Wild Fires

Driving to the office early this morning I heard a report about the terrible wild fires running rampant through parts of Colorado. I was reflecting on the extremes of the weather we are experiencing around the country and being reminded of some comments one person much wiser than I am made about global warming. When trying to explain this phenomenon she feared was coming our way, she remarked: “What people don’t quite understand is that global warming is not just about our temperatures getting warmer. It is about the wild and erratic fluctuations of weather we will experience as our normal climate patterns are disturbed.” I have thought of her words often over the last years while we have had tremendous snowfalls followed by little the next year. Now as the fires burn in one place and there are record rainfalls in other places that have never flooded before, her wisdom begins to make sense.

I was jarred out of my ruminations on the weather by a Colorado firefighter’s words.
” We have told everyone to grab their peas.” I did a double take toward the radio only to realize he did not mean the vegetable but the letter. Grab your ‘p’s. People, pets, prescriptions, papers, pictures. Oh, my. Can our lives really be trimmed to such a short list of what is important?

And then I thought about it. While I have never been in such a dire situation where I needed to think about evacuating my home, what are the most important parts of my life that I would grab and protect? Certainly the people are the top priority. Family, friends, neighbors, my wider community are all the true treasures of my life. These beloved human ones are what I would risk limb and leg for, hands down.

Over the years I have been blessed to share the road with many of the four-legged variety. These felines and canines have been both companion and challenge.These animals have taught me about patience and playfulness, about living in the present moment and the fine art of lazing in the wash of the sun’s rays. Our dependence upon one another has been pure gift and they are a ‘p’ I would grab, for their sake and for mine.

At this point in my life I am blessed to not have to think about prescriptions. But I do think of the things that bring healing and wholeness to my life. These ‘prescriptions’ are mostly of the literary kind, volumes filled with words that bring balance and hope, beauty and joy. In the end, these are not things I would grab in an emergency but I would be left with a grief to bear without them. I know this.

The same could be said of papers. We have important papers, birth certificates, passports, insurance papers, etc. stored in a box that would hopefully survive a fire. Or so the warranty of the box purposes. I trust it is true and that that knowledge would give me ample time to grab the other paper-like things of importance, our pictures. Pictures of infant sons and wedding photos of our much younger, thinner selves. Pictures of the first day of school, sports teams and trophies, graduations, proms, birthdays, family vacations. All these chronicle the life we have created, the lives we have lived. They make up another ‘p’….precious.

And for yet another ‘p’, I would now add prayer. My prayers are being sent out to those who at this very minute are grabbing their ‘p’s and heading out into a smokey wilderness. Where their journey takes them is still a mystery. What will be left when they return is also unknown. May each be surrounded by people whom they love and in the presence of their companion creatures. May they hold just enough of the paper that helps them maneuver whatever is on the other side of this time and a dose of what may heal. And may they hold firmly in their hands a memory of a time when things were safer and simpler.

May God go gently at their side.

Breathing Gently

Each moment you are alive is a gem. It needs you to breathe gently for the miracles to be displayed.”
~Thich Nhat Hahn

The beauty of this day, this Monday in June, is staggering. I took an early morning walk and enjoyed the cool, crisp air which seemed clearer and cleaner than usual. The green of the grass in yards in our neighborhood and nearby park have been fed generously by the rains we have experienced over the last weeks. We are slowly becoming an Irish cousin, rivaling the Emerald Isle in our greenness! Flowers along my walking path were in full bloom and their colors were brilliant beyond belief. Many looked like a painting of themselves, an object of art created by a talented and careful hand. Some would say this is true on so many levels and I am one of them.

These are the days of summer when the visual threatens to be too much for the normal human. It seems nearly a sin to be occupied by paperwork or cleaning floors or solving car problems or dental work. Yet these are the things that have pulled me from the exquisite beauty of this day. I have no doubt that I will need to atone for these distractions at some point. I should have, I know, spent the entire day watching the flowers grow or the children play next door. The children who need not bother with the tedious actions of the adult world. They are running through the grass in their bare feet allowing the springy earth to bounce beneath their free and joyous bodies. I can hear them outside my window and want to join them.

At my desk I came upon these words of Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hahn. As I read them I allowed their wisdom to wash over me. Truly this day in which I find myself living is a gem. It feels a blessing to recognize it, to not allow the pushes and pulls on time, the long list of to-dos, to distract me. As I breath in gently, I can feel the miracle not only of the breath itself but the gift of the many miracles I have already witnessed this day. I say a prayer for those who have not had the privilege of so many miracles, so many noticings.

