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  • Writer's pictureChar Seawell

Almost exactly one year ago, we honored our desert calling and arrived in our new home. With a deep desire for small town living, we chose a city unknown to us and sought out a home to fulfill a small wish list: no stairs, open, filled with light, and affordable.

We joked a train nearby to remind Tim of the soundscape of his childhood Edmonds home would be a plus, and I secretly wondered if I would miss the mountains. But we knew that clearly this was to be our next destination and moved forward in faith.

Still, it was a nerve wracking process to do online. But we were blessed with a Zen-like real estate agent who through it all assured us with what has become a new life mantra:

What’s meant for you is waiting for you.

When we drove into the city for the first time hauling our two cats, two guitars and some golf clubs, we prayed we would like this new place and pledged to be open to whatever God had waiting for us here. We knew we were done with traffic, big cities and with music, but we turned over the driving and the destination to a Creator who knew what was on the road ahead while we were driving blind.

Thus, we decided to live a year of “yes” to any opportunity God put in our path.

As we drove up to our new home for the first time, some fear accompanied our excitement. Having bought it online, we knew there was much that could go wrong, but reassured ourselves that it completed the wish list, and that would be enough.

Opening the front door, we were greeted with picture windows that revealed an expansive view of the Santa Rita Mountains, where everyday for the next year we would watch the sun rise, the sun set, and the summer monsoon rains develop and disappear. And the next morning, when the rumble of an approaching train appeared and an engine whistle blew, we realized there was a train across the street that would fill the air twice a day, just like in Edmonds.

What’s meant for you is waiting for you.

Settling in, we knew nothing of what would be our new directions here, but I knew personally that music would not be part of it. Years of caregiving had made even the two or three concerts a year an exhausting process, and the “business” of music was soul draining, so we joked that if God wanted us to do music, He would have to make it happen. It was time to rest.

The only thing we did was go to a summer open mic mostly to meet people. That was it. But a small tsunami happened, and by the end of this year, we will have played over thirty gigs in some of the best venues we have ever played. And more than that, this Tucson area has introduced us to an amazingly kind and gracious community of songwriters, fellow musicians and audience members who have received us like family.

What’s meant for you is waiting for you.

But as we enter our second year here, a new calling has been whispering to me, a Thoreauvian whisper to once again pull away…not from this geographical area, but from the busyness that has crept in and begun to establish a tyrannical reign once again in my soul.

Because of the busyness, there are songs that clamor for a voice and no space in which they can come alive and give voice to another human story. An unfinished novel or two or three are struggling to find space to write themselves to completion.

But the deepest whisper of all calls me to a stillness that allows the small things to breathe.

Because in this busyness, there are beautiful, small moments I am almost missing, and, unlike the T-shirt saying, I do, in fact, sweat the small things.

The Desert Willow blossoms appeared almost overnight and I almost missed their splendor and flexibility in the desert winds.

Watering the new plant from Africa, I almost missed the tiniest of pink star shaped flowers appearing amidst the succulent leaves.

And as I stood at midday in the midst of the patio pavers yesterday staring at the Santa Rita Mountains, a hummingbird flew straight up to me and hovered in front of my face staring right into my eyes, my life…my very soul.

What’s meant for you is waiting for you.

I am seventy years old. I think I should have a better grasp of who I am by now. I think that I should not have this immense longing for a home I cannot describe or seem to find. I think I should be “done” trying to figure it all out.

But at 3:30 am, like clockwork, the Spirit who whispers, “Write this,” has a different plan, I guess, and I come to sit in the dark before the dawn in the silence.

I think this new year, perhaps, will be a year of “living the questions”. I think this will require a new level of solitude and intense self-examination… a pulling away from activities and groups that distract me from my own path.

And I think it will be a year to shine a light in the dark corners of my own soul to seek truth, real truth, and not the easy lie that silences the inner voices clamoring for home.

In myriad ways, the desert has been trying to speak to me of this, and I have been too busy to listen.


As the pace has now been slowing in the departure of winter visitors and the arrival of torrid heat, a part of me recognizes that like the snakes who will work their way out of hibernation and leave exoskeletons of their previous lives along the trail, I, too, have an old skin that needs to be shed in the heat of summer.

The new skin I hope to find may well feel raw and vulnerable, but this old one no longer fits what longs to emerge. So I am willing to endure what I know will be a long, slow process of this next year’s journey because, well,

What’s meant for you is waiting for you.

And, as with all good things, I believe it will be worth waiting for.

  • Writer's pictureChar Seawell

A six week pandemic lock down in Washington State left its residents with being alone in nature as the only safe activity. In the absence of a schedule determined by outside forces, in the destruction of a “to do“ list that involved close social interaction, like my fellow residents, I was left with just...Myself.

A thought flew into my head. I could drive to Deception Pass alone, take my journal, and spend some time with God. I had a clear prompting from my inner Spirit that an encounter awaited me on the lonely, rugged coast in the early morning hours.

As soon as the thought was in my head, I literally felt the presence of an inner critic with her hands on her hips, girded with a stained apron. Her face was shrunken with hard, cold eyes and she spoke into my heart. "You cannot expect to just head off into the woods to connect with God for six weeks now, can you? You have things to do."

Just like that, I felt my spirit deflate as I contemplated her admonition.

