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, January 15, 2019


What in your life is calling you,
when all the noise is silenced,
the meetings adjourned,
the lists laid aside,
and the wild iris bloom by itself
in the dark forest,
what still pulls at your soul?

There come those moments
when life slows down just enough

those moments as we watch the sun slowly rise
and the clouds drift lazily across the sky

as we listen to the winter birds sing
and hear the snow protest under foot

when our minds are just quiet enough
for us to remember we have a soul.

When we find space from the clamoring voices in our heads
and the tyranny of our calendars

and are stirred by deeper things.

The world looks different in this sacred space
where we are freed
at least for an instant
from the endless plodding and striving

from our restless search for meaning and relevance

and we find ourselves drawn into that place of
original blessing

where what counts are the things of
heart and soul

where, no longer obsessed by the need
to protect and control
no longer desperate to earn our value
no longer trapped by the need to “win” or succeed
or driven by hate and fear

we embrace love and family
generosity and compassion
where we claim our divine inheritance
as Sacred Children
clothing ourselves with the mystery of Jesus
and moving into a new way of doing life

free at last

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.  Galations 5:1

Monday, January 14, 2019

The Space Between

When the gentleness between you hardens And you fall out of your belonging with each other, May the depths you have reached hold you still. When no true word can be said, or heard, And you mirror each other in the script of hurt, When even the silence has become raw and torn, May you hear again an echo of your first music. When the weave of affection starts to unravel And anger begins to sear the ground between you, Before this weather of grief invites The black seed of bitterness to find root, May your souls come to kiss. Now is the time for one of you to be gracious,To allow a kindness beyond thought and hurt, Reach out with sure hands To take the chalice of your love, And carry it carefully through this echoless waste Until this winter pilgrimage leads you Toward the gateway to spring.
 From John O’Donohue, The Space Between Us

What fills the space between us?
I suspect that space is meant to soft
Filled perhaps with what we call love
Filled with Sacred Presence
With that power that fills us and binds us

I suspect that space is filled with differences
Sexual orientation

I suspect that space is filled
All too often
With fear, and anxiety
Perhaps even hate

I suspect that there are hard barriers there
Tall walls
Topped with razor wire

We build the best walls
And we harden to one another

May learn to meet on another again
As for the first time
May we meet with the exuberance of first love
With the warmth of long lost friends

May we learn to treat each other carefully
And touch each other kindly

May the Sacred
Which walks with us, through all our pain and fear
And shows us what love is really like
Give us a mind united toward one another

May we open our hearts to one another
As God’s heart has been opened to us

And may the space between us become
Filled with softness, generosity and compassion
So filled that there is no room for enmity and fear

May we find one another again

Sunday, January 13, 2019

the heart of God

"Love flourishes
in the heart
which glows
the Name of God.

The Love of God
is the fragrance
that even
a thousand wrappings
cannot hold.

Or like a river
that cannot be stopped
in its course.

My friend is in me,
in my Friend
am I
there is no
separation between us. "
 Sultan Bahoo

Those of us who claim the name Christian
Talk a lot about love
We talk a lot about communion too

We call each other “brother” and “sister”

“How lovely” we say, “is this love between us”

But we haven’t got a clue

We just can’t seem to grab the fact that this Force, this Presence
This Love that unites is not safe or casual

What flows from the heart of God is indeed
Like a river that cannot be stopped in its course
It flows to us, through us out of us
Connecting to one another
Carrying us along, helpless
Unable to escape

It is radical and fierce
And if it is not

It is not

We should glow with the presence of God
What we have should be something
That cannot be contained

It should be something the drives us into the world to serve
And it should be something that draws us
Each one of
Into that divine circle dance
That perichoresis

Where distinctions remain
But distinctions blur and disappear
Into a radical unity

Where I am you and you are me
And there is only we

And God is glorified

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Let's face it

“Not everything that is faced can be changed.
But nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
 James Baldwin

There are more than a few things in this world that need changing
There are more than a few things about our country that need changing
There are more than a few things about me, and you
That need changing

It is not that hard to understand the changes others need to make
Those hateful ones
Greedy ones
Lustful ones
Cruel ones

It is not hard that “they” need to change
Those whose culture
Or color
Or creed
Is different from my own

After all
My country, my religion
Are exceptional



We must face it!
the greatest impediment to positive change
the greatest roadblock to the emergence of what many call
“the kingdom of God” (whatever that looks like)
is our unwillingness to look at ourselves
and say

“I have met the enemy, and the enemy is us”
(Walt Kennedy, Pogo, 1970 – a commentary on the way humans trash the planet
  in a cartoon published on Earth Day)

Real change
The kind of change that bends history toward love and justice
Will not happen when we focus on the ills of others
It will only happen when we are willing to look in the mirror, and see what is wrong with us
When we face the things within ourselves, that need to be changed.