One such miracle is sitting on our kitchen table right now. It is nestled among some flowers I purchased at the farmer’s market over the weekend. It is a flower of a brilliant yellow color and fluffy, if flowers can be so. I don’t know its name but I am amazed by it. What amazes me more is its unopened twin that has slowly been emerging before our very eyes. It looks like a pineapple. Here is a flower removed from its root, cut before its blossoming, placed in a vase in my kitchen and still willing to come to its fullness. Amazing!

If I was a person of true wisdom and faith, I would have abandoned everything else to set up camp and watch it open further and further until it, too, shines forth its sunlit hues into the world. I would wait to bear witness to the beauty of its life unfolding. Instead I am trying to be content with quick glances as I walk through the room to return a glass to the sink or let the big black dog out for the hundredth time today. Walking past this gem of creation, I breathe gently before heading on to the ‘what next’ of my day.

Wherever you are on this brilliant gift of a day, one that is showing forth for your amazement, I pray you are also breathing gently and encountering all the miracles coming your way…….



Tell me. What do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
~Mary Oliver

On Wednesday afternoon I sat in a theater to watch the Tony award winning musical ‘Once’. It is the story of an Irish musician who has lost his passion and motivation. He meets a young Czech woman, also a musician, who is full of enthusiasm for music and
living. It was a movie I had loved and I was excited to see this expanded version of a very simple story. While telling the tale of these two musicians, the play also tells the story of changing times, what it means to be a person displaced from their country of origin and the ways in which people create community to sustain themselves. It is a simple story but full of many thoughtful, imperative life lessons.

At the very beginning of the play, when the young man and woman meet, the man is about to walk away from his guitar, give up his pursuit of being a musician, the one thing about which he is passionate but cannot make a living or get a break. The young woman who is poor and does not own a piano has found a way of continuing to play by befriending the owner of a music store. On her lunch hour, she goes into his shop and plays to the owner’s delight and those who wander into the store. When the young woman encounters the young man, she asks him two questions:” Are you proud to be Irish?” and “Do you love your life?” These are two questions that bring him up short and steer his life on a different course.

After seeing this production, I thought mightily about these two questions. Am I proud to be who I am, where I’m from? Do I love my life? I thought about what would happen to each of us if we asked ourselves these questions every day. How would it change the nature of what we do with the precious hours and minutes through which we move? The young woman in ‘Once’ pointed out that to be Irish meant that this man was a part of countless poets, musicians and writers that have found a home on a tiny island in the middle of the sea. “What are the chances of that?” she asked. Each of us are also cut from some fabric woven in a landscape into which we were born or from which our ancestors hailed. It shapes us and gives meaning to who we are if we pay attention to it. This weaving can tell us much about who we are if we allow it. Are you proud to be from your own landscape?

And then there was the second question that nagged at me. Do I love my life? Do you? Do I love the waking up and the going to sleep of my days? Do you? Do I love the moving through the world that I do every day? Do you? If not, what do I plan to do about it? What do you?

In the play ‘Once’ the young man found that once he gave himself to the landscape in which he was born and lived into his passionate love of making music, he fell in love with his life again. Being a Broadway show, he also fell in love with the girl. But that only happened at the end, when the curtain went down. What happened in the two hours before was the real story.

Of course this was just a play meant to entertain and give those of us present a relief from the incredible heat of the afternoon. But those two questions, those two important questions, have accompanied my waking and my sleeping hours. They seem like good ones to ponder for awhile. Maybe they will inspire me like they did the young man to hold onto my life with both hands. To hold on. To claim it. To love it. To live it.


People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home.”
~Dagobert D. Runes

There are many gifts of travel. First of all there is the sheer reminder of privilege. The privilege of having the means and the kind of life that allows leisure and the opportunity to step outside one’s regular day to day work and home life. There is the privilege of seeing places you may have, until this point, only read about or seen in magazines or on television. There is the privilege of tasting different foods, seeing foods unfamiliar or exotic. There is the privilege of seeing the handiwork and hard work of dreamers, architects, builders, laborers. So many reminders that the world in which we find ourselves is more vast and varied than our singular life.

For me one of the true privileges of travel is that it provides the time to notice. Mostly my noticing is done by observing the people around me. I don’t know about you but I think most people tend to ‘hang out’ with folks who are mostly like themselves. I know I do. Most of my friends and coworkers look much me, have a similar social and economic lifestyle, have a common educational background, and a certain set of shared values. It has, no doubt, been this way since humans walked the earth. We are a tribal people who find ways of sticking with our own. It is in our DNA.

