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

Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year Comin'

New year coming!

We make a lot of this time
when numbers change
and somehow
we think
we can too

We think about all the things we want to do
We think of how we want to be

But new years is not just a matter of grabbing hold of the new
it is also a time of letting go
How many things do we drag with us
day after day 
month after month
year after year

how many fears
how much guilt

starting fresh is not just a matter of grabbing hold of the future
it is also a matter of learning what to leave behind

it is also a matter of trust
sometimes we wait for the path to be clear
all the way to the end
before we take our first step

when we do this, we rarely start
and all too often the end we think we see, is not the destination at which we arrive

John Shea puts it well
"If we wait for the new future before we break with the old
we will never move.  We will have to brave the darkness, even trust it, if we 
are to find a better way."

Happy New Years my friends
let go
look forward with expectation
step into your new future
your new identity
that one given you by god

Happy 2013

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Where does right action come from?

Where does action come from?
How do we birth the Christ?
How do we allow the Light to shine forth,
and extend itself into a darkening world?

Being light
is not only a matter of what we do
but where we do it from

acting out of guilt
is not the same as acting out of love

do we not think
that the world sees the quality of the light?
do we not know
that people know when were are working on them
rather than for them?

Action is not a matter of motivation
It is a matter of finding the spiritual source of action
it is finding that place of love
that is deeper than the mind

it is finding a place that is beyond agendas
and motives

actions from this place
actions that come, when we have emptied ourselves
and be "filled with God"
much as Mary was filled with God

actions that flow from the spiritual center
will always shine forth
as love and compassion and engagement
rather than fear and avoidance and objectifying

When the light shines from this place
it will overcome the darkness

so action
right action
comes from an empty center

filled with God

Friday, December 28, 2012

Hungry Again (and again)

Adam and Eve woke up
They were hungry
and so they ate

and six hours later
they were hungry again (from a story by John Shea)

hungry Adam
hungry Eve
hungry Stephen
hungry all of us
that hungering dark

we are always hungry
and thus
always searching

Christmas comes and we buy
New Years comes and we party
The new day dawns and we resolve
to do things better
this year

and still the hunger returns
we find the bread of the world
the bread for all
until we taste
and see

and it is good

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Hiding in the light

Hoary morning
late moon
early sun

gently easing the day
into being

frost and snow
glittering sparkling dancing magical

turning dry branches
into wands

in the grass
pressing shrinking
a doe lies
ears flat
hoping beyond hope
not to be seen

powerless vulnerable afraid
eyes big
as I pass by

how many times I see her
each day
in many forms
many places

how often I am her

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Accepting the Gift

"Everything I have is also yours...
So forgive Hafiz and the Friend if we break into a sweet laughter when
your heart complains of being thirsty"

Pretty much says it all

There are so many gifts offered
by God, by people around us
The gift of forgiveness
Gifts of affirmation and compassion
but all to often
our guilt
our shame
our pain
closes us down
blocks our receptivity
and we do not recieved
a gift cannot really be a gift
unless received
we be must open to gifts offered
especially the gift
that is God
and love

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Lost and Found

Lost is lost

Some times I wander

Looking at this world created
Seeing only the
With the eye secular
Seeing only the hate and greed
And fear

And knowing
Too keenly that I am lost

Sometime I dive into the sacred
I become drowned
In the sea of eternity
Sunk into the depths of the sacred
Out of this world
lost in God

But lost is still lost

In a child
Sacred and secular are found
Bound inside the swaddling cloths
Bound inside a child

Who draws together

Creation is invaded by the creator
Creator in the created is bound

And in that single one
In that union

I am found

Monday, December 24, 2012

Manger Talk on Christmas Eve

There it lies
a wrinkled bit of flesh
squalling into the night
the delight of his mother's 

but to us
just a baby
just that pink
and squalling mess

that baby in a manger
so common

and yet

lying there in that trough
made for feeding

do we not see glimmers of some truth
that he may be more than we see
or understand

that he may be
food for the world
that he might become
bread broken
and wine poured

sustenance for us
for me

what I need to live

He is the Way
Follow Him through the Land of Unlikeness;
You will rare beasts, and have unique adventures
He is the Truth
Seek Him in the Kingdom of Anxiety
you will come to a great city
that has expected your return for years.
He is the Life
Love Him in the World of the Flesh;
And at your marriage all its occasions shall dance for joy.
                                                          W.H. Auden

