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

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


can't live with them
can't live without them

as an introvert I find relationships a challenge
I can be friendly
and articulate about things that matter to me
I can smile
and even attend

and honestly
if we are being honest
I care a lot about people
I will do almost anything for someone I care about
I can't get very invested
even over invested
in another
wanting all the best for them

often behind the scenes I am supporting

but often I am a stealth friend

because when it comes to
just being with another person?
that is scary
and I feel more like
the 13 year old Stephen
a little awkward
ears sticking out
buzz cut
ugly glasses
and lets not forget that back brace

I am an introvert
pure and simple
so I care
and people don't really know 
I think about others
but I often don't let them know
I work for others
they don't know
and then
ah yes, this is the fun part
I find myself frustrated
by the isolation which I myself have created
so at work
at church
even at home
certainly in the community
I become a human doing
using what I accomplish as the measure of my existence
I long for what I seem to struggle most to build


Monday, April 29, 2013

Divine Discontent

God like a flea may bite you somewhere


the chair is comfortable
the morning
is cool
and misty

sitting on my deck 
my eyes wander
to the vague mountain hidden in the clouds

the coffee is hot
and strong

the birds come and go
deer silently wander through the trees

it would so easy
but sometimes
you have to move

sometimes we need
divine discontent

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Kiss the Joy? or "What me worry?"

this morning I woke
not early
not late

I seem to be a creature of habit lately
and in the dull grey
of an overcast morning
my mind
thought about though things past
things present

but mostly about things future

I thought about this morning
do I get up now
or later
feed the horses early, or wait till its light

and what about worship
what time do I want to drive down to that
quaint place
where our little outpost of the kingdom 
sometimes meets

and what will I do this afternoon?
and so my mind wandered
through the day 
the week
the months
the years ahead

and so I speculated
and so plotted and worried
I was wound up in the tendrils of 
so many
and so many "what ifs"
that I could barely breathe
and my future
closed in around me
leaving me feeling empty

and in that moment I knew
that it was time to
in this moment
in this day
it was time to breathe

it was time to 
smell, and feel and taste
this moment
to live it fully

it was time to 
"kiss the joy" (Blake)

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sun rise.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Divine Original

self esteem
how we see ourselves
how we are defined

we have a choice it seems
as to who defines us

Mostly I allow myself to be defined
by those around me
I listen to the voices
oh do I listen to the voices

you are smart
you are an idiot
you are talented
you are really not very good at what you do
you are kind
you are negligent
you are handsome, or not
you are a good person
you are not

so bit by bit
opinion by opinion
voice by voice
we are domesticated

and we try to pretend to be what we are not

and we are not happy
it doesn't work
to dance someone else's dance

we try to please everyone
but we cannot please ourselves

no wonder Jesus suggested we be more
like children
who are freer and wilder
who spin and dance with abandon
who skip and hope
laugh and
whose attention in is the moment

who are comfortable
in their own skin

Friday, April 26, 2013

On a 40th reunion

here we gather
it has been a long journey
for all of us
we have wandered through
this thing called life
and we wear the journey
no life journey is ultimately easy
along the way
life happens
all our gifts and abilities
all our planning cannot protect us from everything
from failure
from wanderings into the wasteland
friends and spouses die
marriages fail
sickness comes
we make mistakes
but here we are
not the same
and yet the same
faces that seem not to have changed at all
faces that seem to be merely
a vague memory 
of that young student 40 years past
we are wider, mostly
shorter (yes we do shrink with age)
some of us are pretty much what we had planned to be
when we walked away from this special place
so long ago
some of us have wandered far
from those original dreams
but here we are
and the bonds forged during those brief years
so many years ago
and the lessons learned
and the wounds endured
in the 40 years since
draw us together into a place
that cannot be described
but only experienced
as we greet each other
exchange hugs, and stories
exchange ourselves
and find solace
in each other 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A prayer for this day

It is the beginning
black turning to gray
faint shapes 
as day dawns
an owl hoots
spring birds
returned at last
sing in the darkness
this is a new day
I can enter it many ways
hands gripped tightly
ready to protect and resist and control
or I can enter it gently
and mind
and heart
and soul open
ready to embrace
the gifts you have to offer
 ready to really see
and hear those you place in my path
ready to feel the breeze
and the warmth of the sun

this day Lord
I am too tired to be tired
too anxious to be anxious
to hopeless
to carry the burden of hopelessness 
on more step

this day
I am going to lay all that down
and walk with the Spirit
and travel light

Thanks :)


*Thanks of course, to Anne Lamott for
her wonderful little book

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What is important?

