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



Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Connection


When two people relate to each other authentically and humanly,
God is the electricity that surges between them
                                                            Martin Buber
_____________________________________________

Who are you?
I am not sure I know, but I’d like to!
I’d like to know what makes you tick
How you think, what you feel
What you a passionate about,
What gets you up in the morning

Who am I?
I’d like you to know!
At least I think I do.

I’d like you to know what I love
What is going on in my monkey brain
What I fear
What hurts

I am not talking about playing it safe here
Being real is never safe
And when two people actually make a connect
That is authentic and vulnerable

It can be rather shocking!
Bzzzzzzt!

Sometimes it stings
Sometimes it hurts
But when the current flows

Something happens
Call it electricity
Call it love
Call it God

And we are transformed
Individually
Together

We are changed from encapsulated egos
Fearful and striving
Into beings bound together by something big
Bigger

That which is immanent and transcendent
Becomes intimate and finite
Incarnate

I and It
Becomes I and Thou

“I” and “me”
Becomes “us”

And Sacred becomes real
In our connection with one another

We don’t need theology
Or ideology
We don’t need earthly power
Or wealth
We don’t need border walls
We don’t need a booming stock market

We need each other
For it is in love of other another

That the kingdom comes

Monday, November 12, 2018

transforming our pain


All of us experience the absurd, the tragic, the nonsensical, the unjust… if we cannot find some way to transmute our wounds into sacred wounds, we invariably become cynical, negative or bitter… if we do not transform this pain we will most assuredly transmit it, usually to those closest to us…
                                                                        Richard Rohr
__________________________________________________-

Sometimes
In those quiet moments
As the wind blows in the firs
And the snow falls

Sometimes when the monkey brain quiets
And in the relative calmness thoughts emerge from their hiding places
Deep within my soul

I realize just how much life has touched me
for good and for ill

I realize that I have been shaped and molded
By all that has transpired

There have been victories that have built me up,
given me reason for pride
And there have been failures and fears that placed me
Among the walking wounded

And what I have come to understand
that it is absolutely critical, for me to be aware
of that which I carry with me

for what I carry I share
knowingly or not

If I carry pain, I share pain
If I carry hate, I share hate
If I carry fear, I share fear

What I carry I pass on, to those around me

That is not all bad
For if I carry love, that is what I pass on
If I carry hope, or joy, or peace, that too

It is all contagious!

There is nothing wrong with any of it
Life happens, and we are always moving from joy to anger
From peace to fear, from love to hate

But we must choose what we carry
And that we do not want to pass along, we must allow to be transformed
We must hold it, accept it,
We must release it, and allow it thus to be changed

Just as Jesus held on to his pain, his fear, his anguish
And allowed it to become resurrection

What is it I hang on to?
You can see it in what I pass on!
What is it you hang on to?
You can see it in what you pass on!

This is why I feel so much compassion these days
For the fearful hoarders
And the angry haters
For they are merely passing on their own misery

I will always be a mixed bag
There will always be times when what I pass on, is my wounds

But there will also be times when what I pass on is love, and healing, hope and peace
When my wounds become sacred
And an instrument for not only my own healing
But for the healing of those around me



Friday, November 9, 2018

white knuckle righteousness


Authentic spirituality is always seeking “daily bread’ to feed the starving parts of our soul, and fresh and “living water” to fill our reservoir instead of allowing the dark waters to develop toxins and poisonous algae – which largely happens at a slow, certain, and unconscious level.  Thus both Jesus and Buddha say the same thing:  “Stay awake!”
                                                            Richard Rohr, “Just This”
______________________________________________

I have to admit
I have a hungry soul
I want love
I want hope
I want peace
I want joy

I want it all!

And yet I often remain hungry
Which is not all bad

For being hungry I seek
And seeking is a good thing

For it is all to easy to settle into the dark waters
of legalism, and dogma

it is all too easy to
to stop seeking
stop being open

to let the living water become a stale pond
of cultural norms
and ideology

to seek safety and power
not in the fresh infusion of grace
but in rituals and rules

white knuckling righteousness
seeking to impose morality on those around us
rather than seeking true transformation
within ourselves
rather than being, through our living, catalysts for transformation in others.

