Welcome

Primitive religion is not believed, it is danced!

Arthur Darby Nock

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
And only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

Elizabeth Browning



Sunday, July 15, 2018

Welcome to the apocalypse


As a clergy person, I'd like to welcome you all to the apocalypse. Pull up a chair, and make yourself uncomfortable. If when you think of an apocalypse, you picture a scary, doom-filled punishment from above, you're not alone. Originally, though, apocalyptic literature existed not to scare the bejesus out of children so that they would be good boys and girls, but to proclaim a big, hope-filled idea-- that dominant powers are not ultimate powers. Empires fall, tyrants fade, systems die, God's still around.

In Greek, the word apocalypse means to uncover, to peel away, to show what's underneath. That's what this country has been experiencing in recent months. There's not been a sudden uptick in sexual misconduct and assault in our country. The MeToo and Time's Up movements are simply exposing what was already there. The male domination at the center of the sexual harassment issue is being revealed apocalyptically and in prime time.

Wokeness and policy change are a start, but not enough to dig out the full infection. This is why I welcome our moment of uncovering. We need to see how deep the heresy of domination runs, and then remind one another that dominant powers are not ultimate powers. So if those who came before looked to the Bible to justify their dominance, then let us look to it to justify our dignity. It's in there. Theology and liturgy are just too potent to be left to those who would use them-- even unwittingly-- to justify and protect their own dominance. And sometimes the origin of the harm really can be the most powerful source of healing.
                                                                                          NADIA BOLZ-WEBER:
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Welcome to the spocalypse

Yep, we are right in the middle of it
Full blown

All our veneers are being stripped away
The masks are down

Who we are as a nation
As a political parties
As religious or spiritual people
As individuals

Is coming to the light

Call it what you will
The seamy underbelly
The stuff in the closet
The dark side
The Shadow lands

Sudden it is all out there’

The hate, the fear, the racism, the greed
The lust for power,
Just lust

Personified in the man who would be king
In children in cages
In young black men, dead in the street
In white supremacists marching with tiki torches
In powerful and not so powerful men acting as sexual predators
In religious leaders such as Franklin, Jeffries, and Falwell supporting the unsupportable

It is all out there
Kind of stinky and ugly

Where we can see it
And understand it
And release it
And heal it

There is no change without revelation!

This time of uncovering is when the Spirit gets to work
Healing
Restoring
Cleaning up the mess
Draining the swamp in our souls

This time of uncovering is when we understand how small / big
Good/bad
Hopeful/hopeless
Grasping/generous
We really are

This is when we can grab hold of
“ a big, hope-filled idea—
that dominant powers are not ultimate powers.
Empires fall, tyrants fade,
systems die,
God's still around.”


Saturday, July 14, 2018

hoarders or givers


“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it's wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, pray, love: one woman's search for everything
___________________________________________________________

In the end
It seems
Or in the beginning

It is really a matter of gratitude

When we become narrow, tight
Hugging things to ourselves

It is not because we don’t have enough
As much as it is that we don’t see how much we have

We don’t see the gifts
We just
Don’t
See
Them

They are right there!
The sky, the mountains
The clouds

Sunrise, sunset

The doe who eats my flower
The calves playing in the pasture

The eagle on the wing

Gifts

A child’s laughter
A friend’s hug
A thank you from a client

Gifts

So many gifts received
So many gifts to be given

If we were to surrender to generosity
Human and divine

We would be full to overflowing
With all good gifts,
We would be driven to thanksgiving

And driven also to our own kind of generosity
For gratitude is the fuel of generosity
And it is those with glad and grateful hearts
Who give
Gladly and joyfully

We seem to have two choices,

to focus on what we do not have
Or on what we are afraid we will lose,
And sit around in fear
Fearful hoarders

Or to focus on what we have received,
find our gratitude
And become Cheerful givers

The choice is up to us
What is it going to be?

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

radical work


“If you cannot find Christ in the beggar at the church door you will not find him in the chalice."
                                                            St Chrysostom:
________________________________________

The basic concept is simple
Jesus articulated it his own unique way
Both in his words and in his life

But it is at the heart of most spirituality
We are not so much individuals
As part of a whole

We participate in something bigger
Something pervasive and foundational

Some of us call this “God”
Some call it “Love” (which is pretty much the same thing)

So each person, fundamentally, is sacred
Each person come from the Sacred
And carries the Sacred

That Presence (Christians call it the Spirit)
Is active, pervasive, and when “awake”
Changes everything

The way we see, think, feel, and yes
And yes
And yes
And yes
Behave

The Sacred is not selective
There is no privileged race
Orange blonde people are not uniquely blessed
Nor are White blondes
Nor are the rich, the powerful, the affluent

All are Sacred
All are Sacred Children

Which is why Jesus implied that we should see the Sacred in everyone
Even those who are poor, hungry, naked, homeless, oppressed,    
Perhaps especially those who are poor, hungry, naked, homeless, oppressed

