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, November 30, 2012

God, and Us

Hafiz says
My Beloved (GOD) says "my name is am not complete without yours"
Jesus says
The shepherd will leave the 99 and go and search for the 1 until that 1 lost sheep is found

For God, no one is expendable. 
God’s love is that extravagant, that amazing.

This morning as I fed the horses I was up to my knees in mud
it is amazingly warm for this time of year
and raining

and the pasture right now is nothing but mud
and one has to slog through it
it pulls and drags one down
that muck

often life feels like I am slogging through the muck
other people's stuff
my stuff
it all sucks at me
pulls at me
tires me

and I get caught up
in taking the next step
doing the next thing

and I forget

and that amazing love
I forget that God loves me so much
that He/She does not feel complete without me
without that sense that I am connected

And I forget that God will go to any length
to find me
and re-connect!


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Choice Points

I am currently participating in an "online retreat" with Wayne Muller
The other day Wayne put forth the following comment:

"Throughout our lives, we make only one choice.  We essentially do only one thing, again and again, year after year. It is how we live our days, how we shape our lives.  The choice is this: What is the next right thing for us to do?  Where, in this moment, shall we choose to place our time and attention? Do we stay or move, speak or keep silent, attend to this person, that task, move in this or that direction?
With each succeeding moment, we make a new choice. After each decision, there is another. And another.

These are not enormous choices, decisions about whether to change careers, get married, or move to a new city. More likely they resemble the choice we make when we have to decide whether or not to attend our son's soccer game this afternoon. We have gone to most games this season, and we are feeling especially tired, may feel a cold coming on, but we don't want to disappoint our child or feel like we are a bad parent. So our choice is whether or not to sit for a few moments and have a cup of tea to think more about it, or jump up, get dressed, and run out the door.

Every choice we make, no matter how small, is the ground where who we are meets what is in the world. And the fruits of that essential relationship — a conversation between our own true wisdom and capacity, and the way the world is emerging, requiring, offering something in this moment — becomes a lifelong practice of deep listening for the next right thing we are required to do. We make the only choice that feels authentic and honest, necessary and true in that moment.

These tiny choice points arise hundreds of times every day; yet each can feel terribly difficult because of our deep yearning to do the right thing."

It occurs to me that we put a lot of effort into those enormous choices.  The ones we believe will shape our lives.  Change the direction of our quest.  But we often don't pay much attention to the many choices we make each day that may we define who we are more than the big choices.  Do I make that call?  Do I do this task or not?  Do I stay that extra 30 minutes at work.  Do i do that note tomorrow or today?

So often the next choice is driven by forces that are not that positive.   A sense of "not enough".  A sense of emptiness, or powerlessness.  We are seeking and striving, instead of walking through each day, with that awareness that we carry in us the Spirit, the presence of God.  I am having to learn to take the time, more often, as I go through my day, do go deeper, and reflect upon my choices.  To attempt to decide whether my choices are the right choices, the choices God wants me to make, that I need to make, to be authentic and honest, true in that moment, or whether the choices as driven by a need to  please, to "be enough".

Will the earth shatter if I make the wrong choice?  No!  God is the great innovator and can work with whatever I offer.  However, too many wrong choices, and I begin to wear down, and erode.  And my authentic self, which I have a hard enough time getting in touch with anyway, begins to retreat anymore.

And then this man, who want so much to be useful and helpful, and do the right thing -  has nothing authentic left to offer. To return to Wayne's words.

"I know one place I get caught: I am trying to convince myself I can handle something, when in truth, some inner knowing, some thermostat has been going off, giving me clear, repeated signals that it is time for me to rest, to pull back, to stop, at least for now, this moment, this day.

It is the instant I choose instead to push on, past that moment of “right-stopping,” that all my kindness becomes dishonest, my comforting presence a lie, a false promise. In that instant, I pretend to offer something – whatever it is - that I am not honestly able, in that moment, to provide.

I wonder how many of us know this moment?

