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

Thursday, April 19, 2018


“If you put a spoonful of salt
in a cup of water
it tastes very salty.
If you put a spoonful of salt
in a lake of fresh water
the taste is still pure and clear.

Peace comes when our hearts are
open like the sky, vast as the ocean.”
                              Jack Kornfield

Our souls are salted with many things

and when our souls are tiny
constricted due to ideology
or theology

when our lives are squeezed down
by social norms
and expectations

we can so easily lose our humanity
but worse, our divinity

the sacred image we carry
becomes blurred
sometimes beyond recognition

and we become unable to give
to offer compassion
to forgive
to love

how do we open our hearts?
how do we throw open the windows of our soul
to the wind of the Sacred?

We walk
We breathe
We notice the stars
We gaze in wonder at the mountain
And celebrate the sky

We dance in the dust
And the mud
And the snow

We throw our arms wide open
And embrace the Sacred
As She/He/It comes

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

flesh inspirited

Make ready for the Christ, Whose smile, like lightning,
Sets free the song of everlasting glory
That now sleeps, in your paper flesh, like dynamite.
Thomas Merton, “The Victory,” The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton (New Directions: 1977), 115.

When God gives of Godself, one of two things happens: either flesh is inspirited or spirit is enfleshed.
                                                                                                                   Richard Rohr

We carry the sacred
Holiness sleeps
In our flesh

Like dynamite

Ready to explode
To be felt and seen
By a watching world

So the all creation waits
For spirit enfleshed
To make itself known

And waits, and waits, and waits

As we, inspirited flesh
Struggle still with dissension
Fear, and greed

The wounds we carry in this sacred flesh
(or psyche)
our reminder of the cross of our humanity

perhaps it is time
for us to put aside childish things
and to “grow up into our incarnation” (Rohr)

and finally reflect
the image and likeness of the One
from whence we come

who is

Monday, April 16, 2018

child of god

“Part of me suspects that I'm a loser, and the other part of me thinks I'm God Almighty.”
― John Lennon

“The ego is the false self-born out of fear and defensiveness.”
― John O'Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

There are times that I suffer
If truth be told, most of the time
I create my own suffering

Or rather, my ego does

The ego is that part of me that wants to be significant,
important by itself
separate and superior.

I notice the ego asks a lot of questions!
Am I enough?
Am I safe?
Am I important?
Am I noticed?
Am I valued, appreciated, respected?
Do people like me?
Find me attractive (or even sexy)?
Do people see me as competent, and effective

There are problems with the ego
It is fragile, always being insulted

And always, it seems, it is defensive and self-protective

It can’t help itself

When I am upset about how someone has treated me
When I am worried about how I am coming across
When I see slights everywhere
When I believe people are evaluating, judging me

So much of my fear
My sense of being rejected
My anger
My indignation
Comes from my ego

Instead of believing my identity and worth
Are based upon whether I am tall enough, thin enough
Handsome enough, rich enough
Successful enough
Powerful enough
Admired enough
Respected enough
Valued enough

I just realize that my value is inherent
That I do not have to be defined by those things

Perhaps what I need to remember
Is that I am a broken and blessed Child of God
One God values so much that God draws near
And claims me as God’s own

Child of God
Child of God
Child of God

Perhaps that awareness is all that I need

“All great spirituality teaches about letting go of what you don’t need and who you are not. Then, when you can get little enough and naked enough and poor enough, you’ll find that the little place where you really are is ironically more than enough and is all that you need. At that place, you will have nothing to prove to anybody and nothing to protect.  That place is called freedom. It’s the freedom of the children of God. Such people can connect with everybody. They don’t feel the need to eliminate anybody . . .”
(Richard Rohr, Healing Our Violence through the Journey of Centering Prayer)

And perhaps, secure in being loved
Perhaps, being free
I won’t have to suffer
At my own hands

Where is your treasure?

“Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.”
                                                                        Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Is it true
That we find our joy in what we love?

What if we love the wrong things?
What if we love power
Or money?

Is our treasure our true treasure?

It has also been said
That where our treasure is our heart will be also

Perhaps it is more true that our heart follows
treasure, rather than that our hearts create treasure

Treasure it appears can capture, and bind
And subdue the heart
Or perhaps what we treasure reveals our hearts

I was thinking the other day about our nation
And where it puts its “treasure”
If our heart is where our treasure is, what does that mean

Where does most of our treasure go?
If where our heart is, there is our treasure

Does that mean our heart is in war (since the majority of our money goes to the military)?
Is our heart is prisons?
In border walls
It is a conundrum
To think that our “treasure” is in such things
Since our heart as revealed by our spending
is found in such things

It seems that there must be a better place to put our hearts
Better places to creature, or discover, our treasure

What if our treasure were people?

