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This week I offer this meditation from the book The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich (2005)

Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself that you tasted as many as you could.

As we sink into these days after Easter, still contemplating the cross and the empty tomb, we walk amidst the cross of pain and suffering of this life. Yet the empty tomb asks us to orient not to death, but to life. And so we participate in these little acts of claiming life’s sweetness whenever we can, even as we grieve or hurt or feel broken. Both are here.

The spiritual practice this week is to notice this sweetness. Is it in glistening white mountains? The spontaneous smile of a baby? And unexpected kindness? Buying seeds for the garden? Seeing the grass emerge from snow? A song that lifts your heart?

Just gather up all these “apples” into your soul and love them, like resurrection from whatever wants to break you. Notice. Give thanks.

Pastor Marcia Wakeland is a retired ELCA pastor, a spiritual director and a listening advocate. She is interested in the actual experience of having faith and how that is lived out. She can be reached at for comments or more questions Her ongoing blog of living out spiritual practices is