You know, we Quakers are a waiting people. We listen in all earnestness for God’s leading in our lives. We have a quiet time in the middle of our meeting for worship—usually 10 to 15 minutes or so—where we do our best to listen for God in our hearts and minds. We call that silent […]Read more "Waiting on God"
Isn’t it nice to have free time? Time when nothing is scheduled, no one expects you to be anywhere, there’s nothing you absolutely have to do. It’s all your choice. Paint a picture, repot a plant, take a nap, watch a show, you get to decide what to do with the free moments stretching out […]Read more "Flourishing & Free"
Back when I was finishing up seminary, almost 20 years ago now, I spent a semester in chaplaincy training at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Indianapolis. The training, called Clinical Pastoral Education, or CPE, is encouraged but not mandatory for chaplains, and it helps those of us hoping to serve others learn more about ourselves, the […]Read more "The Many Faces of God"
Now that fall is officially here and the nights are so much cooler—which is great if you’re a fan of warm blankets and cozy sweatshirts like I am—the hummingbirds at my house are practically swarming the feeders, often two or three at time, chasing each other back and forth until one finally stakes a claim […]Read more "On Our Way"
The spark of inspiration for this week’s message came as I read the new memoir of Joy Harjo, our former Poet Laureate of the United States, and the only Native American to have been awarded that role for three consecutive terms. Harjo is a member of the Muscogee Nation, which is a federally recognized tribe […]Read more "Song of the Earth"
Are you curious about the title of today’s message? I was too, when I started writing it. But I can tell you, now that it is done, it is a message about memory, about finding truth, and about how spirit turns everything to good, even our flaws and mistakes and blind spots. When we learn […]Read more "Kodachrome"
This week’s message has been a bit of a journey for me. The inspiration began with a simple, happy text message my youngest son Cameron sent earlier in the week. It said, “Guess what I made for dinner? I loved it as a kid but this is the first time I tried making it.” There […]Read more "Living Up to the Light We Have"
Have you ever had moments in your life when you really needed help and help was there? I can think of a half dozen experiences, right off the top of my head—the time someone broadsided me on a my way to work a couple of years ago, the afternoon I broke my collarbone, a time […]Read more "The Joy of Serving"
On the door of my office at hospice there is a small picture showing a tiny boy and girl walking away from the camera, holding hands and headed toward what looks to be an open field and blue sky beyond. Underneath the sweet image is a caption: “We’re all just walking each other home.” These […]Read more "Traveling Together"
The book of Ruth has always been one of my favorite books in the Bible. It is one of only two books named after women (the other is Esther, whose faith saved the children of Israel from a devious, genocidal plot). The story of Ruth is not big and heroic and dramatic like that, though—instead, […]Read more "Come Home"
If you are a human being, chances are good that forgiveness—at least sometimes—is something you have to work at. Of all the things Jesus taught and modeled—devotion to God, integrity of mind, openness of heart, just and merciful actions—forgiveness may be the hardest lesson to understand, the hardest to choose, and the hardest to live […]Read more "The Hard Work of Forgiveness"
We all know how good it feels to be grateful. Someone has done something thoughtful for us, or we’ve reached a big goal, had a big moment, or felt a sweeping sense of beauty and awe come over us. Something deep inside whispers or says or shouts, “Thanks!” There is usually a smile on our […]Read more "Pressed Down and Running Over"
This week is the third Sunday of our three-week series on the promise of prayer. I’m surprised to find that as we come to the end of this time, I feel like we’re really only just beginning to scratch the surface of the topic. We talked the first week about George Fox’s struggle with despair […]Read more "The Transforming Presence"
When you were a kid at the pool in the summer, did you ever play the game Marco Polo? It’s really fun if you have a few friends with you and it’s even more fun if it’s a hot and beautiful day and the pool is crowded, because then you can all scatter in different […]Read more "Marco Polo, God’s Way"
It’s good to be back with you this morning, Friends. I wish I could tell you exactly what I did on my very-relaxing-and-wonderful vacation last week, but I have to admit it’s a bit of a blur now. The main thing I remember is that there was a lot of quiet, a lot of peace, […]Read more "The Promise of Prayer"
I had planned all sorts of things for this message this morning, as I anticipated having a whole delicious week off with no surgery, no recovery, and no “have tos” planned. The whole week stretched before me and my only intention was to spend time quietly with God, keeping my heart and mind open, awake […]Read more "Preparing for Peace"
The kids and I had dinner with my 94-year-old stepdad last night. He’s doing well, still full of stories, kind, and hopeful. As we all shared pizza, I was reminded yet again that no matter how old we all get, he will always do those dad things he’s always done: recommending things he thinks we […]Read more "The Difference of Devotion"
