Archives for the month of: January, 2015


Outside on this mid-winter day the snow has an icy crust. One wonders what lies beneath? In his book, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen, Mark Nepo provides a reminder that may be helpful, especially to those of us going through a dark time.

In nature, we are quietly offered countless models of how to give ourselves over to what appears dark and hopeless, but which ultimately is an awakening beyond our imagining. All around us, everything small and buried surrenders to a process that none of the buried parts can see. We call this process seeding and this innate surrender allows everything edible and fragrant to break ground into a life of light that we call spring.

As a seed buried in earth can’t imagine itself as an orchid or hyacinth, neither can a heart packed with hurt or a mind filmed over with despair imagine itself loved or at peace. The courage of the seed is that, once cracking, it cracks all the way. To move through the dark into blossom is the work of the soul.


Krista Tippett’s On Being post for the New Year featured the thoughts of two people whose writing is special to me and whose presence in person both calms the troubled spirit and troubles the complacent mind. Parker Palmer writes:

We look with uncertainty to the year ahead. But if we wrap our lives around life-giving questions — and live our way into their answers a bit more every day — the better world we want and need is more likely to come into being.”

He then frames the questions from the poetic insights of Anne Hillman:

We look with uncertainty beyond the old choices for clear-cut answers to a softer, more permeable aliveness which is every moment at the brink of death; for something new is being born in us if we but let it. We stand at a new doorway, awaiting that which comes… daring to be human creatures, vulnerable to the beauty of existence. Learning to love.

Palmer then asks himself and us five life-giving questions. Which do you choose to answer as you stand before the doorway that beckons this coming year?

How can I let go of my need for fixed answers in favor of aliveness?

What is my next challenge in daring to be human?

How can I open myself to the beauty of nature and human nature?

Who or what do I need to learn to love next? And next? And next?

What is the new creation that wants to be born in and through me?

Today, January 6th, many people observe Epiphany. Like the holy days of every faith it marks a significant event in the tradition of believers. Captured in the story of wise men following a star to a child in Bethlehem, Epiphany celebrates the revelation of Christianity to people outside its source in Judaism.

Whatever the milestones of age, relationships or religion, anniversaries invite us to pause, affirm, regain perspective and recommit ourselves to the journey.

Many years ago on this day I was ordained to the Christian ministry. I was following my star. As I had anticipated, it led me to accompany others through realms of deepest joy and darkest loss. Subsequently, it took me places I could not imagine at the time — out of parish work into farming in rural Appalachia; adventuring through Outward Bound; teaching in the backcountry and in the classroom; working with children at summer camps and in urban schools through AmeriCorps; leading a nonprofit organization, coaching people through transitions in life and work and supporting those who harness the power of horses to heal.

At this stage of life the star continues to beckon, but now it is leading me to let go of much I once relied upon to define myself. Its arc shines not on past successes or failures but on mindfulness in the moment. Its grace is the offer of an inner peace without fear of either the present or the future. My response is no more and no less a task than to accept, receive and embrace the gift. That is my anniversary commitment.

What star do you follow? What surprises has it revealed? What commitment will you make for the next leg of your journey?