Talk about a swamp!
Sometimes we are up to our necks
Sometimes we are over our heads in toxic religiosity

The good news is this
We do not have to go far to find the mystery

For that in which we live and move and have our being.
Is as near as our breath
We already have the mystery in us

And all we have to do, is wake upwhit
Become aware
Accept the presence

Then we will be fed
Then we will have streams of living water
Bubbling out of our souls

Then we will truly live
Then we will be who and what we were created to be

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Wake UP


" There is no road from man to God, because the nature
of God is illimitable and infinite,
without beginning or end ... or even direction.
There is not a single atom ... of existent things with which God is not, ...
and which God does not comprise. "
 Sufi Thought

When you wake up, you begin to overcome your seperateness.
You begin to know tht you do not look out AT God over there,
But your look out FROM God, or, as Paul describes it, “I live no longer not I” (see Galatians 2:20)
            Richard Rohr
____________________________________________

According to Duns Scotus, each creature is a unique aspect of the infinite Mystery of God
There are perhaps other ways to put this
We come from the mystery that is whatever is greater than our selfs
We return to that mystery
When this mystery ends

We participate in the mystery
We carry it
And yes, at some level we “are” the mystery

Many wise people have suggested that we don’t have to find Sacred
We simply have to become awake to it
Awake to it in ourselves
And away to it in others

Only if we understand that we are all
A unique aspect of the mystery
Can we begin to understand Jesus

When he says
“when you do it for the least of these, you do it for me”

Only then can we know what he means when he says,
“I was a stranger and you took me in”

We must wake up to the mystery
Wake up to whatever it is
That drives us to love, to care, to heal to create

For while we know so little, really, about the reality many of us God call
(God is mystery, after all, and we simply cannot confine or define)
We do know this
God is love
And when we are awake to the mystery we are driven to love, to care, to give.
to have compassion, to forgive.
We can also assume, that when we are driven by other things
By fear, hate, ego, cruelty
We are not awake

So Wake up
Wake up
Wake up

There is an election coming up?
Which party (neither does very well) least reflects the way of the mystery
As revealed in Jesus?  (Spoiler:  IMHO its not the GOP and definitely not Mr. Trump)

There are desperate people heading toward out border
How do we as awake people see them?  As a threat?  Or as Jesus?

There are vulnerable people all around us
The ill, the aged, the wounded, the minorities, the disenfranchised, the “different”
Do we see them as throw away people, worthy of shame?
Or do we see them as precious children of God.

It is time to wake up



Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Its not easy (to follow Jesus)


Here's what Jesus never said: "Feed the hungry only if they have papers." "Clothe the naked only if they're from your country." "Welcome the stranger only if there's zero risk." "Help the poor only if it's convenient." "Love your neighbor only if they look like you."
                                                                                    Father James Martin
_____________________________________________________

It is not easy to follow Jesus
It is very easy, in a country that pretends to be Christian

To pay lip service to Jesus
To name drop Jesus

While not knowing him at all

At least one would never know it by their words
Or their attitudes
Or their actions

It’s not easy to follow Jesus
Because if you do, you can’t play it safe
You can’t play favorites

And, most of all, you can’t close your eyes
To the pain
The hurt
The poverty

Instead you have to embrace it

All of it

And you have to embrace God’s children
All of them

Which is why you have to feed the hungry
All the hungry
Just because they are hungry
Not because they “deserve” it,
Not because they have attended chapel
Or promised to “be better”
Or anything at all

Just because
God asks it
Just because, that is what following Jesus looks like

Which is also why you have to clothe the naked
House the homeless
Provide healthcare for the ill (or the “going to be” ill)

Which is why you welcome the stranger
Even if they are brown
And seek justice for all
Even if they as black

Which is why you protest
And sometimes kneel
It’s why you volunteer
And why you vote

And it’s why you pray
For those who take Jesus’ name in vain
And white knuckle the Holy Spirit so that you don’t hate
those who bully, lie, and name call, exclude and horde
and use power for evil instead of good

Following Jesus is all about love without limits
Loving God so much you dare to love others (and even yourself)

And it’s not for the faint of heart


Monday, November 5, 2018

Acts of courage


“Cruelty is cheap, easy, and chickenshit”
                                    Rene Brown
________________________________

Let’s hear it for kindness
Let’s hear it for compassion
Let’s hear it for inclusion
Let’s hear it for loving