We don’t have to look far in our lives to know that God cares about healing. Everything that has life has the capacity to grow, adjust, and repair itself. This happens within individuals and within communities across species. Trees in a forest share nourishment with other trees that are struggling. Plants have immune systems that […]Read more "The Lord Who Heals"
The week before last at the hospital I gave two workshops on, “Responding to Stress with Creativity and Kindness,” and that’s had me thinking about the importance of balance ever since. Over the last couple of decades, we’ve learned more and more about what living with stress can do to us, inside and out. That’s […]Read more "Finding a Balance"
One evening this week, I was outside puttering in the garden, when I noticed that one of my rose bushes looked stressed. There were chipmunk holes in the soil around its roots—and that would be upsetting enough—but the leaves also had been chewed on and were thinning on the branches. There were some buds forming […]Read more "Gardening Thoughts"
At precisely 11:40 this morning, I will turn 60 years old. Right now I am enjoying the last little bit of my 59th year. But when that moment rolls around, I begin a whole new year, a whole new decade, filled entirely with whole new experiences. Tiny moments like that are so plentiful in our […]Read more "Moment by Moment"
What do you think it means to be “holy”? In this day and age, when so many folks in our popular culture compete for attention in the media, when loud and fast and explosive are considered values somehow, the word holy may seem outdated, old-fashioned, unreachable. If you look up the definition of holy, you’ll […]Read more "To an Unknown God"
This week I heard something on the radio that I think has been a long time coming. Companies large and small—from chocolate companies to homemade crafts to travel businesses—have started giving people the option of “opting out” of Mother’s Day promotions, recognizing that after an unthinkable amount of loss in a pandemic year, many people […]Read more "Snapshots of Mom"
Yesterday was such a beautiful day–it felt like perfection. Warm sun, cool breeze, birds singing everywhere, flowers blossoming, trees greening up, lovely sky—clouds high and wispy against a brilliant blue sky. Don’t you imagine that was just the kind of weather Adam and Eve enjoyed in the Garden of Eden? It wouldn’t have been too […]Read more "Clothed by God"
It’s no secret that we are emotional beings. We experience our world—we connect with and participate in the life around us—by feeling it. When we see a beautiful sunset, for example, we don’t just look at it with our eyes and think, intellectually, oh wow that’s really pretty. We feel it in our bodies as […]Read more "No Feeling Is Final"
For the past two weeks I’ve been reading a book about mindfulness called, Relax and Be Aware. The ideas it contains are at the same time, simple and clear as well as profoundly deep and challenging. The author teaches meditation at a center in Myanmar (me-yan-mar) and in his book, he invites readers to become […]Read more "In Reach of Wisdom"
One day this week, early in the morning, I was starting my drive in to the hospital, when I noticed that seemingly overnight, all the Bradford pear trees in my neighborhood had burst into full bloom. They’d started the process several days before—first showing small hints of white blossoms and then beginning to spread flowers […]Read more "This Is the Moment"
This is a day for celebrating. Wherever we’ve been, whatever we’ve been dealing with, for this moment, the rock of COVID-19 has been rolled away and here we are again together at long last! God’s light and love has once again led us out of our closed off places, ending the long season of isolation […]Read more "But Wait, There’s More"
PALM SUNDAY Today our scripture is based on one of my favorite stories about Jesus: The Triumphal Entry. I’m not sure why I love it so much, except that it is such a pinnacle moment for Jesus, such a cinematic scene, filled with color and movement, celebration and joy. It is a high point in […]Read more "Real Power"
You may have noticed that now that the days are getting warmer, the birds are back in the mornings. And I’m not talking about one or two lonely birds with thin, warbly voices, braving the cold to offer their thin, pure melodies. I’m talked about rich and riotous songs of all kinds—cardinals and robins and […]Read more "Life’s Soundtrack"
Often when people hear about the work I do at hospice—and this is true for other people on my team as well—the person says, “Oh, I don’t know how you do it. It must be so depressing.” I can understand why someone who hasn’t been part of hospice work to think that. After all, I […]Read more "Grace for a Rough Road"
Whether you were born into a family of Friends or became a convinced Friend later in life, you know that there are some things about our tradition that make us different from other Protestant denominations. First and most obvious is that we don’t do communion in the same way that other Christian churches do; for […]Read more "If Thine Eye Be Single"
Yesterday was such a beautiful day! Even while the snow was still slowly melting along the tree line in my backyard, I was out looking at the garden beds, making mental plans for spring cleaning and planting, likely just weeks away. I so easily slipped into the future, seeing the garden full of healthy and […]Read more "In the Blossoming of Time"