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Spiritual Life

The spiritual life
is not a matter of doctrine
right thinking
and rituals

it is a matter of seeing
it is all of life
seen from a certain perspective

it is 
waking, sleeping dreaming
eating, drinking
relaxing, recreating
walking, standing, and breathing
understood and experienced
and seen
though the eyes of the soul

the spiritual life is simply life
seen from the vantage point
of the Spirit.

it is heaven and earth
An Advent Antiphon
"Drop down, you heavens, from above and let the skies pour down the Just One"

"Let the earth open up and bud forth a Savior"
                                                       Quoted in "Starlight" by John Shea

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Baby Jesus, Manger Boy

"But I don't look like a sun"
a young star still wrapped in swaddling
veils said.

To which I replied,

"But you will, my dear... so don't worry. Don't fret"

Baby Jesus
Manger boy
wrapped in swaddling cloths
not looking much like a King
even less like God
and yet
the light could not be kept
under wraps
and shone
for all the world to see

we too
each of us
called to be the light of the world
called to shine

we may struggle
a bit
and sometimes the light
may be under wraps

but we should make no mistake
the sacred in us will win. . .
or at least, can win
if we are willing

to shine

Friday, December 21, 2012

Wander and Bump

There was a wonderful cartoon which showed a family crossing the Sahara desert on camels.  First came the father, then on a second camel, the mother, and finally, on smaller camels, three children.  The last little girl and father were obviously have a dialogue and the father looked back and shouted to her,  "Stop asking if we're almost there yet, we're nomads for crying out loud."

All of us
in one way or another
are nomads

wandering through life
never quite there

we are looking for so many destinations

but it seems we spend a lot of time
and not finding

and I times we get a little frustrated
with it all
this wandering
it seems
so unproductive
and we feel
so lost
but sometimes I think
wandering is not so bad
I think about Jesus
He seemed to wander at lot
His path seemed pretty undefined
he just wandered around
and bumped into people
and places
and situations
and when he did
he noticed
he looked with compassion
he acted
and he healed
Perhaps we are all meant to be nomads
people kind of wandering through life
not intent upon our destination
but intent upon our journey
perhaps we are meant to simple wander
and bump...
to wander
and see the people
the situations 
God places in our path
and notice
and look with compassion
and act
in love

There are divine riches everywhere

There are divine riches everywhere
The most natural way for most to find them is by caring for those who are close to you
as if they were our Beloved

it all seems dark
sometimes our lives seem empty
we start feeling
like we don't have enough

poor me

but there are divine riches everywhere
all we have to do
is open our eyes
and see
the wonders around us

the blessings that come
not as we strive for love
but that come
as we simply give love

as we feed the hungry
clothe the naked
comfort the sorrowful

the blessings that come
when we are there for others

this is how we share the light
it is also
how we fill our own cup
with joy

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Overcome evil with good

No heaven can come to us
unless our hearts find rest in it today
Take Heaven

No peace lies in the future
that is not hidden in this present instant.
Take Peace

The gloom of the world is but a shadow;
behind it, yet within our reach, is joy
Take Joy

As so at this Chirstmas time, I greet you with the prayer
that for you
now and forever
the day breaks
and the shadows flee away
                                                Fra Giovanni (1513)

It is a world of shadows
the shadow of fear that drives us
to arm ourselves
behind defenses stark
behind anger
and fear
behind prejudice
and guns
It is a world of shadows
where people struggle alone
sitting alone
with thoughts
that drive us deeper
into the darkness
 It is a world of shadows

where people strive and fail
where violence flares and children die
where poverty robs men and women of dignity
and greed creates empty wealth

It is a world of shadows
but we can take heaven
and find the kingdom within

We can take peace
and live each moment
in the divine presence

We can take joy
as we experience the power of  divine love

It is a world of shadows 

into the shadows have come a great light
in the land of the shadow of death 
a light has dawned

love has been born

evil is not over come by evil
nor guns by guns
nor hate by hate

the light shines
and the shadow is dispelled
only by good

that's the way God works

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Banning God

People say
that we have banned God

Shut God out from our schools
Shut God out of Christmas
or is that Xmas

Pushed God to the side
to such a degree 
that our culture 
is God-less

I really didn't realize
that God was so small

I mean I know God came as a baby
one small and squalling
red and raw

But there was power in that smallness
power in that child
as there is power in all children

