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, May 31, 2017

Love is the Center

“If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don't want to do it.”
                                                                                                                   Stephen Colbert

There are lots of commandments in the Bible
Lots of instructions
Do this
Don’t do that

Don’t eat shellfish -  Leviticus 11:9-12
Don’t get tattoos - Leviticus 19:28,
Kill all the heathen in the land – Deuteronomy 7 and 20
Smash the rebellious child’s head with a rock - (Deut. 21:18-21).
Keep the Sabbath -  Exodus 20
Die in order to live  - Matthew 16:24–25

There are deadly offenses.
Like being a psychic  -  “A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.” (Leviticus 20:27)
Getting raped while engaged. “If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die.” (Deuteronomy 22:25) It’s cool though, because if you’re not engaged when you get raped, you just have to marry your rapist (Deuteronomy 22:28).
Getting raped and not screaming loud enough. “If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour’s wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.” (Deuteronomy 22:23-24) Get it
Striking a father of mother is worthy of death

And lets not forget the seven deadly sins
    Envy = the desire to have an item or experience that someone else possesses
    Gluttony = excessive ongoing consumption of food or drink
   Greed or Avarice = an excessive pursuit of material possessions
    Lust = an uncontrollable passion or longing, especially for sexual desires
    Pride = excessive view of one's self without regard to others.
    Sloth = excessive laziness or the failure to act and utilize one’s talents
    Wrath = uncontrollable feelings of anger and hate towards another person

Yep, there are a lot things in the Bible
And down through the years people have wondered
What to hang on to, and what to let go

For Jesus told his followers they could bind or loosen
They can add things, and let things go
From that huge list of rules  (Don’t believe me?  Check out Matthew 16)

In other words , Jesus gave the disciple the right to make changes
And he did it himself!
“You have heard it said”, he sometimes said,  “But I say”  (Matthew 5)

But here is the thing.  He ended up being asked one time to distill it all down.
And he put it this way

Love God
Then love yourself  (God will help you with that)
Then you will be free to love others (and God will help you with that too)

Love God, love self, love others
Not complicated after all

A little later he got even more blunt
In that powerful parable about the sheep and the goats
There he tells us clearly what love looks like

It looks like
Feeding the hungry
Giving water to the thirsty
Being accepting and hospitable
Taking care of the sick
Having compassion toward those in trouble, even those who have created their own misery

If we do nothing else in the Bible says
We have to do these core things
Love God
Learn to love ourselves
And be people who, secure in God and secure in ourselves (no fear)
Reach out and take care of the vulnerable

If we don’t do these things
We are off the path


Some are saying the hungry should work harder
They don’t care if the water is poison
They would exclude those not like them
And would judge, and shame
They would deny people health care

They are off the path
They are violating God’s basic, core command

There is no excuse
You cannot minimize the vulnerable
You cannot blame them and shame them

You can only feed them, cloth them, provide them with clean water
Accept them,
Provide health care for them
Seek justice for them

You can only love them

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Fear, our companion

“There are only a few people out there who can completely overcome their fears,
and they all live in Tibet.”
                                            Susan Cain

most of us are afraid
not of everything
but of something

fear is our companion
every day
and perhaps every hour

it lurks in the corners of our soul
fear of failure
fear of loss
fear of poverty
fear of being hurt

fear of Muslims
fear of Christians
fear of parents
fear of bosses

the problem is that that we have fear
it is what we do with it
we focus on it
fuse with it

it becomes us

and we know the rest of the story
we get defensive
we get aggressive
we protect, and grasp

or perhaps we hide
retreating inward
narrowing our world

we either bully
or shrink

we can notice our fear
its OK
fear is part of the human experience
what cannot we give our energy to our fear

our energy must go into love
love of God
love of neighbor
even love of self

we must choose to love God
who then enables us to love ourselves
which then frees us to love others

and when loving is what we are about
what we choose to do
fear is cast out

think about it

Monday, May 29, 2017

Inner Chaos

“The highly sensitive [introverted] tend to be philosophical or spiritual in their orientation, rather than materialistic or hedonistic. They dislike small talk. They often describe themselves as creative or intuitive. They dream vividly, and can often recall their dreams the next day. They love music, nature, art, physical beauty. They feel exceptionally strong emotions--sometimes acute bouts of joy, but also sorrow, melancholy, and fear. Highly sensitive people also process information about their environments--both physical and emotional--unusually deeply. They tend to notice subtleties that others miss--another person's shift in mood, say, or a lightbulb burning a touch too brightly.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Outwardly I go through my day

I go from task to task and get things done
Usually a lot of things done

But inside it is a different story

While my outer life is a documentary on the mating rituals of the fruit fly
My inner life is reality TV
Or perhaps a soap opera

Lots of drama here!

