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

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

No Part Left Out

I cannot 
she said
bent in the chair
a question mark in the flesh

do this 'stupid affirmation thing"
I can't reframe
and find a way to make myself

I simply am not
am not

I try to think about the positive 
I try to say things
that would give me a sense of value and power
it seems a lie

sometimes we are trapped
in the world of either / or
I am either bad or good
weak or strong
crazy or sane

and so we try to leave the parts behind
we do not like
I can't be bad if i am good
or weak if I am strong

but we can leave no part behind
we are who we are
all of use
we are good and bad
strong and weak
moral and
well, not so moral

we must embrace
take care of
have compassion on that part of us we do not like
so that we might truly embrace
the rest of us

"Watching the moon
at midnight
solitary, mid-sky
I knew myself completely
no part left out": (Izumi Shikibu)

I Am

I am.....
How we finish that sentence matters
When Moses encountered God at the burning bush
Moses really needed a name
Who sends me?
and God
who cannot really be named replied
as that bush crackled and roared
and the sand grew hot beneath Moses feet
I am
I am who I am
Who am I?
Who are you?
How do we label
How do we name ourselves?

I am a child of God?
I am the light of the world?
I am a therapist?
A father?

People come to me
bearing their diagnosis as a name
I am abused
I am depressed
I am the child of alcoholics

We must be careful how we name ourselves
how we name ourselves colors how we see the world
and shapes how we live

If I have named myself "therapist"
I might feel caring, or grateful
overwhelmed or humble

If I have named myself a dreamer
I might feel free to dream
but condemn myself for not being practical

We must also be careful how we label others

Because beneath the labels

behind the labels we give others
and the names we place on ourselves
is a child of the Spirit
a child of God

fully equiped
with wisdom and strength
grace and light

waiting to be found
and named

awake oh children of God
for that is what we are

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Community is key

Another person
hurting and vulnerable
the pain he is carrying etched in
crooked lines across his face
and swirling deeply in the darkness of his eyes

hands clasped
he sits bent
as if the weight of all the world
is slowly crushing him into
the emptiness of himself
collapsing him like a used soda can
no longer of any use

as we talk I gently unravel
the threads of his life
seeking to understanding
seeking to add a touch of compassion 
into a life leavened by too much anger and fear

"who can you turn to, when life goes bad"

"no one'
comes the reply
"I have no one"

we need each other
if we would not be bent and twisted by the world
tortured into images of pain
and emptiness
we need each other

a drop of water
by itself
will never make it to the sea
the heat of life will destroy it long
before it ever arrives

but when we make the journey together
if we go as a river
if we go together
if we go as a community

we are sure to arrive

we need each other

Monday, January 28, 2013

It is who we are!

It seems so simple really
when you see it
when the light bulb finally comes on 
in a brain dimly lit

It is who we are
not what we do

It is who we are inside
it is that inner solidity that keeps us 
from being crush
when the world seeks to crush us
crumpling us
like an empty can

but if we are not empty?

and it is who are
it is being full of peace and joy
love and compassion
that makes us a force

that makes us people who can
the anger and fear
the violence
that rages
around us
and in those around us

its not what we do
it is not our words
our attempts to contribute
or accomplish

it is who we are
as we sit
and listen
and care

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Can we believe?

Based on the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18)

Oh Lord, says the proud man
I am your person
I follow the rules
I more than follow the rules.....
unlike those irresponsible ones
those people who are addicted,
and poor
those liars and cheats
I am thankful I am not like "them"

Oh Lord, says the hurting one
There is not much I can say
I am really a mess
Please have mercy
And then, here I am,
looking on….

I can tell you when I look at this story I find myself judging the judger.
Look at that arrogant person, that Westboro Baptist type person
Who has no compassion for those weaker than him.
Who thinks he can categorize others as outsiders… those outside of God’s love.

Here I am
Judging the judger

Here I am
looking at the Tax Collector… Still judging a little
Or perhaps identifying a little
but not ready… yet, to go full in on this grace thing

I mean after all.  Does this miserable piece of humanity….
Ooops, I mean does this poor repentant man really mean it?
Is he going to change?  Is he going to stop being a tax collector?  Stop doing bad things?