Power is a funny thing
what looks like power to us 
is often not
oh there may be a kind of power
in bruality
in assault rifles
in attacking others with words

there may be a kind of power in money
and status

but Christmas shows a different kind of power
a power we barely understand

The baby of Christmas came into a world
that was often brutal
frequently deadly
Herod massacred children

It was a dark world

but then there was that baby

this baby came
this baby comes
it is still a dark world
the baby comes
to find our health is gone
our finances are precarious
our relationships as distant
our jobs are sucking us dry
It is a world of gloom and doom
children are massacred
but when the outer world is darkness
the baby comes
and brings to life
an inner world of transcendent love
this love which comes from God
and oozes from those who love God
this love 
defies the hate
the fear
the darkness
it overcomes 
all those things that seem so powerful
so scary so in control
And we are reminded
that God is big
really big
God cannot be shoved to the side
for whenever God is present
in a person's life
even in the life of a child
everything changes
Those who think God is banned from schools
just because ritualistic prayers have been banned
or that God is banned when people call a Christmas tree a Holiday tree
Those that think an act of horrific violence
by Herod
or by a disturbed young man
can remove God 
Have underestimated
the power of God's love
Have missed the meaning of the baby

Have your self
my friends,
a defiant Christmas :)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Hostility to Hospitality

Henri Nouwen, in his book "Reaching Out" suggests that 
one of the main movements in the spiritual life
is the "movement by which our hostilities can be converted into hospitality"

I have thought a lot about the recent events in Connecticut
And I have decided, when thinking about it all
That hostility marks our age

It was hostility, a sense that one is surrounded by enemies
That, perhaps, drove Adam's mother to gather weapons
Hostility, that kept the mother and son isolated and alone
Hostility that drove Adam to his act of terror

Perhaps he felt he needed, for some reason to do the most horrendous thing possible
kill children.

I think of Herod, when I think of this.  This man who would be king 
who feared the enemy
who feared the child who might take away his power
and so murdered the innocents of Bethlehem

But I have been stuck just as powerfully by the hostility of 
those who are for guns
and those who are against guns
those who name call
and batter and abuse each others in the comment sections on the internet

so much violence
so much hate
us, them
the enemy

what if
what if
what if
we could transform the hostility into hospitality?
what if, sure of our ground
sure that we stand on holy ground
in the presence of the sacred

what if we could offer
if we could create
as people filled with god
and those oozing the sacred
in the form of hope, peace, joy and love

what if we could create "a free and friendly space"
a place where others could lay down their hostility
a place where light overwhelms the darkness of 
fear and hate
and banishes loneliness

what if.....

"Hospitality, therefore, means primarily the creation of a free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy.  Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place.  It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines.  It is not to lead our neighbor into a corner where there are not alternatives left, but to open a wide spectrum of options for choice and commitment.  It is no an educated intimidation with good books, good stories and good works, but the liberation of fearful hearts so that words can find roots and bear ample fruit.  it is not a method of making our God and our way into the criteria of happiness, but the opening of an opportunity to others to find their God and their way.  The paradox of hospitality is that it wants to create emptiness.  Not a fearful emptiness but a friendly emptiness where strangers can enter and discover themselves as created free.  Free to sing their own songs, speak their own languages, dance their own dance...."   (Henri Nouwen,  "Reaching Out'  pp.71,72)

Finding Freedom

"Our value, our sense of enough, will never, ever be granted by the world. Our wealth is in being part of something larger, the family of the earth, the body of Christ, the sangha of the Buddha, the mosque, temple, ashram, or community of service. What we bring is our own uniquely precious, yet ultimately very small gift, to a very large table....Play with the freedom of being ordinary, nobody special. Remind yourself: The world isn't waiting for me to do, fix, heal, or proclaim anything. The pressure is off. Nobody is watching me. Why should they? I am just an ordinary human being, a child of the earth, like everyone else. I am perfectly good enough, just the way I am."   
                                                               Wayne Muller

I am always tempted
to find ways to feel special
I am always tempted to think
I must do something, say something, be something
that will make people like me
I often want people to make me feel special

and that can have its unhealthy side
It is this sense that I must
fix, heal, proclaim
that too often drives me
It is this need to be liked
that shape the way I am in this world

Jesus after his baptism, went an hid in the desert
Satan tempted him by asking him
to make himself noticeable
Jesus refused

The heroes in the  New Testament are often the humble
the outcast
the insiginificant

Peter was at his worst when he was trying hard
to be the best

Lord teach me this day
simply to be a child of the earth
help me to understand that it is when
I am quietly
just present at the table

that it is when I am just present
gently caring
that I am the greatest power for good
and am enough      

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Seriously people!

