Whichever Way

Whichever way we turn, O God, there is your face
in the light of the moon and patterns of stars
in scarred mountain rifts and ancient groves
in mighty seas and creatures of the deep.
Whichever way we turn, O God, there is your face
in the light of eyes we love
in the salt of tears we have tasted
in weathered countenance east and west
in the soft skin glow of the child everywhere.
Whichever way we turn, O God, there is your face
there is your face
among us.”
~John Philip Newell

Whichever way we turn…..the Holy is there. These words of John Philip Newell found their way to me this morning. I have to admit to a sleepless night. Waking up as I did in the wee hours, I stared at the ceiling, my mind full of people I know and love who are wrestling with the things of life. Illness. Transitions. Loss. New birth. Job struggles. Dreams deferred. All this and more is spinning among those I know, is spinning I. The course of the world. This living is fragile business and, so often, our delusion that we are in control of any of it keeps us in a place where we are visited by the surprise that we are not. It seems a lesson we need to learn over and over again.

So, to read Newell’s words this morning was a welcome reminder and a blessing. Whichever way we turn……there is some manifestation of the movement of God. For many people spring is the season to see this presence more than any other. Buds pushing through rich earth. New life all around waiting to come into its fullness. Rains that wash all the residue of winter from an accumulated landscape of frozen-ness.

As we sit full bodied in this season of autumn, I am as equally aware of this Sacred presence in all that is changing around me, all that is letting go of that same new life that was birthed in spring. Watching leaves turn color, even though I can spout some junior high science understanding of how and why it happens, I always come face to face with this Creator. Embracing the receding light and preparing myself for the darkness that will hold the days, I know once again this One who breathes in both the showy light and the often fearful dark.

Yesterday, I waited for the news of one who was making its own place in time, reminding the mother birthing her and the father who waited and worked alongside, that each child that is born comes into the world in their own way, their own time, full of their unique gifts to offer. A community was breathing with them. Whichever way we turn…….there is the Holy.

Nestled in this waiting, I spent time with one of our dear ones who is struggling with an illness that snuck up and took hold. The speed of it took everyone by surprise. The fragility of life took up residence in all who have begun to stand watch. Prayers were begun and have continued and will be both whispered and shouted in the next days and hours. Physicians and nurses, those with specialized training were called in like an army headed to battle. Whichever way we turn……

In the light and darkness of changing seasons…..in the color brilliant and fading…..in the glow of new birth and its promise……in the tears and fears of illness and what it brings…..”Whichever way we turn, O God, there is your face among us.”

May we remember and give thanks.



Who knew? September 24 is National Punctation Day. This information came to me by way of the calendar I refer to every morning as I am getting ready to begin my day. Clearly I have not noticed this before in years past. But today there it was. I went straight to the definer of truth-Google- to see what this actually meant. Could ‘punctuation’ mean something other than what I thought it did? Is it really a celebration of some ancient festival that I have known nothing about until now?

No. Today is meant to honor the period, comma, apostrophe, quotations, colon and semi-colons that float in and out of our sentences and paragraphs every day. These lowly marks of black on white page or blank screen help us express ourselves and say what we really mean. I hear people, mostly older people, lament with regularity how ‘younger people’ do not know the correct usage of these servants of grammar. Maybe. It may just be that those younger than a certain age have simply learned to use them differently as the many ways in which we use language has changed. It is probably a woe that has been expressed over and over throughout time.

The truth is I have always loved nearly everything that plays into the formation of writing, of literature, of communicating with the written word. And now for a confession. In the days when English classes included diagraming sentences, this exercise was one of my favorite activities. Drawing those lines and intersecting slashes, using colored pencils to define subject, predicate, verbs, adverbs, adjectives brought me a heady joy. Just writing about it now sends a kind of thrill through me. I know. Geek!

Punctuation is important and can make all the difference in the world if it is misplaced or used incorrectly. One of my favorite examples of this in the spiritual quest comes, not from a theologian, but a performer. Gracie Allen, best known for being married to George Burns, was a vaudeville comedienne and singer/dancer. At some point she is said to have made the statement, Never place a period where God has placed a comma.”

