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

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Worn by life

Wind swept
And gritty
I sit in the sand

Watching the ocean roll
Relentlessly the waves come

Over and over
And over and over again

Wearing down
The sand
The rocks

Never ending

Life seems like the ocean

Wave after wave
Of trouble

Never ending

The waves come
An my soul like the beach
Is rubbed raw

I cannot hope to survive
I cannot hope

And yet
As the beach
I remain
Changed and sculpted

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Life in the desert

It stretches out forever
Empty and stark
Rocks and sagebrush
Little more

It is a great emptiness
And that emptiness resonates
And you realize
There is not enough out there
To fill or satisfy

In the desert you dry up
You starve
Sometimes slowly
And sometimes
In the heat of trial, quickly

Becoming shriveled

We do not get to escape the desert
It is there
And we must go through the desert
To get to that new place
God has in mind

We are tempted to believe that we wander the desert alone
And there are times that desert solitude comforts
But we soon know
That we cannot make it
Through the desert
Out of the desert

But God is
But God is there
But God is there and
Brings forth water and manna

From the emptiness that is our soul
From the hard rock is our heart

And so we take another step
And wander yet another day
Seeing beauty in desert
In the rock
The sage

Wandering with God

Monday, June 18, 2012

Grateful Eyes and Open Hearts

·         Life is hard; it's harder if you're stupid.  John Wayne
·         Life is hard. After all, it kills you.  Katharine Hepburn
·         Life is hard. Then you die. Then they throw dirt in your face. Then the worms eat you. Be grateful it happens in that order.  David Gerrold
·         When I hear somebody sigh, 'Life is hard,' I am always tempted to ask, 'Compared to what?'  Sydney J. Harris

I have been reading through Exodus.  There is a lot going on in these early Exodus stories from the desert.  A lot of powerful things have happened, but bottom line, there the people of Israel are, in the desert.  And life is hard, scary, ugly hard.

The people are thirsty
besieged by enemies

But then something incredible important happens
God gets involved again,
And God rescues

Suddenly instead of hunger Manna
Instead of thirst, Water
Instead of sure defeat, victory……….

But in the end…..after all these positive things have happened
There the people of Israel are, still…
In the desert

And it is still hard times
And they still are in jeopardy
Still needing the help of God to make it through.

There are a lot of lessons here…. I struggled with what to pick out, but these are the one’s that kind of stuck in my head.

First lesson, God can do a lot.  In the Exodus stories God gives the people what they need.
But God doesn’t magically send them, or us to the Promised Land….
We don’t get to skip the desert…

And therein lies the problem.
When we are in the desert, when this are not going well,
It is so easy to lose sight of all that God has done, and instead, look at the desert…
That is one of our many problems… we so quickly focus on the negative

We know how the Israelites felt, as they faced that desert

We have been there, some of us may be in that place right now

But when we need to get through the deep water
To have our hunger dealt with
To have our thirst quenched….
We are asked to remember
That in the desert, God will be there.

It’s a matter of trusting. 
Trusting that the God who has acted, will act. 
Trusting that in spite of the fact that the
Resolution of those issues we face, is not complete
That in spite of the fact that we don’t magically end up with no problems.
God still acts

Still saves us from those things
That diminish and threaten us

Rosalind Russell was a beautiful movie star several decades ago. She was successful not only in Hollywood but also on Broadway. But perhaps her greatest triumph was her gallant fight against arthritis and cancer. After her death, this little poem was found tucked in her ever-present Bible:

"Trust him when dark doubts assail you.
Trust him when your faith is small,
Trust him when simply to trust him
Is the hardest thing of all.“

Trust him when simply to trust him is the hardest thing of all.”
This is the first lesson we can draw from today’s stories

This leads to the second thing that occurred to me.  That we are asked to be grateful, to have the eyes of gratitude.  Often we are gratitude challenged.  We human beings are never satisfied. We continually want more than we already have.

I have spent a little time around farmers.  One thing I know, they are rarely satisfied.  I used to sit in the Red Rooster in Reardan, Washington and listen to the wheat farmers.  If it rained there was there is too much rain, and they complained. If it didn’t rain they would say it was too dry.  Again, they would complain.  Quite honestly they were never happy

Nothing is ever quite the way we think it should be.  We have our agenda, and by golly God ought to get with it!  What’s wrong with God anyway?  Why doesn’t God just give us what we want.

Kind of silly isn’t it. But I go there.  Many of us do.  The point if this story is that God can be trusted, even in the hard times, to give us what we need

No, God doesn’t always lavish grace on us to the point that we have all we ever thought we wanted
It is not that we are so blessed that there are no longer any negatives.  Life often remains hard.
But this is the important thing to remember, from this story
There is enough

Notice that in the story God gives enough for each day…..In this story no more than enough.  They get only enough for a day -  but no less either,  they do get enough

Recently in the US, on TV and in big mega churches there are people preaching what is often called the prosperity Gospel.  This is a big thing in some circles.  Preaching that faith in God leads to affluence.  And the cool thing is the pastors personally prove it.

A St. Louis Post-Dispatch article detailed accounts of the wealthy pastors club. According to the article, Creflo Dollar, who was just arrest for assaulting his daughter, drives a black Rolls Royce and travels in a $5 million dollar jet; Benny Hinn lives in a $3.5 million home and drives an $80,000 Mercedes-Benz G500.  You get the idea.  Salaries for these ministers are typically kept confidential. But in a 1997 CNN interview, Hinn said he earned between $500,000 and $1 million annually.  According to current estimates it is now much higher than that.

