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AuthorRev. Claire Matheny

Pastor | Kittamaqundi Community Church | Columbia, Maryland

7.31.20 Good Trouble

Snapshots from July’s Last Week…when we passed the midway point of summer’s peak. When the world felt hot like our driveway, when mosquitoes nested in the Sacred Garden’s pond abutting our United States. As we could feel the biting energy of pandemic across the nation.

And found respite by the inflatable pool. We rowed our way with rake oars, across the outstretched lands of long days to arrive at John Lewis’ Funeral. We heard the charge of “good trouble” and the always powerful words of Rev. James Lawson.

Two years ago, I was there in my hometown of Memphis as he moved about the city for MLK50. On several occasions I got to hear Rev. Lawson speak, energized then–and perhaps more so now at 91. We don’t watch screens at the dinner table, but it was the exception.

Rev. James Lawson speaks at Rep. John Lewis’ funeral.

And we watched the tree trimmers who came to prune back the branches. A big view from our window as they reminded us that things can’t grow while the wilted limbs remain.

Perhaps the tree and Rev. Lawson were preaching the same invitation–that my children may look out and see something more than I have yet seen. Maybe the earth spies it with new glasses and announces an opening from sea to shining sea. There is a trouble brewing. Good and long going and yet longer to go past the summer’s reach.

7.22.20 Interplanetary Prayer

When you go visit prayers stations in the midst of space week…

We’ve been busy cutting out our planets to create the solar system on the dining room wall. Sadly, the seascape came down. My son lamented that the poor octopus was “so sad” to be replaced.

There is a time and season for everything. The Prayer stations Wednesday at Emmanuel United Methodist Church in Laurel were a good reminder of the emotional stopovers we take. After visiting the “Anger Zone,” my daughter and I had a talk about the fact that anger comes every day in some way. Some days are more frustrating that others.

Next, my daughter enjoyed the chance to write: “Love is peace,” she scrawled on a heart and strung it to a tree. We all liked standing under the umbrella, appreciating the momentary chance to gather in the protective space. And there was the well where we held rocks and thought about what we hold onto when we are hurt, and the invitation to let go or forgive.

And then of course, the “Silly Walk Zone.” We are old pros after creating several ourselves this summer. We got dizzy following the rainbow. We then walked the length of the cemetery. We talked of dying; I read from the tombstones as we passed. I remembered also that there was a sign on the front of the church with number of Howard County COVID19 deaths: 96. There was the grieving tree. We wrote Cousin Debby’s name on a ribbon and my daughter tied it to the tree. Debby died this week suddenly. So heartbreaking.

Lastly, there was the little labyrinth at the path’s end. The kids both bounced along eager to reach the middle.

The summer sun was heating up on this earth and who knows where else in the solar system. It flared into another day of living and dying. The Spirit shone with it, into our heaviness and our healing. And we felt our prayers stretch so far beyond what we can see, past what we can imagine, to the bounds of the universe. Flung from the third rock from the sun, we balled our anger, joys, laments, and laughter together. And we were encircled by the host of saints who have gone before. A brightness bigger than our fear.

Thank you, Emmanuel UMC.

7.16.20 For the Birds

I looked out from the computer and saw a big black bird of prey circling overhead. There are always so many birds visible from our home. Earlier we saw both a male and female bluebird out front. Cardinals and goldfinches regularly alight at our feeder. A woodpecker with little red tufts pecks at our aging birch. Afternoons like these are envious ones in pandemic. As I see them soar to the skies. I’ve never understood where they really go. Their nests are most often invisible. I’ve wondered where they tuck away before they forage and take flight. They make their varied nests of mud, and of sticks, of trash or their own feathers.

The bird of prey feels ominous. I later log on and see the news that my county’s schools will have virtual learning at least until January. There was already a lot swirling about hybrid learning models and uncertainty. No doubt the latest increase in COVID-19 cases in the state and country are the driving factors as school admins try to weigh all the countless factors involved in keeping kids, teachers, and school workers safe.

