Author: Marie Noelle Duquette

Something from Nothing

It seems like it happens more all the time: someone dies and their family and friends choose not to have any kind of a funeral or even a memorial. Sometimes, the newly heartbroken speak of having a service “at a later date,” but all too often that service never happens. Sometimes, they do nothing because they don’t know what to do and they are afraid to call a pastor with whom they have not had previous contact.

And sometimes, they do nothing, while passionately, saying: “He did not want ANYTHING.” It makes me wonder how life can be lived so intentionally, only to be ended as if it was merely an accident, requiring no public recognition of the life or the loss.

Maybe, people choose to do nothing because it feels like being faithful to the one who has died.

Except that, ironically, the one thing every survivor has immediately following a loss, is…nothing. The word most often used to describe the hours, days, weeks, after a loved one dies is: empty. There is an empty chair where a person use to sit; a watch that has no wrist. And for those living in that space of loss, doing nothing–does nothing–to fill the empty place.

Doing “something” of course will not fill the space with the one thing we want most: the return of the person who has died. And yet, doing something — having a funeral or memorial service — DOES fill the gap between our life with them, and our future, without.

I am in my 13th year as a pastor. I have officiated at roughly 150 funerals, and attended an equal amount. One thing I have learned through all this loss is this: people need to give honor to a loved one after they die and giving honor is more easily done with others around. A service gathers the others, so that together, the empty space created by death can begin to be filled with life.

A funeral or memorial service is, among other things, a place to share the stories, to hand the kleenex, to wrestle together with what happens next. When faced with an obsessive need to do something, when there is a funeral, we can bake the ham, make the calls, write the obituary. Giving honor is more tangible when others are with you to remember, to commit, to eat, to pray, to light a candle.

To sit in the pew next to you in holy silence.

Those in the business of caring for the brokenhearted know that ritual is important in helping us heal. There is a reason you hear the 23rd Psalm or Amazing Grace or Jesus’ words about going to prepare a place for us — at almost every funeral. Ritual and familiar prayers and bible passages and hymns are comforting, even when we are numbed by grief. Even when faith falters. Even, maybe especially, when we cry out in the midnight hour, alone on the floor of the living room, “where ARE you?”

When there is a fire, you call the fire department. When you are sick, you call the doctor. I wonder then why, when someone dies, people increasingly are reluctant to call a pastor to bind the wounds of their broken spirit, when this is what we do.  At a time when often no one seems to know what to do, we do.

I know that everyone has at least one story of a funeral they attended at which the pastor messed up the name of the one being buried, or preached hellfire and brimstone, or otherwise was not helpful. And yet, I cannot think of one funeral I’ve attended or led, after which the brokenhearted said, “I wish we had done nothing.”

Without exception, what people do say after a funeral is: thank you. What they do say is that they are more at peace because the one who has died had a good “send-off.” What they do say, whether they attend church regularly or not, is “that was … holy.”

News of death is the one thing in life that sends every single one of us to our knees. Our knees buckle, we collapse, and from there we cry or curse or crawl when we are finally able to move.

But we also can choose to go there to pray.  And when that happens, it seems like death can become a doorway that opens to a long hall. It is that hall that leads the survivors back to life even when they feel like their life is over.

Today is All Saints Sunday. It is a day in the church when we light candles and read the names of members who have died in the past year. We also read the names of babies who were baptized because when it comes to Saints, we never age out and there is no minimum age.

At all our services today, we will do these very things. But at our 6:00 p.m. service at Melbourne Beach, we will also remember those in our lives for whom there was no memorial or funeral this past year. We will remember those who did have a funeral, but for whatever reason, we were unable to attend. We will collectively remember the ones who said, “I don’t want ANYTHING” and we will do it together because we, the people who miss their presence here, need to fill the space they left behind with SOMETHING.

For all its faults, the church knows the something that is helpful and healing when we are faced with an empty space.  We learned it after death locked our hope away in a tomb.  We learned it when the stone sealing the tomb was rolled away.  We learned it when the witnesses looked inside and found it was empty.  And we learned it from the story that was told by those who gathered to grieve and found the emptiness of death filled with the hope of life.

