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

Rekindled by Ritual

bonfire.jpegBy Joyce Hollyday

How to hold the heartbreak and the outrage? Hundreds of babies and toddlers, schoolchildren and teenagers wrenched from the embrace of their parents, many now sobbing inconsolably in immigrant detention centers—some unbelievably lost in the system. My friend Rosalinda, who used to earn just pennies an hour working in a U.S. factory on the Mexican border, who had a nephew who was murdered there, felt a need to tell me her own family’s story of escape from desperate poverty and rampant violence. She related a harrowing saga of vulnerable hiding places, grueling river and desert crossings, capture and release by Border Patrol agents, and a second attempt—all endured so that her children might have safety, enough food, and the chance to grow up. It is unimaginable to think that they might have been stolen from her here. Continue reading

Murder on Shades Mountain

cover-mosm_3-18.jpgBy Joyce Hollyday

Last Thursday in Montgomery, Alabama, the Equal Justice Initiative opened its museum dedicated to racial equality, at the heart of which is a profoundly powerful memorial to the more than 4,400 African-Americans who were lynched in this country between the Civil War and World War II. Three days later Melanie Morrison made a visit to Western North Carolina, reminding us that not all such acts of terrorism and brutality were carried out by white mobs under trees and the cover of darkness. Some were perpetrated in courtrooms in broad daylight. Continue reading