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Guest Author: 
Tessi Muskrat Rickabaugh

“We are called to intentional, deliberate vulnerability.”
Rule of the Northumbria Community

I don’t know what to do! I want to follow God, but I keep doubting and struggling! The deaf teen’s sign language was big and abrupt in her anger. There must be something wrong with me. Tears began to spill over as she signed. YOU never doubt or struggle, so I must just be messed up.

Guest Author: 
Janice Lynne Lundy

“How did the rose ever open its heart and give to this world all of its beauty?
It feels the encouragement of Light against its being;
otherwise we all remain too frightened.”
—Hafiz, Love Poems from God, translated by Daniel Ladinsky

I adore this offering by the Persian poet Hafiz because it reminds me of our true nature, as well as what can happen when we forget or deny it. You are a rose and I am too—beings of great beauty. Our open and loving hearts are the expression of this beauty and all the “virtues of the spirit” to which we aspire.

Guest Author: 
Tessi Rickabaugh

"Somewhere along the way, I settled on this theory." My host is studying me with the intensity of a seer passing truth to the next generation, his long grey beard lending veracity to the image. "I have come to believe that this earth: the universe, the sky, the trees—us—we're all just one giant, ever-changing art project. When you think of it that way, it all finally makes sense." We talk deep into the night, this folk musician from an earlier generation and me, sharing stories and asking questions, many of which we know are without answer. 

Guest Author: 
Lauren Carlson

And don’t think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter.
It’s quiet, but the roots down there are riotous.
                                       —Rumi

January in Southwest Minnesota is cold, dark, and covered in snow. The barren white landscape contrasts the lush greenery of corn and soybean fields in summer. Behind my house is a small backyard orchard with four apple trees, two pear trees, and a plum tree. In this season, my fruit trees are as barren and empty as the surrounding snow-covered fields.

Guest Author: 
Sascha Hjort Nielsen

December is the most miraculous time of year for me. It is a time that is filled with joy and laughter everywhere I turn, and that is exactly why I have feared this month.

I have not felt joy nor happiness when waking up in the morning in a long time. I have felt lonely and hopeless. I feared the thought of facing the energy that December holds because it felt impossible for me to be present with any sort of happy emotion. Everyone around me seems to suddenly be in a romantic relationship with people that adore them. I was afraid that I would see others being happy as proof of my loneliness and absolute misery.

Guest Author: 
Carissa A. Kane

Life is grace.
—Frederick Buechner

Since the beginning of time, the grace of God has been showered upon us and risen up from within, extending beyond us. That is the beauty of grace. It is boundless and ever-present. Whether we recognize and behold it or not, it is always available. It finds us and waits patiently for us to be open and allow ourselves to be embraced or to bathe in it.

Guest Author: 
Jean Wise

How did it get so late so soon?
It’s night before it’s afternoon.
December is here before it’s June.
My goodness how the time has flewn.
How did it get so late so soon?

—Dr Seuss

I flipped the calendar at the beginning of the month. Where did November go? How did 2015 disappear so quickly? Didn’t we just pack away those holiday decorations, and now it’s time to haul them all out again?

Time fascinates me. When I pause to pay attention to its mysterious fleeting passage, I am surprised. I know in my brain the tick of each second is unswerving and constant, but time’s movement seems inconsistent to my heart. 

Guest Author: 
Carissa A. Kane

For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.
—Jeremiah 29:11

I recall a conversation a number of years ago around the subject of patience. I remember saying with frustration, “I am being patient! I’m getting tired of it though. How long do I need to be patient!?” The person with whom I was speaking began to chuckle. I remember looking at him and asking him why he was laughing. He responded, “Not knowing how long is part of being patient.”

Guest Author: 
Lauren Burdette

As I was contemplating awe, my five-year-old son drew a picture of a large, multi-colored, sparkling hand with a small stick figure beside it and the letters WOW.

“It’s God’s hand,” he said. “See how it is full of magic?”
“It’s beautiful!” I replied. “And who is that?”
“It’s just a person. See how they’re saying wow?”

Thank you, my wise child, for teaching me about awe. When we are graced with those glimmers of God’s hands in the world, the places where presence breaks through, we are just people saying “wow.”

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