In Cahoots

“It could be said that God’s foot is so vast
that the entire earth is but a
field on God’s toe,

and all the forests in this world
came from the same root of just
a single hair
of the Holy.

What then is not sanctuary?
Where then can I not kneel
and pray at a shrine
made holy by God’s
~St. Catherine of Siena

During my Saturday morning trip to the farmer’s market this week, I had a realization that filled me with awe and humility. As I walked the rows of colorful flowers and fragrant herbs, I had this overwhelming feeling of connection with both those who sold their wares and those, like me, who were doing the shopping. As I handed my money to the beautiful Hmong woman whose head was wrapped in a brilliant blue and red patterned scarf and she, in turn, handed me my rhubarb, I knew we were in this thing together. I listened to the laughter of the tall, blond farmer, dressed in bibbed overalls as if in costume, selling honey and humor. As his voice washed over me, I had the full bodied sense that we were all in cahoots with one another in this journey called life. I looked at my fellow shoppers and saw, not strangers, but family caring for the very basic need of all creatures. The need to eat.

Now this may seem to some a lot to hang on the simple act of shopping at the farmer’s market. But it was truly one of those full bodied realizations that comes to us every now and then. One of those feelings of recognition that we are a small part of a much larger, intricate and beautiful whole. I thought of the work that these farmers had done on our behalf. The planning, the planting, the watering, the weeding, the watching and the eventual harvesting. All the shoppers were there to reap the rewards of the work of others. And while money was exchanged for services rendered, it seemed much more than that.

It was a reminder to me of all those who labor so my life, and yours, may be lived. All those who work unseen to make sure my lights turn on when I flip a switch and the heat goes on when I press a button. All those who drive trucks and trains and planes to bring other goods for my use and consumption. It is staggering when you think about it. All the lives that are attached to ours through their work. It is a fact that could humble us if we let it.

The truth is we are all in cahoots to live this life. We can move through the world acting as if we are independent and self sufficient but the reality is that very few, if any, can live our lives without the work and toil of others. The very idea fills me with such a deep sense of gratitude and joy and humility. It becomes, for me, an image of this huge family that travels with me wherever I go. We are kin of the living kind, depending on one another, looking out for one another, supporting one another, always full of the realization that when one rejoices we all rejoice and when one grieves we all grieve.

At the farmer’s market I was happy to look across the sea of faces and notice how different we all looked. Different body shapes, a myriad of skin colors, some old and wrinkled and others new to the world, and yet all kin. All joined together for that moment in the pursuit of good food. Food offered to us by hands that had known the soil that would feed us all. In that moment it seemed to me not only an act of Creation but also an act of communion.

Thanks be to God.


“The day of my spiritual awakening was the day I saw
and knew I saw all things in God and God in all things.”
— Mechtild of Magdeburg

In preparation for Sunday’s worship, I have been searching through several books of writings by Christian mystics. Each time I come upon the words of these who have tried to express in words their deep experience of the Holy, I find myself once again flooded with humility. So many of those we now speak of as mystics lived at times when it must have been truly dangerous to speak many of the things they did. While many men fall into this category, an equal number are women, also a humbling and amazing fact.

What does it mean to be a mystic? Most definitions point toward someone who has great intuition that leads to a spiritual truth, one that allows a communion with God, which is often brought about by meditation or deep contemplation. From that definition it might seem as if there are few, if any, mystics among us these days. But I don’t believe that is the case.

In the first place, many children are mystics. Have you taken a walk with a child lately? Have you watched them spend time with, say, an ant hill? Squatting next to a child and an ant hill can make a mystic out of the most logical person. The questions they ask, the insights they have could fill a hundred books. If you want to have a mystical experience invite a child to accompany you on a walk in a park or in the woods. Let them set the pace, stopping at every interesting stone, feather, tree, flower, animal print. Children are the first teachers that God is present in all things. Each of us were teachers once too, but along the way we may have forgotten to stop, to look, to listen, to know the Holy One’s movement in the every day acts of our living.

