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March 2023 Newsletter

Updated: Mar 11

The Smudge We Bear

A couple of poems are carrying me through this Lent. I’ve always loved Jan Richardson’s Ash Wednesday poem “Blessing the Dust.” This season I added Kate Bowler’s Ash Wednesday poem to my devotion time. Both poems speak the truth to me, and maybe to you too.

First from Kate:

God today my finitude is rubbed on my forehead.

The reality of my limits, my fragile body,

spoken over me like a curse:

from dust I was made

to dust I will return.

when my body betrays me…

or perhaps it is doing exactly

what it is supposed to do.

Tell me again

exactly how you made me:

from dust to dust.

A couple of unwanted new health issues have made this Lenten season a reminder of “the finitude and limits of my body.” This is not the fun part of life. But it is part of it. Part of being dust. And yet Jan reminds us that we are marked…

for claiming what God can do

within the dust

within the dirt

within the stuff

of which the world is made

and the stars that blaze

in our bones

and the galaxies that spiral

inside the smudge we bear.

As Ash Wednesday’s smudge becomes Easter’s stardust, let us claim what God can do with dust.

Kate Bowler. 2023. The Lives We Actually Have. page 89-90

Jan Richardson. 2016. “Blessing the Dust” from Circle of Grace: A book of blessings for the seasons.

More dust, this time held together with gold.

Latest blog: How to put the pieces back together.

Are you going to be in Phoenix this summer for the Rostered Leaders Gathering? Me too!! I’ll be offering two workshops:

A 75-minute workshop called

Hopeful Frustration: Listening to Emotions

and a 3 hour workshop titled

Hopeful Frustration: A Practical Process.

You know it will be WAY TOO HOT to go outside – so stay cool and attend my workshop! Once you’ve experienced Hopeful Frustration you can decide if it would be helpful to share in your context and we can book it for the Fall.

Be Prepared: It's more than a scout slogan.

According to marketing wizards, I need to create a sense of urgency to motivate you to buy Discover and Invite NOW.

But I can’t say “Last copies – get yours before the run-out!” because it’s a pdf – it won’t run out. And I don’t want to manipulate you with a fake time-limited discount. I don’t have an urgent need to sell you this, but you may have an urgent need to buy it.

If you want to be prepared the next time a pastor says “I’m resigning my call,” you might want to buy Discover and Invite now, instead of later.

If you are frustrated by MSP’s that don’t show the uniqueness of the congregation, you might want to buy Discover and Invite now, instead of later.

If you know that congregations need more support than you can currently provide during the transition process, then you might want to buy Discover and Invite now, instead of later.

If any of these scenarios sound familiar – email me at

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