Fathom Mag

Published on:
April 30, 2019
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3 min.
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At some point, maybe while my eyes were closed, the black silhouettes of the trees gained color. I sat, quiet, with twenty other women in a small retreat chapel at 6 a.m. Together, we watched the morning light - some of us still in our pajamas. Together, we listened as one of us read Psalm 27 aloud. We were asked to listen, without doing. No note taking or analyzing. Just listening.

The second time through, she encouraged us to note which words stood out to us.  






Are they getting enough out of this silence?
Rachel Joy Welcher

Gaze on the beauty of the Lord.

This is the first time I am not wearing any makeup around this many women. It doesn’t matter. No one is called the gaze upon my beauty. I don’t need to be the makeup version of myself. The woman who has it altogether. Who has her quiet time every day. I don’t. I wish I did. But I don’t.

The Lord is my light and my salvation.

We read the passage again, a third time. This time praying to God in response. But I can’t stop noticing certain words...






The trees have gone from black to dark green to yellow. The sky has gone from gray to milky blue.




I go from true prayer to thinking I should pray aloud. They have opened up the floor for this. “If anyone would like to pray out loud, you may…” I feel a sudden weight to pray. To help lead. Are they getting enough out of this silence? Which parts of my private observations will bless the diversity of this group? How should I word it?


Stay silent.

Be ok with silence.

Do not interrupt the discomfort of this. The way it is forcing reflection. You do not need to always take the hand and guide. The Holy Spirit has been doing this a lot longer. He is sufficient. You can sit. Rest. Breathe.






No one is looking at you. No one is looking at your face. And if they are - if they think: “She is not as pretty as I thought” or “her skin is red and aging.” I gaze upon the beauty of God. I do not gaze on their thoughts. I do not gaze upon my own combination skin.




I do not need to teach. I need to listen. To dwell. To seek. To gaze upon the Lord, in the land of the living.

Rest for the soul. Times of stillness before God. Mary gazing up at Jesus while I scrub dishes and sigh loudly in the kitchen, loud enough so they can hear me.

But Jesus loved Martha. He spoke to her like a sister. A best friend. He spoke to her with empathy.

Martha, Martha...

Heaven is only boring for those who have never stopped scrubbing dishes long enough to look out the kitchen window and watch the sunrise. Or set.

We were looking at our garden the other day when my husband said: “You know, if you were to watch it long enough, you would actually see this plant grow.” “No way. Really?” I responded. “I mean, you’d have to watch it all day. They make those time lapse videos don’t they? They speed up what happens in one day,” he said.

The clouds are light, like seeds bursting.


I believe that I will gaze upon the beauty of God, in heaven and on earth.

Listen to this sketch



Rachel Joy Welcher
Rachel Joy Welcher is an editor-at-large at Fathom Magazine and an Acquisitions Editor for Lexham Press. She earned her MLitt. from The University of St. Andrews. She is the author of two collections of poetry: Two Funerals, Then Easter and Blue Tarp, and the book, Talking Back to Purity Culture: Rediscovering Faithful Christian Sexuality (InterVarsity Press, 2020). You can follow her on Twitter @racheljwelcher.

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