If our hearts were in people
Would we not be putting our resources, our energy, our focus
Into healthcare?
Caring for the poor?
Helping the vulnerable?

Would not such acts of kindness
And service be what we treasure?

But lest I pontificate
What does my calendar reveal?
My check book?

Where do I put my heart?
What do I consider my treasure, really?

Something to think about
In the dark

Saturday, April 14, 2018

its what's inside

“There's a mess inside you:
You clean the outside.”
― Anonymous, The Dhammapada


Who am I?
Do you know?
Do I know?

What is pretty certain
Is that the person I look at in the mirror
And the person you greet
From day to day

Is not me
It is a fabrication
Of who I want to be

It is me
Cleaned up

But not me
For inside are all the things I hide
The dirty wrinkled things
Which I have stuffed into the closets
Of my being

Hoping they will go away
Of their own according

Hoping you will not see

I know I am not alone
Most of us hide
Behind pleasant facades of our own making

We rumble through each day
Our hard but brittle shells
Colliding with other shells
No real damage
But no real contact either

Masks beaming at masks
None of us really in touch
With each other

Or even with ourselves

Insight is missing
Delusion is high

Sometimes it seems
We would do better
Spending a little less time
Polishing the outside
And erecting our facades

And a little more time cleaning out the closets
Of our souls
For it is what’s inside that makes us who we are

Not our titles
Our looks
Our possessions
Our successes

It really all comes down
To where the heart is

Friday, April 13, 2018

look to the sky

When it rains it pours and opens doors
And floods the floors we thought would always keep us safe and dry
And in the midst of sailing ships we sink our lips into the ones we love
That have to say goodbye
And as I float along this ocean
I can feel you like a notion that won't seem to let me go

'Cause when I look to the sky something tells me you're here with me
And you make everything alright
And when I feel like I'm lost something tells me you're here with me
And I can always find my way when you are here

There are days
When I am not sure why

Why I should get out of bed
Why I should bother to dress
Why I should find my way to an office

Where hurting people share
And hope
And only sometimes
Find peace

Why bother
Why smile
Why breathe

And then
Along those sometimes dusty
Sometimes muddy
Sometimes snowy
Country roads

I look to the sky
To the sun, the moon, the stars
To clouds gray
And clouds white

To golden rising
And golden setting

And my soul awakes
And my heart races
And the pain and fear
Is lost in the greatness
Into the gray blue goldness

And I breathe again

Thursday, April 12, 2018

What did you do for yourself today?

Your mind can deceive you and put all kinds of barriers between you and your nature; but your body does not lie. Your body tells you, if you attend to it, how your life is and if you are living from your soul or from the labyrinths of your negativity. . . . The human body is the most complex, refined, and harmonious totality.

The soul is not simply within the body, hidden somewhere within its recesses. The truth is rather the converse. Your body is in the soul. And the soul suffuses you completely.

Our bodies speaks volumes
Oh sure
There are germs, and viruses
Cancer is a reality
So is arthritis, and so much more

But we are bodysoul
We are incarnation
Spirit enfleshed
Flesh inspirited

And so it is
It is irrefutable
That the state of our body
Often reflects (at least to some degree)
The state of our soul

But not just the state of our soul
Whether our soul is awake
For if we are not connected to the spiritual side of our being
We are incomplete

And it shows

I know
I “feel it in my bones”
That when I am stressed

When I am closed down
Closed off
Out of touch with the Sacred

I suffer

Everything hurts
And what doesn’t hurt doesn’t work
(as the saying goes)

But it is true
That when I am integrated within myself
And in touch with all aspects of who I am
Soul and body

That my body finds a place of greater ease
And when I am in that place of negativity and darkness
My body experiences dis-ease

So let us pay attention
Let us attend to that complex creature
that we see in the mirror

It’s not that hard
A minute (or 20) here and there
A walk
A few deep breathes
A little mindfulness

So here is the question
What did you do for your soul/body

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Good Friday

Any God who would wander into the human condition, any God who has this thirst to pursue us, had better not be too put off by pain, for that's the way we tend to treat our saviors. Any God who tries to love us had better be ready to die for it.
                                                                                      William Willimon

Sometimes it seems
as if hate is going to win
as if all that right
all that is good
is coming to an end

as on that Friday so long ago
when in the heat of the afternoon
jeers echoed
lashes fell
thorns pierced
and hammer blows reverberated,

and love took its last breath

or did it?

perhaps love is made of tougher stuff than that
just perhaps

on that day
God looked in the face of hatred
and brutality
into the face or judgement and rejection
into the face of power and wealth

and said

“This Stops Here”

and that is why we call it

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

a glimpse in the mirror

It occurred to me today
As I was wandering through the Gospels
Hoping to run into God

(I need a little help with my Easter sermon)

That Jesus, when he taught,
always tried to get the people he was talking to
To look at themselves, not others

With every teaching he challenged people to look at themselves
With every parable he told he asked people to put themselves in the story

It was never, “who do you think the prodigals are, who are the older brothers?  Which of your
friends, your enemies, your family, your neighbors?”
It was
“Which one are you?”

