Category Archives: Stillness

Mystic musings. 

My ego is like a fortress–I have built its walls stone by stone to hold out the invasion of the love of God. 

But I have stayed here long enough. 

There is light–over the barriers.   Oh my God–

The darkness of my house forgive And overtake my soul. I relax the barriers.


I abandon all that I think I am, all that I hope to be, all that I believe I possess. 

I let go of the past, I withdraw my grasping hand from the future, and in the great silence of this moment,

 I alertly rest my soul.

As the seagull lays in the wind current, so I lay myself into the Spirit of God.

My dearest human relationships, my most precious dreams, I surrender to his care.

All that I have called my own I give back. All my favorite things which I would withhold in my storehouse from his fearful tyranny.

I let go. 

I give myself unto Thee, oh my God.

Amen. 

Howard Thurman 

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Come and see 

I found myself saying this phrase today. It was couched in an afternoon so thick with redemption that you could smell Jesus.

He’s crazy like that, you know. 

Crazy enough to bring together a babysitter and  a little girl, now in grown up bodies, to share story. 

Stories of Harm, and stories of goodness, with silly stories of the every day mixed between. 

History, we call it; the stories of Long Ago. This was a space for “her-story”. Infinitely more sacred, and raw and it’s beauty and pain. 

These two crazy fishermen were talking one day. Probably the one was asking the other why in the world he had given up the business, when it had been in the family for generations. And all that, to follow a new guy in town that people said was crazy?! Definitely illegitimate at the very least. And in a place where bloodlines matter, that was unforgivable.

And what did the smelly fisherman say?

Come. And. See. 


Photo:  

aspen circle near snow bowl, Flagstaff, Arizona 


Women’s Knowing

I am starting a course in herbal medicine for women.

In typical recovering Baptist fashion, tonight I dove into the first assignment. I looked at the objectives, read the key words, and made sure I understood how to turn in the homework. I had signed up for this to add to my knowledge of herbs, after all. And it was a chunk of cash! I even set up a study group to hold myself accountable.

It was a curious thing to notice there were reflective assignments that went along with the lessons. I added "get a new sketchbook" to my list.

The first chapter started with history. I settled in, pens in hand. The author, Aviva Romm, had suggested we write in the book; she gave her permission, she said. (The good girl lives in me still, but since I had permission…)

As she began to explore women's ways of knowing, I could feel myself settle deeply into my chair, tea forgotten. Yes! My heart resonated with the words. This is what women long for, to have deep meaningful relationship with a provider; to be heard. The work of a provider includes to learn to trust intuition and internal wisdom.

When someone begins to speak about "trusting the gut" and "listening to the body" I pay attention. These are themes that are woven deeply into the tapestry of my journey of recovery and healing. Radical phrases, in the context of my black and white upbringing, nearly tantamount to heresy. And yet here I am, taking another step farther in: learning about herbs. Steeping in the herbs, it sounds like, is the path ahead for the next 18-36 months.

I have been drawn to plants these last few months. I always thought I had a brown thumb. My mom never let me touch her plants, except to rub mayonnaise (Miracle Whip I think, as it was the 70's) on the leaves to make them shiny. I think she read it in a women's magazine in a doctor's office. My dad kept the garden, but he had lived on a farm off and on growing up, so of course he knew these things. My roommate in college said I could buy the plants and she would take care of them. That sounded good to me. Even when I put a few plants in the dirt, my husband always dug the bed for me. I bought well established plants, and he watered them. That seemed wise, because I had a brown thumb.

This morning I was out with a lightweight shovel I bought especially for myself, digging in the dirt. It is still 104 here in the desert, but fall is in the air. You can feel it in the first cool of the morning, in the breeze late at night.

And now here I am, deeply still as the words unfold on the page, aware somehow that I am entering another layer of redemption.

Maybe I will even start some seeds this year.

And you know what? My thumb looks to be just the right color for this season of life.

Morning musings

I don’t like mornings. 

Never have. Never (?) will. 

But I have two kids who have run cross country. And babies who like to greet their mamas (and the midwife) as the sun comes up. 

I used to work nights, as a nurse. It wasn’t all bad. I would go to bed as other people got up. And on the off nights I could stay up as late as possible. 

It generally takes me an hour to reconcile myself to the inevitable reality that the day has begun. Once I am past that, I feel quite cheerful. 

Sone people like sunrises; I prefer sunsets. I would like sunrises, I think, if they showed up at a different time of day. 

Today I walked while the kids ran. I am up to more than half a mile! If you know the long story, that in itself is a miracle. 

