Monday Meditation: On Waiting

Monday Meditation: On Waiting

Advent, the season of waiting for the birth of Christ, is now upon us. This is my favorite season of the liturgical year! In this season my thoughts always return to Mary and her words of openness and courageous commitment in the face of so much unknown. Her response to the God’s invitation became my first breath prayer, a tradition I return to each Advent.

I invite you take a few moments to breathe this simple prayer with me right now.

On each inhale, pray: Let it be to me.

As you exhale, pray: According to your word.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing throughout the day or week or season, gently return again and again to your breath and Mary’s words whenever it comes to mind. May the prayer invoke in you an openness and courage to receive whatever is waiting to become within you.

For your reading pleasure, below are several excerpts on the theme of waiting from a longer piece that I wrote in 2009. This excerpt first appeared on in December 2012.


…My soy candle burns often in these succeeding months since my January decision to live into this season of waiting.  I sit in my roommate’s rocking chair in the afternoons when I come home early from work and wait, watching the light flicker and the shadows it casts on the blank white wall.  The darkness of the unknown is overwhelming, but somehow that little light flickering on the table shines on.  I am surprised to realize how desperately I cling to my candle these days, staring into the glow as my body relaxes and my heartbeat slows.  I breathe to the same line of my meditative prayer I pray with Mary, the mother of Jesus, as she responds to the angel’s astonishing announcement that she will soon give birth to the hope of the world: let it be to me according to your word.  I sit.  I wait, even though I haven’t figured out what I’m waiting for.  The wax is almost gone. The candle burns low.  I am still waiting.  When the light burns out, I will buy another alternative soy candle. I will keep waiting.  It is not yet time to move on.


I found a carving I like of Jonah sitting in the whale, curled up like a child in the womb. I feel like an unborn child these days, being knit together in the darkness, waiting quietly in the secure warmth of the Mother for the birthing pains to come.  Both the pregnant mother and the unborn child learn the same lesson—that waiting, far from the passive negation of responsibility and participation, can be the most active part of our spiritual journeys; it is during the waiting that we are moved, and it is only through the waiting that we can ever arrive at another place. I never really identified with the image of spiritual life as a journey.  I always wanted to Get There Already, too impatient to appreciate the process.  Ironic, then, that the process itself turns out to be the destination, for there is waiting at every stage of life; there is even waiting in death.


Mary and Martha turn up again in the book of John, and this time every character has been waiting.  Mary and Martha waited for a miracle.  Jesus waited for the appointed time.  Lazarus, well, he just waited for death.  When their waiting had come to fruition, once again, old weakness gave birth to new strength.  The gospels are full of accounts of Jesus’ healings, but only Lazarus can claim to be raised from the dead. There is so much death in me waiting for new life.  My old self, the person I used to be way back down the path, is gone for good.  I have laid my pretense at left-brained living to rest in the tomb of my soul.  But my new self, the person I can just glimpse up the way, waving at the next bend, that self is yet to be.  Right now I am still awkward, fearful, silent.  Right now I am still searching for my voice.  I will journey on, but right now I wait and rest.  I am resting in my weakness….


Sometimes we have to let disease and infirmity, the weaknesses of life, take over.  Sometimes we even have to die and enter the tomb—rot there for days.  Sometimes it is only after the rotting has begun, when we can make no mistake about the stench of our failure, that God chooses to arrive, to grieve, to breathe life in that miraculous moment when we are called by name and beckoned back into the story with those thrilling words: “Come out!”  In my waiting I have discovered the gift of choice…. Even death can be a strength—or better, especially death—an opportunity for God to work in us a victory we cannot fathom. And then, the joy of new life, the joy of reunion.  But first are the sickness, the dying, the tomb.  Lazarus waited four days in his death.  Four days of rotting flesh; four days of undeniable failure.   Four days of total weakness as complete as the chaos of the waters before First Light—and then, the Voice of God.


God has been teaching me as I wait in the tomb (or is it the womb?).  I am waiting to be revived (or is it reborn?).  This waiting, the tension between movements, is like the moment in a balancing act when the tightrope walker pauses midway, gathering strength for the rest of the journey.  This moment of rest is the most crucial element of the journey; we wait for that same appointed time…. Without the waiting, we rush on and on until–….


As you celebrate this season of Advent, consider what God may be inviting in you amidst plans and preparations for the coming Christmas season.

What are you waiting for?

Where are you noticing tension and anticipation in your life right now? In your body?

What is waiting in you?

