Echolocation (#SmallWonder Link-up)

ech-o-lo-ca-tion (noun)
    the location of objects by reflected sound, in particular that used 
    by animals such as dolphins and bats.  

To be a person
of faith, is to consent
to life lived blind as a bat,
to be a people of light
walking in darkness.

Faith will teach you
what you need to know
about soaring at night,
listening for the echo
of your own prayers
reverberating back to you. 

The way forward is revealed,
always, in relation to the 
place where you are.


I recently read an article in Presence, an international journal of Spiritual Direction, in which author Susan Phillips describes learning to listen to God and self as being similar to echolocation - the navigational technique used by bats, whales and dolphins ("Navigating the Depths: Spiritual Direction in a Shallow Culture").  I found this to be a fascinating concept to explore.  This short poem is the first fruits of my exploration.  

My experience of God's leading is most often one of darkness - being led in ways I cannot see and learning to be led without sight.  I wrote two poems about this last year.  The first, Seeing in the Dark, came out of our experience of finding and losing (and then finding again) the house of our dreams and was inspired by the images of Billy training Little Ann and Old Dan to hunt in Where the Red Fern Grows.  A second poem, Bloodhound, was born last summer after learning about Bloodhounds at the kids' summer library program.  Did you know that the folds of skin on a Bloodhound's face serve to cover its eyes so it won't be visually distracted while following a scent?  

In our anxious culture and in my own anxious heart there's a heightened focus on the need for certainty in order to move forward.  For us, the sense of sight is a dominate image for certainty, as in "I saw it with my own two eyes."  Yet scripture describes the life of faith quite differently, as confidence and hope based in things that exist beyond out own limited sight:

So we do not lose heart . . . because we look not at what can be seen, but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.  So we are always confident . . . for we walk by faith, not by sight.  (2 Cor 4:16, 18; 5:7)

May you be blessed, friends, with occasional bouts of blindness so that walking by faith, you will learn to be led with confidence in the dark.  


I have a few brief announcements to share today.  I want to first thank each of you for your contributions to this community and to invite you to continue spreading the word about #SmallWonder and commenting on and sharing the work of other writers.  My hope is that we will be a group that is deep in its connection and support.  

Second, I want to let you know that Jody Ohlsen Collins has decided to step back in helping to coordinate #SmallWonder as she focuses on some new ventures of her own - including an exciting writer's retreat offering coming this fall on the West Coast.  

Thirdly, I noticed last week that Makes You Mom, a new website full of thoughtful reflections about mothering is hosting a weekly link-up this summer around habits of self-care.  Follow the link to see a list of topics - the first link-up begins this Friday.  I'm excited to join the conversation because of my own poor track-record and conflicted feelings about self care.  Won't you join me?

*   *   *

Welcome to the #SmallWonder link-up.

What if we chose to deliberately look for the small moments of wonder, the small sparks of presence, of delight or sorrow, of true humanity in which we meet God? 

That's my proposal - that we gather here each week to share one moment of Wonder from each of our days.  

You're invited to link-up a brief post about a small moment of wonder.  Don't worry if your post is too long, too short, or not just right - you're welcome to come as you are. 

While you're here, please do take a look around and encourage at least one other blogger with a comment.  


  1. Kelly, I love that little tidbit about the bloodhound! Can't wait to tell my youngest son who is a dog lover -- and I may just suggest that he adopt some bloodhound focus when he's doing his math today!

  2. Kelly, your post here (sorry for the pun) echoes some of the words I shared this weekend with our women about the importance of stilling their eyes so they could focus on hearing God.
    Your poetry always packs a punch.
    Thanks for the 'Makes you Mom' link up and the shout out. You are the best....keeping you in my heart.

  3. Kelly, I love what you have shared here about bats. It so reminded me of a quote I read this weekend... (Soren Kierkegaard) “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” Blessings!

  4. I'm learning to embrace the thrill I feel when I consider the unknown. Fear, the good kind, compels me to expect good. To be clear, it is dark and I'm walk if and cannot see but when I trust God I know I. Headed in the right direction. I love this community and look forward to getting to know you better Kelly. Blessings.

  5. This is so interesting and beautiful. I "know" that I am walking by faith rather than by sight, (not that I practice that all of the time), but the examples of the Bloodhound and the dolphin and whale gives me such a "touchable" focus. I love that as I am a "visual learner" and that makes walking blindly a bit more of a challenge. Jesus calls us to that and I also am an obedient one.. Thank you.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda @ Being Woven

  6. I want to be more like the bloodhound, not distracted by every little thing when I'm meant to be hot on the scent. Yet at the same time, I want to be willing to detour from *my* path when God so wills it. Love your poetry and this message today, Kelly. Much needed.

  7. Great poem... as one who is quite often feeling around blind in the natural, I hadn't really thought to be grateful for boughts of blindness but I want to learn to be confident in the dark too. That thought will stir around for awhile I think, so thanks for that! I wrote a post on the importance of self care a couple of weeks ago --it's so important! I'll check out that link! Thanks for sharing it!

  8. Kelly, I LOVE this. I really do. And I needed to let you know... when I read these verses from 2 Corinthians... which I've read so many, many times... I broke down and wept. I have not been able to read the Bible much, for a long time, but I knew the Spirit was speaking to me when I read those with fresh eyes and they undid me. For reasons unnecessary to lay out here, they carry so much hope for me, friend, and I needed to read them tonight. Thank you.

    1. I'm so thankful for that, Amber. I remember in college I started reading the message version of the bible and it was SO helpful to see things anew. These verses struck me in a new way too as so important for this time in my life. I'm thinking about trying to make some sort of visual art with them so they can be hung in our house - I found a bunch of old picture frames on the side of the road yesterday so I'll be busy filling them. Be blessed, Amber. I'm grateful for you.

  9. Kelly, really loved that poem. And I love when I can learn spiritual lessons through God's creation. Echolocation is an amazing ability, and rather mysterious. I find the presence of the Holy Spirit, who is Himself a bit mysterious (!), to be a sure way to find my way *home* when I get lost on my way. Thinking of this verse:

    "Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'” (John 8:12, ESV)

    His Word is a light on my path, and a lamp to my feet - pointing out the Narrow Way. Following in His footsteps, I will never be lost...


  10. Fascinating information on God using senses other than sight to lead and guide us. How wonderful that He takes the initiative of finding a method of communication that works for each individual.Thanks, Kelly!