I saw tiny purple flowers, unnoticed amidst the grass. Four raindrops hit me. (In the desert?!) And when I sat under a tree to rest, I saw this on the ground beneath my feet. 

And so for today, I am grateful. 
To be up. To be able to walk. To be alive. To see. 

Enjoy your morning!

The Advent Writings: the long goodbye

I said goodbye to a precious friend today. Not the long goodbye, as C.S. Lewis says; but a goodbye nonetheless. And goodbyes are full of grief. They hold the not knowing and the not yet together in equal measure. They weave longing and loneliness into a braid of beauty and pain.

I wonder what it was like for Mary, holding a baby that she knew would move beyond her. Was there an ache mixed with the joy of watching him play? And then he stayed around longer than expected perhaps… 30 years. He left home to go be with a bunch of friends, new friends really. They were going to go travel the country without a real plan. Rumors came back, bits and pieces of stories. They probably seemed much bigger than life. And in the middle of the wondering, always the ache. 

So much of the story is not told. Perhaps there is beauty in the mystery.

So for today, I choose to hold the not knowing. I will trust that the beauty will come as the story unfolds. And dare to hold the ache of goodbye. 

Photo Credit Kate Wilder

The Advent Writings: a seed

Darkness and Light. 

Waiting and Coming. 

Sorrow and Hope. 

Death and …

We hold so much at Christmas. All of that not knowing, together with the not yet. 

I am a desert girl, mostly. A turtleneck in the morning, just because. And then a/c when kids get in the car. Desert kids don’t understand winter. Therefore, they can’t know the mystery of spring, of green shoots pushing up through the snow. In Phoenix, we force bulbs. We put them in the refrigerator drawer for “winter” and then take them out to let them know it’s spring. A tiny shoot begins, stretching up bit by bit, reaching for the light. 

I am still sitting with this poem I shared recently, letting it work it’s way in deeper, one line at a time. Today it’s the “tiny shoot”. 

The poem was born from a midwife (Advent, by Sister Christine Schenk). 

I wait

With quickened hope

For crooked paths to straighten,

With tough-soul’d anguish,

While blinded 

Keepers of the keys 

Cut off

God’s own. 

(If such a thing were possible). 

I wait, 

And will not be 

dismayed. 

For tiny shoot 

Of Jesse tree

Took root in me. 

To love, 

Transform,

Give sight, 

Set free. 


The tiny shoot. 

In me. 

Reaching, 

Stretching,

Growing;

Toward the light. 


The Advent Writings:  I wait.  

I wait

with quickened hope 

for crooked paths to straighten, 

with tough-soul’d anguish, 

while blinded keepers of the keys

shut out God’s own. 

(If such a thing were possible.)

I wait,

and will not be dismayed. 

For tiny shoot of Jesse tree

took root in me. 

To love, 

transform,

give sight, 

set free. 

(Advent. By Sr.  Christine Schenk.        A midwife)

I have been bathing in the waters of hospital birth again, this time in a new role. I put on the white coat, with its instant prestige. I put on the title, reluctantly: “Professor Wilder”. I notice I am more comfortable with my first name. I am so aware that the kind of birth I get to do at home is 1% in our country. This 99% is the norm.  Full of risk, adrenaline, and hurry, and occasional moments of goodness….the babies are born. There are redeeming moments:  the nurse who goes the extra mile, the Doctor who dares to trust, the student  nurse who has eyes to see. For this reason, I enter; to offer my gifts. 

And yet, I am so aware of the stark contrast.  The precious spaces I  get to hold in the home with mamas are thick with the sense of the holy. 

There was another birth done in a way that was also countercultural. Even then, you didn’t birth in the barn. And yet the sense of the holy was thick, even there.
And so we come to Advent.

We invite the holy. 

And we wait.

The Advent Writings: the candle of hope 

Hope is a fragile thing. 

I was asked by my counselor (who specializes in disruptive questions):  “Do you have hope?”  My knee jerk response was, “I don’t want to jinx it.”  I regretted that response. She pursued my heart in kind and bold ways, and I left that fall Phoenix day feeling small and very stirred. 

At every turn that week the word jumped out at me, inviting me farther in. Ericka shared at Neighborhood that week from this passage about the longings of immigrants: for something better, for a home, for a place to belong. 

 Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home. If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted. But they were after a far better country than that—heaven country. You can see why God is so proud of them, and has a City waiting for them.  (Hebrews 11:13-16)

Other translations say that God was not ashamed to be called their God. The alien, the stranger in the land. The ones who never got what they hoped for. Not ashamed. 

One of those crazy passages on suffering that got a bit warped in my growing up years says something similar:

because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5). 

