Light and Dark Together

Step through the doorway?

Both at the same time.

One thing I can’t help but notice as I walk through this time of being grief’s handmaiden is the joy that walks alongside the grief at one and the same time. 

I first encountered this idea in a significant way through my friend Kirsten, who wrote her way through the carrying of her son, Ewan, with his unknown future and his too-few days with an honesty, depth, grace, truth, and dignity that left those of us bearing witness to the journey with our mouths hanging open in awe and respect, shaking our heads in amazement at the fullness of all she held and chose to share with us.

She wrote about the tension of her experience — of loving Ewan so fierce and firm and yet holding that joy and love and hope for his future alongside heartbreak: his difficult, difficult road ahead. After Ewan died, she shared more about the both/and journey of grief, how it includes laughter alongside sadness. And then she wrote about her continued journey through this tension as she experiences the joy of being Austen’s mama and the ongoing loss of Ewan she holds every single day. 

Like I said: awe and respect. 

I’m experiencing this holding of light and dark together in a different way, namely through an awareness that as those I love walk through dark hallways right now, light and life also crop up elsewhere and invite acknowledgment, too, alongside celebration.

Within a few minutes of learning a beloved pastor and pastor’s son in our town died, a close friend of ours shared the rejoicing news that her son had come through a surgical procedure with flying colors. Light and dark together. 

As Kirk and I walk through the loss of his mother this Christmas season, we’re also celebrating some great strides. We’ve marked some financial milestones that have been a long time coming and are moving in lockstep motion toward some more. It’s a time of great celebration for us, even as he’s holding his fresh grief. Light and dark together.

My heart is holding the losses of those I love every single day, and it’s a heart that’s tender and often tired. And yet I’m also watching in amazement and with deep joy and satisfaction as my work with Still Forming seems to bubble over with activity all at once — the long-worked-for launch of the Look at Jesus course this month, the enthusiastic signups for the beta version of a new discernment offering I’ll be sharing in the new year, the invitations to offer my giftings and/or speak in several different venues in the first half of 2014. Things are moving, and I am thrilled, even as I’m sad and confused and weary from all the loss in this season. Light and dark together.

As I scroll through my Facebook feed every day, I see it all: the heartbreak and the joy. And I want to honor and hold every single piece of it. To dignify each person’s real experience, whether it’s high or low. This, too, is what it means to be a handmaiden of grief.

“Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down.”

—Romans 12:15, MSG

Beginning the Work Again :: How It's Different Than the First Time (Part 2)


We are together.

Yesterday I shared one of the ways this new season of formation is different than the first time I ever encountered the formation process. Mainly, I said this time is like going back to a foundation already laid, whereas the first time was about building a foundation that didn’t yet exist. 

Another way this season is different is that it connects in greater measure to the outer world. 

There was a connection to the outer world the first time around, but in a very rudimentary way. I was learning who I was in the context of the world. This meant examining who I had become because of outside forces and then calling those assumptions into question. It meant growing into a greater sense of my “I-ness,” separate from other people, instead of living blindly by the impulses I’d adopted based on what I believed other people wanted me to be. Toward the end of that long season of growth, I began to care about my interactions with other people — being for them the unique “I” that I am, the “I” that is God in me. 

But it was all, ultimately, quite focused on the development of my inner self. It was about building identity and selfhood and how the self that I am relates to God.

This time around, some of that “I” development is still there in certain places that need to grow into that true sense of identity. But there’s a greater sense of this process being connected to my relationships with other people — of my relationships and my ministry being the parts of my life most impacted by my “work” through this season. 

For instance, one of the big themes of the “work” I’m doing in this season has to do with embracing the truth that “I get a vote.”

This has to do with voice. With dignity. With equality in relationship. 

Now, I had a huge learning curve in my first process of intentional formation around this idea of dignity and voice — of having a story that matters, of being a person that matters. But that time, it had more to do with owning that truth for myself and believing myself to be valuable. It had to do with coming to believe, in a visceral way, my value to God.

This time, it has to do with showing up in relationships more, with giving myself permission to have a “vote” on how things exist inside those relationships, with trusting other people to value my voice and my vote. My relationships are going through great growing pains right now because of this, and it’s really important that I let this happen. A lot of the “work” of this season for me has to do with this practice.

