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

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

Monday, October 15, 2018

In the morning when I rise

Grace isn't about God creating humans and flawed beings and then acting all hurt when we inevitably fail and then stepping in like the hero to grant us grace - like saying, "Oh, it's OK, I'll be the good guy and forgive you." It's God saying, "I love the world too much to let your sin define you and be the final word. I am a God who makes all things new.”
 Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint

In the morning when I rise
In the morning when I rise
In the morning when I rise

give me Jesus   (African American Spiritual)

each morning when we rise
we have two choices
we can be defined by the world
or we can be defined by the Sacred

in the world we are defined by
money and power
possessions and influence

in the world we are defined
by labels and titles

with the Sacred we are defined by love
we are defined by One who makes all things news

Sometimes it doesn’t feel that way
for in our own weird way we have Secularized the Sacred
giving God attributes which are ungodly
making God a judging retributive being who counts our
ills, and holds them against us

who controls us, manipulates us with fear
and threats of eternal damnation

who demands performance, or else
turn or burn

but in reality God is love
God is a parent in whose eyes
We are wonderful and beautiful
Albeit a bit flawed, and perhaps a touch naughty and willful

But God persists in love
Persists in forgiveness and generosity

In the morning when I rise
I do not, therefore
Want to embrace the world
With its hate and greed
With its demands for performance

In the morning when I rise
I want Jesus
I want grace
I want love
I want it all

So that secure and loved
I can walk through my day
As a Sacred child

Open, vulnerable
Giving, forgiving
Caring and yes

It’s a much better way to live!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

the Great ones

" The great do not regard themselves;
look not for godliness
... in a self-conceited man.

Eminence does not consist in
... outward show and vaunting words, ...
nor dignity in hauteur and pretension. "
- Shaykh Sa'adi Shirazi

where do we find the great ones?
the ones who touch hearts and souls
and carry others through the terrors of this world?

look not to the corner office
nor the pulpit
look not to the capital building or the White House (especially not there)

look not to those who preen and boast
who stand in front of thousands
preaching or ranting
nor to the ones who wear the accessories of success
and gather all things to themselves

look instead to the half way house
the homeless shelter
look to the classroom
and that dank kitchen in the basement of an old church building

look at the bent body, in the veteran’s hat
at the grandmother shepherding her grandchildren

look in the places where the “least of these” are served
and look toward the quiet ones who humbly attend

with compassion and kindness
with acceptance and encouragement
with love

look for those, not with shiny gold veneers
but for those with deep souls
who reach out their hands to
the lost, the poor
the ill, the agitated
the dirty, the ragged
the addicted
the immigrant

look to those who reach out to the vulnerable ones of this world
and in doing so
touch God

for to such belong the Kingdom

Saturday, October 13, 2018

with hands empty

“That which we die for lives as wholly as that which we live for dies.”
― e.e. cummings

He lived for 93 three years
my old friend

when but a spritely 90 he asked his doctor how he was doing
compared to other men his age

“they are in the ground” his doctor said
“well I will not be in the ground” he replied
“I will be soaring in the skies”

life and death
we are so often confused
thinking that the life for which we fight
is life indeed
when instead it is a sort of death

and we think that death
that dark specter
is something to fear
when instead it is a sort of freedom

it is a funny thing
that the more the we cling to things
the more they cling to us

and weigh us down
and so we plod, we plod
unable to soar

our self turns in on our self
and we are trapped
living for self we die

but when we let go
better yet, when we not only let go
but offer that to which we have clung, to others
we are able to travel light
and love given become love returned
hope given becomes hope returned

dying to self we live

This is God’s economy
Where giving we gain
Where losing we win
Where dying we gain

God must be at least a little bit weird

And yet in a strange way we know
this way is true

when hands full
we find that what we grasp decays

when hands empty
we can reach for the stars
and “catch the joy as it flies” (Blake)

Friday, October 12, 2018

until we are healed

Of all the times - Time be the recorder,
Of all the things - Time be the robber,
Of all the sorrows - Time be the healer,
Of all the powers - Time be the taker.