I have no idea in what context Gracie said these words but they have stuck around for decades. The United Church of Christ even used it as a part of one of their ad campaigns at one time. It has always made me smile and wince at the same time. How angry I can get when it seems to me people are throwing periods into faith statements or biblical interpretation causing conversations to grind to a halt! And yet, how easily I often overlook, or refuse to see when I do the same. A period or comma can make all the difference in the world in creating an openness of spirit, a sense of humility, a place where God can speak over the noise of our own thrashings.

So, Happy National Punctuation Day! May all the dots, dashes, slashes and marks you make bring clarity to the intention of your words today and every day.



Not every lake dreams to be an ocean. Blessed are the ones who are happy with whom they are.”
~ Mehmet Murat Ildan

Last week I was blessed once again to be on retreat at one of my favorite places just west of the Twin Cities. Christ the King Retreat Center is situated on Lake Buffalo and all the rooms look out onto this body of water. As I was unpacking my bag and looking out at the lake as I have done so many times, I had a huge ‘ah-ha’ moment. I had never seen this lake in its watery form! I had only ever seen it frozen! It seems I have only been on retreat here in the winter months and had only enjoyed the beauty of this place when ice houses colorfully dotted the frozen surface and snowmobiles turned it into the road less traveled.

I laughed out loud at this thought. And just to punctuate my realization, a pontoon boat slowly made its way before my window, sending lazy ripples on the autumn lake scene. As I opened the window, the solo quack of a duck swimming by added the final note to this unfolding picture. “The water moves!”, I thought. Indeed, it does. In certain seasons. Under specific conditions.

Over my short retreat time there were many lovely moments spent looking at the lake. One of my favorite things to do in this setting is to pull a chair up to the window and have my morning cup of coffee as the sun rises. This particular morning offered up not only the sunrise but a light show of a far-off storm. Light danced in undulating yellow and white puffs across the ever-increasing glow of the morning sky. Someplace, out there, a storm was brewing.

This experience of seeing the lake with new eyes, in a new season, unfrozen became metaphor for me. I wondered at the many times when things in my life have seemed forever frozen, without movement. There have been problems that seemed to never know movement or resolution. Sometimes the systems in which I have lived, worked, functioned, seem frozen in a block of ice that is un-meltable. There have even been some relationships that could not give way to any kind of visible growth. Any of this sound familiar to you?

But then something changes. The season shifts. The climate of feeling or working moves in a particular direction and,before I know it, there is change. What once was solid and unmoving is flowing in new and different ways. All that existed beneath may still be there holding on for dear life but something has shifted and there is movement.

As I walked along the shores of this lake which would not hold people or cars or snowmobiles as I had seen it do so many times before, I thought of all the lives it was touching in different ways. In this form its waters allowed for diving and swimming and floating. The buoyancy that is absent in winter came to life in these summer and fall days. There was a lightness to the life it offered up. What had once been frozen now offered a gentler, more flowing movement.

There are gifts in both the movement of the water and its solid form. The true offering is in recognizing beauty and wonder in both and in remembering that there is a season for these varied lives in both the lake and the living of our own days.

For this reminder, I am grateful.



Hands, God –
Your gift to us.
We stretch them up to You.
Always You hold them.

Your hands,
became a sign
of your love
no time can erase.

Your hands,
which have us
inscribed on their palms,
pour down blessing
on the details of our days.”
~Laurel Bridges

Hands. Have you ever noticed how so many of the important things we do in life depend on our hands? We shake another’s hand as a sign of welcome, of introduction, of promise, of assent. “Let’s shake on it.”we say when an agreement is meant to be a commitment one to the other. We clap our hands to say we enjoyed something, to affirm the words or performance on another. We wave our hands in the air to greet one another or signal our own presence in a crowd. We use our hands in fists of affirmation, anger or rage.

Over the years I have been aware of people’s hands as they come to receive the sacrament of communion. I have often wished I could have photos of the many shapes and sizes of the hands that reach, cupped, to receive the bread, that lift that same bread and dip it into the offered cup. Some hands are rough and calloused from hard work, sun spotted from days spent outside. Some are well manicured with colorful nails, soft and well moisturized. There are hands that look as though they would fit perfectly on the keys of a piano or the neck of a violin. There are tiny hands and enormous hands, gnarled hands and sleek hands. All held out for this meal that has held together the Christian household for centuries.

