The Day After the Last Day of School

I was out driving around and running errands this morning. I drove by the local skating rink and saw two yellow school buses pull into the parking lot and watched groups of kids pour out of the buses into the rink. I drove through the Sonic Drive-In restaurant to order a soft drink on this warm, almost hot, sunny day. I saw two young boys sitting close together on a curb in the parking lot. One had a bicycle and the other a skateboard. They were eating ice cream and talking with their heads close together. Their feet were dusty as they dug their toes into the parking lot pavement. Closer to home, I drove over the bridge crossing a local creek. Two more boys were standing at the rail of the bridge, leaning over the side, dropping sticks and grass into the creek. They watched the things they dropped flow gently down the stream. In my mind I heard the song: “Merrily merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream”

I don’t know if life is but a dream. But this week seemed all too real. Today is the day after the last day of school in our community. Yesterday was the last day of school and the kids had early dismissal. Today is the first day of summer break here, and it made me smile to see kids relaxing, to see kids having fun, to see kids being together and being happy that school is out for now.

Uvalde is five hours from where we live. Santa Fe is thirty minutes away from our house. It cannot be said, here or anywhere else, that “this will never happen here.” These precious kids and their teachers are more than ready for summer. The families too are ready for summer, I imagine.

Last night some folks gathered at our church and prayed for the children and teachers and families in Uvalde. These kinds of prayers are hard, and even harder after the last few years of Covid, of war, and of other gun violence tragedies. We prayed for the families in Buffalo who are freshly grieving the loss of their loved ones. I watched out a window as the golden sunlight of early evening fell on the purple flowers outside. This might be the hardest part of all. Sitting in twilight, thinking of and praying for little children who died needlessly. Holding them and their families in this light and in our hearts.

There are actions to be taken. These needs that arise will be faced with wells that have long been dry. Once again, this needs to change. Our community, our state, and our nation have the capacity to support different outcomes. In so many ways. In the meantime, casually catching sight of children entering into summer, children who are alive, takes my breath away.

There is a lot for us to hold now. There was a lot to hold last week, and the last few years, and now immeasurably more. Grief, exhaustion, rage, love, joy, compassion, outrage, tenderness. Weddings and graduations and slaughter and hospitals and death and life. And sunlight that we all share. Fierce hope that abides in this light.

It is hard to hold all of this. I don’t think my arms are long enough to reach around all of this. And, I know that others, seen and unseen, known and unknown, are holding my hands and your hands. We can hold a bigger space, a giant space together. Time will tell how and when and where. My hope is that we can remember each other with respect and with compassion. May we hold all who grieve and all who suffer in the light, in love, in our hearts. May we learn to hold all of it, to celebrate all that we can and be present to joy, this day and all days. May we discern, now and always, our next right thing and support each other as we continue to create community and hope and love together.

Desire, Mystery, and Belonging Update

Hi friends, I want to share an update on my new book, Desire, Mystery, and Belonging. It’s available on in both paperback and Kindle formats: Desire, Mystery, and Belonging: Flick, Sarah, Louden, Jennifer: 9781953445216: Books  . This book of mine is seven weeks old this week, so it is still very young. I am also just seven weeks into being a “published author of a book” and so I am still very new to all this! So far, it’s brought me a lot of joy!

I have enjoyed three in-person gatherings for book talks and book signings and was happily surprised to see longtime friends there! I have participated in two Zoom gatherings with groups interested in the book. I have been a podcast guest once: Create Out Loud With Jennifer Louden: 45 | Creativity’s Biggest Gift: Helping us Unlock Our Deepest Desires with Sarah Flick on Apple Podcasts and a guest blog post writer once: Easter Preaching: Desire, Mystery, and Belonging (A Guest Post) — Backstory Preaching . Thanks to Jen Louden and Lisa Cressman for these invitations!