“And that life was the light of all people.” — John 1:4

Advent Lutheran Church in Melbourne, FL will have All Saints Services Sunday, November 1st at:

8:00, 9:30, and 11:00 a.m. at our Suntree location — 7550 N. Wickham Road

9 am and 6 pm at Melbourne Beach — 1805 Oak Street, Melbourne Beach

Fr. Nolan’s Funeral

Yesterday I attended the funeral of Father Joseph Nolan, a priest who served the Catholic church near me.  Fr. Nolan was a good and faithful servant, beloved by many.  Ordained 6 months before I was born, he was as funny as he was forgiving.

A few days earlier, I found the poem below.  I post this poem today both as a quasi-tribute to the life of this fine priest, and to lift up the poetry of Andrew King.

Even if you don’t particularly like poetry, I urge you to give it a fair chance.  I do believe King may be the next Robert Frost.

A Poem For My Father – III (Robert M.C. King: April 9, 1926 – August 7, 2015)

by:  Andrew King, from his BLOG:  A Poetic Kind of Place

A friend told me once how, waking to her house on fire,
she and her husband grabbed the photo albums first.
She said, “You can replace everything but memories.”

At your visitation, Dad, we had the photo displays
and the Powerpoint slideshow, a few of the pictures taken
in your younger years: you in your Boy Scout uniform,

delivering a speech at the Boys’ Parliament, a few
of you as a young husband and father, ever smiling,
your blonde hair wavy and full. But most of the photos

were post-polio, the hair all but vanished but not your smile;
there you were at weddings, graduations, reunions,
posing with dogs and grandkids, wearing the paper hats,

enjoying every party. Good memories. But what I would
have given, Dad, had I the power of omniscience,
the power to have foreseen this day and event,

to have hidden a camera inside my pocket on just one
of those Sundays you preached in our little village church,
the light from the pink and yellow windows falling

on your blue choir robe as you went from pulpit to choir
and back again, your limp not slowing you down,
your voice lifting clear and strong, the notes

for your sermon scratched on scraps in pencil;
the moment, if not the words, etching into my mind
where no fire of distance, no flame of time,

can ever diminish such memory’s pleasure.


I snuck into The Corner today.  The Corner is an office I share at work with the preschool director.  It is a space-in-process, as is our entire ministry here.  The corner had 15 random chairs in it this week.  It’s a room in which people tend to drop stuff off because, “we don’t need it, but you might.”

I came in today to try to organize the corner.  I have a need to make things both functional and beautiful.  In this intensive business of being with people and the hard stuff of life we can’t control, I sometimes wish I had followed one of my earlier desires to be an architect and work more often with lines and spaces and ponder how things are used instead of endlessly pondering issues of life and death and sickness and health and justice and conflict and God Almighty.

A tiny one from the preschool room next door visits almost as soon as I arrive.  He was born beautiful, and still at two is utterly silent.  He likes to hold things in his little fists, and so he is clutching an assortment of cars and legos.  His eyes make me hear the hymn Deep River in my mind.  When Mrs. Hogan introduces him to me, he instantly lets go of her shoulders and reaches for me with both arms outstretched.

I sway while holding him.  He is a young two and still uncertain of the world.  He has curly blonde hair so perfect I have to resist wrapping it around my index finger.

He doesn’t stay long.  I return to sorting an anxious scattering of papers on the floor.  I shred, flatten, file, a few things.  Soon he wanders into the corner again.  He walks over to look at the keyboard.  He looks out the window.  He stands near me pondering the mess at my feet.  He returns to his classroom.

The corner and the Pre-Kindergarten classrooms are connected so I am accustomed to such visits, though they usually come with considerably more “look at me!” actions.

He has wandered in again, so quietly I might have missed him had my back been turned. Mrs. Hogan comes in to get him.

“He can stay,” I say.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.  Let’s let him come and go for awhile and see what he does.”

We are hoping to help him talk and interact more fully with the other children and teachers.  He lives right now primarily through what he sees and hears and touches.  But he keeps it in the quiet within himself.  He listens far more than he talks and compared to his classmates, this is noteworthy.  He wanders back to his classroom.  And back to me.

Mrs. Hogan stops in again.

“He has taken to you,” she says.

“Or this space,” I reply.

I look around The Corner with its mismatched chairs and anxious paper and broken items waiting for tape or glue or a nail.  I sigh.

He wanders in again, stopping to gaze at the way the sun comes through the blinds making lines on the hope chest, and holds a tiny tiger in the light.

