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, August 31, 2012

Circle of Compassion

We are called to be strong companions and clear mirrors to one another, to seek those who reflect with compassion and a keen eye how we are doing, whether we seem centered or off course ... we need the nourishing company of others to create the circle needed for growth, freedom and healing. - Wayne Muller

There he is
and there she is
that person who just makes me want to scream
that walking endorsement for birth control


that person, loved by God
that child of the the Most High

Why is it Lord that sometimes it is so hard to have compassion
There are days when I must deal with people
I just don't like
Or who make life difficult for me

Those people who create problems
Who act hateful
Who are (in my humble opinion) 
off course

Jesus met many people like that
and it seems to me that first he listened
and then he sought to understand
and only then did he respond

Lord I so want to jump right in
to chastise, or challenge
but above all to fix
I want to fix it Lord
The situation
The person
And what you ask me to do
is listen, deeply
understand, and have compassion
 and in the circle of compasssion
create the space for needed for growth, freedom and healing
Help me God, to have compassion on this day
even for the person I see
in the mirror

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Starting the Day

I get to see some amazing mornings
This place is amazing and in the summer
a blood red or golden sun rises above the Seven Devils
Casting its shafts of gold through the trees
changing the darkness with the treasure of light

In the winter the sun casts its pinkish glow
over the white sentinel
that guards this valley of winding waters

But I see these miracles of morning because I am wide awake
with a mind full things that have no beauty

Tasks to be done
Tasks forgotten

My mind is full, and churning
and it is this inner chaos that frames my day....

and yet
I get to chose the frame 
I choosewhere I put my focus

I choose how I start my day

I read that the Dali Lama begins his day with this prayer
"May I be a guard for those who need protection;
 a guide for those on the path;
 a boat, a raft, a bridge for those to cross the flood;
 may I be a lamp in the darkness; a resting place for the weary, 
 and a healing medicine for all who are sick. 
 For as long as Earth and sky endure, may I assist until all living things are

May the God who made the mountains
The sky
The sun in all is colors
May the God who greets me each more
give me this prayer
for each day
that I may awaken
and help create awakening 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

But have not love

If I speak with the languages of men and of angels, but don't have love, I have become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. 

call me a schmuck
but I have this thing about love
I love it
 I love being loved
I love loving
Really nothing else matters very much
Nice car
Beautiful house
Most amazing place in the world to live in...
If I don't sense God's love
If i don't feel loved by another,
its all empty
But it is more than that...
I am listening to politicians talk
its all about power
where is the love?
It is just not there
it has been destroyed
by a need for power
and need for influence
and so instead of love there are lies
God help us

smoky mornings

smoky mornings
when the sun is red
and the sky is blurred

kind of like the painting 
of an impressionist
who has had too much to drink
some days are like that
not quite in focus
its like one wakes up, not quite ready for prime time
not really ready for
what lies ahead

I always wonder
on days like this
whether the problem is with my head
or my heart

can i just not think straight?
or is it more that I am out of sync
with creation
with the creator?

hopefully it is nothing 
a long hot bath
and a cup of coffee
can't solve!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

An August afternoon

it is a warm afternoon

the dog days of August
smoke in the air from fires

I am sitting here alone
always a dangerous thing

here I am
60 something

you would think I would have it all figured out by now
this whole
life thing

but it seems the longer I live
the less I know
the less effective I am

right now I am feeling pretty much alone
Oh there is God
I know that....
God's pretty cool that way

But other than that?
not so much

How does one live this long
and have almost no one who really gives a shit....
about you?

I know people respect what I can do
At least I hope they do....

but I have this deep down feeling
that while people like what I can do, they don't really like me

Yes, I know, it is pathetic to be saying something like this outloud
but sometimes we just have to say what we feel
and what I feel is alone

and so on this August afternoon
I will mow my lawn
and wish that I felt like i was the most important person
to one person, just one
in this world
blessings my friends
treasure the people in your lives 
who love you
and show it

Feeling at Home

"The dreams we share of freedom.
The dreams we share of love.
There is such a unison in our every movement,
our every desire;
we are so alike that I cannot tell the difference anymore between us
I could walk into any house and feel at home,
because you have arranged everything just the way I would"
There are moments in life
sadly they are just moments
I wish they were moments i could hang on to....
When one feels so connected with another
that one is simply 'at home'
It might be sitting on steps listening to a band
or lying on one's back looking up at the sky
It might be sipping coffee together
But there are those moments when life stops
and you just are
there is such a unison
It is in such moments that we know what love is
They are rare
To be treasured
And held close to the heart
I have such moments with unique and special people
those who come into my path 
a gift from God
And then there is God....
I have such moments with God too
Those moments when I sense the presence
The love
The acceptance
And in those moments
In that free and friendly space
I can simply be me
I can simply be

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I am concerned

During my morning ritual I usually read "the news"
is there any such thing any more?