Here I am… judging still
Knowing he, and I are both sinners, but not really sure about God’s grace as it relates to his sins
Finding myself, in some ways, as judgmental as the Pharisee

Here we are
The super righteous , the unrighteous, and even those of us who are semi righteous
We all have the same issue…….

We don’t quite trust,  don’t quite believe in God’s grace
God’s scandalous love

Mr Righteous didn’t… he thought he had to do it himself
And sadly thought he could, that is where the judgment came from

Mr Unrighteous hoped in that grace… but I wonder if he really believed it
I wonder if he really knew, without a doubt, that as bad as he was
He was forgiven, loved, accepted

He was, Jesus told us that didn’t he?  But did the tax collector really get it?
Or was he just engaging in wishful thinking?

And what about us?
Can we believe in God’s love?
That it is big enough for that hateful, angry judging person we see on TV
Or have met in our own lives?

Can we believe in God’s love?
That it is big enough for the person who hurt us
Robbed us?
That it is big enough for the young man who killed those children?

Can we believe in God’s love
That it is big enough for us
Who mostly, but perhaps not quite, believe in the love and forgiveness
And in God’s acceptance of us?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The way out is in

The world I see
The world I experience
Is the world I create
Whether it is full of love and companionship
Or full of hate and danger 
is to an almost scary degree
up to me
Whether I see the soaring mountains
thrusting sharply into brilliant blue
or refuse to be amazed at this grandeur 
is up to me
whether that person I am struggling with
who is unhappy with me
and criticizes and says hurtful things about me
is a person who is unreasonable and wrong
or a person who is frightened and hurting
is up to me
When a love or friendship fractures
how I see the person who has 
broken our bond
is up to me
The world I see
The world I experience 
Is the world I create
through my own values
and perceptions
my heart is the lens of my soul
so what is in my heart
Which spiritual seeds have I watered?
Joy?  Hope? Love? Acceptance?
Fear?  Hate? Need?
what is in my heart matters
what is in my heart
the health of my heart determines
how I walk through my day
so I must constantly return to myself
I must connect with the sacred within
I must nurture the garden of my heart
and so the way out is in

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Original Fear

Original fear

so I step
onto the thin ice of acceptance

gently, slow
waiting breathlessly for a sound
a brittle snapping
as beneath my feet

that upon which I stand
cracks running wildly
like spiderwebs gone mad
dancing gleefully

and leaving me with no place

almost silently
tipping sliding
into the cold

rejected, alone
plunging into the icy cold
with no hand to reach out
and with with warm touch

and so deeper I go
alone with myself

original fear

Eyes that see

I seems like I have very small eyes

I remember as a child that green chalkboard
looming large and dark in the front of the classroom
while my teacher
chalk in hand

scribbled things that looked like nothing more
than vague white lines
waving their slow way across the empty expanse

then one day
with spectacles propped
on my then button nose
I looked to that same board and saw
letters and numbers galore
I remember going home and looking 
upon the familiar juniper laden hills behind my home
and seeing, for the first time
from afar
fences, and rocks
and yes
perhaps I need a new set of glasses
perhaps at my age I need trifocals
to bring into crisper image
those things I cannot see
I see vaguely
this world
and what is see is confusing
and often dark and frightening
I see the hate and fear
I see emptiness where,
in my minds eye love and companionship should be
I walk through life stumbling and falling
groping blindly
and missing
give me eyes that see

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Running on - running on empty

Running on-running on empty
Running on-running blind
Running on-running into the sun
But I'm running behind
Gotta do what you can just to keep your love alive
Trying not to confuse it with what you do to survive 
                                                     From a song by Jackson Browne


early morning angst 
pulls me awake
what did I forget to do
what must I do
this day

numbly I crunch through
frigid snow
stepping on glass
going through motions
now familiar
barely noticing the 
beautiful animals who gather
round me
icicle whiskers glistening in the early morning light
looking in the mirror
tosseled and worn
bent around the edges
blurred by fatigue

another morning
another day

running on empty
running blind
what am I missing
what am i leaving behind?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Forgetting who I am

