About Ellie Poole

Ellie is a Wellness Advocate at the Clergy Health Initiative. A native of Durham, she attended Wake Forest University, where she majored in History and Secondary Education. Additionally, Ellie has experience researching the Church's care for those with mental illnesses. She loves reading, running (outside!), NCAA basketball, and good coffee.

“The world did not have to be beautiful to work…”


It has to be close to freezing this morning. Seriously. It’s the second week after “falling back” out of daylight savings time, and I wake, surprised by the sun and wincing at the idea of leaving the warmth of my bed.

I shuffle through my routine – read, pray, gulp down some coffee – then throw on my coat, and brace myself for the gust of wind that I know will meet me on the other side of my front door. Head tucked down, I make it to the driver’s side of my car, throw my briefcase, purse, and lunch bag into the passenger seat, and set off toward work.

It’s all pretty routine. I’ve noticed that it’s easy for me to slide in and out of my days in this habitual way. I am, after all, someone who finds comfort and peace of mind in the predictability of a steady rhythm and pattern.

But then my day changes.

NPR is airing an interview with one of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver, who has released a new collection of poems, A Thousand Mornings.  Her aged and crackling voice breaks into my oh-so-regular morning: “The world did not have to be beautiful to work. But it is. What does that mean?”

I am haunted and challenged by the question. Have I encountered unnecessary beauty in the way my world works?  I revisit the events of my morning through this lens.

Mornings are growing colder. Today I wake with a start and a shiver, aware of the clear but cool morning light pouring through my windows, and noting that the days now spend themselves racing toward sunset.

I tug on a pair of socks to protect my already-cold feet from the shock of the chilly hardwood floor they are about to encounter. I wrap my hands tightly around a ceramic mug, thankful for its smooth glaze and intensely satisfying heat. The comforting scent of my daily coffee ritual rises, steaming, into my face.

I ease the muscles of my hands into the day’s work as I write in my journal, offering prayers and petitions for those I love, those with whom I work, those who are sick, those whose weight my heart already bears at 6:30 AM.

As I prepare to leave, my mustard yellow coat falls softly against me. Its collar is twisted and sticking up, but I choose not to fold it down, anticipating its protection against the wind that tosses red and brown leaves onto my sidewalk. I unlock and open my glass-paned front door. Thankful for the extra buffer of the collar, I quickly bounce down my stairs, around the corner of my house, and into the driver’s seat of my car. Closing the door, my belongings piled beside me, I slide my transmission into reverse and leave for the day.

There is beauty hidden in the rhythm of my morning. It doesn’t have to be there – and if I don’t notice it, it’s wasted – but it is there, nevertheless.

To you, I present the same question that has changed how I see my days: “The world did not have to be beautiful to work, but it is. What does that mean?”

-Ellie Poole

Images by adamknits and SSJE via Flickr

Oliver’s interview aired on NPR Morning Edition on October 14, 2012.

Old Hymns to New Tunes


Confession:  Around the office we frequently (and affectionately) refer to the early clergy health advocate Charles Wesley as “Chuck.” It is in tribute to him and his hymn-writing contemporaries that I share this post, with credit to my colleague, Ed Moore, who has introduced this topic during his lectures at Duke Divinity School.

I grew up in a church that mixed contemporary worship music, old hymns, new hymns, and even the occasional ancient chant. (I didn’t exactly love that last part as a middle schooler). From song to song and Sunday to Sunday, our congregation never quite knew what we were going to get once we stood up from our seats. Because of this tendency, I developed an appreciation for both the lyrical strength of hymns and the sounds of contemporary worship music.

But it was not until a summer camp guitar class and my later involvement in campus ministry that I learned that others shared my fascination with combining musical styles.  An entire subset of worship music existed.  I discovered old hymns set to new tunes. Eighteenth, 19th, and 20th century poetry turned into hymns. Hymns with creative instruments. Melodies that made the thoughtful, informed verses come alive in a new way. I was hooked.

Now, you might be wondering, how does this relate to our dear old pal Chuck Wesley?

Well, it turns out that Wesley is the author of many of the hymns I have come to know and love in a new form. I’m not knockin’ the old sounds. I love a good organ and a classic tune. But perhaps, just perhaps, some of these new sounds might catch your ear and captivate your heart in the way they have mine.

Below are a few sites where you can find these modern hymn-writers and even a few free downloads. Enjoy!



Ellie Poole

Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Minty Fresh Financials


Tracking financial commitments can be a challenge. 

Whether I’m tallying my spending, setting savings goals, or trying to stay on top of recurring payments, it’s hard to keep all the moving pieces in front of me.

Recently, however, I learned about the free internet service known as Mint.com. With the same security providers as online banking systems and 7 million users, Mint provides a huge array of budgeting, saving, spending, and planning tools.

Mint links to each of your individual financial accounts so that you can track your money from multiple banks, lenders, and accounts in a central location.

If you want to freshen up your financial fitness, check out this 90-second video that shows how Mint.com might help.

– Ellie Poole


Reflecting on self-care as Christ-care


I just love what Anna Adams has to say in Self-Care as Christ-Care, a post on the Call & Response blog from a few weeks ago.  It’s been part of my inner-dialogue since I read it, and I think it’s stuck with me for a reason:

It’s incredibly easy for all of us to pick and choose our moments of self-care, isn’t it? I’m even proficient at coming up with theological reasons to disregard my health!

But, for me, as a Christian, incarnation lays down the trump card.

Image: Randy OHC

When I read Adams’ gentle reminder that I take the Body, make it part of my own flesh, and am instructed to live worthily of it, I’m forced to acknowledge: God knows the body. He knows what it is to abide in flesh, and he delights in our fleshly existence.

How, then, do I reflect that His flesh is an integral part of my own (or that my flesh is an integral part of His own)? How do you reflect Christ’s in-dwelling in the way you care for your own flesh?

Click here to read the full post by Anna Adams.

by Ellie Poole