What Matters

Sometimes we need a wake up call…a moment when it becomes clear what matters, what is true, what binds us together as humans. In all the ways our last days and months have floated along the surface of roiling waters, words and pronouncements flying toward us so furiously that we are in a constant state of upheaval and confusion, it is so good to have at least a moment of reminding. Here. Look at this. Stay focused on that. Breathe. Deeply.

I had just such a moment on Saturday morning. It was a moment that extended into several minutes and held me in the rest of the way the day unfolded. I made my first trip of the year to the St. Paul Farmers Market. The colder, wetter weather and some weekend commitments had prevented it until Saturday. Parking a distance away, I began to see people, bags empty, walking in metered anticipation toward the rows of trucks and tables lining the street. There was a lightness in their step fueled by the Sun’s warm and glorious rays and the sweet smell of trees blooming along the boulevard.

Arriving at the market itself, I stopped and allowed the sights of both merchants and buyers moving to and fro to wash over me. I looked for the familiar…there were the ‘chicken sisters’, as I think of them, selling their organic eggs and various forms of popular poultry. There was the dear one named ‘Joy’ who sells gently used quilts, rag rugs and clothing, throwing her head back in the laughter that mirrors her name. There was the Hmong farmer whose lined and lovely face and dancing eyes always looks you square on as he hands you the veggies in season for that week. And standing near by, the maple syrup maker in his signature bib-overalls looking like an ad luring Scandinavians who might think of moving to Minnesota, beamed his seemingly ever-present smile. Ahh…yes. All this. Steady. Constant. True.

Walking among the rows of tables filled with early produce…rhubarb, asparagus, radishes…and other veggies that have been grown in greenhouses, I felt my shoulders relax and my breathing deepen. It was a walking meditation of sorts. I caught the eye of certain farmers filled with the hope and promise of what is yet to be in this early season. I watched as vendor and customer greeted one another with hugs of recognition happy to see that both had survived yet another winter. They had easily fallen into another season and it was unfolding for my very eyes. Periodically, I stopped and drank in the color of flowers destined for decks and yards and porches. An awesome array of brilliance and bounty! Children gawked from strollers as their adults traded money for the sugary donut treat of a Saturday morning.

“What a wonderful world!”, I thought. And how easily I forget and believe only in the steady stream of the negative always in abundant supply. Yet, here it was. So much of what is right, of what matters, was shining everywhere around me like fireworks after a 4th of July picnic. The promise of seed teamed with soil and sun, water and hard work sparkled…food full of sacrifice and lusciousness. Gifts of Creation and Creator.  People connecting, hands clasping, arms reaching out, sharing what people need to fuel body and soul. The simplicity of humanity coming together in the beauty of a spring morning, being present to one another and the gift of the day. All the arguments, harsh words, threats and fears, real or imagined, paled in the magnitude of this scene, this experience. Confronted with much of what really matters, the preoccupation with the tight-fisted nature of the past week seemed a waste of precious energy, precious life.

Headed back to my car, my bag full of beautiful food and my heart full of hope, I thought of Mary Oliver’s “Instructions for Living a Life:  Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” It seemed to make so much more sense than anything I had heard all week.

I am glad I allowed myself the gift of paying attention. I am humbled by the astonishment. And I am privileged to tell about it.

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On Easter Sunday, at our Sunrise service, we read the powerful story from Ezekiel as well as the traditional story from the Christian scriptures. The truth is the Bible is filled with resurrection stories. When we come to this important celebration of Easter, we can sometimes pretend as if the account of the resurrection story of Jesus we read from one of the gospels is the only one.  But the Hebrew people held this visual, dramatic and wonderful story of the valley filled with dry, dead bones as a central image of hope for a scattered and desolate people…a central image of resurrection. It is a fabulous tale conjuring up all the wildness of myth and science fiction and wonder that stays with a person, and has, for literally thousands of years. It stays with us in part because it is so visual. Bones laying in dust.The  Voice calling across the dry land. Femur and backbone and elbow all coming together to form an army of beings or a dance troupe of upright skeletons. Then the sinew forming and the muscles clothing the bones. Can’t you just imagine it? It is the stuff of great movies.and a story to inspire and transform.

