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

Monday, July 31, 2017

On the other side


Inside this new love, die.
Your way begins on the other side.

Become the sky.
Take an axe to the prison wall.

Walk out like somebody suddenly born into color.
Do it now.
You’re covered with thick cloud.
Slide out the side.

and be quiet. Quietness is the surest sign
that you’ve died.

Your old life was a frantic running
from silence.

The speechless full moon
comes out now.

the rush of the day is over
all the voices
all the striving
all the wondering and worrying

all the measuring of self

the TV is off
and on the front porch
I sit
Listening to the silence

The thunder rumbles briefly
And the rain falls

And then
Once again silence

And all that I have carried falls away
The good, the bad, the ugly

All gone
And nothing remains
What lies on the other side
Of this

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Beyond the lunatic's sphere

Listen, this world is the lunatic’s sphere
Don’t always agree it is real
Even with my feet upon it
And the postman knowing my door
My address is somewhere else


It only takes a few moments
Every morning
Before I start thinking
The world is the lunatic’s sphere

By noon it is a sure thing

By sunset, it is time for despair

And yet
The sunrises golden, sending its rays racing through the trees
And there are people who act kindly toward others
And there are people who resist evil
And after the head of the day
The Sacred one cools the globe
And the sun exits


And then I know that as much as this is
The wonderful, amazing sphere
Full of lunatics
And me

It is not

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Angel fire

Each life starts with such promise
Then life happens

Each year starts with the promise of newness
Which so often eludes

Each day the sunrise
And sets the clouds and earth afire
And then we all too often
Slide into tortured busy-ness.

We become dull

Yet angel fire rages
Spirit wind blows
and we are lifted from the dust

new again
we shine once more
love again
we rise

“You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.”

― Maya Angelou

Friday, July 28, 2017

A Soul Problem

“There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul
than the way in which it treats its children.”
                                                                         Nelson Mandela

I wonder about our soul
this place that has so much power
so many resources
so much wealth

and so much poverty
so many children who go hungry
and have no place to lay their head

whose schools are being gutted
and whose health care being cut

so that the rich can be richer
(it really is as simple as that)

I think there is darkness where there should be light
I think there is coldness, where there should be warmth
I think there are empty places, where there should be love

I think
We have a soul problem

It is not hopeless
For there is health there too
Among the many people
Who refuse to buy into the essential selfishness peddled by our leaders
Who refuse to buy into the amorality embraced by those in power

There are spots of light everywhere
May they find each other

Thursday, July 27, 2017

beyond repair

“Who hurt you, once,
so far beyond repair
that you would meet each overture
with curling lip?
While we, who knew you well,
your friends, (the focus of your scorn)
could see your courage in the face of fear,
your wit, and thoughtfulness,
and will remember you
with something close to love.”

― Louise Penny, Bury Your Dead

When we do not believe in ourselves

We all we can feel is our failings
Our deficits

When all we can remember is the hurt
The loss
The times when we were judged “not enough”
And love faded
Or perhaps sprinted for the door

There are people
Angels perhaps

Who see the best in us
And think of us


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

head and heart

“Do not let arrogance go to your head and despair to your heart; do not let compliments go to your head and criticisms to your heart; do not let success go to your head and failure to your heart.”
                                                           Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart


Is there a choice to be made
Between the mind and the heart

Does the heart know, what the mind cannot see?

Can the head quiet the heart?

the two are bound
it is the way we are designed
what goes on in our head impacts our hearts
and our hearts, at times, can quiet and inform the mind

the first seems far easier than the second
for the mind does not know when to shut up
but rants about, everything

I am not too worried that arrogance, or compliments, or success
Will go to my head
I have had plenty of success,
My mind is not dominated by those things

I do not hear the compliments, and I cannot own my success
What seems to find a place in my head are the fears, and the pain of failure

And yet
My heart seems to know what my mind cannot comprehend
Sends the message daily
Through my soul
Pounding at the door of my mind

You are a Sacred child
You are Sacred
You are



Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Sick of the dark

“There comes a point where you no longer care if there’s a light at the end of the tunnel or not.
You’re just sick of the tunnel.”
                              Ranata Suzuki

There are times it feels
As if the darkness is overcoming the light

We have colluders
And liars
People who are empty, and without compassion
Exercising power
Over those who need so much compassion
And so much care

Where in the midst of the greed
And hate
Where, in a country, a world,
Where money is valued over people
And wealth over generosity
Is the light?