I anticipate at least 2-3 more in-person gatherings in the next few months, another Zoom gathering next week, and another podcast to visit soon. I am happy to visit and participate in more gatherings either on Zoom, in person, or via podcast or blog! You can contact me by visiting

My publisher, Inspirebytes Omni Media, has released a wonderful reflection workbook/journal for the book. It includes reflection questions for each section of the book with ample room for journaling, drawing, or collaging. I recommend working through the workbook/journal as you read the book or after you read the book. My hope is that the book itself comes alive for each reader as they reflect on their own experiences. The workbook is a great way to deepen your experience of the book, and it is available as a digital download that you can either keep online for yourself or print and bind at a copy store so that you can have a paper copy. You can order the workbook here: Desire, Mystery, and Belonging: A Reflection Workbook – Inspirebytes Omni Media It’s also a great tool for working through the book in a small group like a book club. My publisher also has beautiful big coffee mugs available here: Desire-Mystery-Belonging Mug – Inspirebytes Omni Media

I’m sharing lots of news today. And, what’s really in my heart is how we are all doing. This week is holy for those who celebrate Easter and Passover, and it comes in the middle of Ramadan. It is a Holy Week in many contexts. Many of us are holding our breath as we tiptoe through our current Covid-19 status and emergence. I want to spend these holy days in hope. Hope for new life, for my book, for my beloveds, for all of us, for our planet. If holiness means anything, I believe it means reverence and love. I am holding our world in my heart and sending love and hope to everyone. It’s what I have to give. May we know love and hope this day, this season, and all the times of our lives.

Desire, Mystery, and Belonging

Desire, Mystery, and Belonging

This week, released my new book, Desire, Mystery, and Belonging! It is available in paperback and Kindle editions. I’m happy, excited, and grateful to my publisher, Inspirebytes Omni Media ( This book has been a long time coming, even before Covid-19 and so many other things turned our world inside out.

My last post from September 2020 shared that I was working on this book. And then, silence. So much has happened in our world. So much is still happening in our world, even in the last 24 hours. This book is about our human spiritual journey, individually and collectively. It explores the role of desire, mystery, and belonging throughout our lives and how their interactions and integration influences and impacts our choices, our dreams, our loves. It is part memoir and part invitation to the reader to reflect on their own journeys, even as we are all in the midst of our common journey moving in all directions at once. My prayer is that ultimately this book is about hope.

I would love for you to explore my book. It’s available at here.

My publisher is offering a beautiful coffee mug in celebration here: Desire-Mystery-Belonging Mug – Inspirebytes Omni Media

A digital and fillable reflection workbook will be available soon at

My author page on Facebook is Sarah Robinson Flick, Author and @sarahflickauthor.

My Instagram account is @sarahflick.

My Goodreads author page will be available soon.

You are welcome to follow any or all of these.

Please know how thankful I am for your time and your support over the years of my blog, Apparent Grace. I look forward to more time together as we move forward in these days of our times. Wishing you much peace, today and always.

Almost One Year

My last post here was almost one year ago. And I ended it by writing that I would write more soon. But this year has not been like other years, not in almost any way. But I wouldn’t know about that for another six months or so. So what was I doing? What was happening? And how did the year that brought me to Zion National Park lead to the year that become 2020, the year that stopped time?

I wrote through the fall, working on refining a manuscript that even today awaits more definition of its destiny. My book is a thematic memoir, a book that is part story telling and part spiritual invitation. I am writing about the place of desire, mystery, and belonging in our spiritual journeys and in our lives. In listening to others as a spiritual director and as a psychiatrist, I have found that among our desires often lives the deepest desire to become fully ourselves, to be the “most me” that we can be and to live that fullness every day. When we follow our deepest desires, we inevitably are immersed in mystery as we learn that we cannot control or know or even guess at the outcomes of our efforts, of our lives. We learn to tolerate mystery in the service of our desires by practicing belonging, by seeking and finding community, by reaching out in relationship with others. This path of desire, mystery, and belonging has become familiar to me and helps light my understanding of life’s rhythms. This book tells a lot of stories about desire, mystery, and belonging and invites the reader to reflect on their journey as they read. I have finished two drafts and am tinkering with a third but I can see its completion in my mind and in my soul.