Spring is a particularly good time to hone one’s mystic skills. Walking out on any given morning, it becomes nearly impossible to miss God showing up everywhere. The pink and drooping bleeding hearts can offer infinite wisdom about fleeting beauty. The rich, piercing fragrance of lilies-of-the-valley can settle on our spirits and stir us to memories of times we were held close by perfumed, fleshy, grandmother arms. The strong and powerful push of hostas once more making an entrance into the world teach us of an abiding presence and endurance which holds us through cold,frozen even difficult times.

Mechtild of Magdeburg was a medieval mystic who lived in Germany in the 13th century. Her mystical experiences of God were described in her book The Flowing Light of Divinity. She was often known to be critical of church authorities and doctrines and the ways in which the church often tried to reign in the Sacred. Instead she described her encounters of the Divine in all things and how all things are at the same time held in the Divine. It is fascinating to me that she was allowed to live and write and speak. After her death, for more than four hundred years her writings were suppressed. But over the last years her words, like so many mystics’, have made their way into wider circles. Perhaps they are the very words we need for the times I which we live.

Have you had an encounter with the Holy recently? Have you shared it with anyone? Have you spent time looking at an ant hill or a bird’s nest or the irises that are waiting for just enough sunshine to bloom? We were each born as mystics, I believe. The experience of the Sacred is just a breath away. If we take our time, honor the gift of the moment, and remember to act like a child.

Have a blessed weekend………


Alright. I admit it. I rushed home from the office yesterday to watch the final episode of ‘Oprah’. Off and on over the years I have tuned into this show and have watched the gradual transformation of, not only the show, but the woman. I have admired the ways in which Oprah encouraged a pursuit of reading and the birth of book clubs and conversation around the interpretation of books. I have often seen her speak boldly to people who needed it and be gracious and kind to those who most would have turned their backs on. I have been amazed at her generosity. I would only hope that if such fortune ever came my way, I would be as gracious and thoughtful with my resources.With others, I have watched her battle the demon of weight control and seen the inspiration she has been to so many.

People may disagree with me but what I have come to see, to believe, is that Oprah grew into a fine preacher. She used words like ‘calling’ and ‘redemption’ and ‘transformation’ in ways most Sunday morning preachers do. But she was heard in a different way. From the safety of the brightly colored, soft and comfy looking living room set, she spoke of God, even Jesus, without seeming to exclude anyone. She was always upfront about it. Never apologized for speaking about her faith to what she knew was her diverse audience. She spoke of the hardship of her life while welcoming others to do the same. She also spoke openly of the privilege that she now has and how she understands her responsibility to be a good steward of what has come her way. I often watched as she used the tools of any good preacher to bring people to a deeper understanding of a topic but mostly of themselves.

On her final show she graciously spoke of all that the audience had given her. One of the most profound sections of the show recounted a woman who had had a stroke and was unable to speak. The woman was a psychologist and told of how the doctors had come into her room and spoke about her as if she wasn’t there, saying things that no thoughtful person would say in the presence of another if they thought the person could hear. Contrasted were her family and friends who spoke words of love and encouragement as they surrounded her with love and compassion. Through this experience the woman, who is now recovered, spoke of how each of us are energy, vibrant electrical beings, who carry the ability to effect others in negative and positive ways. She had given Oprah a large card that had been hanging in her makeup room. It simply said: “Please be responsible for the energy you bring into the room.”

When Oprah reported these words, words which had come to guide not only her but her staff, I reflected back on all the times I have been in a meeting where the energy in the room was so negative it seemed impossible to do good work of any kind. I thought about the times when I have been surrounded by the energy of people who are so loving and caring it seemed we all might levitate. I was reminded of the times I have carried negative, hurtful energy into a situation only to have the gathering implode before my very eyes.

