Desta Goehner

March 10, 2022

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After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately,          “Why couldn’t we drive out the evil spirit?” Jesus replied,            “This kind can come out only by prayer”

                                                 (Mark 9:28-29)

desta lentenIn this passage from the book of Mark the disciples are frustrated because they could not cast out an evil spirit from a boy they were trying to heal.  The response from Jesus seems to indicate that not everyone can be healed in the same way.  Healing is not a one size fits all situation. Jesus is telling his disciples that different people might need different approaches.

The last couple of years, I learned something about the truth Jesus is talking about through my work with plants.  My backyard is my sacred space. It became more so during the pandemic. Nature is healing and I spend a lot of time outside with my plants and flowers. I grew to love succulents because they are so easy to care for and require very little from me. These past couple of months, I have started to branch back out to planting flowers.

Flowers are harder to take care of. Those little plastic sticks with instructions that come with the flowers are crucial:  “Grows best in full sun. Waters 2-3 times per week” or “prefers slightly dry soils and shaded areas.”

Through a couple of fails, I have been reminded that you need to plant flowers together in the pot that require similar care. The flowers that need lots of sunshine and little water need to be together to thrive. Putting flowers together with different water needs, different sun/shade needs will only lead to some of their demise. I can’t mix up their needs and expect them all to thrive.

In the past couple of years (and still ongoing), each of us and our world has seen a significant loss of life, different layers of grief with so many pivots and adaptations.  Each personal and collective loss hits us differently and at different times.

As we keep emerging from this pandemic, we all need something different and at different times.  Some need more sunshine and a dry climate. Some of us need shade and a lot of water. Some need remote work and some need to be with colleagues. Some of us need laughter and some need space for tears. Many of us carry a lot of unshared grief. Some of us may long to talk about what’s going on. Some of us need to hold *all the things* longer before letting them go out into the world.

We all have different needs. That’s okay. God can handle all of that. ???? God loves each one of us as a beloved child. God sees our beauty. Our potential. Our sadness. Our brokenness. Our grief. And celebrates with us in our joy. God is with us in all of that. And the transitions between the spaces.

Jesus saw the pain people carried. Jesus went to be with people in that pain (in whatever way they needed).  Jesus sat with people. Jesus is offering to be there for you too. Even now. Take a few deep breaths. Roll your shoulders. Hold gratitude for something big or small. Figure out what you need. Tell somebody else. Ask for support. And move about your day in the way that makes sense for you.

Take a few deep breaths. Roll your shoulders. Hold gratitude for something big or small. Figure out what you need. Tell somebody else. Ask for support. And move about your day in the way that makes sense for you.

What if we all had our own personal plastic plant info stick to help us be clear about what we need? We all have different needs. Don’t feel bad for yours. It’s how God created us. We need each other.

What does your personal plastic plant info stick read?

What do you need these days?

What kind of healing could you ask God for?

What helps you thrive?

Who will help you be accountable to whatever your needs are?

Holy and Sacred One, 

Thank you for loving us each individually and collectively. 

Thank you for tending to each of our needs. 

We give you our grief, our worries and our fears. 

Thank you for never leaving us alone and carrying these with us. 

Thank you for the gift of joy, laughter and delight. 

Be with us in whatever our needs are, as they arise.

Help us THRIVE! 

Surround us with people to build a Beloved Community with. 


desta bio picDesta (she/her) is a name that comes from Ethiopia, it means “deep joy”. I have lived all of my life in Southern California and graduated from Cal Lutheran in 1996. I have served for over 25 years in Lutheran outdoor ministry, congregational youth ministry, served on the Southwest California Synod staff and am currently the Director of Congregational Relations at Cal Lutheran. My work is to connect the university with the Church and interfaith communities. I am married to an ELCA Pastor and we have 3 kids. I am a Spiritual Director, a movement Chaplain, an activist, and organizer. I work everyday to recognize how the myth of white supremacy lives in my body and try to disrupt those patterns. I am passionate about spiritual transformation, trauma healing, anti-racism, nonviolent communication, the Enneagram, laughing and provoking change.

 - Desta Goehner 
Spiritual Director

Director of Congregational Relations 

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