Also, a lot of the work of this season keeps criss-crossing with my posture toward my calling and vocation, especially as it is exercised here. I shared some of this on Friday with the post about Henri Nouwen being my teacher, reminding me that my role here is to point you to God, not me. 

For instance, when I’m feeling the pressure to be perfect, I get to relearn grace so that it’s about what other people receive from God, not me, in this place. I don’t have to be perfect because God is perfect. He’s their source. He’s their hope. He’s their joy. 

When I learned grace the first time, it was just so I could learn it. Just for me. A gift for my soul that freed me from the tyranny of perfectionism.

I’m learning grace now so that, in the context of my ministry, I can have a true picture of my part and God’s part. 

I don’t know that everyone going through the formation process the first time versus the additional times we circle the spiral throughout our lives would say their experience is the same. But this is my experience, for now. This is how right now is different than before.

Beginning the Work Again :: Henri Nouwen Is My Teacher


One of my dearest teachers in ministry.

I’m planning to write a post next week about the things I’m noticing are different about this current formation process compared to the first time I experienced intentional formation. But one thing I’ll mention right now is this:

I’m so aware of how the things I’m learning right now impact my life of ministry — right here, with you.

As you know, I’m relearning my not-God-ness and am embracing my humanity in this place. And as I work through these relearnings right now, I keep being reminded of Henri Nouwen. Specifically, I keep thinking of one of his books that I read last year and which is one of my dearest teachers in ministry. 

It’s called In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership and is classic Henri Nouwen: steeped in vulnerability and authenticity and always pointing toward a real encounter with the real Christ. Through this book, he has taught me so much about the kind of pastoral calling I need to embody: one that is willing to be vulnerable and merely human before you. As I mentioned yesterday, it’s not about pointing you toward me but rather — always — toward Christ. 

Here’s a taste of what he teaches in this book that I’m revisiting right now and seeking to remember these days: 

“The leaders of the future will be those who dare to claim their irrelevance in the contemporary world as a divine vocation that allows them to enter into a deep solidarity with the anguish underlying all the glitter of success, and to bring the light of Jesus there. …

   “Laying down your life means making your own faith and doubt, hope and despair, joy and sadness, courage and fear available to others as ways of getting in touch with the Lord of life. 

   “We are not the healers, we are not the reconcilers, we are not the givers of life. We are sinful, broken, vulnerable people who need as much care as anyone we care for.”

—p. 35, 61-62

May I be this kind of person here.

Beginning the Work Again :: Embracing My Humanity


The light above us.

Along the lines of relearning my not-God-ness comes the embrace of my humanity, all with the aim of pointing people to God and not me.

This is where something in my head can sometimes get really messed up.

I think about how we are the body of Christ here on earth. How we are meant to be Christ to others. How we are meant to keep growing into the image of God in us. And how, for someone who is a spiritual director or just generally in ministry, this can get even more complex because so often we are the visible image of the invisible God for others. 

Cue the questions of where we end and God begins, and vice versa. 

When I stop to think about it, it’s funny that I take over-responsibility for things and people, given the metaphor of us as the body of Christ. We are each a part, not the whole. I’m an ear, or an eye. Which necessarily means I can’t be a foot or an arm or a finger. I can’t — and am not meant to — shoulder all of the concerns of the world or be Christ’s body in the world on my own. We need each other. 

Spiritual directors like to describe what’s happening in spiritual direction by using the image of three chairs: one for the directee, one for the director, and one for the unseen but very real presence of God.

I was talking with my supervisor about this picture last week, and we were talking about how often we assume those chairs to be positioned equidistant from each other, like an equilateral triangle. Sometimes I’m even tempted to believe the chairs held by me and my directee are the ones in “full color” in the picture, with God’s chair kind of greyed out, or perhaps even off in the corner, since he’s an unseen, non-audible presence in the room. 

And yet here’s what’s really true:

Spiritual direction is ultimately about the directee’s connection with God.