What happens when we push through, cross over, or hurtle past any authentic capacity for honest kindness, striving to appear as if we have not really run out of genuine, mindful presence or companionship?

What, then, are we truly offering?"

Today will be a day of many choice points my friends
As reach the many choice points that will come your way.... go deeper
Listen to your own heart, and listen to the Spirit

go through your day one choice at a time
follow gently the breadcrumbs of God
and it will be OK


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

All you do is Sacred

Now is the time for the world to know that every thought an action is sacred
This is the time for you to deeply compute the impossibility that there is anything but Grace
Now is the season to know.... that everything we do is sacred     
It a winter's morning routine
I crawl out of bed
in the dark
get my "feeding" close on
and stumble in the dark,
out toward the barn to feed the kids (aka horses)
its the same every morning
just routine
but on this morning
a full moon hangs in the sky between the trees
glowing the in a winter sky
a mist creating halo
making it
a emissary of the Sacred
pulling me out of my complacency 
helping me realize
that each step I take
each act I make
each word I speak
each look I impart 
can be a sacrament of love
can be Grace
If I only have the eyes to see
and treat each choice
each moment
each person
as sacred
earth is stuffed with God

Monday, November 26, 2012

Go far a walk

Sometimes I make life way too difficult
I think
and ponder
and read
I plot and plan and seek to chart my journey to....

well, I am not sure where
I certainly don't get there

Perhaps what I really need to do is go for a walk
get some fresh air
try to smile

perhaps what I really need to do is just
right foot
left foot
right foot

just walk through the day
as if I am walking joyfully through the woods
seeing what there is to be seen 
who there is to be seen

Perhaps it is time to just 
and listen
and smile
perhaps it is time to play a game with children
and have a cup of coffee with a friend

Perhaps it is time to pet the cat
"and whisper "I love you! I love you! to the whole made world" (Hafiz)
perhaps it is time to simply take a walk
and let tenderness
and compassion
pour from my heart
perhaps it is time to take a walk!

If Only

 "You don't have to act crazy anymore; we all know you are good at that
Now retire my dear, from all that hard work you do
of bringing pain to your sweet eyes and heart."

Life can be crazy making
Sometimes it piles up
like winter snow
driven by he winds 
of fear
or anger
or even loss

all of the pain and anguish
presses against me
cold an unforgiving

stealing strength
leaving me shaken
and empty

but I create this winter
of my soul's discontent
I do it to myself
I bring the pain to my heart and eyes
I am good at it

simply by forgetting
the divine presence
that seed of the sacred
that Spirit (with a capital S)
that lies within

and if only remembered
infuses me with sacred life
and joins me to the Divine
if only
its not as easy as it sounds :)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

All we can do

"Presence is the naked language of union, of being lost and found in the face of the other, or in Jesus,
the very breath of the Other... All you can do is stay connected.  We don't know how to be perfect, but we can stay in union"    . Richard Rohr

"If you remain in me and I remainin in you, you can ask for whatever you want and you're going to get it."   (John 15:7).  Jesus
It is all so simple
in its magnificent complexity
It is all so easy
as the hardest thing 
we ever try do

ah yes
it is confusing God

we want to be good people
better people 
you people

and we try so hard
we learn the rule
we seek to fool

we deny ourselves
we immerse ourselves in goodness
we try
and work

and fail
it doesn't seem to work
we struggle
we feel alone
so very alone
we do what we would not do
and do not do what we would do
we are not who, we are not what we would be

you must look at us lord
and chuckle a little
knowing that we have it so wrong
but finding it amusing that we try so hard
perhaps it is only after we have exhausted ourselves
that you gently say
"stop it all
stop it all you Martha's
and Stephen's
and (insert your name here)
Stop it
and come and just sit with me for a while
and let us find each other
let us be
just be

and then, maybe then
you will find that 
for which you have looked
and worked
so hard

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Drink of Love, Part Duex

I know how you can get, when you have not had a drink of love.....