He returns to his classroom.

Mrs. Hogan stands in the doorway.  I say, “His visits make me want to make The Corner beautiful all the more.  It needs art. Soft things.  An aquarium maybe.”

“Yes,” she says.  “A place of peace.”

She returns to her classroom.  I vaguely hear voices raised in joy for just a moment.  She comes back to the doorway, smiling, “He said fish!  Clear as a bell.  Held up a toy fish and said, ‘fish’.”

I wonder if he too came into The Corner and envisioned an aquarium.  I imagine him standing near it quietly and my absolute inability to do anything else except stand with him.

I continue the sorting, and write in thick black marker on a box:  Remember.  It’s a box in which I put mementos and notes from individuals I have comforted. I’ve had a Remember box ever since I became a pastor. It helps me forget the things that are too easy to remember, and remember the things that remind me who I am.

Mrs. Hogan brings his twin sister to visit.  This little one tells me her name, which only has 3 letters, but sounds like 5 syllables when she says it.

She leaves and I write their names on a green construction paper sea turtle and pin it to the calendar to help me remember.

I return to the nemesis of paper which has even less importance to me than it did when I started.  I ponder getting an aquarium.  And a soft rug.  Maybe I’ll put them near the window where the sun stripes in through the blinds. Maybe I’ll hold a toy to the sun and see how the light changes.

And remember.






Life Near The Water

 When I told my friends I was moving from the Heartland to the barrier islands (to help a dying church), half asked what I had done to earn a call to Paradise, and the rest warned me that this was risky (or ill-advised) because the barrier islands were a place where at any time a hurricane could devastate an entire community.  I disregarded their concerns, but one persistent friend whispered to me as we said goodbye, “whatever you do, don’t live near the water.”

Stories of hurricanes were the first stories I heard when I arrived.  How Charley had come that August and stayed a full week, only to be followed by Frances and Ivan.  But how it was Jeanne, the 4th and last that year who changed the lives of folks in this Paradise for years.

The stories came out in bits and pieces, like the debris the people picked up for months after their electricity finally returned.

I remember it was so dark.  Even in the day.  Dark grey.  All the time.  For days.

I remember seeing 3 small boats, still tied to a dock — a dock that had left the shore.  The dock and the boats were floating down the river like a family taking a walk.

A man’s voice from the back, one who rarely speaks, offered:

 I remember the storms were relentless.  Just about the time one subsided, the next one hit.  We lost power for 9 days, got it back for two, then lost it for another 14.

I saw photos of the fellowship hall soon after I arrived;  the heaps of sheet rock littering the floor;  the dim light making the wreckage look like a sleeping giant.  I asked about the sanctuary.  Nell said, “I walked in to set up communion and the sanctuary was one big lake.”  She motioned at the pews.  “A lake. Right here.”

The memory is still strong enough that the stories are whispered– staccato-sentences spoken nervously as if the memory alone might summon a squall.


The water always wins.  I heard this many times.  And I wondered:  how do we reckon this truth against John’s account that…

16 When evening came, Jesus’ disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing.19 When they had rowed about three or four miles,[d] they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. 20 But he said to them, “It is I;[e] do not be afraid.” 21 Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going. (John 6)

I thought of Jesus, walking toward his quaking disciples, clinging to the sides of the boat.  I wondered if the darkness prevented them from realizing who he was.  I wondered how close they had been to the land, or if their arrival there so soon after Jesus said, Do Not Be Afraid was part of the miracle.  I wondered.

I thought of Matthew’s account of the resurrection.  How there had been an earthquake as Jesus gave up his spirit.  And of the centurion’s whispered account, that “surely this was the Son of God.”


I thought about Noah and my struggle to understand the very concept that God would cause such a flood.  And I thought of the flood stories from various traditions and the scientific evidence that indeed, a huge flood had devastated the world even then.

I tried to suppress the nagging question, but it wouldn’t be stilled.  Rising up repeatedly like the fish I see jumping from the deep to check the weather above, it flipped through my mind:  Does God / control / the weather / or not?

I thought about the farmers praying for rain.  And the mosaic of people in New Orleans praying that the rain would stop.