Perhaps this is where the religion that claims to follow the way of Jesus
Goes wrong
We tend, all too often, to make it about others
Not ourselves

We use the word “you” a lot
When we are called to use the word “I”

“You are a sinner” is much easier to say
It seems
“Than I am a sinner”
“You are wrong”, much easier
Than “I am wrong”

This is why, when I preach, I use “we” a lot
Because we are all in this together
We are sinners, we need help, we need love, we need forgiveness
I am part of “we”
I am not part of “you”  (at least I don’t think so, except for that darn spiritual bond)

It often occurs to me, as I write sermons, that I am really just preaching to myself
And allowing others to listen in
Hoping it will be helpful to them as well

So here is an idea
Let us, as we seek to follow Jesus
As we study his teachings,
And look at his life

Always remember that the person who is being spoken to
Is the one we see in the mirror

When it comes to challenging, and seeking change
When it comes to doing the hard work of metanoia (repentence)
That is where we have to start

And perhaps
That is where we have to end

Monday, April 9, 2018

near the surface

“…if Jesus said “I was hungry and you fed me,”
then Christ’s presence is not embodied in those who feed the hungry
(as important as that work is),
but Christ’s presence is in the hungry being fed
                                                                        Nadia Bolz-Weber

We tend it get it ass backwards
Most of the time

Some how we think God is most with
The rich
The powerful
The beautiful

Ah those lucky people
Blessed by God

How often do we say it
“God just blessed me”

True, that

But perhaps God is most present
Most “near the surface”
In those who are not encumbered
With the riches of the world

Those whose bodies are thin from hunger
Those whose clothes are thin from wear
Those who eyes are empty with despair
Those whose hearts are broken

In the emptiness of poverty
And oppression

There is the room
Room for Jesus to dwell
The openness
For Jesus to shine through

See that person
That one over there
The one you would shame?
The one you would call a lazy moocher?
The one you would expel?
The one, perhaps, you would shoot?

That one
Is Jesus

Saturday, April 7, 2018

I am here, now

“Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh, Going Home: Jesus and Buddha as Brothers

Sometimes I get overwhelmed
And when I get overwhelmed, I get irrational
And when I get irrational I disengaged from those around me

and disengaged from God

I get a little lost

And life becomes…

Ever been there?

Such times call for “damage control”

1.  Don’t judge
2. Minimize the Damage
3. Remember, this shall pass

Don’t judge
Don’t jump in with both feet
Into the “blame game”
Don’t wallow in the ooze and slime and old decay
Of self judgment

Life is giving you a beating?
Don’t help it by beating up on itself
A depleted self is not a resilient self
Don’t judge your feelings
Don’t get upset that you are angry, or sad,
Fearful or regretful

You are simply having, “a human experience”
Notice what you a feeling (that is important)
And then, let it go
Step away from your bully brain that so badly wants you
Trap you in negativity

and then STOP whatever it is you are doing
cease and desist
OK, so you made a mistake
Don’t’ make it worse by doubling down on the behavior
So you had a drink (when you said you wouldn’t)
Don’t throw up your hands in despair and have 5 more

So you snapped at your love
Don’t make it worse sinking into resentment and anger
And prolonging the fight

Minimize the harm….


This too shall pass
There is only the present, only this moment
This one
And it is soon gone
To be replaced by a new moment

Newness is ever upon us
Every moment dies
But then a new moment is born

Every moment is an opportunity to die to the past
To anger, to fear

And remember that after death

After every moment there is a chance to start again
We are constantly dying to self
And being born

Everything is possible.

Friday, April 6, 2018

The way of Ignorance

You must go by the way which is the way of ignorance.
As we grow older the world becomes stranger,
the pattern more complicated
                                           TS Eliot

I get more ignorant as I go alone
I used to know everything
(or so I thought)

I understood God
And people
Life made sense

I had a handle on Heidegger and Schopenhauer
Kant and Hegel (Major #1 Philosophy)

Shakespeare and Proust were a snap (Double Major, #2 was English)

Later Luther, and Calvin
Barth, Brunner and Bultmann
Koyama, Merton and the Niebuhrs
Were a snap   (M.Div)

Don’t forget Kierkegaard  (D.Min)

But now I no longer am so sure
I understand
Or people
Or life

It seems the more I know, the less I know
The more certain I was
The less certain I have become

God is still there
And still God
(although I find anthropomorphizing a problem.  People get all dualistic when God is “God” not something like “the Sacred”.  And they want to own God, define God according to their whim)
And it is only a short distance, from my head
To the Sacred Presence in my soul

