Episode 5: Deep Calls to Deep


Dear Friends-

Happy Thanksgiving! We hoped your day brought you joy. Here’s a new episode to cheer your post-holiday weekend: Episode 5, Deep Calls to Deep. 

We discuss Thanksgiving preparations, the ancient poem known as Psalm 42, the role of longing in our lives and the joy of spiritual friendships. As always, a little of this and a dash of that. Just some companionship for the journey.

And if you have a little extra time over Thanksgiving leftovers, please listen to our last episode, A Past of Plank and Nail.

Please subscribe, send to friends, and share your feedback with us. 

As always, there are plenty of meditations to re-read (and blessings for every threshold of life to share with others at our website here.)

We are delighted to continue this journey with all of you.

Your companions on the journey,

Lindsay and Kim

web: https://eachholyhour.com/
FB: @eachholyhour
IG: each_holy_hour

Episode 4: A Past of Plank and Nail


Dear Friends-

“I think this one turned out really beautifully,” read a message in my inbox this morning, alongside our new episode, “A Past of Plank and Nail.” The email was from Lindsay, and I agreed wholeheartedly. So two of us agree–we hope you do too!

In this episode, we’re stepping into an Emily Dickinson poem to discuss the framework of our faith and what our spirituality looks like when the scaffolding comes down. What is your past of plank and nail?

If you haven’t had time to listen to our last episode,  “And Yet,” please do, if only to hear a beautiful haiku by Issa read three times in different translations.

Thank you for all your warm encouragement. This is purely a labor of love for us. And as always, if you have a story about how a word, phrase, or poem has accompanied you recently, we’d be thrilled to hear it.

Please subscribe, send to friends, and share your feedback with us. 

As always, there are plenty of meditations to re-read (and blessings for every threshold of life to share with others at our website here.)

We are delighted to continue this journey with all of you.

Your companions on the journey,

Lindsay and Kim

web: https://eachholyhour.com/
FB: @eachholyhour
IG: each_holy_hour

And Yet


Dear Friends-

This week, we’re excited to send out our new episode, “And Yet.”  Join Kim and Lindsay as they discuss Halloween decor, All Saints Day, a haiku from the poet Issa and the story of Job. As always, a little of this and that. Listen on Spotify by clicking HERE

We’re especially thrilled that musician Calvin Joss has composed some beautiful music for us. You can find more of his music with his band Caspian or his band Cables and Lines (link). 

We invite you to create and share a haiku with us! Please share by emailing us at eachholyhour@gmail.com and with your permission we’ll include your words in our next podcast.

Please subscribe, send to friends, and share your feedback with us. 

As always, there are plenty of meditations to re-read (and blessings for every threshold of life to share with others at our website here.)

We are delighted to continue this journey with all of you.

With love,

Lindsay and Kim

web: https://eachholyhour.com/
FB: @eachholyhour
IG: each_holy_hour

Episode Two: “Enter”

Dear Friends-

What lovely responses we’ve received from you all–you’re the best! Thanks for listening to our first episode last week. This week, we’re highlighting our second episode, “Enter,” while we work on our third.  Thanks for being patient with us as we ease into this new medium–we’re truly learning as we go.

We know some of you have already listened, but if you haven’t yet had a chance, you can find our second episode, “Enter,” HERE

We’d love to share your stories. Did the words “Unfold” or “Enter” open any doors for you this week? Please share by leaving a comment on this post or emailing us at eachholyhour@gmail.com and we’ll include your words in our next podcast.

Please subscribe, send to friends, and share your feedback with us. 

As always, there are plenty of meditations to re-read (and blessings for every threshold of life to share with others here.)

We are delighted to continue this journey with all of you.

With love,

Lindsay and Kim

web: https://eachholyhour.com/
FB: @eachholyhour
IG: each_holy_hour

Each Holy Hour is back. . .as a podcast!

Dear Friends-

We are delighted to share our new podcast with you!  The last couple years have been intense and we’ve been doing what you have–surviving!  But recently as our worlds began to unfold again, we missed engaging with one another and with you all, but the old format of EHH seemed too isolating.  So we decided to do what we’ve always done best over hot cups of tea–have a heart-to-heart chat where we share life, ideas, and a lot of laughter.  We invite you into the conversation.  Think of it as a wee chat between old friends–and join in!

