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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, July 27, 2021

remembering

Birthdays and family gatherings are a time to remember

a time to wander back through the crumbling neuropathways

of one’s brain

 

to times past

 

this past week I turned 70, and was joined in my rememberings

by sister who

truth be told,

are more aged than I  (although not by much)

 

so there we sat

ages 70, 74, and 77

remembering

 

hot summer days in Lake County, Oregon

4H horse club

treks through the sage and juniper

6am practices for the swim team

 

remembering our parents

our diminutive but powerful mother

who served with joy

 

our tall, lanky father

a physician and a true healer

 

remembering what it was like to grow up

in that small town full of

timber people and ranch people

first generation Irish, Armenians, and more.

 

remembering growing up with the same faces

the same names

first grade through high school

 

remembering how safe it all felt

that small town where people took care of each other

our small family

where mother and father create a free and friendly space

where we were able to grow up

and unfold

and become unique individuals

 

without fear of whether we would be loved or not

mistreated or not

abandoned or not

 

in thinking about this I am aware of how my understanding of

whatever it is that is underneath, in, and over creation

has been shaped by my experience

in that small town,

which supported and cared

and by my kind and loving parents

 

for me the Kingdom of God is like

a village in the high desert

where everyone knows your name

where you are accepted

and cared for and cheered for

 

and that reality we endow

so often

with the inadequate image of father or mother

is shaped by those loving

grace full people who were my parents

 

for me the Sacred is

warm, nurturing, supportive, and safe

reliable

loving

 

I do not have to cower

be afraid

wonder

 

I know all too well

that not all see or experience Sacred this way

 

that for some

the power that is under, in and over all

is not safe

not predictable

not nurturing

 

it is instead

demanding, harsh, and punitive

authoritarian

 

and it is sad to see them

abused children of harsh parents

becoming harsh in their own way

 

abused children of a harsh God

creating their own forms of abuse

seeking to dominate

control

and coerce

 

rather than welcome, and love, and support

 

here is to good parents

human and divine

here is to allow love to overcome

the ways in which we were and are wounded

 

here is to love

Monday, July 26, 2021

enchantment

There are two ways to live in this world:

As if everything were enchanted

or nothing at all

          Christine Valters Paintner

__________________________________

 

I have moments

when I aspire to be a mystic

 

I believe there is something out there

something big

powerful

amazing

creative

loving

 

and that I can connect to this reality

I can find communion

and union

 

I can be absorbed by it

and I can absorb it

 

this absolute power

this absolute love

 

until we are one

 

and so I stop

and breathe

and contemplate

that majesty of the mountain

the grace of the deer

the joy of a child

the freedom of the eagle

 

and there are moments

when I go

 

“Ah, this is it! 

 

but there are moments

when the cat vomits on the rug

when the tyranny of the urgent intrudes

when I am afflicted with messy relationships

and stalked by pain and illness

 

there are moments when I am surrounded by the

noise and detritus of grandchildren

and the painful honesty of children

 

when the phone rings

again

and the email inbox fills up

again

 

and life gets messy

 

that my illusions of being a mystic fade

 

and yet

and yet

 

whatever this is

many call it “God”

 

is in the mess

 

I believe I can only be a mystic

I can only be one who has absorbed the Sacred

and been absorbed by it

 

if I cand do that as a grandfather

as a therapist

as a human

caught up in the messiness of life

 

I must find Love

the creative power of the universe

in everything

 

God (for lack of a better word)

must be in the mountain

but also in the room, filled to overflowing

with dogs and grandchildren

and noise and chaos

 

the Sacred must be present

as on a hot summer after noon

I fall asleep at my computer

and wake fuzzy and confuse

 

God is

I am

we are

 

it is as simple and profound as that

 

Saturday, July 24, 2021

traveling light

“Faith is not the clinging to a shrine but an endless pilgrimage of the heart.”

Abraham Joshua Heschel

_________________________________________

 

if I have learned anything in my 70 trips around the sun

it is that faith is a journey and living a life of faith is a pilgrimage.

 

sometimes the journey is coerced

Adam and Eve ousted from the garden,

exiled and excluded, more refugee than pilgrim

 

but on a journey none-the-less.

 

or Moses, fleeing blood stained sand

into the Sinai

 

the journey can be intense and focused,

like the desperate search of the magi following a star

to a newborn king

 

it can be a purposeful march toward a promise,

toward a land flowing with milk and honey

 

or it can simply be a matter of answering an inner call,

as with Abram and Sarai,

who are told to go into the unknown.

 

‘just go!” God demands

I will show you the place when you get there

 

Yeah!  Right!

 

but no matter how it starts

our faith is often a pilgrimage, and

we are pilgrims.

 

stumbling along, seeking to find our way to

the place God will reveal

 

one thing is evident about this journey

 

it must be traveled light

 

Adam and Eve fled naked (perhaps_

the people of Israel packed light

 

things were left behind

 

which makes me wonder

if I am going to be a pilgrim

what do I need to leave behind?

 

one collects a lot over 70 years

things mundane, and things precious

but which is which?

and what is really necessary?

 

I don’t have that many clothes

but I do have artifacts and art from all over the world

(I have been in 72 countries)

and to me they are special

 

I have glass art!

and coins

and books

 

oh, my

do I have books.

 

I love my books!

I often re-read them

I go back to them, like precious friends

 

but which one’s do I really need?

and which ones are expendable

 

but the need to drop baggage by the side of the road

has to do with more than just things!

 

there are beliefs I really need to leave behind

and attitudes,

and expectations

and narratives

and resentments

and

and

so much more

 

so as I enter into another decade

the challenge is clear.

 

I am being called to be a pilgrim.

I am being called to go new, and perhaps unexpected ways.

 

I do not get to settle and cling.

 

but where am I going

how do I get there

and what do I need to carry and what do I need to leave behind

 

God give me the faith to start the journey

the wisdom to travel light

and the faith that know

Love is with me, each step of the way