"Beneath the many choices we have to make, love like water, flows back into 
the world through us.  It is the one great secret available to all"
Mark Nepo. "The Book of Awakening"   p. 136


flowing, bubbling

nourishing, life giving
once loose
water rushes
it covers all
it finds any little space
and fills it
moves through it
once loose
it is an irresistible power
a tsunami
like force

so too love

love should not
can not 
must not
be hugged to ourselves

The Sacred
who is Love insists that 
what is important
is for us to loosen our hearts
and cover our world
with love

To allow the penetrating
power to flow
to fill the wounds
to soothe the raw spaces 
 we are
Love's conduits

this is what is important

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

When Good Religions go BAD

Those Muslims!
They are all hateful 
They are killers
They are evil
so the voices cry out
Those Christians!
They are hateful
They oppress and judge people
they are killers
so the voices cry out
how do great faiths
the sources
of judgmentalism
and yes, death
It seems that the hateful visages we see on TV
the hateful and 
deadly actions come from those
who think it is all about them
they must protect the faith
they must keep others in line
they must be the keepers of the TRUTH
(whatever that is)
they must be 
warriors for God
their God
the one they have created in their own image
 if I understand anything
about God
not saying that I understand much
but if I understand anything about 
the Sacred 
the Divine

it is that God
is self sufficient

to be spiritual
to follow God
is not to take things into our own hands
it is not
no it is not
to decide what is right and what is wrong
who is in and who is out
on our own

and then live hate
legislate hate
share hate

to be spiritual is to go deep into our self
to that deepest place where
the sacred dwells
and listen carefully
to the voice of the divine

to feel the stirring of the Spirit

and grab hold of
however tenuously 
what it is God wants
and has
in love begun to do

and "second the motion!"  (Rohr)


We are always and forever the conduits, the instruments,
the tuning forks, the receiver stations (Romans8:22-27).  We slowly learn
the right frequencies that pick up the signal.
The core task of all spirituality is to teach us to "cooperate' with what 
God wants to do and has already begun to do (Romans 8:28).  
In fact nothing good could even enter our minds unless the previous moment God
had not already 'moved' within us.   We are always and forever  Merely seconding the motion.
Richard Rohr, "The Naked Now"  p.23

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Power of God's Love

slowly dawn breaks
the meteor laden night

the world emerges
light slashes through the trees
razor edged
sharp and insistent
revealing fresh snow
defining the trees
drawing forth
color out of grayness
ah the power of light
which shreds the darkness
so too
the power of 
as it penetrates 
the sometimes dark reaches
of our souls

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Where is God

I am a man of constant sorrows
some times I feel like I
resemble that remark

and I would guess that I am not alone in my affliction
the pain of the world
is just too hard to get away from

it shouts at us from our televisions
as we see pictures of mangled limbs
and anguished parents

as we hear the wails of villagers in
where a wedding became a funeral 
and watch the deadly chaos of Syria

But often pain is closer to home
we see it
all around
as people struggle with cancer
as young children get diabetes
as young women are raped and humiliated
and die at their own hand

we see it in poverty
and addiction
in mental illness
and emotional chaos
we see it in bad choices made
and consequences endured

sometimes in our pain
we cry
 "Where is God!"

Our minds race
to a myriad of questions?
Is there a God, a Sacred, a Something Greater
at all
at all?
Does that "something" engage with this reality
at all?
Does this power care?
Is that power out there, or in here?
Is the sacred merely a spectator?

call it faith
call it naivety
call it supidity

for me the only answer that works
the answer I come to
when I look long enough at the cross
is this 

God is here!
right here
in the midst of the pain
feeling it
participating in it 
going through it with me
making it bearable
not taking it away

but reminding me
that in the midst of it
I have all that I need.