And there is the constant question: Can these bones live? CAN THESE BONES LIVE?  This is God’s voice challenging Ezekiel. To imagination.To action. To hope. Hope that the Spirit will do what the Spirit, the breath, the RUACH does, and has always done since the beginning of Creation. “BREATHE!”, says the Voice. “BREATHE!” “Breathe life into what was dead in this direction. Breathe life into what seemed impossible in that direction/ Breathe life into what looked beyond any sign of ever knowing life again right here in this time, in this place.”

This story of resurrection has withstood time because it is our story and the story of all who have come before us and all who are likely to come after. This story of resurrection continues to be told because it is the fuel of every hope we have. What was, what is dead, lifeless, hopeless, desolate comes to life once again.

Perhaps, it feels to some that it is a message that is needed now more than ever. I wonder if others, throughout time have felt the same. For this is a story that calls us from every direction to come together as the broken, dried up, hopeless people we can become and to stand upright.These are the words that urge us to call upon God’s Spirit to Breathe life into us. To put flesh and muscle on our skeletons and to send us into the world as God’s creative, imaginative, makers of mercy and justice and peace. This story of dry bones and hope dried up tells of the resurrection that comes again and again to those who call upon God’s life giving Breath to BREATHE….BREATHE…BREATHE….when the world seems harsh and difficult and even impossible. It is the resurrection that opens our hardened hearts and allows green to spring from bulbs long buried. It is nothing less than the rebirth of HOPE…that gift that always propels us toward new life…

Artist and poet Jan Richardson offers this blessing for this kind of hope..

So may we know
the hope
that is not just
for someday
but for this day –

here, now,
in this moment
that opens to us:

hope not made
of wishes
but of substance,

hope made of sinew
and muscle
and bone,

hope that has breath
and a beating heart,
hope that will not
keep quiet
and be polite,

hope that knows
how to holler
when it is called for,

hope that knows
how to sing
when there seems
little cause,

hope that raises us
from the dead-
not someday
but this day,
every day,
again and
again and
again.

***I was asked to share these words that I spoke at the Sunrise service and so here they are!

Thirsty People

We are a thirsty people. I was reminded of it this week when we gathered around a beautiful labyrinth painted to resemble a beach and the water that lapped against it and on it. We gathered, a thirsty people, to pray for those around the world who live with a scarcity of water. Or water that stands stagnant and poison. Or water that is laced with chemicals too dangerous for children or other living things. Or water that must be carried for long distances in fragile and fractured vessels by women whose work is already heavy and thankless.

I was reminded of the thirst we humans share when I prayed this prayer written by Edward Hoyt, CRS:

And was we gaze upon this land that so thirsts for your water
Let it remind us of all the thirsts of the world:
The thirst for justice
The thirst for peace
The thirst for opportunity
The thirst for reconciliation
The thirst for hope.

So many thirsty longings. We know that our bodies can live quite a long time without food. Though hungry, our bodies will continue to feed off itself as muscle and fat wastes away. But we perish without water…that element that makes up the largest part of who we are. Our thirst is what can be our undoing.

I am thinking now of the children of Flint, Michigan and all the other places where literal water has been harmful to the growth and future of those who call it home. I am thinking about all the children who are thirsty for nurturing words, kind touch, affirming actions. I am thinking of the wise ones, old with years, who ache for companionship, who suffer the dehydration of loneliness. I am thinking about all those who are thirsty for another chance to prove their worth, to show what they can do, to offer their gifts. I am thinking of all those who thirst to be seen, to be heard, to be known.

We are a thirsty people. Our thirsts run deep and our connections are often frayed. But I believe we harbor within a cup of compassion that is held out to us by the One who breathed us all into being, the One who longs to quench thirst and bring life.

And when your blessings rain from the sky
As assuredly they will
And we kneel again at the pools and fountains
Teach us to cup our hands
And gently,
gracefully,
in solidarity
Turn first, and share with one another.

May it be so. May it be so.

Earth…Ashes…Time

On Wednesday I joined with countless other people who make their faith home in the Christian household in receiving ashes on my forehead for Ash Wednesday. With this we the began the season of Lent. It is not a practice I was raised with in my Protestant, Baptist-influenced United Methodist Church in Ohio. I probably had not seen evidence of the black smudges until I went to college. It was there that I observed certain members of my community, in classes and in the dorm, walking around for a full day with what seemed a dirty face. Curious, I learned what it was and maybe even why it was. But it still had little meaning to me. It did not seem to include me in its visual sign of being a part of the faithful.