But a stronger, quieter feeling was brewing. A promised encounter awaited me, and for the first time, I heard my own inner voice declare softly, "I just have to go." And I did, battling the whole time the Woman With Her Hands on Her Hips for the journey.

Arriving at the beach, I felt compelled to walk the shores rather than the forest. Again the Woman With Her Hands on Her Hips dug in. "You hate walking in the sand. Go to the forest. You won't walk very far. It's colder here." On and on and on... But a quieter, softly strong voice stood her ground.

I just have to go.

I turned to walk the shore near the lapping waves of the high tide. Watching my feet carefully, I noted old footsteps immortalized temporarily on the sand under my feet. Ahead, I noted a circle of stones, and drawn to it, I walked that direction. As I came closer I noted that the artist had taken stones with a sliver of white crossing their surface and had aligned those white slivers so as to create an inner circle within the stones. I marveled at the ingenuity and creativity of the circle and stopped to take a photo before moving on.

In the distance walked a woman in a bright red coat, a solitary figure like myself meandering down the shore. As we approached, keeping a safe distance, she spoke to me excitedly. "Up there by that tree trunk there is a beautiful sculpture of stone in the sand. You don't want to miss it!"

"And there is a beautiful circle of stones ahead of you, " I said, "I feel like the person who created this order in the chaos could be my twin!"

"That was me," she said. And then she explained that her friend was recovering from surgery, so she had created a hug circle for her and taken a photo to send it.

I told her of my search for prayer stones, flat and smooth. That these were chaotic times, but that like the ancient Jews, I wanted to reflect on where I met God each day in the chaos, and then build a rock pillar to be able to say,

God was here.

We said our goodbyes and I started to wander on. A voice, the quiet one, spoke into my heart. "You need to write about this moment." The Woman With Her Hands on Her Hips yammered on about the need to press on to keep up with a non-existent time schedule. Her pull was strong, but my inner pull to journal about the experience was stronger.

I turned to seek the first log suitable for sitting to capture this encounter. Walking towards it, head down watching my path, I reached the log and scanned for a suitable sitting place. To the left of me, on the log I had chosen from a distance, lay rock pillars...sentinels to this day, waiting...I think...just for me.

And I sat to write a Mediation on Stones.

The Woman With Her Hands on Her Hips did not disturb me for the rest of the day. I think in the absence of schedules and tasks and rush and worry, maybe for the first time in my life at 68, I could see her. She was no longer camouflaged behind the veneer and imprisonment of responsibility I had carried since childhood.

I made a decision this day to listen to the soft flutter of the Spirit's wings instead of the harsh voice of The Woman With Her Hands on Her Hips. I am not naive enough to think she is gone for good, but, like any challenge, once true identity is known,transformation can happen.

I only know this for sure: I came here today to meet God in a powerful way, to have an encounter that would leave me changed.

As always, God did not disappoint.

  • Writer's pictureChar Seawell

At first glance, a Facebook video of Stephen Colbert arguing with the logic of a Christian author and a video of a former circus elephant being released into the wild might not seem like they have much in common. But by some chance convergence I ended up watching them both on nearly the same day, and their stories so complemented each other that I came away with a deeper understanding of my own faith.

Stephen had a self-avowed "Christian theologian" who had written a book exposing the supposed "conspiracy" of the writing of the Gospel accounts.None of his "ground breaking news" was new, and his shoddy conclusions showed a lack of understanding of the most basic of good research regarding primary source documents and how to determine the veracity of eye witness accounts. Colbert, however, did not travel the road of the Christian apologist; he took the road Jesus would have taken: he told a parable.

Most of you are familiar with the story of the blind men and the elephant. Colbert relayed that story to illustrate the point that each Gospel writer had only a piece of the story. When he finished telling the story, he simply looked the author in the eye, a wry smile on his face, and stated with gentleness, "Maybe Jesus is the elephant."

The next day, I was compelled to watch an elephant video on Facebook. A circus elephant, aging and bone weary, was about to be set free into an elephant sanctuary.Awaiting her, after a 26 year separation, was a much younger elephant who, as a baby, had spent time as part of the same circus.In the video, the narrator explained that these elephants had been separated since those circus years, and all were wondering how they might react to each other.You can imagine the touching scene that awaited.

But it is what transpired before the release that captured me.The elephant keeper who had been caring for her gave her one last bath.And as he held her aged and scarred foot, which she gently lifted into his hands, he ruminated on the chains that had been part of her existence for decades."I don't know who the first person was that put her in chains," he said quietly."But I will be the last one to take them off.She is free."

The footage of her welcome by her young friend was breathtaking.They embraced trunks, and she leaned into the healthier, younger elephant as though they had always been best of friends.If they had been human, they would have run into each other's embrace and kept kissing each other pausing only long enough to pull away and gaze into each other's eyes with love and gratitude that the journey had finally brought them together.

Then it hit me: this is how it will be when I meet Jesus.I will run to Him like a long, lost, precious, friend who never forgot me and who held me always in his thoughts.I will rest in His green pastures and lie beside His quiet streams, my pain forgotten, my heart healed.

But before I do, I will have a loving Creator and caretaker who will release whatever chains have bound me, wash me one final time, and announce,

I know who the first person was that put you in chains,

and I will be the last one to take them off.

You are free.

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