God I wish it were Christmas
When the light came into the world
And beat back the darkness

We need a little Christmas
We need a little Jesus
A little love
A little hope

For I am sick of the dark

Getting Older

“As you get older; you've probably noticed that you tend to forget things. You'll be talking with somebody at a party, and you'll know that you know this person, but no matter how hard you try, you can't remember his or her name. This can be very embarrassing, especially if he or she turns out to be your spouse.”
                                                                                                      Dave Barry

It’s a funny thing, aging
I mean really
What does it feel like to get “older”

There is a part of me that doesn’t know
That feels as young as I have every felt
But of course

There is the me that shows up in the mirror
Who is that old man?
With such white hair
Age spots
A belly

And it is true
That this body cannot do what it used to do
And most mornings, it just hurts

I’m at the point where everything hurts, and what doesn’t hurt
Doesn’t work

I still have energy
Until 2 pm

And I can still find enough energy, to do some tasks that needed doing.
But I can’t remember jack
And there are hundreds if not thousands of people out there, whose faces I recognize,
But whom I cannot give a name…

And so many names, that don’t have faces,

And I look back and know
I could not longer do what I once did
I could not build Wallowa Valley Center for Wellness, again
I will never be the dynamic pastor I was at Lake Grove

Things are now missing

It is not that I don’t have a sense of future
Its just that my future is…

And at times I look wistfully into the past
When so much more
Lay ahead

Sunday, July 23, 2017

ego work

“In fact, the more each person can remove his or her ego from the discussion and focus on the subject matter, the more fruitful the conversation will be for all involved.”
                                            Matthew Kelly, The Seven Levels of Intimacy

Perhaps our nation will never heal
Until we have leaders who can remove their egos from the discussion

And listen
More than listen, hear
Without the filter of “self”
And the greed, and need for power and affirmation that go along with “self”

Perhaps our nation will never heal
Until we all
Can remove our egos from the discussion

And listen
More than listen, hear
Without the filter of “self”
And the greed, and need for power and affirmation that go along with “self”

Perhaps I need to start


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Trust Love

“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”
                                                                         Maya Angelou

Sometimes it is hard to trust love
With those who do not love anyone
Perhaps not even themselves have the power

When love is given to things
To money
To ideologies

And not people

One tries to love
But those whose lives embody
Hate, anger, greed, selfishness

Again and again and again
In ways that kill love

Every time we open Facebook
Read a paper
Watch the news

We see what happened with love of the Sacred
Love of others
Is missing

It is not pretty
And our own insistence to try and live love
Is challenged by injustice
By people legislating
Doing such ugly things

We know we must try to put things right

But how do we keep our trust in love
And resist, in love

It is difficult this task
Impossible perhaps
But it is our call
It is the only way
Love wins

Friday, July 21, 2017

weariness of life

The whole notion of pain, and how every individual experiences pain, is up for debate. We don't know how another person experiences pain - physical pain or psychic pain. Some of these clinics where assisted suicide or euthanasia is practiced, they call it 'weariness of life.'
                                                                        Miriam Toews

What do we do with pain?
It is so complex
When present, so woven into the fabric of who we are

Physical pain morphs into
Emotional and spiritual pain

It is no longer my back,
My neck
It is my heart, my would

Dazed by pain one wonders who they are
What they have become
And the path ahead
Seems hardly worth the effort

Pain comes out of trauma
Physical yes
But equally so
Emotional, spiritual, sexual

We carry all kinds of pain in our bodies
And we become pain

We grow weary of life

To answer pain involves so much more than
Pills, or surgery
Pain is alleviated by walking
Eating (right)

It is a physical matter to be sure
But all pain is from the brain
One way or another