so many wants
more security
more power
more stuff

Black Friday assaults me
with its rank consumerism
telling my soul
I need this toy
that device
that my life is empty without

so many needs
for peace and quiet
for hope
for fulfillment

most of all a need to
just be a person
who has something inside
something at the core

I don't want to be a cipher
an empty shell
all external
no internal

and so ultimately
there is only one thing I really want
and really need

that drink of love
but it can't be just any love
it must be God's love

that seed of love
that seed of sacred
that God has planted inside me
must come alive

and being alive
warming my heart at my very depths
it must connect with that whole
that is God

thus creating a circle of love
a flow of love
into me
through me
out of me

I know how I can get, when I have not had a drink of love.....
I know how it is, when I have....                   

Friday, November 23, 2012

A drink of love

I know how you can get, when you have not had a drink of love.....

more food
a little wine
nephews playing cards

it is a day on which we all get sated
filled with many things
too much in some case

and yet
the most important part of the meal
the most important part of the day
is when we
drink of the cup of love
when we celebrate the bond
that is
without that food
that good food
we die

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I am thankful for

Long days
Longer nights

Winds blow
snow falls

It would be easy to
think only of the dark
and cold

and yet
the fire dances
triplet nephews watch TV
cards are played
and pistachios devoured

and yet 
my son's laugh echo's through the house
as his wife rolls her eyes
and sisters share war stories

and yet
the snow blankets the ground 
a carpet of white
cats doze
horses graze

and yet
an email from a friend brings a smile
and a picture of my granddaughter tugs at my heart

life is not always easy
or fun

and yet
love lives
and I am thankful

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Wind

I hate the wind
last night it blew
roaring through the trees
torturing and bending them

pushing them almost to the breaking point
then suddenly releasing them
allowing them exhausted to stagger to their feet

shrieking around sharp corners
like a lament from hell

an invisible power in the dark
it swirled the world into chaos

the woods this morning were different
trash can's missing and scattered
a carpet of branching lining the ground
trees newly stripped of leaves

and still the wind blows
even destruction

and yet
a good wind
cleans as well as litters
it stirs and moves
driving away stale smoke
and stagnation
the wind is fresh
it makes nature dance
much like the Spirit
when it hits our souls
sometimes we would inhibit it
try to control it
but that only makes this worse
better to let it roar and shreek
better to let it toss our inner worlds into chaos
and clear out our souls
and make them dance.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Circle of Love, A Whirldwind of Grace

There God stood

Gently holding
in an open palm
something that seemed to be greatly treasured

it wasn't much
and yet it was held tenderly
God leaned
and breathed
and life flowed

it glowed
a spark of life

and then mysteriously
it glowed in me
a tiny piece of the divine
burned hot in my soul

and God
"bless God's heart"
embraced me
and that tiny spark
glowed hotter
and grew
and love swirled

and as love flowed from God to me
and from me
or rather from the love that God had planted in me
back to God,
and then back again
a circle of love was created

a whirlwind of grace
opening me up
lifting me up
consuming me
covering me
re-creating - me
the true me

the one I can be
only with God and in God

it was quite a dream...
or was it?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Forgiveness is the cash you need

Forgiveness is the cash you need...
to return to divine freedom (Hafiz)
this morning
early light
the ground is
white and pure
with fresh snow
hiding the rottting leaves
and frozen Iris's
all is fresh and new
much like the heart
that has said to God
I surrender all

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Saturday morning, six o'clock

Saturday morning
Six o'clock

a night full of restless turning
weird dreams
from everything about football
to totally transforming the church
and electric cars

but also thoughts about life
and death
about my friend Duke
whose funeral service I will lead today
about families
and love
and God
about God on the cross
in Jesus
saying in effect
"This is how evil is transformed into good!
I am going to take the worst thing and turn it into the best thing,
so you will never be victimized, destroyed or helpless again!
I am giving you the victory over all death"
and I am reminded
even as my coffee cools
and the cat at my feet complains
and I look anxiously towards this day
that because God is God
and did what God did
I can know that making my life count is not about moral achievement (thank God)
or attaining some sort of standard
or being enough, by my efforts,
 by trying harder,
but that my life counts
just as Duke's life counted
and Scott's life counted
and Dan's life counted
because of Christ
God's perfection abiding in each of us

