Thank you all so much for your kind words of encouragement and overflowing support for Pilgrims I Have Been these past few months.
My greatest hope was that by sharing these words, they would be a spark, a point of connection in someone else’s life. I’m so grateful to hear that it has met you where you are, and connected to your own experience in some way.
I’m also excited to announce that several of the poems in Pilgrims have been selected by the Oregon Poetry Association to appear in their next anthology! I look forward to sharing several other places these poems will go in the coming months.
As we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States, my prayer for us are these lines from “Table in the Wilderness”:
This is the time of year to be thinking – and writing – about gratitude. But instead, I find myself thinking about limits.
Every day, we run into them: limits of our physical body, our emotional reserves, and our time; limits on our perspective on the world based on the life we’ve lived; limits based on where we have been born in place and history. Limits imposed on us outwardly, or limits we keep trying to outrun that come from within. Whether we must accept limits that feel isolating and debilitating, or we simply get overwhelmed by the demands of a full life, all of us feel constrained by the limits of time, personality, or place. We long at once to be everywhere and here, experienced in all things yet an expert in a few, having more and having less.
Not until we realize that this hunger in us is a seed of eternity will we plant it deep into the soil of our finite limits, and let it grow. Continue reading →
I’ve been covertly writing poetry all my life, but lately it has become an important spiritual practice for me. I call it the Practice of Paying Attention. Not only has this practice been incredibly healing, but it’s awakening a part of myself I’ve always been a bit reluctant to share with the world – the part of me that delights in beauty and mystery.
The poet Paul Murray speaks of the moment as “the place of pilgrimage to which I am a pilgrim.” When I think about how I want to live my life, the word that always comes to mind is as a pilgrim, in the most ancient sense of the word.
To live as a pilgrim is to live simply, purposefully, and expectantly. To have a clear destination in mind, but to take what comes day by day. It is cultivating the art of paying attention to the fullness of the life around us.
Every moment is transparent with possibility. Each person we meet is a fellow-traveler with a story to tell. The question is: Can we remain open to being changed?
The more I’ve thought about what I wanted this 28th year of my life to be about, the more I keep coming back to this. And so, I’m taking a deep breath and “going scared” and inviting you to journey along with me. I’m calling it the Pilgrimage Poetry Project. For the next year I’ll be writing poetry following the ancient Church calendar and seeking to find God in the moments of every day. Afterwards, I plan to publish a small collection of poetry and art (eek!). It would be a delight to have you journey with me on Instagram, Facebook, and right here.
Originally I thought I should wait and begin the project at Advent, the official beginning of the Church calendar. But then I thought – if this is all about finding God in the ordinary, then what better time to begin than Ordinary Time?
In that vein, I’d like to begin by sharing my first poem with you. My hope and prayer is that this project will help us all to practice the art of paying attention to our lives and find God present there.
As the evenings get darker and the calendar flips to December, I’ve been thinking about the past year and all it has held for us. What words do I want to end the year with? What words do I want to hold on to into the new year?
This has been a year of many new beginnings and some endings, many moments of joy and some of grief, and in the midst of all of it, grace. Sometimes grace found me like a splash of cold water across the face, but sometimes in was the small shadow creeping up from behind, surprising me softly. Mostly I have found it in the quiet, glad moments that are hard to describe in any other way than a deep welling up of gratefulness.
What has been most surprising about this year is the way it has been exactly and yet nothing at all like I expected. I saw this as a year of growth and it has certainly been so. Yet the word I chose for this year was “beauty,” and this beauty has turned out to mostly come from places I wasn’t even looking for it. Continue reading →
One thing I’ve learned about myself over the years is how highly I value the simple act of being present. This is especially true in relationships – nothing brings me greater joy than sitting down with someone to enjoy a meal, a beautiful view, or a cup of tea. As our circle of friends and family has continued to expand around the world, I (and my husband) have tried to make the time and space to visit them. There’s probably nothing we love more than learning from people in different places, cultures, and backgrounds.
So when a cousin of mine married a gal from Sweden last year, we knew we wanted to make every effort to visit them. Very long story short, I also have a lot of family in the Midwest I don’t get to see very often, and it turns out they wanted to visit them too. And the Great Cousin Adventure was born!
Lots of dear friends have been asking me what my biggest takeaways are from my time in Africa. In response, I feel lost for words, only able to come up with, “It just felt so..well…normal, and such an honor to be there.”
My fifteen year old self would have come away saying something like, “After seeing people with so little, I realized how blessed I truly am.” But this time, I thought back to the people I met who were rich in love, who knew how to laugh at themselves and stand tall with dignity, who were creative and kind and resourceful, and I just thought, “I wish you could meet them too.” Continue reading →
Recently I’ve been considering what it means that we are not only beings that think, but desire. It seemed appropriate during this season of Lent to meditate on what it means to hunger, in the deepest sense of the word. And now, on Maundy Thursday, I think it is only appropriate for us to meditate on Christ’s final meal with his disciples–the Eucharist, and what it reveals about the point of all our hunger.
Alexander Schmemann notes, “In the biblical story of creation man is presented first of all, as a hungry being…and this image of the banquet remains throughout the whole Bible, the central image of life.” Continue reading →
To those who are familiar with the Enneagram, I basically just told you all my dirty secrets. Although the Enneagram is considered an ancient personality typing method (making a trendy comeback), I would consider it more of a rigorous soul assessment. It has forced me to confront everything lurking in my heart: hopes, dreams, fears–both what I would die for and what I would die to avoid.
And, as much as I’ve tried to run from it, I am a two.
I had a great time reminiscing this week on all the books that have been a part of 2017. Some were fun, some were deep, and others completely over my head. Here is my top ten (er, eleven) books of the year!