Monday Meditation: A Blessing for the Upcoming Holiday

Monday Meditation: A Blessing for the Upcoming Holiday

For Celebration

Now is the time to free the heart,
Let all intentions and worries stop,
Free the joy inside the self,
Awaken to the wonder of your life.

Open your eyes and see the friends,
Whose hearts recognize your face as kin,
Those whose kindness watchful and near,
Encourages you to live everything here.

See the gifts the years have given,
Things your effort could never earn,
The health to enjoy who you want to be
And the mind to mirror mystery.

– John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us


Monday Meditation: Walking in Love

Monday Meditation: Walking in Love

The Experience

I walked a new labyrinth on Saturday.

It was cold and windy, and soon it would be raining. I had come to the Labyrinth Walk Meetup directly from a Saturday morning centering prayer group, which incorporates a short lectio divina practice, where I had been chewing on Nan Merrill‘s twist on Psalm 46:10-11:

Be still and know that I am Love. I am exalted among the nations. I am exalted in the earth! The One who knows all hearts is with us; The Beloved is our refuge and our strength.

In preparation for the walk, I journaled about God as love and recalled how I have been invited this year to remain in God’s love. I set my intention of continuing to be present in the love of God and to be attentive to God as the Beloved without the need for words or the expectation for some grand experience. I gently rang the singing bowl to call attention to this threshold, this thin space, and I stepped into the labyrinth.

I walked the path laid out before me, holding my intention as lightly as I could, and gradually I began to notice––as I walked and paused and breathed and looked––that running through my mind was the hymn “O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus,” one of my favorites but one that I hadn’t thought about in a long time. Over and over as I walked, I heard my favorite lines:

…Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free…

Underneath me, all around me
Is the current of your love
Leading onward…

Each step I took, each breath, each pause along the journey was fully enveloped in God’s love. I had to smile, as I braced against the chilly wind, at the way God continually shows up to me––sometimes in surprising ways, and sometimes exactly as I hoped and prayed. Such a simple intentional walk brought such a beautiful and full experience of who God is.

I came to the end of the labyrinth, there on the edge of the world, breathed deeply, and rang the singing bowl again. This time, stepping across the threshold, I brought with me the current of God’s love leading me onward and the prayer that it might infuse and inform the way I choose to interact with the world as I re-entered it. I brought with me a renewed intention to remain in God’s love.

The Practice

Watch and listen to the video below and simply meditate on God’s love. You may want to replay the video a couple of times to allow yourself time to sink into the experience and notice what arises in you. As you play the video, you may want to try walking a finger labyrinth or coloring a mandala to help you focus your attention and energy. Be patient with yourself. Receive whatever comes up as a gift and hold it lightly before God.

You might also like to listen to this episode of the Daily Lectio Divina podcast.

The Response

And now, fellow pilgrims, I invite you to share about your experience in the comments below.

What came up for you?

What was it like to open yourself up to receive and experience God’s love?

Where might God’s love be leading you?

May we all walk in love today. Blessings on the journey, friends!

Monday Meditation: Visio Divina at the Museum

Monday Meditation: Visio Divina at the Museum

Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing right now, pause. Take a moment to collect your attention. Settle into a space of inner quiet.

Now, look at the photo below. Keep looking.

Where is your eye drawn to first? Where would you place yourself in the photo? Invite God to meet you wherever you are in the photo. What stirs within you as you gaze? Notice any emotions, memories, or associations rising.

Sit for a moment with whatever comes up––without judgment or critique. Breathe. Rest.

Take some time to journal as you reflect on your experience. Share in the comments below.

Seeing and Being Seen
I took the photo above on a recent visit to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art here in Kansas City where a friend of mine hosts an occasional guided visio divina experience. On this particular night, I wandered around the museum longer than usual, wondering what would capture my gaze and trying to stay open and attentive. I entered one room and then another and another until I saw it, the photo above, there at the end of a long hallway, staring me down.

I felt uncomfortable and self-conscious as I walked down the hallway, closer and closer to the image. I noticed my discomfort and realized with reluctance that this was my image for the evening, so I pulled a stool up to the wall, sat down across from the photo, and opened my journal to sketch what I saw, per the instructions of the guided spiritual practice.

Now, I’m no artist, not even by elementary school standards, but I dutifully drew and drew, filling the page with my honest attempt to focus, notice, and capture every detail of what I saw. I reflected as I drew on the intensity and intimacy of the gaze in the photo, the unashamed revealing of the signs of age, and the unapologetic boldness of the photographer. I imagined my shape in the reflection of his large dark eyes and observed my feeling of exposure as I held his gaze, looked away, and looked again.

