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



Saturday, December 15, 2018

The Hope of God-With-Us


The Hope of God-With-Us does not come as guaranteed outcome,
or predetermined plan, or promise of a happy ending.
Hope cannot be imposed from on high.
Hope cannot be commanded.
The Hope of God-With-Us is courageous, risky, unfolding, indeterminate.
The Hope of God-With-Us is collective, liberating us from deadly complacency.
Hope is gestating in darkness; it comes unexpectedly.
Hope invites our expectation, and demands our participation.
Prepare the way, for hope with courage.
May Hope be birthed among, within, and through us, this Advent.
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel…
Rev. Anna Blaedel
_______________________________________

Advent
The Season of difficult Hope

For even though one has proclaimed the way
Even though one has shown the way

We are confused
And stumble in the dark

We are told God is with us
We are told to fear not
To have hope

We are told that God will make a road through the wilderness
But we cannot even find a pathway

Our lives are full of the indeterminate and the unexpected
It never seems to stop
Never

We are assailed from every side
Cancer
Another large expense
Words of hate
Harbingers of fear.
Greed, abuse, lies

To have hope seems illogical
Risky
Foolish

Perhaps it is better to say it is courageous
Faithful
Trusting

And hope is not received
It is lived

It is does not come down from on high, with angel wings
But emerges from the depths of our bowels
From the dirt and grime, the sweat and tears

It is lived out
Not only in the words we say,
“Prepare the Way of the Lord” (Luke et. al)
But in the lives we live,
“Let us abound in love” (I Thessalonians)

It is birthed each time we become aware
Of the advent of love in our lives
Of the Mystery that lurks in our souls

Of the love that in power incarnates
And ultimately determines who we are
In the face of it all



Friday, December 14, 2018

we wait, we wait


“Whatever it is you're seeking won't come in the form you're expecting.”
                                                             Haruki Murakami
_____________________________

We made a valiant attempt at Thanksgiving
that time when we ate too much,
and perhaps, drank too much
and attempted, for at least one day
to fend off the dark wolves of despair
and remember
that there are things to be thankful for
(and there are)

Today in the lingering dark
I look out the window at an almost colorless day
Following the footprints of some lonely deer
which wandered aimlessly through fresh fallen snow

the scene is both compelling and repelling
the ambiguity of darkness muted by white
softeness and cold harshness blended

and I remember that we are entering
that odd and melancholy season of Advent

I know that in the public marketplace
the true “war on Christmas” shoots forth is volleys
of color and music
with Santa reigning supreme over malls filled with
music and color and imposed good cheer

but in the church it is Advent
a relatively somber time of quiet and thoughtful preparation

we are waiting for…. ?
Ah, that is the question!
What are we waiting for?

Faith says that what we are waiting for has already come!
In the person of that baby, born in poverty, thousands of years ago

We are told this baby changed, and changes everything
Swords into plowshares
Peace, Justice, Love, Joy

But here we are in a world that is full of strife
Bursting with anger and hate, fear, trepidation
And a lot of bone deep sadness

And so we wait
What are we waiting for?
What are we hoping for?
What would it look like if “it” got here?

So we wait,
For we know not what
Yet for something we know, we feel,
deep down at the center of who we are
is there

We wait for something to burst forth into being

We have expectations

But I suspect, that when it comes, it won’t look
Or perhaps even feel, the way we expected

It won’t come through Trump
It wouldn’t have come through any president
It does not come, I suspect, through wealth, or power

It comes, I believe, in unexpected, often unheralded ways)
(as it did the first time)
For all our waiting and preparing
It is in odd and poignant moments
That Sacred Presence advents in our lives

In those all too rare times when we quiet our fears and hates
And open up our hearts
And wake up to the Sacred
In all its surprising and unusual forms

And participate, at least for the moment
In the kingdom

Which has been inaugurated, but not yet fully realized

Just as nature replays, endlessly the seasons
Our soul too participates in an endless cycle
Of waiting, and fulfillment
Celebration and struggle
Success and failure

Returning again and again and again
To that time of reflection and preparation

And we wait

Knowing that somehow,
what we wait for,
all unfolds through us or not at all

through the Advent of The One
into the manger of our heart

Swords into plowshares
Peace, Justice, Love, Joy



Thursday, December 13, 2018

God's fools


“A fool with a heart and no sense is just as unhappy as a fool with sense and no heart.”
 Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Idiot

“A learned fool is more a fool than an ignorant fool.”
 Moliere
_____________________________________________________


There is no fool like an old fool
Except a young fool

I think perhaps we are all a little bit foolish at times
The moment comes for wisdom, and poof

Wisdom is gone

The time comes to keep ones mouth shut
And we pander on and on
Making ourselves a burden

How does the saying go?
But to remain silent and be thought a fool
Than to speak and remove all doubt

There are different kinds of fools of course
I am a fool with a heart and no sense
My feelings get a hold of me, I fuse with them

And “presto”
Fool

I know better, which makes me more of a fool
I have the degrees that should make me wise and learned
and keep my words and actions sane

but no!
not me….

