Hitting Close To Home: Preaching To The Choir

 

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This season of Lent is carrying me to the garden.
We walk together to the sermon by the lettuces.
(The royal we unless you count the coal black English Cocker puppy, faithful by my side)
The figs preach a brief homily as I pass by, one of unflinching hope. It is a taunting message. Their green shoots and leaves trajectory seems sure. June is a garden’s lifetime away and yet they already are. Mine own growth seems fifty fifty at best.
Yesterday’s sermon soaked me good. I can’t shake the message or the feeling of kneeling wobbly on a bed of sweet conviction.
Even the baby limes the size of a quarter of a cracked open pistachio whisper something new. They grow, slow and steady, without reciting the Ten Commandments, praying the Prayer of Confession or being drenched by a thirst quenching sermon that leaves you parched for change.

All creatures great and small  are headed toward re-birth. My own feels questionable, less certain. And the homestretch between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday feels inadequate for my growth.
Not enough time to pick up speed, bear something tangible, edible and fully formed.

The garden, seated behind the lectern listens well. Responds in love.
I want to be the zinnia seed, the radish seed, the one buried in a rich soil of nearer certainty. Of nearer my God to thee. Tucked into the bed by hands who know that giving up and letting go bring more life to life.
That poetry is best heard in the slowness.
And that beauty is tucked in the bed with the beets.

The garden raises its instruments of praise. And a sings an early Easter song of hope and grace. My song is not quite ready. My time has not yet come.

And I remain. Toes buried in the soil. Rooted at the foot of the Preacher. If only I could hear the words. Those written just for me. I seek to hear,  even to read the lips would suffice.

So I remain. Seated in the wooden pew. As close to the choir as I can get. Preparing with those who will sing an Easter hymn.

A hallelujah flowered song of praise, rising up in billowy breath from the mouth of the truly changed one.

 

 

 

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Love Listens ( My GraceTable February Post)

Join me at GraceTable. I saved a seat for you at the table.

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When I was a small child, my mother made certain I called my godmother to thank her for the gifts she gave me. Aunt Francis always gave me a piece of my silver pattern, her generous gifts a bit lost on me at the time. My stomach tightened up like a rubber band ball as I picked up the phone to call her each and every July, after the birthday gift arrived. I stalled and delayed, until Mother prompted me one final time to make that call.

Aunt Francis had a severe speech impediment. It manifested itself with long periods of silence between words. (Join me at GraceTable for the rest of my post.)

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Relearning The Lost Art of Rest

 

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In another life, I rushed. A lot. Hurried to the syncopated rhythm of my own heart beat. Well actually it wasn’t that poetic or rhythmic, it was sort of messy and chaotic. I once described the feeling of living a rushed and hurried life as an overwhelming feeling of being chased. I missed a lot in the frenzy. Failed to document, notice or capture much of the beauty that was then, as now, a part of this marvelous world.

Now as I learn the art of rest and live into a life where moments and periods of long carved out times of rest are a way of life, I love to sing the song of rest. Cheer folks on to simplify and to find ways to restore and rest in the everyday.

Poetry helps. It is healing. A balm. Living a life which is increasingly marked by simplicity serves as a fulcrum. Placing rest and regeneration as priorities is important. Vital to a rich and fuller way of enjoying what God has created.

Reading poetry brings me to a slow place of pondering. Of viewing life through a poet’s eyes. Writing in a compressed form such a poetry, helps me to economize my words. Tell a story in a way that perhaps shows more.Teases out more. Challenges me to make art that evokes a response of yes, I see it that way or yes, me too. Or even, wow, I missed that entirely.

My friend Shelly Miller has spent months studying, documenting, reading and learning about rest. And most importantly,  listening to a community of women as they lean  into the Sabbath and Sabbath rest. This community is called The Sabbath Society.

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I cannot give you the gift of rest per se, but I am giving away two copies of Rhythms of Rest written by my dear friend Shelly Miller. Shelly and I share a love of writing. We lived in the same smallish town for several years before Shelly and her husband H moved to London. Recently I heard her speak about the concept of Sabbath rest. I sat on the front row as she spoke in a Charleston church as part of her Rhythms of Rest book tour. Her message is life-giving and important. And her writing style is lovely.

For a chance to win a copy of Shelly’s book (I am giving away two copies) simply choose one of the following ways to enter. (US and Canada folks only, please)

One – Follow me on Instagram, @graceappears.

or

Two – Sign up to receive my free newsletter A Quiet Place For Words

Both my newsletter and my Instagram feed are increasingly becoming favorite place to write, make art and document the extraordinary ordinary in my world.