I usually read the opinions put out there by the various "news" agencies
And right now its mostly about politics
I really shouldn't do that.  It is not good for my blood pressure.

What I am feeling is that I am not getting any straight objective information
from anybody,

What is sense is that what we are getting from everyone in this election is lies and misrepresentations.
That is very frustrating.  How do I know how to vote?
How do I know what has really gone on, and what will happen going forward,
if no one will be honest about themselves or others?

As a therapist, I would find it impossible to help a person with so little insight
about reality
about themselves
find a way forward

How can a country, with so little insight
about the facts, about reality
about itself
and its fears, and prejudices, and greed
find its way forward?

I fear that it can't

And when I think about things biblically, it gets even worse

I am concerned about our country. About the way so many want us to go a direction that has a vast potential to hurt the poor, the weak, the ill, the elderly..... while benefiting those who already have the power and the money.  Yes, I am biased.  I admit it.  I don't see how cutting programs for the poor, cutting all the jobs that go with those programs, putting the burden of care on the middle class, while continuing to put power and money in the hands of people who have proven they don't use either wisely, is going to "create jobs" or build America.  I don't see how regulating peoples personal lives while not regulating big business is going to take American forward (I reserve the right to be wrong, but that is just where mine thinking is right now). So I am concerned.

I am reminded of Jesus comments, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed".

This makes me struggle spiritually, and makes me wonder how a country as blessed as ours can be so ruled by the powers of greed, and, well power. America today reminds me of Solomon's empire. Which with its focus on accumulation and protection of accumulation, its massive neglect of the poor, its policies which made its own people virtual slaves, and its massive military spending, had become much like Egypt, the place of oppression from which Israel had been freed. The oppressed were now the oppressors. God was not happy! Is that where we are headed?  

I do not think, Biblically, that asking those with resources to help those in need is the wrong thing to do.  Think about the year of Jubilee, where the wealth of the nation (in the form of land, it was an agrarian society) was to be pooled and redistributed.  That is God's idea of a tax code.  Talk about taxes!!!

What is going on in America is scary from a Biblical perspective, as I believe it runs counter to what I think Jesus actually was concerned about.

My thoughts this morning. Lets all think, and pray
Blessings my friends

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

You need not do a damn thing....

I have my little morning ritual
Every morning I get up, get a cup of coffee
and do four things
I read something from one of my theology or psychology books
I read through the news (today it got my spirit boiling)
I read my favorite comics on the internet (Yay, non sequitur)
I read Hafiz.  Who is crazy, and irreverent, and brilliant.
Today's poem started with the person talking to another, I think God
"Tell me, love, what I need right now so that I might sing, and be alive, as my every cell craves.
Tell me, dear, what I need right now, but in a manner I won't soon forget....."
As the poem goes God pulls out a drum and belts out a tune.
The poem ends this way.  "Nothing to follow.. for I will move you.  
You need not do a damn thing... just laugh."
This morning Lord
I looked toward the day
and frankly, I'm a little tired
A little overwhelmed
There are so many hurts
So many people
So many needs
So many things to 
And frankly God, I'm not really up to it.
I don't have enough energy
Not enough love
Not enough wisdom
Not enough skill
Yes, God, right now it feels as if I am not enough
But you have always told me to ask for what I need
Lord, I need you
Lord I need your love
Lord, I need to learn to receive
Pull out your drum Lord
help me to dance
and remind me
that all I have to do is open wide
and recieve
and laugh

Monday, August 20, 2012

Look at the Stars!

