sorrowful mystery
This painting is entitled, ‘Crocifissione” by Gerardo Dottori and is in the Vatican Museum.


We remember Good Friday.
We remember George Floyd.

We remember and
make present
all crucifixions ancient and modern,
Each real
Each now
in community,
in memory,
in body.

This week,

The 17 year old witness who captured the video
says she lies awake, wondering if she did enough.

This week,

The 19 year old store clerk who reported the counterfeit 20-dollar bill
says he reconsiders constantly, wondering if he should have let his pay get docked.

This week,

The 61 year old bystander who showed up on the scene
says he understands what it feels like to miss a Mama, wondering if tears matter.

Yet none of these placed their knee on his neck.


The loss is present.
The love is present.

Memory, swirling.
Pain and
Sacred worth.

We remember Good Friday.
We remember George Floyd.

Renee Roederer

Fresh Start Effect

A new green, leafy plant grows from the soil. Public domain image.

Have you heard of the Fresh Start Effect? It’s the idea that smaller markers of time can serve as openings to ask new questions, initiate new practices, or work toward new goals. Many people set aims like these when they make New Year’s Resolutions, but these can often be even more life-giving on smaller scales – days, weeks, and months.

Today is a new month.

Would you like to sit with a new question, try a practice for 30 days, or perhaps name April as the template for completing a step toward a larger goal or larger hope? We have such an opening today.

If you have thoughts on this — particular hopes, particular directions — I’d love to hear from you. What would you like April to be for you?

– Renee Roederer

Know Anyone Who Would Enjoy Reading This Blog?

PUBLIC DOMAIN COFFEE, Portland - Restaurant Reviews, Photos & Phone Number  - Tripadvisor
Two coffees with foam shaped like hearts. Public domain image.

It’s hard to believe, but we’ve reached the end of March and are already moving into April. That feels really surprising to me. How can a pandemic feel so slow but a year also somehow feel so fast?

At the end of the month, I always like to say thank you for following here at Smuggling Grace. I appreciate you taking the time to connect here, and as always, thanks for engaging too. I enjoy reading and hearing your comments virtually on the platform, in emails, or during real time conversation. Thank you!

And I’m always happy to expand the audience as well. Do you know anyone who might enjoy connecting with this blog? If so, feel free to pass it along. The more the merrier!

And I wish you a wonderful spring! It’s interesting that I think, hooray, finally, done with winter! But also, how is it already spring?. Coronavirus time is Jeremy Bearimy.

Thanks for engaging in community with me!

Renee Roederer

Also at the end of the month, I always extend an invitation to support this blog on Patreon. Or! You can tip me with a coffee! Both of these are always great gifts, but are never expected. I appreciate you being here.

What Does Depth Require of Us?

No photo description available.
Image Description: Dandelion seeds blowing in the wind.

“What does depth require from us, from me?” Sitting with this question and quote today from adrienne maree brown in Emergent Strategy:

“If love were the central practice of a new generation of organizers and spiritual leaders, it would have a massive impact on what was considered organizing. If the goal was the increase the love, rather than winning or dominating a constant opponent, I think we could actually imagine liberation from constant oppression. We would suddenly be seeing everything we do, everyone we meet, not through the tactical eyes of war, but through the eyes of love. We would see that there’s no such thing as a blank canvas, an empty land or a new idea — but everywhere there is complex, ancient, fertile ground of potential.

“We would organize with the perspective that there is wisdom and experience and amazing story in the communities we love, and instead of starting up new ideas/organizations all the time, we would want to listen, support, collaborate, merge, and grow through fusion, not competition.

“We would understand that the strength of our movement is in the strength of our relationships, which could only be measured by our depth. Scaling up would mean going deeper, being more vulnerable and more empathetic.”

“What does depth require from us, from me?”
-adrienne maree brown, Emergent Strategy, page 10

Let’s Just Cut to the Chase

Heart in Book - Public Domain | Digging to Roam
Image Description: The pages of a book are folded into the shape of a heart. Public domain image.

What if… the worst things you believe about yourself —

I’m not this enough,
I’m not that enough,

I’m always like this,
I’ll never be like this,

That person thinks this about me,
That person thinks that about me,

That whole community thinks this about me,
That whole community thinks that about me,

I’m too this,
I’m too that ,

I’m not capable of this,
I’m not capable of that —

aren’t even true?

Wouldn’t it be liberating to believe what is much more true?
What is much more possibly true?
What is flat out true?

We’re loved,
We’re worth loving,
We’re capable of loving.


Many Things
Are Possible.

Renee Roederer

Kairos: Palm Sunday Sermon

Here is a Palm Sunday sermon from one year ago, spoken just as we were beginning this pandemic. I love the concept of Kairos and think of it often. In the midst of the last year we’ve lived, alongside the grief, pain, disruption, and shared trauma, have we also had moments where goodness seemed to find us too? — moments that revealed what is most deeply true and valued in our lives? I hope these moments can continue to guide us into the months and years ahead.

Smuggling Grace

This is a sermon I prepared for Northside Presbyterian Church in Ann Arbor this morning on Matthew 21:1-11. The video above is from Facebook Live. If you have any challenges accessing the video in this post, feel free to go here.

Matthew 21:1-11

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, “The Lord needs them.” And he will send them immediately.’ This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,

‘Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’

The disciples…

View original post 1,306 more words

“Saturdays” by Taylor Murray

Image Description: A photo of Taylor Murray, smiling. She’s wearing a blue shirt and glasses.

I’m grateful to invite Taylor Murray to be guest blogger on Smuggling Grace. Taylor’s poetry is so invitational!


Saturdays, because they are the middle of the week, are for world building
which entails world noticing. 

what shall we put on the ark to save? 
what will we morph, transform, meld? 
what will we bury with miles of ocean?