Three – Simply leave a comment on my blog and indicate you’d like to be entered to win a copy of Rhythms of Rest. Good luck. I hope you win. Names will be drawn on Saturday, November 19th,

(Shelly’s book is available for purchase at Amazon and at Barnes and Noble if you’d like to purchase a copy to give as a gift and to keep for yourself. As inspiration to hold rest up as a life-giving priority).

Be sure to visit Shelly’s website, Shelly Miller Writer dot com and follow her on instagram, Shelly Miller Writer too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Few Things I Learned In June {Joining Emily Freeman}

I learned a few things in June. What a month. Packed with life in all its wonder, glory, joy and pain.

I am still processing so much of what this month revealed to me. And if you have been reading along here for awhile you have heard me say “I am a slow processor.” Think the crockpot of cookeries up against the ultimate microwave. I process the things of life which I ingest over a longish period of time. Hours not minutes. Days not hours. Often.

That is to say, I am not ready to share all that I have learned. But here are a few things which I am longing to share.

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1. When we choose to do that one small thing, its impact is multiplied. Simply put, simple things can and do become grand things. Small gestures can and do become life-impacting.  The Small and The Simple are to be embraced, cherished and sought after. They take on the attributes of the magnificent. Capitalizing the lowercase things of this world.

They, after all are the game-changers, the life-changers, the emotional softening of the hard and crusty places. In June alone, I have seen this played out over and over and over again. My eyes leak and my heart hurts at the beauty and wonder of the transformative power of small. Look with me. Do you see how beautiful the small things of this world are. In a wink, a blink and a nod there are pieces of beautiful waiting to be captured, recorded and cherished. Cataloging life this way fills me up to over-flowing.

And I am learning this again and again. I am learning and believing that this is the way we are meant to see the world. I am a slow learner. And slow is really okay.

2. As a writer, I am called to use my words. And as a reader, you are invited to enter in and see the picture on the canvas that is the page. Have you seen the gold balls that drop down from the heavenlies. I found two pods this week.

(If you follow my instagram feed you may know I am in the glorious Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina for a respite). You can Google with me….there is a tree which drops gold, rounded pods. And they are fragile as parchment paper, bumpy like a golfball, golden like Oriental silk. And beautiful. I am always looking for wonder and posting what I find on Instagram. It helps me to stay awake at the wheel. And no I did not take a picture of the golden balls. But we will find them on Google together.

The day I found one, I proclaimed. Gold balls are falling from heaven. No anomaly was that. I found a second. Don’t we love Google for solving the earthly mysteries, like gold balls which nature has made. Amazing.

3. Voxer is my new best friend. This I did not learn in June. This I have had amplified in June. As I am writing this post I am Voxering my very special friend Shelly Miller in London  (which by the way this “What I Learned Series” is a favorite tradition within the bloggy world  – thank you very much Emily Freeman)

Voxer is a phone app which allows you to talk, walkie-talkie style, text and send photos. Welp. That is pretty much a communication dream package, you hit the lottery, what more could you ask for. I know there are some downsides somewhere in there, but for me (and I haven’t even up-graded to Pro yet) it is the bomb-diggity. People. I get to stay in touch with writers, bloggers and friends all over the whole wide world.

4. Releasing often, maybe always involves trust. A young couple approached me at the gas station last week. They asked me for one dollar and fifty cents. For the bus. I cannot stop thinking about their need. Their circumstances, because they told me the Reader’s Digest version of their story. I am still thinking about them. Hoping for them. And when I remember to I hope I will pray for them. That small interchange, eye-ball to eye-ball, exchange of money from my hand to theirs leaves me changed. Who asks for so little. Why didn’t they go for a 20 or more. They had a need for a bus ticket from one town to the next. Small again. I wish I had been willing to give them more.

5. People like to talk about their gardens. If you know anyone who has a garden, ask them. How are your radishes this year. How are the rainfall and the soil in your world. Ask them what is thriving and what is wilting. I think the vocabulary of gardeners is the vocabulary of the soul. And if you want an ice breaker, conversation starter, or if you just want to connect on a human level with another human being, ask them about their garden. Open the garden gate and see what transpires. And you can ask yours truly about hers or follow me on instagram, where beginning July 1, it is all about my garden and chickens. AGAIN.

Gardens are a beautiful, never-grows old, metaphor for life. A place of paradox. Life and death, thriving and struggling, flourishing and floundering.

How does your garden grow?

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