In addition to understanding why they have made this decision–I am also flattened. After four months home, I can’t quite process how it is that we will take our seemingly impossible steps into the months to come. Yet, we will like the millions of parents. And what of the families that will struggle mightily for access? We recognize the lucky places of our journey. I also recognize a weariness in my eyes that doesn’t go away. Where do the birds go before the earliness of the morning calls them forward, before their little ones cheap their hunger for food, instruction, and love?

Wednesday we went over to the Sacred Garden at the Church and chalked a whole flock of feathery friends. This post is for you if you, too, have had a flightless stretch of days imagining into the unknowns of the time ahead. Perhaps you also hold anger, looking around and wishing that all were being addressed in this country with more compassion, scientific trust, and collaboration. For the sake of our children. For the sake of everyone. Thank you, Mary Oliver, for words that soar with hope into a day yet to come.

Cardinals and Starlings and Remembering When | I Might Need A Nap

7.10.20 The Farmer Takes a Wife

We’ve entered into “Summer Camp” at my house. My daughter helped me chart some themes for this month to help guide our activities. We launched into farm time, focusing on pigs, horses, cows, and tractors. A little bit of focus can go a long way.

Logic puzzles. How to hide the three pigs under the houses?
A train circles our little farm–complete with unicorns.

A socially distanced trip to Clark’s Elioak Farm meant that we got to take a hay ride (minus the hay) pulled by a tractor, feed goats, and visit the Enchanted Forest.

It was hot as blazes, but we made it with frequent trips to the shade. One thing I wasn’t expecting was to start psychoanalyzing nursery rhymes. Among the play scenes was “Peter, Peter, Punkin Eater.” You may recall he “had a wife but could not keep her.” He “Put her in a pumpkin shell. There he kept her very well.”

Here is a photo of my kids peering into the pumpkin shell where the wife is all dressed up and looking in the mirror. After reciting the poem, I didn’t have a good explanation truly about why she was in the pumpkin shell.

Warning: this is about to get morbid.

Peter, Peter

When I looked up possible origin stories, none of them were awesome. I found this on Bustle: “The wife that “couldn’t be kept” in this rhyme didn’t keep running away or anything — rather, she was supposedly a prostitute. Historians believe that Peter the pumpkin-eater tired of his wife’s extra-curricular activities, then murdered her and hid her body in a pumpkin. An even more outrageous interpretation is that it’s about the 13th century English King John, who famously bricked a rebellious noble’s wife into a wall to starve to death.” 

Interesting what story and songs pass generationally. Perhaps the narrating of history is just as garbled and often as sinister as the rhymes and fairy stories of centuries past. At a time when I am thinking seriously about miseducation and the whitewashing of history, it doesn’t hurt to take a critical lens at the most seemingly elementary of entry points.

What is this pumpkin story communicating today? Why would a women be caged away in an absurd cell? Likely even murdered and dumped there. In the origin story it describes her as being a cheater ala “Cheater, Cheater, Pumpkin Eater,” but we might also suppose that a woman can be engaged in all kinds of things that need to be suppressed. Voting? Seeking a living wage? Running away from enslavement? Decrying domestic abuse? Speaking one’s mind? Immigrating? Protesting? I won’t link stories of women thus slain, but they are out there in abundance.

A sobering thought to navigate the patriarchal pumpkin shell! I’ll have to figure out a way one day to talk more candidly about Peter, Peter’s intentions. Keeping my eyes open to the messages that enchant us.

Peter, Peter pumpkin eater,      Had a wife but couldn't keep her;      He put her in a pumpkin shell      And there he kept her very well.

7.2.20 Spills

It feels like lifetimes pass with each day. We had a chance to be away last week. My kids buried my husband in the sand. We ate more birthday cake, we laughed, we took a week away from our home. This was the first week off together since Thanksgiving.

Coming back was hard. Landing back at home to unpack all the stuff, do the laundry, and face a reentry into the long days of parenting in pandemic. How wonderful to get away. How challenging to return to the ongoing uncertainties–especially as we look out to fall schooling.