You can find our new podcast HERE.  Or take a sneak peek by listening to our trailer:

Please subscribe, send to friends, and share your feedback with us.  We’re so excited to connect with all of you.

With love,

Lindsay and Kim

Come Back Stronger

Dear Friends-

It’s been such a very long time since our last visit together. How are you?

I’m okay… if by okay we mean, good at moments, often weary, vaguely sensing that my heart and mind and body felt better 18 months ago, performing the actions of life with comfortable reliability but little zest. 

In June, my family drove to Washington to spend five days with Kim’s family. We hadn’t been together in more than three years since our visiting was already in arrears before Covid pitched us into an extended no-travel advisory. Together again, we packed a picnic for Foul Weather Bluff, the place where several years ago Kim and I originally discussed creating Each Holy Hour. While our kids sunbathed and ate sandy sandwiches, we walked the length of the beach.

If felt so good to be together, to listen to the wash of the waves, to toe over rocks, surprising furtive crabs. A heron slowly paced in the brackish water, wonderfully unconcerned with us or Covid or politics or the degree to which we were spent by the year we had just come through or whether the kids, back at the blankets, were getting sunburned and if they’d saved us anything to eat.

As we walked, we discussed how Each Holy Hour with its looooong periods of inactivity, hasn’t been exactly what we’d envisioned – or more precisely, we haven’t been what we’d envisioned: limitless, consistent writers.

It turns out that things don’t always come in rich abundance. Sometimes resources run dry. After these many grueling months of Covid, (with perhaps more to come as infections from the Delta variant surge), the personal damage we are sustaining is weighty. Some of us have lost loved ones, some have been sick themselves. There are societal-level consequences and economic fallout upon which generations of sociologists, economists, psychologists, and historians will mint PhDs. But at this point, it’s the micro level that I’m trying to get my arms around – the very micro: specifically assessing where the fallout from this year is showing up in my life. How am I metabolizing the increased stress? Have I grieved what needs to be grieved? Do I extend grace to others? To myself? With depleted internal resources, how do I go about rebuilding?

Our species has an innate love for stories where the protagonist comes back stronger. This storytelling pattern is so ingrained in our psyche that it’s often called the monomyth, the singular template of storytelling. After hardship comes the flourishing, after the flood comes the rainbow. I hope, for all of us, that the new life and growth on the far side of these difficult months will come. But I also realize that plotline and character arcs are elements we add to help structure our experience. Real life can be plotless.

These days, there are times I feel oddly flat and even in the midst of doing something that has always given me joy, I feel subdued. It seems like I’m looking through the wrong end of binoculars at a place I once inhabited. Even while I experience this bit of self-estrangement, I just try to accept that, right now, my range doesn’t extend as far as it used to.

I hope, of course, that like any good heroine, I’ll come back stronger. But I have to accept that life is an unstructured story with no guarantees. And that’s okay. The most I can say for myself is that I’m staying curious about where I am and trying to let that – and a walk on the beach with a very dear friend – be enough.

Sending love to all of you!
Lindsay 

p.s. Despite the ruminative tone of this Consider, this is a happy picture: the kids did save us a flask of tea!

Not only, but also

the numbers are footnotes…. couldn’t get the formatting to superscript

Dear Friends-

How are you holding up? Seriously. I truly hope you are yours are well as can be in these unpredictable days.

I’ve written several drafts of this Consider; each time I sit down my mood has been in a different place, making the words I jotted down a few days earlier no longer resonant. The pendulum swings. One day the sun is out, my kids’ online schooling is smooth, I’m staying abreast of work emails [1], I made time for a trail run [2] and a phone call with a friend. I put a wholesome meal on the table and think, “I’ve got this shelter-in-place thing down.”

Another day, the wheels come off: the kids are on each other’s last nerve, my work calls are interrupted with sibling fights over who gets to use which computer [3] for schoolwork, the pantry [4] is denuded with boredom grazing. I pour another cup of coffee [5], check the news again, and think, “How are we going to get through this?”

