Routine

ROUTINE can itself be a means of creation. Rob Hoerburger

May God strengthen you with power deep inside. The Apostle Paul

God of all comfort and joy, give me eyes to see how your Spirit is working in the routines of my daily life. Amen


My Grandmother spent half her life a farmer, the other half a townsperson with showstopping gardens. She was also a cook who put out large and delicious spreads for holidays and family picnics. People always wondered how she and her sisters could create such beautiful home places and feed such crowds.

Grandma B. survived the Big Thompson Flood of 1976. Her home in the canyon was only a few hundred feet from the river. I was 11 at the time and spent the rest of the summer living with her to keep her company and help with chores. In the aftermath of the flood we had no electricity, no running water, no road into town for months. My mom and uncle trucked our groceries and drinking water over high country ranch roads south of the canyon.

That summer I learned the secret of Grandma’s creativity and contentment—ROUTINE.

Every day we got up with the sun, hauled water, tended gardens, baked, did laundry, ate breakfast and lunch, prepped dinner, had tea and sweets, read, fired up the cookstove, cooked, ate, washed dishes, took a walk, lit kerosene lamps, got ready for bed and slept like logs.

Grandma B. was not one you would label a “creative.” She had no “career.” Her talents were gardening and home-keeping, and her secret weapon was routine. We live in a world that often pits creativity against routine. But the summer I lived with Grandma, I learned how our creativity depends on it.

When it was my turn to be a grown up, I established my own routines: Morning reading, coffee, exercise, laundry, packed-lunch, dinner prep, evening news… When there were little ones: waking, feeding, playing, napping, bathing and bedtime. At work: morning creative projects followed by meetings and afternoon admin.

Sometimes I wonder how my routines are hindering, rather than enhancing, creativity.

Now that I’m living in the land of quarantine like all of you, I’m renewing my appreciation for the creative power of routine. Rob Hoerburger writes: Routine can itself be a means of creation. Routines, like all acts of creation, [are] essentially acts of faith.

Spiritual Practice

What routines are a means of creation for you?

How have your routines changed or been strengthened during the pandemic? Which routines get boring? When do you notice a lack of joy or peace? Is there a routine that might give you comfort and stability?

Sleep tight, and don’t forget the sleep enhancing properties of a healthy bedtime routine!

L, Katie

Clean

The objective of cleaning is not just to clean, but to feel happiness living within that environment.  Marie Kondo

God of Creation, help us to adopt new health practices which enhance our lives and promote the safety and happiness of our homes and neighborhoods. Amen.


I’m super jazzed about a new term I just learned from a hog farmer: biosecurity.

Brad Greenway raises pigs on a farm near Mitchell, S.D., and the measures we are taking to stay germ-safe during this pandemic are things Brad always practices. When he arrives back at the farm after errands, he showers, puts on fresh clothes and wipes down the supplies he’s bringing into the barn. He says, “We’ve always tried to practice good biosecurity.”

I think back to the lessons I learned from my Grandmother in her kitchen. Being a farmer herself, she taught me things like: How to wash up the counters, carving knife and kitchen sink after cleaning and prepping a turkey or chicken for roasting. She had a utility sink near the back door and emphasized hand washing and scrubbing under one’s fingernails with a stiff brush, because “that’s where the germs can hide.” Baby diapers, sheets and towels were hung on the line to dry, because “the sunshine is a natural disinfectant.”

(I also have my own biosecurity theory: I think tequila kills germs in the throat and cures colds. Go ahead and laugh… as my kids do. It’s what I believe and for good reason:)

Spiritual Practice

This pandemic is a fantastic opportunity to develop new habits that protect our health.

My grandparents were fastidious about biosecurity because they raised crops and livestock and because their generation was fairly new to the germ theory of medicine. People in their neighborhood had died of trichinosis or salmonella.

What can we be fastidious about NOW? Handwashing for sure…

I spent a couple of weeks in Hong Kong ten years ago. SARS had converted the whole society to mask-wearing whenever a person is ill or susceptible to illness. Analysts credit Hong Kong’s health in this pandemic to mask wearing in the early days of the outbreak. If masks don’t help, the hyper-intelligent residents of Hong Kong would NOT have permanently converted to the practice. Masks help!

Vitamin D? Drinking ginger tea? Staying hydrated? These are all practices that enhance our biosecurity.