When we refuse to look in the mirror
When we refuse to see ourselves the way we really are?
We aid and abet evil

Take immigration
It is easy to point the finger at them
Those brown people
Those poor people
Those speakers of Spanish and indigent languages

It is easy to look at them a see them as
Criminals and drug runners
As people who seek only to take and not give
As burdens and threats

So we seek change
“A wall” some say, “that is the change we need”

But we will not find a solution to this problem
If we look at those immigrants
We will only find it if we look at ourselves

At our essential selfishness, that says America First, me first
That selfishness that defines others as less

We will only create the change needed
If we face that selfishness
And our racism, both subtle and overt
And our fear

and change that to generosity, and acceptance
compassion, and welcome

If we want to make America great
We must face up to the ways in which we are not great

If we want to make our churches part of The Church
We have to face up with the ways we have lost our way
And chased after the God’s of power, affluence, and expedience

If we want to become better people
We have to face up to our own flaws

There is much that needs changing
Not everything can be changed
But nothing can be changed until it is faced

Sorry Sarah Huckabee Sanders
You may say
 "Every life - that's what sets America apart from every other country; we value life.
That is what makes us unique."

But let’s face it
We don’t value life
We have those who oppose abortion, sure

But we don’t have economic equity
We don’t have justice for all
We don’t have universal health care
We are eroding services for the poor (so we don’t have to pay taxes)
We are destroying the plant on which we live

We are not exceptional
We are not better than “every other country”
We have our flaws

Lets face it
And we will never become great again
Until we do

Friday, January 11, 2019

such wild love

Have you ever seen
in your life
more wonderful

than the way the sun,
every evening,
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon

and into the clouds or the hills,
or the rumpled seas,
and is gone –
and how it slides again

out of the blackness, every morning,
on the other side of the world,
like a red flower

streaming upward on its heavenly oils
say on a morning in early summer,
at its perfect imperial distance –
and you have ever felt for anything

such wild love –
do you think there is anywhere, in any language,
a word billowing enough
for the pleasure
that fills you,
as the sun
reaches out,
as it warms you

as you stand there,
empty handed –
or have you too
turned from this world –

or have you too
gone crazy
for power,
for things?
                                    Mary Oliver   New and Selected Poems, p 50,51

I think I must be
solar powered

each morning when I rise
I do not fully come alive
until the sun rises

I wait in expectation for that moment
when the sun peaks over the seven devils
or peeks through the clouds

red, orange, pink
the colors of passion set my heart aflame

and I walk, I walk, I walk
mouth agape

by the enormity of what I see unfold
in the twirling clouds
or naked sky

and I feel such “wild love”
as my heart set free
opens to the light
to life
to love

too soon too soon
the light fades
and I am left
on just another gravel road
with just another day
stretching before me

and I return to that world where empty people
tweet hate and fear,
and chase after power
and money

seeking that moment
when they finally come alive

yet the sun remains
and I carry it with me
back into my day

and so too I carry the Spirit
the warm presence of another light
which comes down
and fills my soul
warming and glorious,
and stays

and I feel such a wild love

Veni, Sancte Spiritus

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

How cool is that !?

If God is always mystery, then God is always on some level the unfamiliar, beyond what we’re used to, beyond our comfort zone, beyond what we can explain or understand. In the fourth century, St. Augustine said, “If you comprehend it, it’s not God.”
                                                                                    Richard Rohr

O Sacred One
I do not understand

I do not understand the universe
It is vastness

I do not understand people
in their smallness

I do not understand
why people get sick and die
why bad things happen to good people
and liars prosper

I do not understand how nature
can be so beautiful and so harsh
how it can bring joy and life
and death

Above all I do not understand
this complex, confusing being
that is fearfully and wonderfully made

I do not understand
why I think and feel the way I do
I do not understand why I do such stupid things

I do not understand relationships
I do not understand love

above all I do not understand You

I simply cannot wrap my mind around you

I can touch you with my soul
I can sense the Presence within
And I know,
I know that you are there
but I do not understand

you are too complex
too big

too much

how cool is that?!

Monday, January 7, 2019

beloved child

Shane Claiborne talks about a talk he once had with an old hippie friend who, he says “loves Jesus and smokes a lot of weed”.  He and the friends often end up in friendly debates about faith and the Bible.  One day he said to Shane, “Jesus never talked to a prostitute”.  Shane immediately went on the offensive.  “Sure he did” and got ready to spar.  But then his friend looked him in the eye and said “Listen, Jesus never talked to a prostitute because he didn’t see a prostitute.  He just saw a child of God he was madly in love with.”