Because my mind is busy
My emotions too
And I notice…

Every nuance. 
I notice it, and parse it, and come up with something
(in my cases as an anxious person) something to worry about,
or a need to impress
or a reason to withdraw, hurt and alone

its an interesting world,
my inner life

a nice place to visit
but I wouldn’t want to live there…
but wait!

I do.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Praying for the night

“Like a lot of people with mental illness, I spend a lot of time fronting. It’s really important to me to not appear crazy, to fit in, to seem normal, to do the things “normal people” do, to blend in.
As a defense mechanism, fronting makes a lot of sense, and you hone that mechanism after years of being crazy. Fronting is what allows you to hold down a job and maintain relationships with people, it’s the thing that sometimes keeps you from falling apart. It’s the thing that allows you to have a burst of tears in the shower or behind the front seat of your car and then coolly collect yourself and stroll into a social engagement…

We are rewarded for hiding ourselves. We become the poster children for “productive” mentally ill people, because we are so organized and together. The fact that we can function, at great cost to ourselves, is used to beat up the people who cannot function.

Because unlike the people who cannot front, or who fronted too hard and fell off the cliff, we are able to “keep it together,” whatever it takes.”
                                                                                       S. E. Smith

we are everywhere
the people with flaws

or so the world judges us

the sad people
the anxious ones
the dysregulated ones

we are everywhere
those “crazy” people,
hearing things that aren’t there
believing things that are true (or so we are told0

we cannot be who we are
it is not allowed
at any level

we cannot be needy
we cannot be impulsive
we cannot share those perceptions we know cannot be shared

so we live in our quiet torment,
we are the artful dodgers,
never letting others know of the chaos within

sadly it sneaks out once in a while
that insecurity, that fear, that impulsiveness
and we behave in ways that give us away
we are revealed
and judged
and shamed

there are (of course) those who cannot front
or who hold up the shields until one day they break
beam me up Scotty

they cannot hide
and are cast out
pushed to the fringe of society
disposable people

judged for the severity of their illness
offered little mercy
by a society that rejects them

as for the rest of us
we keep up the front

each day we use way more energy than most people
for we must live two lives
the one out there, that everyone sees
and the one inside

and so we put one weary foot in front of the other
sometimes dreading the dawn

sometimes praying for the night

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Beautiful People

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
                                                                         Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross

The sun rising over the Devils
Casting its gold among the trees
That is beauty

The bright blue of an Oregon sky
On a spring day!
That is beauty

The smile of a child
The smooth white, gold, brown, black, olive skin of youth
That is beauty

Eyes that sparkle with life and joy
That is beauty

So too
The face of one who is dealing with cancer
Where compassion and love still live

So too
The face of one who has dealt with loss
A death, a failure
Where hope and acceptance still appear

Some beauty doesn’t just happen
It is made
Forged out of life

It is found in wrinkles
and tears
in gnarled hands
in bodies deformed by cancer, and accident, and age

it is found in hard earned wisdom
and in compassion and patience

and we know it
when we see it

Friday, May 26, 2017

Sacred Silence

“I'm smiled out, talked out, quipped out, socialized so far from any being,
I need the weight of mortal silences to get realized back into myself.”
                                            John Ciardi, This Strangest Everything

Today I feel slow, low, ugly, puffy, drooped, pooped.
Instead of being bright I am dull
Instead of being generous I am selfish
Instead of being thankful I am angry

I am bored an apathetic

Get the idea?

The call it lots of things
Compassion fatigue

I guess it comes from being an introvert who has two jobs that are all about people
Counseling, and pastoring

What was I thinking?

I am more at home in my study
With my books, the dog
And perhaps a spare cat or two

But it is what it is

So I need time times of mortal silence
The quiet enormity of Sacred generosity

Going I find myself coming
and God