Some people have lots of sense, but no heart
Oh, our poor rigid, judgmental friends
Who spend their lives driven by logic

Perhaps they make fewer dumb mistake
Perhaps they do not open their mouths, and make a mess of things
But, they miss out on so much

They fail to connect
To live
To love

Perhaps what is true
Is that we are all fools in one way or another
Driven by a need for control
Or a need for connection

Perhaps it is inevitable that we will make a fool of ourselves
In one way or another
At one time or another

I know I will
I will dump my loneliness on others in appropriate ways
I will see approval, in silly way
I will say what should not be said
And not say what should be said….

I will walk through life a hit and run driver
And thus a fool

How about you?

We are perhaps, a conspiracy of dunces (JK Toole)
But we are God’s fools

And it is better to stumble along
Seeking love
Seeking connection
Seeking hope
Seeking God

Than to sit, arms crossed and pout
In splendid isolation

I will opt for being a fool with a heart
Then a calculating asshole (fool) with no heart



Tuesday, December 11, 2018

God winks


god-wink. Noun. (plural God winks) An event or personal experience, often identified as coincidence, so astonishing that it is seen as a sign of divine intervention, especially when perceived as the answer to a prayer.
__________________________

I think God must have a sense of humor
For life is full of unexpected things

Some scary, yes
Some painful, yes
But many, so many

Joyful

When I was young we called them Serendipities
Does anyone use that term any more

I think they are just moments when God
Grin on face, winks

Boy meets girl, wink
Sun rise over the mountain,
A friend calls at just the right time,
Dog kisses
A Red Horse Americano
A Text from a son or daughter

Wink, wink, wink, wink

Thank you God
For this amazing day

Thank you that in the midst of the trials
In the midst of the horrors we witness
In the face of evil people doing evil things

Thank you that when we feel tired
Sad, made
Frustrated, hopeless

You wink.

Monday, December 10, 2018

you belong


So as we enter the holidays, remember that your belongingness to God is simply not determined by your family of origin, or economic status, or friend group. It's not determined by religiosity, moral purity, or political category. Your belongingness is determined by the voice of the One who created you, and really, nothing else gets to tell you who you are…
                                                                                                Nadia Bolz-Weber
__________________________________________________


What make me great?
Reboot!
What make me acceptable?
OK
What gives me value?

What gives you value?

We have our criteria
Our algorithms

Status
Wealth
Jobs and titles
Influence
Beauty
Our social circle

We wrap these things around us like a cloak
Or perhaps
Better
Like a shell

But it is not enough
It is never enough

We are always striving
Always comparing
Always seeking to earn our acceptance

It’s a trap!
How am I doing, on a scale from 1-10

We even do this with our spirituality!
Think about it, digit theology!  On a scale from 1-10 –
Sin is a 0, confession is 5, generosity is an 8, generosity combined with action?  9

Humbleness is 5 if you think about it, 9 if you don’t’ 
You rate 5 for loving neighbors who are friendly and quiet, and a 10 for loving a neighbor who throws all night parties and has 10 dogs.  Moving away from that person rates a 0 for love and a 10 for smarts

Coming to church is a 6. Staying awake is an 8, staying awake and listening is a 10. 
Staying at home is a 2 if you remember it is Sunday, a 4 if you feel at least a little guilty, and a 0 if you completely forget it is Sunday.

But the fact is we will never really feel like we are “there”
As if we belong
If we approach life this way

We will never be able to have
As one author puts it, soft fronts and hard backs
We will always have hard fronts, and soft backs (Brene Brown)

We will never have hearts that sing
And arms that embrace
We will never be free, to live, to feel, to accept, to love

Which is why the one thing that must count
The only thing that can really count
Is the voice of the One who birthed us
The One in whom we “live and breathe and have our being” (Acts)

The voice of the one who looks past the criteria and the algorithms
The one who ignores the adjectives

And says simply, 
“You are a child of God,
You are loved

And you belong”


Sunday, December 9, 2018

Courage


May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more
                                                John O’Donohue
________________________________________

I wake in the darkness
There are restless animals all around
Hungry cats prowling
Vigilant dog
Growling gently at unseen foes

I wake in the darkness
And there are restless monsters
In my mind

Old man worries about the future
Regrets for dreams unfulfilled
Fears of irrelevance

But the silent dark is laden also
With hope
the quietude of morning is infused
With the Sacred

For I am not alone
I am connected with that which holds
The fabric of creation together