I know that none of us needs, any longer
 to seek perfection from our own efforts
but only the perfection that comes from faith and is from God

that life is about the mystery
the secret
Christ in us
Connecting with  the wholeness that is God
a mutual indwelling
It is about the divine union
love connecting with love
love flowing like the life giving sap in the vine
and nothing less
and nothing more

maybe it will be a good Saturday after all

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Prayer for Friday

I'm tired Lord
A long week
A funeral tomorrow

Everything just keeps piling up

If I measure myself
by my own standard of what I should be
I slide into despair
I am not enough
I can never be enough
to measure up to the standard 
I have set for myself
And yet you Lord
have introduced this thing called grace
and your response to me is "of course"
of course you don't measure up
and the harder you try
the worse it will be
You say to me
"don't you get it?  Just stop
 go inside
 seek to find that divine spark
 that spirit
 let it move
 let it blow
 let it burn like a fire
 let it become real
 and that small piece of the divine, that Christ in you, that Spirit
 will connect with the Greater Whole
 with me, your God
 and as the Spirit rolls
 as the love moves
 as you discover union
 communion with me.......
 you will find yourself!"
Thank you Lord
I was tired
and frankly
I didn't get it!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Cross Proves Everything

Crux Probat omnia

The Cross proves everything!

Richard Rohr suggests in one of his books
that the key to making it through our pain
through our struggles to make sense out of life,
is to "gaze upon" (John 19:37) the crucified on with contemplative eyes

not a brief horrified glance
but a long, contemplative 
persistent look

When we do this, he insists, we are always healed at deep levels of pain

The cross is a time of suffering
a mystery
divine and human suffering

but it is a transforming suffering
for it shows a new way forward
for in the suffering is forgiveness
and love
not retribution and hate

in the cross we are forced to see God in the other
God in ourselves,
and God, in a new way

in the cross we see that we need to let the mystery
of what is happening on that cross
become part of our pattern

on the cross a good but not wholly true (or at least revealed) Jesus died
and a greater one rises (Christ)
Jesus died, Christ rises

our problem is us
it is our view of ourselves
it is the not wholly true self, the ego that we hang on to,
but also battle -
we fight to be perfect, and fear that we are total chaos

we cannot live, hanging between

we need to let the self die
let go of the self we keep trying so hard to be
and let God
let God, love, forgive
and lift us up

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Flase Self versus True Self

it is an odd thing
I often think that the role of God
is to deal with my
dark side

the side i don't like
that drives me to place I don't like

but it is not the self I don't like
that God want's to deal with
It is not the self i want to deny

it is the self I want to hang on
it is the false self
the self I want to be

that is the self that must die
that the God self
can emerge
and be

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

God, this is the kind of friend you are!

This is the kind of Friend you are
Without making me realize my soul's anguished history
you slip into my house at night
and while I am sleeping
you silently carry off all my suffering
and sordid past
in your beautiful hands

God this is the kind of friend you are
we come into life thinking of what we will do for you
and yet

after we untangle ourselves
from the messes of our own making
after we work our way
through the ooze and slime and old decay (Lewis)
of our lives

the scattered refuse
of fear and failure
and come again to the light
into the realm of grace

we realize
that all peace
all we are
It is all You

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Chosen by God, Just because

Its been a day Lord
full of ups and down
up with worship with Presbyterians from all over the country
up as new songs strummed the strings of my heart
up as I made new friends

Even someone from Texas
another K name
another German
cool guy!

but also downs
a lost friendship
a look at myself (yes again0
that I didn't like

damn, why do I keep acting in ways
that reveal hidden needs
hidden hungers
hidden hurts and fears?