If anything, it’s the directee’s and God’s chairs that are meant to be “full color.” If anything, my chair is the one meant for the corner so that I don’t get in the way of what God and the directee are meant to find in one another. I’m a facilitator, but the directee and God are the main players there. They’re the reason we’ve come together in the first place.

In relationship, if I shoulder the God role, then I keep someone from receiving what God alone is meant to give them. I unwittingly make them dependent on me instead of pointing them toward the one upon whom they’re meant to depend. 

I want my life to be about this: “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). Or, as Eugene Peterson puts it in the Message version: “I deliberately [keep] it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did—Jesus crucified.” 

May you always see me pointing you to Jesus. This is the prayer of my heart. 

Beginning the Work Again :: I'm Not God

One of many.

One of many.

When I first started blogging in 2006, I chose the name “Lilies Have Dreams” for my personal blog.

It was a reference to Matthew 6:28-34, which compares us to the lilies of the field and says we need not worry — that we are important to God and that God will take care of us, even as he takes care of the lilies that line the earth. It was a reference, too, to dreaming — to living out loud, to taking risks, to standing on the precipice of my own life, which I had been slowly learning how to do (and was about to do in great measure, as I packed up my belongings and moved across the country to marry Kirk the following month).

Ultimately, it was the idea that I could be small yet valuable to God and that even in my smallness, I could dream big dreams and then, because my value was rooted in God, I could take risks. 

Learning to be a small yet beautiful and fully beloved lily of the field … that was a big part of my formation journey my first time around the formation spiral. It’s something that took many years as I identified and then began unlearning key beliefs and behaviors that showed up in my life as perfectionism, over-responsibility, scruples, phantom guilt, and what I came to call the superhuman tendency. 

It was about unlearning my need to be God.

It was one of the best things to ever happen to me.

I don’t say “unlearning my need to be God” from a place of pride but rather fear. I believed with every cell in my body that I needed to hold the world aright. I carried the responsibility for things that went wrong, even if I had nothing to do with what happened. I believed myself to be other people’s saviors, needing to know what they needed and supplying it. I wasn’t allowed to have needs myself.

Again, this wasn’t a prideful thing. It was what happened when a whole lot of mixed-up, messed-up messages tumbled around in my head and my heart at a very young age and then were given a mixed-up, messed-up interpretation through my too-young lens. I didn’t realize at the time that I was ingesting these messages or interpreting them the way I was. And I really didn’t realize the impact those messages and interpretations would have on my life as I continued to grow up and live into the world. 

God is merciful and gracious. He took me through a long unlearning.

As he did this, he took the burden of responsibility off my shoulders. I could live free. I could breathe. Even better: I could make mistakes. I felt, truly, like one of those lilies of the field, small and one of many, yet dazzling in her beauty, twirling and dancing and smiling and laughing in her utter freedom and belovedness.

I’m relearning this now.

As I continue to grow forward from my healing journey, I’m dealing with the fallout of what happened to me at 15 and 16 years old. I’m looking at the ways it damaged and messed me up. I’m feeling angry. I’m feeling sad. I’m struggling my way toward the place where forgiveness lives. 

And I’m bumping up against that old need-to-be-God proclivity again.

This means I’m struggling to let myself feel what I really feel, as I’m constantly second-guessing whether those feelings are right, correct, and perfect (since everything God does is right, correct, and perfect). It means I’m afraid to tell people they hurt and failed me, as I’m not allowed to be someone who gets hurt or needs people to hold up their end of the relationship. It means I’m afraid to take steps in any direction, for fear they’ll be the wrong steps, since I’m not allowed to do anything wrong or make mistakes.

It’s about learning to be human again. 

Just human.

Human. The thing I previously came to see as one of God’s greatest gifts to us. The not-God-ness. The imperfections in us that are so heart-achingly beautiful. The vulnerability of it all. The permission to stumble, to mess up, to learn. The ability to grow, which means the reality of not-yet-developed-ness. Not having to have all the answers. Not having to be the expert authority. 

Just human. Walking alongside. 

I’m relearning this right now.

Do you ever live inside this struggle?

My Life Today, in Honor of Dallas Willard

Dallas Willard. The Divine Conspiracy. The Beatitudes. Changed my life.

Dallas Willard’s Divine Conspiracy 

introduced me to Jesus.


