blessings Means of grace self-compassion

For the Changing of the Seasons

I’ve been writing this slowly – for months – as I contemplated the changing of the seasons in the natural world, as well as the seasons in my life: school transitions resulting in family schedule shifts, expanding and evolving ministry opportunities, my dad’s death and the seasons surrounding it, my children’s growing skills and independence and the ever-changing realities of parenting, the recent shifts in the United Methodist Church. The seasons are always changing. Next week, school gets out for summer. Another change, just for a time, before we begin a new school year in August. But we will be different then. We do not know what this season will bring, or how it will change us. May we move through this transition and many more, with grace and compassion. I wrote this for me – to me – but perhaps it’s for you, too.

For the Changing of the Seasons
For everything there is a season…
a period supposedly defined,
but more often,
the boundary is unclear,
the time immeasurable,
the lines blurred.

There is a before,
a during,
and an after…
but even with
clear dates on the calendar,
the beginning
and the ending
are elusive.

In the beginning,
there is a shift,
or many small changes,
perhaps marked by
a celebration or a grief,
a ritual or an event.

But in looking back,
was that really the beginning?

Or was it a slow build,
originating deep within,
on a day you cannot name
with a feeling or a thought
that is both undeniable
and impossible to describe?

Or did it begin with
something surprising
and earth-shattering,
an ending so sudden
you could barely
catch your breath?

Or was the beginning
the absence of something,
perhaps unnoticed,
overlooked for a time,
until a relic of the past
brought it to mind?

Beginnings and endings
always hang together…

Sometimes it is only
in retrospect
that you can name
what began,
what ended,
and what grew
out of the meeting
of the two.

The shift inside you
whether subtle
or startling
whether sought out
or surprising,
is how the seasons
are shaping you.

You are not what is
or what was
or what will be

you are
what you are

As the seasons come and go,
you change and grow…
becoming new
again and again
with each passing season.

blessings self-compassion

For when it’s all too much…

My friend’s dad died this week. We have been friends since 2011, back when we were both graduate students, young adults without kids. So much has changed since then: moves, marriage, careers, babies. We now live half a country apart. We both have young children. And we both lost our fathers within the course of a year. 

Connecting with my friend this week reminded me of this permission slip I wrote to myself months ago, on a day when the combination of parenting and grief and work and household management was all too much. I did not write it to share it. But here it is: for me, for my friend, and for you, for when it (and “it” can be anything) is all too much. 

For the day when
the tears flow freely,
becoming sobs,
but there are no words
to describe the hard,
when sighs and groans
are the language of prayer…

Breathe in and out.
Sigh, scream, cry.
Curse if it helps.
Throw punches at your pillow.
Make a cup of tea.
Stare out the window.
Walk, run, flee…

Do whatever enables you
to set down
this too-muchness,
that threatens to
overtake you,
this overhwhelming-ness
that is trying to crush you…


This is your permission slip
to pause your spinning mind,
to be attentive to your body,
to connect with your soul,
to ask what it is that you need…
and then DO it,
without delay or excuses.

And if you can’t figure out
what you need,
be counterintuitive.
Do the opposite
of what you usually would,
do anything for the good
of your mind, body, soul.

It may seem easier
to say than to do,
but the doing
is what will get you through,
and let me be clear,
I mean the kind of doing
that is focused on YOU.