Hidden in the Crowds


On Monday morning at 8 a.m., summer break was over. Six weeks of freedom and rest and quietness had come to an end.

What people outside the teaching profession don’t know: Going back to school after the big break is like turning a switch. Within one minute you go from silence to full-on noise, from solitude to crowded hallways, from rest to total chaos.

One hour in and you feel like the holidays are already light years away.

This week has been hard.
Sore feet, messed up brain, tired soul.
All I could feel, when I feel into bed at night, was exhausted.
That’s not all what I want to feel. This can’t be it.

When we are stressed, we often lose focus and overlook the really important things.

In the midst of our busyness, there are these little moments of joy.
In the hectic of our task-driven lives, there are these beautiful encounters of human connection.
In the sea of faces, there are these special people who stand out in the crowd and surprise you.
Beyond the endless to- do lists there’s the gift of Sabbath and the promise that we are not what we do.

This is it.
This is what I want to learn in this new crazy year ahead of me:
Watch out for the essentials.
Pay attention to what’s hidden in the crowds.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

The Melancholy of ‘Now’

One week of summer break left.
I have a whole week before I go back to school, and yet I already have ‘Sunday melancholy’. That feeling you have on a Sunday night before it’s Monday again and the weekend will be over.
That yearning to stop time and linger in the moment forever.
That nagging thought in the back of my mind if I have spent my time wisely, if I have taken it all in, if I have rested enough, if I’m ready for this new year.
That sensation of excitement for the new year and all its adventures.

“Be still.
Be here.”

We can’t stay in the past or skip ahead to the future; all we have is right now.
And it’s our challenge to be present in the moment, to focus on the now, to not rush by the beauty of today.
But it’s also our greatest gift – Now is where we’ll find God, each other, ourselves. 

I don’t want to rush on ahead
in my own strength
if you’re right here

I’m not in a hurry
when it comes to your spirit
when it comes to your presence
when it comes to your voice

I’m learning to listen
just to rest in your nearness
I’m starting to notice
you are speaking

Will Reagan & Michael Ketterer

Practice being present today.
What are you noticing? 


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

In Search of Something Else

I’ve lived in my neighborhood for almost two years now.
I know my way around, I know the grocery stores and where to get good coffee.
I have found a few ‘favorites’ already.

But in the last few weeks I have pushed myself to explore a bit more where I live. Discover new places, new secrets, new treasures.
Just this morning, on my way home from the farmer’s market, I took a turn I hadn’t taken before and ended up in a beautiful little side alley with old houses and colourful summer flowers.

There’s always more and I want to live my life exploring and discovering everything this world has to offer.

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When life pushes me around and clouds my vision, I want to search for beauty in the mundane.
When they say, ‘people will never change’, I want to look closer, listen in and challenge others to be the best they can be.
When a story seems to have ended, I want to see how the narrative continues.
When my view of God is limited by what people have told me, I want to explore new ways to seek and find him.
When they say, ‘refugees deserve to drown in the Mediterranean’, I want to raise my voice for those who are silenced.
When they say, ‘Let’s close our borders and shut out doors’, I want to open my hands and heart to those who come with nothing.
When I experience fear, mistrust and hatred all around me, I want to speak up louder, love more fiercely, live even braver. 

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There are many ways to live this life.
May our ways always be marked by love.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

 

What If…Still Then

If I am caught up in life’s busyness, blind to watch the world around me.
There’s still beauty.
If the darkness of the world seem to overpower me and weigh heavy on my soul.
There’s still joy. 
If weekly routines and relationships suck the spirit out of me.
There’s still life.
In abundance. 

If I fall short of my own or other people’s expectations and struggle to forgive myself.
There’s still grace. 
If there are more questions than answers and I wrestle with doubts about the big things in life.
There’s still truth.
Buried deep inside my heart. 

If I feel unworthy, imperfect and unfinished, unable to receive, incapable to give.
There’s still love.
Perfect, unconditional love.
Always. 

If I am called to move ahead, taking one step after the other into the unknown.
There’s still faith. 