It is within me


Friday, April 19, 2013

God's other name

Was thinking today
about two men
almost boys
who grew up in chaos and violence
created chaos and violence
and may well die, in chaos and violence

having worked in the Caucasus
I felt no surprise
indeed my first thought
the culture of violence in Chechnya
created these men
shaped them 
formed them
as inexorably as here in our country
family dynamics
ineffective parenting
cultures of hate
and prejudice
anger and violence
shape some of our young men and women
doom them?
ah this is the question that haunts me
can we escape our paths?
can we move away from
bad programming?
Someone once said
God's other name is surprise
out of death life
out of hate..... love?
out of chaos..... peace?
can lives battered by places of hate
and violence
by ideologies of hate and violence
be redeemed?

I struggle to say yes
but I cannot bear the idea 

God, rescue us
rescue all your broken children

Thursday, April 18, 2013

On the other side of the cloud

the bud in half bloom
outwaits the cloud
             Mark Nepo


some days
there is a cloud around my heart
a deep ache
a dullness

I think of children dead
of lives shattered
by acts of hate

by people damaged by 
ideologies that nurture
and anger

I see the pictures on the news
read the comments on articles
listen to
the fear soaked
rants of people who trust only in guns

I think of those who have fed that fear
those who lie
or manipulate facts
to perpetuate a culture
where bright young lives are cut short
and women are oppressed
and young girls are molested and victimized
and in despair die

and the cloud descends

and yet, if I give into that heaviness
if I let the cloud
make me believe that I there is no light
no love
no hope

then I become
like those fearful, hateful, power hungry ones
who seem
at times
to have won the day

on the other side of the cloud
the sun shines fiecely
on the other side of hate, love
on the other side of fear, compassion

on the other side of death, life
on the other side of the cross

"no cloud lasts forever
the earth knows this well, and all that grows from it
so does the heart
and everything that grows from it" (Nepo)

Thanks to Mark Nepo and is wonderful "Book of Awakening"  
Short thoughts and meditations that
help me start my day
Highly recommend

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The necessity of Sorrow

It is not possible 
to complete yourself without sorrow
Sorrow is a vital ingredient that shapes the heart 
and enriches it (Hafiz)


fresh snow
sunlight shining through the trees
makes me happy

so does a smile of greeting
on a beloveds face
or the nudge of a cat's nose
the nicker of a horse
as it walks across the pasture to greet me

so does the grandeur of the mountain
the freshness of rural air
on an early spring morn

these thing enrich my life
and bring me closer to God
and to myself
as well

but so too does sorrow
the sorrow of failure
of things said and done that have
pushed me
off the path and into
the wilderness of confusion and despair
so too relationship
fractured and shredded
by my own foolishness

so too the sorrow 
of the hatred and anger
the fear
seen in acts and words of violence
that hideous violence
of bomb
and the equally hideous 
of people on the internet
their blind anger
 life is joy and sorrow
peace and violence
order and chaos
as am I
in sorrow I am watered
and plant myself firmly in the sacred
and in joy
I blossom
and emerge
and become
a tree, planted by the water
(Psalm 1:3)

Monday, April 15, 2013

thoughts on the Boston bombing

sunny skies
dreams fulfilled
arms raised in triumphed
loved ones greeting

and then
legs gone
children dead


and in the shadows 
of the shadow
hateful voices 
alex jones
pointing the finger at our government
screaming out Muslims
others suggesting
that the radical right found a new way 
to celebrate patriot day

each word of hate
conspiracy intolerance
feeding the fury
and the hate

each word
a new act of terrorism

making it ever more certain
that more children will die
more people will be maimed
more will weep

many years ago a man faced
these same forces of evil
there was blood
there was a broken body

and there were the
words of the man
Father forgive them

and there was the voice of God
and violence

love is the only

The Soul is Drowning

like the soul is drowning
as if my whole being
is flooded
and feelings
fears and hopes
how do I regain
the wonder of life?

how do I keep my heart from sinking?

there is that place
deep within
that clear and honest place
which hears the
deepest cry

there is that place
deeper still
where God is

that place where
we understand and accept
and are healed

where the 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Immortal Self

And now
for the emotional weather report
cloudy with chance of storm
perhaps a tornado or two
even a hurricane

I become a mess

at the center of the storm
the eye
a sudden low

powered by negative

the most powerful kind of self-centeredness
is not greed or arrogance

it is insecurity
self depreciation
it is focusing on yourself
and blaming yourself

its being overwhelmed with what you have not done
or what you have done
or what you should have done
or should have been

in that place
things are dark
and we feel separated
and utterly alone

everything that comes our way
is a sign
of impending doom
a indicator
that worse is yet to come

but somewhere
underneath it all
is the immortal self
the self that is created by God
touched by God
inhabited by God
perhaps is God (the Spirit)

somewhere deep inside
is a sacred center
 a place
where we can find God
and yes
find ourselves
and find ourselves as connected to others

and in that place we can find our feet
once again on solid ground
we can find shelter from the storm
we can find



Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Soft Heart

Tilled ground the soft heart
and words like these the seeds
and words like these the water,
and words like these a sun


spring comes
and spring goes

one day the promise of green
the next
white and gray
with wind and snow

the ground is hard
still frozen
from the travails of winter

nothing can penetrate
not even 
the life giving water of spring

so the seeds
hiding beneath the surface
the blooms that will brighten the world
are held
as by a vice
by dry frozen hardness

ah for soft earth
where the gifts from heaven can enter in
and the promise
of life and joy can emerge

for a soft heart

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Spiritual Life

The spiritual life is about becoming more
at home 
in your own skin
                                             Parker J Palmer
Anything that removes what grows between our hearts 
and the day
is spiritual
                                         Mark Nepo 


Good grief
there is so much to do!

I have to work on my sermon, and do the bulletin, and call the community 
center, and look at the budget, and prepare the worship for
Presbytery, and work up a little meditation time for Presbytery, and check in with
that shut-in couple, and call "the State", and do the implementation plan
and feed the cats and clean the pasture, and deal with that upset
community member and, oops,we never did get that strategic plan done,
and that medical record system is still screwed up and

And I am wondering about how my sister is doing, darn, I forgot to call
and then there is that issue when I got upset with my staff,
downright cranky I was!  I wonder if any of my staff even like me?  I remember when 
I really goofed up with a staff so many years ago.  And what about the church people.
I way too busy and I am sure I never give them quite enough time
but even more, perhaps, not quite enough of myself. 
At times I wonder about myself.  Why is it that I still can't feel good about myself.
Why do I have so much on my mind?  Why do I feel so insecure? Why do I
feel like I have to protect myself and can't be as open as I want?
Why am I not the person I want to be?
I wonder what people say about me?  I wonder
I wonder
I wonder
I wonder
"Oh!  Hi!"
How long have you been standing there?
You have been waiting
to talk
to connect
and there was so much between my heart
and you
and I did not

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Isn't it odd

Isn't it odd
How we spend so much time with ourselves
And know ourselves so little

I sit in the terminal
Waiting for a departure
That seems like it may never come

People walk by
I know so little about them.
Where they are from. Where they are going.
What joys and hurts
Lurk within them
What fears and hopes live
At the core

Perhaps he is headed to bury his mother
Perhaps she is headed home
From bleak hotel rooms
To the warmth of a man who
Loves her
And children eager for her return

And then I think of lessons learned
Of revelations that come
Sometimes in ways that exite and bless
Sometimes in ways painful and scary
And I realize that I am often a stranger to myself
Until I see myself clearly in the words of another
Or meet myself
In what I am doings
Or saying

It takes time
And friends
Perhaps those who are not friends
It takes fellow workers and fellow seekers
To help us begin to learn
Who this person is

Today I know myself better than I did
I like some of what I have learned
And some I hate
But it is
There is work to do.
And things to celebrate

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

end of the row

Its a room that seat 1000 people
there are a hundred people
making sure
they get a place they like

seated on the end of a row

everyone who comes in after
will have to crawl over them
to fill in the 

that person could be me

what is it about us
that in a desire
to find our place
to get what we need
sit on the end of the row

we block others
from getting what they want
what they need?

It is a wonder
God has 
any hair

Monday, April 8, 2013

Its Vegas, baby!

There are people everywhere
gazing at the fountains
staring at the artificial opulence

some with wonderment
some with skepticism
etched on their faces

there are wide people
thin people
clean people
dirty people
people with clothes
people who don't have much left to disclose

some are sober
and sane
well let' just say the jury is out

some seem happy
joyful even
some in love
some in lust

some have faces that are alight
with life
others have faces that 
seem to  reflect
a profound sort of deadness

as this sea of humanity flows through
the palaces of glass
I try to look at them
with eyes
that see the spark of the divine
in each one

somewhere in there
God lives
and rules

somewhere in even the most shattered of vessels
God loves

each of these person is a divine original
and each of them is seen
through the eyes of God
as a prince
or princess
as a precious child
as part of that in which we all participate

may they be respected
and treated kindly and blessed
those dancing women
those laughing men
those silent ones
asleep on the side walk
those bleary ones
staggering to what every is next
those hopeful 
happy ones

each one of them
is part of God
and part of me

Sunday, April 7, 2013


here I am
in Vegas

sitting on the roof of my hotel
watching people in the pool
at the bar

its weird

this is not rural Oregon
where people are so well known
they have no choice
but to be who they are

this is Vegas, baby
where the clothes are few
the drinks are many
and people are trying to be

