Jun 22 2011



On a clear autumn morning in 2009 I woke up and something was gone.


I looked around and couldn’t find it.

In its place was a delicious sense of well-being that I had experienced before, but never without a constant eclipse of anxiety.

It’s hard to describe, but the best image is Dorothy stepping from her black and white Kansas into the land of technicolor Oz. The difference was that striking.

And it only lasted one day.

That one day was a wake up call to the possibility of a different life. Before, I simply didn’t know how much free-floating, purposeless anxiety I lived with daily. It was just how things were. Of course, I suspected. Over the years, I had tried anti-anxiety techniques, I had read the books, meditated, prayerfully begged , then finally accepted it as my life.

But once I went beyond suspicion and into experience, I started to imagine what it would be like to have more days anxiety-free.

Afterwards, I went over my life with a fine-tooth comb–what had I done differently? What hadn’t I done?  What flipped the switch from on to off?

Three months later,  information about and treatment for the migraines that had plagued me for years led  me to living a technicolor life more days than not.

Ferry Flyer by SLF

It’s been a  year and half now. The migraines are all but gone, and minor when they do occur. The anxiety pops up occasionally, but there’s normal, easily pinpointed reasons for it–not simply an unwelcome guest loitering all the time.

But surprisingly, on the other side of the rainbow in life without anxiety, I found a new challenge:

I never realized how much I used anxiety to fuel creativity, to get things done, as the source of my prayer, my ambition, my academic study, even energy for relationships.

While my methods of dealing with anxiety all those years taught me to function in its shadow,

it didn’t teach me how to live without it.

The moment I started envisioning a life where anxiety wasn’t the primary ingredient, I had to start learning  something new: courage.

Rather than  submitting to anxiety’s demands, courage asked me to stand up and fight back.

It asked me to hope for something different, even if I didn’t believe it was possible.

Now, courage demands honesty about how much I’ve depended on fear to motivate me. It’s requiring me to look more seriously at my limitations and weakness. It’s asking me to put the effort into discovering a new fuel for creativity.

Courage faces a challenge and calls for the best of who we are to meet it.  To live, to act, to create, requires a vision, and courage is necessary to trust the vision and see it through to completion.

Submission is often the word used to describe Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, but reading it now, I think courage is a much better term.


Jesus courageously drank the cup of our salvation to the dregs because he knew the cosmos-redeeming power of that creative act. This wasn’t passive submission, but fierce action. While our own acts of courage may not seem so enormous as his, they have far-reaching effects.

The courage to believe in and pursue a different, more life-abundant way of living changes the world, one person at a time, starting with ourselves.

I believe that Jesus Christ is the source of this kind of life-giving courage and it is ours for the asking.

Jun 20 2011

Answered Prayers

Mondays are for counting thanks to 1000 and beyond


While I love Seattle, I need to get out of the city every so often to a place with more grass than concrete and more birds than cars. My ears long to escape from city sounds and I want to smell the earth and trees and sea. A couple months ago I had a talk with God about it. Not being a driver, leaving the city (and public transit) behind requires a little more planning, and I’ve loved seeing how God has been working things out without me thrashing about trying to orchestrate it. He’s been teaching me trust and patience–inviting me to tell him what I need, then step back and see what happens.

392.  On Friday I leave for the high school mission trip. Leave may not be the right word since the students will be staying in Seattle for the week working with, mostly, inner city ministries. When I said yes to helping out, I knew that this was not going to be one of those times to get out of the city, but I felt both a call and joyful excitement to be involved no matter what.

Without my saying anything to anyone, I was placed with the team of students going to Tierra Nueva, a ministry reaching out to migrant farmers, 90 minutes outside of Seattle. Most of the week will be spent working on the farm there.  I am thrilled!

393. An wonderful invitation to spend some writing time in a rural house on the peninsula.

394. The gift of a pile of beautiful garden magazines.


395. A lovely day at the Nisqually Estuary with friends, seeing so many different kinds of birds.

(for more photos of the wildlife refuge, look here.)



396. A balcony sanctuary, where I can listen to the mingled sounds of city and nature.



397. A spontaneous day in Bellingham and journaling time on a rock at Larrabee State Park.

“If I spend too much time in these wild places, I will shed the trappings of what I wear in the city and slowly meld into the rock, and sea, and woods. These words even now are full of the waves and foam and splash, no longer empty, no longer easily erased. Words written on my heart.”


398. Pots of growing things now blooming.

And while not about getting out of the city, two more amazingly wonderful answers to prayer:

399. The long-term loan of a piano keyboard from my friends Cathee and Brian.

400. Fifty one pages done toward my dissertation first draft, and no more anxiety as I write.

Jun 11 2011

Friday Florilegium

After a few weeks hiatus, I’m returning to the blog and look forward to sharing some of my reflections with you over the next series of posts.

Today’s entry for the Florilegium involves no words, but requires a few words of introduction.

Theologian Peter Kreeft writes that each of us are “unique lovers of unique facets of the infinite divine diamond.”

Not only does this invite us to consider what and how and who we love, and how these reflect the beauty and presence of the incarnated God in time and creation;

it also welcomes us, since we may be the only ones to notice, to share it with others.

You were made and set here to give voice to this, your own astonishment. (Annie Dillard)

What is beautiful to you?

What astonishes you?

What thrills your heart and makes the day well-lived?

Here is one I’d like to share: A few months ago this medley, Shanandoah/The Pacific Slope, performed by Mairead Nesbitt, appeared on my Pandora Celtic playlist.

I’ve since lost track how many times I’ve listened to it. The passionate and fervent artistry of the tunes and playing captivates me.

And, even more, not only were these songs played, they were danced.

(And before you push play, please pause the blog’s Music for Dreaming…just to the right >>>>)

Friday Florilegium 1

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