And so, we’ve muddled through this week. Today was full of spills. First, the tiny beads by my son bouncing all over the kitchen floor. I was first miffed by his desire to re-sort them all, but gave in. There was something about the control of being able to put each little thing in its place that turned out to be appealing!

There were later the goldfish that fell all over the porch. And there was the tumbling of cups of water. And there was my frustrations that kept spilling over–especially when I was trying to have phone calls and my kids became particularly attention-seeking. I lost track of how many times my son announced: “I’m hungry!” today.

It seems that so much felt empty. Maybe he could sense the depletion in me, and that made it all the more pressing that he would want to be filled. And so we ate upteen snacks. And we got out the sprinkler and let it saturate into the dry patches of grass and hearts.

And there were the bright spots this week. The car parade at my daughter’s school as we celebrated the official end of her year. Creating Thurgood Marshall Airport on the driveway. Putting together planes that zoomed across the yard. Mixing together fake snow.

And the gift of taking the kids by the church where new signs are posted.

While I can’t say I feel fully filled, I can feel the grace of looking up with hope into a newly dressed window. I can tap into last week’s renewal and recall the waves that made my son belly laugh. I can give thanks that it is not up to me to hold everything all together. It is one bead at a time finding its place. It is one plane a day coming in for a chalky landing on our driveway. It is the knowing that we can be enough for one another for now. And I am thankful for all those on the other side of the phone, and letters, and Zoom who are our heart fillers.

6.17.20 Birthday Week

We are smack dab in the midst of birthday week over here. My husband and I have a week between our birthdays and so we find that the celebrations blend together. We got some time away at a remote cabin this past weekend. What a gift to explore waterfalls with our children. A gift to take in scenes away from our immediate community for a couple of days. A gift to sleep on hard mattresses that make us appreciate the comforts of home again.

Here are some snapshots from our journey in West Virginia and back. Thanks to our church family who not only sang at the end of worship, but who showed up with mid-week cake. The kids sang to us as we soaked it all in. My kids tried to eat each and every sprinkle that fell from this two-layered treat. They like to squeeze all the celebration out of these days, too.

Yesterday we picked as many strawberries as would fit in our big farm box. And we recall what it is to eat fruit from the vine. We recall what it is to give thanks for those who are regularly harvesting our food.

This all amidst the ongoing challenges and rally cries that resound now. We have all kinds of wishes for resistance and joy in the year to come. Right alongside the new butterflies up at the church corner, we believe in transformation. May it be so.

6.10.20 Jump

We aren’t quite three months there, but it more than feels it. Three months of safer at home. Three months of chalk drawings. Always looking for new ways to etch into the sidewalk the love we also yearn to feel ourselves. In these days, perhaps as my children also feel my stress and strain, I am looking for the best means to focus my energies, keep showing up, and navigate tough conversations and prayers.

My daughter decided to do another “Silly Walk” in the Sacred Garden at our church. I was struck this time that she started on it, but it became a “Jump” instead. She demonstrated, with considerably more effort than a walk invites, what it is to jump into each next step. I felt the truth sink in for me: walking is not enough.

She then drew a deer and then a rabbit, making their custom footprints for each would-be jumper to follow. I think it is fitting, in these important leaping times, to consider the surges necessary to see to each new article, action, and step of advocacy. To consider what it is to see another’s footprint on the pathway of history. To step as they would lead into the next leaps needed. To listen to, help amplify, and to fall in line behind others.

As my son and I brushed teeth last night, I noticed he was playing with one of his favorite cartoon characters–a police dog, one among a fleet of canine characters in construction, recycling, sky, and sea rescue vocations. He was also wearing a lone pair of emergency vehicle pajamas. He had asked recently because of the conversations we’ve had, “The police are good, right?” I struggled for words, “Many are, but they can also do really not good things. Remember when we were talking about George Floyd…?” “But our police are good, right?”

Lord, I hope so. Conversation will continue and continue about the role of police. Systemic legacies of racism. He and I have a lot to learn. Defund police for a better allocation of public spending. Depopulate the toy bin? Talk about how Chase the Police Dog functions on a team as they work justly with their community?


May you have love, hope, energy, and courage to do the work.