On this fall morning
as morning struggles to arrive
I sit and stare at windows which are dead eyes
staring back

There is nothing there,
no mountain dusted with snow
no golden aspens, fluttering in the breeze

just blackness, unrelenting

and yet I know the mountain is there,
the aspen too
somewhere the sun creeps slowly toward the horizon

and this dark moment will pass

in this timeless moment
when the world has stopped
in this difficult moment
when it seems as if nothing will change

as the darkness of hate and greed seem unrelenting
and it feels as if it will be always night
never morning

we must look beyond

time is relentless
as relentless as that sun that soon shall rise over
the jagged teeth of the Seven Devils

It feels so shallow to say, “this too shall pass’
but it shall

and that Force which drives the universe
that Power which set time in motion
that One who envisioned and created us
that One who loves us

is in time
and those who think their momentary triumphs
of hate and greed
will stand

are mistaken

for although what we do now
is written into the fabric of the universe
so that the very soul of creation is imprinted with our acts
for good or ill

time moves on
and what is, passes and goes away
empires and buildings crumble and fall
and with them the arrogance of human kind

power comes, and goes
and comes and goes again

even the arrogant who smugly strut and smirk
will find, someday, their power gone
their hands empty
and perhaps, perhaps, their souls lost

and sorrow too
for time is the healer

it is not just that we forget the pain, the hurt
the loss, the defeat

it is truly that over time
love and light gently flow over and around us
through us

slowly filling the empty places
easing the pain
calming our hearts

until we are healed

it is not that all sorrow flees, is cured
but it is healed
and becomes a doorway into what is next

Thank your creator God
Thank you heavenly father / mother
For bringing your loving presence into time
and help us to know
that all will be well
in time

Thursday, October 11, 2018

enemies within

“Declare your jihad on thirteen enemies you cannot see -egoism, arrogance, conceit, selfishness, greed, lust, intolerance, anger, lying, cheating, gossiping and slandering. If you can master and destroy them, then you will be read to fight the enemy you can see.”

Who are our enemies?
It is the Muslims?
The immigrants at the border?
Is it people of color,
Or those whose sexual orientation is different from mine?

Who do I need to fear?
From what do I need to protect myself?
Against whom, against what do I need war?

Perhaps the greatest enemies lie within,
and are those inner trolls of the soul
that blind us,
numb us
mislead us

Perhaps the greatest dangers are those things
that ooze up, out of our inner swamp
the greed and lust,
the lying, the abuse of power

unless we understand who our true enemies are
we will kill what is good and kind within us
we will erode out souls

and then we will join the crass throng
that calls good evil, and evil good

and crucify the true self
on the cross of blind desire and fear

and kill justice, and equity
hope and joy

and kill love
at the same time

there is another path
there is a better path
where, in meditation, in silence, in prayer
we come to that place
where we see ourselves clearly
and walk the path of truth, generosity, and love

Thomas Merton once said “I die by brightness and the Holy Spirit.”

Let us be drawn by the light into that place
Where we see what is real, and what is not
Where we see that is good, and what is not

And move from life to death
And in that dying to life
Have been overwhelmed and undone by the Sacred
And given rebirth

As a child of God

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Be an epiphany

The way to any universal idea is to proceed through a concrete encounter.  There are a number of ways to say the same thing:  The one is the way to the many, the specific is the way to the spacious, the now is the way to the always, the here is the way to everywhere, the material is the way to the spiritual, the visible is the way to the invisible… we live in a fully sacramental universe, where everything is a pointer and an epiphany….
                                                                        Richard Rohr

How do we find the Sacred?
How do we find meaning, or peace, or hope?
How do we find love?

Sometimes it feels as if we must somehow transcend this present moment
that we must leave this particular moment behind,
lose ourselves in mystery
to connect with such deep realities

and yet
and yet

perhaps we have it all wrong

Perhaps the answers are not hidden
up there, out there, beyond the stars.