Traveling allows me to observe and wonder about the lives of other people, people who don’t fit my tribal mold. Riding the subway in New York can be a rich place to do this. Yesterday I sat for quite some time as we rode for to our destination. Sharing our ride was a tall, young man who I believe to have been from an African country from his dress and skin color. In his hands he held a string of beads not unlike a rosary. While we zoomed along at tremendous underground speeds, his smooth, black hand moved the strand slowly from one bead to the next. Not knowing what the purpose of the beads were, I made the assumption they were prayer beads of some kind. I wondered at his prayers. What could they be? Gratitude? Hope? Comfort? Were they prayers of his former life or this one he finds himself living far from his homeland?

Not far from this man, a beautiful caramel skinned woman sat with her feet neatly and firmly planted on the floor. Like so many others all around, she held her Smartphone in her hand. But this young woman was not listening to music or flipping quickly through messages, text or otherwise. Instead, her lips were moving silently at a rapid pace as if reading something she knew from memory and was only using the screen of her phone to keep her focus. I watched as her full, smooth lips repeated some pattern over and over. Could it have been that she also was praying? Was it some repetitive,active prayer that kept her grounded in this fast paced, distracting world in which she lived?

Now I am not so naive as to think that everyone on the subway was in some form of prayer! That would only be my ‘church mind’ speaking. There was, of course, the muscular, well-sculpted man who had chosen to have an enormous sun bursting forth on his bicep until his dying day. There was the woman so bent over that she had to stop after several paces to rest her weighed down arms creating a rhythmic motion not unlike a crane’s dance. There were the children being pulled gently and frantically by adults as they made their way to work and daycare. There were lovers who could barely take their eyes off one another to make their way safely on and off the train. There were elders and babies, teenagers with attitudes and some who looked lost and lonely. There were riders who looked exhausted from the heat, their work, their lives.

We all traveled together in this tubular vehicle making our ways to whatever the day might hold. Some of us were on vacation and grateful for the change of scenery. Some were tired and frightened about what the day might bring. Some held no expectation at all, caught up in the mundane movements that moved them from sunrise to sunset. Some might have been praying.

This person was being washed in the gift of privilege and being blessed with the time to observe and notice, not only my own life, but those of my fellow world travelers.


A Dark & Stormy Morning

Some journeys are more difficult to get started than others. For months now I have been preparing for and anticipating a trip with my book club of 25 years. This group of women and I have traversed many of life’s difficult and triumphant experiences. We have birthed children and raised the majority of them now into adulthood. We have buried parents and have found ourselves in the throes of being the sandwich generation. We have seen relationships with partners begin and also end. We have read hundreds of books and eaten equally as many desserts together. We have laughed and cried and supported one another through thick and thin. In our 20th year together we celebrated in Chicago. And now in our 25th year we have been planning a four day adventure in New York City. Who knows what our 30th year will bring?!

Our flight this morning was set to leave at 6:30 a.m. With all my things laid carefully out and ready, I awoke at 4:00 a.m. to head out on this celebratory trip. I had already been awakened an hour earlier by the storm sirens’ blaring. I laid there for another hour thinking of how cavalier I have become in hearing this sound and made a mental note to stop doing this, to at least get out of bed and see what was really happening outside. Showering and dressing quietly so as not to disturb the entire household, I headed downstairs to ‘put on my face’ as my mother would say and dry my shampooed hair.

It was at that moment that all the electricity went out. Undaunted I lit one of the many candles around our house. I headed upstairs to find the industrial flashlight hidden in a closet for such a time as this. The rest of my beauty work would need to be done under the romantic lighting of candle and flashlight. My hair would just have to dry the old fashioned way.

Heading out for the airport, it became clear immediately that those sirens had been sounding for a reason. Limbs, leaves and entire trees littered our streets. Making our way down one route, we were turned around by the orange cones already set up by firefighters in reflective wear. Downed power lines crossed the path. Turning around we headed down yet another parallel street only to hear the voice of a police officer speaking through a bull horn: “Back up and turn around!” As we did our lights shone on the light post laying along the street, its wires splayed on the street’s wet pavement.

Once again we tried yet a different path. This street while strewn with debris of trees was not nearly so bad as the others we had tried. It was clear that the storm had forged a path down straight down a mile pathway that included our street and the one that ran near it. After all the detours, our ride to the airport became smooth sailing and I arrived in plenty of time to meet my friends and our flight.