We are all energy and we carry energy into every encounter, every meeting, every relationship, every conversation. It is an awesome responsibility if we take it seriously. What kind of energy are you carrying today? Is it energy that will serve the world for good? Or will it cause more harm to an already troubled time? Perhaps it is time to take stock. To consider the way our energy, the energy of each human being, is helping to bring healing and hope this day. I truly believe none of us would want to carry an energy that would have the power to hurt another.

So perhaps today, this minute, is the time to print these words on our doors, on the palms of our hands, on our fragile hearts: “Please be responsible for the energy you bring into the room.”


The Twin Cities’ area is still looking over its shoulder after the tornadoes that ripped through North Minneapolis on Sunday afternoon. Friends who live near there have spoken of the devastation and the sadness of seeing many who were already living on the economic edge now dealing with no roof, no power, needing help with services many of us take for granted. While no where near as destructive as the storms in Missouri, these hurts close to home have held our thoughts, our prayers. They also have reminded many of us about the power of perspective as we take stock of the ups and downs of our days.

We certainly know that when storms of this magnitude move through any populated area the damage does not fall on humans alone. We are, after all, a part of an intricately woven Creation. To see the trees that were uprooted and split along block after block is a gentle reminder that these are homes, too. Home to birds and animals, all as fragile and as easily displaced as humans.

This morning I read about the heron rookery that existed on one of the lakes in the path of the storm’s winds. Several dozen great blue heron nests called these trees home. In those trees were nests, each holding two or three young herons, fresh and new to the world. After the storm, the mature herons, their strong deep blue wings soaring, were seen circling overhead looking for their young, for a sign of their former homes. What a tragic sight that must have been.

I thought of my favorite poet, Mary Oliver, who has written so often about the beautiful herons she has observed in her many years as a poet and lover of all that lives. In a recent book of her poetry she writes:

“It is a negligence of the mind
not to notice how at dusk
heron comes to the pond and
stands there in his death robes, perfect
servant of the system, hungry, his eyes
full of attention, his wings,
pure light.”

Those interviewed in the paper who know about herons and other ones with wings, seemed less troubled than I was at their plight. They spoke of how the herons are survivors and will  continue to live out their summer life and will make their way back to this place next spring. The fallen trees, they reminded, will now become home to other birds who make their homes closer to the ground, nearer to the water. The herons will rebuild their nests and begin again. It is the way it works. These ‘servants of the system’ understand perhaps things we in our city mentalities do not. They will cast their pure light on what is yet to be.

Unlike the herons, humans may find it difficult to see much past the devastation at this point. But I do know that there are countless people who, at this very moment,  are carrying food and water, chopping up fallen trees and hauling debris, reaching out to neighbors whose names they had not known before Sunday. Within hours, people were collecting money to fuel the work that needs to be done. Prayers were said and continue to float in the air, hovering over the streets and blue tarps that act as roofs, much like the outstretched wings of the herons over the rookery.

Pure light. Pure light.


Perpetual Apology

On Saturday morning I braved the gloomy weather and headed to the St. Paul Farmer’s Market. It is one of the true pleasures of my week to begin my Saturday in this way. Even in these early days of the growing season I find myself undone by the beauty of vegetables, the color of flowers, the smells of brewing coffee and the sight of so many different kinds of people. All up early. All shopping for food. Asparagus, spinach and rhubarb shown forth as the ‘first to the market finish line’. People were scooping up tiny tomato and basil plants as they dreamed of the bruschetta that will come in July. Children, and some adults, munched on sugary, sprinkled donuts as we chose not to notice the gray, rainy skies.

Instead of a donut, I opted for a toasted pumpernickel bagel. While I was waiting for it to take a turn on the grill, I watched the young adults who work this booth. They wore the Saturday morning sleepy look of most their age. A look that belies a too late night followed by a too early morning. But they laughed and joked with one another showing the camaraderie they have developed in this job that will lead them to something else, i.e. a tuition payment, rent for another month, enough spending money for another late night.