And still there is no shame in falling ill. Our best efforts cannot guaranty our safety. Farmer Brad’s storyteller remarks: Even stringent methods run up against natural limits. One is found in the pits beneath a hog farm, which gather the roughly 1.3 gallons of manure each hog produces a day. It’s clean, but it still smells. Pigs poop a lot.

Have a nice evening. Be sure to wash your hands and brush your teeth. The future of the universe depends on us and God!

Katie

Pilgrimage

The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalm 121

God who leads us safely through the varied terrain of life. Help us travel with wonder and purpose. Amen


This week’s evening drop series has been dedicated to the biology and spirituality of movement. Why does walking make us feel so good? What does it mean to “walk by faith?” Where do runners get their strength? This Friday evening, I want to celebrate the power of pilgrimage.

I spent my 50th birthday on the tiny Island of Iona, off the western coast of Scotland. The trip was a pilgrimage with a close group of scholars and spiritual directors. That morning I took a solo walk to the north coast on the Irish Sea. It was raining, and the wind was blowing hard. I remember talking to God and saying, “The first 50 years have been been quite a climb– growing up, raising children, learning a vocation– I’m ready now to walk downhill, with the wind on my back and sunshine on my shoulders.

Well, my life still feels like ‘climbing mountains in rain gear’, and I suspect I will feel that way for as long as I have air in my lungs.

Life is a climb—a journey of constant growth, sacrifice, and trusting God for what we cannot see. Eugene Peterson said, we are pilgrims, and we are also disciples—always moving and always learning. The Pilgrimage Psalms (Psalms 120-134) were sung by traveling families as they made the journey up to Jerusalem for the annual feasts.

It is my opinion that travel changes a person and strengthens a family. In all my travels I can feel my pilgrim’s heart. What does this journey mean? Who might I meet? What can I experience in this new place that will open the eyes of my heart? Perhaps I just love traveling-with-a-purpose so much that I make it one of the highest priorities of my life.

Don’t misunderstand. We’re not a fancy family with lots of funds. Neither Dave nor I had parents who took us places other than National Forest campgrounds and southern Minnesota! (Things we love and visit to this day.) Most of our travels have been with a pop-up trailer and four kids. We were pilgrims to the Grand Tetons, the Olympic Rainforest, the Canadian Rockies, the Outer Banks, Yosemite and Big Sur…

I think God saw how happy we were on these trips, and God helped us reach for more. Somehow we found a way to visit friends in England and family in Bavaria. In seminary I got to know South America. When Sarah was studying in Spain, the two of us made pilgrimage to Rome one Holy Week. And then I was hell bent on Iona. And last week I got hell bent on Jerusalem.

Spiritual Practice

And that brings me to the whole point. Let’s plan a pilgrimage NOW! I don’t know who you are and what is possible for you. But let’s all pick a place to go for our next trip, put it on the calendar and plan it out.

Safe, close spots include: Steamboat Lake, Chambers Lake, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Chasm Lake, Pawnee National Grassland, the top of Pike’s Peak… Can you travel further away? I love Moab, Santa Fe and the Anasazi Ruins. The moment it’s possible, I’ll be on a plane to NYC to pilgrim-around with Ryan and Sarah.

Life is a pilgrimage, and literal pilgrimage has a purpose in the spiritual life. What kind of travel has changed you? What have been your happiest moments on the road?

Sweet dreams,
Katie

We Run

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12

God who goes first and God who empowers, forgive our tendency to shrink back. Give us courage to risk uncertainty and run the race marked out for us. Amen


This week’s evening drop series is dedicated to the biology and spirituality of movement. Why does walking make us feel so good? What does it mean to “walk by faith?” And tonight, I want to celebrate the strength of runners.

There is a certain bravery needed for running, which doesn’t apply to walking. Running will bring you to places of depletion, pain and self-doubt. Sometimes we enter these states during a single run; other times they come to us over the course of a season. If you’re a runner you know what it’s like to wake up with shin splints or be furloughed by a stress fracture. These setbacks occur in the spiritual journey as well as the running life.

I’ve already confessed that I prefer to walk. Walking is enjoyable for me. I also enjoy trusting God and opting out of the rat race and competition of modern life. My fantasy is to walk the contemplative journey companioned by God and other enlightened people. But the life of faith is rarely that way, because there are relational heartbreaks, vocational train wrecks and financial ruins to deal with. You can’t opt out of running with the bulls, or running from the bears—even if you’re a spiritual advisor, a yogi master or a well-set retiree.

