Welcome Back, Friend
This summer, I escaped to my in-laws home in Wyoming—fishing rod, running shoes, and a collection of old journals in my satchel. For as long as I can remember, I have written down my thoughts, collected quotes that resonate, and scribbled inspiration for new pieces of writing. The idea was that maybe by looking back, I could find my way forward. I rediscovered a quote by my favorite author Thomas Merton. He proclaims we each have to work out our own salvation. It felt especially poignant as I was struggling to find my center this summer.
A reading of Merton’s words, one would assume he was talking about salvation; that looming, existential question of what happens after we die. But if you know Merton, he was much more interested in “finding salvation” in the present moment. How do we live deep, beautiful, peace and joy-filled lives in the midst of a pandemic, grieving for a dear friend diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer, children in and out of school, financial and work stress, the challenges of being in relationship with other imperfect human beings, the reality of aging, and Mother Nature reminding us of her prowess in hurricanes, forest fires, and tornadoes?
I created Bread and Honey ten years ago because I knew what a challenge—and a gift it was for me, and I reasoned for everyone, to just be human. My mission was simple, every Monday, offer a word of encouragement; a nudge of hope. Over the years, the blog evolved into a beautiful, genuine community of fellow soul seekers, like me. Next, I invited all of you to join me in a disciplined pursuit to live a deeper, more consequential, and joy-filled existence in the midst of the busy busyness of raising six kids, working, writing, endeavoring a spiritual life in a secular culture, gracefully handling relationships, trying to contribute in some small way to the greater good….and most importantly, having fun all along the way.
I confess the pandemic pulled the carpet out from under me! I went into survival mode. Suddenly, I felt like I was that nine-year-old kid in pigtails playing Red Light Green Light with my cousins on Palmetto Street. One moment, I would be handling the “new normal” well, even gracefully. Next, stopped dead in my tracks by fear, anxiousness, exhaustion, anger. I don’t think I am alone in confessing that life has felt more theater than reality of late. I can easily change costumes, enter stage right as an angry fishwife, changing into an enthusiastic cheerleader, changing yet again into a whirling dervish and even occasionally a solemn saint.
Just under Merton’s quote in my journal, I wrote in red ink,
“Don’t ever give away
the beautiful, deep and holy
life you have been entrusted—gifted.”
And so here I am, ready to face reality and the future unknown with all its glories, paradoxes, and heartbreaks. I am determined more than ever to speak words of hope and encouragement, reflect on the spiritual life, offer prayers, present meaningful Soulful 7 Conversations via video and podcast, create new, healthy recipes, research health tips, and explore ways to find more and more joy regardless of life’s circumstances.
Today it is the pandemic, tomorrow will have its own unique storm. Life will never be perfect. There will always be something challenging our soul’s footing. The secret silver lining is resilience—we are built to be brave, to recover, and become more loving humans. I have so many exciting things up my sleeve for you this coming year! Thank you in advance for coming along on the adventure.
I gift you with Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem, Go To The Limits of Your Longing. Let it be our rallying call this year!
God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.
These are the words we dimly hear:
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.
Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.
Give me your hand.