But I was reminded God
that you have always chosen your people
just because
God chose Israel
Just because

just because
Just because
Just because
Just because

They did not earn or merit election
it was just given....
That is the way God is
that is the way grace is
"God does not love you because you are good, but you are good because God loves you."
"God does not love you because you are good, God loves you because God is good."  (Rohr)

God comes to us
implants the spirit in us
the God in us loves God
which then allows God to come back to us full measure
The "very love with which we think we are loving God is actually the love by which God first loved us"
(Meister Eckhart via Richard Rohr)

Its all about God
What we have to do is receive
which is not that easy

partly because we know we are a mess
but actually knowing we are a mess is a good thing
it has been said that the problem is not sinning, as much as our unwillingness to admit we have sinned
to see our capacity for darkness, evil, dishonesty.

this reminds us it is not about us
it really is 
all about God
and God's love
which we are stuck with!

but we must recieve
that is the key

"To allow yourself to be God's beloved is to be God's beloved
To allow yourself to be chosen is to be chosen.
To allow yourself to be blessed is to be blessed.
It is so hard to accept being accepted, especially from God.  It takes a certain kind of humilty
to surrendering to it, and even more to persist in believing it" (Rohr)

Blessings my friend!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Looking in the Mirror

Sometimes I look in the mirror
and look at a stranger staring back at me

Who is this person
this man
I see reflected back at me?
In the perceptions
The words
the responses of others
to what I think
and say
and do
to what I write
I see things about myself
I did not know or understand
Sometimes I see fear
Sometimes I see arrogance
or perhaps not true arrogance
but arrogance as a response to fear
of irrelevance
or inadequacy
I see lonliness
or a hunger 
for connection
perhaps love
i see need
Sometimes that look in the mirror
is like an assault
hammering my heart
leaving me queasy 
even sad
and I wonder
is this really me
this person I see and don't really like very well
this flawed and twisted image?
I am in a place right now
where I feel like I must apologise
for all of the things I have said 
and done
all the ways I have been
that when reflected back to me
take me to shame
I can say to myself
(all i want)
that I didn't know
that I didn't understand
but it doesn't change
the me
that i present to the world
the me that others see
I am old enough that I wonder sometimes
if there is really any hope....
and then I remember
whose eyes
reciving me, delighting in me
enjoying me and looking at me
remind me
of me
of who  I am
or at least who I can be
as one accepted and love
Thank you

Divine Unmerited Generosity

I am sitting in my room in Louisville Kentucky

Why me?

Why am I having to sit through long days learning about Presbyterian polity!?
Why do i have a cold?
Why am I missing the wonderful snow for this bland sunshine and warmth?
But seriously
What is more concerning is what I am reading
Texas politicians who want to leave the Union because he feels the President
is going to cater to "those maggots" who get social security and welfare.
which brings me to generosity
have you ever notice how gracious God is?
all through the Bible
God is giving, giving, giving
Silly God
Giving the people bread
Giving them water
Giving them freedom
Giving them a land
Giving them himself (someone called Jesus)
Giving forgiveness
and hope
and love
and grace
God is really a bad example!
What ever happened to 
'I built this?"
People I have bad news
God is in to helping the people of this world who need help!
People I have good news
God is in to forgiving us when we forget that 
and think it is all about us

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Week After

Traveling this week
to another part of the country (Kentucky)
Almost another part of the world
for the vast reaches of Eastern Oregon