In my scanning of these young people, my eyes fell on one young man, his black hoodie unzipped to reveal a dark, gray t-shirt. And then I saw the tattoo that formed a ring on his neck. Moving from left to right, across the sinking place on his white, fragile skin were the dark blue, elegant letters that said simply:”I am so sorry.” For some reason these words hit the pit of my stomach and didn’t bounce back. What could this young man be so sorry about that he had this tattooed forever on his neck where all would see? Why had he made so permanent this perpetual apology? These questions seared through my brain as another young woman handed me my warm bagel oozing with cream cheese. As I walked away I felt my heart tug for him.

All day I thought of this quick encounter with someone I may never see again but whose bodily adornment had so moved me. The words on his neck caused me to think of all the situations, all the actions in the world for which I am so sorry. I thought of all the people I come into contact with during a given week who are homeless or living on the edge. I am so sorry that as a nation we cannot figure out how to keep people from falling through the cracks of our social systems. I am so sorry that we continue to engage in hate and fear-filled actions that threaten to marginalize people on the basis of whom they love. I am so sorry that we continue to lash out at those whose faith is foreign to us, those who appear different because of the ways they dress or speak or even eat. I am so sorry that children and the elderly often are the recipients of the actions of a few making decisions for the many. So much to be sorry about. This young man took, in my opinion, a radical and permanent way of living this.

It is easy to get lost in sorry. But somehow it seems to me the gentler thing, not only individually but communally, is to try to get at the front end of apology. To try to take a breath before acting, before speaking so as to cut down on the need for perpetual apology. In some ways it is an impossible intention but also a noble one. Even in our communal life to ask ourselves, as the prophet Micah did: “What does God ask of you?” To ask and then to shape our lives around the answer: Do justice, love kindness, walk humbly with God. How might our need for apology be changed if these values guided our actions? It is something to ponder.

I am thankful for the toasty bagel that fed my body on Saturday morning and the hands that prepared it. And I am thankful to the young man whose message has traveled with me and will continue to nudge me to be careful with my words,my actions, and with my life. The pain he must have endured to wear the words he carries as a mantra was not lost on me.

Wherever he is, may God bless his path this day.




Such love does
The sky now pour
That whenever I stand in a field,
I have to wring out the light
When I get home.
~ St. Francis of Assisi

It is rare these days when the newspaper gives over precious print space on the editorial pages for something other than acerbic political or intentionally divisive writing. But yesterday there was an editorial that caught my eye and had me saying ‘Amen’ under my breath long before breakfast. The title of the article was ‘Shocked at what passes for awe these days and was written by two professors at Normandale Community College. The general message of the writers was that, as a people, we have become immune to awe, that we are a people fulfilling important responsibilities but who are uninspired. All the while, they say, we also long to be awestruck.

Perhaps I was drawn to this article because I share their opinion, their concern. I have long believed that the environmental crisis in which we find ourselves is fueled by our inability to connect at a deep level with awe for the Creation that holds us. When I read the psalms, many reflecting the sheer power of a call to an awe-filled life, I am humbled by these ancients ability to send up their full bodied celebration of awe. The awe they experience at Creation and its intricate patterns and beautiful, powerful creatures. The inspiration that grounds them as those whose work seems to be to shout that praise to the world. If this were our common experience of the beautiful, fragile world in which we live, how could we do anything to harm it for ourselves or for those who will come after? Too often those who tell the cautionary tales of climate change do so only with facts and figures leaving out the call to an awe-filled life.

When have you experienced awe lately? When has some moment of your day taken your breath away? When was the last time you felt goosebumps or found your eyes welling up at the beauty or wonder of some encounter? The opportunities for being awe inspired, I believe, have not decreased in our world. We have simply chosen to live the distracted life that keeps us from being awake to all the myriad ways awe is jumping up and down saying:” See me! See me!”