Sound familiar? I imagine I’m hardly the only one having sizable swings in my experience of these past weeks. I keep trying to remind myself I’ve never been in the midst of a global pandemic shuttering schools and businesses and under a stay-at-home order before, so of course I don’t know how to do it. It’s all a process of trial and error – and like the name says, there’s bound to be error (sometimes a lot). It’s okay, that’s how we learn.

Recently as I was cleaning out my desk [6], I came across a little envelope stuffed with index cards, fragments of church bulletins, paper torn from notebooks. On each little slip was scrawled a quote which I’d wanted to capture and save. Among these was the following from St. Augustine, “Thou must be emptied of that where with thou art full that thou mayest be filled with that where of thou art empty.”

Wow! What a time to come across these words suggesting there is something desirable about a profound shuffling of the things that fill our lives —for what are these days if not a time of deep, societal-wide reordering? The things “where with thou art full” have come to a screeching stop. The communal spaces – schools, restaurants, churches, downtown sidewalks – bustling just weeks ago, are empty. The calendar that ordered my family’s brimming life is gathering dust under my counter. The routine that kept us all hustling and shuttling feels like a distant and not-all-together pleasant memory. In many dramatic ways we are forcibly being emptied of that where with we are full.

The first half of Augustine’s memorable chiasmus seems obvious—we’re all living in the sudden cessation of the things that filled us. But it’s the second half, the reversal, that has been tugging on me. Of what are we empty that these tumultuous days provide us an opportunity to fill? Certainly Zoom calls and Google Classroom, cloth masks and hand sanitizer, grim statistics and worry, are all candidates for what fills us in this vacuum. But Augustine is, of course, speaking of an altogether different class of thing—not things at all, really. He’s intimating there’s much good available to us that the normal “fullness” of our daily lives precludes us from experiencing.

As for me, I’m not yet ready to say what emptiness in me the new patterns of this shelter-at-home life may fill. These days are too new, perhaps, to yet perceive the gold in them. But I’m grateful for the way these words of Augustine’s have framed these weeks of the pandemic, helping me to consider that emptying is not only loss but also invitation.

Peace,

Lindsay

1 Grateful that I have work, when so many have lost jobs and financial stability.

2 Grateful that I live in a place with endless access to trails and mountains and lakes, when so many are sheltering in small apartments.

 3 Grateful that we have access to technology that allows our kids to continue schoolwork, when so many do not have the funds to have any computers, much less several for the kids to fight over.

4 Grateful that we are able to purchase food, when so many depend on foodbanks and free and reduced lunch.

5 Wasn’t I cutting back on coffee before all this started?

6 Hiding from my children.

Habits of Grace in Anxious Times

Friends,

These are anxious days. Is it possible that it has only been two weeks since this new reality descended on so many of us?  Every day has contained such change that it feels as if months have slipped away. Every hour can feel marked by an underlying sense of emergency as we check news and call loved ones.

It’s strange to think back to a few weeks ago when I was planning ahead for my daughter’s high school graduation. Should we host the party at our house or did I need to rent a space? When should I put invitations out? Instead of the black gown and mortarboard in May, two weeks ago as school was rapidly shutting down, my daughter’s literature teacher invited students to line up and walk down the classroom aisle.  She bumped elbows with each one, congratulating them on finishing well. A classmate pulled out his bassoon and played “Pomp and Circumstance.” The teacher emptied her cabinets of PopTarts and coffee pods and they toasted one another.

In those first few days home as everything we had planned seemed to fold around us, we ricocheted between grieving our lost plans and full schedules to being cognizant of our many blessings. We are in good health, our jobs transitioned to home, our cabinets are full of food. And yet, there are so many for whom this is not the case. The pain and worry are palpable. 

As a Christian practicing a liturgical tradition, it has been particularly resonant for me that all of this is happening against the backdrop of Lent. Lent, the forty days leading to Easter, is a time for inward reflection and outward service. The name Lent comes from an old word meaning “to lengthen.” Lengthening seems like an apt description of what is required of us just now. During this pandemic, like it or not, we are being forced to lengthen ourselves: our patience, our compassion, our time between grocery runs. In addition to these things, I’m learning to lengthen my ability to sit with uncertainty. While busy signing into Zoom meetings and scraping together meals, I’m aware there’s a constant hum of worry and questions just below the surface.  Who among those I know will get sick or lose their jobs? Will I lose people I love? Will I get sick? These are questions that no amount of mental forecasting will answer. Instead, I must lengthen my practice of holding still within the questions, of being okay without answers.  

