Photo: K. Dagen

Photo: K. Dagen

Outside -
a shovel scrapes;
I want to be the one,
I want to be the blessing.

Layer up;

Dig, scrape, lift,
labor -
for me and for my neighbor.
Let me be the blessing.

Don't watch,
don't look,
I need this more than you.

give way to shame;
overcome by my own humanity.
Even my best attempts are ugly.

No stirring, no movement.
Apart from me all is still.
I labor.
But the world waits.

Quick to bless?
No, quick to mess.


My shovel only interrupts a work that is not yet complete.
to see the smooth subtle beauty
before it's destroyed by human frustration;
all for me and for my neighbor.

The snow keeps falling.
It covers over all I've done,
and gives me the grace,
the space,
to try again.

Outside -
the snow falls;
I wait.




The omnipresence of God does not rely on our feelings. We can sit and be still and rest in the presence of God without actually feeling him. His being does not rest on our state of being. His love is not swayed by our state of responsiveness. We can be confident that his love towers over us, even when we are not overcome with the same emotion. We can still declare that he hears us, even if we can't quite seem to hear him. We can trust that he still searches and knows the thoughts and needs of each mind and soul, even on the days when its hard to utter a single word to him. 


 Photo: K. Dagen

Photo: K. Dagen

the most precious resource 

on december 21

is light.


and on december 22

we exhale, assured

that today there is more of it

and tomorrow even more and 

more and 

more after that,

until the world is 

aflame with redemption.

I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
— John 12:46

These words of Jesus' came in the midst of a confusing time, a deciding time, in which those who had been hearing his teachings and believed him had to decide whether they valued their own convictions over the praise of men (Pharisees). His words are a statement of hope for those struggling to break out of the chrysalis of expectations their Jewish world had built around them.

Yet, only days later this hope appeared to end as Jesus died a criminal's death. But as we know, this end was not in fact the end, but a fulfillment; it was not just the death of Jesus but the death of death's ultimate power over humanity. 

This story of hope is familiar to us, as are Jesus' words about light. But on the Saturday before the resurrection, it was not yet a story of hope. It was a story of darkness.

Often the story of our world seems like a story of darkness. In Advent, a season of waiting and longing in our chrysalis for the light to break through, the weather and the church calendar can appear to agree: the world is bleak and dark.

But December 21st, the winter solstice and darkest day of the year, is like the Saturday before the resurrection. Except unlike the disciples in the first century who weren't sure what the next day would hold, we know! Even when we don't see evidence of what is hoped for, the complete restoration and redemption of the world, we know Jesus has come - and so we hope and we wait for the light to increase. We bask in hope like the light of the sun, which we cannot create, but only behold and enjoy.

The light is coming, the light has come, the light is growing longer and brighter every day. Jesus is the light. He is coming, he has come, and he will come again. On literal and figurative winter solstices, let us remember he is still at work in the world. Let us be people who love the light, who live in the light, and anticipate the amplification of it.



Sallie lives and works in Lancaster, Pa. She loves the natural world, reading, writing, walking, and her fiancé. Her undeniable passions are Mary Oliver, tea, and talking. Sallie shares her poetry on Instagram @sallieforth 




This speaks so much to joy. When we are fully alive, we best represent the image of Christ in us. We are created in the image of God, with unique talents, gifts, and passions that help give us life.

Yet it also speaks to our brokenness. It reminds us that something isn't quite right, because it's HARD to be or feel fully alive most days. It reminds us of our almost endless inconsistencies, of our deep-rooted need for God. 

Lastly, it speaks to heaven, to the Kingdom fully realized, when the Glory of God will look like all of his Children, fully alive in His light, love, and nature.