Word of the Week

Do you consider yourself a courageous person?

Courage: a word that means the ability to do something that frightens you.

This week I've been thinking a lot about the courage to have hard conversations. It's no secret that hard conversations are in high demand in these times we're living in.

In our polarized everything culture right now, it's so easy to un-follow our "friends" who don't believe as we do. It's easy to worship, work and play only with those in our thought camp. It's easy to turn off the news or ignore today's headlines so to forget the reality. It's easy to think you won't vote in this year's national elections because you don't want to defend your choices to your friends or family.

But if there is anything I know for sure, its conversations that feel difficult or scary are exactly where real good living begins. And that in big and small circles of our lives on all sorts of topics, there are new truths to learn if we can stay in a posture of courage.

Of course, this doesn't mean that every relationship in your life is ready for your courageous sharing, but many are!

Several years ago, I attended an event in New York City at a congregation led by two thought leaders. One was a young African American man with a popular podcast and huge social media following. The other was a middle-aged white woman with a background is sociology with a lot of popular books. They were an unlikely pair but gathered in their friendship the intention was learning for the rest of us. These were the takeaways that have stayed with me since:

Courage looks like showing up.

That night both of them had a lot to lose if they took a misstep in a such a forum but, they still came to the table. They stayed put even when calls for clarification on their views happened throughout the night. They kept showing up for each other as new ideas and personal stories were offered. No one walked away until the time came for the event to end even when awkward moments came. How huge!

Courage looks like pausing.

There were moments in the conversation where one or the other took a moment saying: "I need a minute" or "I'm not ready to respond to that right away. Can you come back to me?" And you know what, it was ok! Often the best thoughts take a bit to form in someone's mind and come out. And they modeled respect in making the talk less like a debate (with right and wrong being the goal) and more about honoring one another's humanity.

Courage looks like asking questions.

Instead of waxing on and on about what they thought on the subjects being discussed, there were many times where simply the words, "Could you tell me more about that?" were uttered with interest in the answer. Empathy emerged so naturally! For asking questions took the "I" out of the experience so that more "we" could be found.

You may think I'm overly optimistic in advocating for hard conversations (let's be honest few people like it), but I wonder, when is this last time you tried?

Show up. Pause. Ask Questions. You can do it!



If there is anything I know for sure about the members of my household-- my girl child and my husband that is -- they are terrified of snakes. Though we live in Georgia now where snakes love the warmer climate, I'm just hoping we never go through the ordeal of finding one in our house. Just say the word snake and this week's word is written all over their face: fear.

Fearan unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger

Let’s face it. we all know fear. To be a walking, talking, living, breathing human being means that we’re all afraid of something. And it’s ok. Fear will always be a companion for our journeys (and don't let anyone tell you otherwise).

But should fear get the last word?

Recently, I was invited to a night out that sounded kind of fun - in theory. Wine. Cheese. Moms like me. I knew I could use a night out of the house. My husband was ready to be in charge of the bedtime routine. However, the one person I knew in the group was going to be out of town.

A great reason to skip, right? Especially when I am so tired at night anyway.

But then, I just said, “What the heck? I’ll go.”

And let me tell you, I could feel the fear in my cute boots (especially picked out for the evening, of course) as I approached the house hosting the party. But I didn't turn around and go home.

Walking in, I felt pleasantly surprised with the conversation that found me. By facing my fear, I felt bolstered to enjoy the night by just being with some new people I was glad to get to know.

I don't know what your version of something that you need to try to do (but are dreading it). Yet, whatever it is, you can know that you will never be alone.

Did you know the word "fear" for example, is found in the Christian scriptures over 500 times? Yet even in all this talk of fear are we ever told that God would leave us. No matter our "worst case scenarios" in our minds, we are always in the bounds of the care of a compassionate God who loves us unconditionally. We are always wrapped in the great mystery of things working out in our lives when we least expect.

You, my friend, you can overcome fear by doing scary things too. Scary step forward, one foot at the time. My guess is that you’ll be surprised as you don’t let fear get the last word . . .



How many times do you and I have great intentions for a new project around our house or at work but never get to it? How many times do you and I have a great idea and it never goes farther than our head or scribbles in a notebook or a causal mention to a friend? Such goodness in us goes to waste. We never do this week's word, start.

Start: To begin a movement, activity, or undertaking.