This morning offered a huge reminder. Sometimes even the most well planned trip can have a surprising beginning. My prayer is that those who are left with the cleanup of the storm will be safe in their clearing. And my further prayer is that the storms of this adventure have already been endured.

However, if this is not the case I know that I am with a circle of friends who have weathered much together and we will surely weather much more as we continue to live out our lives. It is a blessing and one I pray for everyone to experience.

Blessed be.

Act of Worship

We rise in the east to start our journey of a day, carrying in memory our yesterdays. May we be fully present to this day’s offerings and to what is manna enough for today.
This landscape we journey on, what does it hold for us? It is more than mere scenery. It holds the presence and beauty
of its creator. It holds you and me. Great Spirit, may our eyes hold its wonder.”
~Robert Brinkley

Every week during our worship we offer our gratitude for the circle in which we sit and the one that encircles us creating our sacred place of worship. During this time people settle in, leaving what has happened before, all they’ve left undone or is nagging them, and allow their bodies to be present in a sabbath place. As ancients and indigenous people have done for thousands of years, we honor the directions that hold us and give form to our comings and goings. It is a time to allow our heartbeat and our breath to settle and be in a calm and peaceful place if only for any hour. Even if the music is fast and upbeat, the container that surrounds us spells safety. In this circle everyone is welcome. Everyone’s prayers can be spoken here. Everyone’s vulnerabilities and pain can be shared. Everyone’s joy can be celebrated. All this is pure gift.

Most Sundays words are spoken as we make the circuit around the room. Most are written by one of our liturgy planners to invite people into the theme of the day. The words above are just such words. These particular ones were so rich, so deep, that many of us asked for a copy so we might spend more time with them. I have had them hanging on my office door so I might stop and reconnect with them as I come and go during a busy day.

Many days I am carrying the memory of countless yesterdays as I go about the present moment. Some of these yesterdays can nag at me…..things I have left undone….acts of which I am ashamed…..regrets overflowing…..hurts I may have caused. All that baggage can weigh on any good beginning to any new day.

On days when my baggage seems more heavy than I can carry, it is good to be assured of the food, the manna, that is sufficient for my wilderness journey. Manna like the fresh smell of a summer morning……mist rising from the river…..the unsolicited smile of a stranger…..sweet music floating from the radio or the even sweeter song of the red winged blackbird outside my window…..the uplifted face of the big, black dog. All this and more to feed me for this day. Tomorrow will have another feast altogether. But the gift of this food is for this day.

What does the landscape of your day hold out to you? This more-than-scenery landscape that offers glimpses of Creation and therefore Creator calls out to us if we have ears to hear. The streets we travel paints a message of possibility if we have eyes to see. The people we encounter hold out promise if we have a heart to embrace them.

The circle of this day calls to us…..sunrise to sunset. We make the circle round this day, east, south, north, west. Great Spirit, may our eyes hold its wonder. May this day be one more act of worship.


In the Air

At least once a month, I visit the Carondolet Center on the campus of the College of St. Catherine. I go there to visit with a saint of woman who is my spiritual director, a person who sits with me and listens me into understanding how the Divine is showing up in the cracks and crevices of my life. It is a great gift to be listened to, to be asked just the right questions that help me piece together this thing we call a spiritual life. In addition to enjoying the company of this blessed woman, I love going into the building itself, a building that has been home to an order of religious sisters over many years. Walking on the shiny marble floors, noticing the worn places grooved and hallowed by countless steps taken in service and prayer, grounds me and calms me. It is pure gift.

I visited this campus yesterday and as I was leaving I came head to head with an amazing sight. I had just gotten in my car and was about to pull out of my parking spot when straight ahead of me, coming right at me, I saw an enormous forklift…..carrying a bridge. It was a lovely bridge, whose structure was of an arts & crafts design, all sleek and geometrical lines. The forklift was moving slowly holding this bridge about 15-20 feet in the air. I sat in my car watching this bridge which was not connected on either side as it inched along to what would, I hope, be its eventual home.

Something about this sight really reached out and grabbed me. It was almost too much metaphor to take in! I thought of all the folks I know who are trying to make connections in their lives. Connection in relationships, their work, the ways they see and understand the world. Connections in their experience, the politics of our time, the movement or relevancy of our faith communities. In some way we are all in the business of going from one thing to another and bridges are the way we do this important and often difficult work.