I have gone from a place with magnificent mountains
more cows than people

to Chicago
to Louisville

And along the way I have been listening to a lot of conversations
And guess what people are talking about?
Yes, you got it!
The election
There is elation and agony
People who are hopeful, and people who believe the apocalypse is near
I have been variously amused, angered, and frustrated
I have listened to half truths, truths (from both sides) and downright untruth
Its hard sometimes to know how to respond
Ir is hard sometimes not to respond
But what has really hit me is this
We are really stuck!
We are stuck in our ideologies
Stuck in our fears
Stuck in our anger
Even stuck in unreasonable positive expectations
I've been reading a humorous but accurate book on philosophy 
and hit a little section  on "absolute relativity"
to quote
"Much philosophical error stems from treating relative points of few as thought they were absolute
 The opposite error is possible too.  We may attribute relativity to something that is absolute. ... Keep in mind these thoughts on relativity the next time you send out for Chinese food - or, as the Chinese call it, food."
I find that I must remember that my place is realtive
shaped by my faith
shaped by my work
shaped by people I have met along the way
shaped by the people who have taught me and shaped me.
So as I feel the urge to gloat
or be angry
or frustrated 

I have to remember... this is my place
That is their place.... I may not be there
but they are... 
and they have gotten to where they are much in the same way I got to where I am...
and I have to respect that!

As I was listening to anger and fear 
and frustration... I had to got to a place where I could remember
that if things had turned out differently
I would be in the same place they are
reacting, probably the same way.....
and that leads me to realize that
I don't know it all
I don't undestand it all
I may be wrong
It's all scarily realtive
Yes, there are some absolutes
be we even pick our absolute
it is an absolute that we must take care of the poor
for others it is an absolute that... well
there are many options
So it comes back to this
What we need right now is to take some deep breaths
To listen, more than we talk
To put ourselves inside the other person's pain and fear
To have compassion
To seek to understand
We only succeed as a country
When in humility we realize there is good and bad
on both ends of the spectrum
When we stop demonizing each other
When we stop feeding fear, and start nourishing hope
When we stop grasping and start giving
When we stop hating, and start looking at one another with the eyes of compassion
When we stop hurting and start helping
When we pull together
And realize we are all in this together
Oh, one more thing
To me it also reminds me that we must 
As a nation be more spiritual
not religious, there is more than enough of that
but spiritual
In touch with the sacred
In touch with the God in us
But also aware of the God in that person
Who voted differently from us
We need God
We need each other!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day

The polls are open
People are lined up

Expectant and fearful

I have already voted.  You have to love a state that votes by mail 
Yay! Oregon

But on this day I find I am more than a little pensive
I wish I knew which Romney was the real one
I wish Obama wasn't using drones
I wish the arrogance of wealth hadn't kept Romney from putting forth his tax returns
I wish Obama had changed the culture in Washington DC instead of being gobbled up by it

I wish the economy were better
I wish our country wasn't so divided
I wish

And yet there is some value in this pensiveness
In it lies some valuable lessons

One person isn't going to change our country
its all too big
too profound

We judge the person we are against by our fears
And the person we like by our hopes
and in both cases
that person will fall short

We only succeed as a country
When in humility we realize there is good and bad
on both ends of the spectrum
When we stop demonizing each other
When we stop feeding fear, and start nourishing hope
When we stop grasping and start giving
When we stop hating, and start looking at one another with the eyes of compassion
When we stop hurting and start helping
When we pull together
And realize we are all in this together

Oh, one more thing
To me it also reminds me that we must 
As a nation be more spiritual
not religious, there is more than enough of that
but spiritual

In touch with the sacred
In touch with the God in us
But also aware of the God in that person
Who votes differently from us
Who is poor, and yes, is trying to be responsible for his or her own life
But is battered by illness and poverty
Who is struggling with mental illness
Who is disabled
We need God
We need each other!
Don't surrender your loneliness (or fear) so quickly
Let it cut more deep
Let it ferment and season you as few human
or even divine ingredients can

something missing in my heart tonight has
made my eyes so soft, my voice so tender

my need of God, absolutely clear

Monday, November 5, 2012

The curse of ingratitude

Why is it
we are so ungrateful?

I read a joke the other day
that was funny
in a painful kind of way

As the story grows a grandmother was watching her grandson playing on the beach
A huge wave came in and washed him out to sea.
The grandmother prayed to God.  "Please God, save my only grandson.  I beg of your,
bring him back."

Suddenly another huge wave came
and washed the child back to shore.