Over the years, many outside the Roman Catholic tradition have embraced this practice and now in most protestant churches the beginning of the forty days of Lent begin with some kind of service of ashes. It has become one of my favorite services of the church year. It is tactile. It is earthy. It is rife with truth and deep in emotion. It gets to the grit of what it means to be a spiritual being having a bodily experience.

“From the earth you have come…and to the earth you will return. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” The only other time we hear these words, the only other time I say them is at the graveside of a dear one who has made the fullness of their journey. Birth. Life. Death. Rebirth. Looking into the eyes of someone fully alive, standing right in front of you, breathing, and saying these words is powerful beyond measure. Fingers laced with the black of ashes created by the palms of last year’s palm fronds, I touch the sometimes furrowed, often shiny, soft, weathered, sensitive skin of another. The mark from my finger stays on the face of one who is also God’s Face in the world. It stays with me for the days that follow.

Before receiving the ashes, we all are reminded through scripture, song, prayer and confessing words, that over the last year, since last Lent, we have fallen short of God’s original blessing in us, the blessing God speaks over Jesus at his baptism and at the birth of each of us: “You are my beloved…I take great pleasure in you.” Since last year we, each of us, has known brokenness, been hurtful, excluded, shamed, oppressed, maimed the spirit of another blessed creature of the One who breathed us all into being. Ash Wednesday gives us the time to fess up, make amends, and remember that our lives are finite. In that, we pray, we hope, we intend to live more fully, more gently, more kindly, more lovingly, after the example of our brother Jesus.

Doing the work that I do, privileged and blessed work, I am aware of that finite nature. The cycle of birth, life, and death does not always come at an age that is full in years. We know this. We try to forget. We want to believe that we have all the time in the world. And then we think of all those we know who did not, who do not. The practice of receiving ashes can be a reminder, if we let it, that we are all on an uncertain journey of time but one that can return us again and again to the Holy, the One who meets us face to face, touches us gently and asks that we live fully now. Now.

Jan L. Richardson, artist and poet ends a poem blessing for Ash Wednesday in this way:

……..This is the moment
we ask for the blessing
that lives within
the ancient ashes,
that makes its home
inside the soil of
this sacred earth.

So let us be marked
not for sorrow.
And let us be marked
not for shame.
Let us be marked
not for false humility
or for thinking
we are less
than we are
but for claiming
what God can do
within the dust,
within the dirt,
within the stuff
of which the world
is made,
and the stars that blaze
in our bones,
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge
we bear.

And to this I simply say, amen.

Loss of Words

Like many people, the last several months have left me at a loss for words. While our airwaves are filled with more syllables than most normal humans can process in a day, I have been rendered somewhat mute by the state of our nation and our world. This lack has carried over into my ability to write in this space or nearly any other. The fact of the matter is, with my Mother’s voice not far from my consciousness “If you can’t something nice, don’t say anything at all.”, I have been unable to speak or write anything at all. The inability to find the right words, the best words, the kind words, the balanced words,the sensible words, has been a constant, silent companion.

Perhaps this has not been the worst thing. Over and over again in my life I have been, as most people have, in the presence of people who speak without thinking, whose opinions fly quickly from their lips,often to their own embarrassment or even peril. Those who allow their mouths to move without a measured thought process can often cause more harm than good. I would like to believe that, at least in the last several months, I have not been among them. If I have, I apologize and hope that any words I have said have not been harmful to anyone’s spirit.

The other side of this coin is that words are important to me. I love them. I love to use them. This place of silence or of silencing myself has come at a cost. And so, as we enter the season those in the Christian household call Lent, I am making my way back to words. I believe it will be a slow process and one I will not take lightly. At least, I hope not. My hope is that I will walk these days measuring my words with wisdom and care. Lent, after all, is meant to remind us of the counter-cultural lifestyle we are called to live after the example of Jesus. A man of measured words. A man of kindness and well chosen stories. A man who knew the power of silence and the practice of prayer.

This walk back into words actually came through a phrase I heard yesterday on a radio broadcast, a phrase that points toward a wordless act. I heard the story of a nun whose work was ‘the prayer of the loving gaze.’ This sister of an unnamed religious order, when at a loss for words in her prayer life, practiced focusing her eyes with love toward what was right in front of her. Another sister. The stranger on the bus. A flower blooming in a frigid winter. The sunrise. The sunset. All those whose faces and lives passed through her ordinary day. She fixed her gaze with love on the fullness of Creation, one view at a time. No words necessary. Only a full bodied presence and an open heart.

