Sharon and I are taking the twelve days of Christmas as a stay-at-home retreat. We’ve been talking about what we are going to do with these twelve precious days and there’s the rub. We are so conditioned to “doing” in our world… buying presents, making dinner for friends, getting and decorating the tree and getting out the Christmas cards. It used to feel so important to “get Christmas right.” I say “Christmas” because even though my father was a Jew, that’s what I grew up with. It was my favorite holiday as a child, not so much as an old guy.

But how about we stop striving to “do” and just try “being.” Some words from the Psalms resonate for us. Be still and know that I am God. Here, in the foothills of the Sierras, it is easy be still and see God in nature.


This time of year the weather is spectacular. Clean crisp air (no smoke from fires) and slanting afternoon sunlight on the fields around our house, which are beginning to turn green after the long summer’s drought. We hear coyotes yipping and yowling at all hours of the night and find new scat everyday. I think Sharon is an amateur scatologist. She inspects each new offering as if it might reveal mysteries.


Sharon’s drawing of scat in our neighborhood.


We rejoice each time it rains. About a week ago we had huge storm with almost continuous thunder and lighting. I went out in my rain gear and stood in awe in the pelting rain. After each rain we go inspect the seasonal creek that runs in the ravine at the bottom of our land and take pleasure in noting its incremental rising. Today we saw the first water spiders.



Yesterday I saw a huge flock of wild turkeys just standing by the side of the road as if they were waiting for a ride. In a few weeks the nightly frog chorus will start.

So dear friends and colleagues… if you can, even for a short time, unplug, be still, listen, and know…”

Our gift to you, on this first day of winter, is a song written by my dear friend John Whitehead, an incredible musician and poet. Best wishes for the season.