And as I drew, a man passed behind me in the hallway and paused to peek down with interest at my sketch. Reflexively, I hid the drawing against my chest as I looked up at him in horror, wondering how much he had seen in his brief glance and what criticism and judgment were flitting through his mind when he realized my utter lack of talent here surrounded by these monuments of artistic expression. He started at my abrupt response, apologized, and rushed on his way around the corner as I laughed and called after him that it was okay, really.

I laughed again to myself as I turned the page in my journal and began to reflect on this serendipitous interruption to my spiritual practice. I noted the overwhelming discomfort and exposure I felt at having someone, especially a stranger, see my poor performance in an activity I was attempting with genuine effort despite my certain failure. And I laughed at myself as I realized that here in the very moment I was reflecting seriously on the experience of seeing and being seen, revealing and being revealed, I was exposed as a poor artist by a stranger just as I was exposing my vulnerable, imperfect self before God. I took gladly the opportunity to poke gentle fun at myself and shake off the veil of the serious and studious contemplative to see a bit of my true self peeking out underneath.

I looked at Pablo Picasso’s face again, the unapologetic expression in his eyes, and saw in them the invitation to drop the veil a bit more often, to embrace the imperfections in myself, and to approach my spiritual practice with a bit more childlike spirit. It was an invitation to embrace the artless (both literally and figuratively) elements of myself. And I realized I was being invited to see myself as I really am and to allow myself to be seen just as I am, flaws and all, not only by God but also by those around me, even strangers at the museum. It may feel like uncomfortable exposure in the moment, but it is really just another layer peeling back to reveal a little more of who I am, of who have been created to be.

Questions to ponder:
What was your experience gazing at the photo?

What comes up for you as you imagine seeing and being seen?

How might God be inviting you to see yourself right now? To see others?

Monday Meditation: The House (Part 2) and the Invitation to Remain

Monday Meditation: The House (Part 2) and the Invitation to Remain

Last week we returned to the theme of remaining in God’s love with a meditation on moving into a new house, the latest metaphor in the series: the branch and the vine, the image of a buoy, the image of a tree, the image of a shepherd, and the image of a rock climber. This week, I’d like to expand on the house metaphor with a reflection on joining the Common House online community.

The Common House

As I mentioned last week, at the same time that my husband and I were beginning our journey into home-ownership and renovation, the Sacred Ordinary Days online community was moving from Facebook to our new platform, re-imagined as a Common House with different rooms and spaces to facilitate different types of conversation as we continued to share our lives alongside one another. Little did I know when I received remain as my word for the year that this new online community I had found would have such a profound impact.

My adult life has been a near-constant state of transition, not only geographically but of course also psychologically and spiritually as I continue to grow, change, and awaken with each new step along life’s journey. This feeling of being always only temporary impacts more than just where and how we live into a space. It leaks into relationships and community commitments, as well. As I’ve moved from place to place, I’ve experienced both seasons of difficulty connecting with new community and seasons of disappointment and loss at saying goodbye to new close friends and not being able to follow through on commitments made in advance. I struggled against a defeatist attitude: why invest fully when we will just have leave at some undefined but not-too-far-off date, perhaps with little notice?

That’s what first drew me to Common House, an online community that I could commit to, lean into, receive from and serve, confident that it could go with me wherever I went next, as near and accessible as my internet connection.

Like this new house we have been living in for the last few months and beginning to make our own, Common House has also provided a safe, permanent space to rest, explore, and make our own. It has become another anchor, another touch point, another place for me to return again and again, another reminder of God’s invitation to remain.

There is a sweetness to this joint experience of remaining in a permanent house, both geographically here on our heavily-treed street in Kansas and online at a new social media platform. Both houses have taken some exploration and practice to learn to live into each space. Both houses have required change and adjustment. Both houses have created space for me to make my mark. Both houses have allowed me to slow my pace, to move slowly, to make decisions each in their own time, to nourish and rest, to play and pray, and to share space with family.

This experience of crafting and holding space both offline and online has informed me and helped me to continue forming and shaping the space here at Sacred Pilgrim, as well. I am learning better how to bring my full self to each space so that, whether I am meeting with a directee offline here in Kansas or online on Zoom or Skype, whether I am planning a retreat or recording a podcast, whether I am touching base with someone at a local coffee shop or with online chat, I remain grounded and centered in who I am and in who I am called to be. I remain connected to the vine, anchored to the ocean floor, rooted deeply in rich soil, nailed down even as I am prodded on, and tethered to an immovable object. I remain at home both offline and online, able to journey outward often and freely but always returning again to that safe space.