I was talking with a new Twitter friend earlier this week about something Ronald Rolheiser says in his book The Holy Longing—how, when a person dies, their spirit continues to live on in you. You become their living eulogy through the things you do and the person you are that is that way because of them. 

Today, as I’m thinking about Dallas Willard and feeling sad about the news of his passing, this idea is stirring me up in a new way.

Dallas Willard is one of the first people who helped me see the Jesus I’ve come to know.

I read his Divine Conspiracy during my senior year of college, and the chapter on the Beatitudes especially impacted me. It helped frame my understanding when I finally, the following year, sat down and read the Gospels straight through from beginning to end

In a lot of ways, I have him to thank for my knowing Jesus the way I do now. He re-introduced me to Jesus while God was preparing the soil in me to re-find him.

And since so much of my life and work now flows directly to and from the source of Jesus, I suppose I am living out my homage to Dallas Willard each and every day. This thought is helping me frame the news of his passing in a way that gives me joy and gratitude.

Is there anyone whose life lives on in you in a similar way?

A Meditation for Boston


Bringing light into the darkness.

What a week

I feel like I’ve gone to bed saying that several nights running now — and yet, each morning, I woke to even more startling news headlines. Today was no exception. 

If you’re like me, you’re feeling overwhelmed by the weight of all that’s happened in the world this week, and especially in Boston. And if you’re like me, you’re wondering what to do with all those feelings.  

Today, I’d like to offer you the opportunity to connect to your mind and heart in the midst of all that’s happened — a chance for stillness, silence, and prayer (or, if you’re not someone who prays, a chance for loving-kindness). If that sounds like something you’d benefit from receiving, I invite you to create space to listen through this audio meditation I created just for you.

Enter into the meditation here:  



Note: When playing the link, you may want to pause at the beginning and let the entire audio file buffer before listening your way through.

Much love always,


Sending Love, Through the Science of Compassion, to Boston

Under grace.

Light of love and compassion.

It’s not lost on me today — in the aftermath of the Boston marathon explosions — that I just returned from a conference whose theme was compassion. 

I am compelled to put into practice what I learned. 

So, here’s one thing I learned. 

I learned about morphogenetic fields, entrainment, and mirror neurons. It was a session on the science of compassion and how, at the root of all matter, we find bundles of energy — light and heat constantly moving. I learned that when subatomic particles meet, they are forever changed by one another. I learned that energy fields influence one another — that entrainment is what happens when two energy fields get in tune with each other, simply by being in each other’s presence.

Our beings literally radiate energy, both positive and negative, and the energy we radiate carries the power to change the world around us.

I pray, and I trust that God hears my prayers and carries them to Boston. And in the physical place I belong, I seek to live as a person of love, care, and compassion, trusting that the energy emitted from my physical being affects the world around me with a positive force, too, and can potentially continue and continue from field to field to field.

And so I’m emitting love. I’m emitting care. I’m emitting compassion. 

Here’s to the creation of a ripple effect that carries love, care, and compassion all the way to Boston, along with our prayers to God. This is one way those of us who live far away can become the answer to our own prayers.

Will you join me in this practice of emitting love and compassion today?

We Serve Because He First Served Us

We worship the Christ.

This post is part of the Holy Week 2013 series.

We’ve talked a lot about foot-washing in this Holy Week series. 

About how Jesus washed Judas’ feet. And how Peter didn’t understand the foot-washing and protested it at first until Jesus gently helped him receive it. And how a woman, overcome with love for Jesus, washed his feet, too, with her tears and expensive oil and her hair.

There was a whole lot of foot-washing going on in those last days of Jesus. 

And then Jesus tells them: You do this, too

He washes their feet and then says to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:12-15). 

I think the timing is important. 

It’s important that he waited three years to wash their feet. It’s important that he washed their feet before asking them to follow his example. In other words, they received fromJesus before being asked to respond on behalf ofJesus to others. 

I think about this in terms of healing. Going back to the woman who washed his feet with her tears, she did this in response to what she’d received from Jesus in a very personal way. Her foot-washing flowed out of her experience of being loved by him. She received, and the natural outflow for her was to give. 