Last fall and winter, I also embarked on an adventure of pursuing my 200-hour yoga teacher training in Richmond, Virginia with the trailblazer Amber Karnes and a group of amazing, wonderful humans from all over the country. This training was Amber’s inaugural Body Positive Yoga Teacher Training. This five-month experience changed my vision and my spirit. I learned many things, but central among them was the guidance to “accept and expect non-closure” as shared with us by one of our guest teachers, Michelle Cassandra Johnson, author of Skill in Action. Michelle taught us on the first day of my arrival at the training. She shared these words with us as part of a set of agreements that she had developed in collaboration with other members of Dismantling Racism Works ( I am still unpacking the power and meaning of these words, along with so much more. I have so much more to say about this time with Amber and our friends, but what matters most to me in this moment is that I said yes to this soul-level invitation, not knowing what lay ahead. And even here, I see desire, mystery, and belonging guiding my way.

As Amber’s training approached its last days, COVID-19 arrived. We spent our final week of training online via Zoom. Our group is still meeting via Zoom almost every month. Hoping to write more of my book, I was planning to attend several retreats in 2020, one of which I would lead, and all of them were cancelled. The pandemic life now is sadly much too familiar to all of us. I feel like I have no words to offer because I don’t know how to say how much I want to respect, want to honor all those whose lives have been lost. We are swimming and sometimes drowning in the non-closure that Michelle encouraged my yoga student friends and me to expect and accept. It is the acceptance that paralyzes me. How, how, how? So much loss. Everyone I know has suffered losses public and private, communal and personal. Losses that go far beyond COVID-19, itself unimaginable. I have so much to learn. Every day is another invitation to practice and to be present to what is real. The deepest desire to be fully ourselves still waits inside us, and although the mystery is chilling and frightening, belonging still reaches out its warm hands, their hands, to each of us. I pray that we hold out our own hands and find our way through the mystery to the deepest desire that lights our heart, that lights our soul, that lights our common humanity.

This is how I have spent this past year since last September. I pray for all of us in the days still to come. May we know the grace of tenderness when we touch our deepest desires. May we be brave in the mysteries that surround us. May we say yes to the belonging that brings grace, that brings hope, that brings love and brings us home.

Zion National Park, Unexpected

Zion porch morning view

Unexpected. Almost everything at Zion is unexpected. I knew it would be beautiful. Two days at the Grand Canyon and an afternoon at Bryce Canyon had taught me to trust and expect the beauty and grandeur of these national parks. What I didn’t know was what it feels like to experience both total surprise and deep recognition at the same time. At first sight, entering Zion, I felt something shift deep inside me. I had never seen anything like this. My expectations fell away as my mouth stayed open. I felt like a newborn beginning to breathe.

The thing about Zion is how tiny humans are here in relation to the stones. And, perhaps more importantly, how intimate it feels to be up close to this enormous beauty. Coming out of the darkened inclined tunnel heading deep down into the canyon floor feels like arriving on another planet. One with huge and splendid shining giant rock formations thousands of feet high that you can reach out and touch. Up close and personal with the biggest objects I have ever seen. Except they are not objects. These are living stones. As our tram driver said, the whole canyon is alive. Ever-changing. The stone, the light, the water. There are four ecosystems here.

But what I really want to say is something about the grace of humility. In a world where we live in our intellect, where the illusion of control is embraced by true believers as a way of life, Zion shows us how the ants must feel. We live in the same world. Gazing at the red sandstone hundreds of feet above our front porch, yet only a few yards away from where I sit in this wooden rocking chair, I am bathed in a deep knowing that I am not in charge. Of anything. And that all is well, profoundly well. Here I know that I belong to this earth. That these rocks are made of the same molecules as my own bones. Like many of us, I want to make a difference in our world. I want to offer my gifts.  I want to be happy and healthy and I wish the same for my loved ones, in fact for all living beings.