6.7.20 Statement of Solidarity, Resolve, and Love

Howard County Clergy Alliance | June 2020


The Howard County Clergy Alliance, founded in 2018, is a monthly gathering to build relationships and interfaith understanding. We do not claim to speak for all faith leaders in our county. However, we hold key values in common for the
collective welfare of our nation. As a diverse group of faith leaders, one value that often binds us together is the power of love to heal and overcome even the most deep-seated hatred. We condemn, and deeply grieve, the systemic hatred
permeating our culture which results in the repeated devaluing and destruction of Black lives.

On May 25, the world watched the callous murder of George Floyd in horror. An African American human being was mercilessly crushed under the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis. This terrible event called full attention, once
again, to the frequency of such deaths. We witness daily unfolding of more aggression, and violence, against people of all colors, young people, elders, faith leaders—anyone who comes in contact with unrestrained police, military, or governmental power. All taking place amidst a remarkably persistent and hopeful uprising in communities across our country.

The immigrant colonizers of the Americas imported a white supremacy framework that has intensified over time. Native peoples were originally subjugated, and the geographic richness of the United States is on lands forcibly seized from those tribes. The wealth and power of the U.S. comes from the blood, sweat and tears of African peoples forcibly brought here to be sold into chattel slavery. We have profited from the culture, labor, and criminalization of Black people.

White supremacy thinking is codified and normalized into systems over time. With each generation, powerful people use distortion, disregard, and hatred to dominate cultural and institutional landscapes. Many Euro-Caucasian peoples have
forgotten, even willfully denied, America’s foundation in inequity and violence. We see the tragic results acted out in recent events in Howard County, our region, and throughout this nation.

At this pivotal moment in history we are presented with a sacred opportunity. The destruction of Black communities, culture, and the blatant disregard for the value of Black lives, have risen to the surface for all to see. There are no valid excuses for turning a blind eye. There never have been. The profound evil of racism, and the Black lives lost to white supremacy systems and violence in this country, must be seen and the cost perceived.

The time has come to unequivocally stand against the dehumanizing and lethal injustice that has destroyed Black lives, again and again. We act in solidarity with our siblings of all colors. We come from a variety of global wisdom traditions that uplift love, not hatred.

Let us continue seeing, repairing, and healing. We must act on the love that unites us, in Howard County and this nation.

Rev. Patricia Abell
Rev. Brian Akers
Rev. Gayle Annis-Forder
Rabbi Craig Axler
Rev. Susan Beck
Rev. Philip Curran
Rev. Tyrone Jones
Rev. Paige Getty
Rev. Louise Green
Rabbi Susan Grossman
Rev. Mary Ka Kanahan
Shehlla Khan
Rev. Claire Matheny
Rev. Ann Ritonia
Rev. Jane Smith
Rabbi Sonya Starr
Rev. Csaba Szilagyi
Rev. Robert Turner
Rev. Ostein B. Truitt
Rev. John West

Contact: Rev. Louise Green, Clergy Alliance Convener,

PDF Version available here

Vigil and March for Black Lives led by Young Adults of Howard County, June 2, 2020

6.5.20 Resistance

Today is my parents’ forty-ninth wedding anniversary. We gave them a quick call tonight in the chaotic moments before the pizza had finished baking. They moved to Memphis in 1971 just after they were married. My parents have both been leading churches, building community, and showing up even now into retirement. I was heartened to see a post of him with other Memphis faith leaders this week with so much happening in my hometown. Protests are continuing each day following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Even now as I type late this evening, I see live feed from some in Memphis about a car purposely driving into a crowd of teenage protesters.

Following a MICAH (Memphis Interfaith Coalition for Action and Hope) Press Conference in Memphis. My dad is in the light shirt, seated.

Here in Columbia, MD, Tuesday was the Vigil and March for Black Lives organized and facilitated by students and activists. They asked that clergy leaders show up visibly. Just the night before peaceful protesters, including some of my colleagues, in were cleared with tear gas for the now infamous presidential photo op in front of a St. John’s Episcopal Church in D.C. These images were on my mind as I walked to the Columbia Mall with the buzz of media helicopters overhead.