I thought of the fire raging for weeks now in the cascade mountains, and the roads closed, and the people evacuated, and the beloved village of Holden threatened next, the 500+ firefighters working 24/7 and hanging onto hope that maybe the wind will cease, or maybe– it will rain.

And the question continued to tumble like clothes in a dryer, Does God / control / the weather / or not?

I remember the calm.  It was so quiet when it finally ended that I was afraid to speak.

I remember the telephone poles, snapped like toothpicks, lying everywhere.  All over the roads.

When the causeways opened, and I came home, there was a mattress from a baby’s crib on my front lawn.  I never did see the crib.


I thought about the people I’ve served now for more than two years.  They live in a constant state of preparation.  They keep huge bottles of water on hand.  And generators.  And astronaut food.  And ice.

Some will not drink anything without a full glass of ice.

They stockpile provisions in the same way that the folks in the Midwest fill their garages with tire chains and sand bags and rock salt.

I think of Job, the classic example of bad things happening to a good man.  And how his friends tried to explain away his grief as punishment for something he must have done to offend God.  And how they were wrong.

And again, I thought of Jesus.  Jesus, changing water into wine, for the wedding would not have been a wedding without it.  Jesus, touching the untouchable, giving sight to the blind with his spit, giving freedom to the woman at the well.  And forgiving the unforgiveable.

Jesus, waking in the storm–to still it.  Jesus, walking on the water–to save.

I asked the children, what do you remember?

“My dad putting up the hurricane shutters;  they had alligators on them.”

We had 3 first days of school because every time we started, we’d have to stay home for a week then start again!

I asked them, where is God in a hurricane?  Hadley, not yet in middle school answered first, “Right there with you”, she said, motioning to the space next to me on the floor.


Now that I’ve been here two years, you who called this place home long before I arrived are helping me understand that the two camps of friends I left behind were both right.

I remember that the fire station put on its sign, even before we had the electricity back, “It’s Still Paradise.”

Melbourne Beach is a place where people went 3 full weeks with no ice and only canned food, living on their lawns because they couldn’t breathe in their homes, and feeding their babies spoonfuls of peanut butter because the storms sucker-punched this island and had them on their knees where they groped along in the dark until one by one they found one another.

I remember sharing a can opener up and down the block because the electric ones didn’t work.

I remember a man who had lost his dog.  He was devastated.  Everyone was looking for the dog.  Finally, a guy spotted the pup in Turkey Creek, which was flooded and filled with alligator, to save the dog.  And he did.

I remember trying to get the tarps on the roof of the church and we just couldn’t do it.  A man showed up and with very little effort, in no time at all, he had them all in place.  Then he was gone.  No one got his name.  We never saw him again.

I remember that whoever came by when we had food, we fed.  And people walking the streets day and night looking for ways they could help one another.  We hauled trash and carried bricks and washed laundry for weeks.

It took forever before I got over being able to go to a gas station and have them actually have gas.  I kept looking for the bags covering the pumps. 

I ignored my friend’s advice.  My home is a condo right on the ocean.  Everything metal rusts in time and a fine film of salt covers my counters, my car, my skin.  And, the sound of the waves can still my anxious mind in minutes.  A walk where the water meets the sand centers my soul in a way I can’t fully understand.  I stop to sip my coffee and watch the sunrise on the water and again, I imagine Jesus.

Jesus walking on the water, salt spray stinging his face, he comes, stilling the storm.

The waves hit my legs and I turn toward home thinking of these resilient people who live near water.  It is a choice of bravery and faith:  we will not be afraid.  They know the importance of hope, even in paradise.  And together, we hold onto the words of promise that are far greater than any doubt:

“And remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

                                                                                    –Matthew 28:21

Defining Moments

Dr. Rudolph Featherstone was our professor of African Theology at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in 2002.  A self-proclaimed, “janitor for Jesus,” his words were as prophetic as they were memorable.  From him I learned the words to Come Thy Fount of Every Blessing, because he routinely sang as he walked the halls at Trinity.  It was one of the ways we could find him.

“There are defining moments in every community,” he told us.  “Defining moments of crisis, after which the community must decide whether they will draw nearer one another and become stronger — or break apart.”

I worked on our term project in that class with my sister in Christ, The Rev. Imani Dodley.  With dreads down her back and tattoos illustrating her sable skin, we traced the intertwining history of our faith, our heritage, and our futures.