If I feel like I’ve gone on a search to discover beauty, to experience life, to find myself and got lost along the way.
There’s still you.
Walking with me every step of the journey.
Waiting for me as I learn.
To fully live. 


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

A Reminder for the Parched Soul

“So, what are your plans for this weekend?” my friend asked me as we walked out the school door.
“Oh, I have a Skype meeting in an hour, then I need to cook some food for friends who just had a baby, tonight I’ll go to a concert and tomorrow my parents might visit.” “So…you’re basically taking care of everyone else, but can you please also take care of yourself this weekend?”

Boy, am I glad to have friends like that who point me back to what’s really important.

Four years ago, after a major breakdown, I began to be more intentional about the way I work and rest, Which doesn’t mean that everything always goes well. So here is a reminder for myself to rest, and maybe it will speak to you, too.

You need to rest.
It is a great invention and you need to make more use of it.
It is essential for your soul to live, not just survive.

It is okay to rest and let work be work for a while.
What you do does not define who you are.
You’re a human being, not a human doing.

Human beings cover

Rest does not always mean to do nothing. 
The gift of Sabbath can come in many different forms and ways.
Sleep in.
Meet up with friends.
Read a good book.
Shut off social media for a while.
Seek solitude.
Take a walk.
Cook great food.
Look out for beauty in the mundane.

Find the things that replenish your empty soul, heal your sore feet and restore the abundance of life inside of you. 

Whatever it is for you – do it! Often.

If you’re interested in resting and Sabbath, sign up for Shelly Miller’s Sabbath Society – letters that focus your mind and bless your soul.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

There Should Be Something

I’m writing this from the Grand Canal in Triest, Italy where I vacation with my family for a week. In typical bella vita fashion, we have spent the last few days with lots of delicious food, more wine and even more gelato while strolling through the streets that are heavily drenched in Austrian, Yugoslavian and Italian history.

Today we climbed the steps to San Silvestro, the oldest church in the city when my sister called me, “Come quick, you need to listen to this!” I could hear the sounds of a piano – distant at first, then louder and louder as I came closer.

I entered the little basilica and there was a young man playing Beethoven.

We could have walked by and just continue with our sightseeing.
We could’ve brushed it off and just carry on with life.
But there was something about this sound that made us pause.

I sat down in one of the rows, closed my eyes and enjoyed this free concert. The deep roar of the bass notes. The thrill of the fast arpeggios. The energy that made the entire room vibrate. What a beautiful gift in the middle of a warm summer day.

I want my life to be like this piano concert.

There shall be something about the things I do that makes people to break in their step and pause.
There shall be something about the words I speak and write that attracts others to come closer and listen in.
There shall be something about my life and my relationships that invites others through the door, allows them to pause and find some rest in the middle of their busy lives.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

No Longer Strangers

“Hey, do you have five minutes? I’d like to do your hair for free!”
The question hit me by surprise as I was walking around the duty free area at the airport. Normally, I’m not a person who likes to be sold something to and I’m not into beauty products either, but I had some time until boarding and the guy just looked too friendly, so I agreed.

I expected him to tell me about some fancy new product which would make my life so much better. I expected him to sell me something I’d regret later on.

I didn’t expect what happened next.

He brushed my hair and started to straighten it. I am too lazy to do it most of the time, so I really enjoyed this extra service.
He asked me where I was going and what my life was like. We chatted about big city life and international food and how different people were. We exchanged the best advice on where to travel next.
He told me that he was from Bulgaria and how he had left his home country to start a career as a styling artist in New York City. And how he had ended up in a small place like Stuttgart. He admitted that he really struggled to connect with the always fast-paced, efficient and often brisk Germans.

We did not talk one word about beauty products or sales.

The ‘five minutes’ turned into twenty minutes and I left with straight smooth hair and a really big smile on my face. “Thank you for this treat”, I said as I walked out the booth. “No, thank you”, the guy replied. “I wanted to do your hair, but I got something much better: A real conversation with a nice person. You truly made my day.”

It doesn’t take much to change someone’s day for the better.
Little gestures, a few words – that’s all it takes to make someone feel welcome. You’re no longer a stranger. You belong.  
Why don’t we do it more often?


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.