The psalmists of ancient days took the time to watch the sunrise, to gaze at the mountain formations, to watch the stag drink from a glistening stream. They allowed this experience of the Holy to wash over them and remind them that were a part of something greater than their small, finite life. Then they shaped their words and told their story. Are we called to do anything less?

We each wake up every morning with the potential to be awe struck at nearly very turn. The choice is ours as we walk out into the world. We can spend the day ticking off the items on our lists that have no end. Or we can choose to have an encounter with Mystery. We can notice the deep blue of the eyes of the person who hands us our morning coffee. We can stop to watch the pink crabapple blossoms fall slowly, like a baptism, over the woman standing at the bus stop. (I was witness to such a scene just yesterday.) We can take a moment to gaze into the center of the nearly spent tulips… is that brilliant star shape at the center even possible? We can notice the gently arcing eyebrows of the baby that passes us on the sidewalk. We can stare at the soft wrinkles of the hands of the elderly woman who is recounting her recent aches and pains. What love and tenderness have these hands known? We can listen to the orchestra of bird songs outside the window and marvel at a language we will never speak.

Awe. It is all around us. Like St. Francis, who gave his life to living simply in the wonder and mystery of his time, we too can arrive at the end of our day needing to wring out the light that has bathed us.

And wouldn’t that be a wonderful way to live a life? And wouldn’t that be a wonderful way to begin healing the world?

Have a blessed weekend………..


For several months now I have been keeping watch over a strange, and somewhat marvelous,sight. Nearly every day for the last seven months as I make my way onto the freeway entrance ramp near the Cathedral in St. Paul, I glance over at the Sears parking lot. The lot has been home to an enormous mound of snow. At its peak it was, I would guess, several stories tall and larger than two rambler houses set end to end. Next to this mound was a smaller but still impressive mound of frozen precipitation. Over the last two to three months these formations have lost their whiteness and instead become black and grimy with exhaust, pollution and just good,old normal dirt.

The thing is, it is now May 18 and the snow hills are still there! That’s right. It has been at least eighty degrees on a couple of days and in the sixties and seventies the last couple of weeks. Still, snow sits on the Sears lot. It has slowly shrunk to perhaps 10 feet in height and a small trickle of melted water makes its way onto the boulevard. But there is still snow on the ground here in St. Paul.

While I can and do take varying routes to the office, I now have been going only one way. It has become a daily ritual to check on ‘my’ snow. The sight of it makes me laugh and reminds me where we’ve come from. And as I’ve observed this near glacier like movement of melt, its presence has become metaphor for me.

The enormous mound of snow has come to represent all that which builds up in our lives and becomes bigger than its individual parts. When I think of the size of a snowflake, their individual beauty and uniqueness, I am humbled. When those same snowflakes get piled on top of one another for hours, days, weeks, months, they become something very different. Something that lasts a very long time. Something that gets covered with dirt and garbage which,then, forms a crust that makes it nearly impenetrable. The fragility of snowflakes held together is a profound and powerful statement.

That is what has happened to the Sears snow. That is what also happens to us when hurts and grudges are allowed to pile up and cement themselves to our souls. It is what happens when we find ourselves encrusted with bad habits, hurtful words, addictions, old baggage we allow to define us. The pile gets higher and higher and it takes a powerful force to melt its hold. Ever have this happen in your life?

What can melt such a structure? The warmth of friendship and community is a good start. Self-loving also helps. Asking and seeking forgiveness goes a long way. Being gentle with ourselves and others can be helpful. Recognizing what is ours to do and not do is also powerful. Prayer. Laughter. A good cup of coffee and a piece of chocolate wouldn’t hurt either.

I’ll make my way to the office in a few minutes. As I drive by the snow that lingers into May, I’ll laugh. Laugh and offer my thanks for its gifts and the wisdom it has offered.