To the Center
To Life
To love

My heart is filled
and a sacred stirring
transforms my fear into courage

the courage to stand
the courage to risk
the courage to be open
the courage to love

the courage to live

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Perhaps


Perhaps it was always there
That dark beast lurking in the depth of our souls

but now essential selfishness has been released,
and roams like a wild animal freed from its cage

savaging us
ripping apart our souls
taking away our essential self
devouring the divinity that once was part of us

until we are different creatures
no longer able to see the people the front of us
with the eyes of compassion
no longer able to look beyond ourselves

this lurking beast constrains our hearts

We look dispassionately at those struggling toward our border
Something has been lost

We cannot feel with the heart, or see with the eyes of the other
The beast refuses let us experience the pounding note that plays in other heads
as they run from all they have ever known
fleeing into the unknown,
to here,
to be met with a closed border,
a wall,
a fist,
a finger,
a canister of tear gas.

To be met with indifference
Or worse, enmity

We cannot feel the panic of the child
The pain of the mother, holding her baby close
The agony of the young woman, who has endured rape and violences
To make it to this place
The helplessness of the father, unable to protect

We can only see
brown and somewhat dirty bodies
And dark eyes

A threat, a menace

We cannot see that these are children of God
Beloved
By the one who is love

Perhaps it has always been this way
Stories of such moments abound
Adam looking furtively over his shoulder
Abraham headed from the known to the unknown
Tired refugees, seeking a promised land
A baby named Jesus, fleeing with his parents to a distant land

While other children die, in the village they left behind

But this is now
And this is our story
This is our moment

O God who is love
Awaken in us the Spirit
Awaken in us love

Help us conquer this savagery that denies
Our Divine Inheritance

Help us to open our eyes, our hearts
Our arms
To welcome those who come
To welcome you, as you come

Friday, December 7, 2018

Saying "yes"


“Let the first act of every morning be to make the following resolve for the day:
- I shall not fear anyone on Earth.
- I shall fear only God.
- I shall not bear ill will toward anyone.
- I shall not submit to injustice from anyone.
- I shall conquer untruth by truth. And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering.”
 Mahatma Gandhi
______________________________________

I see pictures of children cowering
Shivering under space blankets in a warehouse

I see pictures of mothers and children running
Terror etched in their faces
As tear gas billows and roils

I see a young black man, face down on the street
Gunned down by the police
Although unarmed

I see people with wealth and power and privilege
Plotting to grasp even more
By cutting services for the vulnerable in our midst

I see preachers celebrating the ascendance of evil
Shouting praise for one who violates the way of the God
They pretend to serve

I hear lie after lie after lie
Delivered with a smirk
And accepted as truth

What can I do?
What can any of us do?

I can be a sacred child
I can live out my divine DNA

Having embraced LOVE
Having experienced that reality we call God
I shall strive
To live not in fear
To do no harm
To insist on justice
To conquer “conquer untruth by truth”

No matter what it costs

I have no illusion that I will always be right
I am not foolish enough to deny my own limitations and failings
I will be wrong at times
Vulnerable at times
Probably an asshole at times

But I will do what I can
To follow the way of Christ
And carry the sacred in my flesh
In my words
In my deeds

I can “Yes” to God

Yes, I can be awake to the sacred which is woven into my being
Yes, I can embrace the teaching of a man named Jesus
Yes, I can pray
Yes, I can give
Yes, I can listen

I can do this
Each and every day

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Where do you start?


“If you stand for nothing…what'll you fall for?”
― Lin-Manuel Miranda
___________________________

We have to know where we start
There is a genesis to everything

Every attitude,
Every word
Every act

What if I start with “America First”
Which is the same as “me first”
And perhaps, simply “me”

What if I start with essential selfishness?
Then I fall for fear
And hate
And I fall for those voices that say its “OK”
To hoard, to bully, to exclude
Even to kill

What if I start with the imperative to “Love!”
Love God
Love Self
Love the person next to me, in front of me, behind me

What if?

I can no longer do the same things
Accept the same things
I can no longer create enemies for profit
I can no longer diminish and demean
I can no longer stockpile wealth
And leave the vulnerable, hungry and homeless

There is no question about it
It cannot be denied
We have to stand for something

Or we fall


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

perhaps someday


“I should be happy, but instead I feel nothing. I feel a lot of nothing these days. I've cried a few times, but mostly I'm empty, as if whatever makes me feel and hurt and laugh and love has been surgically removed, leaving me hollowed out like a shell.”
 Jennifer Niven, All the Bright Places
________________________________________________


I feel a lot of nothing these days

Its an odd feeling
To look at a sunrise, and not feel awe

To look at a child, and not feel wonder

I live such a blessed life
Great, meaningful jobs
People who seem to appreciate me
A fair amount of affluence
An amazing place in which to live

But often, there is hardly a flicker of joy

I live in a world that demands passion
People in power who are evil
War and death
Children starving
Refugees excluded and scorned