I have a friend who travels almost constantly both for work and fun. When we catch up, she always tells me about her next trip (even if she just got back from one). Recently, she hiked Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania—the highest mountain in Africa and the highest freestanding mountain in the world at over 19,000 feet above sea level. (So, no small thing! I was in awe.)

When I asked her how the hike began told me: “Our guide gathered us at midnight.” I quickly asked "Why? Why would you start such a climb in the middle of the night? Wouldn't you be so exhausted?"

She replied: “Our guide told us this, ‘because it’s one of the world’s steepest mountains, we needed to start at night because if we started this hard journey when we could SEE the steep mountain, we probably wouldn't start."

Well then.

In the same way, you do not know where life is taking you on this grand adventure called your time on planet Earth. And, like this guide said, I too, think it’s best I don’t know the full story (even if some days I wish I could). And so if we feel moved to start something new, we should "Just do it!"

Barbara Brown Taylor in one of my favorite books, Learning to Walk in the Dark says this about the start of a new journey: “...new life starts in the dark. Whether it is a seed in the ground, a baby in the womb, or Jesus in the tomb, it starts in the dark.”

The dark, I believe, can be a sacred place for you to just begin. Not to make a big fuss about it. Not to draw attention to yourselves (i.e. calling 10 friends to say you just did___). But taking a baby step. Then another.

So, how are you going to start your climb this week?



When is the last time you knew you were supposed to do something but were afraid?

You felt the nudge. You heard the call. You saw the first step clearly.

But then your mind rushed with what if questions. You heard all the naysayers’ opinions clouding your head. You knew the obstacles you’d face if you kept going.

So much in you said stop! And so much in your felt like go!

To this enter this week's word: courage. Courage: the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain without fear; bravery.

Talking about growing in courage might just seem like one more thing that is too much of an ask.

You’re tired.

You’re overwhelmed with LIFE.

You cannot absolutely cannot do ONE more thing that is not on your already weird daily schedule.

But I am not talking about one more thing the way that our dentist reminds us to remember to floss or our doctor tells us to eat more vegetables . . .

I am talking about a way of living where our lives are in alignment with who you really are. I am talking about taking steps in the direction of YOUR voice that God has given YOU to use to bring light and hope to the world.

As terrible as it feels to do that _______ thing that is on your heart and mind as what you know the Spirit is nudging you to do next—I tell you THIS IS THE MOMENT WHERE YOUR LIFE GETS SO GOOD.

Recently I had an experience where I had to chose between an opportunity similar to what I've always done and on the other side a chance to stand up for myself in a way that feel really right but risky.

In being courageous, maybe I'd loose a friend?

Maybe I'd loose the chance to do something I love for a very long time.

Maybe people would think (insert bad things here) of me. But I knew what I had to do even if it hurt . . .

I think you know what you need to do just as I did. God is with you. God is guiding you. So, my friend, gather your courage and take the next step soon.

Cheering you on now and always-



Do you have the courage to show up to hard conversations?

It's no secret that courage is in high demand in these times we're living in.

In our polarized everything culture right now, it's so easy to un-follow our social media "friends" who don't believe as we do. It's easy to worship, work and play only with those in our thought camp. It's easy to turn off the news or ignore today's headlines so to forget the reality.

But, last Thursday night, I witnessed two brave public leaders with courage to face each other. They took the harder way showing up a very public arena. They sat on a stage before 2,500 persons in the pews of The Riverside Church in New York City. With what intent? Direct words about race, vulnerability, trauma and politics. And to meet each other face to face for the first time after a twitter conversation in August 2016 that began with these words by DeRay McKesson, a popular young black lives matter activist and curator of the podcast, Pod Save the People.

"Some people live to see other people fail and that's sad. I've noticed that some people #onhere are just so negative. Find some joy folks."

New York Times best-selling author, University of Houston researcher and middle-aged white woman, Brene Brown tweeted back this: "That’s painfully true. I guess joy just takes more vulnerability than cruelty."

The conversation sparked so much interest and attention that The Riverside Church-- a place known for birthing words that matter-- facilitated the meet-up. 

I found myself on the third row for the 90 minute event that became a 2 hour one (that could have kept going). Brene pushed back the latest findings in sociological research. DeRay pushed back on white privilege.

I'm still thinking about lots of things they said (as any good conversation invites you to do) but for today I'm wondering . . .  to forge a new path of engaging folks we wouldn't normally talk to, what must we have?