The grandmother looked to heaven and said....
"he had a hat!"

We do not have everything
Sometimes it feels like we barely have enough
But most of us have so many blessings!

And yet
and yet
what we notice
what we see,
is what we don't have!

I have
a meaningful job
a nice house
a great car
a beautiful place in which to live

And yet there are days when in my soul I am a major whiner
I am looking at the things I don't have
the things I want
I take the little things that aren't the way I want
and I make them everything

I let them define me
and shape my mood

before I judge those millionaires
and billionaires
and their inability to be satisfied
to realize they have enough
I should look at myself

and realize my own ingratitude
and accept the gifts that I have
the wonderful things I have been given

and live in gratitude
and in gratitude
find peace
and more
find generosity

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Election and Faith

We are now, oh so close to election day.  Long lines stretch into the dark this weekend, as people take advantage of early voting options.  Many people are hoping for the best, and fearing the worst.

And many people are praying
I am powerfully aware of people I respect,
people who have a deep faith
who believe Mr. Romney would be "God's choice" for President

Catholic Bishops and priests
some ministers
are so sure that God would choose Romney
that they endorse him from the pulpit

They point to the abortion issue
and gay marriage
and a handful of other ethical issues
and take their stand
with absolute certainty they hold
Bibles aloft and declare
God would vote Republican

I have other friends 
people I respect,
people who have a deep faith,
who believe Obama would be "God's choice" for President
they point to the many passages in the bible about taking care of the poor
and providing for the "strangers" in our midst
they talk about not judging, and compassion
and feel the policies of the Democrats better match the Biblical mandate

I have to admit, I tend to like those better who seem to want to take care of the poor
and are for generosity and compassion

I have been thinking about certainty
One of the things I have learned about God
is that God is too big
too complex
for me to understand

this is the mystery the Bible talks about
that unknowable side of God
that so often surprises, even shocks us

I can be certain there is a God
I can be certain that God is love
I can be certain that God is all about grace
When it comes to God I can be certain of many things

But when I 
or any one presumes to know fully
religious arrogance ensues
as does rigidity
and yes, violence

we cannot for a moment presume we know everything, or even most things about God
we can only know some things
those things revealed and inadequately expressed in story and metaphor
and more adequately expressed in  Jesus

we must be honest
and understand that we are stuck between knowing and unknowing

Richard Rohr talks about us having to accept both the mountaintop, the place of certainty, and the desert, the place of wandering. 

“The mountain is about presence, the desert about absence”
“The mountain is about speaking, the desert about silence”
“The mountain is about knowing, the desert about not knowing.”

unless we understand this 
our certitude about what God wants, about our being on "God's side 
will lead to us to use God 
yes, use God

to justify violence, hatred, prejudice and "our" way of doing things

we must live in the middle
between certainty and uncertainty, knowing and un-knowing
and in that middle way, go deep, into our deepest self
through prayer and meditation

and there in that deep place
listen, and receive, and draw forth deeper truths and meanings
and in that place,
find humility

God is not a Republican
Nor is God a Democrat

God is the one we know
at the depths of our being
and the one we can never totally know

God is the One revealed in Jesus
who told us to take care of the strangers
feed the poor
clothe the naked
protect the weak

I might be certain I know what that means about how I should vote
but in humility and uncertainty
I cannot speak for God

as one who lives between knowing and unknowing
I can only pray
and in humility and with uncertainty, vote according to what seem to me
to be the teachings of God
and the prompting of the Spirit

I can only pray
and in humility and uncertainty
treat with respect those whose faith takes them to a different place

I can only pray
and in humility and uncertainty
try not to move into arrogance or anger
try not to name call or belittle
try not to "use God" to justify my own way of thinking

but instead let God be God
and speak for Him/Herself  (I don't have that figured out either, but using both seems safer)

and in humility and uncertainty
hope we listen
and hear
and vote accordingly

Which way should that be?
I'm certain
but then again
I'm not

Blessings my friends
Go with your Biblical conscience
But Vote!

