From Rachel Womelsduff Gough

THE PASTOR
RACHEL WOMELSDUFF GOUGH channels all of her creative energy into writing sermons, shepherding her flock, and fostering shalom in the community as Co-Lead Pastor of Monroe Covenant Church in Monroe, WA. Someday she will get around to writing a murder mystery series set in a small town featuring a sassy clergywoman amateur sleuth.

Reverse the polarity!

Every definition of the word ‘invest’ involves money, time, or elevated meaning. It’s a rich word with long-term connotations, the opposite of our fast-paced, instant gratification, Altar of Convenience culture and its consequences. To invest is to resist, to rebel against the zeitgeist. And in this polarized political climate, it might be what saves us.…

Make me feel important

“WILL YOU SNUGGLE with me mommy?” my six-year-old daughter calls from her top bunk. “Me first!” says my four-year-old son from the bottom. My daughter always wants me to linger so I crawl into bed with my son. “Whaddya wanna talk about? Dinosaurs?” he asks, his small, strong arms wrapped around my neck. “You go…

Wild mind

“The more civilized man becomes, the more he needs and craves a great background of forest wildness, to which he may return like a contrite prodigal from the husks of an artificial life.” —Ellen Burns Sherman This summer I did three backpacking trips in five weeks. I keep wondering what it is that propels me…

The value of failure

I used to use beginnings as a clean slate, a chance to start fresh and set goals. New Year’s resolutions, a new school year, even the first day of the month would be an opportunity to get my ducks in a row and attempt some new routine, but every time I would inevitably fail almost…

Let us tend our own garden

Recently I met two young women farmers who are the granddaughters of farmers. Their own parents ‘escaped’ from farming with the idea that they were providing a better life for their children, but those children found their way back to their roots anyway. There is something deeply satisfying about cultivating the earth, planting seeds and…

It starts and ends with caring

Some friends and I went camping last weekend, and as we were setting up the canopy my friend’s forehead brushed some stinging nettles. She immediately started to feel a prickling sensation on her skin, but before 30 seconds had passed she found a fern and rubbed it on her forehead. The stinging stopped. The sickness…

Radical locatedness

I came across a striking quote recently: “Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.” C.S. Lewis wrote those words in The Weight of Glory, and, no matter one’s religious persuasion, it would be difficult to deny that his statement has zing. What would it look like…

Speaking up is costly

One of the most painful experiences of high school came at the hands of my friends. The four of us—two boys and two girls—spent the hot Phoenix summer before junior year together doing nearly grown up things: Eating lunch at The Olive Garden and driving home through the desert at night listening to Matchbox 20…

Adventuring together

“I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” —John Muir On a rare sunny Saturday in February, my little family sloughed off its cozy winter sedentariness and donned trail shoes and day packs for a hike in the forest.…

Parenting is an extreme sport

After I graduated from high school, my mom shared that she had cried herself to sleep every night during my senior year. I was angry that we had moved away from my childhood home in Phoenix to a soulless suburb of Seattle, and I acted out in typical but relatively harmless ways—smoking cigarettes on the…

Out of the mouths of babes

My five-year-old daughter awoke from her nap still warm and rubbing the sleep from her eyes. She climbed onto my lap as I sat at my desk, trying to muster the energy and creativity to write something. She asked if she could help, so I told her I needed to write something involving the word…

Pivotal sorrows

I’ve had Mary Oliver’s The Uses of Sorrow rolling around in my head lately. Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift. If you’re anything like me, you’ve had one or two pivotal sorrows that have changed the course of…

Is stuff the stuff of life?

“I believe that consumerism is stealing our money, our time, our resources, and even our identities,” said writer and speaker Sarah Bessey on her blog. “We all have too much stuff. We aren’t living simply. We over-spend until we are in debt and distracted.” And yet “loving our stuff has gone a bit off popularity…

Ocular armor

I’ve always had perfect vision, and I don’t say that to brag. It was a source of great frustration when I was growing up. I was terribly jealous of the kids in school with glasses, and I desperately wanted my own. Every birthday and every Christmas I would write ‘Eye exam’ at the top of…

Backcountry crucible

A few years back, I go to a nature writing retreat in the North Cascades. I think it’s a writing retreat set in nature, but it’s actually a writing retreat about nature. I grew up going camping with my family, and my hardcore backpacker dad was known to shake us out of our road trip…