It was strange to be out of the house so little over the course of three months and then to be circulating in a large crowd. I was impressed with the speed at which people snaked the parking lot, lining for the short walk over to the Lakefront. Thousands gathered, risking exposure in order to press home the importance of the message. People shouted the way forward: “No Justice, No Peace. No Racist Police.” “Black Lives Matter.” The masks added to starkness of the protest signs and words of George Floyd: “I can’t breathe.”

Prior to the Vigil, my daughter had helped me make signs. We had talked about the couple of protests that she has been to in her lifetime. After I put on my clergy collar and mask, I kissed my son and daughter and headed up our street on foot. Two men in a white pick-up sneered and laughed at me along my walk. It was strange walking the suburban streets wondering about my neighbors in these pandemic times. Would more people be funneling the walkways if we weren’t socially isolated?

Chalk the Walk

I peer into my own anesthetized spirit and see what embers of Pentecost are inflamed. I pray the strength to do the work that is necessary by me and white people, the strength to carry the torch of my parents and their parents. Fall in line behind BlPOC leaders. As I think to the stretched energy and time that comes with pastoring and parenting in pandemic, how can I prioritize so that my anti-racism factors more centrally in my ministry and mothering? Sitting with this framework as I consider the stage of my white identity.

It’s not just about the several books I have long had stacked at my nightstand. It’s about making sure that decisions are lined with values. That I better know who the political operatives are in my County. That I understand better how the laws affect policing and the funding affects inequity in health care, housing, and education. That I occupy the lanes where I can affect change.

That I stay attentive in my conversation with congregants and community members as we talk white fragility, gradualism, and silence. That I restore and meditate.That I don’t allow the news cycle to pass with a reversion into tacit action. What are your lanes?

Post below by Lindsey Young on Twitter. Her poetry website here.

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says 'lizzobeeating @Lindss_tastic Resistance is NOT a one lane highway. Maybe your lane is protesting, maybe your lane is organizing, maybe your lane is counseling, maybe your lane is art activism, maybe your lane is surviving the day. Do NOT feel guilty for not occupying every lane. We need all of them.'

5.31.20 May’s Last Days

A long week. Zoom meetings each night mean less time to reflect and to post. Fewer moments to take in the day’s wisdom. This has been a hard stretch to find joy in. Between the death of George Floyd and the ongoing realities of pandemic, I’m grateful for a few moments at the last of May to pause with thanks for these moments with my children.

Know that in the midst of these activities were hard conversations with my daughter about both the virus and the violence unfolding in our country. I continue to plot which books will be in our online cart next. I consider whether I can go to the peaceful protest next week with #blacklivesmatter of Columbia as we social distance. I brainstorm which things I can tackle and how to pray deeply while wide-eyed in front of screens. Praying you find place of peace in the wind down of this week.

On our way to a Labyrinth
We set up a picnic in the middle.
Step on each letter to make a word. My daughter loved this to no end. My son loved interrupting us.
Sea creatures in the style of Eric Carle. This scene was long in the making. Watch out for that shark!
Obligatory pre-haircut pic.
Mom somehow wielded the clippers. We’ll ignore the minor bald patches.

5.21.20 The Skipper

Throughout the course of the last many months, I give thanks for the kindly family and friends that have logged an hour here and there with our kids via Zoom. It has been a gift for the kids to see other folks (not just us!) and to learn about all manner of things from pet care to origami.

Up today: sailboats. Mr. Bob of our congregation met with us a month or so back to talk about his big trip to Antarctica. My son loves Mr. Bob and hearing about all of his big adventures. Mr. Bob had made him the most awesome video of his journey that my son still wants to watch at least once a week.

It was a grumpy morning at my house with my daughter trying to opt to stay in bed for hours in her pajamas and my son waking us up too early with the hungry announcement: “I’m all dresssssssed!!!”

By the time the appointed Zoom with Mr. Bob rolled around, I was pretty spent. And that was only 9:30 a.m. From the moment he was on the screen, the kids were at attention and loved hearing about all the sailboats that Mr. Bob had helped design.

