It had been a long day. At four a.m. the baby woke up crying. Wintery roads, a day of meetings, and a stunning headache had frayed my nerves. Soon, I could pick up my children from the church nursery and go home.

It has been nearly six years now – but I remember the phone ringing that afternoon. Another parishioner in the hospital. I said I would go see him that night but inside I was nearly crying. I was so tired. Motherhood and Pastor-hood were both such blessings, but my blessings were exhausting me.

I decided to bring my toddler, Owen, with me to the hospital. We visited the fellow from my church and then Owen pulled me toward the cafeteria. He asked for some string cheese and I told him to find a table.

In a sea of empty tables, Owen plopped down at the one table that already had someone sitting at it. The elderly woman smiled at him over her cup of coffee.

As Owen ate his cheese, the woman and I talked and after a bit she told me she was at the hospital because her daughter was dying.

Then she reached out and touched Owen’s hand and said, “He’s precious.” I smiled.

As we drove home that night, I was still tired. It had still been a long day. But for that moment at least I remembered how beautiful it all is. Every evanescent second.

Published by Ruth E. Hetland

Ruth E. Hetland is the pastor of Saint Peter's Lutheran Church of Audubon, Minnesota. She is a mom, wife, skeptic, and Alt for Norge (Norwegian reality show) participant. She has served as a pastor in three other congregations prior to Saint Peter's: Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church of South Newstead in Akron, New York, First Lutheran Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Our Savior's Lutheran Church at Norse of Clifton, Texas. She has been published in The Lutheran magazine, Christ in Our Home, the Word in Season, the Upper Room, Sundays and Seasons, and several other worship resources. Her most recent book is "Writing With a View of the Graveyard: Loss, Life, and Unruly Grace;" (2018). This devotional with photographs of rural churches is available in black and white on Amazon and in full-color by contacting Ruth at; Ruth's first book, a preaching resource, "The Power of Place and Story in Preaching," was published in 2012 and is available on Amazon. Ruth can be contacted at

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