Personal Growth


Our daffodils seem to have made a commitment.  They’ve broken through the layers of frosty dirt and there’s no going back now.

The vernal equinox has come and gone.  Here in Vermont there’s still snow on the ground in some places. And lots of mud in others. Earlier in the week the temperature was almost balmy, but today the wind carries a chill reminiscent of January.  As I write this we are preparing for a nor’easter that promises to dump a foot of heavy wet snow. Yet through it all the daffodils – the cheery yellow harbingers of warm weather…Keep reading

My Mother’s Apron

Some years ago, I was going through a stack of hastily packed boxes of my parents’ memorabilia.  Even though I had no idea what they contained, I was surprised to find what appeared to be a fragment of a denim apron.  It was torn at the waist, with a pocket on the right side and metal rivets with bits of twine that likely once tied it in the back. I had no idea where it came from, or, honestly which of my parents it belonged to.

However, as I dug through the box, I found a photo of my mother wearing what I realized was the full apron.  Though I’d never seen the setting of the photo, it wasn’t tough to figure out that it was the factory where she worked.

When my mother reached her 18th birthday… Keep reading

Take Your Time

“Take your time, Deadra,” my massage therapist said, just as she finished undoing the tension I held in my shoulders and jaw.   Her words startled me – nobody else was saying anything like that to me at the time.  When she told me that she was leaving the room, she added that I didn’t have to rush. “Take your time.” What an amazing invitation; a gift…
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Winter Again

As I write this, we’re in the process of clearing snow dropped on our region by back-to-back storms.  Of course, this is to be expected in early March.

But a week earlier I had allowed myself to be lulled into a false expectation that spring had all but arrived and settled in. There were days in February when temperatures were in the 40s, nipping at the heels of 50.  Snow and ice were melting, and mud was emerging on gravel roads – a sure sign of spring.

To me, this is very much the season of “midwinter spring” that Eliot describes.  It can seem as if we’re caught in an endless loop of winter one day, spring the next, then back to winter.Keep reading

One Good Thing

“You’ll never make everybody happy.”
“Don’t do other people’s jobs for them.”
“We’ve been doing it this way for years; we’re not going to change now.”
Like many newly minted ministers, the people in my first churches taught me far more than I could possibly have taught them.  Their lessons have stuck with me over my decades of pastoral work. But one gem in particular stands out.  I’ve shared with more people than I can count. “I look for a good thing – just one small, good thing – each day and hold on to it.
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Angel at Our Door

It’s Christmas and our power is out.
Like so many others, our area was hit by a powerful storm that featured everything from unseasonably warm temperatures and rain to a rapid chill with fierce winds. That’s a recipe for a power outage.
But we’re among the lucky ones.  We have a generator that supplies enough power to keep us warm and well-lit.
Until it didn’t. After running continuously for more than 24 hours, it quit.
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Letting Go

It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly five years since a major renovation to our house was nearing completion.  As I look back, I’m thinking about what that project taught me – lessons about far more than tearing down and rebuilding physical structures. That project taught me not to fear letting go of what no longer works in my life, whether it’s a job I’ve outgrown, a toxic relationship, or a living situation that no longer meets my needs.

Letting go means leaving behind what has become familiar and comfortable, even though it may have long since ceased being useful or lifegiving.  It means stepping into the new and unknown.  That can be overwhelming and frightening.
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Have you ever noticed that anxiety seems to have a life of its own?
When I’m anxious I have a sense of a storm growing inside me.  My thoughts run away from me, creating a doomsday scenario of ferocious winds whipping up dark clouds and heavy seas into a fearsome storm.
Over the years, what I’ve found most helpful is to develop self-awareness.  In other words, to both pay attention and to, and detach from, what’s going inside my head.
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A few days ago, as I was going through boxes that hadn’t been opened in years, I ran across this little sculpture that my daughter made in a high school pottery class.  As I held this little figure in my hand I was transported back to that time in my life.  I was a single parent with one child in high school and another in college.  And I held a high-pressure job for which I wasn’t particularly well-suited, but which paid the bills.  It always seemed that the days were a blur of scheduling activities, carpooling, and traveling around the country for work.

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Speak Tenderly…

I’m tired. I hear this every day.  I hear it from family caregivers who miss the opportunities for the much needed breaks they once had in the “Before Times” when people could come into their home to relieve them for a few hours. I hear it from the newly bereaved whose grief is complicated by pandemic-induced social distancing mandates that come at a time when they need to be physically close to those they love.  I hear it from front line health care workers and teachers and therapists and pastors and activists. I hear it from parents who are desperately…