Life is dangerous, and sometimes we must run. Life is also exhilarating, and sometimes God invites you to pick up the pace and run headlong into the face of uncertainty. This is faith.

Spiritual Practice

In the Daring Way™ we talk about knowing our arena—being clear about the setting where we are called to show up, be seen and live bravely with our lives. During the Covid-19 crisis people are showing up in the arenas of parenting, neighboring and laboring. We work from home or we go to work in healthcare, grocery stores and meat packing plants. People are running hard into the arena of businesses and leadership—meeting payroll, forgiving rents-due, making tough decisions, keeping supply lines open, reorganizing for mission. My daughter Anne will give birth to my first grandchild during a plague. Many women are giving birth in an era of social distancing, with limited physical support. Many people have entered the arena of death, separated from their loved ones.

I’m sorry this Spring is not a walk in the park. The cherry blossoms are in bloom, but we’re not there the breathe them in. Whatever race you are running, Christ-in-you is REAL strength. A good spiritual practice is to name your “arena” or your “race.” Take a Post-It note and write, “My arena is ________.” Or, “I am running the race of ___________.” Put that Post-It where you will see it several times a day.

There are no guarantees about the race, and we will always be uncertain of the outcome. Faith means showing up and running anyway. You may not know where the race will lead you and what will happen along the way, but you are on the right track.

Every morning I jog out of my driveway and run at least two blocks before walking downhill to the river. I’d like to become a real runner, but currently I’m a walker who occasionally jogs. I’m waiting for running to become enjoyable, but I have my doubts about that ever happening.

Love you,
Katie

Hidden Strength

For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. Psalm 145

God of hidden strength and goodness, forgive our tendency to trust in worldly systems and be intimidated by appearances. Give us faith to keep taking steps. Amen


This week’s evening drop is dedicated to the biology and spirituality of walking. Why does walking make us feel so good? Tonight I want to celebrate the spiritual power of walking by faith.

Walking by sight is an endless temptation. The phrase “walk by sight” means to live by what we can see. And most of what we see is the world’s systems of power and security. In Jesus’s day Rome had the power. Early in the Old Testament days, Pharaoh had the power. Bible stories told in each of these eras illustrate the futility of trying to influence our circumstances by tapping into the visible and obvious systems of power.

In this Covid-19 era there are visible systems of power: the economy, business, supply chains, governors, the president, the CDC, congress and the World Health Org—to name a few. To walk by sight in our day is to put our faith in these systems—to hope and believe that these systems have control over our well-being.

Against such a tiresome practice of walking by sight, the Apostle Paul urges us to “walk by faith”—to trust a power we cannot see. This is the gospel (Good News) that there is a hidden Goodness at work in the universe. The proof of this loving presence is the resurrection of Jesus, which is also reflected in every aspect of nature and every aspect of your life.

To walk by faith is to cooperate with a Reality deeper and more powerful than the markets, the government or the health care system.

Spiritual Practice

If we choose to, we learn to walk by faith during a lifetime of practice and growth. When we walk by sight we focus on the visible successes of our outward lives, and we experience regular discouragement. True Faith does not plan her course by those signs. Rather, she walks with a daily confidence that the power of God is always at hand.

Psalm 145 is about the power of God, which is hidden in all things. If you could use a dose of encouragement for your walk of faith, take a minute and read Psalm 145 aloud. Perhaps visualize or write down the worldly systems you are still hoping will come through for you. And then visualize the more hopeful and realistic truths described in this Psalm. If you had access to the levers of power in the world’s governments or the transformational power of God in creation, which would you choose?

Rest well,
Katie  

We Walk

For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5

We walk to keep our mental and physical worlds open and to stop the walls from closing in. Dr. Shane O’Mara

Creator God who makes us divinely human, lead me into new worlds of health, vitality and creativity. Amen


This week, the evening drop of hope is dedicated to the biology and spirituality of walking.

Why does walking make us feel good? For me, walking is habit. When I show up in a new city the SECOND thing I do is figure out where I can walk for exercise and what site seeing I can do on foot. (The first thing I do is figure out where I can get coffee.)

During quarantine, I appreciate the gift of walking more than ever.

