Morning poem

I am not sure where to find You today, Lord,

so I’ll start here…

It is still on the back patio

except for the siren of the cardinal,

the buzz of the bee,

the peck of the woodpecker,

and Molly rustling in the bushes.

A mourning dove joins the chorus,

and other songs and calls I cannot identify.

I miss the neighbor’s tree towering over

with perches in my view.

Yes, Lord, You are here.


Jeremiah 29:13 – You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.



The Comfort of Crying: A Guest Post by Matt Schroeder

Today, I am sharing a post by one of my favorite seminary peeps, Matt Schroeder. He is a deep and compassionate soul and a great writer. Enjoy!

The Comfort Of Crying

I’ve never been good at crying. I try to shut it off as soon as possible. I come up with every reason why I’m not allowed to. I always hide from my feelings in one way or another. As a result, I cry maybe once or twice a year. Now? I’ve cried three times in as many days. I’m not talking about dignified crying with a modicum of sniffling and occasional dabbing of the eyes. I’m talking uncontrollable sobbing that leaves me with a headache and maybe some dehydration. I cry for reasons so large I can’t ignore them. I’m mourning people I’ve never met and now never will. I’m angry at our leaders for causing so many preventable deaths by choosing profit and comfort over protection and safety. I’m upset with myself for wanting to say something, anything, to comfort others and coming up with nothing. But I can be honest with you about where I am.

I should acknowledge that I’m more privileged than most right now. I still have a roof over my head. I have my basic needs met. Many of my friendships were already long distance so I’m used to using the internet to keep in touch. Online classes have been fine overall and are actually better for me since I don’t spend four hours a day commuting. The friends I usually see regularly have been great about keeping in touch too. But the anxiety I feel any time I have to leave my apartment dwarfs everything. I’m constantly worried that I didn’t wash my hands thoroughly enough or that I touched something contaminated while trying to get back in. Taking the dog out feels more like a potentially life-threatening burden than a pleasant excuse to go outside. I often come back to sad news about more deaths or another government dysfunction making things worse. If someone were to ask me how I’m feeling on any given day now I’d respond with one word: Heavy.

Typically when I feel this way, I either get caught in the past regretting mistakes that led to this feeling or get stuck in the future berating myself for all the things I’m not doing in the present to make said future happen. I can’t do that this time. No one could have predicted this. Last month might as well be last year. No one knows when this will end. All we know is, this is our life now. So I’m stuck looking straight ahead at the giant scary shadow monster that is all the feelings I usually push away. Nowhere in my head to run anymore. In the moments when this monster wraps itself around me and I feel the full weight of everything hit me, I do the only thing I can: Cry.

But that’s not what I’m supposed to do. I was told by society, as many of us were, that men don’t cry in anything but the most extreme circumstances. When I would cry as a child, adults rushed to stop me as soon as possible. Their first response more often than not was “calm down” or “don’t cry, focus on this” or in the case of one person, “ I’ll give you something to cry about.” So I eventually saw crying as some sort of failure. I saw it as the moment when I lost control of myself despite my best effort, and I needed to get myself under control as soon as possible. That’s what everyone around me taught me, in different ways. I don’t blame them. They were trying to spare me unpleasant feelings as best they could. At the end of the day though, I never learned how to cry. I never learned how to let myself be in that moment without rushing to fix it. I never learned how to go through my sadness instead of around it.

But now that our new normal is here, I’m finally learning. I’m learning that I can stop running away and let my feelings tear through me sometimes and still be ok. I used to think I’d never stop crying if I started. Now I cry until I’m ready to stop, and I’m always better for it. Crying is comforting in its own way now. I’ve accepted that the person coming out of all this grief won’t be the same person who went in, and that’s okay. I’ve realized that my negative feelings aren’t a big scary monster, just a side of myself I’m still getting used to accepting. Crying isn’t failing. It’s just kneeling before we stand up again.


Thank you Matt for giving us permission to cry. And please keep writing!

For future nuggets of grace, you can follow Matt’s blog here: Quietly Questing Blog by Matt Schroeder


 John 11:35  ~  Jesus wept.





Go and Tell

That time when your church invites you, along with other laypersons, to write a Lenten devotional for one day in April. And you procrastinate on picking which day. And you get Easter Sunday. No pressure! You can follow the link to see the post, or read the text below.

First Grapevine UMC blog post

At first, I was intimidated by the idea of writing the devotional for Easter Sunday – the big day, the reason for it all. Then I read the assigned scripture from the Gospel of John (John 20:1-18).

Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb, and she finds the stone removed and the tomb empty. Other disciples come to investigate too. When they see but do not understand, they return to their homes. But Mary remains and weeps. I can only imagine the deep sadness and grief and hopelessness she must be feeling in this moment. Yet it is in the midst of this despair that she encounters the Risen Christ. Jesus speaks to her and of all the things he could say to her, he says, “Go to my brothers and sisters and tell them.”

Go and tell! Go and tell others that you have experienced the Risen Christ. Go right now. Don’t wait until you know everything or until you understand everything, go now. Go and tell while you are still breathless from the experience. Go and tell.

So, I will not worry that I may not have the right words or that I do not know everything or that I do not understand everything. I have experienced the Risen Christ and I will ‘Go and Tell.’