How good are you at being quiet? And for how long? Can you turn off your phone, turn off the television, and spend time just being available for whatever God wants to say in the silence, inside and outside of you? If you’re like most people today, it might not be long before you start […]Read more "Into the Wilderness"
We each have, tucked away in our hearts, memories of extra special moments throughout our lives when we felt especially loved. In fact, it’s a wonderful thing to do, once in a while—an exercise that’s good for our heart and our hope–to revisit those moments in our lives, starting from the time we were very […]Read more "To Love Truly"
Today’s message is about the power of example and the way our lives speak—knowingly or not, and for good or for ill—into the lives of others. We never really know when our actions will leave a lasting impact on someone else. It might be the time we helped someone pick up a bag of groceries […]Read more "The Power of Presence"
Many years ago, when my children were small and we lived together in a big limestone farmhouse in Columbus, Indiana, I was living a busy and often stressful life. I was a self-employed writer with a small business and juggling a busy household and school activities with deadlines, editors, and more. It was often my […]Read more "Opening, Again, to Joy"
Memories are such funny things. This week, out of the blue, I remembered a moment from more than 30 years ago that became the seed for this morning’s message. My brother John had come to visit when I was living in Brown County, and we were having coffee in the kitchen that morning when he […]Read more "Our Part in Peace"
I imagine that you are, like I am, still processing and trying to understand the events of the last couple of weeks in our country. Our souls were shocked to see such violence and disrespect—disregard for the well-being of people and traditions and institutions. And we are still on edge as we hear about safety […]Read more "Remembering Prayer"
Friends, this has been a heartbreaking week. As the daily death toll of COVID-19 surpassed previous records and hospitals across the country reported being overwhelmed and out of beds, we watched horror-stricken and helpless as violence, chaos, and unchecked rage boiled over in our nation’s capital, defacing one of our democracy’s most sacred places, threatening […]Read more "The World We Want"
My favorite Far Side cartoon—which I found probably 15 or 20 years ago—shows a young boy sitting at a table, with feathers in the air all around him and soot on his face, like there was an explosion, the result of an obvious science experiment gone wrong. The caption says, “God as a kid tries […]Read more "Toddler Jesus"
Well, Friends, here we are at the end of a very long, very challenging, and for far too many, a very painful year. 2020 has brought hardships on just about every level you can imagine—physical, emotional, occupational, financial, and relational. All across the country and around the world, we have lost loved ones, we’ve lost […]Read more "Choose Well"
Well no matter how much we plan or hope or buy, Christmas this year—in 2020—is destined to be a Christmas like no other. We’ve already had 10 months of unexpected and trying circumstances, and now, as Christmas grows close, the pandemic is impacting even our best-loved traditions. The family events that are such a big […]Read more "A New Chance to Love"
This week, as we travel together through the Advent season, getting continually closer to the stable in Bethlehem, we lit the pink candle in our Advent wreath. It represents Mary’s important part in the unfolding of grace in our world. The message is one of hope—hope that lifts our eyes when all seems dark, hope […]Read more "Mary’s Miraculous Hope"
Today is the second Sunday of the Advent season, a time of holy waiting as we pray and watch for the rebirth of Christ’s light in a world that so sorely needs it. Our responsive reading today—written so beautifully by Bill Medlin many years ago—points us toward God’s desire that we live in peace in […]Read more "A Humble Quiet"
Yesterday was such a beautiful gift of a day. After so many days of rain this week, yesterday dawned cloudless as the sun rose in a clear blue sky. As morning moved toward afternoon, the sunlight just poured in all the windows along the southern side of my house—I love that!–it floods the sunroom, spreads […]Read more "The Work of the Light"
I think it’s safe to say that this year is unfolding in ways none of us expected. Each New Year’s Eve—I may have told you this before—I have a tradition of doing a kind of prayerful vision board for the coming year, an exercise in opening to the blessing and adventure that God is sure […]Read more "Thankful Anyway"
You probably already know this about me, but I can be a pretty wordy person. Give me a topic and I’ll have something to say or write about it: some thought, some perspective, some possibility, some plan. During my recovery time these last couple of weeks, I’m surprised to report that my inner world got […]Read more "Ready, Set, Rest!"
Here in central Indiana, we are having one of the most beautiful falls I can remember. And that follows an unusually perfect and balanced summer in which we experienced no drought, only short stretches of humidity, and surprisingly few storms and tornado warnings. How kind of God to turn up the dial on beauty and […]Read more "Unique and Precious"
Those of you on our Wednesday night Zoom call heard me describe the events of last Sunday—Christopher and Ashley’s wedding—as one of the five best days of my life. All week I feel I’ve been floating along, buoyed by the love and magic of that day. There really is something to the idea that moments […]Read more "A Simple Love"