Saturday is for possibilities, small risks

it is for questions, lots of questions, and no answers
what could this be? if given more love, more attention?

saturday is for turning your head upside down. laying in the grass as the sun rises. sniffing most things 
it is for pausing and also humming in cacophony
it is for albums you’ve never listened to before
and going down dead end roads
no outlet?…maybe for someone else, but you know how to shapeshift!

oh, and obviously Saturday is for turning into a triangle. it is the most stable shape
it is a time for sitting and pondering, what is the question? if the answer is 42….
it is for mapping and charting the moon’s journey, surfing the sky
it is also for rest and closed eyes, and pin drops
and for crying, and processing, and laughing and processing

it is for digging up old things and revisiting, returning
hanging them up on the wall 
then reconsidering the practice of hanging things on the wall

it is for hurling yourself out of the rut, so you can see the sun again
it is also for cold showers and breathing deeply through discomfort
it is for documentary watching and joining facebook groups of zine lovers

it is for calling people out of the blue just to say, hey, if i was in an ocean’s 11 situation, I just want you to know, I’d have you in my squad
it is for writing letters to your grandparents and doing book self portraits

it is for recording bird sounds
Inverting the colors of your phone
Calling your phone a hand rock
It is for juicing something
or frying somethingIt is for learning Morse code
And then using it to communicate with the raccoons in your neighborhood

Bestowing names to the plants you walk past
And moving around your furniture
Wearing socks inside out
And having a staring competition with the void

Learning how to juggle and how to make an igloo
Figuring out that the stage is probably the safest place to scream
For making art with your shadow
And for pickling your curiosity 

It is for pruning the garden of your mind
For tasting refusal in your mouth and learning to savor it
Walking with your eyes closed and your back front

It is for taking what you know to be true 
and then unknowing it
dis-knowing it
make the familiar, strange and weird

That is what Saturdays are for. 
Oh wait, did I say Saturday?
Well, of course, by that I meant
Every day.

Taylor Murray

Taylor is a student at the University of Michigan, currently taking a semester off from her computer science studies. She is the co-founder and president of Tech for Social Good a student org creating critical conversations about technology and society. She is also a self-described renaissance woman and currently is learning Korean, thinking about communal grieving, and combatting grind culture. You can reach her at murratay@umich.edu.

Poem: A Living Procession

Palm Branches

This Palm Sunday poem was commissioned by Northminster Presbyterian Church in Endwell, New York.

It was a tremendous procession.
Shouts of praise erupted from every direction and
Muti-colored layers of clothing splattered the ground —
Can you imagine?
Two miles of stretched out garments.
Palm branches waved through the air and
Children ran alongside the gathered crowd—
Can you imagine?
He is coming.

He enters the scene,
his arrival greeted by the arrival of a community,
all in a frenzy, fully energized, and fully alive.

It was a political procession.
Shouts of “Hosanna!” erupted from every direction and 
Multi-layered hopes greeted every step upon the ground —
Can you imagine?
“Save us!” they cried.
A colt descends from the Mount of Olives and
The crowd sets its sites on Jerusalem —
Can you imagine?
“Blessed is the one who comes
in the name of the Lord!”

He enters the scene,
his arrival initiating an alternative Kingdom,
all in a frenzy, fully energized, and fully alive.

It was an ironic procession.
Shouts of declaration erupted from every direction and
Multi-faceted claims of authority rose from the ground of their being —
Can you imagine?
Here is our King.
His gaze takes in the city as his destination and
Those in power wait to capture and crucify —
Can you imagine?
This King will die.

He will enter another scene,
his arrival greeted by a cross after abuse, torture, shame, and loss,
after this frenzy, fully energized, and fully alive.

And where are we?
Do we dare join this procession?
Knowing that it leads to heartache?
Knowing that it leads to death

And where is he?
Does he invite into this procession still?
Knowing that it leads us to the heart of God?
Knowing that death does not have the last word?

We follow him once more,
knowing that the things worth dying for
are the very things worth living for

the things worth dying for
are the very things worth living for


Living, yes,
Living, yes!
in a frenzy, fully energized, and fully alive.

Renee Roederer

To Be a Part of the Prayers We Make

Image Description: Tealight candles are it and lined up next to each other in an s-curve pattern.

I know a pastor who often says a particular phrase when he prays in worship:

“Help us to be a part of the very prayers we make.”

It’s a phrase I have taken on as well when I lead prayers. Prayer can mean many different things and take on many different forms. I suspect if we pray, most of us pray in many different formats, and we likely infuse that process with many forms of meaning.

But certainly, praying should call us to action.

We need to be a part of the very prayers we make.

So if you pray, what do you pray for these days? Or if you would use a different word than prayer, what do you hope for? Or long for? What need is grabbing your attention in this world, your community, your family?

Whatever it is, how might we take an action to be present to that very need? Or to address that very need?

How might this be important especially for neighbors who are so often out of view?
– Those in prison,
– Those going hungry,
– Those experiencing homelessness,
– Those in the throes of addiction,
– Those who are immigrants,
– Those who live in fear in the shadows,
– Those who are sick without healthcare,
– Those who are stigmatized because of mental illness,
– Those who have lost jobs,
– Those who are foreclosing on their houses,
– Those who have received a challenging diagnosis,
– Those who are harassed or bullied. . .

Whatever and whomever comes to mind. . .

May we be a part of the very prayers we make.

Renee Roederer

Two Questions

Image Description: A blank and then a question mark. Public domain image.

Here are two questions. I’d love to hear from you.

We’re not there yet, but as we begin to imagine a post-pandemic life,

… to what do you want to return?

— and —

… what do you want to leave behind for good? (That is, leave behind once and for all and leave behind for the sake of the common good?)

Renee Roederer