Notes from Jan

Holy Holes

September 23, 2021

Life’s full of holes. Not all, holy. But reminders that even emptiness is good for something. Take silence, for instance. Music needs rests. Art needs space. But often, we shun silence, empty spaces. We pipe in music. Buy vacant lots to do something, almost anything with. It feels wasteful to have nothing happening out there, or worse, in us. Schedules need filling and time needs spending.

Well, my reflective mood started Sunday afternoon. But on Saturday, two bumper stickers left me shaking my head. Stuck at a long light, I stared at the back end of a Prius. The left side of the bumper read:”Question Reality.” And on the right, “I brake for hallucinations.” I’m still in California.

But back to Sunday. Often, when I visit Heather and Matt, they plan a special outing. This time, we drove northwest, shun-piking to enjoy farms and ranches off the beaten path. Eventually, we wound our way to an ancient forest, near Occidental, California. We drove as far as possible by car, then on foot following a rain-dampened path into a coastal grove of giant redwoods. Slivers of sunlight, poked holes into the dense forest. We inhaled nature at its dewy best. Surrounded by majestic trees I felt the lift of insignificance and the anchor of silence, a holy hush.

Luke and Basil ran ahead, then back to lure us to a ginormous hole. And it was a hole, inside not below this majestic redwood. One wondered how it kept from toppling. Luke explained the far reaching root system. Deep and wide. I thought, “feels like a life lesson.”

Previous fires left scars, decades old. But fascinating how nature adapts. From the remains, smaller trees grew and began coming together to form, in time, something new. Renewed. I wondered, “What about people?”

Matt and I sat in silence until I whispered, “Be still and know that I am God.” Not us. God. We hadn’t gone to church. But, still, Church came to us.

Holy holes.


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  • Reply dale September 23, 2021 at 10:39 am

    Thanks as always for noting the holy in the mundane. In his ancient book, The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren began with the profound. “It’s not all about us, since if it were it would all be up to us and none of us is capable.” (paraphrase with grace for fading memory). One reason for silence is to listen and it’s what we listen to in the moments of silence that matters. Thanks for your recommendation.


    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 24, 2021 at 11:25 am

      Hmm, just noticed my response didn’t get posted. What you wrote added to the blog. Thanks, Dale. When I wrote,”the lift of significance” it was akin to what you quoted. “If it were all up to us none of us is capable.” Sometimes, to feel insignificant is to gain perspective beyond ourselves. We’ve slashed and burned nature, unaware or uncaring of what it says to God and what it does to us.
      Walking among such majestic trees spoke of God’s creative power, nature’s ability to adapt and God’s mercy and faithfulness.

  • Reply Nifty Williamson Dickinson September 24, 2021 at 8:44 am

    Wonderful blog and great picture! Hello to you all! Enjoy your time with Heather and family!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 24, 2021 at 11:29 am

      Hi, Niffy! I’ll be sure to pass along your howdy from North Carolina. I always love hearing from you and feeling we’re still connected as neighbors/family/friends. Hugs to you and to your family! You’re way overdue for stopping by for Norwegian pancakes. Next time you’re in the area to see your sweet Mama, come by with her and we’ll feast and catch-up.

  • Reply Alyssa Arnold September 27, 2021 at 8:39 pm

    I like the idea of something new growing from the ashes. Lovely photo, Jan. I showed it to Andrew!

  • Reply Jan Carlberg September 27, 2021 at 9:38 pm

    Well, Matt, my son-in-love took the photo. You are right, Alyssa, it’s a hopeful sign that something good can grow out of loss due to fires and in us, if we allow it. God plants a resilient gene within us and within nature. Happy Fall to you and Andrew in beautiful Utah. Hard to believe this coming weekend is Homecoming at Gordon. I’m looking forward to being there.

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