Our children played together — Hakeem, Adam, Maisha, and Chase.  She scolded my son when he got mouthy;  I wrote her daughter words of hope in a time of trouble.  She whispered reassurance to mine;  I prayed hers through agony.

Our theme for the project was the same theme that was used at the Youth Gathering in 2000.

Ubuntu, a sub-Saharan African word meaning humanity, was introduced to more than 40,000 youth ages 14-17 at the Youth Gathering of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) three years ago in St. Louis.  Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a keynote speaker at the event, spoke then about humanity and people’s relationships with both God and neighbor. – See more at:

downloadThis morning I woke up to the news that 9 black people, including the dynamic pastor and state senator, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, had been killed in the beautiful Emanuel AME church — the oldest church in the South.  Recently, Pinckney had backed a bill to have police wear body cameras in an effort to bring more truth to the controversial crimes of police brutality against blacks.

Also upon waking, InstaGram showed me a photo my son had taken at a Needtobreathe concert last night in Columbus, Ohio.  The hashtag, #Brother, suggested this was the song the primarily white audience was singing when the white gunman was shooting black people, gathered for bible study and prayer in this holy space named Emanuel, which means, God With Us.

The irony and tragedy of what unfolded while I slept overwhelms me.  When my tears subside, I am reminded of the words I heard just last week in Miller Chapel at Princeton Theological Seminary.

“Angels and demons have been ushered into the souls of people on the back of words.”

“Despair is running rampant through our world.”

“We need writers to interject words of hope and light to take on despair.”

A colleague urges us to preach boldly in the face of this latest tragedy.  He reminds us that we were not given a spirit of fear but of power.

I flash to sitting in the theater with my youngest son and his sweetheart just weeks before their high school graduation.  We are watching Les Miserable.  They are singing “the blood of the martyrs will water the meadows of France.”

I am compelled to write.  To try to bring words of hope and light to take on the demon of despair.

And yet, my tears blur my vision as I type.  And I must now pack to attend the gathering of clergy in Orlando where I will raise the bread for all to remind those gathered the words of Jesus:  “This is my body, broken for you … my blood poured out for the forgiveness of sins.”

And in this space between knowing and doing, I pray:  that the defining moment in our lives is now.  June 18, 2015.

That the choice we make in this defining moment is to come together.

That words of hope will sustain us;  that words of truth will guide us;  that God Almighty who brought Jesus back from the dead, will be with us as we cry together and work for a better tomorrow.

For all.

Lord, have mercy.

Learning to float

I am at the Frederick Buechner Writing Workshop at Princeton.  I came hoping to whittle away at the block standing between my mind and the blank page.  I came because Buechner’s writing has fueled my faith in the same way that my morning cup of Jamaican Me Crazy and bowl of Protein Cheerios fuels my body to go into the world.  I came because Barbara Brown Taylor is one of the teachers, and I revere her writing.

Reverence:  to stand in awe of.  I am sitting in a leather chair at the Princeton Library, looking out an octagon-shaped window.  The silence in a great library is like a sound itself.  It fills my ears, and washes over my bare arms, and whispers turning pages and books reshelving.

I am here because my mind and heart have reached capacity.  I need to make room within them.  Writing is the way I empty myself of the pictures that pinch my heart and push between my shoulders and knot my internal organs that are best left unknotted.  For me, writing is as important to my overall health as whole grains and uninterrupted sleep and sunshine.

I am here to remember and recover who I am for somehow I have become a writer who cannot seem to make herself write.

Barbara Brown Taylor began her lecture this morning by describing what it was like to teach women inmates to write their memoir.  I consider how I might long to write if I were in prison.  Like a morphine-drip, I imagine the process of writing might free me from the pain of my circumstances.  I wonder if the ominous locks and cement blocks surrounding me would discourage any kind of block from rising up between my mind and the blank page.

Now, Taylor gives us a writing prompt, which she calls, “a provocation.”

“Who taught you to swim in the water? You have 10 minutes to write, then read what you have written to the person next to you.”

I write:

I can see myself, maybe I was 7?  9?  My pink bathing suit bottoms a bit too snug;  the top too loose, lying like a 5-point star on top of the body-temperature water.  My back, taut like a cello string, droplets on my face;  eyelashes touching to form triangles. My smile, open-mouthed, wanting to drink in the very sky for all its perfect blueness, fluffy clouds framing the space between.

