The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”

And let everyone who hears say, “Come.”

And let everyone who is thirsty come.

Let anyone who wishes take the water of

life as a gift.  ~Revelation 22:17

Be Still

I’ve never written a blog before, and I must confess it feels a little intimidating. As a pastor I knew my audience and wrote accordingly. Something they teach in sermon writing classes is to, “Know your people!” (My paraphrase). In this case, until I get to know you, I think I will stick to knowing myself. That isn’t meant to be narcissistic, only an introduction of sorts. If I know myself, I won’t tromp off into the weeds trying to be somebody I’m not. As I share, you can decide whether or not you want to know me.

The first question you might ask is, “Why ‘Grace Waters’?” I have had a dream, for more years than I can recall, of having a small retreat space with my husband on our little corner of the earth. A place where people who have experienced burnout, loss, grief, or a need to get away from the fray can come and be refreshed. It is a place near a lake in north Idaho that offers an abundance of opportunities to connect with nature, to breathe, and to be still. The unofficial name of our place is Grace Waters: for its proximity to water, for the grace I’ve experienced in that space, and for my dad’s aunt who lived there and whose maiden name was Grace Waters.

When I was on retreat on the island of Iona in Scotland four summers ago, I was in need of respite and renewal. What I discovered at Bishop’s House was what I’ve been dreaming for our place. I found community with strangers around shared meals that were simple and delicious. Fresh food on the table, grown in the garden outside. A space for contemplative worship and a my own quiet room to rest and be still. The beauty of creation, inviting me to walk and explore and connect with the earth and sea.

In my experience as a pastor and spiritual director, as well as a person in our modern culture, I have come to realize that people live frenetic lives. It is almost a badge of honor for some to breathe a heavy sigh before telling someone how busy they are. Subsequently, burnout is often the result. I’m convinced, however, that there is a better way to live. One that includes simplicity, rest, stillness, and play. I will discuss this more in future posts. This observation is not a condemnation, because I certainly haven’t completely figured out the balance. Rather, as I share my thoughts, I hope there will be an invitation to reflect on whether this is true in your life.

As of today, my retreat space remains in the dreaming stages. However, as I thought about this blog today, I decided that the name Grace Waters fits what I wish to offer here. I hope through my reflections, poems, and watercolor paintings to invite you consider your own life journey. Are there things getting in the way of truly experiencing peace, joy, and abundance? Are there ways to make space in your life for self-care, healing and rest?

My former mentor, colleague, pastor and friend continually called our congregation to the baptismal life. Whether or not you are a follower of Christ, there is something about the waters of baptism that my friend would often share. You see, water is continually seeking to find its own level. Take a half full bottle of water and slosh it side to side and watch, as you stop the motion, the way the water levels itself regardless of how the bottle is tipped. In the waters of baptism we find ourselves on an even plane. There’s no hierarchy. I take that image to heart and pray that in this space you will encounter the Spirit of Christ and feel equally cared for and loved. May this be a place of grace and a place of rest.

The Revelation invites us to partake of the gift of the water of life. It is the gracious invitation made by Jesus who said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” [Mt. 11:28-29].

 All things come from you, O God,
 and to you we return.
 All things emerge in your great river of life
 and into you we vanish again.
 At the beginning of this day
 we wake
 not as separate streams
 but as countless currents in a single flow
 the flow of this day’s dawning
 the flow of this day’s delight
 the flow of this day’s sorrows
 your flow, O God,
 in the twisting and turnings of this new day.
      ~John Philip Newell, Praying with the Earth, 2011