Zion tells me that while my wishes are welcome here, what really matters is much deeper. What really matters is that I am related to all creation and that I am humble, in the most whole sense of the word. I can let go. I can release all I carry. The Holy One who sustains Zion also sustains me. And this is how it feels to stand here in Zion and slowly and carefully turn in a circle. To see stones and light and water, all life, all around me. It is so so so not all about me. This is a deep peace that stays alive inside me on the hardest days and the most joyful nights. It exists inside me independent of external reality. Here in Zion, this peace is externalized in God’s creation. It is everything and nothing. I breathe and the canyon breathes.

There is also unexpected synchronicity in my visit here at Zion. Because this day is also the day that a whistle-blower’s complaint against the President of the United States has been publicly released. It feels as though suddenly the chaos that many of us have experienced for a couple of years may be sliding into clearer focus, like the sliding tectonic plates below the earth’s surface. It feels historical. I know that I will always remember that this moment in history happened when I was at Zion National Park. I was working at the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain, North Carolina in the summer of 1974 when President Richard Nixon resigned in the face of threatened impeachment. I still remember that day and where I was, what those Blue Ridge mountains looked like that day. I believe that I will remember this day in the context of the unmistakable and unexpected grandeur of Zion. So much of life is bigger than our own will and agency.  Yet everything is connected, and we are called and invited to do what we can do.

And so, life is not just about the news. And it also is about the news. The news, like my own thoughts, is everything and nothing in Zion. What I notice here most is a strong sense of the eternal. The power of creation alive here where I can touch the stones that soar high above me. The peace of sunlight dancing in the cottonwood leaves. The felt sense of right relationship and belonging to life itself and to the Holy. I knew Zion would be beautiful. What I found here was eternity itself. And the invitation to lay down fear, lay down anger, lay down pride, if only for a moment. To rest in all that is. To know home in this light, in this breeze, in this canyon. To welcome humility as grace and the Holy as all.  And finally, to trust that who we are and what we do can center in our truth, that we, like the sandstone cliffs of Zion, can bear witness to what we know in our bones. We can be who we are, this day and all days.

May we live this day, and all days, with an awareness of the power of creation. May we learn to trust in the Holy and in life itself, like the towering red sandstones and the small gray fawns living together here in Zion. May we flow like the water in the Virgin River, open to the unexpected and eternal in the molecules and atoms that we share with all this earth.


PS It has been a long time since I posted here.  I have been writing and traveling and learning. More to come! Thank you for reading!

Las Vegas, Two Churches, and Our 25th Anniversary

This morning I woke up at 4:00 am. I was just going to the bathroom but my phone lay on my bedside table flashing away. I picked it up and read the screen’s alert about the shooting in Las Vegas. I still went to the bathroom but I didn’t go back to sleep.

I have been to Las Vegas three times, but never before I got married. I went with my husband the first time early in our marriage. It was a winter weekend and airfares were cheap. I went to the airport straight from work but almost missed the plane because I answered a phone call from a patient’s mother. Las Vegas seemed like another planet to me. It was interesting and overwhelming at the same time. I couldn’t get warm enough as the winter wind blew down the Strip. We stayed in a little motel called the Desert Rose Inn.

The second time we brought our young daughter so we did all the Vegas family friendly activities. She was too short to ride the New York New York roller coaster (which made us all sad) but we had fun at M and M World. We stayed at Luxor so we got to ride the diagonal elevator which was strange but fun.

The third time my husband and I went alone while our daughter was at camp. We stayed at Caesar’s Palace and saw Elton John in concert. I was getting the hang of Vegas by this time. We stayed away from the smoky casinos and slept and swam in the pool and walked and ate. It was a great trip.

This day many of us may be remembering our own times in Las Vegas. I only have a little Vegas experience, but my Vegas affinity grew as my marriage grew. My husband and I have begun celebrating our 25th anniversary. It isn’t until next month but we are celebrating the month before, the month of, and the month after…because twenty-five years is a lot to celebrate.

