They Cannot Take the Sky

By Joyce Hollyday

sunset 3

Many years ago, when South Africa was in the stranglehold grip of the system of racial hatred and separation known as apartheid, I visited that country to learn about and report on the freedom struggle there. On one of my last evenings, a young man named Jabulani was showing me around the black township of Khayelitsha outside Cape Town, just as the sun was beginning to set. Domestics and laborers, weary from a long day’s work in the city, were making their way home in the last glimmers of daylight. A stream of women, water jugs balanced on their heads, some with swaddled babies on their backs, moved slowly out from the central spigot of the township’s rutted roads in the encroaching cool of the evening. Paraffin lamps came to life, one by one, up and down the rows of small and fragile homes constructed of plywood, cardboard, and corrugated metal. Continue reading

Stranger Courage

By Joyce Hollyday

In honor of his 75th birthday, I was inscribing to my friend Randy a copBetsy & Randy - July 2019y of a book that I co-authored. I wanted to thank him for inspiring me to “greater commitment, deeper compassion, and…”—well, something about courage. Having already used “greater” and “deeper,” my mind was momentarily absent of adjectives. After a little thought, I settled on “stronger.” Continue reading

The Gift of Vulnerability

By Joyce Hollyday

The jangle of an incoming text woke me from a deep sleep. “We’re in trouble,” it began. It was 5:16 a.m. California time. I was 2,000 miles from home, jet-lagged and groggy. I managed to send a reply to Michael along the lines of “Be there as soon as I can.”Michael and me with Sparky at the beach

Michael Galovic and Tamara Puffer met almost 25 years ago at the Open Door Community in Atlanta, when he was living there as a resident volunteer and she showed up one day to help out in the soup kitchen with the youth group from the suburban Presbyterian church where she served as associate pastor. Tamara kept coming back. Her time at the Open Door reshaped her theology and calling, and she began seeking a position where she could serve marginalized people like the homeless ones and former prisoners who were revealing Jesus to her there in transformative ways. Continue reading

Winter’s Coziness

candleIn January, over twenty women gathered for a Word and World weekend of rest and writing using winter as their guide and teacher. This is the second reflection offered which also gives some writing prompts. May it be company in these longer winter days.

By Joyce Hollyday

Guided Imagery

Imagine yourself in a harsh winter landscape. Take note of what is present—and what is absent.

You trudge through deep snow in drifts piled high by a strong and biting wind. Your feet begin to ache. Your fingers go numb. The journey feels endless. Continue reading

Bathed in the Warmth of Stories

fireBy Joyce Hollyday, a facilitator of the upcoming “Heart and Hearth: A Writing Retreat for Women.”

During Advent many years ago, I preached in the morning chapel service at a Pennsylvania college. The chaplain’s five-year-old son, Kyle, had memorized the Gospel of Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus, and he was eager to recite it at lunch. He was flawless until he got to the part about the angels announcing to the shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace!” Forgetting the last phrase, Kyle concentrated for a few moments. Then he confidently launched in again, enthusiastically attributing these words to the hovering heavenly host: “Glory to God in the highest…and I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down!” Continue reading

Into the Jaws of a Crocodile

Cross in desert (1)

PC: Rebecca Heskamp

By Joyce Hollyday

To our right the desert sunset was a dazzling blaze of gold with streaks of red behind towering saguaro cacti, as my partner Bill, our friend Becca, and I drove south from Phoenix to the Arizona-Mexico border. To our left a glowing, salmon-colored full moon rose and perched on a blue-gray mountain peak. We were on our way to participate with a hundred other people of faith from around the country in a week of prayer and protest, communion and confrontation, organized by the Southwest Conference of the United Church of Christ. Continue reading

Visit from a Prophet

By Joyce HollydayPraying mantis 2

I slept late yesterday morning. By the time I had emerged from the trees on my walk, the pasture was already blanketed in a sultry haze. My mind was preoccupied with an upcoming trip and the pile of tasks I need to accomplish before I can leave for a week. I plodded along, barely noticing what was around me.

I felt a tiny prick above my right ankle and reached down reflexively to brush away a mosquito. This was some mosquito—huge and bright green, with a triangular face. When I tried to pry the odd creature away from my sock, it dug in the sharp spines on its forelegs and clung more fiercely. I was afraid it would leave behind a leg or two if I persisted, so I sat down in the grass and stared for a while at its curious face. Continue reading