For these are acts of great courage

It takes courage to be kind when you are angry
It takes courage to show compassion when you are afraid
It takes courage to include others when don’t want to be vulnerable
It takes courage to love, when hate is so easy

It does not take courage to take a AR-15 and enter a synagogue,
and shoot a 79 year old holocaust survivor

It does not take courage to lie, taunt, bully and mislead
To feed the roar of an unthinking, unhinged crow

It does not take courage to tweet insults

It does not take courage to seen 14,000 heavily armed troops to the border
To stop a few thousand desperate refugees armed with bread and water (if they have that)

What our world need is acts of random courage
People willing to tell the truth in the face of falsehood
People willing to embrace those feared and rejected
People willing to call out evil when they see it
People will to be kind, compassionate, inclusive and love

For the nurtured cruelty we see everyday
A cruelty which comes from the top down
Is “cheap, easy, and chickenshit”

Saturday, November 3, 2018

fully human


“If you trade your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief.”
 BrenĂ© Brown
_________________________________________

Following Jesus is not safe
Never was, never will be
Just as Jesus

It is not life insurance
Nor is it fire insurance
It does not guarantee success, or wealth
It does not protect us from difficult things (quite the opposite)

Following Jesus is about being your created to be self
It is about being open
Vulnerable
Giving
Forgiving

It is about laying it all on the line
For love

When we live as Sacred Children
When we let our divine DNA express itself
(Following the way of Jesus)

We lower our defenses
We have soft front
We risk
We expend
We welcome
We give

We even sacrifice
None of that is safe

If we choose safety
We are different people
We have hard fronts and soft backs
We are closed, protective, hidden

We refuse to risk
We hug resources to ourselves
We exclude
We hate

Safety at last
But at a cost

For now we are in the house of fear
Now we are cut off
From others
From God
 Even from ourselves

Our life becomes dominated by the need to
Protect, to distance

And the cost is great
We are plague with anxiety, depression,
eating disorders, addiction,
rage, blame,
resentment, and inexplicable grief.

If you don’t believe me just look into the eyes
of the fearful hoarders
the hate full excluders

No following Jesus isn’t safe
but it is
what makes us
fully human

Friday, November 2, 2018

Prepare a noble song


“So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none. When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision. When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.”
 Chief Tecumseh
___________________________________________________

live your life well
respect others
serve your community
create beauty

raise your hand in greeting and welcome
not in anger

stand tall

be thankful
be kind
protect those more vulnerable than your self
for abuse turns one into a fool

live your life well
so that when you return to the Sacred
it feels like going home
to the warm embrace of one who loves rather

rather than like a fearful journey (where you constantly look back over your shoulder)
into a place are a stranger

Live each day so filled with Sacred Presence,
so connected to the holy

that you greet the night with a peaceful heart
and can greet that great night we call death,
as if it is just the close
of another fine day

Thursday, November 1, 2018

follow means follow


“For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes (Matthew 5). But, often with tears in their eyes, the demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course, that's Moses, not Jesus. I haven't heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere.
"Blessed are the merciful" in a courtroom? "Blessed are the peacemakers" in the Pentagon? Give me a break!”
 Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country
_______________________________________
Who listens to sermons anyway?

Probably not that older farmer who gets his daily nap
As I pontificate

Probably not that older woman, whose ears no longer hear
But who comes faithfully and sits in “her pew” anyway

Probably not that younger woman tapping on her cell phone
Or the single mom whose ears are seeking cries of distress from her children

I wonder who listened to Jesus’ words
When he offered the beatitudes

They were raw, uncompromising
They were the blue print for the Jesus Way

But really!?

"Blessed are you who are poor,
Blessed are you who hunger now,
Blessed are you who weep now,
Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you
    and reject your name as evil, because you stand up for God

But woe to you who are rich,
Woe to you who are well fed now,
Woe to you who laugh now,
Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for their noses are brown”

Luke probably had it right
Jesus was turning the world upside down
The last shall be first
You give to gain
You die to live

Everything we though we know is wrong

Matthew had to spiritualize things (which is why we like him better)

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
 Blessed are those who mourn,
 Blessed are the meek,
 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
 Blessed are the merciful,
 Blessed are the pure in heart,
 Blessed are the peacemakers,
 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you    
     because you hold fast to my way…

But still!
Heavy stuff

Not for the faint of heart

Not for the fearful
Or the greedy
Not for those who love power
Not for those who are selfish