I remember the feel of my children’s hands in mine. From the first time their tiny, infant hands gripped around my finger, they had my heart in their hand. As they learned to walk, holding onto my hand for support and confidence, they began that slow movement away that every parent hopes for and dreads all at the same time. It has always been so.

The scriptures tell us that we are inscribed on the palms of the hand of God. It is a lovely image, isn’t it? In worship we often sing a Celtic blessing asking that we ‘be held in the hollow of God’s hands.’ As we sing these words, we cup our hands as an image of how we are held. There is comfort in those words, in this gesture. Surely there is also in those words, this action, a blessing of God and of self that could pour down on all the details of all our days.

Be gentle with your hands this day. Care for them. Treat them with love. Use them in kindness and welcome. For someone, they may be the only hand of God another knows. It is an awesome responsibility. It is a powerful gift.


Surrounded by Sea

Peace to the land and all that grows on it.
Peace to the sea and all that swims in it.
Peace to the air and all that flies through it.
Peace to the night and all who sleep in it.”
~ Ray Simpson, Communities of Aidan and Hilda

In May, for my birthday, a friend gave me a book of devotional writings from the Celtic Christian tradition. I have quite a collection of books like this but this particular one was new to me. Each day there are three short pieces of scripture and then a poem, a short paragraph or a prayer. Each day I have tried to spend time with this quite thick book whose pages are filled with images of places I love, places where the heart of my spirit is. Because the theme of pilgrimage is so central to the Celtic tradition, each section has something to say, both through scripture and other texts, about this journey of life of which we are all a part, this life of being a pilgrim.

June’s writings carried a theme of the desert fathers and mothers, those faithful who lived by traveling, always looking for the face of God. July carried the theme of ‘pilgrimage’ and wove the many ways we find ourselves on paths, known and unknown, with those in biblical stories whose lives reflected this traveling life. August used all writings about the Isle of Iona off the coast of Scotland. The writings made my heart sing as I remembered the precious, holy days I spent there three years ago.

Coming into September, I was anxious to see where this little meditation time might take me. I was not disappointed. August’s scripture and readings all deal with the lives of Aidan and Hilda, two saints of the early church who spent some of their days on the amazing land known as Lindisfarne.

This small village in the north of England just near the Scottish Borders is a remarkable place. Pilgrims have traveled there for centuries making their way over land and water depending on the rise and fall of the tides, the pull of the moon. Three years ago as we traveled to this green, lush landscape, we knew we had a certain window of time to make it across the road that would at some point of the day be covered completely with the sea, creating an island for a few hours. There was something magical and mysterious about this phenomenon. And to experience it only made it more so.

As I have been reading the words about Lindisfarne and Aidan, I have been transported back to the day spent there. It was a rainy day, a gray day. And yet as I remember it I am aware only of the warmth. Though my shoes were soaked and even my rain jacket felt heavy with the weight of the atmosphere, my spirit was calm and peaceful. Those we met who lived in this small village spent their days telling the ancient story of the Christian community that grew and flourished there. I remember wondering what it might be like to have this ‘sometimes an island, sometimes not an island’ existence.

Perhaps I remember this time so fondly because I remember how time shifted once the tide came in. No one was going any place. The sheep in the fields about us looked on already knowing this. We who walked upright took longer to realize the gift in this shift in landscape.

Sometimes we all need the tide to come in and create an island where we can dwell for a wee bit of time. Knowing the roads are closed to our going anywhere allows for a deep breath, a sitting still, a watching the world out the window. That particular day I sat with two friends, one I’d known for a long time and the other new to me. We drank tea, we allowed our shoes to dry off, and we talked about things that mattered. Warmth abounded. We could do this because the sea was surrounding us and we had become island dwellers.

Aidan must have known the gift of this place and how it could work on a person. Seems like a perfect place to build a community of pilgrims willing to tell the good news to anyone who might get stranded for a few hours waiting for the road to reappear.