"Look at the stars!
look, look up at the skies!
O look at all the fire-folk sitting in the air!" (G M Hopkins)

Slowly the hazy blue of day
became the smokey gray of early evening
and then the settling sun
pulled the world into darkness
Alone on a back road
no city glow to 
ease the starkness of the night

I gazed into the gathering black
into the unrelenting gloom
then like a firefly
there then gone
just an insignificant speck of light
glinting in the shadowy skies

then another
and soon the sky was filled with
particles of light
transforming the sky
and giving it life.

sometimes it is the little things
just the little things
that give us life

A baby deer asleep in my flowerbed
A text from my best friend
The smell of overheated pines
A picture of my granddaughter
A grin from my friend Scott, smiling in the midst of pain
The sound of laughter
Just the beauty of a walk in the dark

Thank you Lord for the small gifts
which are there If I stop
and take the time
to look up

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Words are not enough

What can I say Lord
that will heal?

What can I say Lord
that will help?

What can I say that will 
bridge the abyss 
that lies between myself
and that person
from whom I am separated?

That person who is dying?

That person who is hurting,
facing cancer
and loss

There are times
when words are not enough
are simply not adequate

We speak them
and they hang there 
in the air

they fill the space
and become more a wall
than a channel

there is more to be "said" in the 
in the presence

in the eyes meeting
the hearts meeting

it is the Spirit (big S) in me
touching the Spirit in you
that is enough
the sacred in me, the sacred in you
The Christ in me, the Christ in you
It is that communion
that is enough

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Staying Silent

I have often heard
that the best way to be a healer is to listen

that it is not our words
but our presence

That it is in the silence
that we are able to reach out
and heart to heart
soul to soul

touch brokeness
and begin the process
of metamorphosis

bringing back into being
essential humanity

But here is the question
How do we learn to be present with our selves

To day I went for a walk
in the hot dryness of this August afternoon

Walking down the road I watched
silently as my feet touched the earth
 and the dust exploded

It was hard to be silent
even with myself
I had so many questions
floating around in my head
thoughts exploding like the dust

Why not?
What should I do?
How can I solve that?

So many questions
And I did not want to be silent
I wanted to answer
To fix
To solve
To resolve


 But sometimes there are no answers
And at times there are no solutions

Only the questions
To be honored
and loved
and lived


"Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.”   Rainer Maria Rilke

The feeling under the feeling under the feeling

How do you really feel?

I don't always like that question
Because sometimes I don't like how I feel

Sometimes that core feeling
that feeling that pulses
under my visible self

is dark
and painful
and powerful

In the woods I came upon
a lonely cabin
no longer solid
it slumped
logs askew

sliding into the earth
eyes into a dank darkness
cumbling roof
more moss than shingles

it looked as if one more good snow
would drive it into the earth
and finish its destruction

and in that moment
that feeling under the feeling under the feeling
came to life
and said "me too"

Oh scattered
listing jumble
so fragile

Oh abandoned 
lonely shell

I know how you feel


Thank you God
For friends
For beautiful sunrises
And for people who like to hug!

Thank you for those
Who know one's story
All of it, and still say
I love you

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sacred Places

I love my sacred places
Those special spots, where my soul danced
and my heart sang

Those places where time stops
and the moment was eternal

These are my shrines
my "God places"
where the sacred broke through

It might be a place where
I saw my child play
or heard music of inexpressible beauty

It might be a place where sitting side by side
with someone deeply loved
the mundane was turned into the sacred

It might be a place
where family gathered, and celebrated
or a place where goodbyes
eternal, or otherwise
were said

These are the places where
I dance my faith...
and sing for joy to the heavens
where there is laughter
and the heat of love
where smiles break forth

Thank you God
for the moments
the people
the places  
that have opened the gates to heaven!


There is no spot on earth that ever became sacred until something danced there
maybe it was just an atom or two...
There is no place in existence that ever became sacred until something sang there
even it just be a molecule, that is enough.  I hear they croon all the time...

Strange the seriousness I see a around the shrines of perfect saints.....