My Prayer:
Dear Loving and Faithful God –
Thank You for Your Son, Jesus Christ. Thank You for resurrection and new life in and through Him. Please give us the courage to ‘Go and tell’ every time we experience You in the world.
In Jesus’ powerful name I pray,
Alleluia! and Amen.

John 20:1-18 Common English Bible (CEB)

Early in the morning of the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. She ran to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they’ve put him.” Peter and the other disciple left to go to the tomb. They were running together, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and was the first to arrive at the tomb. Bending down to take a look, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he didn’t go in. Following him, Simon Peter entered the tomb and saw the linen cloths lying there. He also saw the face cloth that had been on Jesus’ head. It wasn’t with the other clothes but was folded up in its own place. Then the other disciple, the one who arrived at the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. They didn’t yet understand the scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to the place where they were staying.

Mary stood outside near the tomb, crying. As she cried, she bent down to look into the tomb. She saw two angels dressed in white, seated where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head and one at the foot. The angels asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

She replied, “They have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve put him.” As soon as she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn’t know it was Jesus.

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she replied, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabbouni” (which means Teacher).

Jesus said to her, “Don’t hold on to me, for I haven’t yet gone up to my Father. Go to my brothers and sisters and tell them, ‘I’m going up to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene left and announced to the disciples, “I’ve seen the Lord.” Then she told them what he said to her.

Called to the Edge – A Holy Hike

As a Spiritual Practice for Holy Saturday I was invited by my church to go on Holy Hike. The original plan, of course, was that we would all hike together. Since that was not possible, I went by myself to the park. I wanted to write about what I had seen but I was afraid I might forget some of it by the time I got home, so I decided to try a Voice Memo. I have not done that before, but it was just like writing in my journal. I thought I would share both here: what I recorded on the walk and my notes when I returned home – my conversation with God.


Here is the transcription of my audio recording:

Today I went to walk in the park and I realized it was 4 years ago when broke my toe. At that time, I had been walking almost every day, not so much for exercise but for time with You as a prayer walk, as a conversation with You. It was when I was feeling my call to ministry. I started recording messages and sharing them, recording in the sense that I would go home after my prayer walk and write down what we had talked about. Sometimes I would share what I had written with others. And then I broke my toe on a early morning walk before church. I was at Parr Park and some adults were playing soccer and their ball came towards me. I felt young and alive and I felt energized and strong, so I went up to kick the ball really hard. I didn’t realize the ball was a weighted ball and I broke my big toe. So, I limped home. In the ‘recovery’ of that I also injured my other foot, broke a different toe, and threw my back out. It has been 4 years since I have been walking in the park in the mornings with You, Lord. In all of that I started journaling. Now I have pages and pages and pages of our conversations. So now today I am out walking and I want a way to combine the two. How do I walk with You and still find a way to record the messages? So, I am trying this Voice Memo. I am not sure how I feel about it. It’s weird to walk through the park talking to yourself. Of course, we all do it maybe just not out loud. We’ll see.

So today on my walk through the park I wasn’t drawn to my normal path through the woods by the river. I was drawn a different way, which seemed odd to me.  So I had my usual argument with You in my mind. Why would I go that way? It feels like it just goes straight to a neighborhood. There won’t be anything to see, or experience. But I am trying to listen, trying to be obedient. So, I followed the nudge and of course You led me to something beautiful. I have lived by Parr Park for almost 20 years and didn’t know this existed. There is liminal space. There is a threshold. There is a ‘Prairie in Progress’: a place where someone was intentional about setting it apart for a different purpose. It is in the area between the park and the neighborhood and it has been set apart. And it looks a little wild but sacred at the same time. It is a lot of different kind of trees, a lot of different grasses, a lot of different kinds of wildflowers. I would imagine a lot of different kinds of bugs, a lot of different kinds of birds. I would imagine that maybe a lot of different kinds of people come through. It is interesting that as I walk along the path between the park and this liminal space, someone else is walking in the grassy area between the liminal space and the neighborhood. We are enjoying different perspectives of this space You have created. And lo and behold, a connector between the two. Someone has mowed a path between the park and the neighborhood through this sacred space that has been created.

I think it may be time to go home, but I don’t know that I am ready. I love that it is only 8am, and I still have a full day. Of what, I don’t know…family I guess. It is interesting to think that today on Holy Saturday, our church has encouraged our congregation and others to go on a Holy Hike since we cannot be together due to Covid-19 and quarantines. So, at this very moment there may be people I know and people I don’t know out experiencing liminal space and the messages of threshold that You might be giving them. Other messages maybe, pertaining to where you’re calling them. It feels to me like you are calling me to the edge, which is a familiar call. I love the coast, the edge of where land hits water. I love a seaside. I love the edge of a meadow. I love the edge of the forest. Even a cliff. When I have the courage to fight that woozy feeling I get when I get too close to the edge, but I’m still drawn to look over to see what begins where something ends.

– What edges or thresholds are you being called to explore today?

Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.

My Prayer:
Dear Loving and Faithful God,
Thank you for your call beyond where I would go myself. Thank you for being with me in the liminal spaces of Holy Week and of life.
In Jesus powerful name I pray,