Notes from Jan

Here Be God

November 20, 2022

Let me explain. The title comes from a reflection by the Petersens in their One Year Book of Psalms. The entry for November 16th focused on Psalm 139:7-12, which is one of my favorite psalms. ” I can never escape from your spirit. I can never get away from your presence. If I go up to heaven, you are there, if I go down to the place of the dead, you are there.” The Psalmist, David, continues, “If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.”

So how did the title come about? Well, the Petersens shared this story. “Eight years after Columbus discovered America, an English sea captain showed a map to King Henry VII. The map revealed all the unexplored territories of the world. Over some territories were the words, ‘Here be dragons.’ ‘Here be demons,’ etc.” Then the authors returned to Psalm 139. “If King David drew up such a map, over the unexplored territories on his map would be the words, ‘Here be God.’ ”

Probably, like you, some days I’m more aware of the “unexplored territories”, than God’s presence. Like today, for instance, which marked eight years since Jud died. So what did I do? I got up and let routine do my thinking, then headed for church. I’m learning in life’s routines, not just in the spectacular, God often shows up.

How so? Sometimes through the view out my window, a grandchild’s hug, a text, phone call or soup dropped off by a friend. Though today, God showed up through Bert Hodges. He taught adult Sunday School, “Hope in the Face of Death (and Life). What timing!

Also, going to and coming from church, I sang along with Fernando Ortega. Thanks to the age of my car, I can play CDs. Sometimes I sang, other times I talked to Jud. Between Sunday School, church and music, I filled up on hope.

And then, yesterday’s mail brought a card from my friend, Maggie Rowe. She enclosed “A liturgy for the anniversary of a loss” from the book, EVERY MOMENT HOLY. It ends with these words,” Do not waste my greatest sorrows, O God, but use them to teach me to live in your presence—fully alive to pain and joy and sorrow and hope—in the places where my shattering and your shaping meet.” Amen

So, across the “unexplored territories” of my life, including losses and the challenges and privileges of aging, I’m learning to write, by faith and with hope: HERE BE GOD.


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  • Reply Maggie November 21, 2022 at 11:08 am

    Dearest Jan, once again you have given me manna for my day. “Here be God” is a phrase I will recall and repeat. I am glad that the card arrived in time. Those words from “Every Moment Holy” have resounded in my soul many times this past year.

    (On a technical note, I had trouble clicking on your site today. When I went to leave a comment, it took me to a general WordPress site each time. What helped was clicking on the link at the very bottom, which I’ve not had to do before. “Here be God” even when technology is wonky!)

    • Reply Jan Carlberg November 21, 2022 at 12:55 pm

      Ugh! Wonky technology is where I write, “Here be devils.” Thank you for your ongoing encouragement, dear Maggie. Your timing is always perfect. It was a sweet surprise to find your card amidst bills, flyers and catalogs in my mailbox. “Life is sweet, y’all”

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