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Broken Open, Poured Out

Christ on the cross
broken open
poured out

a good gift

identifying with the lost
the alienated from God
the sinner
the hopeless

broken open 
poured out

it is always a gift
when people offer 
this kind of love


it is not a love that seeks fairness
for life isn't fair
and love


certainly love is not fair

we love,
 to have love not returned
we give, and there is not even a "thanks"

fairness is not in the equation
for the Christian

those lazy welfare people
those people afflicted by addiction
those people

it is not fair that people
who work hard
who are responsible
provide them with what they need to survive
and yet

and yet
what are taxes
compared to the cross
why in the name of Christ
are some so Christless?

not deserved?
not even part of the equation for those of us
who at the foot of the cross
the good gift

Everyone is a healer

Therapea – or healing!

In this little mini-serious we have looked at some words that to me are
the keys to understanding what the "kingdom" of God is all about

We have learned it involves mentanoia, or change
We have learned that metanoia comes through agape, or love

And now we get to a third element…
Therapea, or healing
One big clue is that healing was probably the center piece of Jesus personal ministry.
When we think of Jesus and his work, not his teachings, but his work… we think of healing

Another big clue that this third thing is big, really big, in terms of the kingdom, is the fact that when Jesus essentially commissions his disciples, and sends them out, for the first time, to do “ministry’, he charges them with the task of therapea…. Or healing.

By the way, what is healing?  According to the dictionary:
 1. To restore to health or soundness; cure.
2. To set right; repair: healed the rift between us.
3. To restore (a person) to spiritual wholeness.

So to become healed is to become whole and sound; return to health.

Biblically this can mean a lot of things
There is physical healing of course
But healing is clearly more….

Think of the ministry of the servant of God as described in Isaiah 61:1
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,

Jesus in Luke 4 echoes this idea when he says:   "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed

We are called… as people with a new vision, as people loved with agape love, and thus capable of loving with agape love… to be healer.  In the kingdom, everyone’s a healer

We might provide different kinds of healing
We might do it in different ways
But every one is a healer…

We might pray, we might just listen
We might be present for others… there is amazing healing power in present
We might hurt with others, and for other
Be people of compassion
We might be people who help feed the hungry
We might work for justice
We might work to help people be free of the things that trap them…

But everyone is a healer.

And this is where communion comes in
One of the words for communion is eucharist..
Eu = well
Charizomai  = give
Eucharist literally means to give wellness, or “the good gift”

The Eucharist emerges from the greatest gift ever given, the gift of Christ on the Cross
Jesus broken, and dying
Jesus being with us… going through what we go through
Separation from God, alienation
Giving himself so we can be well
So our soul death.. our separation from God can be healed.

This is what the Eucharist is all about…
The body
The blood

God gives the world life through the breaking of Christ body and the pouring out of Christ’s blood.  And God continues to give the world through the Body of Christ…through the people of the Kingdom…

Kingdom people… the people of metanoia, and agape, are meant to be a living Eucharist

Christians are a living Eucharist as they allow themselves to be poured out for the healing of the world.
By the way, being broken and poured out doesn't me we are over people.  That we fix them, that we work "on" them.

It mostly means we are WITH them.  We are present.  As fellow travelers.  Fellow sinners.  As those also wounded.  As Christ was with us in separation from God and death in those moments on the cross.

If you’ve ever been to an AA meeting you know why.  AA is a room full of people who are done pretending.  There are no facades, if it is a strong group, no acting… Everyone in the room is in recovery, and they all know each other’s games, masks, and manipulations.

Writer Anne Lamott says the most powerful sermon in the world is two words, "me too".

When you are struggling  when you are hurting, wounded limping, doubting, questioning, barely hanging on,
moments way from another failure.....

And someone is there who can identify with you
Who knows the temptations at your door

Someone who has felt the pain you have felt
And look you in the eye
And say… Me too, and actually mean it…
They can save you.

When you aren’t judged or lectured
Looked down up
But someone shows they get it
They get you

Shows they know what its like
 That you aren’t alone….

That is when the power of Eucharist breaks forth
The Eucharist focuses on the cross, the sacrifice
Not the resurrection… ever thought of that?

It focuses on Christ identifying with us
Its Jesus in a “been there” moment

That is where the power comes from
The Eucharist is God saying “me too”
And therapea happens when the church looks others in the eye

And says… me too
Me too
I hurt, I fail, I fear, I am anxious, I get jealous, I struggle with addiction, I have question, I hate, I get angry
I sin… me too….