Sometimes I need to remember
to remember a saturday morning
a smile
the gentle touch of the breeze
the warmth of early love
the time when God was really present

Sometimes I forget
hard words
bad choices
failures to love
blur my vision
and I can no longer remember
what is sacred
I forget, myself
I forget the Divine

Sometimes I forget
because I am simply moving too fast
rushing through life
barely tasting
the sweet nectar

Lord teach me to know
what to remember
thank you for reminding me
to take time for the Sacred on the sabbath
for the meal of remembrance
the bread and the wine

thank for days that blossom new
with gentle breezes
and blue skies
new choices
new chances

thank you for people
and rivers 
and mountains
and moments of love

that startle me into remembrance
and slow me down
so I might savor
and remember who
in you 
I am

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Key to Joy

A wise sage once said
"The key to joy is being easily pleased"

I have so many expectations
I want this
I want that
I am taught to want
by the ads who tell me
I don't have what I want
and need

I don't have enough
enough stuff
enough money
enough love
enough of anything

I am taught that I don't have enough
by my ego (not in the bad sense, just this "self" I have constructed)
that tells me 
I am not enough

that I must have more ability
more talent
more power
more influence

and yet
there is so much
right there
in front of my eyes
if I will just see

there is the love of a friend 
the silly smile of my granddaughter
a walk at the zoo with my daughter
and her wonderful husband

there is a little black girl
with a mom with stage four cancer
who calls me Grampa  Steve

there are new friends
and old friends
there is the brilliance of the sky

there is Mount Joseph 
soaring into that brilliant blue

there is Kramer (my cat)
snuggling against me,
glad that I am home

if I just accept the life
as it comes my way
if I am just easily pleased
I can have so much joy
This does not means there are not hurts, and disappointments
This does not mean challenges need to be denied
life is what it is
God is everywhere
and gifts 
are waiting

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Abiding in Love

is accepting
it is allowing something
to be

Jesus says abide in my love
which is another way to say
abide in me
just let me be

in your heart
your mind
your life

let yourself 
enter my love
and rest there

But don't just rest
for abiding is also acting
acting in accordance with

to abide in Jesus
means to "enter into his act of loving
and abiding there."  (Beateau)

but more
it means that
because we are in the heart of Christ
joining Christ in the activity of loving
We abide in Christ by loving each other

do we get that?
we do not honor Christ 
by talking hate
or promoting fear
by attacking
and minimizing others

it doesn't matter where we are on the issues
or repuglican 
(yes that was an attempt at humor)

how we present our faith
how we honor our faith
how we stand up for our values

how we do it counts

We abide in Christ
by loving each other 

do we get that?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Why Does God Love Me?

This is the thing
the core thing
that I think I have the most trouble with in my relationship with the Sacred
God does not love me because I am worthy, because I am lovable
Nor does God love me because I am unlovable, unworthy.

When it comes to love God doesn't seem to work in the realm of 
at all.

God loves because God is love
that is what God does
that is who God IS

Oh, I know, there are consequences to actions
and we can deny love
I get all that

But, I have no grounds for believing God doesn't LOVEme
because I am unworthy
Jesus makes that very clear

But I struggle with this.
Beatrice Bruteau makes this startling comment....

"sometimes we want to be loveable more than we want to be loved"

Wow!  That is SO me!

I want to be loveable
I want to deserve love, earn love
I want the other person to "have to" love me

I think this gives me power, and control of a sort
if I am wonderful
then I have the power to make the other person love me
and this gives me, so I think, a security of love
of course they must continue to love me
how could they not?

I have been this...
done that....

but to just accept love
and to accept that this love
coming to me may just be
may just emerge out of the heart of the  other person
who may be able to love me
because they have accepted love
that comes out of the heart of God...

Honestly, that is difficult

I have trouble going there
It has to be about me
How can there be a love that is
not earned
not deserved?