First, willingness to come to the table

There's a sign outside my gym that says, "Showing up is half the battle" and I couldn't believe it more. Isn't getting to the gym so hard sometimes? Things that bring discomfort aren't usually our favorite activities.

Yet, in spite of the expected discomfort, Brene and Deray opened themselves up to this hard work. Let's remember, they didn't have engage in a twitter conversation. They didn't have to show up at the event. But they did. And they kept talking on the stage long after the public conversation ended. It wasn't a staged photo-op for either of them but something very real.

Good work begins here.

Also, ears to hear hard truths

One of my favorite moments of the night was when DeRay spoke of how combatting privilege means being aware of how much space white folks take up in conversations (like Brene was taking up in this one unaware).  White people, DeRay said are used to being heard. It's a new starting place to enter a room as a white person aware of those who aren't.

DeRay went on to challenge church folks with this zinger: "Whiteness can be so strong in many congregations that it overcomes belief in God. Whiteness wins over God."

DeRay was brave to tell it like he saw it. Brene was brave to stay in the chair.

And Silence 

Another gift of this event was how Brene modeled the gift silent pauses. A dear friend of mine and I joke all the time about our love of "the phone pause."

It's a practice to not rush to the next thing. It's space in conversations to think intentionally. It's the intention of valuing words for the healing or hurt they can cause.

Throughout the event, it was as if you could see the words falling between the two conversation partners as they talked and paused. The words found home deeper into them. The words opened up doors to new beginnings. The words brought life.

I want more life-giving exchanges of words in my life. Don't you? The question I can't get off my mind is this week is: how am I going to start a courageous conversation?


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In my childhood church in Chattanooga, TN, I was raised by many teachers. One of them was a woman who ran the children's choir program. Though she was active in the church in almost every way, never did you hear her sing in church. One day I asked why.

“I used to sing a lot in public,” she offered my questioning.

“You did?” I was shocked.

“What happened?”

“Well, it was about 10 years ago. I sang my heart out one Sunday night. I really felt good about what I sang and the way I sang it. But then somebody in the congregation came up to me afterwards and told me all the ways I could have improved my song closing with ‘You should really leave the singing up to others.’”

My jaw dropped as she went on, “So I decided then and there at that moment that I would never sing again in church. I’d teach kids to sing. I’d sing in a group. But, never would I sing alone.”

I still remember this conversation because of how sad I felt afterwards. Here, this friend and mentor of mine was so swayed by one person’s criticism of her musical gifts that she vowed NEVER to sing again in public. What a tragedy that her gifts could not be shared with the larger community.

Though this might seem like somebody else’s tale, we know it’s not.  So many of us share this same story!

Though as children we showed an inclination toward singing or drawing or gardening or cooking or building or countless other creative tasks, so many of us find ourselves in adulthood saying, “I’m not a creative person.”

And we look to other people to be that. Somebody else can write the stories. Somebody else can paint the paintings. Somebody can cook at the dinner parties. We’ve long given up the work of the right side of our brains in exchange for spreadsheets, structured schedules and paint-by-number lives without room for creativity to take us where it may.

In fact, in Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear author Elizabeth Gilbert offers some of the best excuses we give for our lack of creativity.

We’re afraid we don’t have talent.

We’re afraid somebody else did it better.

We’re afraid we don’t have the right type of discipline.

We’re afraid we don’t have the right type of training or degree.

We’re afraid we’re too fat. (Gilbert goes on to add… I don’t know what this has to do with creativity, exactly but experience has taught me that most of us are afraid we’re too fat, so let’s just put that on the anxiety list, for good measure.)

We’re afraid our best work is behind us.

We’re afraid we’re too old to start, too young to start . . .

You get the picture, don’t you? When it comes to calling ourselves creative… it’s so easy to say that we’re not.

But then, what do we do when we arrive at texts of scripture like Genesis chapter one that say:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. . . “

What do we do when we realized that the very first verb used to describe God in all of scripture is this one—God created . . .

This past Sunday I was preaching at St. Matthew's Presbyterian Church in Silver Spring, MD and I posed to them this question:

What then, does the creation story say about us?

As we keep reading the rest of Genesis 1, what we read is a full-on, detailed description of all of the creative activities of our God. The world, we are told, comes to be through God’s creative self: weaving together light and dark, sound and quiet, gathering and scattering, planting and harvesting as well as multiplying and ceasing.  We read about how our God created something that was never imagined, conceived or seen before “In the beginning.”