But…we say that in the context of grace… and in grace we can see the world in a new way, and we can have new hearts.  We say this in the context of God’s agape love, which gives us value, worth, and hope
Agape love, which is God saying, “I love you, period” 

And thus…there is peace, and hope
There is reconciliation with God
And one another…
There is healing.

This is not an easy thing… this work of healing
Because so often it isn’t fair (as pointed out by those who would kill welfare and other such programs)
Giving to those who can’t give in return is not fair
Serving those how have no way to serve in return, that is not fair
Breaking yourself open and pouring yourself out for people who may never say thank you,
That is not fair

But the cross wasn’t fair.
God is not about fairness, God is about change and love
God is about giving the good gift
Jesus is God’s good gift for the healing of the world
We are Jesus’ body, a good gift for the healing of the world.

Monday, August 13, 2012

This Thing Called Love

So now we come to the second component of the Kingdom
AKA as love

Love is a feeling you feel when you feel like you’re going to get a feeling you never felt before.  (that’s not love, its hormones).

Love is a perpetual state of anesthesia (no way, if anything love makes us super sensitive)

Love is never having to say you’re sorry (that’s just stupidity, for “I’m sorry” are two of the most powerful words for keeping love alive).

What is love, really?  The ancient Greeks, who were not fools, felt they could not define love with just one word.  They had a number.  I’d like to look at three.

One word is EROS  This word stands for the romantic aspect of love.  This is the surge of emotion, the feeling you feel….”  Eros is important, and its great.  What fun would a marriage be without a little eros?  But there is a problem with eros.  It comes and goes.  Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it’s not! 

A second word is PHILEO.  This might best be translated friendship.  It comes when people have common goals, dreams, interests and beliefs.  This too is important.  .

Finally there is what is called AGAPE.  This is a unique word that is used, in the Christian Bible, to talk about God’s love.  It is love, which as it is illustrated, with unearned.  It is love simply given, as a gift.  With agape love one is not loved because one is beautiful, wise, rich, or powerful.  One is just loved.  It is not based on earthly value, it creates value. 

We see the nature of this love in Jesus who constantly, consistently, places high value on people who are normally rejected.  Tax Collector, Prostitute, Thief, lowest of the low…. Jesus, with the eyes of agape love, sees through surface problems of illness, weakness and failure to the jewel at the core of the person.  He sees the person God created that person to be…

In short, with agape love,  instead of looking at the world through the lenses of hatred, suspicion, judgment and fear, we face the world with an open heart.  And you respond to the world accordingly
Think about that passage from Corinthians we heard earlier….  Those words aren’t about how one feels, they are about how one sees, and about how one treats, others.

The great parable of agape love is the story of the prodigal son….Luke 15:1-32
Here, the prodigal,  is someone who has failed miserably, even morally.
This is the mother who is on drugs
The man who has stolen from his employer
This is the person who has made a mess out of life and is jobless and homeless
This is the person on the street.

In the story the parent… God…. Receives and accepts this person…
And in the context of this reception… and remember it is not a blind reception.
The parent knows  exactly what this child is like…

The parent knows every sordid detail… parents usually do you know.  I like how Richard Rohr puts it…
 "The gaze of God receives us exactly as we are, without judgment or distortion, subtraction or addition.  Such perfect receiving is what transforms us.  Being totally received as we truly are is what we wait and long for all our lives.  All we can do is receive and return the loving gaze of God every day, and afterwards we will be internally free and deeply happy at the same time."

And there we have the point.  Agape love, being seen and received, as we truly are, is transforming..
The son in the story goes from being a homeless reject to being a beloved son… and I would like to think, lives out his “sonship” from that point on…

In other words… agape love helps create… metanoia, or transformation.

It is my hope that having made mistakes, having been broken, that having been there, in the pit, the darkness, and redeemed, the prodigal would be able to have empathy, forgive, love with agape love.  I have no illusions that the son never made another mistake.  The shadow of failure, the shadow of a wasted life doesn’t disappear after metanoia…

Thomas Merton writes, in his autobiography, The Seven Story Mountain..  “There was this shadow, this double, who had followed me in the cloister (this is after he became a monk)… he is still on my track.  He rides my shoulders, sometimes, like the old man of the sea… I cannot lose him…. He is supposed to be dead.”

The shadow doesn’t disappear.  But we don’t need to be defeated by this.  This shadow keeps us honest, and keeps us coming back to the one, God, who loves us with agape love.  This shadow teaches us to love the source of life… and prompts us to love our neighbor.

