Echoing Footsteps

I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
Gleams that untravell’d world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
– Alfred Lloyd Tennyson 

Our congregation is taking a “slowed-down” approach to Lent this year. Our main theme is “Restore My Soul” – finding ways to feel renewed and refreshed in the faith. We are focusing on being “un-busy.” There’s just too much in our culture that fights against a deeper, richer spiritual life.

I chose to use coloring again for my personal Lenten discipline as a means of reflection and self-expression. Especially with my current physical challenges from knee surgery, I need to be intentional in reflecting and listening to the Divine. So, I pulled out one of my favorite coloring books which has page after page of labyrinths to color. I flipped open to a fresh page and saw this:


The colors of a completed labyrinth from a previous Lent bled through the page opposite of the new labyrinth I began coloring today. I paused to wonder, “What echoes from my past am I walking with today??”

Positive or negative, challenges or success stories, I have internalized all of these past events. Some memories are faded, others push through with more of an impact. All of them are a part of me. All of them are essential to who I am and how I serve as a pastor and a chaplain. And even the hardest memories can be an asset and inform how I serve. But they also can be triggers and block me from doing my best.

Stumbling. Falling. Trying again. That’s a life that walks with Christ, day after day, year after year. Walking in the Divine’s grace and love. Always until forever.

Blessed be.

The Good-byes and the Butterflies

2014-06-24 05.52.57I hung up my lab coat one last time,
turned in my keys and badge,
and hugged co-workers good-bye.

It was time.
I am Called to a new place.

I sought out co-workers and friends
to thank them
to remember them
to be reminded of the ways they blessed
and taught me.

I left a part of my heart
and hours of care
in a place with difficult decisions
and dark days,
of too-small babies
and too-late treatments,
of soul-searching questions
in the deeps of the night.

And in each moment,
through each person,
God was there.

The next chaplain will arrive
take the keys,
wear the badge and coat,
listen and pray,
speak and hold silence.

Life is full
of these sacred moments
and last words
and good-byes.
They must be held,
ever so briefly,
and then released.

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I came home to butterflies
on my flowers
and squirrels in my garden,
with day lilies trumpeting
the heat of summer
and wrens serenading their young.

In my next venture
I will see more of these holy moments,
memorable individuals
and unanswerable questions.

The Holy will be Present
to guide
to bless
to strengthen
to bring peace.

I go out in joy.
I am led forth in peace.

soli deo gloria.

Disrupted Meditation: Life on the Labyrinth

2014-06-21 10.15.54

I started out to walk the labyrinth in our yard today. Even in the misty rain, I walked, umbrella in hand.

Our neighborhood was especially quiet because it was raining. No soccer games. No lawnmowers or leaf blowers. Just the rain on the leaves and grass around me. I was in a different place, deep in thought, far from suburbia.

On the far side of the labyrinth, two rabbits were having elevenses, their ears twitching and eyes focused on what this human among them was doing. Was she confused? Friend? Foe? Lost? They nibbled carefully and watched.

All was serene until I walked about halfway through the circuit and the insects “found” me. I must have looked quite ridiculous to the rabbits because I was doing the “dance of the mosquitos” (step-slap-step-slap-step-step-step-slap-scratch-step). Then the gnats arrived, floating around my head like some kind of pesky veil. I waved my hands to keep them at bay. At that point I was hard-pressed to return to my former state of reflection and meditation, and the walk became and exercise in perseverance.

Not exactly the beautiful, restive moments I was looking for.

“Well, THAT’S a little impossible,” I thought. And I retreated back into the patio, a little disgruntled. The quiet and peace of the moment now eluded me.

I thought of Augustine’s words:

Solvitur Ambulando
It is solved by walking.

What had I “solved” through my abbreviated tour of the labyrinth? What lesson came amidst moquitos, gnats, and rabbits?

The answer came slowly as these words from James 1:2 came to mind…

When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends!

2014-06-21 10.16.25Mosquitos and gnats.

Arguments and dissension.

Pain and worry.

Rabbits and birds.

llness and grief.

Sometimes they are just minor irritations, sometimes they are major heartaches, and sometimes they drive us from the path we had planned for the day. I sat on the porch, fans and citronella keeping the pests at bay. I watched the rabbits feed and listened again to the rain.

It was a disrupted meditation, to be sure. As I refocused and prepared for the day’s activities, I was reminded that many times as I walk through this life, I have “holy disruptions.” Plans get changed. Others’ needs trump my own. And all manner of minor inconveniences distract me, which is sometimes OK, and sometimes need to be set aside to deal with at another time.


Sometimes it comes back to walking, listening, and walking some more, and inviting those holy disruptions to walk with me.

Thanks be to God.