There’s no way we can get around understand who God is without talking about God’s creativity!

And then God takes the creative process one step further saying in verse 26: “Let us make humankind in our image . . . And God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created he created [us] male and female.”

Human beings come to form, creations specifically made in the image of the Creator.

And what’s the expectation, then of us who are born of this creative God?

Creativity, of course. We are welcomed as active participants into the ongoing creation as God continues to bring forth beauty, love and connection between all the creators of this world. Simply put: we aren’t off the hook when it comes to creativity.

Just as God is creative, we who are created as the image bearers of our Creator are to create.

No exceptions. No “someone told me I’m not good enough.” “No “I don’t have time.” No “I’m too young to be taken seriously.” No, “I’m too old to start.”


The God we meet in Genesis chapter 1 is the God who moves in creative steps and asks us to do the same.

But this seems like a daunting task doesn’t? How is this even possible?

If you’ve ever poured yourself into a long endeavor of writing a story, or spend a long afternoon re-planting flowers in the yard, or tried something new  like a cooking or computer class at a local community center—you know how you feel afterwards--- pooped. Brain fried. Ready for a nap. A break. A time out among something or someone who restores your soul.

Rest, you see, is a natural rhythm of true creativity.

We are not made to produce all the time. We not made to listen to all the voices surrounding us all the time. We are not made for the busyness of what it means to be a citizen on this earth all the time.

We are made to rest too.

Maybe this is why scripture tells us that after God created humankind, God “rested from all the work that he had done in creation.”

Even Almighty, all-powerful, all-knowing God took a nap.

So why do we think our lives would be any different?

You see, I’m thinking today that all our resistance to our Creator’s invitation to create alongside, is not just about comparison of talents or that time that so and so told us that we were no good, but it’s about our inability to embrace a life of Sabbath: time set-apart in our weeks for listening, not doing, sitting still, not rushing on, and reflecting on what’ve we done, calling it “good” too.

Without a practice of Sabbath, our inclination to creativity, as our God has gifted us, simply doesn’t happen.

Many of you know that a large part of my ministry is writing. I’ve written a book.  I write op-eds for Christian publications.  I write sermons. I spend a lot of time during the week in front of my computer. A question I’m often asked is:

How do I not run out of things to say?

Well, there’s one thing I’ve learned as I’ve leaned into my creativity and said yes to God’s calling on my life to write it is that my best ideas and strongest motivations to follow through come when I’ve rested. Both literally in the night but also rested by taking time off from work.

I have to tell you that sometimes it’s annoying! Laying on my pillow at night with ideas flowing on something at 11 pm when I wish I could just sleep.  Or getting a great idea for a sermon when I’m in a week when I’m not preaching the following Sunday.

Rest and Sabbath keeping is what gives me the courage to be creative. Without Sabbath keeping, the creative life dies.  At least it's what I know for sure.

So when are you going to stop and rest? It might just lead you to do something creative. . . . something beautiful.


A sermon preached at North Chevy Chase Christian Church on Exodus 14:10-31

What does it mean to live with intentional courage?

I was thinking this week about some of my “courage heroes” and the first one who came to mind was Dietrich Bonhoeffer.dietrich

I bet many of you have read some of his books—two of my favorite are Life Together and The Cost of Discipleship.

Or I bet you’ve heard other preachers like me refer to him in sermons or in Bible Studies.

He’s a modern saint to many and if you don’t know much about him here’s the basic scoop: Dietrich Bonhoeffer was not a Lutheran pastor/scholar with a last name that is not only hard to spell, but he was a leader in the German church. In this ministry he quietly taught German students to reject Nazism until 1939. But also that time, he received a great job offer in America to teach at Union Theological Seminary in New York City and left his home country. It was all he ever wanted for his life (or so he thought).

But, within a month, he made the decision to quit this "dream job.” He felt it in his heart that he needed to stop running away from a situation that needed a voice of justice in it. Simply put, he knew God was calling him to speak and go back home.

He wrote around that time: "I have come to the conclusion that I made a mistake in coming to America. I shall have no right to take part in the restoration of Christian life in Germany after the war unless I share the trials of this time with my people."

Most of all during this time, Bonhoeffer was willing to do anything, he said, to stop his country from going down a destructive path—a path where God’s love for all people could no longer shine through.