If we really followed this stuff
We could not be Republicans
Nor could we be Democrats
Nor could we wrap ourselves in the flag

If we really followed this stuff
We would have to be totally different

And that is the point

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

make your life a poem


“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”
 Walt Whitman
________________________________-

make your life a poem
its not that hard

if your life is written
by the great poet

know that you are a love poem
that you lift up hearts
and pluck souls from the abyss

for your rhyme and meter
are generosity and acceptance
kindness and forgiveness

make your life a poem
defined by the cadence of love

love
give
advocate
resist evil
mingle with the questionable
examine everything

make your life a poem

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Anyone can destroy


“It takes no genius to destroy. The creators, the givers, the lovers, the healers - these are the heroes who know - the building up is so much more difficult than the tearing down.”
― Laurence Overmire, New York Minute
_____________________


It doesn’t take effort to cut someone down
It doesn’t take much to criticize
It isn’t difficult to find the problems

It isn’t easy to destroy laws that protect the earth
Or legislation that protects the vulnerable
Its damn easy to cut the poor out of the budget

It is the building up that is difficult
It is hard to love the unlovable
Hard to find that “something good” to praise

It is hard to make the difficult choices that will lead to better health care
Hard to go against those you fear to stand up for the weak

It is damn hard to confront hate
To call out liars
And insist on the truth

It is hard to give
Hard to create something new
Hard to heal
And near impossible to love

Our President does nothing that is hard
He simply flails and destroy
The Congress that supports him does nothing different
Simply allowing laws to be destroyed that did much good
(may put a little restraint on rampant and greedy capitalism)

The American church
Simply attacks
The LGBTQI community
Women
People who are poor

Shaming, insisting on excluding them, diminishing them
Hating them (fundamentally)

For all its talk about following Jesus
It is easier to grasp to hate, to exclude, to judge
Then it is to give, forgive, include and love

It would be easy for me to spend my time ripping apart those I disagree with
Some might say that is what I am doing now
Perhaps that is what I am doing now

Mea Culpa
Mea Maxima Culpa

Lord, whatever we do this day
May it be something positive
Something loving
Something generous
Something life giving

Because anyone can destroy
Only a Sacred Child
Living out his or her inheritance
Can build up.


Sunday, October 21, 2018

thoughts on prayer


“Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one's weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”
 Mahatma Gandhi

“The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”
 Soren Kierkegaard
______________________________

Prayer is not the “art of the deal”
It is not a matter of us calling out to all that is Sacred
Seeking to manipulate
Whatever power might be there
To do our will

Jesus made it pretty clear
That God is God
Sacred is Sacred

“Thy will be done”

Paul suggests that when it comes to prayer
We suck

Really!

Not because we cannot mouth the words
Not because we cannot turn a phrase
But because we have no clue how to pray (Romans 8)

Instead he suggests that we let the Sacred in us, the Spirit
Pray for us
With “wordless groans”

When prayer is really prayer it is nothing more (or less)
Than a cry of the heart
Prayer happens when God awakens in us the longing to connect
The desire to be filled
The hope for healing, and forgiveness

Prayer is when those things we cannot put into words
Wing their way toward the Sacred
And when the love of the Sacred finds its way back
Along the bridge of prayer

To change our minds
Our hearts
Our souls
And we are made new

Saturday, October 20, 2018

loved back to life

P
“It happens to all of us," I concluded that Easter Sunday morning. "God simply keeps reaching down into the dirt of humanity and resurrecting us from the graves we dig for ourselves through our violence, our lies, our selfishness, our arrogance, and our addictions. And God keeps loving us back to life over and over.”
 Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastrix
________________________

it has been a long road
and now that I am no longer young

and perhaps not truly old

I pause, as one pauses before that final climb
to the top of the hill

clarity, that final clarity that only death will bring
is over the hill
and for now

is am merely on the way
a long path behind me,
a much shorter one ahead

and in the stillness
I ruminate

I chew methodically on
the stuff that comes up
good, bad, and indifferent

there are memories that bring joy
and those that bring pain
memories of proud moments
and memories of abject shame

it has not been smooth
this path
there have been far too many moments when I have been over my head
in the ooze and slime and old decay (CS Lewis) of failure

ah yes, there were times when I broke free
and for brief bright moments felt good about myself
and what I was doing

but so many times
when I wondered if I could keep putting
one foot in front of the other

and I have been no stranger to death
the death of hope
the death of dreams
the death of a career, and then another
the death of a marriage, the death of joy

Oh yes, I have done much of it to myself
Although sometimes, life just happens

but for each death
there has been a resurrection
for each ending, there has been a beginning

it seems that God cannot leave well enough alone
(thank God)
and keeps “loving me back to life”
again, and again, and again

if I am “average” I will live another 11 years
what will that “final climb” bring?
what will I do between now and that final then?