So what about two churches? Well, two churches because my husband recently started his position as interim rector at Ascension Episcopal Church in Houston (church number one) after serving as supply priest all summer for Grace Episcopal Church in Galveston. I have been going to Ascension most Sundays so far. But I belong to Trinity Episcopal Church in midtown Houston (church number two). This is the church where I lead a monthly women’s circle and the church that our family went with to Israel on pilgrimage in 2015 and it is a church that I love. I wasn’t there most of the summer but have started going again to Trinity’s last service, a jazz Eucharist, after I go to the midmorning service at Ascension. So, since the end of the summer, I have been praying in two churches most Sundays.

So what again? Well, because praying in two churches every Sunday for a few weeks has been balm to my soul but it didn’t stop what happened in Las Vegas last night. Being married for twenty-five years to the love of my life who took me to Las Vegas three times so far makes me so grateful that I can’t see straight thinking about all the joy and goodness in my life. But all that joy didn’t stop what happened in Las Vegas last night.

Or in Orlando. Or in Sandy Hook. Or in Columbine.

I grew up practicing civil defense drills curling up under my desk at school or curling up in the hall. But it seems like no matter what drills you practice, you just couldn’t be ready for what happened last night in Las Vegas if you were there listening to Jason Aldean sing.

Things happen like this. And it seems, at least so far, that nothing will stop it. Not two churches, not all the churches in the world. Not twenty-five years of marriage, not all the marriages in the world. And Las Vegas is only the most recent tragedy.

There are a lot of ideas about what could be done. About gun control. About better and more accessible and more proactive mental health services. About security. And all of these things and many more bear fervent consideration.

But for today, I am only brought back to grace. Because in the mass shootings and the earthquakes and the hurricanes and the wars and the everything, we remain human beings. I believe that grace exists and that my life depends on that grace every day. There is light that is offered and hands that are extended in a million different directions every moment of our lives. If not for this grace, this very air that I breathe, why anything?

I am not a theologian and I am not an expert in anything. We are drowning in sadness and anger and it gets harder to remember how things can be different. But I know what keeps my heart beating and I know what enlivens my spirit. I am humbled by my circumstances and I know that all is gift.

And so, being married for almost twenty-five years and going to two churches for now and carrying sweet memories of our trips to Las Vegas, I turn again to pray for our sisters and brothers, the ones who died, the ones who may be dying even now, the ones who are hurt, the ones who will carry the trauma the rest of their days, the ones who lost loved ones, the first responders, and all the responders. And I pray for all of us. I pray that somehow we will find our way through this season and learn the way of wholeness, the way of kindness and mercy, the way of grace. There is nothing easy about any of this…but I trust that grace is here in our midst. Our children and their children and all the children need us to hold it and treasure it and share it.

May we learn to remember who we really are together. May we know the bonds of common humanity that make us whole. May we make room, even a little room, to trust in this grace, today and all the days of our lives.

Ash Wednesday

Tonight I knelt in a beautiful church, closed my eyes, and felt fingers brushing dry ashes on my forehead in the sign of a cross. These words were whispered to me: “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

So begins another season of Lent. For some reason, this night the ashes felt friendly as they touched my skin.  Hearing the word “dust” reminded me of a playground on a hot summer day, spinning on a merry go round and seeing clouds of dust swirl as my friends jumped on and off. Kicking the dirt with my bare feet as I sat in a swing. Remembering that dust comes from dirt, from the good earth. And that one day, that good earth will again hold me and everyone I know and love.

We heard the words from Isaiah, chapter 58:

“Is this not the fast that I choose:  to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?  Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in darkness and your gloom be like noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.

Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.”

And from Matthew, chapter 6:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

I am called this night to remember my visit to the Holy Land two years ago. A friend of mine is visiting there now, and as I see her pictures on Facebook, I am reminded of how it felt to sit in the dark Judean desert waiting for sunrise. The light always comes in time. 

