At the Gates

In my childhood home, there was a gate that connected to the backyard of our neighbor’s, on the other side of our block. Just to the right was the small-town library which I visited often. That gate connected me to a world of books, and many pleasant days. It was a quiet place to gather, and upon occasion to help out the librarian.

Sometimes we just need to get together with others… for enjoyment, to fill needs, complete work, or share information. Have you thought about how often you are part of gatherings? Work projects, family reunions, classes, sports, church, friendships, and our internet culture all involve gathering as we come together for a common purpose or goal. I think of some common familiar phrases that reflect this:

o “Want to get together tomorrow?”
o “We need to make plans.”
o “What time is the game?”
o “Here you go, enjoy your meal!”
o “Where can we meet?” …

Thinking about some of my favorite spaces and places for coming together with others, I was reminded of a special meeting place described in the Bible, at the gates of cities or towns. I always thought of gates as, you know, just doors in some kind of fence or at an entrance but the biblical gates to the cities and towns were much more than doors set in the city walls.

Of course, these gates served as points of protection for walled cities. Gatekeepers and watchmen guarded entrance into the cities and warned of any impending trouble from enemies. We’re told that King David sat between the inner and outer gates and the watchman went up to the roof (2 Samuel 18:24). They were also important places for people to gather. Kings were known to address their subjects from the city gates and the elders of the city sat “within” the gates to hear petitions. The elders also acted as witnesses, along with others present, when needed. It was here that the might and authority of the ruler and government was seen and felt! No wonder rebuilding the gates was such a big issue when the Hebrews returned from captivity.

Feeling safe and part of a supportive community… That’s something we can all appreciate, isn’t it? I imagine the kinds of people who came through those gates in addition to the nobler class. Here too were drawn the unsavory, the poor, and the beggars. See too the nearby waste dump, where garbage and even bodies of dead animals and lower-class people or criminals were thrown and burned. Imagine the stench and the noise! Here too, Jesus was taken to be crucified.                                        

My prayer for us is that we will be as gateways. As we live and work in our communities, may we accept the challenge to make spaces where others can be heard and cared for. While we respect authority, let us also hold others accountable and encourage each other to live with integrity. In so doing, we discover faith and welcome the greatest of gifts Jesus gave outside those city gates for us all .

Charlotte-Anne Allen 5/1/2023


“What’s this?” we say
“And that, and that?!
“You’ve won!” says the message
(… a chance to buy this).

New gutters anyone?
Perhaps pay off your loan.
Check out this health package
Now buy these cool clothes!

Come one, come all
Let’s fill up your email
The more the merrier!
5 – 10 – 30 at one wack

No, it’s not spiced ham
But a flood at the gate
Watch for misspellings
And wish them good-bye

No party at this address
Like uninvited mosquitoes
We’ll filter and block
And wish them away

Email, text, phone, or posts
Ahh, that’s done! Good to go.
No more, no more
… Wait. What’s that?

Reflections on Paint

  • “Ah-hah moments” are like bursts of bright colors
  • A fresh outlook and willingness to see all perspectives will bring powerful results
  • There are times for large bold strokes which fill our vision and uplift us
  • Small quiet detail can have a large impact
  • Each individual is a unique mixture and special blend
  • Maturity and gray hair, like peeling marked paint, are signs of experience and use
  • When individuals come together harmoniously we become more
  • New stages in life bring opportunities to be refurbished
  • We need regular checks and cleaning up to be at our best
  • A soft but firm touch provides needed stability
  • Use the right tools to make improvements
  • Reach out, stretch to accomplish, and cheer others on
  • A cheerful outlook and steady hand bring comfort and encouragement
  • Our Creator God is the Master Artist and our inspiration

From “Reflections from the Everyday”
Charlotte-Anne Allen 2/12/2022

Rising Above It

When surrounded by adversity, rising above it can be daunting.

from “Reflections from the Everyday” (Fizz) c-a allen

Now, hold your breath. Put your face in the water… and blow,” the swimming instructor said to our shivering group standing in the shallow end of the pool. Those long-ago swimming lessons at the local recreation department were something my brothers and I had looked forward to. I just never really got comfortable with the whole experience. On our last day, I struggled to stay above-water in the ten-foot end while my older brother cheerfully treaded water and joked with them.

Like all of us, there have been times in life when I’ve struggled to stay “above-water.” Adversity comes to us all. There are the very real struggles of trying to figure out our place in this world… wondering about life, death, and faith… working through difficult relationships… or dealing with feelings regarding value or purpose.

I value the example and encouragement of others as I work to learn something new or try to keep on through challenging or difficult situations. Getting through that last swim test was a satisfying accomplishment! I literally had to “rise up” to keep my head above water. I get stressed when I have to learn new complicated (for me) tech-related things for my work. When family members, or other loved-ones, encounter health or emotional struggles, I can only offer my prayers, presence, and help. I just want things to be okay… That can be tough.

I love the writer of the book of Psalms. Just like me, in all their humanity, they were imperfect and weak. Sometimes doubting and despairing; nevertheless, they remind us of more… ultimately acknowledging and having faith in the one who lifts up our head.

But you, Oh Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, and the one who lifts up my head.
Psalm 3:3

Isn’t that great?!! Whether we’re “surrounded by adversity” or rising to a new and hopeful day, knowing that God lifts us up will give energy to our step and calm to our soul. No matter how daunting the task or how stressful our day, God helps us to rise above it. I pray that God will encourage you and bless you as you take these thoughts with you.

Charlotte-Anne Allen 7/18/2021
*This post is dedicated to my mom, who would have been 97 today.
Love you mom.

Reflections on Slugs

• Do we leave positive or negative evidence of our presence?
• Consider where you place your foot as you seek your destinations.
• An appetite for doing good benefits everyone.
• Retreating to a safe dark nook can bring respite in times of need.
• We can get too comfortable in our hideaway.
• Just getting up and moving can be a slow and challenging process.
• There are times to take things slowly.
• Above all things, seek wisdom to see the way.
• Some things draw us closer, and others repel us.
• Sometimes our actions leave a trail of destruction.
• Put out your feelers and be sensitive to others.
• God’s Spirit surrounds us and draws us along the right path.

Awake Now Sleeper

Times of rest I must admit
Are needed daily… So do commit.

But when you awake consider this,
Do you walk about as a Sleeper still?

Do you open your eyes to the world around?
Are you a support and is humanity found?

Are your goals for show, for great applause,
To strut in public in response to calls?

When you raise your head, shall you a Sleeper remain?
Blind or uncaring, thinking only of gain?

True life is not a battle of me versus you.
For greatest contentment, now what shall we do?

Awake now Sleeper. Open true eyes.
Close abysses. Build bridges. One stone at a time.

Awake now Sleeper. Awake.

Charlotte-Anne Allen 01/23/21