telling me to notice
the beauty of this scene.

And in the quiet moments
as I feel your presence near
I sense the current glory
of this journey, now and here.

My life is like a journey
toward a great and wondrous end
that yet remains a mystery;
I can’t see around the bend.

But you are always with me
leading further, going deep;
everything I need is here
in the company I keep.

So, even with the promise
of a future scenic view
let me savor every step,
every moment spent with you.

(Photo by Karen, taken at a rest area in Tennessee)


“This is Something I Had to Go Through”
Sculpture by James Davis.

On a recent visit to Atlanta, our sons introduced us to the Atlanta Beltline, a new walking path that circles much of the downtown area. The Beltline replaces an old railway track and now connects neighborhoods, parks, businesses, restaurants, and shops. We found interesting artwork along the route, and this particular sculpture caught our attention. The artist’s purpose was posted on a sign near the sculpture:

This sculpture is about a particular moment in the artist’s life that he was afraid of. Universally, as humans we are all faced with challenges, adversity and fear. Once on the other side of a challenging situation, there can be clarity and the ability to see these moments as a positive that helped you discover the ability to move through. The piece encourages the viewer to stand where the artist stood but the moment is not defined by the artist. The viewer will bring their own moments they had to go through and no matter the differences between them, a connection is made.” ~ From Art on the Atlanta Beltline

The sculpture inspired several comforting thoughts…

The thick wall depicts our fears quite well. When we’re faced with a challenge, our fears increase because of the uncertainties, the unknown future before us. While the wall remains unbroken, we can’t see through our challenge to know what lies beyond. We also can’t determine how thick the wall is, to know how long or difficult the challenging time will be. We can only answer these unknowns by going through the wall of the challenge itself.

I love that the sculpture shows the struggle but not the struggler. James Davis intentionally does not define the moment, leaving each of us to consider our own challenges as we observe and reflect. I find the sculpture inviting us to ask, “As we face our own challenges, what do we have in the space that is us?”

We can be encouraged that “the space that is us” is equipped for such times. The space that is us contains the experiences and insights gained while journeying to this point, as well as unique strengths and abilities that will help us endure. The space that is us has been loved and mentored by people who will now cheer us on. Most of all, the space that is us holds God, who will equip, guide, comfort, and strengthen us as we enter every wall before us.

Finally, the sculpture reveals that in every challenge, the space that is us will remain for others who will one day face a similar wall. The space we have opened while working our way through adversity may not fully accommodate the next person, but it can offer some insight about the substance and duration of the challenge. Our unique space can provide a glimpse of the other side and offer some light for the journey. This space can instill courage and hope as others see that someone has gone before and made it through.

Our challenging experiences in life can transform us as we learn, trust, persevere, endure, and overcome.
Our challenging experiences in life can unite us with others as we – upon reaching the other side – help the next person through.

Universally, as humans we are all faced with challenges, adversity and fear… No matter the differences between them, a connection is made.”

Thank you, James Davis.

(Photo by Karen, Atlanta GA)


“You are dust, and to dust you shall return.”


Formed from, returned to…
let me become as dust
here, now
so least, light, and lowly
that you, Spirit wind,
can gather me
hold me
carry and blow me
to dance in the ditches
to twirl through the tempests
to waltz across the wastelands
to move over the mountains
and to settle in the sanctuary
of your presence, your peace.

Genesis 3:19b NRSVUE (taken from https://www.biblegateway.com)
Photos by Karen


The season of Lent begins this week on Ash Wednesday, the 22nd. But today (Sunday, the 19th) is the Sunday of Transfiguration, the beginning of a more inclusive season, The Great Hundred Days…

In the spring issue of his newsletter, Quadratos Quarterly, author (Alexander) John Shaia shared a video about Lent that has given me a refreshing new way to observe the season. Based on ancient Celtic tradition, he includes the season of Lent and Easter as part of Celtic Spring, “The Great Hundred Days” from Transfiguration Sunday to Pentecost. John then describes Lent, not as a season of atonement or penance, but a season of renewal and reconnection. Here are some highlights:

That’s how we come to this name Lent. Lent is really shorthand for lengthen. The light is lengthening, the warmth is lengthening, and all of that is creating this coming abundance… And The Great Hundred Days were crafted because of what’s going on in our bodies… In nature, the sap is rising and in our bodies the energy is coming back to life. And we want to use that energy to revitalize our relationships in our communities. It’s very important to remember that “Easter” for our tradition was first and foremost the time when we wish to renew relationship… a present moment feast day not (primarily) about the history of Jesus coming out of the Tomb but a celebration that The Rock can be moved from the tomb of our heart. *

I generally regard Lent as a time of sacrifice, prayer, and study, a time to attend to my brokenness and my need for Gods mercy. I traditionally experience Lent as a period of somber waiting until we can rejoice again at Easter. And this Lenten season, I will most likely continue to spend time in reflection and repentance, as I remember with gratitude all that God in Christ has done for us.

But John’s perspectives of renewal and reconnection seem both inviting and needful for this time. My spirit needs to be refreshed; my heart yearns to be reconnected in relationship. So, as I prepared our altar table for the season, I included signs of spring with symbols of Lent. There are photos of our loved ones along with a framed likeness of Jesus. My daily walks will include springtime celebration as well as prayerful reflection. I hope to have time for personal and solitary meditation, but also for gathering with friends.

Perhaps a Lent of both somber penance and hopeful promise is how our hearts become tender and fertile, renewed and replenished for service. We need the tears and rainfall – and the joy and sunshine. We need our souls to rest in quiet meditation – and to be tilled and fed in loving community. We need to receive seeds of inspiration – and to sprout and bloom for others. Lent can become a mindful season to receive all of life as sacred and holy.

May this Lengthening Light of Lent be a season to:

deepen in humility but also in happiness
grow as followers but also as friends
remain mindful of mistakes but also of mercy
practice fasting but also feasting
turn from sin but also from sorrow
express our grief but also our gratitude
find time for contemplation but also for community
seek discipline but also delight…

until the rocks of tomb and heart
are once again rolled away
in the dawning resurrection of us all.

* John’s video may be found here: https://vimeo.com/790006583/dc4e8072dd
More information on his work may be found here: https://www.quadratos.com/
(Photo by Karen)