“One of the things that I’m aware of is that consistent habits, what some have called habits of grace, can really be helpful especially in unsettling times,” Bishop Curry  wrote in a March 16th letter.  Bishop Curry’s habits of grace aren’t tantamount to whistling by the graveyard. They aren’t ways to pretend we are okay in the midst of a crisis. Instead they are the tangible ways we lengthen ourselves in these times. From far away, we all watched Italians unite to practice a habit of grace by singing together every day. We have seen the footage of health care workers gearing up in reused masks and garbage bags to head into crowded hospitals in New York City and around the world. Some of these daily habits of grace are heroic and on the frontline, and some, like joining in song with neighbors, happen on the back balconies of apartments. But the invitation to us is there: in this time of anxiety, the financial pain and health concerns, there are hidden gifts.  We can choose to develop habits of grace that lengthen our minds and hearts.  IMG_0804

For so many of us, these habits will evolve from the small choices we make in our day, as simple and profound as the words we choose with our loved ones (and ourselves) at the day’s opening and close..  I have found great solace in the renewed ritual of plunging my hands almost daily into garden soil and calling out to neighbors as they pass.  I watch as two daughters take up sketch pads and another plunges into Tolstoy; my sister reads the Narnia Chronicles by Zoom to a group of eager children and adults every morning; my husband, busy with back-to-back virtual meetings, takes time for tea with our family during the day.  Still others in our church reach out by phone at least twice a week to check up and connect, and grocery runs and help are just an email away. Another older couple I know speak nightly with their extended family about their gratitudes for the day.  What are habits of grace you are developing or hearing about? Please leave a comment, below.

Friends, may love and mercy surround us; may we feel the love of our neighbors; may we bind one another in prayer, support, and connection that transcends all barriers.  May we take a deep breath, tune our spirits to the abiding love that will not forsake us, and, in small ways and large, act to care for this hurting world.

Peace,

Kim

 

The World Opens Up

Dear Friends,

Two months ago at the solstice, my dogs and I went for our morning constitutional and found something altogether new on our regular walk. In the night, a gnarled apple tree standing in the clearing through which we always cut, had been transformed. Its trunk, corseted in layers of tulle, supported limbs wrapped to their end in nubby chenille. In December’s wintery landscape this splash of color was a fanciful surprise. I marveled over someone’s dedication to so curious an impulse. It could not have been easy to reach up amid the pokey branches and delicately swaddle each one. And yet, whoever undertook this task persisted in the dark and cold until this tree shone out in the bare landscape.

Through these past months, I’ve watched my experience of this tree shift. As the weeks wore by, the wintery weather took its toll on the wrappings. It wasn’t just the tattered look I began to find depressing. The more times I passed this swaddled tree, the more annoyance crept up in me. It wasn’t until I came across Sylvia Plath’s poem, “Black Rook In Rainy Weather,” that I recognized the source of my irritation. Plath’s poem explores those occasional, fleeting moments when something seems to lean through nature to illuminate our lives, those “rare” and “random” experiences when we encounter something that “seizes our senses/ hauls our eyelids up.” Have you experienced those moments of grace? The world opens up for just a second and you are on the spot to witness it.

I don’t know what the anonymous tree-wrapper had in mind, but for me the tree became a reminder of what it wasn’t – a genuine moment of “backtalk/ From the mute sky.” The adornment was a novelty certainly but it couldn’t seize my senses or garner more than a wry smile. Rather than be akin to those sudden, miraculous moments, the swathed tree amplified their absence.

And so it went until this morning.  When I reached the clearing, it took me a moment of looking around to realize the tree had been unwrapped, the tulle and chenille cleared away. Once again the tree was a winter-bare apple, bootprints pressed in the snow beneath.