For some reason, the seeming ease of this lived prayer opened my heart and my mouth to words again. And for that I am grateful. This nameless, faithful sister’s practice offered itself to me and gave me a way of traveling into not only these days of Lent but into these often harsh days in which we live. Perhaps the words will continue to be difficult. And when they are, I will turn to the ‘prayer of the loving gaze.’ My sense is it might be what will help me be faithful…to the beauty, the terror, the gift, the grace, the challenge, and the Presence of the One who holds it all.

And so Lent begins….

Horrible & Wonderful

A few weeks ago I met a friend for coffee at one of my favorite haunts on St. Paul’s Eastside. It is a cozy place that always displays local artist’s work on the walls and up a sunny staircase. I settled in with my cup of strong coffee and one of their signature spice cookies with brown-butter icing and began taking in the paintings that lined the equally buttery colored walls. Most were shadowy prints of people…probably musicians I know nothing about. But one painting grabbed my attention and I had to snap a photo of it…for its truth and its confrontation.

“We are all horrible & wonderful & figuring it out.” I thought of the truth of that statement and how I most often want it to be one or the other. We live, particularly in these days, in  a world that draws stark black and white, either-or, dualistic pictures of our fellow humans. Being horrible usually means those who don’t agree with my way of seeing things, my way of being in the world. Being wonderful means, of course, all those folks who see the world with a lens pretty similar to my own. Walking the balance of this tightrope is a constant battle.

While I may argue with the notion of being horrible, I have certainly done horrible things and will likely do many more before I leave this Earth. I wish it weren’t so. All humans have done horrible acts. As one who holds with the idea that each of us is created in the image of the Sacred, I lean toward the idea of being wonderful. And that shade of wonderful is a gift to everyone…even those who have a drastically different take of what Creation holds than I do. It is humbling.

But the part of this piece of artwork that is most compelling to me is the “ & figuring it out” piece. Every day is an act and an art of ‘figuring it out’, isn’t it? Every day I get up and am confronted once again with the myriad choices of horrible and wonderful. It becomes the breakfast cereal of dailiness…horrible? wonderful? And sometimes the fine line between those two carry shadows that make choice perplexing.

This morning I read the teaching of Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn: “I take one breath to let go, one breath to be here, one breath to ask now what?” It seems to me this is our daily work as those who are both horrible & wonderful & figuring it out. Breathe in..let go what might be nudging us toward horrible. Breathe…be here and embrace the wonderful in us and in the world. Breathe…as we figure out the ‘now what’? Over and over and over.

Each day is another opportunity to figure it out. The energy and presence we bring to the world is our chance to shine forth the wonderful image of the Holy in which we were all created. It will, I believe, take much deep breathing.

Ready, set, go….

 

New Year

Another year, come and gone. It is a year that has known highs and lows…like all years. It is a year that has seen beauty and tragedy…like all years. It is a year that has seen moments of peace and deep divide…like all years. It is a year when love has been strong and hate an unwelcome companion…like all years. We have seen births that have brought joy and deaths that have ripped at our hearts. Illness has visited. Inspiration has triumphed. Creativity has blossomed. Failure has cut us to the quick. Despair and delight have been our dance partners.

And now we stand at the cusp of another year. Resolutions have been made. Goals have been set. Regrets have been named, forgiveness is within our reach. Hopes are ever present as they always are when the page on the calendar is turned and its newness, its blank canvas is before us. And while the numbering of days and the shift of the year is in some ways artificial, created for order from our human need, there is something about the turn of New Year. It spells another chance to become the fullness of who we believe ourselves capable of being.

As I have looked ahead to this new year with some trepidation, I have thought of a very short two verse poem written by Coleman Barks that made its way into a collection of poetry compiled for the turn of the millennium. Remember that? The power and promise of the year 2000!  Barks writes: “A child stood on his seat in a restaurant, holding the railing of the chairback, as though to address a courtroom, ‘Nobody knows what’s going to happen next.’ Then his turning-slide back down to his food, relieved and proud to say the truth, as were we to hear it.”

I remember the first time I read this, I laughed out loud…at the wisdom and audacity of the child…as I imagined the people in the restaurant’s reactions…as I imagined what my own might have been. But each time I read these words, I am struck again by their truth. “Nobody knows what’s going to happen next.” We may plan. We may hope. We may speculate. We may wring our hands and drop to our knees in fear or prayer or both. What will happen next still eludes us, is often outside our ability to shape it.