So agape love is something we receive
It is something which transforms us
And it is something we are called to give

Some things to think about....
What is it that you see in yourself that you don’t like?
What is that you see, when you look at yourself, that makes you believe, that if people knew that about you, they would not receive you, accept you?

Then think about the idea that God sees you.  Sees all of you
For exactly who you are
But loves you anyway…loves you with a love that sees the created to be you
With a love that creates value in you
A love that makes you a beloved child
A son or daughter of the King
A prince or a princess…

A treasure

Know that God loves you that way
Image what that can mean, for how you love others

In loving that way… you bring the kingdom into this time, and this place.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Shift In Vision

Lots of times people wonder what Christianity is all about
For some is it a matter of being good, following the rules
For others it is about believing the right thing….
For others, it appears to be about taking certain stances on ethical issues

But scripturally Christianity is about the kingdom… the Basilea
What the heck is the kingdom all about?

Is it about heaven?  The after life
But I think that the kingdom is not about heaven, the after life.  Its not about an existence… in other sphere, another place, another dimension

Over and over again we hear Jesus hint that the Kingdom is actually in us
Or that the kingdom is in our midst
In other words, the Kingdom is somehow here, it is about this life

"The Kingdom is near
The kingdom has been given to you
The Kingdom is like a mustard seed
Yours is the Kingdom of God"

And we hear Jesus say that the Kingdom is coming, is being pulled into reality
By us  - and we hear him say that it is revealed, is brought into being by the way we live and act

There is a lot we don’t know,  but one thing we do know  --the kingdom is a radical thing
I would suggest it is in fact a matter of three things, symbolized by three Greek words

1.  metanoia
2. agape
3. therpaea

Yes, this is going to kind of be a little series... and I would like to start with metanoia (Thank BTW to Thomas Moore who got me thinking about all this in his wonderful book Writing in the Sand)

There is a parable in the Gospel of Thomas, one of the apocryphal Gospels, which goes like this:  "Jesus said,  the kingdom is like a certain woman who was carrying a jar full of meal.  While she was walking on the road, still some distance from home, the handle of the jar broke, and the meal emptied out behind her on the road.  She did not realize it.  she had noticed no accident. When she reached her house she set the jar down and found it empty…" 
The kingdom of God is a matter of letting it all go  -- of starting empty

And in that moment of "letting it all go" we experience metanoia.  Meta means change.   Noia means order.
So the kingdom involves a change of order.  A change in the way your order your thinking, your heart, your life.

It is a matter of metamorphosis  ---  a profound shift of being
This is not an easy thing
It takes what the Buddhists call a "beginners mind"
Or what Jesus talked about when he said “be like a child”

Its often talked about as being “born again”  

When we go to this place, the usual is turned upside down…
How we think, love behave,  become radically different from what was (think the beatitudes)

How do we tap into the kingdom?  How do we pull it into being… Ah, that is the hard part… and the easy part.

According to the parable from the Gospel of Thomas we begin the process by becoming empty.  Gerald May says we do it by becoming willing, instead of willful.  Traditionally we come to this place… its kind of like doing one of those silly trust games, where you close your eyes and just fall back, trusting you will be caught…. traditionally we come to this place by many paths.

The path of pain
The path of failure
The path of nurture

And we use so many tools to move us along the way…
As we stumble along whatever path is our.. we pray, we meditate, we read, we think, we talk, we worship, we are in silence…………and yes we sing..

Walking step by step with God
Letting God guide choice by choice
Experiencing, being God’s new thing
And we think differently
We see differently
and we act differently.........

To be continued........

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A House Divided

I am depressed
no not in a clinical sense

But this political campaign season has me down

Does the tone of this thing bother anyone else?

So what is wrong with it?


Well there is the fact that everyone is playing games with the truth
There is the fact that the two sides are so far apart
There is the fact that people seems to be willing to say anything to get elected
Do anything to get power
Without even thinking about the impact on people
Real people

There is the fact that we are, as a nation divided
The hate is palpable

Go ahead, read a blog or an article on the campaign
or on the stances of either party

If you go into the comment section and find honest dialog
show me the way

All I see is name calling
No one is talking to anyone else, it is all monolog
there is no dialog

That is the quality of the discourse

When did money become more important than caring for people?
When did we stop listening to each other?
When did we stop working together to create solutions?