I’ll also pray that it melts very soon.

Come, Rest Here

Yesterday I took advantage of the beautiful weather and walked around one of the Twin Cities many lakes. All the paths were crawling with people overjoyed to be outside their homes at last. Smiling people and equally happy dogs bounced along the walking paths. Strollers carrying joyful babies moved swiftly past runners and those roller blading as they soaked up sunshine and fresh air. Long stored bicycles now sported helmeted riders using muscles they had forgotten they had. Each person seemed to be exercising the kind of freedom that is one of the true gifts of spring.

Nearing the end of my walk, I observed a biker taking over one of the many park benches that dot the lakeside. Sitting down, he called out to another biker still making their way along the path. ” Come, rest here.” he said. I looked to see the reaction of the receiver of these words. I wasn’t close enough to really see but it didn’t really make a difference. I had already heard the invitation and that was enough.

“Come, rest here.” The words stuck in my mind. I thought of all the people who would welcome the gift of these three, little words. Come. Rest. Here. Right here. I thought of the harried parent trying to juggle the myriad details of any given day. And the weary caregivers I know, dishing out food, compassion, patience, and love. I thought of the teachers and the restaurant workers and all the laborers who work long hours, often underpaid and under appreciated. My memory was flooded with the many hospital workers I have occasion to see in action as I visit people who are ill or have had surgery. So many who would welcome this simple, calming invitation.

And then I thought of all the places, besides the park bench, that beckon us to “Come, rest here.” All over this state docks will soon be moved into place and will take up their work of providing a resting place for those waiting to be healed by the glassy, lapping water of being at ‘the lake’. The front porch of my childhood, its glider, rocking chairs and swing that are always present to create the slow, comforting motion we knew as infants. Back and forth, back and forth. Easy chairs and waiting room couches call out, “come, rest here.” Laps and outstretched arms offer children and loved ones that place of solace……come, rest.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus goes about claiming a special relationship with God by saying to those gathered around him: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” What amazing and comforting words. And aren’t they ones we have all, at one point or another, longed to hear?

For those of you who are weary and long for rest, may you have someone call out to you, like the biker on the bench, “Come, rest here.” May you find an invitation, even if it comes from your own lips, to sit, to be in the gift that is the present moment. And may you find rest there.

Blessed be.

Too Sacred

“If this world
Was not held in God’s bucket
How could an ocean stand upside down
On its head and never lose a drop?

If your life was not contained in God’s cup
How could you be so brave and laugh,
Dance in the face of death?

There is a private chamber in the soul
That knows a great secret
Of which no tongue can speak.

Your existence my dear, O love my dear,
Has been sealed and marked
“Too sacred,” “too sacred,” by the Beloved-
To ever end!

Indeed God
Has written a thousand promises
All over your heart
That say,
Is far foo sacred to
Ever end.”
~ Hafiz,1320-1389

Being held in God’s cup seems a reassuring gift to me these days. I have found that the ways of the world are weighing down my spirit and I have been searching for a way to come up from the dark waters that seem to be rushing over us, to find an opening where clear, clean air can rush into my constricted lungs. As I listen to those in whom we have placed our confidence as leaders, take sides about how we give name and honor to those we love, I feel a sickened despair. When I think of the ways in which our nation allows fear to be our common food, I want to cry tears that will not stop. As I watch even our faith communities elevate violence to a sacrament and create laws that would exclude any of God’s beloved ones, I wonder at what point we will cease our never-ending hurt of one another. Plainly put, I wonder when we who call ourselves Christians will begin to live in the Way of Jesus.

And so I have been doing what I find helpful. I have spent time talking with friends, friends who may not be in the low-riding valley of life’s roller coaster right now. And I have been reading poetry and stories that weave beautiful phrases that lift my spirit. This poem of Hafiz did the trick. To be reminded of being held in God’s cup brings a healing balm. And to reaffirm that deep goodness I believe exists within each of us is grounding. Without ‘preaching’, that art that often contains too many words for me, poetry places just the right amount of syllables on my plate, allowing me to breath between the thoughts and find my way back to the home of myself.