There is a deep sense of uncertainty that abounds as we enter this new year. Perhaps it is an uncertainty that many of us have never felt so profoundly. And still the truth is that we do not know what is going to happen next. And yet, as I have shared in the uncertainty and even given in to anxiety, the one thing that prevails for me is that I believe the Holy is in the midst of it all. I continue to believe that the Universe tilts toward goodness and that light is always stronger than any darkness that threatens.

And so I step into 2017 knowing little about what will happen next but confident of the One who breathed us all into being and walks with us through uncertainty each and every day and onward into eternity.

Blessed New Year to you all….

Window Boxes

More than 30 years ago now, I was traveling through Europe with a friend and we visited the concentration camps at Dachau. To say it was a profound experience is, of course, an understatement. To see the words”Those who forget the past are destined to repeat it.” still rings in my ears. To walk those paved pathways that had carried such hate, such despair, such evil put into perspective for this usually upbeat person, the sheer cruelty and terror we humans can visit on others. I can still feel the power of it if I allow myself.

But the image that probably made an impression on me most were the sweet, cottages that lined the streets just outside the gates to that place of terror. Houses, like a gingerbread village, lined the street in their neat, precise German way. The lace curtains had different patterns but created a fluid wave of sweetness and simplicity. Outside each window, boxes of geraniums bloomed their color into the grayness that seemed to linger still over this place. I remember thinking,”How could these people live so close and not know what was going on?” This was the naive thinking of a twenty-something.

For some reason, I woke this day with the images of those window boxes in my mind. Our geraniums are still blooming outside our kitchen window, a sign of a summer that has overstayed its welcome. I thought of the lens I have on the world and how that lens has perhaps not allowed me to see a wider world that has existed outside my own vision. A world that has allowed hate, sexism, racism, xenophobia, and a myriad other phobias and isms to fester and boil. It feels as if I woke up in a completely different country which, of course, is not true. It is simply a world that now has revealed a darker, more frightening face than I had the ability to see from my lace-curtained windows.

It is too early to know what I will do about it, how I will be in it. For now I have to rest in the grief and sadness.  My daily calendar wisdom had this to offer from mystic Meister Eckhart: “God is at home. We are in the far country.” Today I need to know that God is indeed at home and that I can find my way back to that cottage that perhaps has always sat just outside the walls of despair and destruction. I need to believe that as a country we can find our way back to a home that is filled with a goodness and hope that transcends time and situation.

How can I possibly know what was going on behind the doors of those houses that existed so close to the gates of evil? How do I not know that those who lived there were not doing all manner of things to help those being led to their death? Can I imagine that those people in the gingerbread houses planted those flowers so one of the last things the lines of people saw was beauty? Perhaps they were doing all manner of good.

Those are some of the questions I hold that connect with the image that floated up this morning from some deep memory. There are so many other questions to hold that will lead me… and many others…into this day, this week, this year and the next four. May we have the courage and faith to hold them wisely and with compassion remembering that….God is home…it is we who have walked far, far away.

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Training Wheels

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Yesterday I received one of those ominous screen messages that my ‘storage was almost full’. This is always a troubling thing because I don’t know exactly what to do and I have a hunch that, whatever it is, would eat up enormous amounts of time as most computer related fixes do. But someone told me that when this happens that getting rid of photos and videos I have snapped in the moment and that now sit there for posterity is a good way to ‘free up storage space’. This process, too, can lead a person down the rabbit hole but I gave it my best shot.
While I was clicking and deleting I came across a photo I had taken sometime this summer outside our neighborhood coffee shop. I had walked into the shop to get my morning cup of joe and as I left noticed a pair of training wheels for a child’s bike abandoned on the colorful bench by the door. I stopped and laughed as my mind began to create the story of what had happened that led to their being chucked at this particular spot.

Had some parent convinced a child that now, now, was the moment and removed them? Had the rider of the tiny bike been inspired with the confidence they needed to ride on into the day using only two wheels? How did it go? What kind of wobbly action had been executed on that busy sidewalk?

