Slowing Down


January 11, 2023
A Note from Pastor April

Dear Friends,


I wasn’t always into poetry. I am learning to appreciate its gifts more as time passes, especially the kind of poetry that speaks plainly and clearly, and gives me space to listen to what lies within the words for me.

This past Sunday, we read a poem in worship by one of my favorite writers, Jan Richardson. It was a poem written for Epiphany, which falls 12 days after Christmas.


On Epiphany, we remember the story of the Magi and the invitation to awaken and perceive the presence of God here in our world. They saw a star… What will we see?

In Ireland, there has been a long tradition of Epiphany being a time after the busy Christmas season to slow down, rest, and reflect.

They began calling this “Women’s Christmas,” a time when the women would set down their domestic chores and gather to celebrate, reflect, and rest.

Slowing Down

Each year, Jan invites all of us, men and women alike, to take this start to the season, slow down, set down our work, and listen to the movement of the spirit.

Great Story message sermon series year two Jesus

As we begin Year 2 of The Great Story and dive into the Gospel of Matthew and the story of Jesus, it’s a good time to pause and prepare our hearts for what God may offer us this year.

I share Jan’s poem from Sunday with you again in this letter to give you more space to sit with it and meditate on what it is inviting us into.

If you find this to be a meaningful exercise, you might consider downloading Jan’s Epiphany/Women’s Christmas Retreat booklet online. It’s free to download, though she gives you the option of making a donation to an organization doing good work against human trafficking.

Either way… may you find some space to awaken, slow down, and perceive the good work of God in our world right now. Maybe even glance at the stars?

Where the Map Begins

The Wise Ones

This is not
any map you know.
Forget longitude.
Forget latitude.
Do not think
of distances
or of plotting
the most direct route.
Astrolabe, sextant, compass:
these will not help you here.

This is the map
that begins with a star.
This is the chart
that starts with fire,
with blazing,
with an ancient light
that has outlasted
generations, empires,
cultures, wars.

Look starward once,
then look away.
Close your eyes
and see how the map
begins to blossom
behind your lids,
how it constellates,
its lines stretching out
from where you stand.

You cannot see it all,
cannot divine the way
it will turn and spiral,
cannot perceive how
the road you walk
will lead you finally inside,
through the labyrinth
of your own heart
and belly
and lungs.

But step out
and you will know
what the wise who traveled
this path before you
the treasure in this map
is buried not at journey’s end
but at its beginning.

Jan Richardson

The Rev. April Blaine
Lead Pastor

Reverend April Blaine, Lead Pastor