Rascally Spirit

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

Today I am thinking about Life. That is life with a capital ‘L’. I know. It is a big subject for a Friday, for a beginning of a weekend. But yesterday I was privileged to lead a memorial service for one of our saints who lived life in a way that blinked neon, that flashed her force into the world. At 97 years, she continued to squeeze every ounce of enthusiasm out of every day. Even at the times she was caused to slow down or deal with a fall or a health issue, she pushed back to find new ways of doing things, adapting, refusing to give in to the seemingly inevitable path of aging. Surrounded by the many quotes she saved and put into scrapbooks, words that inspired her and kept her mind alert, we were bathed in a wisdom that was humbling. Filled with story after story of her often cantankerous spirit, we laughed at the way in which she reached out and grabbed the world by the neck, often shaking it to its senses. While her body may have been failing her, she had continued to be so vital, so curious, so stubborn, so alive that she refused to let what her body could not do keep her from another opportunity for living. Fully. Wholly. With a capital ‘L’.

As friends and family shared stories of this amazing woman, you could feel the energy in the room lift and begin to vibrate with electricity. I looked around at the faces and saw their own aliveness reflected back. From the oldest to the youngest in the room we all felt the challenge that had been placed before us by this wonderful, small but mighty person. Will each of us follow her example? Will we get up every day, see it for the gift it is, and make the plan to learn something new, read something that challenges us, and give back to the world? Will we?

Throughout the Hebrew and Christian scriptures there are moments when the Spirit’s movement becomes so palpable that people are awakened to a new way of living. Most of the time it is a surprise to those present. The Spirit blows across the darkness of waters creating a world teeming with creatures, plants, life. Moses is doing what he has always done, boring shepherd work, when the Spirit blows through a bush and the fire of living burns into him. Ezekiel looks out over the deadness of his nation and watches the Spirit move among bone and vertebra forming a new body. Mary walks along a path filled with injustice so common it has become her food until the Spirit breathes new life into her welcoming womb causing her to say “Yes!” Saul is blinded by the Spirit and becomes the voice for a fledgling group of followers of the Way of Jesus as he chooses life and the new name of Paul.

The Spirit can be rascally. In fact most of the time it is. And yesterday as I was witness to the memories and the stories of the one whose life we had come to celebrate, I saw that rascally nature writ large on the faces of those present. This woman who was so full of life, who was so challenging and at the same time so inspiring, had been for us all the Spirit in its nudging, invigorating, even sometimes annoying form. That electricity that danced above and among us was the energy of this spirit made manifest.

So today the challenge for me, as I hope it is for those who were a part of yesterday’s memorial, is to choose this day with intention. To choose to live it to its fullest. To learn something new. To read something that challenges me. To tell my story. To live life with a capital ‘L’. It seems the only honorable response to an encounter with this rascally Spirit.

Thanks, Ruth, for the wake up and the not so gentle nudge


Sacred Texts

For most people there are texts they hold as sacred. For those in faith traditions, there are the words that have been handed down through time, stories and accounts of the believers and faithful who honed a path, the ancestors. For some, certain songs are held sacred. Though the tunes may have once been sung by the common folk in common places, words were added, the place they were sung changed and so a sacred song is born. These are all words and strings of words that help point us to the Holy, that help us experience or express our experience of the Divine. Sacred texts.

As someone who makes their home in the Christian household, I certainly hold the words of both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures as sacred. They express for me the ancient and enormous story into which I was born, out of which I have found expression of faith and through which I make meaning of this life of the Spirit. While I may argue with some of the words or even question some others, the majority of the words have made a home in me in ways that continue to illuminate the movement of God.

But over time I have come to hold other texts as sacred also. I have found certain writers both contemporary and past whose words help me articulate my understanding of the Holy. These writers of both fiction and nonfiction help me make sense of the ever-evolving understanding of what it means to be a person of faith. In some memoirs I have read I have seen the Spirit dance between word and paragraph, phrase and sentence. In the telling of the writer’s life I have seen my own and come to know the presence of God in a deeper way.

But it is the poet that most often causes my heart to awaken to the Mystery that walks with me. Particularly in the last years it has been the well chosen, beautiful words of Mary Oliver who have said just what my heart knew but had no words for. Yesterday I looked at the calendar I consult most mornings, a listing of days whose individual squares carry a short thought or quote to carry with me through the day. Yesterday’s square also pointed out that it was Oliver’s birthday. I smiled and felt the warmth of her words, some of which I have tried to etch into my skin like an invisible tattoo.

Tell me, what do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” ” You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles, repenting.” “Who made the world? Who made the swan, and the black bear? Who made the grasshopper?” ” Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting- over and over announcing your place in the family of things.”One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice – though the whole house began to tremble and you felt the old tug at your ankles. ‘Mend my life!’ The voice cried.” “I am a woman of sixty years and glory is my work.”