This poem of the ancient Sufi mystic calls from someplace beyond time and wakes me up with his “too sacred, too sacred.” Affirming that this life which we have been given by a loving Creator is too sacred to ever end is, for me, the wisdom of the Easter story. The assurance that no terror or fear ever plays the winning hand, that no harm we can ladle out or legislate ever ultimately prevails over the sacredness of life, allows me to breath more fully, to have an optimism that is choice, not logic.

Yesterday, a group of dear ones I call both colleagues and friends, lamented many of the same situations that have been nagging my spirit. We spoke of hope as choice. We spoke of making the choice to walk hopefully into each day though we might have ‘considered the facts’ as poet Wendell Berry writes. Perhaps we do this because we are all church ‘professionals’ and we have been schooled in the ways of doing so. Perhaps we have decided to choose hope because we are of a certain age and to do otherwise would be simply too depressing.

But what I pray is that we have chosen hope because we know deep, deep down in that ‘private chamber of our souls’ that the secret planted there, the secret of the sacredness of never-ending life prevails and we can do nothing else but choose. Choose to hope. Choose to live up to the promises of God’s imprint on our hearts. Choose to dance in the face of death. Choose to speak,act, vote, pray, and live this life which is “too sacred, too sacred” to do otherwise. And that we will live this way, not only for ourselves, but for all people, for all creatures, for all the world.

Have a blessed and hope-filled weekend……….

Potting Soil

How strange and mysterious
are the ways of God.
Not greening, not flowering
may be a path
to the center as well.
Acceptance of yourself
as you are
and others as they are
is the true potting soil.
All growth starts there.”
~Gunilla Norris, A Mystic Garden

It is a rare person who, these days, is not thinking of planting, of growing things, of soil to be turned and seeds to be burrowed. Even those who would not think of doing any actual gardening are aware of the Earth making a stupendous come-back in these evolving days of spring. In Minnesota the past two days seemed to have taken a giant leap forward into summer with temperatures in the eighties. But we know that in a few days things will be back on track and the slow, methodical opening of buds and sowing of seeds will continue.

It is easy to believe that this is the way it always is. But anyone who has planted any kind of plant or garden at anytime knows that most growing happens in its own good time, under circumstances that often elude the most skillful gardener. I can’t even consider the number of dollars we have spent on our backyard garden, trying to make things grow, until we recognized that, the black walnut trees we loved so much, created a soil which makes many things impossible to grow. We had to accept that, if we loved the strength and the shade and the beauty of these trees, we had to give up growing certain plants. We had to accept the potting soil that is our yard.

Many times I engage in what I refer to as ‘wicked step sister’ behavior. I try with all my might to jam my foot….or myself…into a shoe or situation that simply doesn’t fit. I cannot accept that I can’t grow in every setting. I don’t think I am alone in this, am I? I also often forget that sometimes the not blooming, not growing, not flowering may also be a path to a newer awareness of God’s movement in my life.

In addition to this personal life lesson, it has also been one of the most difficult lessons, I believe, of being a parent. To trust that your children will blossom in their own ways and not in the ways in which you had planned for them, is an often humbling journey. To accept the mystery of their path and yours in relationship to them is one of those lessons that often needs to learned over and over again. I know I have certainly done my fair share of returning to the wisdom of that kind of potting soil.

For those who are struggling with a gardening diagram that may not be producing the blooms you had hoped. For those who are having difficulty accepting what is or isn’t growing in your life right now. For all those who wake every day unsure of the next step. May you, may I, continue to accept ourselves and one another with the compassion and love offered by the Holy One. May we continue to dig deep into this potting soil and begin to grow in ways that are perhaps strange…….. and always mysterious.