My son announced: “As soon as the virus is over we are going to come sail with you, Mr. Bob!” The generous instructor didn’t miss a beat: “That’s right! And let me show you the kind of boat we’ll ride on!”

The kids soaked it all in and so did I. The tides changed in our house from there. We maneuvered outside, gathering weeds and chalking down to the nubbins. In anticipation of our call, earlier this week we had sketched out a little thank you for Mr. Bob. Later, we added a random assortment of sea creatures.

To all the people out there helping to ease the days of parents by talking nautical engineering, reading stories, or offering singing lessons, thank you. You can turn a string of mushy days into magic.

To Mr. Bob: thank you for serving as one of our vital skippers on the S.S. Pandemic. We cherish our joy-filled expeditions.

5.18.20 New Patterns

Can img_3163you see them? We knew it was coming. Last week marked the return of the golfers to the course…and thus ending our “free roam” status around on the greens. It means we won’t be able to be as attentive to our mandala.

It felt like an end to our initial little era of covid response. Now, as we settle into late May and the turn of summer, we seek to create some new patterns. New routines with activities and looking for new and ongoing ways to brighten up the community and find joy. Perhaps you are shifting, too, with some new efforts or motion.

I’ve seen some beautiful patterns out and about in nature: a recently cut tree and all the age rings exposed. The design of what I like to call “cabbage leaves” in abundance–big and brilliant not far from our home. And let me not fail to mention the giant, sticky cinnamon rolls that my husband made from our sourdough starter.

Let’s be honest. It’s his sourdough starter that he nurtures and cares for and we all reap the benefits.


Out on a morning run on the course, I was startled by an awesome sign that seems right up my alley! “Choose Joy!” I see you out there joy friend. I noticed that you had a lot of kid paraphenalia on your back porch. I imagine that you are stretching into these moments and working to find the love. Thank you! Now you’ve got me thinking about what we should have on display for the golfing crew that rolls by our view.


Another bonus today was having the UPS guy delivery some packages. He was a kindly waver when I was out on the Vantage Point corner before covid. It was nice to catch up. I got to hear about life on the road delivering boxes in pandemic.

And here’s to new patterns and bright sparks for the next stages of being. Enjoy a bouquet we created from the flowers just outside our door!


5.13.20 Silly Walk

Silly Walk PIcA friend, remembering the balloon waving I have done on the corner, shared this image on Facebook originally posted by Kara Andrews Shall. The invitation to Silly Walk Sign reads:

You have now entered the jurisdiction of the ministry of silly walks. Commence Silly Walking Immediately. ” And in smaller print: “We’re all in this together let’s have fine while we can!…(Don’t know how to silly walk? Google Monty Python Ministry of Silly Walks for inspiration).” Facebook: Yorkshire.Silly.Walks

There’s also an article about it on My Modern Met here. You can see all kinds of silly walking.

The images have stuck with me. I love the thought of folks breaking into silly kinds of walks. Whether I get to watch or not, just the thought of it can get me smiling. Today at the Kittamaqundi Community Church Sacred Garden, my kids and I got to chalking.


May the silly walking commence in the Sacred Garden or wherever you are! It’s good for the soul.





5.12.20 Mothering

This is the date of Mother’s Day last year. My mom reminded me that this was the day that she took my grandmother to the hospital before she died on May 14th, 2019. This past Sunday, I wore my grape pin in her honor–remembering her fierce determination and wondering what she would make of this pandemic. I give thanks that my family was able to fly South the month after she died to share in a time of memorial.

img_3128I continually hear about how the pangs of loss in this time have an extra heaviness. There is the inability to gather with hugs and the new formality of masks and distancing. What is already heartbreaking becomes more so with the additional loss of anticipated ritual. I hear from pastors who are muddling through trying to reach out to families in the midst of death and to take the best safety measures for everyone.