I’ve been reading how walking elevates our mood. As we walk, we place our heart muscle under positive stress, and molecules are produced that assist with the growth of cells, regulation of metabolism and reducing inflammation.

Walking is also essential to our nature and sets us apart as humans. No other animal does it. Have you ever watched a child learn to walk? One day they make this unique transition from crawling on all fours to toddling around on two feet. When my daughters were toddlers we sang a song: Walking, walking, walking, walking / seems so easy now / but I remember when I was small / and I did not know how! (On the most genius album of baby songs ever, by Hap Palmer.)

And we do NOT walk by sight. Dr. Shane O’Mara observes that walking is how we begin to find our way around in the world and develop an internal GPS and sense of direction. People who are visually impaired from birth still navigate with purpose and direction, because the experience of walking around in three-dimensional space creates cognitive maps. Close your eyes, and point to the door. That is your cognitive map at work, and it was built by moving around—not by looking around.

Movement through the world changes the dynamics of the brain itself, boosting creativity. Have you ever been out walking and had a hopeful time of prayer or an inspired idea for solving a relationship problem? Me too! “A walking brain is a more active brain,” writes Dr. Mara.

Spiritual Practice

So, in this time of “stay at home” and “safer at home” limitations, let’s indulge the joy of walking. Take a walk and say, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways!” I love what you do for my lungs; I love how you reduce my anxiety; I love how you help me stay connected with neighbors; I love all the birds and bees and flowers and trees that I walk with every day.

The rest of this week, I will get spiritual and talk about walking as a metaphor for the faith journey: living faithfully, running risks and the art of pilgrimage.

The biggest joy of the quarantine walks? Seeing Dave’s mom, who is 92, walking up my driveway for a little (socially distant) visit. Grandma lives two blocks away, and she walks every day. She is also an artist and a lover of international travel. My own mother lives four blocks away, and also walks by my house every morning. I learned the habit of daily walks from her.

Sleep well and start your day tomorrow with a long walk in the neighborhood,
Katie

Victory

Death has been swallowed up in victory. 1 Corinthians 15

God of new life, heal us from our fear of death, that we may no longer participate in the deathly swirl of greed and violence. Give us liberty to do your good work in the world. Amen. (Walter Brueggemann)


Did you know Easter is just getting started? We are only now finishing the first of seven weeks! Just as there are 12 traditional days of Christmas for me to unwind in the midwinter quiet and light, so too I have seven weeks of Easter sunshine.

In this Covid-19 crisis, I’m thinking more about the serious side of Easter than the straight-up sunny side. Perhaps in Aprils-past, I’ve not fully appreciated Easter’s power over death, nor thought too much about my role in the ongoing mystery of overcoming death in every-day life. I’m sure I still don’t get it, but I am a little more aware today.

In 1 Corinthians 15:51-58 Paul makes a powerful Easter statement followed by an imperative call to action: Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where O death is your victory? Where O death is your sting? Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Walter Brueggemann comments: Paul’s claim does not announce that we will not die. It announces, rather, that we do not need to live our lives in response to the power and sting of death that wants to negate our life, because death has been disarmed of its power to hurt us. This is defining news for us because we live in a society that is largely propelled by the fear of death. The outcome of that fear is anxiety, greed, and violence, all grounded in an elemental fear of scarcity; death specializes in scarcity and parsimony. (I looked up “parsimony”; it means tight-fistedness.)

Here is the JOY for those whose hearts are renovated in Christ’s Love: Though we are fighting a threatening disease, and though there is fear-driven anxiety, greed and violence in our society, those forces are obsolete and irrelevant to your life. Why? Because such a negative spirit has lost all its authority over your actual/real life in Christ.

Because of this Good News, Paul turns the corner with “therefore”: Be steady and constant without anxiety; Above all, excel in your performance of God’s work.

Spiritual Practice

I realize this Easter lesson adds responsibility to our lives. It’s not the typical way of thinking about Easter freedom. But where else will we go with our thoughts? This is the actual Message of Life. You carry in your very body, and within your household, and in your relationships, Christ’s Presence, which cannot be negated by anything going on in the world around you.

This Easter Friday reflect on your importance in the ongoing Easter story. How can you be hope and life to some part of the human family this weekend?

Come Monday, we get to keep learning Easter.

Blessings,
Katie