Whenever it happened, it has to stop

As we go forward for the next 
horridly long months until November
I would like to have us remember the words of two pretty special people

"Love your neighbor as yourself"  Jesus
"A house divided against itself cannot stand "  Abraham Lincoln

And becoming "undivided" does not mean one side destroying the other
It means loving the other, and learning to collaborate......


I am depressed


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Necessary Suffering

Some of you may have been noticing
if you haven't then I know you haven't really been reading this blog

that I have been
hmmm, how does one put this?

Well, lets just say it hasn't been the best of times!
It is not that there aren't good things going on.
I have a wonderful granddaughter who has arrived on the scene with her goofy smile
I have an amazing and wonderful group of co-workers to spend my days with
Great sisters

I have been blessed in many ways

But sometimes
lets face it, life can be a bit, chaotic
things happen that make us feel anxious, hurt, sad

There are a lot of challenges out there right now
The climate of American politics right now scares me, saddens me, and offends me
There are changes and threats related to my business that are stretching me, a lot
and I wake up in the middle of the night worrying, wondering, going through the options
second guessing myself

I have gotten stretched thin enough
that it is hard for me to attend to others the way I want (and that is at the center of both my roles)

Often when we get in such places it is easy to look at the chaos, and see it as only bad
to get into that place where we struggle with "why"!
Why can't the state leave things well enough alone
Why can't politicians tell the truth?
Why can't people see the value of mental health care for vulnerable people (enough to help fund it)

We get into that place where all we can see is the what is wrong, and painful
and we kind of want to quit

But I ran across this quote from Scott Peck.  Not my favorite guy, but he does say some good things
“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” 
Shortly after that, while re-reading Richard Rohr's "Falling Upward" I ran into a chapter where he talks about what he calls 'necessary suffering".  He suggests, as does Peck, that moments of discomfort push us forward.  Make us think, move, change, grow.  Gets us our of our ruts. 

I still think the ruts suck
And I know that in climbing out, we are in danger of climbing out on the "wrong side"
I can buy that.  
Lets keep moving God, one step, one choice at a time

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Motivating Forces

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”
                                                                                                            ― John Lennon
Some mornings one wakes up
and the day lies ahead 
ripe with expectation
one moves into the day like a child
who can hardly wait
for its unfolding

other days begin more ominously 
dread has come
and expectation has feld
and what remains is fear

a fear
that like a grim reaper
cuts down passion and joy and hope
and leave us standing in the wasteland

of what will be
afraid of life without love
afraid that we can no longer create
no longer make life something, anything

Perhaps it was the red sun

Monday, August 6, 2012

God goes camping!

There are times when life sucks
We feel abandoned or rejected
Horrible things happen, such as yet another mass shooting
We are hurt, scared, angry, alone

And so we wonder….Where is God?  Sometimes God seems, so big.  So vague. So inaccessible.  God must have felt that way to the people of Israel, stuck there in the desert on that Exodus.  Oh they had that pillar of fire.  That cloud…  But that is not exactly warm and fuzzy.  They did not really, I think, have a sense of anything about God other than, this great other…..

But in this section of Exodus, God changes the game…Because God has the people of God create a place for him to be present in the midst of the people.  A place where the people can meet God

He has them put up a tabernacle -- Essentially a large tent….
So God goes camping, tenting with his people..

And in that tent we have the ark.  Which was, essentially, a dwelling place (symbolically) for God in the midst of the people.  And on that ark he has them place what he calls a “mercy seat”, which is his way of hinting at HOW he was going to be present for the people.

Now remember, this is the God who has been present for the people in a very different way
God has been present as a pillar of cloud, a pillar of fire
God has been present as big, and powerful, and mysterious, and yes, scary
But now we have something different.
God in a tent

This story seems important to me, because it marks a change in the relationship of the people with God
Before the tabernacle, and the ark.  God is present.  But he is present only in that big powerful way….  But now we have something different.  God as immanent.  Close.  Perhaps even humble.  It is not that the powerful side of God goes away.  We still have the cloud and fire thing… That is still present

But now we also have this…
A place in the midst
A place where at least some of the people can go
A place of mercy

This is important.  Someone once told me that their big problem in terms of faith was their concept of God.  They saw God as some sort of vague being, some great “other”… and kept picturing tapioca pudding.  The big guy in the white robe with the lightening bolt isn’t much better.