Perhaps the answers are right in front of us
in a child at play
in a stormy fall morning,
in the touch of a hand

the material is the way to the spiritual
the visible is the way to the invisible
everything is a pointer and an epiphany

Jesus was a pointer to the Sacred
An act of kindness a pointer to love
A fall leaf, painted orange and red, a pointer to Sacred creativity

I need to see Sacred everywhere
In everything
In everyone

But more, I need to understand the profound fact,
that I too am a pointer
and that people need to see the Sacred in me
in the way I laugh, play, serve, forgive, give
in the way I love

It is difficult in these times
when we all feel so powerless
to remember the “Scandal of the Particular” (Walter Brueggemman)

that this is how God has always worked
through Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Jesus, Peter, Paul

and now

through you and me

may our lives be a pointer
and an epiphany

Monday, October 8, 2018

keeping going

“If you are going through hell, keep going.”
― Winston S. Churchill

“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”
― Confucius

Why keep fighting?
Why keep spending so much time an energy

When the power of the Presidency,
The power of Congress,
The power of the very rich,
Mean that they can and will ignore what is right?

Why keep trying to change minds, and hearts
When no one is willing to listen
When everyone is entrench

When misinformation and propaganda
Have enslaved so many,
Causing them to support what is fundamentally, evil?

Why keep trying to lift souls up,
when they are so very busy wallowing in the swamp,
supporting the unsupportable?

Why keep going
when it is clear that greed and the lust for power
are more influential than generosity, compassion, and love?

When even the sacred fellowship the ekklasia, the Sacred gathering
Has now become a insider club marked by fear, exclusion, judgement and even hate


Because God is love
Because if we are open to Sacred presence
We can be the light in the darkness

We can be the mustard seed
The pinch of yeast

If not us, who?
If not now, when?

The light appears to be flickering
in danger perhaps, of going out
the places from whence the light should shine
have become dark holes
sucking goodness out of the world

be we cannot give up
For “we know that for those who love God (the God who is love, not the faux God) all things work together for good

Not all is good
Not all will be good
But even out of the most horrendous times
Good can come

But it will only come
through those who are willing to stay connected to the Sacred
through those who remain open to Sacred Presence

it will only come
as the “God in us” oozes out through our words, our attitudes, out actions

we may be going through hell
keep going

Sunday, October 7, 2018

True Community

Extremists at both ends of the political continuum have more in common with each other than they do with the vast majority of people from their own constituencies.  What they share is leveraging any opportunity to discharge their denied and festering pain, hurt, and feelings of smallness or powerlessness.
                                                            Brene Brown,  Braving the Wilderness

We live in a world
In a country of extremes

I know, sometimes I live there
On the end of the spectrum

But most of the time I live in the middle
Confused, angry, disconnected

And really, really sad

For in trying to celebrate collective values
And pain
And hope

We have ended up dehumanizing and objectifying each other

We have reached the place where our bonds with one another are counterfeit
Based on the fact that we hate the same people

This is an intense bond, it is gratifying
We are caught up in it
Just watch the faces behind Trump at a rally
Or think of our own delight when one of “them” is shamed and defeated

Hate is a fuel that burns fast, and “leaves a trail of polluted emotion” (BB)

We must learn to choose
Not the bond of hate
Not the bond of ridicule and shaming

But the bond of love
The bond of shared pain
The bond of shared hope

The bond of gathering on a Sunday morning and experiencing real community
Sharing real joys, and real hurts

The bond of being captured by something bigger than ourselves
Be it Harry Potter
Or the Seahawks

Or love
Especially love

We need real community
The community of hope
The community of love

You want false community
Go to a Trump rally
Or to many churches

You want real community
Go to a homeless shelter
To a family gathering
To a community potluck
To a fourth of July parade in a small town
To a concert
To a funeral
To a wedding

Community is to be found
And it, ultimately
Is what will save us

Saturday, October 6, 2018

We belong

“The weaponization of belonging is one of the most "anti-christ" dynamics I have ever encountered.”
 Jamie Arpin-Ricci

We can argue a lot about right and wrong
We can argue about what it means to live a good life,
or if you are a person of faith, a “godly” life.