The Invitation to Remain

And now, fellow pilgrims, I continue to pray that we would all have the strength of heart and the gentle attention necessary to remain in God’s love no matter what obstacles we encounter on our journey homeward.

As we walk this way together awhile, I’m curious: what is that community or relationship touch point for you? What is your safe space when you are online? In what are you being invited to remain?

Monday Meditation: The House (Part 1) and the Invitation to Remain

Monday Meditation: The House (Part 1) and the Invitation to Remain

Back in early 2017, I shared that my word for the year is remain, arising out of Jesus’ metaphor of the branch and the vine, and that I began to realize that God has been dropping other similar metaphors like breadcrumbs for me to follow: the image of a buoy, the image of a tree, the image of a shepherd, and the image of a rock climber.

And then I stopped publishing new blog posts. Part of the reason for that was the necessary shift in attention toward contributing to the launch and care of the Common House online community. At the same time, my husband and I began the journey from apartment-renting to home-ownership and renovation. Now, here I am sitting in my newly-painted kitchen, watching the leaves fall as our puppies wrestle in their very own back yard, and I realize that God has given me yet another breadcrumb. This time, it’s not only a metaphor but also a tangible, lived experience: the image of moving into a new house.

The New House

There is something so permanent about owning a house. The space is entirely your own. A blank canvas to be filled up with your lifestyle, your personality, and your family. You can leave your mark, not just with a paint color or a painting on the wall, but also with trees and bushes planted, structural changes, and upgrades––able to be enjoyed by future owners or even future family members.

Let’s imagine your dream house. What country, city, or neighborhood would you choose? Who would your neighbors be? How many bedrooms? One floor or two? Would you have an office or an exercise room? A pool or a wooded back yard? A small lot or many acres? Who would live there with you? Where would your sacred space be? Where would the family gather? How would you leave your mark? You might like to sketch the image in your mind or make a wish list.

Now, take a moment to reflect on what you’ve imagined. What might your choices reveal about your values, your desires, your hopes? What might God be inviting you to notice?

When my husband and I began the search to buy a house here in Kansas, I realized I didn’t have a dream house. Since I first left home at age 18 to go to college, I have lived in dorms, rented rooms, and apartments. Since marrying my husband six-and-a-half years ago, we have moved six times and lived in five towns and in three states. Temporary living space has seemed fitting and even necessary for such a transitory way of life, but it also lends itself to feeling temporary and depersonalized. It was hard for me to imagine my ideal permanent space, and I felt overwhelmed by all the options. What if I made the wrong choice or didn’t like the result? What if I changed my mind later? It felt like shifting sand under my feet.

But then I realized all those details didn’t really matter. We didn’t have to make all the decisions at once. And if we didn’t like the result, we could start over and try something else. I was approaching home-ownership like a temporary resident, feeling pressured to squeeze everything that comes with permanent living into the space of a 12-month lease. But God was inviting me to learn to remain, to think long-term in my space, to relax and release, stretch out and expand, explore and experiment.

A house has many rooms, and they are all waiting to be useful to you, to help you live into your space and out of your space, to give you an anchor, a touch point. Because you don’t just live in your house. You leave it to drive to work, drop the kids at school, pick up groceries, walk the dog, go out into the world and make your mark there, too. And then you come back again, and again, and again. You come back to rest, to nourish yourself and others, to spend time alone and with family, to bring something new from the world to store up for a later time, to host others, to play, and to just simply be. Your house is there to protect you, to provide for you, and to remind you of who you are and what you care about most.

You come home, you go out into the world, and you come home again. You always come back to the same place, that place you have made your own and that you can always call your own, that safe place that is always ready and waiting to welcome you.

The Invitation to Remain

Next week we’ll continue the house theme with a reflection on moving into Common House. For now, fellow pilgrims, I am renewing my prayer that we would all have the strength of heart and the gentle attention necessary to remain in God’s love no matter what obstacles we encounter on our journey homeward.

As we walk this way together awhile, I’m curious: what is your dream house like? What did your reflection bring up in you? In what are you being invited to remain?

Monday Meditation: Bloom Naturally

Monday Meditation: Bloom Naturally

This post first appeared in Common House in August 2017. Common House is the online community founded by Sacred Ordinary Days.