In the same way, the disciples had received much from Jesus in those three years that preceded this event. They had received his time. His presence. His teaching. His guidance. His attention. His friendship. Even his correction.

And then, as a type of culmination, he washed their feet. 

And then said: You do this, too

They were to love and serve others out of the experience of having been loved and served by Jesus first. It’s like John also wrote in one of his letters: “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). 

I’m not so sure we can love well if we haven’t allowed ourselves to receive love first.

Love strengthens us. It roots us. It establishes us and gives us confidence and a sense of self and worthiness. Then, from that place, we love with greater freedom. We serve freely because we have experienced being served by the one who loves us fully.

He Washed Judas' Feet, Too

How he loves you.

This entry is part of the Holy Week 2013 series.

Have you ever noticed that Judas was still in the room when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet — meaning Jesus washed his feet, too? 

It’s true. 

Judas didn’t leave the upper room until later in the evening (see John 13:30), but the footwashing event happened earlier (vv. 4-12). And the passage in John that records the footwashing event indicates Jesus washed the feet of each disciple in the room. 

Which means he washed the feet of Judas. 

Can you see Jesus kneeling on the floor before the one who would betray him — the one whose betrayal would lead to his capture that very same night and his great suffering and even his death — picking up his dusty, dirty feet and bathing them gently with water and cloth?

Can you just imagine it? The tenderness of such an act? Offered to his ultimate betrayer? 

It does a number on my concept of love. It tells me much about the capacity of Jesus to love and welcome those opposed to him — and not just to welcome them, but to assume before them the posture of a servant, willing to kneel and clean their dirty feet.


The Body Series: Caring for Our Personhood


Today, in the aftermath of a particularly tender session with my spiritual director yesterday, I’ve been feeling rather raw. Truth be told, I shed some tears while talking with a friend about it this morning, and then I sat on my couch in a bit of “zombie shock” for a while. 

This can happen in spiritual direction sometimes. It creates such a safe space for exploration and discovery that sometimes as-yet-unrecognized truths will surface and be spoken aloud for perhaps the first time ever. 

That’s what happened for me yesterday.

So today, in my zombie-shock mode, I had a hard time getting going. I have a work project I’ve been trying to finish, but diving straight into it felt like a harsh way to treat my soul — almost like saying, “You go underground now. I’ve got other things to do.”

Eventually, I decided to run a couple easy errands. Drop off some library books. Stop by the post office for mail. Stop by the bank to make a deposit. So I changed into some workout clothes, pulled on a baseball cap, and headed out the door.

It’s beautiful outside today, so I drove with my windows down and took an easy pace, still feeling mindful of going gentle with my soul. And then, once I was out and about, I remembered that I’ve been wanting to visit a local bike shop for a while now and have had trouble finding the time to do it.

So I headed over there. 

The experience of that bike shop visit was so healing for me.

It feels a bit strange to say that, but it was. The gentleman who got paired with me for the sales process was patient and kind. He listened to what I was there to do — learn what I could about what bike style might be best for me, since I’m a beginner — and took time to walk with me through the difference sections of the bike area, explaining how the bikes were different and may or may not be helpful to me.

When it came time to test-ride some of them, he was infinitely patient there, too, letting me try one after another and adjusting which bike he’d wheel out next depending on my feedback about the bike I’d just tested. He answered every single question I had — and I had a lot of them. He looked me in the eye while I spoke, and he looked me in the eye when he answered.

But even more than that was the experience I had of myself throughout my time there. 

I gave myself permission to learn. To have an opinion of the bikes I tried. To ask questions. I would test-ride a bike and think, “What do I like about this bike experience? What don’t I like? What questions do I have about it? What feels awkward? What feels right?” I gave myself permission to keep asking for a different bike when I didn’t think the one I’d just tested was “the one.” 

It felt so good to do this. So caring of my personhood.

It felt like an alignment of body and soul — taking care of them both, letting them “converse” with each other along the way. And in the aftermath of what came up for me in my direction session yesterday, as I’m feeling tender and raw, it felt like one of the most kind things I could do for myself today. It felt like an extension of what I shared here yesterday: according ourselves a measure of dignity and self-care.

