“‘Work makes free’ — the sign over the gate of Auschwitz — tells with grim satisfaction, the awful literal truth: ‘Here we work people to death.'” In his book on the vocation of writing, Thomas Merton observes that in so-called family or resettlement camps death was the only freedom. The joys of honest labor and straight talk were perverted.

Psychologist M. Scott Peck defined love as a form of work — giving someone our attention, caring for someone, attending to their growth, extending ourselves (and thus growing in spirit ourselves as well). “Jacob worked seven years for Rachel. But it only seemed like a few days, he loved her so much” (Genesis 29:20). Working for love of spouse or family is a huge motivator.

Working for love of God out of our love-purposed, Spirit-breathed life force is our prime impetus. Young children, athletes and artists know: the best work is play; the best play is work.

Grandson Seren started long before his second birthday, delighting in turning pages of books, depositing tiny pieces of litter in trash cans, opening the door for the meowing cat. During my recent visit Seren developed a joyous routine digging up soil from a large raised planter, balancing clumps of it on a stick, carrying it to a nearby step where he shook it off, grabbed his broom and swept it off the step. Every day I was treated to several repeat performances, even after the stick broke in half.

I’m very much looking forward to “Dancing the Psalms,” a workshop in Fredericksburg VA on July 30 —  a great day of body/spirit, work/play. SacredDanceFlyerJuly_30_2011


Dear Elizabeth,

Will you be my voice teacher? Thank you, elder sister, for teaching me to find my voice in prayer: “The Lord has done this for me” you said, “has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.” Was your husband Zechariah your first pupil (after he lost his voice in disbelief)? Maybe you were speechless too in the miraculous bloom of post-menopausal pregnancy until your teenage niece came to visit.

Mary was also “with child”, her story even more incredible. Virgin impregnated by the Holy Spirit greeted rejuvenated crone. Baby John who would grow up to be a voice crying in the wilderness leaped for joy in your womb. You were filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed in a loud voice: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Elizabeth, your humble voice asking “Why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” honored the infant Godman and dignified Mary’s willingness to carry and birth him. Your Holy Spirited words let loose a crescendo of praise as Mary too found her voice: “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. He has performed mighty deeds; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.”

Like Elizabeth, I’ve found my voice relatively late in life, bringing my mullings to publication.  Wendy Bilen, author of Finding Josie, is like Mary to me now as her courage and devotion invigorate my writing. Wendy’s grandmother Josie was like Elizabeth to her as she gained her writing voice. My daughter Rhonda, co-author of the In Their Own Voices trilogy has long been a Christ-blessed inspiration for me and now for ever more mothers, fathers, daughters, sons discovering their voices anew or for the first time.


Seren got a splinter in his foot yesterday (thanks to my thoughtlessly allowing him on the deck barefoot). He wouldn’t let us get near it, much less take it out. Right then he didn’t understand anything but the terror of having his foot grasped, pinched and probed. But this morning in his mellow time with Mommy, Jean quietly showed him the wood sliver, asked if she could take it out, he whispered his yah, and her tweezers gently performed the extraction.

“You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” So said Jesus. “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Yet after Jesus told him, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me,” Peter did an about-face: “Then, Lord, not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” Understanding is a multi-layered process. After washing his disciples’ feet Jesus asked them, “Do you understand what I have done for you? I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”

Up until two weeks ago Seren barely tolerated his baths.  Now after some patient, gentle, playful times with the teenage babysitter, he eagerly sheds his clothes, reaches for the water, fills and pours cups, plays happily by himself.

I’m glad Jesus, the Word made flesh, helped us understand at a bodily level–in baptism, foot-washing, healing touches. And all over the world today the Body of Christ, Jesus’ followers build wholistic understanding.

Since January, yoga practice has deepened my awareness and understanding of whole body prayer. More recently I’m beginning to branch out into liturgical dance, reading Dance — the Sacred Art: The Joy of Movement as a Spiritual Practice, putting music on and doing simple exercises from the book, hoping to attend a workshop in July.


On her traumatic, stressful road to joy Ann Voskamp came to recognize trust as “the bridge from yesterday to tomorrow, built with planks of thanks.” Eucharisteo, remembering with thanksgiving, became her mantra, her discipline, her bread of life. A woman on Renovare’s Facebook site recommended One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to LIVE FULLY Right Where You Are. Happy to find it in our county library, I’ve been savoring Ann’s grateful, childlike trust all week and am eager to get my own copy. Also to check out her website and blog.

Humans are created to be in communion with God and one another. God created us with the capacity to appreciate all the wonders of creation, to delight in each other and to enjoy the Creator Godself. Thanksgiving and trust come naturally, right?

Then why is it often true that the more we have to be thankful for, the less thankful we are? And the closer to God people think or say they are, the more fear-bound and worry-flurried they seem?

  1. God, who is love personified, gives us way more than we need every day.
  2. We start taking everything for granted, assuming human self-sufficiency.
  3. We take risks, we mess up, people fail us, trust erodes.
  4. We turn to our gods–education, health, achievement, wealth, religion.
  5. God, our Loving Parent, keeps on giving each of us more than we need each day, no matter what.
  6. In God’s good timing we hear: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”
  7. As for Ann Voskamp, the Holy Spirit awakens us gradually to the joy of gratitude that builds trust.
Lasting transformation from anxiety, disillusionment and frustration to carefree trust must be nourished daily with thanks-fullness. For more years than I can remember I’ve kept a prayer journal, every year with more “Thank You for…” and “I trust You for…”.  Thousands of mornings: “Thanks for good (sometimes deep, sound, long, great, dreamy, wonderful, childlike, renewing, revitalizing, or sweet) sleep. Hundreds of wakeful hours: “I trust You for the rest and sleep I need.” Another perennial theme is Spirit fruit: Thank You for Your Love shown to me in Jim’s or someone else’s love; I trust You to keep me loving today. Thanks for the joy of being outdoors on this beautiful day; I trust You to infuse me with creative joy. Thanks for Pax Christi; I trust Your peace-making power. Thanks for that friend’s patience, so like Yours with me; I trust You for this waiting time I face. Thanks for her kindness to them; I trust You will inspire me with kind spontaneity as well. Thank You for opening my heart-eyes to Your goodness in so many ways today; I trust You to guide my writing to give You all the praise. Thanks for his faithfulness, her gentleness, their self-control; I trust You to keep me faithfully following You, Jesus, trusting Your gentle guidance and life-generating disciplines.