Witnessing this bridge in the air was an act of seeing something not yet in place. This wooden bow was being carried about, high off the ground,within view but unreachable. It had the form of a structure that would connect one path to another but was, as yet, not in its proper landscape. It had been built but was not yet ready to fulfill its function. But it was on its way. It was a fascinating experience and one I have puzzled over off and on since seeing it.

And so for all of us who are searching to make the important connections in our lives, who are looking for the proper bridge that will allow us to cross over to the what next, I offer this image of the bridge in the air. This experience of being confronted by this beautiful structure yet to find its home, yet to do its work, gave me hope. Hope that what needs to be built has been. Hope that what needs to be present to make the important, longed-for connections may be in the air but they are on their way. Hope that something larger and more powerful than any of us is moving with slow, purposeful intention toward the place where a bridge can be placed that will make all the difference.

May each of us find the bridges we need this day. May each of us have the patience and courage to look for the bridges that might be just in front of us waiting to be lowered into place. Once in place, may we each have the courage to take the first step toward whatever connections await.


Blessed Community

In those years, people will say, we lost track
of the meaning of ‘we,’ of ‘you’
we found ourselves
reduced to ‘I’
and the whole thing became
silly, ironic, terrible:
we were trying to live a personal life
and yes, that was the only life
we could bear witness to.

But the great dark birds of history screamed and plunged
into our personal weather.
They were headed somewhere else but their beaks and pinions drove
along the shore, through the rags of fog
where we stood, saying ‘I’.”
~Adrienne Rich

It is often interesting to me how certain words show up just when you need them. These words of Adrienne Rich showed up in my email at some point of this week. I have been thinking about community a lot over the last several days. I have been thinking about the immense value I place on community and how that is different, for me, from the lesser value I place on institution. I recognize that for many people they are synonymous or at least connected in ways that for me they are not. These thoughts have been working their talons into my psyche and spirit as I have tried to come to grips with many of the complex issues facing our church and our world. Rich’s poem helped some of the scales to fall from my eyes.

While I have now lived the majority of my life in an urban setting, my DNA has its home in small town living. I know from personal experience the great gifts and curses of growing up where everybody knows your name, who your parents are, what your family stands for. This intricately woven fabric of community has held me, shaped my way of moving in the world and given muscle and bone to my theology, my God talk. The deep ways this is true come out to show their true colors at very important and sometimes inopportune times.

Those of us who call ourselves United Methodists are living in an institution that is struggling. Struggling to find its voice. Struggling to know its identity. Struggling to understand what it means to hold the whole world within its walls. Struggling with what it means to be welcoming of all people, when all really means all. It is a struggle we share with other institutions, many of whom have made deep changes that have brought pain and transformation and a crisis of faith. Others are entrenched in ways that are immovable. In my estimation, as an institution we have often reduced ourselves to a conglomeration of ‘I’s and have forgotten what it means to be ‘we’, if we ever truly knew.

What I took away from growing up in a small town was a clear yet unspoken understanding that I was connected to a whole bunch of people who had as many warts and beauty marks as I did. Somehow we were all in a common life together not because we were all alike but because in our differences we made a greater whole than any of us did individually. It is much like what the apostle Paul described in his visual of the followers of Jesus as a body with many parts, each with its own gifts and function. Each equal, each important, not because a doctrine or book deemed it so but because God did.

As I have wandered this wilderness of trying to make sense of these difficult times, I have come to see that it is the church as experienced community that sustains me and where I see the face of the Holy. The institution will continue to legislate and create structures that may support this experienced life or it may run counter to it. I may or may not have power to affect change in this structure. But by placing my energies in the on-going spirit of being present to the ‘we’ that is community I find hope and remember who I am.

For this I am fully and truly grateful.

Gospel Message

It has been a practice of mine for some time to read the bumper stickers of the cars I encounter on the freeway and then to imagine the lives of the person who placed something of such permanence on their car. Since the ‘placer’ can’t actually see the message, it has always been clear to me that, while making a statement, their message carries an evangelistic bent. Its’ message is meant to influence others, bring them into the fold of a certain way of thinking or being. Specifically, the person who finds themselves following the message for a time. With the kind of stop and start traffic we are experiencing these days in the Twin Cities, with all the road construction that is both east and west and north and south, these bumper sticker messages can have a long time to work their magic.

The fact is I hadn’t seen any new rear-reading messages for some time. Until Thursday when I spent nearly twenty minutes following, stop and start, a car that had these words displayed proudly on their backside: ‘Positive Is How I Live’. My initial reaction was to smile broadly. What a wonderful thing to be sending these words into the Universe! As leader and follower inched along the freeway, dodging orange and neon yellow clad workers, I wondered if the person in the car in front of me was more patient than I. Were they taking advantage of our slow pace to listen to pleasant music or a book on tape, all the while not giving a hoot about the possibility of being late? Or, even better, had they left at an even earlier hour planning for how the ride would go? Were they, in fact, remaining positive?