I don’t really remember the learning — it seemed I was always able to swim, to float, to fearlessly leap into the deep, to hold my breath the entire length of the pool.  I spent entire summers submerged.

And yet, my father’s hands, I either remember or imagine, so near yet not quite touching, under my neck and the small of my back.  And his voice, or rather his laugh– the laughter of his joyful pride.  As wide as my smile.

I am seatedPatricia Raybon next to Patricia Raybon, an award-winning author and journalist whose books I bought yesterday.  The act of writing in our journals, side by side, seems to have dissolved the unknown space between us.  We easily, willingly, read to one another, sharing mutual joy, revering what we have made in so little space and time.

Last night, Taylor said, “Writing as a spiritual practice is to be more interested in making, than breaking.”

And yet, we cannot make, until we break the block we writers sense is leaden and opaque and without handles.

Still, her one provocation seemed to change the substance of my block from lead into something like a sugar cube.  I imagine this porous cube barely concealing a large pile of words, which, when assembled in the right order, describe the thing that is under them.

What is under the words, is water.  Water — something I love.  Something I would burn my feet in hot sand to get to.  What is in the water, is other writers who know what it is to take heavy things we carry within and have them break through our very skin to become words on a page that create what others can now see, and touch, and hear.

Perhaps what I need to remember is that the block is neither cement nor lead.  It is like sugar, easily dissolved in water.

Note to self:  I have always known how to swim.

Treading Lightly

My friend sent me this photo recently.  These are the shoes of a large group of volunteers who helped one of our youth at Advent complete his Eagle Scout Project:  adding paving stones and benches and flowered landscaping between an old building and a new one that we have yet to occupy.  My friend was deeply moved by the respect shown by this gesture — a gesture that was not required, but nonetheless was made by all the workers before they entered the building for lunch.

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It has me thinking about other times in which we are moved from within to do something small, the net effect of which might be noteworthy enough to photograph.  I think about these times as holy ground.  Indeed this very blog is named after that story in Exodus 3 in which Moses takes his shoes off to be in the presence of God.  They are moments we do not expect to witness that simultaneously restore our faith in one another.

There is a woman who uses a walker at our Sunday evening service at the beach. Our long-haired guitar player, Charles, has taken to helping adjust her walker so that it is easier for her to come forward during communion.  He does it quietly, from the line that is forming, and motions for her to go first.

There is an 80-something veteran in my condos who faithfully raises and lowers an American Flag above our community deck at sunrise and sunset every single day — and he does it by the book:  saluting, reverently.  He keeps track of the precise time it was raised and lowered with an old pocket watch, noting the times in a small worn journal. Anyone out there when he does this, without being told, remains still until he is done.

There is a 3-year-old at our preschool who was nearly 3 months premature and so has had to do some catch-up developmentally.  Recently, a woman approached our director to see if we would take her young child who had some similar challenges.  The woman was shaken, in tears, as she explained that the preschool nearest him would not take him because of his disability.  While touring our facility, our little one who was born premature ran up to her on the playground, took her hand, guided her across the playground to a balance beam on which he was sitting, and had her sit next to him.  He continued to hold her hand as they sat together quietly.

I know these moments of compassion and respect may seem insignificant in a world filled with both unspeakable tragedies and heroic humanitarian actions.

And yet, they are noteworthy, I think, because people of every age, in homes by the ocean and fields by the farm;  in schoolyards and rehabilitation centers;  in church basements and in desperate city neighborhoods, do them every single day with no prompting from outside themselves.  They are noteworthy because they make us stop and notice and like drops of water that eventually fill a rain barrel, they have the ability to restore hope in our weary souls which seem to take a beating all too often.

They are noteworthy because they do not depend on knowledge, experience, or money.  They spring from the heart.  The heart — that part of our being onto which God has not just written, but carved the divine commandment, so that we might not forget it.  The commandment is not a law that divides us in fear;   It is an invitation that draws us toward peace.  And the invitation is simply:  Love One Another.

We do it most easily when we don’t over-think it.  We do it best in fact, when we sense a need and respond without thinking. And whether we are the doer, the receiver, or the witness, these moments of holy ground are as restorative to us as a walk on the beach.

Shoes optional.