I am not sure

walking down the sidewalks
it feels
like no one
is real.... just a made of version of themselves

I have to admit
I couldn't live here

give me Mt Joseph
and Sadie
and tiger Lilly

and 38 degrees and raining

Saturday, April 6, 2013

When was the last time you sang?

When was the last time time you sang?
Question put to the sick by a Native American Medicine Man
Quoted by Mark Nepo in the Book of Awakening


When was the last time you sang?
not a hymn
or a song for a chorale
or choir

but sang
joyously, freely
just for the hell of it
because your soul was so full
of the joy of the Sacred
that you could not be silent?

When was the last time you laughed?
laughed at the absurdity of life
laughed for no reason
laughed until the tears ran down you face
and you snorted

when was the last time you gave voice
to whatever was deep within you
when did you cry 

there is healing
in that giving voice
in the laughter
the song
the cry
the whisper

even if it feels
that no one hears

for no song
no cry
no laugh
goes unheard

Friday, April 5, 2013

Let it rain

In the early dawn
with sky steely blue
and trees
still black

I walk in the rain

It is a different world after the rain

the rain spatters against
the trees and rocks
and makes
wonderful patterns of sound
against the fall leaves
still comforting the earth

its is like a gentle massage of
and soul

the earth smells
and fresher

rocks and branches
freshly washed of the dust

the earth gives
underneath my feet
opening to me and taking me in

I may grumble at times
when it rains
for I usually prefer the sunny days
when colors abound
and one can see forever

but sometimes
these wet days
of darkness and clouds
and rain
where I can only peer into the mist
and remember what is beyond

bring freshness to both the earth
and my soul

Let it rain

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

No need to speak

Live loud enough in your heart
and there is no need to speak
                 Mark Nepo


I like to read
I like to learn
I like to share what I have learned


ideally it is because I think what I have to say
will help the other
this person in front of me
who has come
in some way deep 
and perhaps unfathomable
even to them

they often know as little about
their inner hurt as I do

but there they are

and too often
I talk
words flowing out of me


who am I talking to really?
why am I talking?
to teach?
to impress?
do i believe that if I do not 
keep putting myself out there
i will be irrelevant?
but of course I have i backwards
I need to be porous
and let others pour in
more than I need to pour out
I am a healer
I listen
as I let others discover themselves
and their hearts
as I let others find their voice
and pour the gifts of their 
their hurt
their discoveries
into my open and soft heart
where they may rest

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Who can forgive?

Who can fully renounce a day?  Who can conceive of forgiving a whole life,
granting all in it pardon?  (Hafiz)



Oh God you are the one
who sees us perfectly
who sees us as we really are

you know our days
our hours
our weeks
our years

you know our lives

looking back along our life
must bring you to tears

for the hurt we have created
the mistakes we have made
the ways we have


and yet
you came
your entered with us into
the depths of humanity
experienced us at our worst
you descended to earth
to the depths of sheol
to ascend

rising to that place
where you
see us fully
and wonderfully forgive
and love

Who can conceive of forgiving a whole life, granting all in it pardon?
The risen Christ
and so 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Resurrection Day

Wine is like the Lord Jesus, it can bring 
the dead to life (Hafiz)


it is a thankless task
rooting around in my flower beds
early spring

here high in the mountains
there are few signs
that my yard
will once again
find resurrection

all looks brown
and dead
deer eaten
and ragged

and yet the power
of God
to bring the dead back to life

dead plants
dead hope
dead hearts
dead souls
is ever evident
Easter is not the only resurrection day
my soul
my heart
finds new life
in the beauty of the sunrise
the beauty of my grandaughter
the gentle nudge of a friendly mare
the warmth of the sun on my shoulders
the warm embrace of a friend
Every day
resurrection day