Hope. It doesn’t put me to shame. Shame I understand, the Journey Mate of a wounded child. Ca-Ching.  God is not ashamed. 

I got it. 

Hope has nothing to do with getting what I hope for. That’s a terrifying relief. Over and over as I wrestle I see two resting places.

       God is present. God is good. 

Nothing more. 

And these I know. I have walked the inky blackness of suffering. I have plumbed the depths of these words. 

Today we lit the light of the prophets, the candle of hope. 

So yes, to answer the question, 

I have hope. 

Precious Lord

I woke up with these lyrics woven vividly into a dream acompanied by the music itself:

Precious Lord, take my handLead me on, let me stand

I’m tired, I’m weak, I’m worn. 

Through the storm, through the night

Lead me on to the light

Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home. 

When my way grows drear precious Lord linger near

When my light is almost gone

Hear my cry, hear my call

Hold my hand lest I fall

Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home. (Thomas A Dorsey)

I did some reading about the origin of this song today. The author was leading music when he received a telegram saying that his wife had died in childbirth. A week later, the baby died as well. Somewhere in the journey of his despair he sat at a piano and this heart cry poured out.

I also learned,  curiously, that Elvis made this song famous and also Mahalia Jackson. This was not something I knew as those singers were banned in my Baptist upbringing. When I hear this song I hear it in my grandmothers voice. 

My grandma was the song leader at Aurelius Road Church, in the Lansing/Holt area. She had a deep voice, unusual for a woman. As the story grows, or goes, she wore a peacock feather in her hat.  She was single in a day that was rare. She owned her own gift and Bible bookstore, and had a dry cleaning business. She had her secrets, which died with her.

I know that for me, as a child, my grandmother provided moments of safety. I had named her Meemie, early on. Supposedly, this was my childhood attempt to say pennies, and she always brought me plenty of those. So I would look at her purse In her photograph and say Meemie’s. (I will let you draw from that what you want to; it is not the point of the story). 

Meemie would come to see us on a big airplane, her floral suitcase bulging and held together with packing tape. When we opened it, it would be full of crackerjack prizes. No one ever pointed out where all those boxes of crackerjacks must’ve gone.

 I would lean my head against her fur collar as we came home from the airport,  trying to avoid the scratchy wool coat. It was cold, and it smelled like mothballs. I remember going to sleep with her sitting by my bed and singing the old songs, one after the other.

I felt safe those nights, and I think they were held safe by her presence. She represented moments of respite in a very confusing world.  

In later years, the tables turned. She had followed us to Arizona. I stayed to graduate with my class when my family moved to Canada. I was left with the car, weeks away from my 16th birthday. The agreement was that I would visit my grandmother once a week, and put $.10 a mile in a jar. I started out doing it out of compulsion. Very quickly, a deep friendship grew.

I would surprise her with Kentucky fried chicken and Mountain Dew. She would make waffles for dinner, and fill them with every mix in imaginable. I would bring my textbooks and study. And somewhere in the evening I would take out her old hymnal and sing. All the verses, one song after another. She would join in, her voice quivering.

There were many years where it was hard to sing those old songs as I wrestled with the reality of my childhood contradictions and violence. They are being redeemed one by one. The truth contained in the ancient words still calls to my spirit.

I walked the dark street tonight with my pug, singing this song. If the neighbors could hear, they might have wondered. They don’t know that a story continues to be written, co-authored by God. 

It is the story of an old woman and a little girl, a story of music in the night.

If God loves me, why can’t I get my locker open?

an ode to a friend.

i was thirteen when i met you; well, one day shy. scared someone would ask, guess how young i was. too young for highschool, really. you were two doors down from me. lockers were arranged alohabetically, my “l-a” just two doors ahead of your “k-u”. you wove a strange humor into this new world: lunch in the kiva, essays about locker buddies, crashing each other’s baptist youth groups. we capsized a catamaran and hiked and jumped our way into a canyon. we helped eat a six foot long banana split and sported cigars in a hobo contest. we survived the sophomore year ghetto lockers, complete with cockroaches and black widows. we read “devotions” in a book by the title of this blog. mostly, you did the crazy things, some of which you didn’t own til our 25th reunion. i was too much a good girl, my only safety in a world of day child/night child.
and so this week, we “retreated”. a combo of work for you and silent space for me. and in the evenings, shared space. we turned the temperature down to 68 in our desert hacienda, and lit a roaring fire. we shared story and tears, and laughed over tea bag mishaps.
through it all weaves almost 4 decades of shared life. not quite; you are still older than ne. just like that first day of highschool so long ago.