And yet
that is how God works

I am not there yet
I am not yet ready to let go of my need to be deserving
and just accept

when it comes

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

We need a new God

"We get the kind of world
we ourselves create by our faith.
Change the faith, change the assumptions and the perceptions will change
Change the perceptions and the attitudes will change
Change the attitudes and the actions will change
Change your faith, and your get a new world."
                                                    Beatrice Bruteau

What kind of world
am I creating God?

Is my faith in a God who is distant and uncaring?
Is my faith in a God who is threatening
or rewarding, or punishing?

Is my faith all about fear
and measuring up
being judged
being "in" or "out"
due to my own deservedness?

Then my world will be one
where people judge who is in
and who is out
where we see people as friends or enemies
superior or inferior

it will be a world of fear
and hate
and anger
of posturing 
it will be 
the world we have

If my God is a God of generosity
and unconditional love
of hope 
and acceptance
of grace.

then fear will be cast out
love will win
and I will be free
to love myself
to love and accept others
to feel safe
in the everlasting arms
and in safety


I think I
I think we
need a new God

not really a new God
just a newly found God
who has been here
from all eternity

Settling into the Divine

The journey
Through the peaks and valleys of our existence
Is twisted and full of pitfalls

and we
 in our fragility
 often get broken

Like bottles tossed carelessly to the side of the road.
we lie
 shattered, in pieces,
irregular fragments glistening in the sun
Raw edges, sharp and tortured,

There are pieces of us scattered along the roads we have traveled,

is often how I feel

I do it to my self
mental health program
more meetings

plugged in
it doesn't really matter

my head is roaring
and I am pulled a thousand directions
do this 
do that
don't forget
I forgot
Oh My God!

and that is why
there is a need in my life
as in every life to find a point of focus
a place to be
where the spinning world 
can settle

I love the story about the murky pool of water
which when tossed by wind
or swirled by a hand is cloudy
which when calm
when all the pieces of dirt and rock have settled
become clear

our minds, our souls, our hearts are like that 
we need to settle 
to stop
to let all the debris gently drift down 
leaving us able to see

the point of focus
the center on which
I wish to rest
the place I want to come to with a 
kind of wholeness,
with all my energy
is the Sacred, the Divine One

I want to learn how to 
get my entire soul involved, my entire mind, my entire heart

I believe
that in my scattered existance
this kind of love toward God
is the greatest thing

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Close to the Heart

I sometimes imagine
walking with Jesus

its difficult sometimes
to put myself in the picture
how would it have been
how would I have been

I think about those who met him
the eager ones, rushing toward him
wanting to establish
a place
right there
next to him!

at the right hand!

of those confrontive ones
who found he violated
all that the stood for
who hated who he was
and wanted to twist
his words
his teachings
to make him in their image
or destroy him
I think about those who lurked
around the edges of the crowd
almost daring
to speak, to reach out
to look him in the eye
of those who quietly listened
but mostly I remember John
at that last meal
leaning back
melting into the
embrace of Christ
looking up
becoming one
getting closer to the heart of Jesus
and coming closer
to his own heart
allowing Jesus heart to become
the heart of his heart

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Prayer. Do we have it backwards?

I sometimes think we have it backwards when it comes to prayer.
We think it is about us getting through to God.  But perhaps, it is more about God getting through to us.

I like what Søren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher, wrote in his journals,
“One kind of person thinks and imagines that when he prays, the important thing—
the thing he must concentrate upon is that God should hear what he is praying for.
And yet in the true, eternal sense it is just the reverse.
The true relationship in prayer is not when God hears what is prayed for,
but when the person praying continues to pray until he is the one who hears,
who knows, what God wills.”

Beatrice Bruteau, in the book “Radical Optimism says something  similar.  God, she assumes, is always attentive toward us…. Unlike that nasty judge  - and so what is needed is for us to turn all our attention toward God.  This can be just thinking about God, reading scripture, prayer, meditation… there are so many ways to be “persistent” in our approach to God.  Be we just keep focusing on God.  Approaching God.  Seeking God.  Listening to God.

We are like spiritual stalkers….. And that is when it happens….Bruteau writes, ”We hold steadily on the realization of Jesus’ personal being turned toward us, and we ourselves are responding with a whole mind that has no other thought than what we are answering to him.  Our attentions, his and ours are locked together, each pouring itself fully and strongly into the other.”

