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

Friday, January 22, 2021

Seeing the best

they swirl around us

like snowflakes in a blizzard

relentless, thick


enfolding us complete so that we can barely


where we are going


all those stories

all those “facts”

all those rumors


all those pieces of news

some real, some manufactured


about this group or that group

this person or that person


did you hear!?

according to the FBI!

the President said!


we are presented each day with a plethora

of information

and we must sort through it all

trying to discern truth from falsehood,

struggling with how to respond


sometimes it seems as if the choice is between

falsehood and truth

and it is


but I think it goes deeper than that


obviously we all see the world through our own lenses

our perceptions are all altered by

a myriad of factors


our ideology

our faith system

our culture, our race, our gender, our sexual orientation

our education level, our training


and also by things such as trauma

our life experiences


but I have noticed something lately

in myself, but not just in myself


I have noticed a tendency to believe the worst

of those who are not in my “tribe”

and sometimes even of those who are


this last weekend announcements came out

perhaps from the FBI (I was never quite sure where the new came from… “sources”)

that “liberal” churches were in danger from “them”


it may have been true

perhaps there was chatter somewhere about

“attacking those libs”


but I was amazed at the fervor with which those

in the more liberal churches embraced the idea that “they”

those “deplorables” were going to commit violence against them


I know there are churches, and church leaders, who have had to live

With the threat of violence.  Churches that embrace LGBTQI members

Churches that have had the audacity to hang up a BLM banner

I get that the danger is, actually, real


But still, there was something unsettling with the ease in which

we jumped to the ‘demonization’ of others

how quickly we “believed the worst”


I have been on the other side of that human tendency

When people have been quick to believe the worst of me

Have without hesitation given the worst possible interpretation to

my words or my behavior


I suspect you have been too

And I have, at times, been that person

who believed the worst


And now we live in this polarized world

With angry and even violent polarity


And it is even easier to demonize others

After all

The proof is out there!


The lies are out there

The violence is real

The assault on the capitol happened


We’ve seen “them” with their guns

and their flags

we have read their posts




there is something that tells me

that this is the pathway to destruction


I am not calling for us to be “naïve”

or maybe I am

perhaps there is a kind of holy naiveté


Jesus was not naïve

He saw people who who they were

But he also saw them for who and what they could become


He saw that creepy tax collector

but he also saw a child of God, capable of honesty and generosity


what if

what if we asked the Holy Spirit to give us eyes

that see the Sacred in each other

that see the potential, the possibilities

the best

in each other


not the worst?


And what if we responded to others



I know there is risk.  There are the predators

There are the narcissists, the pathological

There are those so badly damaged


We do need to be careful, and we do need boundaries

But what if our default was NOT to believe the worst, but the best?


how would our relationships change?

how would our lives change?

how would the world change?


It’s something worth thinking about

As we enter a week filled with division and rancor


It is something worth thinking about

Even as right wing evangelicals suggest

We can’t “preach the cross if we only see the good” (simplybible.com)


It does seem radical, and dangerous

And naïve

But still


It seems so Jesus


Matthew 5 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.


No one ever said the way of “The Lamb” was easy

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

we have the power

Never underestimate the impact of a small kindness...

or a [small] cruelty.

                     Pat LaMarche



it was a small thing really

in the economy of the world


not a big gesture

at all


just a worn piece of bronze

a little lepton

leaving the hand of that poor widow,

faintly pinging in the mite box  (Luke 21)


a small gift of love

from a big heart *


sometimes it is the small things

that make the difference

that reveal the soul


small kindnesses

small cruelties


small cruelties

reveal small hearts, small souls


those little slights

those casual rejections

those demeaning labels

that tear at the fragile and the vulnerable


we see the casual cruelty of Trump mocking a disabled reporter

we read the small cruelties that flow from twitter and Facebook

we watch the children with a disability mocked

and people who are vulnerable minimized and oppressed

in so many little ways     


little ways that when added up become terrifying


and sometimes, even destroy

as young people (and older one’s too)

after too many small cruelties

decide that they are worthless, and life is not for them


we live in a culture that has monetized

and rewarded cruelty

(think Parler, Twitter, FB and more)


but as small cruelties add up

so do small kindnesses


a quick smile

a kind word

an small act of compassion

an affirmation


can not only change a day, but a life


We must never underestimate our power to do ill

Nor must we underestimate our power to do good


So let us make kindness

A way of life


Monday, January 18, 2021

someone loves you

All I wish

Is for you

To one day

Love you

The way

I do

                     Atticus, The Truth About Magic, St. Martin’s Griffin, p.37



what makes me

so insecure?


what drives me, day in and day

to have to prove myself

as a pastor,

a therapist,

a leader,

a man?



why do I have to prove that I am a valuable human being?


what makes me worry so much about how people see me?

why do I need so much affirmation?

why do I so often slip in the gooey realm of “not enough”?


and before you assure me that I am OK,

let me assure you

that I probably won’t really hear you


I’ll be grateful for the affirmation

but it won’t penetrate


and let me remind you

that this is not just me

this is also you


how few of us

really feel valuable


I suspect that even those who seem most assured

have, inside, the same raging doubts


what goes on inside that bombastic person

who struts and brags?

often the same thing that goes on inside that retiring person

who hides and is silent!


we all react to our sense of deficit differently

I became an overachiever

Some become angry

Some bully (think Trump)

Some hide


but for all of us

however we got there

trauma, parental expectations,



there is a common need

to know that someone values us, respects us

loves us


not because of what we have done

how we look

not even because of who we are


but simply because of the fact that we are


where does such love and affirmation come from?


Sometimes mothers or fathers

Sometimes siblings

Or friends


but always

from the Beloved


if we understand God correctly

that Sacred Power that is behind all

and is Love


we know we are loved

we know we have value


and in the midst of those times

when we wonder why we are here

and lament our failures

and struggle with the mess that is the world


that Love is there

nestled inside us (if we will but look)

inside me, inside you,

inside each one of us, even the most damaged of us


whispering, imploring



Child of God, Child of God, Child of God

All I wish

Is for you

To one day

Love you

The way

I do