Saturday, October 1, 2016



Recently I heard about the practice of "poking." It seems that for years people who are on Facebook have been electronically “poking” one another any time they wished, sending an electronic signal with no content but the signal itself. This apparently is intended to let the other person know that you are thinking of them. Then, of course, you, the recipient are supposed to return the poke. I’m also told that this practice was quite the rage a few years back, but that not many people engage in it any more. Since I’m not on Facebook, and so have never been poked in this manner, I’m not going to poke fun at people who spend time each day poking one another.

As a high school teacher who has seen fistfights and other outbursts resulting from someone poking his classmate a little too often or too hard, I will admit a certain distaste for poking of any kind -- even via Facebook.

Yet, it occurs to me that there is one form of poking that I do take very seriously and enjoy receiving: the pokes that God gives me constantly every day. Divine pokes seem intended to be little reminders that God is thinking of me constantly and loves me beyond words. Here are some samples of this week's pokes from the Divine:

MONDAY: I happened to be out getting some fresh air before Vespers, during a practice session for seven-year old soccer players on our upper field. As walked past a man in his thirties whom I had never seen before, evidently the father of one of the kids on the field, he said to me “Father, I just want to tell you that you guys are doing a great job here. A great job with your school. Thanks!” [Poke!]

TUESDAY: One of our high school students, who has serious emotional problems, wears a mask of sadness all the time. I saw him in the library and asked him, “How are the grades looking for this semester?” He mumbled, “I have a B+ in Math.” I shouted “Yes!” and pumped my fist, at which he broke into a smile that went from ear to ear on his usually troubled face. [Poke!]

WEDNESDAY EVENING: I happened to be on William Street, and so had a clear view of the western horizon (which we don’t get from the monastery buildings). The sky was a joyful, glowing riot of pink and orange clouds that seemed to call back and forth to one another in a loud, soundless song. I literally gasped at the beauty of the sight. [Poke!]

THURSDAY: Swimming practice for one of the swim teams that uses our pool ends at the same time as the monks’ evening recreation period. The other night I happened into the lobby just as several six-year olds came bouncing through the door with their parents. The little ones, all damp and energetic were the very picture of life and energy -- a tonic for me at the end of a long day. [Poke! Poke! Poke!Poke! Poke! Poke! Poke!]    

FRIDAY: I have a young relative with whom I exchange emails from time to time. I had heard that she was having a difficult time lately, so I emailed her and asked her to send me a selfie. Within an hour she sent me a picture of herself (dated a couple of days previously) looking happy, healthy and beautiful. [Poke!] (This time I was the one who broke into an ear-to-ear smile.)

These pokes are not long letters from God -- I find those especially in the Bible. I spend long periods every day listening to the divine Voice in those letters, usually finding something new each time I open the Good Book. But all during the day I receive these wordless divine pokes that reassure me of God’s presence and love for me and for the world.

Knowing that no one can read the bible constantly, God has invented “pokes” to encourage us and keep us mindful. [Poke!]  


BTW, Newark Abbey's Facebook page is at


  1. Beautiful!! A timely reminder that God often seems to prefer little pokes and and gentle whispers, if only I would slow down and little and pay more attention. Thank you!

    1. Mark,
      Thanks for your reply. It was a definite poke from the Lord.