As the story goes, Bonhoeffer used family connections to gain a post in the military intelligence unit, where he operated as a double agent. There he helped arrange for a bomb to explode at the Führer's headquarters on July 20, 1944. But Hitler was only wounded, and Bonhoeffer, 38 and engaged to be married, was among the dozens arrested.

Bonhoeffer put everything, literally everything on the line to be used in service. Though many in his family call him stupid. There were just as many who stood in awe of his courage.

The sad part of the story is that he was hung on April 9, 1945, just days before American troops liberated Flossenbürg.

As I tell you this story I realize that few of you have been given opportunities to stop the most evil of evil plans in this world recently.

Because this is true, Bonhoeffer’s story and his witness often feel to most of us like a removed example of faith--- something that feels so far removed.

And like the story of Bonhoeffer, the Exodus story taken from chapter 14 might fall on our ears in the same way.  In hearing it read, we visualize an epic tale only fit for the makings of Hollywood and Charlton Heston. We’d call Moses and the Israelites courageous, yes, but do we relate to walking on dry ground with the waters surrounding us? Actually no, not at all.

Yet, the more I thought of it this week, the more I realized that if we went back in time and interviewed some of the charter members of the "I crossed the Red Sea" club about their courageous act, I'd imagine they'd laugh at our labeling of them.

It wasn’t as if they signed up for a journey, a moment, or even an act of courage like they found themselves in that day on the bank of the Sea. They were just following Moses . . .

Moses who had a call of God to lead the people of out of slavery in Egypt. . . .

Moses who goes to the Pharaoh of Egypt and asks that the people be allowed to go to the desert to worship . . .

Moses who doesn’t take no for an answer when Pharaoh refuses . . .

As a result in their nation, the ten plagues come, ending with the death of all of the first-born sons in the land, including Pharaoh’s.

So, Pharaoh finally says they can go.

Yet, even in what must have been a joyous exit, a celebration of freedom of worship, the Israelites were simply sticking with the plan of what they were told to do: follow Moses.

Sure, it was a choice after all to follow Moses, and they could have stayed back in Egypt, but scripture tells us that most left because why wouldn't you? God seemed to be on their side, Egyptians were giving them gifts for the journey out of fear of their God.

And, these plagues, or visible signs of God's provisions were making the whole journey look easy.

Like setting out for an adventured filled road trip with a map, the first couple of miles within the familiar context of where you've traveled before, always seem easy, right?

It was easy, I suppose until the crowd met the Red Sea.

Verse 11 of text details to us the specific cries complaints: "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us way to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us bringing us out of Egypt?  . . . For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness."

(Wouldn't you have LOVED to have been Moses in that moment? I know I wouldn't . . . )Moses-parting-the-Red-Sea

For no matter if they like liked it or not, Israel faced their moment of truth, fear or no fear. There was no turning back.

Choice 1: Go back to Egypt and angry Pharaoh

Choice 2: Trust God to lead the way across the sea.

What would be their choice?

You and I know the story, so it is hard to stay at this point for too long. For we know the Lord tells Moses to lift up his hands over the sea. And as Moses stretches his hands over the Red Sea, it parts. Dry ground appears. And, a path for walking become visible.

How scary that moment must have been!

But they were asked to do one thing: walk.

Just walk.

They were asked to walk. Walking forward equaled courage.walking-1

Courage for them meant no longer being a passive player in the deliverance that God had for them.

So hard is walking? But it was oh so courageous. It wasn’t like they had previous experience in something like this. It wasn’t like they had time to have pro/ con chart. It wasn’t like they had time to call a church council meeting and discuss how everyone felt about it. They just had to walk right then. It was their God MOMENT.

They were to step with the confidence that thought they may not know what was on the other side, and though they may not have intended to walk across a sea-- maybe never in their lifetime ever and maybe never again-- this was what was next for them.

Just walk.

One step in front of the other.

Walking toward a new future.

I want to tell you this: we don’t have to be Bonhoeffer in Nazi Germany or at the edge of the Rea Sea to face such choices.

Such intentional opportunities are found in the choices in front of us every day-- in such choices that may seem too ordinary, too difficult or even too overwhelming in the big picture, but when presented with the moment to act are the tug on our heart to move.

Just saying no to a homophobic slur.

Stopping to help a distressed looking neighbor.

Visiting someone who might feel forgotten.

