Biography, Minneapolis, Songs of Assent


Having described myself as a ponderer, I thought I’d offer an explanation of what that is for me, and why it is important enough to become a descriptor of my vocational life. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the act of pondering as “to think or consider especially quietly, soberly or deeply.” To ponder is hold an experience (or an observation, or a relationship or…) deeply within, to be open to be changed by the encounter. Often a ponderer doesn’t realize the impact of holding our encounters deeply within. They change us without our direct knowledge. Pondering is one of the ways the Holy Spirit works knowledge and insight deep within us. Pondering is one the ways we become wise.

When we ponder, we explore the meaning of events. We are told that my favorite ponderer, the Virgin Mary, “treasures up” or ponders the meaning of two very different events. In the first case, Mary listens to what the shepherds have told her about angels coming to tell them of the birth of her child (Luke 2:19). In the second case, Mary ponders the implications of her twelve-year-old son’s three day, unauthorized visit to “his Father’s house,” the temple in Jerusalem (Luke 2:51). I suppose both instances were awe inspiring, but while the first was full of wonder, the second brought great distress. She held these experiences in her heart for a long time, waiting to see what they would mean.

I’m sure the shepherd’s words sustained her when her little family became refugees, fleeing from a murdering envious king. “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.” This, my child, is somehow what you have been called to bring right in the midst of the hatred that pursues us. And her twelve-year-old? Well, I imagine she returned to th e memory of him in the temple over and over again. He is, and is not, like other boys.

I am wired to see meaning in physical metaphors like the seasons, or the ocean, or trees, in the sounds of birds and the feeling of sun on my skin. Much of what I write draws on natural metaphors to help me make sense of life. I greatly value the importance of paying attention.

So its good to be back with a blog and new space to explore the “ponderables” in life. I hope my insights will encourage you, and help all of us treasure the good and the hard things in our hearts that we might grow in the wisdom that comes from God.

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