These are not to be shamed
Ridiculed
Bullied
Excluded
Abused

These are to be treasured

That young black man on the street, sacred
That brown family on the border, sacred
That child in a cage, sacred
That person muttering to himself on the sidewalk, sacred
That one lying drunk in a doorway, Sacred

When we deny that they are Sacred
When we refuse to act with compassion and generosity toward them
We deny our own sacred nature

For we cannot abuse the vulnerable without crushing the sacred within ourselves.
Each time we act to oppress and disrespect,
Each time we act out of hatred, or greed
Each time we deny another healthcare, or food, or housing, or safety
Each time we create a hostile environment and minimize and marginalize another
Each time we engage in cruelty
We crush a bit of ourselves
We diminish ourselves

Until there is nothing left inside
We are an empty shell

And no amount of religious practice
No number of trips to the communion table
And no amount of power
Not even the Presidency

Can make us real again

Only love can do that
Love received, and love given

The solution for Mr Trump
Is for him to go to a soup kitchen on the border, and serve immigrant people
With sincerity and authenticity

Perhaps the solution for me
Is to cook breakfast for the local GOP meeting
And do so with compassion and acceptance

It appears that finding Jesus
Is radical work indeed

Monday, July 9, 2018

Step away from the ego

“The ego hates losing – even to God.”     
               Richard Rohr, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life
____________________________________

I wonder sometimes
As I watch the wreckage created those
Who would grasp and horde
Use and abuse

I wonder at those who would crush children for a wall
Oppress people to the degree that they cannot rise up,
And then call them lazy
Facilitate injustice
Legislate inequity

I wonder about those who call others names
Who lie
And ridicule
Whose only real gift seems to be the marginalization of others

How can they be so careless about other human beings?
How can they gorge themselves on wealth,
And simply shrug at the struggles of the working poor?

Perhaps the problem is, as both those religious and those psychological will insist

Ego

That part of our being that focus on us
Who we are, what we are, how good we are, what we need
That part of our self that separates itself from all other selves

This is me
Which then turns into
This is mine

The part of us that wants to stand apart, and thus is fiercely protective,
Often aggressive, and frequently selfish, willing to sacrifice others for its own benefit

Is powerful
Very

But sadly it is not always kind, either to ourselves, or to others
Most religions suggest that we must “die” “de-fuse”, “let go” of the self,
At least to some degree
If we are to connect meaningfully to God

For the Sacred call calls us out of isolation into communion
Our of separation into union

And the sacred knows that unless we can be one among many
We will move to places that are dark
Greedy, grasping
Abusive
Fearful
Hateful

But our egos are strong
We resist the Sacred call
And thus we end up encapsulated
Striving against the world, working against others

Thus Trump
Thus America First
Thus racism
Thus the lure of fascism

It is ego, strutting down the street in
a white power uniform, with a shield and a swastika
It is ego clamoring for a wall, and imprisoning children
Ego, shaming the poor
Ego, driving the rich to accumulate more and more, dooming others to poverty

Do we really have to deny ourselves?
Jesus would say yes

I would suggest we at least should take to heart
In this time of division, the words of Abraham Lincoln
Who also spoke in a time of division, discord, even hate

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Let us find our “better angels”

Sunday, July 8, 2018

overcoming evil


“No matter how hard Evil tries, it can never quite match up to the power of Good, because Evil is ultimately self-destructive. Evil may set out to corrupt others, but in the process corrupts itself.”
                                              John Connolly, The Infernals
_________________________________________________

Evil is evil
And by its very nature is destructive

Evil feeds on others, yes
But it also feeds on itself
Gnawing and chewing
Consuming
Eroding

Eventually evil implodes
Unsustainable

We who would fight evil should remember
How tempting it is to draw close to evil
To fight fire with fire
Evil with evil
Hate with hate
Rejection with rejection

How easy it is to believe that we are fighting evil
When we are simply becoming evil
Slipping without notice
From being victims
To becoming active accomplices

This is why Jesus, fighting the evil forces
Of power lust
And greed
Died

This is why we are admonished
To refuse to overcome evil with evil
But to overcome evil with good

It is not a lesson, we
When faced with evil find easy to learn
It is not a lesson we want to learn

But if we go deep, and ask our hearts
If we go deep and commune with the present Sacred
We will know the right

And we have the power to choose between good and evil
Let us choose good
and know that our choice has made a difference...