Every morning I check its progress, this rosebud that is quietly, steadily, gently blooming. I pick up the vase and hold it close to my face, close enough that I can feel the soft petals as l breathe deeply.

When my husband, Matt, decided to plant rose bushes around the trees in our front and back yard, I insisted that he choose the most fragrant bushes he could find. What’s the point of being surrounded by roses if you can’t stop and smell them, right? And now our kitchen is never without at least one little rose to remind me of, well, of everything. To slow down, to notice, to breathe deeply, to play and enjoy, to rest, to grow, to open.

Most recently, this little flower is reminding me to let go and allow, to bloom naturally. Because really, there is no other way to bloom. Oh, we can create conditions that encourage a flower to bloom, but we can’t peel back each petal and force the blooming in our own time, in our own way, on our own schedule. I came across this time lapse video of the corpse flower, which grows for over a decade before blooming (and good thing, too, because it’s stinky!). All we can do is watch and wait:

I think where I get stuck with this lesson, this reminder from the rose in my kitchen, is that it’s not news to me. I know this. I’ve learned it already. Been there; done that. I’d like to think that I could move on to another lesson, now that I’ve mastered the ability to stop trying to control everything or rush to the end and simply trust the process and enjoy each moment of the journey. Aha! Success! But as it turns out, I’m not an annual flower. I’m a perennial. I’m born again, and again. I grow and bloom again, and again. I wither and die again, and again. I learn, and I forget. Like Socrates said, learning is really just remembering the knowledge we’ve always had. Like St. Benedict said, we are always beginners.

I’m reminded of this old TED Talk about how we always think we’re finished becoming ourselves, and we’re always wrong. So I guess I’m not alone!

I wrote in my prayer journal: I guess I’m being invited to experience healing without the expectation that it will happen in a certain way at a certain time, letting go of control and trusting the process, trusting the source, trusting the other, the Holy other. So basically just all the lessons I’ve been learning wrapped into one. Jesus’ desire is for me and intention is for me, so I will let go and let God (to be trite). I will relax and release, like a flower gently allowing itself to bloom. I will BLOOM NATURALLY.

Do you ever find yourself frustrated at having to learn the same lessons over again?

Where in your life right now might God be inviting you to relax and release, to let go and allow, to bloom naturally?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories in the comments below!

Visio Divina: Threshold

Visio Divina: Threshold

This week, we’re pausing the usual Monday Meditation for a moment of visio divina.  If you’re not familiar, you may find this introduction and guide helpful:

Visio Divina invites us to see at a more contemplative pace. It invites us to see all there is to see, exploring the entirety of the image. It invites us to see deeply, beyond first and second impressions, below initial ideas, judgments, or understandings. It invites us to be seen, addressed, surprised, and transformed by God who is never limited or tied to any image, but speaks through them.  – Tim Mooney

Look and Notice

Take a moment to settle yourself.  Breathe.  Breathe again.   Look at the image below.  Spend some time allowing your gaze to be drawn here and there.

What do you notice?  What does it stir up in you?  Sit quietly with what arises for a few moments.

Pause and Contemplate

There are many thresholds in our lives, moments where we are invited to step from the space we know into an entirely new space. That in-between space as we cross the threshold is known as liminal space.  As Richard Rorh describes:

All transformation takes place here. We have to allow ourselves to be drawn out of “business as usual” and remain patiently on the “threshold” (limen, in Latin) where we are betwixt and between the familiar and the completely unknown. There alone is our old world left behind, while we are not yet sure of the new existence. That’s a good space where genuine newness can begin.

Look at the image above again.  Where do you see yourself in the image?  Where might God be?  What threshold are you being invited to cross?  What liminal space are you being invited into?

Receive and Respond

Hold gently whatever invitation arises.  Receive it deeply into yourself and notice how it resonates within you.  Where do you feel it in your body?  Do you notice resistance rising up?  Relief?  Welcoming?   How might you respond to the invitation right now in this moment, this day, this week?

Monday Meditation: The Rock Climber and the Invitation to Remain

Monday Meditation: The Rock Climber and the Invitation to Remain

Recently, I shared that my word for the year is remain arising out of Jesus’ metaphor of the branch and the vine and that I began to realize that God has been dropping other similar metaphors like breadcrumbs for me to follow.  One of those breadcrumbs is the image of a buoy, another is the image of a tree, and still another is the image of a shepherd.  This week, I’d like to share another breadcrumb: the image of a rock climber hanging below the edge of a cliff.