These words and many others have become sacred text for me. The books that hold them stand on my shelves alongside more ancient words that also illuminate the movement of God in the world, in my life. Like Oliver I often find the Divine in the questions that wriggle under my skin and make a home. She turned some of those questions into a poem, using first the questions followed by her poetic answers, to help give rise to Gratitude: What did you notice? What did you hear? What did you admire? What astonished you? What would you like to see again? What was most tender?What was most wonderful? What did you think was happening? Good questions to carry into any day.

For these questions and the creative and gracious life of Mary Oliver, I am thankful. For how her words have helped me and others experience the presence of God and tell that story in the world, I am humbled. I celebrate her birth and thank her for her sacred texts.


Take It In

Every day, every moment,
you place your hand of blessing
upon the brow of creation.
In your touch, in your words,
everything flowers,
everything remembers
the deep, perfect loveliness within.
The deep, perfect loveliness of you.
~Sam Hamilton Poore

As I was doing my walking meditation through the St. Paul Farmer’s Market on Saturday, a single line from an old hymn flitted through my mind. “I scarce can take it in” sang through my psyche as if it was a thought I had chosen, one I’d meant to think. This was not the case. When I say, ‘walking meditation’, it is because I do have a certain intention to my weekly visits to these three rows of pavement which hold the gifts of earth and toil. My pattern is to walk slowly through each long row, taking an inventory of what is available this week, what has come into season, as I watch the rhythm of seed to harvest unfold before my eyes. I notice the cheerful, always smiling woman who sells previously used quilts and children’s clothing, the only one of her kind at this market. Her name is Joy, an apt and perfect call on the part of her parents for she seems to stand and spread kindness, laughter and a sense of holding the world gently to every passerby.

Down the long aisle, the beautiful faces of some of our largest immigrant population, the Hmong, look out from behind tables overflowing with colorful produce. This week was tomato heaven. The red fruits were piled high on tables, in boxes and baskets, all begging to go home with a lucky buyer to be eaten now or saved for winter soups and stews. The sea of red was interrupted by peppers, green, yellow, red, all shined up and sparkling in the morning sun. Add to this colorful array, the sweet corn peeking from the husks and the melons, peach-colored and juicy, and it was no wonder ‘I scarce can take it in’ was floating through the fog of my morning mind.

Several times I simply needed to stop in my tracks, allow the color and the fullness of life to wash over me. And I still had not purchased one thing! I noticed the change in the bouquets of flowers offered by several stands. The pastels of spring and early summer had been replaced by the brilliant reds, oranges and purples of these waning days. Their impassioned colors spoke of all the life and goodness a season can produce while reminding us of their fleeting wonder.

After making my purchases, I headed home with the phrase still dancing through my mind. ‘I scarce can take it in.’ Throughout the morning I became aware of the gift of this piece of poetry. In the ways in which most of us live, in the pace with which we move from task to task, from often mindless act to mindless act, we often forget to ‘take in’ the wonder around us. And yet it is always there, offering its invitation. This Creation of which we are all a part offers beauty and an intricate weaving of miracle that is often lost in our rush to whatever is next, whatever seems to be pushing its urgency, often false, upon us.

On Saturday, someplace among stacks of purple eggplants and the plethora of tomatoes, the Spirit’s voice spoke to wake me up. “Take it in!” I am grateful for the reminder, for the ear-worm of a song snippet that caused me to be aware of, not only the gifts of farm and farmer, but which also pushed me to try with all my might to take in all the miracle that comes my way every day.

I scarce can take it in. But we all have a lifetime to try.


Autumn Need

Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer’s end. In time’s maze
over fall fields, we name names
that went west from here, names
that rest on graves. We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed’s marrow.
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray,
not for a new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.
~Wendell Berry

It’s happening. If we are awake and aware, we can feel it’s coming. If we allow ourselves an open heart, if we are not moving too quickly or loudly, we can glimpse it just outside our forward vision. Change is all around. This season of warmth we call summer is moving offstage like the aging star it is while making room for the newest ingenue to enter the spotlight: Autumn.