Have you ever experienced something similar, where you felt like you were caring for your greater sense of personhood?

The Body Series: Do No Harm


Today I gave myself a pedicure.

It’s something I’ve been telling myself I’d do for weeks — even possibly months! — because I’m hard on my feet and have a tendency to develop callouses easily. But it takes time to care for my feet, so I’ve been putting it off. 

Just after I got started, the phone rang. It was Kirk, checking in while he was grabbing lunch. We talked for a few minutes, but then he needed to hang up and said he’d call back shortly. 

So I decided to wait on the pedicure treatment until he called back.

I sat on the side of the bathtub with wet, soapy feet and checked in on Facebook. 

There, I discovered a trail of status updates by a friend who is attending a conference that includes a panel discussion of pacifism vs. the just war theory. You may or may not know that I began studying nonviolence and peacemaking about four and a half years ago, so I was quite interested in the views my friend had begun sharing about the conference. 

And I dove right into the discussion. 

Thirty minutes later, I still had wet, soapy, un-pedicured feet.

But the dialogue had absolutely lit me up. I love thinking about nonviolence — what it means, what it looks like, how it finds a home inside our daily lives, what it means concerning the broader world, how it interacts with politics and nations and citizenship and humanity.

I sat there on the bathtub edge and connected, once again, with my conviction about the dignity of every human person, about the power of love to overcome and transform violence, about the spark of God in every person that causes me to honor them and seek to never do them harm. 

(I am by no means a guru at this.)

When I picked up the loofah and began sudsing my feet again, I kept thinking about my nonviolence convictions. And then as I rubbed my feet and ankles with my peppermint foot scrub, my thoughts turned toward the care I was demonstrating toward my feet in that very instant.

As I ran the hot water over my feet, washing the suds and pumice granules away, I began to realize something: the two — nonviolence and the body — are actually connected.

I thought: 

If I’m so keen to care for and honor my neighbor, no matter who they are, should I not also honor and care for my own body? 

Perhaps caring for the body has something to do with the “do no harm” principle. 

I’m doing my body harm when I feed it junk food. But conversely, I’m treating it with love when I feed it living foods, when I do yoga, when I take the time to pedicure my feet and them smooth their skin with lotion. 

Can I regard my body the way I seek to regard other human beings? Shouldn’t the nonviolence principle also apply to myself?

What are your thoughts on the “do no harm” principle as applied to your body?

The Body Series: To Each, a Unique Shape

Dusky beauty.

One of our readers here, Ree Ann, shared some thoughts in response to yesterday’s post that I’m finding helpful and encouraging, and maybe you will too. 

She said: 

Because we are born into sin and because we each have our sins to deal with, there are (because this word will carry my point) deformities in our souls that need even more of God’s grace and our best attempts to learn what we are able to do to cooperate with Him so that our souls become as perfected as possible before it is our time to cross to the other side.

So it is with our bodies, as far as I can tell. One of the reasons that best portrays this, for me, is the differences that are in each body when it is born. There is the incrdible range of what we would describe as “perfect” bodies to deformities that make it nearly impssible to live at all and the whole range between.

What I see because of this is that as we become cognizent of the states of our bodies, we need to educate ourselves about the best care for them and ways of maintaining them and making them as healthy as possible.

God provides us each with a body. There is much to learn about how to relate to them. We must pay attention to our body language…pains, imperfections, conditions, diseases.

What I gather from Ree Ann’s comment here is the idea that every body is unique, just as every soul is unique, and that we need to “learn” our unique body, just as we “learn” our unique soul in our process of formation. 

When it comes to soul-level formation, each person has glory and, well, fallenness. It is the original glory God is seeking to restore in us in ever-greater measure, and it is the fallenness in us that God is seeking to burn away. What those look like for each one of us is unique, even as there are general truths to be known about each that apply to everyone.

So, perhaps, it is with our bodies. 

There’s a natural truth to the way the body works, but the way that nature plays out in each individual body is different. Due to genetics and environment, some have a faster metabolism and some have a slower one. Some are disposed toward exercise, having been trained in it from an early age, and some aren’t. Some are lactose-intolerant, and some aren’t. Some have a gluten allergy, and some don’t. And on and on and on.