Following this message for as long as I did caused me to think about the act, and the art, of being positive and its cousin, being negative. I like to believe that I live my life someplace in the middle. But I do notice how easy it is in our culture to always go to the negative. We are bombarded daily with negative advertisements. So many statements made by politicians and preachers, newscasters and plain, regular people are placed in the negative. The rash of reality television is often astounding to me and almost all of it is negative in nature.

I think of the truly positive people I am blessed to know, those people who have the gift of being fully present as they speak and listen. Their positive energy and equally positive words have a healing effect and always leave me feeling as if I have been renewed. The words they choose are often filled with possibility and hope which can be contagious. It is something I aspire to.

Positive is how I live. I would like to get up every morning and, despite the circumstances, choose this as my mantra for the day. Instead of succumbing to the steady stream of negative energy housed in words, I would like to be flinging the healing balm of negative’s opposite into the world. How about you? Would you also like to carry the message ‘positive is how I live’ to anyone who will experience it?

Perhaps we might hold a revival. Perhaps we might pitch our tent in the open field and call out all the positive messages we can. People might show up. We could sing songs together, nice, beautiful songs. Songs that would make us laugh and harmonize. We’d spend time telling stories and listening to one another as if we had the power to change the world. And who knows? We just might.

In the meantime, out on the congested freeways there is at least one person who is declaring their statement of faith in a 4 x 12 inch rectangle. This person shared their gospel with me. And now I am sharing it with you. Like all good messages, it is up to us what we do with it.


Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of Gd, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore.”
~Luke 5:1-3

On Saturday I sat on a boat for four hours waiting for a bobber to slip under the water. With several others I was fishing on Lake Mille Lacs as we all quietly(mostly) sat and stared at neon hued balls of plastic dance on the waves of this beautiful lake known for its good old Minnesota walleye. It felt as if summer had begun.

Now I don’t claim to be a great fisher person though I certainly live with those who love it. While I love riding in any boat whose owner invites me, I am not always so patient with the act of fishing. There is, of course, the whole baiting the hook thing and then also the compassion I have for the fish itself. But I realize for some that fishing is sport, for others necessity and for still others it is hope. What I learned on Saturday is that it is also something else. It is an act of contemplation.

You see while you are sitting in a boat you are already suspended in a precarious situation. You are floating on water, water that laps and waves and has the ability to lull you into a certain primal rhythm. For the most part, if you are fishing you are not thinking about swimming, so the boat becomes your home for the time being. Floating along while holding a rod and reel, your main focus is the bobber. Staring at the bobber, while floating on the water, allows you to breathe deeply and be in the present moment. After all if you take your eyes off the bobber you just might miss the chance to see that neon globe go down precipitating a whole other set of events. While you are staring your mind can ponder all kinds of things or nothing at all.

The nothing at all was my goal this past weekend. After four days of our Annual Conference, four days of lots of words, lovely though they were, had left me ready for a little quiet time. And so I was quite content sitting, staring, waiting, hoping. It was a meditation of sorts. Though every now and then someone would call out “fish on!” and a net would appear to scoop up a wiggly, shiny finned-one, I was able to keep my eyes on the water allowing the words that had backed up into the crevices of my spirit to ooze out and fall beneath the waves.

It caused me to think of all the number of times Jesus got into a boat. The stories in the scriptures have him sitting in boats, standing in boats, telling his buddies to fish on one side of the boat or the other. These words also tell of him sleeping in boats and, of course, walking right over the side of the boat and onto the water. Somehow he must have gotten the whole contemplative nature of boat thing, too. What better way to clear your head and refuel your spirit after all the healing and storytelling and preaching and loaf multiplying?

So here’s a recommendation. If you have a big decision or a small one on the horizon, go out in a boat, throw in a line and watch the bobber. Just stay with it. You might catch something or you might not. Maybe it really doesn’t make any difference. Maybe it is the act of floating on water and quieting our bodies while focusing on one thing at a time that is the primary gift of fishing. Maybe it is about being present in the moment and not flitting from one shiny thing to another. Maybe it is not about hauling in a net full of walleyes.

This is of course only my opinion. If you ask a real fisher person, they may have a whole other take on it. For them, it might really be about the fish.