God, the infinite one is hard to connect to.  But when we understand that there is this other side to God...  the immanent.  Immanence is not the opposite of transcendence, it is the correlative.  Immanence and transcendence are two sides of the same coin....If transcendence is the infinite God, Immanence is the intimate God.  This is the God who is present, and whom we “experience”,

This is the God who tents with his people
Who becomes present at the seat of mercy

We see the same dynamic, the same dichotomy in the first chapter of John…
In the beginning was the Word.  And the word was with God
And the Word was God….

The beginning of John is all about the transcendent God
The God of power….

But then, a shift
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us

God as really big
God as intimate

In Jesus God was present
And it gets even better.  In the Spirit God continues to be present in an even more intimate way. God doesn’t just “tent” with us.  God “tents” or dwells in us, in the person of the Spirit.

The images John provides are startling

The presence of the intimate God, as “ a spring of water gushing up to eternal life
                The bread of love,
                                The true drink
                                                The light
The presence of God
                Truth giving

God is present
God is present in power
God is present in mercy

What does that all add up to?

What does grace add up to?

When we experience God’s presence and love.  When God is present, we are changed…

Shane Claibourne tells a wonderful story of a family that experienced the presence of God, and its impact.  This family once met a young woman who had found herself 6 months pregnant, and homeless.  They invited her, because God touched their heart with compassion, into their home.  It was such a beautiful experience that they decided to continue living together to help raise the new baby girl while the mother pursued her dream of going back to school to become a nurse.  They have been living together as a family for a decade now.  The baby is now a teenager and the mom a nurse.  A heart wrenching twist to the story is that the wife of the couple is now very ill with multiple sclerosis, but now the nurse living in her home is caring for her, just as she had cared for the nurse….

This is the divine gift that comes when the transcendent God of power becomes intimate, comes into our hearts.  And does the work of grace.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Another Day, Another shooting

We are so careless Lord
with our words
our faces
our minds

We speak words of hate
We tell lies
Spread fear
nurture the fire of antagonism
our faces reflect what is in our heart
our minds are full of fear
and greed
and selfishness
And so we talk about "them'
those Muslims
those immigrants
those homosexuals
as if they are not people
not really
we rob them of their faces
their humanity
their divinty
and sometimes 
the seeds we plant (yes, I am talking about Westboro Baptist, Michelle Bachmann and more)
they bear fruit
And some one picks up a gun
and people die
and people cry
and you
Oh Lord
You cry too!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

What is good for you is good for me?

We have many teachers in our lives
Parents, spiritual leaders, friends,
school teachers, professors
even our dogs and cats
and I can't forget horses

We learn many lessons
in many ways
sometimes the teaching is intentional

listen up Stephen Paul

Sometimes it just happens
there is that limbic programming thing
and soon my brain hums a long
in rhythm or not with your brain
Repetition teaches us as well
growing up my mother frequently would say
just as i walked out the door... "remember who you are!"
Another way of saying, don't so anything wrong!
Some of the things I learned were good
Be kind to others.  Have compassion.  It is good to help the vulnerable
Work hard.  Respect women.
Some of the things I learned were not so helpful
"No matter what it do it is never good enough"
"You have to be next to perfect for people to like you"
"People will like you for what you do, not because of who you are.'

Some of my beliefs work!
Some of them don't!
And some of them.....

Well some of them confuse me.
I was taught to respect the needs and wishes of others.
But sometimes what is good for others doesn't feel like it is good for me.
How do I deal with this?  Do I discount their need or mine?
Do I push my agenda, or fold?
I know I know
There should be a way to compromise
Find a common solution

Tell that to congress
(by the way, did you know a group of baboons is called a congress?)

Sometimes I find my self wishing
that the instruction booklet for life 
were clearer

Wishing that all the rules I have in my head worked
For my benefit
And for the benefit of those who have me in their lives

But alas
So many teachers
So many lessons
Such a mess

I guess it comes down to what I often tell the people i work with

All you can do is the best you can do with the tools you have
and pray