photograph by Jeremy Parker

When I first saw this photo, I almost missed the tiny, solitary figure of my 11 year old granddaughter standing still to gaze at the beauty of this mountain lake in Nevada. She and her sister hiked here with their Daddy, my son. They fished for trout in the clear cold water. I am thrilled to see that Maddie also stood still and experienced the wonder of tall reaching evergreens, and glistening lake with its ripples and reflections. I like to think about the beauty she experienced here, the sounds and fragrance of the woods. I have seen her Dad stand still and wonder, too.  I believe moments like this do come suddenly, as glimpses, when we turn a corner. I am thankful I can experience this with her, prompted  by a photo, felt deeply in my heart.

We are all strangers in a strange land, longing for home, but not quite knowing what or where home is. We glimpse it sometimes in our dreams, or as we turn a corner, and suddenly there is a strange, sweet familiarity that vanishes almost as soon as it comes… –Madeleine L’Engle, from The Rock That Is Higher



sit in dark stillness

light one candle

quickening as flame swells

Veni, veni, Emanuel


hold a little one high to see

starlights and manger scenes

join her awe and wonder

take joy in her ohs and ahs

sing Silent NIght for a lullaby


greet the leapings of your weary heart

welcome stinging tears

images of all Christmases past

while wrapping yourself in present gifts

attend to the stirrings of God.




Matter of the Heart


Last month I opened my small 2015 calendar book and began entering appointments and commitments already made.  I like that part of beginning a new year with fresh calendar pages. It is popular now to do this calendar recording on phones and other electronic devices, but I like handwriting little reminders of place and time. By the first week of
February, I already had a number of dates marked with plans leading up to Lent and Easter, a happy time and typically a very busy time for our family.

And then, a week ago, I ruptured an Achillles tendon and began the changes which would clear almost everything already on the calendar and replace commitments for choir and handbells and meetings with appointments for doctors, an MRI, and surgery. I was not only in severe pain, but crestfallen, disappointed.  Of course I did not welcome this interrruption and the extra work it creates for my husband and our busy family, but I realized that I was not only reacting to the physical discomfort and  limitation, I needed some heart work. The weeks ahead of surgery and limited mobility closely parallel the weeks of Lent, Perhaps I could consider this time of being still and healing in that light.

At the suggestion of my friend and pastor, I have registered for an online Lenten retreat which begins a few days after my repair surgery which considers the questions: Why am I here? What is mine to do? Who am I called to be? And what can I contribute and offer to the world?   It is a matter of the heart. I have put it on my calendar.

If you should be interested in learning more:


Standing Still in the Light

  • IMG_1514The first step to peace is to stand still in the light. ~ George Fox


There is a hush in the house that is different in quality this morning, after yesterday’s gathering for Christmas Day.  Before I go back to the kitchen to finish cleanup from our festive meal, before I make a grocery list to ready for our other children and grandchildren who arrive this week, even before I sit down at the piano to enjoy playing the old carols again just for Joe and me, I claim moments  of this quiet to sit in the dark with only the twinkling tree lights and be still.  I hear again in my mind the words of the song often heard sung around the world at this time of year. “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.?



Saving Word Seeds


Magnolia seeds are covered with a red waxy coat.  Birds love them, but propagation of the tree from seed is difficult because of the process of extracting the seeds and preserving them. A row of Magnolia trees grew along the edge of the schoolyard that adjoined the yard of the house where I grew up. As a little girl I admired the beauty and fragrance of their blooms and played with the glossy leaves and  brown suede cones, delighting in those red-coated seeds. There were always so many, and more would come the following year. I never thought to ask why there were no trees that sprouted from all those seeds.

In a similar fashion, we are surrounded by words as Advent begins and the calendar counts down to Christmas. Beyond the noise urging us to commercialize and socialize and make our list of things to do, there are words that can help us to be quiet and still, to reflect, to simply be.  It is these words I would like to extract and preserve as Advent begins.











hear November whisper and sing

rain drops and ball moss cling

morning light holds onto night

a few brown leaves hang on tight

I linger like these  and pray

reluctant to busy my day

yet still, yet silent



IMG_1939 (2)











As If


“I who am blind can give one hint to those who see: Use your eyes as if tomorrow you ~would be stricken blind. And the same method can be applied to the other senses. Hear the music of voices, the song of a bird, the mighty strains of an orchestra, as if you would be stricken deaf tomorrow. Touch each object as if tomorrow your tactile sense would fail. Smell the perfume of flowers, taste with relish each morsel, as if tomorrow you could never smell and taste again. Make the most of every sense; glory in the beauty which the world in all the facets of pleasure reveals to you through the several means of contact which Nature provides.”   .~ Helen Keller

The commonly believed myth regarding the loss of hearing or sight is false.  People who are blind or visually impaired are not endowed with a sharper sense of touch, hearing, taste, or smell. To compensate for their loss of vision, many learn to listen more carefully, or remember without taking notes, or increase directional acumen to compensate for their  lack of functional vision. In other words, they pay more attention, using their senses in a more mindful way.  They make choices.

If I am never silent, if I surround myself with the noise of machines and electronic entertainment constantly, I will most likely never hear birdsong or water trickling over rocks. I have the choice to “unplug,”  go outside for even a brief walk in the garden and make the most of my senses, to “relish”, as Helen Keller phrases.

What are some of the ways you practice this?




Taking the Day Off


Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word.
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.

The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.

But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.

Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.

~ Mary Oliver, “Today” from, ‘A Thousand Mornings’