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Near


And love
Says,
"I will, I will take care of you,"
To everything that is
Near.
                                             (Hafiz)
________________________________

I am smothered at times
By all the ills of the world
By the greedy ones grasping
The hurting ones lashing out
The angry ones shooting
The hungry ones devouring all in sight

It is tempting to push away
All the is abrasive and angry

To step away from the dis-ease
To seek a calm distance
Peace

and yet I am commanded to love
to love the angry classmate from HS who worships Trump
To love the one who will not change
To love the one who has failed, time and time and time again
To love the one who has hurt me
or rejected me

and one cannot love at a distance


Thursday, July 5, 2018

Self compassion


“Each one of us is more than the worst thing we've ever done.”
― Sheryl Sandberg, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy
________________________

This day of all day
I am besieged by memories
Of things done, and undone

Of mistakes made
Big mistakes made
Of violations of what was right

But also memories of things done
Where people were helped

It is too easy to play back the bad
And ignore the good

To say to yourself
I’m a shit.. I make Tump look good
And to forget the moments
When you were there for someone hurt
When you said the right thing
When you weren’t impulsive (rare)
When you kept a boundary (even though you didn’t want to) 

I am way more than the sum of my sins
So are you

And guess what
God doesn’t count sins anyway


Wednesday, July 4, 2018

A somber 4th

Oh Lord
I worry about our nation
I love it
a lot
But sometimes Lord
really...
I mean really
We wrap ourselves in the flag
and we pick up the cross
and we think they go together
We look at you and we think you are "our" God
that we can some how domesticate you
define you
use you
That you are on "our" side
and not for
that person in China
or Africa
or Mexico
or Iran
whom you also created
Lord, your love is outrageous
you love America
you love its warring children
who cannot get along
you love those who protest, and demand
food for the poor, healthcare for the vulnerable
support for the downtrodden
justice for the minorities
Release for caged children
you also (alas) love those
who (in my humble opinion) have lost their way
among the gods of power and wealth
those who think they are serving you
by calling the poor enabled
and by legislating their version of morality
And closing their hearts to immigrants
And embracing violent domination as a solution.
your love is scandalous Lord
we cannot understand it
we cannot grasp its magnitude
even those of us who think we understand, fall
far far short
of understanding
we see people who hate other people
and we hate them (see the problem?)
So I pray Lord
for America
touch us ....
with that weird
risky love
fill us with your Spirit
but Lord
I pray the same
for every person who draws breath
every person
in every place
on this planet
we call earth
SK

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

selfishness


Exert not thyself
... in amassing of wealth,
for evil is the smell
... of stagnant water; strive
rather, to be generous,
... for running water
becomes a flood. "

- Shaykh Sa'adi Shirazi ( from: Gulistan )
__________________________________

When we hug to ourselves
In fear
In greed
In hatred

When we hug to ourselves
A say “go to hell” to everyone else

We close off the flow of Spirit and love
At both ends

Nothing in
Nothing out

And soon
Rot, rot
Fester, fester

Soon the smell of decay
Drifts across the landscape of our lives
The landscape of our nation

As surely as the smell of unwashed bodies
And dirty diapers drifts from
The gulags of America



Monday, July 2, 2018

how inconvenient

“They turned on the television and saw some news story about another goddamn humanitarian crisis, another goddamn civil war in some godforsaken place, and saw images of wounded people or starving children and felt a bright, bitter anger at the children for invading and ruining the only moments of relaxation and "me time" the neighbors had all day. The neighbors would get a little indignant here, about how their own lives were hard too, and yet nobody heard them complaining about it. everyone had problems - why couldn't they just quietly deal with them? On their own? With a bit of self-respect? Why did they have to get everyone else involved? It's not like the neighbors could do anything. It's not like civil wars were their fault.”
                                                             Nathan Hill, The Nix
_________________________________________________

How inconvenient of those people to be driven from their country
By violent gangs, and drug wars
By religious extremist who are more than happy to kill

In the name of God

How selfish of them to want their children to flourish
Or perhaps
Simply live

They should know the rules.  Know the facts
That we won’t let them in
(We will pretend we might, but we won’t
Not today, Not now)

Because they are inconvenient

They intrude into our lives
They make us see things we don’t want to see
And feel things we don’t want to feel
They make us evaluate the way we live, the way we spend
And expend

They might, just might, cut into our profits a touch
They might get a benefit we don’t think they deserve
They might show up in our schools, in our medical clinics,
In our churches

They might be dangerous
Those little 2 and 3 and 6 year olds with brown eyes, and brown skin

And so we arrest them
And rip their families apart
And put them in camps (hidden from view of course)
And we justify
And shame
And minimize

And we tell ourselves that we are just following the law
We are just protecting “our” families
We are just putting America First

It is of course not just brown children on the southern border
It is black children on the streets of our cities
And poor white children

It is any child
Any child without health care, without good food
Good clothes, a chance for a good education
It is any child without hope

To live in this world as a follower of Jesus is not an easy thing
For we are called to see
Called to feel
Called to risk
Called to give
Called to include
Called to clothe and feed and house
Called to treat those around us as family

We are called
to love
in both word, and deed

It is not optional