But sometimes I just don’t get how God works
(which is a good thing, by the way)

Forget it!
Honestly I don’t think I have ever “gotten” people
Or trusted them for that matter
Nor have I been able to be open,
Or real
Or vulnerable…

And so few get behind my shell
And far too little of “me” gets out

As to life?
Children dying
Economic inequity (and injustice)

I just don’t get it
And I have no idea, how to make a difference
(once I thought I could be a super star pastor and change the world)

So I walk down the path of ignorance
Knowing I don’t know
Taking the gifts as they come
Hoping for a little bit of luck
Hoping that maybe I’ll find a friend (totally by accident)
And that somehow
The world will magically sort itself out

Silly me
Nothing like a little wishful thinking J
Otherwise known

Thursday, April 5, 2018

who do you need to forgive

"Now here's a good one:
You're lying on your deathbed.
You have one hour to live.
Who is it, exactly, you have needed
all these years to forgive?"
              Fictional Poet Ruth Zardo (via Louise Penny)

Where does forgiveness come from,
When we are in the corner
With no place to go?

When we have reach the end

And know, just know
That we cannot take another step
With all that weight
Bearing down on us

The burden of anger and resentment
The fury of victimhood

how do we let go
how do we sort through all the garbage
dive into the dumpster of our soul
and find that one person
we need to

there are so many options
the person who ridiculed you as a child
or bullied you
the parent who neglected or abused

the one who lied
or used
or abandoned
or cheated

where to start
And once started
How to proceed

I’ve thought long and hard about who, on my death bed
I would forgive.

For me it is quite simply
It would not be my father, for whom I was never
(or so it seemed) quite enough
Or my mother who struggled to show affection

It would not be the boys who threatened to beat me
(the privileged doctors son) up

It would not be all those who over the years
Did not help me enter the circle of friendship
(perhaps it was my own fault)

I suspect that the person I most need to forgive is myself
for not meeting expectations
for not being more loving
more giving
more selfless

but how do I do this?
for I have carried this judgment for lifetime

perhaps it is not that difficult
perhaps it is simply a matter of hearing
at the center of who I am
the words echo

Child of God
Child of God

Perhaps it simply a matter of hearing
“you are my beloved son”

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The way to Wisdom

The four sayings that lead to wisdom:
I was wrong
I'm sorry
I don't know
I need help”
               Louise Penny

There are days I don’t feel very wise
66 years old, edging toward 67
And still there are times
When I realize

I may not have a clue
Not a clue about what makes a life

Not a clue about friendship or intimacy
About kindness or compassion

The problem is I was taught to be the strong one
The wise one
The effective one

And I will be that “one”
Yes I will

But I am profoundly human
I make mistakes
I hurt people
There are things I do not know
Although I often pretend I do

So I go through life
Fundamentally encased
In my need to be liked and admired
To be the one people turn to

What I need to learn ( what we all need to learn)
Is that sometimes we screw up (admit it)
Sometimes we hurt people (damn)
Sometimes we just don’t have the answer (only questions)

And sometimes
We need help


We need to let down our guard
Our veneer of competence

And say
In all humility
And all hope

“a little help?”

Monday, April 2, 2018


Chocolate bunny carcasses abound
the eggs have been found
and eaten
sugar fueled children
have fallen into joyful slumber

pastors have busily collected spiritual brownie points
over how many services they did
or perhaps over how many bodies filled the pews

and Easter is truly and profoundly

we busily dive back into our everyday worlds
as if Christ had never been born
never lived
never died at the hands of a sullen humanity
never showed us what the Sacred can do
with death

and yet

Actually Easter is never over
every time there is an ending
every time you think you have hit a dead end
every time you feel stuck and hopeless

It is Easter time
Time to die to the old
and be raised to what is next!

time to die to hate and be lifted up into love
time to die to anger, and be lifted up into forgiveness
time to die to fear, and be raised to confidence
in God’s love

time yes, for death to die
and for us to be raised to whatever is next

every Sunday the people of God celebrate this pattern
of dying a rising
every Sunday is a “little Easter”

but so too
each day

happy Easter
may we all this day
experience the power of God
“eastering” in us

Sunday, April 1, 2018


“Jesus's resurrection is the beginning of God's new project not to snatch people away from earth to heaven but to colonize earth with the life of heaven.”
― N.T. Wright
Easter is 
the end of a path to a tomb
the beginning of a path
to the whole world
Easter is death
Becoming life
God’s yes
Easter is surprise
Easter is flowers in bloom
Hearts becoming open
Easter is hope
Easter is the death of hate
and fear
and violence
as solutions to anything
Easter is the birth of love
And acceptance
And compassion
As the solutions to everything
Easter is unbelievable
And yet
Easter is