Sometimes I hear God's voice in very subtle ways, and sometimes it seems written in stone.

This week I am on retreat with my two best friends from seminary, something we have done each summer for almost 20 years. We sit on the porch of a beautiful house in the woods, and we eat, drink, talk, and pray together. But most of our time is actually spent in silence. Together and separately, we listen for God's voice more than we do anything else.

We have a rhythm to our days, even our week, and on Wednesday we always go on a 'field trip', leaving our isolation for an excursion to a town nearby, to eat lunch and wander around. This year we went to a little West Virginia town on the Potomac River, and we visited two churches while seeing the sights. The second church had an unusual saying carved into the frame around the doorknob, written in an Old German script that I did not understand. I took a picture so I could puzzle it out later, because it seemed important, and because I have been waiting for a sign this week.

It is easy to know that God is near as we watch the sun rise and set, the flowers bend in the breeze, the moonlight shine on the deer rambling through the woods below us. But it is not so easy to hear what it is that God wants us to know, and so I have been listening and watching carefully, as themes unfold and words repeat, in  prayers and conversation, and in the silence. These words I could not translate seemed to be a message to me, seemed to be part of what God was trying to say.

This year, for me, I hear again and again, 'It is time.' I know what this means - that all the energy I feel for my life and ministry needs to be put into action somehow. That I need to stop hesitating at the edge of what I know is before me. It is time. Time to follow where I know I should be going. Time to quit worrying about what is right and where it will lead, and just do. Time to let go of my fear.

Finally, last night, with the help of my German-speaking husband, Google Translate, and a lot of trial and error on the Old German writing, I think I figured out what the writing said:

'Beware demons, when you enter the house of the Lord.'

And this seems fitting enough to me, part of the message I have been waiting for. It is time to walk through the door that is right in front of me, and leave the demons behind.