But often it seems as though I am oddly removed from it all

I remember when my parents died
Perhaps it started then
When I sealed off
And, because there was no minister present
Took on the role of comforting a community in grief
While setting aside my own

Perhaps it started when my marriage disintegrated
And I sealed myself off
And drifted into solitude
Distant from my wife
And, sadly, my children

Sometimes I wonder what it takes to become “woke”

I know it seems odd to some
As passionate as I can be
On paper

But there is this strange disengagement
That leaves me
Cold
Stiff

I feel it
People feel it

And I am tired
So tired
That it is difficult
To get out of bed
To put on foot in front of the other
To find the spark of the divine within…

But the spark is there
The light does shine in the darkness
It may flicker
And at times it may seem to almost disappear….

But it is there
And perhaps
Perhaps

Some day
With better choices
And more sleep

Perhaps someday
The Sacred will ignite
And I will
Smile
And love
And truly live


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Thin Soil


As I’ve come to understand that life “composts” and “seeds” us as autumn does the earth, I’ve seen how possibility gets planted in us even in the hardest of times. —Parker Palmer
_____________________________________

There are times I am just tired soil
Too much has been expected
Too much has been offered

And the richness is gone


Nothing flourishes
Nothing blooms

And yet
It is amazing what the sacred can do
With tired earth

Leaves fall, rains come
Seeds fall from the flowers and the trees
And the earth is renewed

Out of the sloppy mess of fall
And the frozen sleep of winter
Spring comes

Freshness
New life

There is hope it seems for this tired soul
Always Sacred tries its best
To compost and seed me

Sometimes this soil is disturbed by pain and grief
Sometimes a dash of joy or love
Is worked in

But always possibility is planted
Always, no matter what
I am nurtured in such a way
That out of depletion comes abundance
Out of fear, hope
Out of anger, affection

I just have to be receptive
And willing to be “worked”
Composted, seeded

I may be thin soil
But I am God’ soil

Monday, December 3, 2018

Thanksgiving


“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
                                                             Marcel Proust
________________________________________________

I can be thankful for many things

Sometimes I forget this

I might wake up thinking of the corporate takeover of America
Of children caged,
And elderly neglected
And immigrants feared and rejected

I might think of people, homeless and hungry
Of families grieving

I might think of domestic terrorists and mass shooting
I might think of oligarchies,
And bullies in high places
Of rampant greed
Of hate and fear
Of lies and cruelties abounding

I might wake up remembering that right now, physically,
Everything hurts, and what doesn’t hurt doesn’t work

I can go negative in half a breath

But if I slowly take the rest of that breath
And look around

I see my home, which I love
I can look out the window and see Mt Joseph glowing in the morning sun
I can watch the sun rise over the Seven Devils
And see the clouds catch fire

I can hear the horses greet me as I go out of feed them
And I can get horse kisses for free
I can take a walk with happy dog
And trip over cats, insistent

And I can think of the people I love, and who love me

People near at hand, who this day will break bread
And gnaw turkey
And play cards at my table
And remember people far away, like my song and daughter and their families

Who are still a part of this moment

And people no longer here, my mother and father
So long gone
And yet, still lingering in my soul

I can think of all those people who been gardeners of my soul
And have made it, for all the weeds and barren places
Blossom

Thanksgiving

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Go where your prayers take you


“Go where your best prayers take you.”
― Frederick Buechner
________________________________________

today my prayers will take me into grief
as I think of communities destroyed by fire
and people missing and dead.

My prayers will take me into sorrow as I think of
that desperate caravan of desperate mothers and fathers
and fragile children
marching toward what they hope is safety
and as I think of little children separated from their parents
and caged

today my prayers will take me into pain
as I offer to the sacred
the agony of those afflicted by
cancer, arthritis, heart failure
all the afflictions of
the body

today my payers will take me into loneliness
as I listen to one
who is so
alone

today my prayers will take me into
anger and hate
as these dark emotions dominate
the social media

and dominate
the words of people
who have become fused
with darker things
and have become hate personified

today my prayers will take me
into fear
as I watch lives shattered
evil flourish
and the earth fail

It is not all darkness, I know
This life is filled too with beauty, with love
Even with kindness

at moments
I will be led too
into light and joy
for they too are part of life
and I will remember love and plentitude
And acts of nobility and kindness

I will be led into awe
As I look at the mountains
And watch the sun rise

today my prayers will take me down many paths
rough and smooth
down into life

Oh Sacred One
Help me to go where my prayers take me

Rejoice with me which I am in the high places

And when I find myself
In the dust and grime of uncertainty and darkness
Be with me

Be with me in  the grief and pain
the sorrow, anger and fear,

to comfort
to calm
to heal
to rejoice

until I once again
find my way to the light