Words Are Like Turtles

I hope that as we sometimes brood over empty screens in front of us we meet Spirit-mystery and encounter unexpected truths.

A new semester has begun!

As a teacher, I am excited about reading the written work of my students this semester. I know from past experience how many wonderful insights, questions, and big ideas surface from mysterious depths as students craft reflections and essays. I celebrate the gifts that await our shared discovery, springtime gifts just beneath the surface, soon to shoulder their way up through winter soil.

Even as I anticipate the gifts of student writing, I know that the semester will bring some long, perhaps even painful, nights when inspiration eludes both teachers and students, when our muse is more enemy than friend. For those moments when we are word-and-world-weary, I share this image from writer and poet, Pat Schneider:

Tonight, words are turtles
sleeping under mud.
Even when I poke them
they will not wake up.
Leave us alone,
their silence says.
When we decide to surface,
we will tell you what we dreamed.


Writing is an intentional and inner act, Schneider says. She also says that “writing and prayer are both a form of love, and love takes courage.”

As we all poke countless sleeping turtles in our writing lives, I hope that we find courage to write with wisdom and honesty (to the best of our ability). I also hope that as we sometimes brood over the empty screen in front of us we meet Spirit-mystery and encounter unexpected truths.

Words of wisdom from Alice Walker:

When we let Spirit
Lead us
It is impossible
To know
We are being led.
All we know
All we can believe
All we can hope
Is that
We are going
That wherever
Takes us
Is where


Rock Us into Joy

Zoom worship windows, Facebook watch parties, YouTube gatherings, and more have become sacred spaces.

Virtual worship. What an unusual and intriguing phrase, one that has made its way into my everyday vocabulary. Covid-19 has not been able to stop faith communities from worshiping together in spirit and truth–in safe and socially distanced ways. Zoom worship windows, Facebook watch parties, YouTube gatherings, and more have become sacred spaces.

And I am impressed and energized by the diverse and creative ways religious leaders and communities are continuing to worship together.

Most intriguing to me has been how communities are keeping worship music alive. With determination and emerging technical skills, choir leaders, pastors, and musicians are learning create virtual choirs using a wide array of techniques and digital platforms. In spite of and through Covid-19, music lives on–in modalities that observe social distancing even as they highlight musical hopes and harmonies.

I receive these musical offerings as a gift of the pandemic. Some churches have been able to create musical ensembles with musicians from across distant geographies. How wonderful it is to experience new and unexpected connections in these uncertain times. My prayer is that we continue to unwrap this and other liturgical gifts of the pandemic season.

Inspired to experiment with technologies I am encountering in these days, I collaborated with musician and songwriter, Sally Ann Morris, and musician and singer, Sheila Hunter, to create this virtual ensemble. Sally Ann Morris wrote a musical refrain to accompany my prayer-poem. We had great fun working on this project. I share it here with gratitude for all musician and religious leaders who continue to inspire and energize their communities in these days.