We can be on opposite sides of a million issues
both believing that we are on “God’s side” (or standing with Jesus)

The honest truth is
We are just human, and all of our interpretations and beliefs
Are those of humans

And at our most certain we probably should still conclude with,
“but I ‘might be wrong”

But there is one thing I believe is at the heart of a spiritual life
One thing at the heart of the way taught by Jesus


Jesus welcomed everyone
He welcomed the “least of these”
Vulnerable children
Tax collectors
Uppity Women (according to that culture)

He welcomed the power brokers and the super religious
The Pharisees, the Sadducees

He even, at some level welcomed Herod

God is about inclusion, about embrace
He held the little children in his arms
He helped Zacchaeus down from a tree
He lifted up the woman caught in adultery from the dust

Always embracing
Always lifting up
Always listening
Always seeking to create a bond of love

We cannot be about exclusion
Churches use exclusion to punish
They deny people access to the table of god (not very biblical)
As a country we deny people entry in safety
People are exclude from affluence, being denied a living wage, justice, and more

Exclusion is everywhere
But we cannot use exclusion as a way to coerce or minimize, or punish

For spirituality is about inclusion
And embrace.
This is not easy
This is sometimes costly (ask Jesus)

But it is the way of God
Who invites all to gather at the table of love and grace

I am working hard
Not to be the exclusionary self I want to be
I find myself driven to be…..

How about you?
Can you embrace the person who believes differently
Votes differently
Embraces different values

Its not easy.. 
I want to reject, exclude, distance
But I am called instead to embrace
We all live within the circle of grace
We all belong

We all belong to God

Friday, October 5, 2018

Make a life

When it’s over I want to say: all my life
I was the bride married to amazement
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms

When it’s over I don’t want to wonder
If I have made of my life something particular, and real
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
Or full of argument

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world!
                                                          Mary Oliver

This is a week to say hello
To days gone by
And friends from long ago

To suffer the joys and indignities of a reunion (college)
To join together with people with whom I studied, played
And sang

It will be a time to remember
And a time to reflect upon all the moments in between
The good, the bad, and the ugly

The things I will be thrilled to share
And things of which I am ashamed, and would rather keep hidden

Life is not the faint at heart
It is highs and lows
It is ecstasy and pain

This will also be a week to say goodbye
To a dear friend
Who lived fully for 91 years
She too had moments good and bad
And life was not easy

But she made life
And made her mark
And sang beautifully and joyfully

Whether we are early in the journey
Or in the second half of life
Or even nearing that final reunion with the Sacred
There is simply one thing we must do


Life is not a spectator sport
We can tiptoe through life if we want
But we will miss so much

We are called to be married to amazement (Oliver)
To embrace the joy as it flies (Blake)

We are called to make a life

Thursday, October 4, 2018

for better or worse

“Every human interaction offers you the chance to make things better or to make things worse.”
                              Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith

Life is an opportunity

An opportunity to make a mess of things
Something I am inordinately good at,

And a change to make things better

It doesn’t take much, really, to mess things up
Not listening
Not listening with the heart
Words uttered, too fast and without thought

An impulsive action
Relating to another out of need not fullness

But it doesn’t take much to make things better
A little gentleness
A complement here an there

There are times it is hard to get up in morning
To face this world as it is
Where the powerful abuse
Where the vulnerable are neglected
Where good people are oppressed by bad people
Sometimes in the name of God

But I can swing my feet out of bed
And start putting one foot in front of the other

My plan for the day, my only plan
Is to do the small things that make things better
For each person I meet
For in each person I meet and serve
I meet and serve the Sacred

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

peace in the wild things

“The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”
― Wendell Berry, The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry

I wake in the night
Despair for the world creeping, seeping, into my soul

Despair over children caged
Despair over men with power, saying that rape doesn’t matter
Despair over men of “faith” supporting the unsupportable

Despair that my beloved country has lost its moral compass
That money is more important that people
And more important than the earth

Despair over a church that would exclude anyone
In spite of the fact that those it claims to follow, welcomed everyone

Despair over my own tiredness
And the difficulty of getting, creatively, through one more day

Despair because I see no way forward for people of color
Or immigrants
Or women
Or children

Our nation is filled with fear and hate
Greed and grasping
Old white men with dead eyes, lying
Or proving through their words, that their hearts and souls have grown small
So small

Today the woods call
Time for a hike into the true
Along the winding waters
Up to where the cool winds blow
And the eagles soar

But today there is no peace in the wild things
Only the noise of dead souls talking
And so I cannot rise

Not in this moment

But dogs must be walked
And the sun still shines
And the stars will come out
And the coyotes will laugh

So who knows?

Perhaps, perhaps
God is after all

All about resurrection