Part of this process is learning our unique bodies — as well as the natural order of things — as we grow in relationship to our bodies and the way God intends us to live inside them. 

What do you think of this idea?

The Body Series: Our Embodied Selves

Thoughts on the body I've been holding (for a body series I've been writing on my blog).

One of the first “aha” moments I had when I started diving into this body theology stuff last year was the realization that everything we experience in this life — and everything we experiene of other people — is mediated through our bodies. 

Kirk, smart man that he is, was the one who brought this idea to my attention. 

“Everything I know about you is mediated through your body,” he said.

When we were dating, him in Florida and me in California, we eventually came to know each other at a soul-deep level, but we only learned that could be the case through experiences our bodies first mediated.

We wrote emails to each other by typing letters with our fingers and reading them with our eyes. We talked on the phone by cradling cell phones in our hands and using our mouths to speak and laugh and pray and using our ears to listen. When we spent time together in person, we got to know our compatibility while using our legs to walk together, by making eye contact, by pointing out things we noticed with our hands and our voices, by holding hands. 

It was such pivotal moment for me to realize that everything we know of other people is brought about through the use of our bodies and the use of theirs. Everything we do and experience on earth happens through our embodied selves.

Have you ever thought about this before?

Still Points in the Day: Notes from the Rocket

Photo courtesy of Christine Mason Miller

An entry in the Notes from the Rocket series

by Christine Mason Miller.


I have this beautiful friend, Christine Mason Miller, who reached out to me a couple years ago via email. We found ourselves sharing many common interests, particularly concerning interior growth and spirituality, and since then have shared emails, phone calls, a couple yummy lunch dates, and even the rare handwritten letter. 

Christine is a wise soul. A generous soul. A gregarious soul. A contemplative soul.

She teaches me so much. 

About six months ago, maybe, she began posting a series of photos on Instagram that she titled “Notes from the Rocket.” The Rocket is her vintage typewriter. The notes are gentle words of wisdom. She posts them almost daily.

When scrolling through my Instagram feed, I’ve noticed these notes from Christine’s vintage Rocket typewriter have become a still point for me. The words wash over me, offering me graces I didn’t know I needed in the moments I encountered them.

If you’re on Instagram, I recommend you follow Christine. She has a way of restoring and uplifting the soul.

Note: This marks the last entry in the “Still Points in the Day” series here on Still Forming. Join me back here on Monday for a new series exploration.

Still Points in the Day: Sitting in the Bank Drive-Up

A chance moment.

I stopped by the bank on my lunch break today, and while the teller was processing my transaction, I noticed a little bird sitting on top of a 3-foot post about 10 feet away from my car. Just sitting there, looking out on the traffic of the busy street in front of him, cocking his head from side to side in curiosity, taking it all in. 

I loved that petite little bird. He reminded me a bit of Diva and the way she sits and looks out on our neighborhood

That little bird was a bit of a zen master for me in that moment — in the midst of the busyness and the rush and the ordinariness of life’s afternoon, he was just sitting there, appreciating the moment. 

And so I did too. (At least, until my time in the drive-up was done.)

Have you caught chance moments like this lately, going about the mundane duties of life but then arrested by the invitation to take it all in?

Still Points in the Day: Contemplative Lectures


Discovered on one of my #mileaday runs last week.

Kirk and I had the privilege of attending a lecture by Fr. Richard Rohr this evening — the same Richard Rohr who inspired the “Pieces of Formation” series we recently explored here in this space — and it was such a privilege. 

In the first place, we both love his writings.

In the second place, we learned tonight that he has two more months of traveling and speaking and then he’s retiring from it for good. (He has said he’ll only ever travel again if the Dalai Lama personally requests to see him. I’m sorta loving that!) So seeing him tonight was an unexpectedly rare opportunity.

More than anything, though, it was a privilege because of the kinship. 

When we walked into that packed room, I felt an immediate sense of camaraderie with the others there. People smiled openly. They made eye contact with you. They seemed relaxed and full of joy. 

And that was before Fr. Rohr even took the stage!

