Today, I’d like to share a quote and an image from @the_open_space_ — an account I so appreciate on Instagram. What do these question call to mind for you when we think about need, difference, calling, belonging, and community?

The image reads…

me to me:

have you considered that your absence of a skill set, your experience of living without a particular perspective or insight, your lack of some identified trait or feature or way of being is *not* a deficit

— but rather a mark, a signal, a call to the collective that you belong to some interdependent whole on which you rely?

have you considered that differences, variance & multi-faceted being sustain our ability to survive?


It Is Too Light a Thing…


Image Description: This is an image of Spiral Galaxy ESO-137-001 as captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.

In a couple weeks, I’m going to be speaking on a beautiful passage from the Hebrew Bible. The poetic text of Isaiah includes this vision:

And now the Lord says,
   who formed me in the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him,
   and that Israel might be gathered to him,
for I am honored in the sight of the Lord,
   and my God has become my strength—
God says,

‘It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
   to raise up the tribes of Jacob
   and to restore the survivors of Israel;
I will give you as a light to the nations,
   that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.’
(Isaiah 49:5-6)

An unexpected vision… one that might be hard to believe? Nearly impossible to believe?

These words were originally spoken to captives — people who had been forcibly removed from their homeland with no obvious likelihood of return. They were stripped of their culture and humiliated. They were traumatized, separated from layers and layers of their identity, and treated as the lowest people. Why should they believe in any form of expansiveness? For their lives? For their community’s lives? For the world?

It is too light a thing…

It makes me wonder how a vision can catch us, unexpectedly, in ways that are hard to believe right when we’re traumatized and feeling broken. Maybe it is also too light a thing to lose vision.

Returning to ourselves
Returning to each other
Returning to hope
Returning to possibility

Expanding ourselves
Expanding each other
Expanding hope
Expanding possibility.

Renee Roederer

Support for Smuggling Grace


Image Description: On a brown piece of paper, the words “Thank you!” are written in black writing with a red heart underneath.

Hello, Dear Friends,

I want to take a moment to thank you personally for following my writing on Smuggling Grace. Each week, I enjoy connecting with you here. I greatly appreciate the ways you add yourselves and initiate conversations within these pieces. Thank you so much.

Twice per year, I offer an invitation for people to give a gift to support this work. Donations large and small allow me to keep writing free of charge, and that support also contributes toward the larger vision of what I am doing in Southeast Michigan as well.

If these pieces have been meaningful to you, and you are able to give, would you like to contribute? No gift is too small, and every bit is appreciated!

Click here to support Smuggling Grace.

Your presence is also a gift. Many thanks to you all!
Renee Roederer

Light by Allison Becker


Image Description: Rays of sunlight shine through trees of a forrest. Public domain image.

My friend recently wrote this poem, and with her permission, I’d like to share it with you.


Stop hiding
Stop pretending
Stop fearing
Their response
Stop waiting
For the perfect time
Led by the
It’s time
Love words
Of freedom
Into the dark
That those in shadow
Can enter the light
Oh lamp-carriers
Stars in the night
You were not lit
To hide the light

-Rev. Allison Becker



Image Description: A bitmoji of Renee, riding a unicorn! Above is a rainbow, and within it, the text says, “Have a Magical Birthday!”

Yesterday was my birthday, and wow — I mean, WOW — community came through in such an expression of love and connection. With a lot of gratitude, I have been so moved by it.

Social media birthdays are fun because they allow you to have a full day of connection with people from the many chapters of your life. Knowing this birthday was around the corner, the day before, I asked people in the social media-sphere if they would share with me a memory we have together, either meaningful or funny. And all day long on my birthday, both privately and publicly, I received the gift of kind words and memories. Some made me teary, and some made me laugh. They all made me smile.

Then… picking up on it, I was completely surprised to discover that my colleagues across the country started a thread within Young PC(USA) Leaders, the Facebook group I help administer, to give me the exact same gift. You know how you can be so floored by something that you feel a little shy? I skimmed this thread yesterday because I was so overwhelmed (in a good sense); today, will read it closely and meaningfully.

Everyone should deserve to feel this celebrated. I will pay it forward for sure.

And in person, the day was great too!


I made myself aloo matar, one of my very favorite dishes.


I ate a cake pop with the amazing N.J. Phillips.


Transformed my hair…


… into a cool haircut…


… thanks to the amazing talents of Sierra Smith.


And I had dessert…


… with my friend Blair Buckley.

WOW. What a day.

Renee Roederer

Don’t Play Small


Image Description: Rays of sunlight shine through trees of a forrest. Public domain image.

So I confess that I’m not a big Marianne Williamson fan, but I have been sharing one of her quotes for years. I see that someone on the internets has put that quote into poem formatting, which I will now copy and paste below. I want to share this today at the beginning of a new year.

There are times when we realize we are swimming in self-doubt, struggling with internalized shame, or limiting what we think could be possible. And there are times when we realize people are determined to reduce us, project onto us, or treat us as though we are their problem to be solved.

What changes might we make to shift our thinking and acting? How might we change our roles in relationship? No need to play small.

Our Deepest Fear
By Marianne Williamson

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.

We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us;
It’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we’re liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

God Receives

I love this poem by Kaitlin Hardy Shetler, and I’d like to share it with you today.

A Real Scandal of the Birth of God (A Christmas Poem)
by Kaitlin Hardy Shetler

sometimes I wonder
if Mary breastfed Jesus.
if she cried out when he bit her
or if she sobbed when he would not latch.

and sometimes I wonder
if this is all too vulgar
to ask in a church
full of men
without milk stains on their shirts
or coconut oil on their breasts
preaching from pulpits off limits to the Mother of God.

but then i think of feeding Jesus,
birthing Jesus,
the expulsion of blood
and smell of sweat,
the salt of a mother’s tears
onto the soft head of the Salt of the Earth,
feeling lonely
and tired

and i think,
if the vulgarity of birth is not
honestly preached
by men who carry power but not burden,
who carry privilege but not labor,
who carry authority but not submission,
then it should not be preached at all.

because the real scandal of the Birth of God
lies in the cracked nipples of a
14 year old
and not in the sermons of ministers
who say women
are too delicate
to lead.