Persistence opens the flow.  With persistent pray, persistent focus, little by little the power of God begins to trickle through and penetrate our hearts so that we don’t lose heart.

Persistence creates connection
Constant connection causes us to be locked together with the Divine
And our sense of the divine presence
The divine love

And then it flows
That love that passes our understanding
The love flows, presence flows, guidance flows, spirit flows, God flows,

And that changes everything. 

So take whatever it is that is in your heart
Take that hurt
That problem
That situation
Take whatever it is, that seems unsolvable, unresolvable
Whatever it is that makes you feel helpless

Take it
And give it to God…
And again
And again

And at the very least, God will happen

Saturday, January 12, 2013

In God's loving eyes

Know the true nature of your Beloved
In His loving eyes your every thought

word, and movement is always, always

I have critical eyes
it is not so much that they are critical of others

I often am unhappy
very with what I
see in that 
damnable mirror

sometimes it seems
like every little flaw
leaps out at me
my point of focus
and all I can see
but what a waste of energy
it can be
to look in that mirror
seeking to hide
or compensate
or deny
I am who I am
You are who you are
and if we can 
in this moment 
celebrate who we are
in God's eyes
if we can see ourselves
as those in the image of the sacred
as those who carry the diving in us
as those who are
the children of God
if we can see ourselves
and in each moment
just be
that person
that created to be

Friday, January 11, 2013

the tired place

That vague place
where mind complains
at the idea
the very idea
of one more decision to be made
one more option to be explored

that place where
gaze at the screen
at little letters 
that some how fail to arrange themselves
into something meaningful

that place where a cloud
hangs over one's head
making the world seem
just one step away, behind the mist

that place where
arms and legs
are heavy
but not warm

and the ears 
echo with a faint roaring

and its only 8am


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Aching Hearts

In the Jewish mystical tradition, a great rabbi taught his disciples to memorize and contemplate the teachings and to place the prayers and holy words on their hearts.  One day a student asked the rabbi why he always used the phrase "on your heart" and not "in your heart".  the mast replied.  "Only time and grace can put the essence of these stories in your heart.  Here we recite them and put them on our hearts hoping that some day when our hearts break they will fall in."
                                                                                Jack Kornfield


Sometimes Lord
it seems like my heart breaks
Sometimes it is just too much

There is just so much sufferening
such a sense of


a spectator watching 
people, lives
just fall apart.

and yet
in those moments
words unheeded
not understood
work their way down 
through all the layers of confusion
and distraction
and hear 
as if for the first time
the Sacred One 
I am love
I love you
Take heart oh little one
and in that moment
I can take my broken heart
and hold it
with the love and dignity and appeciation
it deserves.

The Compass of My Heart

The voices are many
they clamor
and shout
the compete
for what little attention I can offer

Do this!
Worry about that!
What if?
Do your think?
How are you going to solve this?
What if? (again)

Each voice in side me
whether it is
the lions roar
or the still small voice

the voice of hope
or the voice of fear

rises up from
the deep reaches of my heart

mixed into the cacophony
is one voice
that speaks my highest intention
the thing I vow
to do and be
from the deepest spot of my heart
that spot where
God dwells
may that be 
in the in the midst of the noise
the voice that sets
the compass of my heart

Monday, January 7, 2013

We Make the World

You are not a drop in the ocean;
you are the entire ocean, in a drop.

The world was made
with a you-shaped hole in it.
In that way
you are important.
In that way
you are here to make the world.
In that way
you are called.
-Tara Sophia Mohr
Up in the mountains
it is easy to feel small
mountains soar
trees reach to the sky
the canyons open to the center of the eart
Down in the valley
it is easy to feel small
so much to do
so little time
so much complication
so few answers
and yet    
we are sacred
or rather the sacred is in us
and we are led
moment by moment
choice by choice
down a path that is ours alone
and every action
every word
every smile
that we  offer along the way
shapes the world
along the way
we who are small
and yet are all

heal hearts
and souls 
and minds
and fill the space
the place 
created just for us