But when he sat down in that chair on the stage and began to speak to us about the formational process of the first and second halves of life, I felt my soul settle. I felt it breathe. I felt in tune with who I really am in this world — my heart for the deeper things, for contemplative spaces, for meaningful existence. 

In short, I felt connected to my true self. 

Which Fr. Rohr would say is the essence of real living.

I’m thankful for the way Fr. Rohr helped me think about things tonight. I’m thankful for the way he made me thankful yet again for the path I’ve walked — full of highs and lows — that have led me deeper into communion with God. I’m thankful for the way he made me thankful, yet again, for the chance to do my life’s work.

Are there people whose books or lectures make you feel more settled into your own soul?

Still Points in the Day: Listening to Another

Landslide of glory.

I had a chance to meet a friend for happy hour last night. We’re relatively new friends, and there’s a lot about each other’s lives and histories that we have yet to learn. So we sat outside in the perfect evening clime, drank some wine, shared some food, and talked. 

It was a chance for me to listen — openly, attentively, deeply, acceptingly. To receive and hold her heart and story. To see God so plainly there. To acknowledge truth with her — the hard parts and the grace-filled parts. To share what I could see in her sharing.

Holding space with another person is such an opportunity for stillness in the present moment. To be fully there, welcoming what comes. To gaze with the gaze of God, the one who does not look away or flinch but nods, acknowledges, responds, and loves. Always.

How have you experienced listening as a still point?

Still Points in the Day: Spiritual Direction

A pair.

I’ve been meeting with my spiritual director, Elaine, for four years now, and every month, our hour-long sessions are like breathing fresh, pure air. I have so many memories of leaving her home with a smile on my face and a bounce in my step, deeply encouraged at having encountered God in some new way during our time together.

The last few months, our sessions have been even more important to me than usual. By the time I reach our appointment, I have felt on my last breath spiritually, needing so much the gift of shared time and space with this person who knows me and my relationship with God and sits with me in it with wisdom, patience, full acceptance, and love. 

I told Elaine yesterday that our time together is so helpful for me right now because it provides a place for me to sit with the reality of my life with God and not be alone in it. Sharing that space with her makes me braver. And in a season of difficulty in my life with God, I need all the bravery I can get to face this reality and be present to it without distraction or avoidance. 

I am so thankful for the gift of spiritual direction in my life. 

Do you have a place of companionship like spiritual direction in your life right now?

Still Points in the Day: Watching Diva

I love watching Diva sit at the screen door and look out at the neighborhood. She's so curious yet content.

I count as a “still point” anything that causes me to be present to the present moment — not avoiding or distracting myself away from the reality of where I really am. 

And so, sometimes, the still point I most need is found in watching Diva. 

One of her favorite things to do is sit in front of the screen door, looking out on the neighborhood. She’ll sit in the same position for such a long time, and the only things moving are her ears, which twitch from time to time, or her face, which moves up, down, and side to side as she watches squirrels climb trees, lizards cross the porch, or cars drive by. 

I love her contentment and curiosity.

As I typed this post, she discovered a small-sized box I put in the middle of our front room after I returned from Costco. It took her about an hour to discover it sitting there, waiting for her, but once she found it, she put her front paws inside of it, straddling it, and rubbed her face along the box edge. Then she put the rest of herself inside the box and sat there, looking around, triumphant. 

Sometimes she sits stock-still about two inches in front of the air conditioning vent in our hallway, staring at it. I have no idea why she does this.

Just a moment ago, she rubbed her paws frantically against my leg when she heard me singing an Adele song. Then, when I pulled her on my lap to give her a squeeze, she wriggled out of my arms and jumped on the table, all so she could sit on the opposite side of my laptop screen and rub her face along its edge. 

When she’s curious, I watch her. 

When she’s still as a statue, I watch her. 

When she’s sleeping, I watch her. 

When she’s wandering around the house, I watch her. 

When she’s tolerating Solomon’s advances, I watch her. 

When she stares up at me with her plaintive blue eyes, I watch her.

I learn so much, just watching Diva. She fills my heart so full, I think it’s going to explode. I’m thankful for the way she teaches me how to love, both in the way I love her and in the way she loves me. 

I find still points in the day watching Diva.

What about you? Where are you finding still points right now?