How many more holes will I dig for myself?
How many more times will I get lost in the swamp?
What lies along the path?
Pain, joy, love?

I do not know
but this I know

God will keep reaching down into the mess that is this world
and God will keep reaching down into the mess that is my life
and God will keep nudging, and guiding, hinting and helping.
God will keep picking me when I fall down
And if necessary, keep resurrecting me, when I am buried in the rubble of my own making

And this I know
When I hit the top of that hill
And look over to the other side

God will be there again, with one last resurrection, and one last surprise

_________________

‘when the evening gently closes in, and you close your weary eyes
I’ll be there as I have always been, with just one more surprise”
                                                            Contemporary Hymn

Thursday, October 18, 2018

I am therefore I think


I am
Therefore I think

It is not always good thing

There are times when it feels as if there are a thousand TV blaring in my skull
All of them on a different station!

There are times when it is like a whirlwind
And I cannot grab
One cogent thought out of the chaos

At other times my thoughts simply fail
Slipping away in to oblivion
Lost
Like the mountain in the clouds of winter

Names, dates
Appointments, tasks
Gone
In the twinkling of an eye

And oh the thoughts that come
“you are not enough”
“you failed”
“you are not loved”
“you need to quit”

My brain is a bully
No doubt about it

And O the feelings it generates
Fear, anger
Hopelessness, helplessness

Sometimes I think my mind
While trying to define me
Causes me to lose my self

Drawing me away from my heart
Drawing me away from my soul

Someday, perhaps,
I will learn to live from the heart
Not from the mind

Someday, perhaps, although probably not today
I will learn to listen to the prompting of the Sacred within
Rather than the voice of my unreasonable reason
Perhaps someday, I will learn to “step away from the brain”

“be transformed” I am exhorted, “by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12)

The only way that is going to happen
Is if I learn to quiet the mind
to have a calm brain

where the storm is quieted
and I can hear a single drop of rain
land on the pond

hear the ripple of the waves
the song of the sparrow
the cry of the hawk

where the chaos is stilled
and the cry of the heart is heard

“the mind is now stilled
hear the loving call of the Sacred
I am now at peace”

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

let God


By love, God can be embraced and held, but not by thinking.

It doesn’t matter how much profound wisdom we possess about created spiritual beings; our understanding cannot help us gain knowledge about any uncreated spiritual being, who is God alone. But the failure of our understanding can help us. When we reach the end of what we know, that’s where we find God. That’s why St. Dionysius [5th/6th century] said that the best, most divine knowledge of God is that which is known by not-knowing.
                                                                                    Richard Rohr
______________________________

Bless our little concrete minds

we are soooo uncomfortable with the unknown
with that which we cannot totally define
cannot totally explain

but how do our finite minds understand the infinite
how do we explain a feeling?
or the irrepressible surge of the Sacred
in our souls?

it scares us
this vastness
this mystery

And so we try to contain it!
anyone have box?
and some tape?

So we create ideology, philosophy
and worse yet, theology

but all we manage to do is
make God small
we squeeze the Sacred into our mold
we create God, as some have said, into our own image

and all of a sudden God is about rules, and dogma
and religion replaces relationship
and certitude replaces mystery

and faith becomes striving
and inclusion becomes inclusion
and acceptance becomes judgment

We take Jesus
Word become Flesh
The one who points us toward the mystery

And we try to tame him

Jesus was wild and weird
and said things we do not understand
and walked a path we cannot truly fathom or follow
but we want to distill him
to capture him, own him

we might as well try and catch the wind (or the Spirit)

The Sacred is indeed difficult to embrace and hold
sometimes we simply have to accept
that we don’t know
we don’t understand
that for all our striving to understand,
we may be wrong

and in that moment of uncertainty
we are forced to let go of all certainty
and let God be Love