It led me to remember when our oldest son, a pretty busy, daring lad, had wanted to have his training wheels removed. Our neighbor was on hand and was armed with whatever tool is needed to remove said wheels. His own son, less busy and less daring than our own, was also present. As the neighbor began to remove the training wheels from our son’s bike, he did so from his son’s as well. His logic was that if one wanted to do this, they both should. It would save time and energy in the long run. In the end, it all worked out and both boys moved on with a notch of freedom on their belts that they hadn’t had the day before. For those two lads it was only the first notch of many toward freedom that they made together.

Training wheels. Whether riding bikes or just walking in the world, we have visible and invisible training wheels that help us keep some balance when we are yet unable to execute the real movement of a particular task. Training wheels keep us safe and build our confidence. Training wheels can help us trust our bodies and our minds to work together. Training wheels provide a stepping stone that moves us forward to something we had only imagined possible.

I don’t know about you but there are places in my life where I feel as if I am still using my training wheels. I am still using training wheels when it comes to compassion…kindness…gentleness…toward others and myself. It seems to me that as a culture we are still making the fits and starts that require training wheels when it comes to acts and lives of justice in our world. I know people who have taken off their training wheels and are able to ride fully into all these but I am not one of them. Perhaps you are not either.

Pablo Picasso once said “Everything you can imagine is real.” When our son was riding his bike with training wheels, I am certain he imagined what it would feel like, how he would look once he had graduated to a two wheeler. His imagination gave him the courage to ask for the training wheels to be removed. As I continue to imagine what living a life of greater compassion, kindness and gentleness feels like and how I would look doing this I am buoyed to begin taking off the training wheels and rushing headlong into this fuller life I can imagine. Everything I can imagine is real.

Today, we may each need training wheels. But tomorrow…who knows? We may be ready to get whatever tool is needed and abandon the illusion of dependence and find our own balance…for our own healing and the healing of the world.

Soul Speed

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Several weeks ago now I was blessed to hear singer/songwriter Carrie Newcomer in concert. Since the first time I heard her I have been enthralled with her ability to put words together that speak beauty and power while calling the listener to a deeper understanding of self and how we move in the world. Since the concert I have bathed myself in her music and it was while doing this that I came across a line that has been haunting me. Tucked in among images rich and varied, she sings this confession: “I’m traveling faster than my soul can go.
Those words pulled me up short. ‘I’m traveling faster than my soul can go.’ Several times since rehearing these words…because I am certain I had heard the song before and was perhaps traveling too fast to really hear…I find this line flitting through my brain, an ear worm of sorts.As ear worms go, there could certainly be worse ones. And as confessions go, I know its intention rings true for me.

Soul. In circles in which I travel the word ‘soul’ can get bandied about fairly capriciously. Yet, I wonder, if we ever really are sure what we mean by it. Webster’ says it this way: Soul…the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal. Stated that way, we are talking about something pretty important to be found speeding away from. 

It may seem crazy but I have often thought of ‘soul’ as the great umbilical cord in which I am connected to the Creator. Soul is the place of nourishment, the connector that reminds me that I am an embodiment of holy stuff, sacred stardust, have been from the beginning and will always be. So, again, not something to be moving so quickly past that I am lured into forgetting this connection. 

Speed is the great distraction from so many important things, isn’t it? I don’t think I am alone in moving headlong into the speed of what needs to be done, accomplished, said, felt, heard nearly every day, from the moment my feet hit the floor in the morning. We speed through meals, conversations, decisions, meetings, on the freeway. We wear the ‘I’m so busy’ statement as a badge of honor, a sign of just how important we believe we are.

And what about our souls in the process? What gets lost? What gets damaged? What is forgotten or neglected? And what happens to a culture when a group of people collectively move about ‘faster than their souls can go’? Where will it take us? Where has it taken us?

Yesterday, I was blessed to hold a little one new to the world. Two months old and already looking into my eyes with questioning and a wisdom he brought with him. Holding him in that swaying movement we all revert to with an infant in our arms, I felt his soul and my soul resting together, connecting to our breathing, and the very Breath that holds us both and will always do so, no matter what. For one whole hour I was traveling at the speed of my own soul through the gift of his presence. When the visit came to a close, gently kissing his sweet, baby-smelling head I walked back out into the world in a different place from the rushed entrance I made into his home. My life had caught up with my soul. I had caught up with my soul. 

The poet Anne Sexton, who struggled with depression and so much darkness, said “Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.” That kind of deep listening can’t happen at high speeds. It most often is best done while sitting still, staring into the middle distance looking at a scene of something we love and cherish. Like a lake or a mountain or the face of someone we love…especially the face of a baby.