This theology's emphasis is on God's promised generosity in this life and the ability of believers to claim it for themselves. If God loves us, it teaches, then God will reward us with a new home, a good job, or good health.  Bottom line? God wants us to be prosperous.  Not just prosperous, amazingly rich!  We can faith our way to wealth.  If that were true I have some friends who would be amazingly wealthy!

But the Lord gave the Israelites just what they needed. What they received was good enough for a single day. The people we asked to not only trust, but to be grateful. To accept the gift, and find a sense of comfort with that, a sense of gratitude.  And sense that God, and what God was providing, was enough

What does gratitude do?
I is a huge part of what keeps us from always grasping, from hording…
It is interesting that the people of Israel could only collect enough for the day, no stockpiling.  What they tried to save spoiled, went rotten.

We have a tendency to stockpile for the future, for fear of running low or running out. Have you ever observed communities the day before a possible snowstorm or windstorm? People rush to the grocery, buying milk, bread and supplies, just in case. There’s a communal panic that seems to set in whenever the weather forecast sounds extreme.  

In hard times it is sometimes difficult, because of fear, to be generous.  It is hard to be generous when we are not grateful for what we have, but want more.

When we trust
And are grateful
We can have grateful attitudes
And with that open hearts
And ultimately open hands

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Importance of Grateful Eyes

It was one of those days
Not a terrible, horrible, very bad day
I have no plans to move to Australia

But a day in which many things 
did not happen the way I expected

I bought a plan, that isn't quite right
I got my chainsaw back from the shop
and it promptly wouldn't start
the tree I felled 
fell on the fence

I had plans for the evening
that didn't happen
a friend called in distress

and that is when it hit me
why I was limping along
like a weekend warrior who had
done too much
I had forgotten something 
part of the recipe of joy
My friend say he was praying
for patience, healing stregnth, grace, love
so many things
"Am I missing anything"
and then it hit me
what I least I was missing
my eyes were full of the difficulties
things that weren't "just so"
the irritants
the things that caused pain...
and in the midst of all that 
my eyes had not seen
the gifts!
The beauty of the blue sky
the gentle coolness of a breeze on a hot day
The smell of fresh cut juniper
the gift on being wonderfully connected with a friend
the gift of love given
and received
the amazing sensation of cold water
going down a parched through
the amazing green of a freshly watered lawn

seeing the gifts
no, things may not always be the way I want them
no, not everything resolves into solutions, or endings I like
but still
I can have grateful eyes
and my heart can smile

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The mountain

The mountain shone
Stark white on brilliant blue
Soaring into the sky, a beacon on the horizon
Guiding me ever
Further north

I gazed in wonder
And for a moment
A beautiful moment knew
Where I was headed
And perchance

For a moment
If only for a moment
Felt settled within myself

At peace

And then the clouds came in
Almost without warning
The sky was grey
And the mountain was gone

And I was left in the encroaching mist
To try to work my way forward again

Sometimes that is how life feels
O God
I think I know where I am going, then my clarity is gone
I think I know who I am, but that slips away
I find myself tangled and confused
Doing and being what I don’t want to be
Tangled up

Thank you God for the moments of clarity
When once again I can grab hold of
Your direction
Your vision
For this wayward child


And I was wondering if you had been to the mountain
To look at the valley below?
Did you see all the roads tangled down in the valley?
Did you know which way to go?
Oh the mountain stream runs pure and clear
And I wish to my soul I could always be here
But there's a reason for living way down in the valley
That only the mountain knows
                                             Noel Paul Stookey

Sunday, June 10, 2012

how does it feel to be a heart

How does it feel to be a heart?

I sometimes think I do not know my own heart
But I know how it feels

At times my heart is full
And it smiles
When I feel connected to a friend
Or someone I love

At times it feels like it is empty
Incapable of holding and sustaining life

What is the heart?
The seat of life?
The life force?

Is it really another name for that which defines me?
That which drives me
And makes me who I am?

I sometimes wonder if I know how to give from my heart
When it is empty
It only wants to receive
To be filled…..

But in reality
Nothing can fill my heart
If it does not give
If it is not given
To God
To another

To all others

Lord teach me to love
Teach my heart
That I might be
In the lives of others

Friday, June 8, 2012

I love the way you blush, Lord

I like the way you blush, God,
The season spring.
The season summer, the season, fall the hour of winter
And that magnificent season, existence!

Yes I love the way you blush, my Lord, when we are sometimes near.   (Hafiz)

There is something about intimacy
Is bares us
That strips us naked
And leaves up naked and pimply
In the fresh breeze of existence

God makes me blush
At the sheer audacity of the divine knowledge of me

God knows me
And that knowledge strips me of all pretense
All sense that I can somehow pretend

I am feel like an emperor
But the emperor has no clothes

Love does that
In the presence of love
We are stripped down to the core of who we

When we are known
Really known
And still are seen with the eyes of love

What is there to do but blush
At such transparency
At such acceptance

What is there to do
But say “thank you”
Thank you, my love
My child
My friend

Our cheeks are rosy
With our joy