The search is on

In many parts of the world
water is scarce and precious
People sometimes have to walk a great distance, then carry heavy jugs upon their heads.
Because of our wisdom, we will travel far for love.  
All movement is a sign of thirst
Most speaking really says, "I am hungry to know you"

Today I starting thinking
about where
my time
my energy
my focus goes
what things draw me
pull me
what makes me
"travel far"
what things stir me up?
create movement
in my mind
my heart
my soul?
what am I hungry for?
for what am I thirsty?
I know what I think
I know what I say
But what does my life say?
On what path will I find myself on tomorrow?
toward what
toward whom
will I be traveling?
will I travel at all
or simply sit in the dust?
Its worth thinking about!

Saturday, November 3, 2012


I always feel inadequate when it comes to prayer
I know, seems odd coming from a pastor
but seriously

there are those prayers
that are long
full of amazing phrases

and then there my short little offerings

I am sorry, I just can't do it
especially when it comes to public prayer

its not my thing!

its not that I don't pray
but my prayers are....

I walk outside in the morning
and see the tamaracks turning golden in the fall air
and I say, "thank you'

I see a person walking down the street
that I know is struggling
and I say "be with them Lord"

I look at my own struggles
and I simply say help

I am a walking prayer
my prayers may be as short as word
and are rarely longer than a sentence

I'd like to think God understands! 

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Suffering Formula

Christopher Germer
in his book on self compassion says that suffering equals the gap between what we have, and what we want.

I thought a lot about that today
I work with a lot of hurting people and I know have to agree
much of the pain I see comes from expectations that are, to put it mildly, unrealistic

I expect people to like me
I expect my mother, who has never been nurturing, to nurture me
I expect to be well of
I expect that my wife (or husband) will always treat me with respect

I am disappointed in life
it is not what I expected!

And I have to admit
it all becomes even more powerful when I look at myself.

I want to be a certain type of leader
i want to be a certain kind of boss
I want to be loved
I want 
I want 
I want

As long as I hang on to my expectations
my ideas about how things should be
even my ideas about God, and how God works

As long as I am attached to
my things
my dreams
my wants

I am usually miserable

Lord help me let go
of my wants, 
my desires
my expectations

and gratefully accept
moment by moment
the gifts that come my way

Thursday, November 1, 2012

I, Thou, We

I do a lot of reading
as most of my friends know
I have shelves of books
some of the new, barely explored

others old friends among whose pages
I have wandered countless times

Sitting there
small, but not insignificant
among heftier tomes
is Martin Buber's little masterpiece
"I and Thou"

Buber's work has been referenced
in at least three other books I have read recently
used different ways
but all still talking about the way
through dialogue 

help shape and form and create each other
When the relationship is I - Thou
rather than I - It 
(or in these days it might be even more powerful to think of "I - THEY"

it is a lover - beloved relationship
in which people find not only each other
but in fact, themselves...

your "Thou", helps me discover my "I"

Gone is the functional, calculating 
relationship where affection and value must be earned
and is not just given

One author goes even further
and suggests what would be even better
would be a "we"

where our encounters with others 
leads to kind of a Hegelian sythnesis
which is somehow better, more evolved 
that what was there before

I love that idea
it brings to mind the concept of synergy
where 2 + 2 = 5
or 6 
or more

The idea that two people
coming together creates a reality that is bigger
more loving 
than if they had never come together at all

And yet, we seem to be so stuck
in that "I - It" world
where one must be right
one wrong
where one must lose
one win

Yesterday I sat with a number of people
I also sat with cancer
impending death
I sat with frailty 
and heart failure
I sat with addiction

It was a day just to sit
and listen
and try to be a Thou 
so they could be an I
and the kind of I so they
could be a Thou
(confused?  I am)

Mostly it was a day to just 
be with
sometimes mostly in silence
to create a 'we'
a moment of transcendence
a moment 
that was sacred, loving, 
and healing