Mother’s Day under pre-COVID times is already a mixed day for many. This year, we have the collective grief of all that isn’t. I recommend Brene Brown’s podcast interview with David Kessler. I find myself wanting impossibly to skip ahead to the “meaning making” and find much wisdom in what I hadn’t heard in words: the need for grief to be witnessed:

“Grief must be witnessed. How do we witness it for each other? I am going to witness yours and you will witness mine.”

img_3147I enjoyed the Mother’s Day muffins this year. And the homemade cards. And worship. And the sunny afternoon bike ride when things got really cranky at our house. I could see my husband’s fatigue at striving hard to make the day different than our other days. To honor our cumulative exhaustion, we ordered takeout dinner for the first time in quarantine.

And after the kids were asleep, we sat across from each other at a quiet table. We didn’t say much. I taked about missing my grandmother. We talked of the earlier Zoom with his grandmother.  We talked about the summer family vacation that won’t be happening with our mothers. We ate pad thai. We witnessed to the grief. We embraced our blessings. Yours, mine, ours. We didn’t try to fast forward. We witnessed it together.




5.8.20 Sabbath

Friday used to be my sabbath. As a pastor I work Sundays, and some Saturdays. Friday has been the day when–even though I often have found myself engaged in some aspect of work small or not so small–I also discovered some space to breathe, to read, to catch up on things.

And so my body and spirit long for that breath. Perhaps, you too, are missing some important space in your heart and schedule to let go. You feel it in some lost activity that you formerly had that now feels wildly luxurious.

And, oh, how much more intentional I find I must be in this time. How I am sinking when my soul is not tended. How hapless I feel when suddenly I have unexpected moments to myself absent from the requests of my children. If they sense that I am not available and they have a perceived need, they quickly resort to chaos.

By some miracle it took something like 55 days in quarantine, but finally my son shouted today: “You are the worst, rudest mom ever!”  And my sabbath self said: “Retreat. Go.” And my mechanical arms instead cut his little celery bites and spread the peanut butter with the little knife and sprinkled raisins because he loves to pretend they are ants.

And I write into the night. As the rain flows. I think back to the quiet moments walking I did muscle into the morning before my husband logged into work. I recall counting the nickels with my children. They determined how much they would spend on a new toy, and then they gave generously into their share bucket, ready to share it with the church.

And I realize that often my yearning for sabbath leads me here to the keyboard. As I recount the days, the joy moments…and as I listen attentively to what new wisdom from today I have not yet learned. I find that it emerges when I start to type.  I give my little bit of offering and lift it up to the Spirit. I open myself for the restoration of the Spirit.

I imagine you on the other side wading through your own worries. I imagine us together looking avidly for signs of hope emerging. I give over unto rest, hoping that tomorrow will come with a little more space to exhale. And I can truly imagine it for you and for me.


“The Sabbath is the most precious present mankind has received from the treasure house of God. All week we think: The spirit is too far away, and we succumb to spiritual absenteeism, or at best we pray: Send us a little of Thy spirit. On the Sabbath the spirit stands and pleads: Accept all excellence from me …”― Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath 

5.5.20 Birthday Boat



Quarantine Birthday. It started off with a massive breakfast fit for a little lion. And we’ve been revving into the day ever since. Four years old and always wanting to man the boat. Our son likes to call out: “I’m the boss!”–just yesterday the latest as he dictated what he preferred for dinner.

With Zoom calls and little boxes that have accumulated on our porch in the past days, I give thanks for birthday joy arriving. Each activity is punctuated with the shout: “Can I open another present now?”

And as ever, I marvel at his confidence, his volume, his readiness to tackle a project. “Check out my big submarine!” he bellows as he fills the path. And back at home a convincing argument: a slice of cake after lunch and dinner.



May joy flow to our big guy into this most unusual season and year. What will he be saying next May about this day?

He’s not alone. So many are finding different and creative ways to live into graduations, birthdays, anniversaries, and weddings. Whatever boat you are in, may you have some good company close or far to split the cake, wave the balloons, and chart the way of celebration. And if you are feeling particularly alone or without comforts, may you discover the speed boat, submarine, or preferred sea vessel to see you through this season. There is an unfolding horizon to sail toward–led by the creative strokes of chalking children.