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Peace and love to you, friends, in this Thanksgiving week ~
These weeks have been full since I last wrote to you, with other writing deadlines and trips and many (MANY) no-school-days for my kiddos. I’ve joked in the past that “Monday Manna” would be more appropriately titled “Monthly Manna,” but even that is a stretch! Please know I am continually humbled that you allow me into your inbox at all, and pray there is something useful God is bringing to your beautiful heart and meaningful life in some small way.
So, here’s a little haiku I wrote…
In the PAUSE is space
where wisdom exhales, taking
power’s open hands.
I’ve been surrounded lately with promptings to reflect on the power of pausing. There’s the famous quote you may know from Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl—“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom..”
“Space” is another way to frame it. A little protected place.
When we pause, we claim our power to choose a response, rather than default to react. We are claiming some ownership over what we say and do. And in doing that, much more likely to say and do what is in line with our truth.
Even though the cultural waters in which we swim are currents of immediacy, you don’t have to swim in that lane anymore. When someone asks something of you, you can take some time before offering an answer. When someone does or says something that ignites or triggers us inside, we can claim that pause. We can settle into the shelter of that space and let wisdom “exhale” while we “take power’s open hands.” Hands which will lead us away from activation and ground us in both peace and peace-making.
Pausing is also powerful in times of anxiety. When we pause and breathe, we recognize how, fundamentally, we are okay. It’s like what I once heard a therapist say—”if you are breathing, there is more right than wrong with you.”
A pause can be a form of rest, or even a re-set. After I had my first child, a dear friend and mentor who’d raised four children of her own came over once a week to be with my daughter while I had an hour to myself. But alongside the reprieve this was in and itself, Sally also imparted much wisdom. She told me that when my daughter went down for a nap, I would want to do all the things. “Sit down,” Sally said. “Sit down and drink a cup of tea.”
I still hear Sally’s voice, years later. And some days I take the time to pause and some days I don’t. But I always feel more like myself on the days I do, because pausing, I’m realizing, is prayer.
When I take a moment, or even a few, to breathe, to sit in a chair or stand at the window, I recognize God’s presence with me. I get grounded in where I am. And I remember anew how Jesus was so profoundly good at pausing. I don’t know anyone else who slept in a boat through a storm.
A pause is connection. Connection to God. Connection to your true heart. And from that place of connection, you can have so much confidence in choosing what you will do next. You will move through your life awake, aware, and grateful. And you will feel strong. Because you are.
So the invitation this week as Thanksgiving approaches and families gather, is to pause. Let God’s wisdom exhale in you. Honor yourself, and the One within you, in this way.
I recently heard November described as “All-Saints month,” which brought comfort to my heart, as well as an opening. In the past, I’d only thought about All-Saints Day (November 1), and this year, didn’t have space to reflect very much on a busy Tuesday. But embracing this entire month as an opportunity to feel and pray for the saints in our lives and the gift of resurrection felt freeing. Know that I am thinking of you as you miss saints at your own Thanksgiving tables this year….
From my book, Ash and Starlight…
For All-Saints Day
God of welcome and warmth,
I’m a bit melancholy –
or maybe it’s pensive –
in approaching this All-Saints Day.
It’s a beautiful day –
this time to remember and give thanks
for the saints who have graced my life.
These angels –
raw, real, and devoted
in their humanity –
who have encouraged me,
taught me what I needed
to know to survive…
I think of parents, grandparents,
partners, wives, husbands,
neighbors, friends –
some of them did seem
pretty unlikely characters
to be your saints,
but the more I live,
the more I realize
that’s pretty typical of you
and your choosing.
I am grateful for these
quirky, lovely individuals
who have gone before me but
whose light still shines,
bringing warmth and illumination
to my own journey.
Their whispers of wisdom
help me hunger for a deeper
wholeness found in you.
They tell me I can be a saint too…
You have called me, like those before me,
to do things with a great, tidal love,
covering the ache of this world.
So I answer this calling, God, with all I am.
I bring you myself and my prayers
for all those on my heart.
I thank you, God, for the
saints of then and
the saints of now…
for the saint you are kindling inside of me.
May I remain grateful for their impact
on my life and heart –
the truth they spoke and lived,
the faith they held and passed on,
the love they modeled and shared.
Jeremiah 1:5 * Hebrews 11-12:2 * 2 Timothy 1:5-7
“Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…
let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us…”
– Hebrews 12:1-2
Something that nourished me recently…
“Pauses” can be geographical, too. This overlook of Lake Michigan on a frequent running route is a place I make myself pause. I’m often tempted to keep jogging, peek over the railing, and roll on through. But lately, I’ve been trying to train myself to stop. Seeing these footprints in the crusty snow on a run recently was just the inspiration I needed to stop and pause. A reminder again of how we help each other learn to do this.
Another geographical pause. My family just got back from a short trip to Saugatuck, MI. It was wonderful. And so cold. Here’s us at the top of Mt. Baldhead where my two-year-old enjoyed sliding down the 300 snow-laden steps on his bottom. His own form of a sledding, perhaps.
Ash & Starlight, plus other good things….
* Find Ash and Starlight here.
* One of my Wholly Writers sisters just published a BEAUTIFUL book. When the COVID shut-down first happened, Sarah Scherschligt started writing daily posts on Facebook as a way to encourage her church/community and remain connected during those early lock-down days. Every post ended with, “God Holds You.” The lock-down continued. And Sarah kept writing, every single day. For thirteen months. All of Sarah’s reflections are now compiled into an incredible book. It’s both memoir and social commentary, reflecting on faith through the pandemic, but also the social upheaval of these y ears, including the struggle for racial justice, the January 6th insurrection, and the deepening environmental crisis. This book is a companion, friends, to carry with us as look back on this time and wonder how we did it. We did it, because God held us. Get one for yourself, and then every person on your Christmas list.
* More from amazing, amazing friends — abby mohaupt and Dr. Ted Hiebert did a powerful event at our church on climate migration last month. My brain was spinning in listening to abby and Ted share. I urge you to listen. The event was recorded and can be viewed here. All especially timely as we look at the breaking news from the U.N. Climate Agreement in which rich countries have agreed to pay developing nations for damage caused by global warming. So much to figure out still, of course, but this is progress after 30 years of deadlock. Also, if you are a faith leader, please consider signing this multi-faith letter for fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty.
* I’m a frequent peruser in Trader Joe’s card section, and a friend saw this before I did. This was a fun surprise!!!
*We are Grateful: Otsaliheliga is one of my new favorite children’s books, perfect for this time of year. Otsaliheliga is used by the Cherokee Nation to express gratitude. This book is written by a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and goes through the year—fall through summer—with celebrations and experiences. It has a full syllabary and glossary, too. My kids love this book.
* Lastly, thank you again for all your support with the Chicago Marathon and fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Association. I realized one of my favorite pictures from the whole weekend somehow didn’t copy into the last Monday Manna—my brother, sister-in-law and I after the race. One of the biggest blessings was getting to do this race with them (though they are superhuman fast, so not “with” them, in that sense, LOL). Love you, Matt and Caitlin.
Wishing you all peace and power in your pauses this week. And for those in the U.S., a Thanksgiving of meaning, joy, and connection.
Love and Light,