And our faith tradition is full of the great cloud of witnesses of those who have also acted with such intentional courage too . . . ordinary people found themselves doing unheard of things because of the love of God compelled them to act. We think of them as “big players” in a movement. But when it all boils down it was just putting one foot in front of the other.

Courage that looked like a tired woman in Alabama in 1954 boarding a bus as she did the same way ever day, but knowing one morning that she'd had enough sitting in the back with the folks who looked just like her. And she sat in the front.

Courage that looks like a young boy named Desmond who thought he’s just be a school teacher, only to find himself called to the pastorate in South Africa. Rev. Tutu who one day knew had to speak out against the un-justice even when it landed him in jail. He could simply not be silent.

Courage that looks like people organizing all over this country right now. . . people going to the streets, people standing in protest lines at City Halls, people showing up in one another’s homes to pray and get to know their neighbors better, saying with their steps it’s time for us in this country to have a conversation about race. That indeed black lives matter.

My dear ones, in times like this is easy to say, "I'm not courageous" and be so overwhelmed by what we hear reported every day on the news.

It's easy to pretend the injustices in the nation are not OUR problem.

It's easy to say: "There's always so one else who can do it better than me" and never really spend the moments and resources of our lives on things with no value.

BUT, if we truly are people who believe that "the Lord will fight for us" who wants us "to go forward" then I believe we've all got some walking to do.

Intentional Walking.

In the spirit of being a "Preacher on the Plaza," how fun it was to be the Chaplain at the Baptist House of Chautauqua Institute last week in New York!  (I will always travel to preach!)

If you aren't familiar with the Chautauqua Institute (as I wasn't before this, my first visit), it's a center for education, inter-religious dialogue and the arts in existence since 1874. Founded originally as a center for ecumenical conversation and training for Methodist Sunday School teachers, Chautauqua has evolved since its earliest days. Today it's a place where thousands of open-minded pilgrims gather during the 9 week summer season for study, friendship and hope about how we can all do our part to bring about justice and healing in the world.

On any given day at Chautauqua during the summer, you could attend a lecture in the morning by leading professional or media personality, take a sailing lesson at lunch, hear a chamber music concert in the afternoon, and watch a ballet performance in the evening with 5,000 of your new friends. (Yes, all in one day!)

IMG_6128The theme of last week was the Middle East Now and Next. I heard so many lectures that both made me want to wept at the state of American foreign policy but also introduced me some of the most creative peacemakers that spoke with hope!

And, in this blog post I could tell you how much I learned about movements for peace in places like Egypt, Iran and Iraq. 

Or I could tell you how fun it was to preach on Sunday and a led a lecture at the Baptist House gatherings. IMG_6118

Or I could tell you about the beauty of the historic cottages and the gardens without end!


Or even how I got to experience all of these things with a great friend.


But as is the case with me and most big experiences like this, what I take away is usually not something that was specifically on the agenda.

Last week at Chautauqua in the space and comfort of being "away" I thought a lot about courage.

I thought about how the things that most of us really, really want out of life are things we're afraid to ask for or think is really at all possible. 

I thought about how fear of being rejected at our deepest level often keeps joy out--- the kind of joy that could chart our paths on less anxious places. 

I thought about how scary it is to say, "I'm THE one for this task" or "This is what I want/ need from you" Or "I need to tell you something." But, in fact, these are the words that do usher in salvation. 

In all this thinking, I was thankful to attend a lecture on Friday afternoon about the writings of Henri Nowuen and Thomas Merton.

These are two of the prolific writers and spiritual thinkers of the 20th century who'd I'd thought a lot about in seminary, but not much since. I'd forgotten about the bravery that flows from their musings.

So, I was thankful to rediscover these words from Nowuen's book, The Inner Voice of Love about courage:

"Do not hesitate to love and to love deeply. You might be afraid of the pain that love can cause. When those you love deeply reject you, leave you, or die your heart will be broken. But this should not hold you back from loving deeply . . . You will discover that the more love you can take in and hold on to, the less fearful you will become."

I was thankful to hear these words attributed to Merton again:

“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.”

And so, I arrived at home on Saturday night feeling all the more vulnerable, but all the more delighted by the gift of courage.

Courage to be present in the moment exactly as it is.

Courage to dream past my excuses.

Courage to feel like my heart might come out of my chest as joy settles in (but that's ok).

Life is full of surprises, isn't it?

Thank you Chautauqua for a week of so many gems and especially a new tan full of new courage!