The Rock Climber

I have never been rock climbing, not even indoors.  I do not understand the desire to pull yourself up a craggy rock face with the constant threat of imminent harm or even death at the slightest misstep or misjudged hold.  But I am aware that the harder and more technical the climb, the more specialized gear you need: shoes, harness, helmet, carabiners, and of course rope.

Now stick with me.  There are basically two types of climbing ropes: dynamic and static.  A static rope is stiff and used for going down (rappelling) and if (God-forbid!) you need rescuing while a dynamic rope is more elastic and is designed to hep protect you if you lose your grip by absorbing some of the force generated when you fall.

Imagine you are hanging in midair, suspended between the ground far below you and the top of a cliff above.  Rough rock inches from your face.  Wide open space all around.  Just you, swinging slightly as a breeze rushes by.  A brightly colored rope bears your full weight, thick and tightly braided.  Which kind of rope is it?

Are you going up or down? Do you need rescuing or support and guidance as you continue toward your goal? Are you depending on a stiff rope that will not give, or do you need as much elasticity as you can manage?

This image came to me unexpectedly at a moment in my life when I felt particularly un-grounded, longing for firm support under my feet.  I felt the anxiety and panic of hanging over the edge, clinging desperately to a thin line of rope–the only thing connecting me to the safety above; the only thing keeping me from plummeting through empty space to certain harm below.  I began to contemplate the rope that was holding me up. I wondered what it was attaching me to far up above.  A big tree with a thick trunk and strong roots? A giant, immovable boulder? Or perhaps something less stable.  A sapling bent far toward the ground by my weight on the rope? A small knot caught in a sharp crack in the rock face? If I moved, would the rope hold?  Did I dare climb up, or ought I to go down?  Was I being invited to put all my faith in the rope?  Or was I being invited to notice just how precarious my position was?

For a long time since, the memory of this image has bothered me.  Why such a perplexing metaphor with so many interpretations (and not all of them comforting)?  As I meditate on these breadcrumbs that have led me to the invitation to remain, I am beginning to notice their complexity.  These images have guided me toward a greater understanding of who God is, but they have also reflected back to me precisely what I struggle with and helped me name and take ownership of those parts of myself I have been less willing to acknowledge, like the stranger within.  How kind of God to use what I can readily understand to draw me gently toward what still remains hidden, waiting to be discovered.

The Invitation to Remain

And so, my fellow pilgrims, I have not stopped praying in these past weeks that we would all have the strength of heart and the gentle attention necessary to remain in God’s love no matter what obstacles we encounter on our journey homeward.

As we walk this way together awhile, I’m curious: what kind of rope are you using, and what is it attaching you to?  In what are you being invited to remain?

Monday Meditation: The Shepherd and the Invitation to Remain

Monday Meditation: The Shepherd and the Invitation to Remain

Recently, I shared that my word for the year is remain arising out of Jesus’ metaphor of the branch and the vine and that I began to realize that God has been dropping other similar metaphors like breadcrumbs for me to follow.  One of those breadcrumbs is the image of a buoy and another is the image of a tree.  This week, I’d like to share another breadcrumb: the image of a shepherd who uses both goads and nails to guide us.

The Shepherd

One of the biblical images that participated in my call to attend seminary arose from a completely unrelated conversation with an unsuspecting family member as we sat together at the holiday dinner table.

The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd. – Ecclesiastes 12:11, emphasis added

How odd, I have often reflected since that first conversation, how contradictory that the shepherd is depicted as giving both goads that provoke and stimulate movement and nails that eliminate movement.  The shepherd drives us out of one place toward another and at the same time firmly embeds us in place.

This season of transition has lasted so long that it has become more of a lifestyle, a way of being in the world.  In these past years, I have often felt myself on the receiving end of the spiked stick urging me onward, and in the midst of the constant transition, I have longed for a nail to hold me in place.  Instead of just waiting for the time when I can settle down in one location, I am beginning to notice the ways God has been inviting me to remain in the midst of the transition.

I am beginning to recognize that these breadcrumbs have both drawn me further along the path and kept me firmly on it.  Maybe being embedded isn’t about staying in one place but about staying on one path, remaining oriented in one direction: onward.

The Invitation to Remain

And so, my fellow pilgrims, I continue to pray that we would all have the strength of heart and the gentle attention necessary to remain in God’s love no matter what obstacles we encounter on our journey homeward.

As we walk this way together awhile, I’m curious: what keeps you firmly embedded?  In what are you being invited to remain?