Ah child of God
Battered and beaten

Ah child of God
Confused and lost

Ah child of God
Fear full and anxious

Ah child of God
one seen
by the eyes of love
the eyes of the sacred
the eyes of

seen as that beautiful
wrinkly wonderful

has five toes
and five fingers
and yes, its father’s nose
and mother’s smile

that perfect child
of promise
of The Promise
who is

Saturday, January 5, 2019

They are Jesus

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

How inconvenient of those people to be driven from their country
By violent gangs, and drug wars,
By dictators and authoritarian leaders, armed by us,
By religious extremists who are more than happy to kill,
In the name of God

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

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

Because they are inconvenient

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are called
to love
in both word, and deed

It is not optional

For those children are not just loved by Jesus
They are Jesus

Friday, January 4, 2019

Come and die

“When Christ calls a [person], he bids [that one] come and die.”
 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

I am called
You are called

We are all called by God
To come

Come to the table
Come to the wedding
Come to me

Come above all to the cross
Come to that place

Where things die

Come to that place

Where having died, you come alive
To hope
To peace
To joy
To love

It seems weird does it not,
To say that in order to find life, we have to taste death

But God is always a little weird
And so it is
We have to let go of everything
Perhaps even life itself

For as long as our heads, our hearts, our souls
And yes, our hands are full

We cannot participate in the way of God
If we do not let go of our love of money, we cannot give
If we do not let go of our love of power, we cannot walk the way of service
If we do not let go of our hate, we cannot love
If we do not let go of our essential selfishness, we cannot be focused on others

If we do not die, life is lost
Both figuratively
And literally

If we do not die, we really die

I am called
You are called
You are called

We are all called by God
To come

Come to the table
Come to the wedding
Come to me

Come above all to the cross
Come to that place
Where death and life become one

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Love came down

I once asked a bird,
how is that you fly
in this gravity of darkness?
The bird responded,
- Hafez

Dig beneath all the trappings and traditions
Look behind all the frantic activity, the unrealistic expectations

Calm your heart
And lay aside for the moment all
The emotion of the season

The joy, the pain, the grief, the intimacy

And there is only one thing that counts

Love came down, down, down
Down into the darkness of oppression
Down into injustice, and racism and greed
Down into fear and hate

Down, down, down
Through all the layers of inhumanity
To that deepest place

To be

Love came down
To be with us
But more, to lift us up

Not out of this world
Not into the clouds
Not up into the heavens

But into new ways of loving and living
We are not lifted out of the darkness
As much as we become different people in the darkness
People who shine with the light of love

Not dispelling the darkness
But helping us find our way through it
Love came down
And we were given newness

We were shown how to live
And how it looks when Sacred permeates our lives

Love came down
And when Love was lifted up, so many years later
Lifted up in pain, yes
But also lifted up in triumph

We were given the promise
That someday we
Someday all creation
We find its way to love

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Seriously, God

This whole Santa Claus thing just doesn't make sense. Why all the secrecy? Why all the mystery?
If the guy exists why doesn't he ever show himself and prove it?
And if he doesn't exist what's the meaning of all this?
I dunno. Isn't this a religious holiday?
Yeah, but actually, I've got the same questions about God.
― Bill Watterson

OK God
We’ve done the whole Christmas thing

Well, actually, we’ve just started the Christmas thing
But still
We’ve been busy

And some of the season has been about You
More than we might think

For each family gathering
Each child returned home
Each “I love you”
Each gathering around a table
Each exchange of gifts

Were really about you

And yet on this second day of Christmas
So much remains the same
The rich still plot and plan
The Liar still lies

Games are played with people’s lives
Children die
Guns are given in celebration of the birth of the prince of peace
Blacks are still targeted

Seriously God
Would it be that hard to make liars accountable for their lies?
To bring down the arrogant
To spread out the wealth
To make the evil pay

Would it be that hard to give everyone healthcare?
To protect little children?
To give mothers strength

Why don’t you just show yourself,
And prove that you are love?

Why all the mystery?
This day of days
I could use a little certainty

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

hungry again

Hungry Again (and again)
Adam and Eve woke up
They were hungry
and so they ate

and six hours later
they were hungry again (from a story by John Shea)

hungry Adam
hungry Eve
hungry Stephen
hungry all of us
that hungering dark

we are always hungry
and thus
always searching

Christmas comes and we buy
New Years comes and we party
The new day dawns and we resolve
to do things better
this year

and still the hunger returns
we find the bread of the world
the bread for all
until we taste
and see

and it is good