I made the mistake this morning
of reading the news on the internet
I made the bigger mistake of reading the comments
posted after the articles

I am sorry I did that
the comments are painful
for their twisted logic
their hate
their bias

my whole being was assaulted 
by the name calling
the brutality
the excess of emotion present

for a few moments I wrote some responses
trying to insert fact
trying to moderate the insanity

but then I realized
that this is a sickness I cannot cure
I am not sure any of us can

we are looking 
at the face of fear

fear of "them"

that "they" will break into my house and attack me (so I need guns)
that the nasty government will become a dictatorship (so I need guns) 
actually fear of almost everything
including vaccinations
(how that got into a discussion about Sandy Hook is a long story)

Even fear of God was present, with the "turn or burn" (law not grace) crowd making a strong showing  (I read an argument that the teacher who died protecting the children might not have been a Christian, so was in hell, yes, really)

ultimately the fear leads to hate
and the hate?
We see that all too clearly

So much of what makes our society sick
and dangerous
and deadly
emerges out of fear

I can only imagine the fears that assailed the mother 
who stockpiled guns
and, apparently, taught her son to use them

In the Word we are told 
that "perfect love casts out all fear"

The love that was in Victoria
as she protected her students
The love that say
violence stops here
The love of God that says, "come to me... and rest"

We don't love very well
We really do need the love of god in us
to get to that place where we love others
and can move away from fear
and fear based behaviors

So for my part, I am not going to buy a new gun
I am going to let the spark of the sacred God placed in me
connect me to God
and I am going to nurture that connection
and seek to learn how to love
more deeply
more selflessly
more powerfully

and that is how I am going to combat evil

will love protect me if someone comes after me with a gun?
But I can live with that
And die with that

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Mary Mary

Mary Mary
What ya gonna call that baby.....

In the light of the events at Sandy Hook
I started thinking about Mary
and not just Mary


and Jesus

The words of scripture echo....
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only son....."

The images of scripture haunt us
Mary pondering
Mary at the foot of the cross

God understands
better than we can ever comprehend
God understands
and God
is with us
going through this pain...
knowing this pain

and working
to make good emerge from evil
to transform

Friday, December 14, 2012

God weeps

I read the news
I think of my children
I think of my granddaughter

and my heart weeps
for children

brutalized by what?

children killed
by ideologies
that don't work
and foster
a culture of violence

I have read
and re-read the blogs
I have made my comments
and yet
I see 

a culture of violence

I see
hatred and bigotry

I see fear

I see violence proposed as a cure for violence

we are so deluded
can we not understand
that the cross is our model

did Jesus have a sword so
that not only Romans would have swords?
Did he react to violence and hatred with 
violence and hatred?
no... the cross says
it all ends here

it all
ends here
the hate

the violence 
the death
it ends because
refuse to continue the pattern
refuse to keep the loop of violence and death intact

but we do not see
we do not understand
we pick up the sword
the gun

and children die
and God weeps

Fast time, slow time

.... here's the truth of it: Everything precious, beautiful, or sacred needs time. Love needs time; friendship needs time; children need time; honesty, contentment, peace, authentic relationships, honest attention, curiosity, our best work, all these live and flourish only in the sweet soil of unhurried time.  Now, today, we are called inward, to tend to the timing of our hearts. Because enough — enough to satisfy our aching need for relief, spaciousness, and ease within whatever we have this day — needs time.
                                                                                                 Wayne Muller

Time flies
Time stood still

We know about time
Mostly we know that we feel like we don't have enough
We speed through our days
our hours
our minutes

We speed through life
Our minds spin
Almost faster than we can comprehend....

We have gadgets
smart phones
all designed to help us make the most of our time

and yet
at moments the world stands still
when our child is born
when someone we love dies
when a sunset cannot be ignored

when we play with a grandchild
are with one we love

I seems to me that the deepest moments,
the moments when I am most fully myself
come not when I am racing through my day
but come when I have time
take time
"make" time

When the cell phone stays in the car
and I listen to a person share their hurt
or perhaps their hope

when I walk through the woods and gaze
at the mountains

when I slow down

the deepest moments come
when time stands still
in the face of death and birth
extreme pain and extreme joy

I need to slow down
even stop
a lot more......


"Those that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength....."