And so my prayer this night:

May we aspire to be called “the repairer of the breach” for indeed our world overflows with breaches. May this season of Lent make our hearts tender for the sake of all God’s people. May we breathe in peace with every step, and in our hearts and in our souls may we know always and only grace, apparent grace. 






Inflection Point

“The only truth I know is that light is everywhere.”

A long long time ago in math class, I learned about inflection points. About the points where curves change direction, where shifts occur, where calculus reigns. Aside from the calculus that I learned before applying to medical school, I have come to believe that inflection points are scattered throughout our days and throughout our lives.  I have come to believe that there is always an opportunity offered by an inflection point, and that often the hardest time to see the opportunity is when we are right in the middle of the inflection point itself.

“The only truth I know is that light is everywhere.” I wrote these words after a trip to the Holy Land in the summer of 2015. In all the many and diverse places we visited, holy sites of Christianity, of Judaism, of Islam, I saw light. Candles and light everywhere. Sunrise on the Judean desert followed by Holy Communion. Glass lanterns swinging in the Cathedral of St. James in the Armenian quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. Golden light sparkling on the surprisingly blue waters of the Sea of Galilee. I was in awe of the light, and the reverence, that I saw everywhere in the Holy Land.

Tonight is an important inflection point. Tomorrow a new president of the United States will be inaugurated. There will be shifts and direction changes. We are not unified in how we see and understand the opportunity in this particular inflection point in history.  There is so much unknown ahead.

We need light in this inflection point of time. We need the gift of light this night and in the days to come. We need to be able to see and to not miss the opportunities for light and for service…for this season, like all seasons, is holy.

My prayer tonight is that we kindle and keep alive the light that is already in our hearts. I pray that the fires of love will keep us warm and the flames of hope will light our way as we reach out to the future. I pray for peace, for compassion, and for that light that shines in the darkness, the light that the darkness has not and will not overcome. May the hearts of all know this light this day and all days and may honest and apparent grace abound.

“The only truth I know is that light is everywhere.”


Beads, Safety Pins, and Candles

This past week. 

On Monday, Leonard Cohen died. 

Tuesday was Election Day. When we finally went to bed, I couldn’t sleep. 

Wednesday I saw my spiritual director and spent time with my sister. 

Thursday was my birthday. My husband and I drove to New Orleans. I took a picture of the Mississippi River and tagged it #runningawaytogether. We did what we always do, drank cafe au lait and ate beignets at Cafe du Monde. It was not very crowded. For the first time, on Bourbon Street I caught beads tossed from a balcony. 

Friday I bought safety pins at CVS. Two packages. One all silver and one black and white. We walked over 15,000 steps around the French Quarter. 

Saturday I wore a safety pin. I saw two bartenders wearing safety pins at an uptown cafe. I read posts on Facebook about why and why not to wear safety pins. When we got off the street car, a woman touched my arm, smiled, and said “I love your safety pin.” I took pictures of candles. We watched as Kate McKinnon opened Saturday Night Live singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

Today is Sunday and we are heading home. Sunday, the day full of grace. My prayer is that I remember that I can speak up, be kind, be compassionate, be myself, be present to others known and unknown with or without wearing a safety pin. My prayer is that we all leave room in our hearts for community, for catching beads tossed from a balcony for the first time. My prayers is that candles will always remind us to look for the light. And that love wins. And that grace abounds even and especially when we may not be so sure anymore. Apparent Grace. 


There is that moment

Right before everything changes

When I stop, breathe, yield

Surrender to what I already know to be true.

That moment, wistful, anxious

Maybe a little sad

Maybe nostalgic

Hangs in my knowing like an icicle ready to melt.

And in that moment

And in that knowing

Lies the seed of what is to come

Lies the seed of new life.

Guided by kindness

Heart open to the future

I open my hands, knowing what I know

And breathe in the sun.

Life is like this

Moment by moment by moment

Consenting to now, saving our own lives

And trusting in Grace.