As early as last week, while walking the streets of the State Fair, bathed in sweat in the too hot temperatures, we were startled out of our humid stupors by the sound of geese overhead. Looking up we knew we were a part of the grand production of the turning of the world. Smiles crossed our faces and we knew, even in that moment, that the heat that held us captive would soon subside. In a few days. In a few weeks.

And it did, it has. On my morning walk, more geese dotted the clear, blue skies making their going-south ‘V’ across the expanse of heaven. They could feel the change even before we human ones could and have begun making plans for their own winter vacation. Sights along my path also showed signs of this change. A woman sat on her porch reading a book in the early morning freshness. This porch has been empty in the warm, summer mornings. But she knew. The time for being outside in such a relaxed state will soon be gone. Take advantage of it.

As the grass becomes brittle and golden colored, the trees overhead are showing signs of their own change. A few are starting their own slow descent into brilliance and the fine art of letting go, the gift of this season. Reds, golds, oranges are peeking through reminding us that change is often beautiful, artful, surprising beyond belief.

It is a fine reminder of this ‘ancient faith’ to which we are all baptized. Birth. Life. Death. Rebirth. Over and over again it goes singing its hymn: ‘What we need is here.’ And so we quiet our hearts, we wipe the veil from our eyes, praying not for a new earth or heaven but for the grace and wisdom to be present to the here, the now.

It is all we need.


State Fair

Today marks the beginning of our mental autumn. The majority of children started school today. The rhythm of the school year will soon lull us into a celebration of the weekend that gets lost in the summer heat. Friday nights become special again, something people look forward to all week. The days that seemed to melt into one another in summer find form once fall arrives. Even if their are no children in your house, even if there never has been, we all have that patchwork of the school year etched in us. We know how it feels.

In Minnesota, the beginning of the school year is preceded by the State Fair, a celebration I have long loved. Others feel differently, I know, but for me, it is an experience that is multi-layered, filled with traditions and also surprises every year, that reminds us of our connections to the land and to one another. As I often say,”I’d go every day if I could.”

Recently I read the following words from a speech by Abraham Lincoln delivered at the Wisconsin State Fair in 1859: “Agricultural Fairs are becoming an institution of the country; they are useful in more ways than one; they bring us together, and thereby make us better acquainted, and better friends than we otherwise would be….The man of the highest moral cultivation, in spite of all which abstract principle can do, likes him who he does know, much better than him whom he does not know. To correct the evils, great and small which springs from want of sympathy, and from positive enmity, among strangers, as nations, or as individuals, is one of the highest functions of civilization. To this end our Agricultural Fairs contribute in no small degree. They make more pleasant, and more strong, and more durable, the bond of social and political union among us.”

Of course spending time at the Minnesota State Fair over the last several days caused me to dig out this quote by one of our most beloved presidents. In no way could I ever have said what he did so eloquently but his intention is something I have felt. I spend most of my days, and my weekends, with people just like me. We hold the same values. We think about many of the same things, worry about similar issues, have hopes and dreams that might lead toward the same goal. We have a similar way of being in the world.

But when I go to the Fair I am reminded about all the things in the world about which I know very little. Simple things. Things that, for others, are the stuff of their every day. Take for instance chickens. Looking at the stunning array of poultry, I marveled at their variety. Who knew there were so many? Realizing I did not know what a pullet was, I approached a woman in the poultry barn. Without missing a beat, she was happy to tell me and I went on my merry way.

The same thing happened in the sheep barn. Looking into the pen of a group of sweet, little puffs of black wool, I couldn’t tell if they were babies or just exceptionally small sheep. Cleaning out the stall nearby, a young man, perhaps eleven or twelve years old, allowed me to ask my question. Pointing to another equally wooly black animal nearby, he simply said “When they’re grown they won’t be bigger than that.” His youth taught this older hen something.
At the Fair there are musicians I would not regularly listen to and food I would never think of making.(There are also some I would not think of eating!) But each time I am there I am confronted once again with a swath of humanity I might not encounter in the course of my daily walk. I have the opportunity to rub elbows with both humans and animals that teach and inspire. I am also reminded that we are still, though we often forget, basically an agrarian people. We plant. We reap. We eat. Some of us understand how it works while the rest of us just get carried along for the ride. At the Fair, the classroom has an open door.

Lincoln noticed these important lessons in State Fair experiences. And while I couldn’t have said it as beautifully as he did, I certainly agree.