Tarry Awhile: An Advent Reflection

I love the word “tarry.” It means to linger, which is a simple definition of what I have come to understand as contemplative living. This word has followed me around since I was very young, popping up from time to time when least expected. Some months ago, while outlining the book Joy Unspeakable (Barbara Holmes) for my study group, there it was again, leaping out of a page in a one-liner I could not miss. I held the word in my mind’s embrace, the resonance growing, knowing that “tarry” would be my word for Advent 2021.

Listening to the silence in between the noise of so much November chaos, still acclimating to my retirement from ministry, I realized delightedly that “tarry” had become a reality for me. No longer did I have to sigh and yearn for the possibility of “some day.” My spirit soars with gratitude while my soul cries out: I can tarry all I want now–what a revelation!

So this year, I did not write an Advent book for our community. I did not do a daily blog sent to thousands by text message. I did not do a weekly podcast or an Advent evening of prayer as in the past. Instead, I am tarrying over everything I choose to do: writing, reading, walking, listening, cooking, noticing, accepting any and all offers for personal contact. I am no longer “too busy.” My calendar is deliciously free of engagements!

People always ask me what I would do when I was retired, seemingly fearful that I would wither on the vine or be bored. I knew that would never happen. My heart’s desire has always been to write, do retreats, and spiritual guidance. How liberated I feel, how free, how grateful to have this time of holy leisure, to tarry awhile, at this phase of my life. And best of all, deep within, the Taproot surges with renewed energy, the voice of the Holy One telling me to share the wisdom I have learned from being on a serious spiritual journey for forty years now. As always, I listen to the tapping, the call, the little voice within.

On the Second Sunday of Advent (December 5), some friends gathered at the home of Jack and Gina Robertson to tarry awhile with me as we reflected on the Season of Advent in a very personal, intimate setting. Like the early Christians, we became a “house church” simply united by the trinitarian love flowing effortlessly through our lives. We had music, readings, reflections, journal prompts, and personal sharing. The stream of love and grace in that small group flowed out from our little corner of Dana Point to the community of a world in need.

Throughout the remainder of Advent, Christmas, and into the New Year, I will be sharing my usual reflections online and offering rituals and small group gatherings. My hope is that those of you SEEKING WISDOM will find some inspiration and comfort in my efforts to humbly share what I have learned.


  • T – Tarry Awhile
  • A – Awake Aware
  • R R – Remember the Rendezvous
  • Y – Yearn for More

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