I walked on and after another hundred yards, the morning sun cleared the ridgeline. Light slanted across the field, touching stems and twigs, illuminating the hoar frost that, in the night, had arranged itself on every hospitable surface. Suddenly, I was standing amidst a thousand luminous halos. And here it was: after all my winter trudging, I was fortunate enough to find myself on the spot for one of those illimitable moments. Like all such moments, it was unexpected, unlooked for, pure gift. “Miracles occur,” Plath says.

It didn’t take long for the hoar frost to melt, within half an hour the clearing fell back into winter drabness. But, while it lasted, this glorious moment was an oasis – in a way that nothing of my own making, or yards of fabric and skeins of yarn could ever hope to be. It revived me for more “trekking stubborn/ through this season of fatigue.”

There’s plenty more trekking ahead. But, miracles occur. I saw one this morning. I know the trudging will get tiresome in the days ahead, but now I can cut back through this internal clearing and find this memory wound round my heart – a living tree, adorned.

Peace,
Lindsay

P.S.  My husband tells me I have to write about something other than walking the dogs next time! Apparently, that daily habit gives me plenty to think about and seems to surface in these Considers regularly. Thanks to all of you for accompanying me and my four-legged pals on these little meanders.

P.P.S. I drafted this Consider a few weeks ago and then got waylaid by the flu overtaking our household. The frost is long gone. We now have mud season in its place.

P.P.P.S. The moment with the light shining through the hoar frost made me think of a letter John Adams wrote. Near the end of his life, he woke to find an ice storm had turned every tree into a “Chandelier of Cutt Glass.”  I love these words he penned about that storm: “I have seen a Queen of France with eighteen Millions of Livers of diamonds upon her person—and I declare that all the charms of her face and figure added to All the glitter of her jewels did not make an impression upon me equal to that presented by every Shrub.”
Here’s to hoping you have such moments when you are met by the miracle of every shrub!

What is Necessary

Dear Friends,

Last week, as the third snow day in a row dawned, I began to find myself deep in a malaise. Here in Western Washington, I’ve grown accustomed to the sharp contrast of evergreens and slate skies; even on the bleakest days, spruce and red cedar encircle us, setting off white-capped mountains on the horizon, the steel grey of the Sound. But day-after-snowy-day, the pallette was limited –  white ground, white trees, white sky.

Somewhere during the week, I found my mind growing hazy. Words seemed laborious and slow. I found myself opting for the ease of news articles, weather coverage and Instagram photos, all available with the swipe of my finger.

The torpor increased until I finally unearthed myself from the warm, comfortable couch, tugged on my boots, and opened the front door. Outside I found my neighbors busy tromping about with sleds. One had built an igloo, another a ski slope. A long walk, slow going and inefficient over unploughed roads, pulled me out of my languor and into participation with the world again. There was so much beauty at hand and underfoot. A pile of snow sloughing off a pine, two small boys attempting to shovel ice from the road. Even the small imprints of the dog’s paws were enchanting.

It’s moments like these that I remember a simple walk can be a choice for good. It’s become harder and harder to keep an internal sanctuary, to hold a space that isn’t crowded out by the relentless, ubiquity of blaring cultural input. The continual cacophonous assault of modern life conjures a sort of spiritual haze similar to the mental one in which I found myself after three days of snow.  

“Wilderness isn’t a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit,” writes essayist Edward Abbey. While Abbey may have been referring to those untrammeled wild places on the far corners of the map, there’s a wilderness within each of us that is threatened to be paved over by the blacktop of wall-to-wall cultural inputs. Like a wilderness of dark woods and winding rivers, our internal wilderness is in equal need of active conservation.  

This is hard, morally profound work. I find that I act as an active conservator of this wilderness when I engage in the simplest things: a snowy walk, a good book, a meal with my family, a moment of gentle silence with a friend. The humble reality of these things counters the louder, slicker, flashier options that otherwise inundate my life. 

Now the snow is melting, the rain is back, and the sidewalks are ugly with slush. It’s easy to dash from the car into warm buildings, and mostly I’ve been doing just that. Yet as we returned home today from a wasteland of shops and lines, we leashed the dog and wandered out into a cold evening. The mountains were cloaked in clouds. As we walked, a truck slowed to let us cross a road; the air felt warmer, the world friendlier, and I felt held by it all.

What about you, friends?  What awakens you?

Peace,

Kim