We must think rightly
Or suffer

Pain is pain
It does not have to become suffering

They sit in front of me
Their stories different but the same

Ah!  Sacred One
Touch these bodies, hearts, souls, minds
Touch this pain

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Fall in love with love

“What did falling in love do for you? Can you ever really explain it? It filled empty spaces I never knew were empty. It cured a loneliness I never knew I had. It gave me joy. And freedom. I think that was the most amazing part. I suddenly felt both embraced and freed at the same time.”
                                                          Louise Penny, The Beautiful Mystery

What does connecting with the Sacred do?
It fills spaces we never knew exists
I cured a loneliness we never knew we had

There a crevices and cracks in our souls
Places where life has eroded and torn
Dark wounded places

Which impact our lives in ways we do not understand
From these places come the anger we cannot explain
The distrust that seems to have no basis

From these places echo the voices
Telling us we are not enough
We are never enough

But when we fall in Love with Love

We are embraced by love
And free to “catch the joy as it flies” (Blake)

We cannot explain it adequately
Nor even describe it
We can only experience it

And share it

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

you are the sky

“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”
                                           Pema Chödrön

Before Facebook
Before Trump
Before the ACA or the AHCA or even the BCRA

Before North Korea’s brags
And the latest tweet

The sky
The breeze
The sunrise
The mountain

The Sacred
The True Me

Left foot
Right foot
Left foot

Deep into the soul
Where lives
The sky
The breeze
The sunrise
The mountain

The Sacred
The True Self


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Even the Shadow of God

" Even the shadow of God is brilliant, ....
so much so even God
has trouble ....
at Himself as that ....

Unless He is more disguised,
hidden in illusion,
hidden as He .... can be
in us. "
                             - Hafiz

People can see bits of God in the majesty of mountain
In the sound of water laughter across rocks
In the sudden storms that drench and replenish the earth

But the Sacred is seen most clearly
When the people in whom God has hidden
Allow the sacred to dance in their souls

Today I saw children playing
People running
Families gathering
Cowboys (and cowgirls too) riding and roping

And in the midst of it all

Monday, July 17, 2017

what I believe is what I do

“What I believe is not what I say I believe; what I believe is what I do.”
 Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality

What do I believe?
It is simple really

I believe there is something much much bigger than I

I call that something God, or the Sacred One, although I am not sure that an anthropomorphic image of God is helpful.

I believe that I came from God
And I believe that God dwells in me, and you
And every person on this earth

I believe some people are awake to that presence
Some are not

I believe that once upon a time, a person named Jesus
Was totally awake to that presence, to the degree that the difference between the human, Jesus,
And the Sacred part of him became meaningless
He was fully human, but fully God

I believe that because God was so alive in Jesus life
He lived an amazing life of love, and he healed the sick, and touched lives deeply
And I believe that while we can never be Jesus, we can live
Towards Jesus

Seeing to walk in his way

I believe that when the Sacred is awake in us
We are people who live without fear,
And are full of hope
We are people who forgive, and give, and share, and comfort

Our faith is revealed not so much by what we believe
And certainly not what we say
But in how we live

I believe that when my time here is done
I go back to the from whence I came
And I move from communion with God, to union

And so each day
Seek to be aware of the Sacred
Powered by the Sacred

And I seek to live the Sacred
Because I know I am a child of God

And I look at you
And I know that you are one too

And that some day

Down the road, we will both go home

Saturday, July 15, 2017

no one left behind

“The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”
                                                                         Bertrand Russell

The world is a mess
Hate, division, conflict, brutality, greed, fear
You name it, we’ve got it!

And we are all seeking to
Work our way through the mess
To something better

To a place that is more safe,
More grace full
More generous

To a place that is kinder
A place where all can flourish

But it is not just the goal that matters, although it does
How we get to our goal matters
How we deal with the mess

Some say that to be safe, we have to be mean
We have to exclude people, judge people, oppress people, diminish people
Don’t let them live among us, don’t let them get uppity
Then we will be safe

Some say that in order to be comfortable, we need to be
Fundamentally selfish
Work for what you want.  When you get it, cling to it
If others don’t have enough?
Well they are lazy and shiftless
They are bad people who are not worth worry about

Just leave them behind

Some say that to get through the mess
We have to be the biggest
The meanest
The most powerful
The most protective

We have to be people who hug everything to ourselves
Surrounding ourselves with the trappings of wealth and power

But that doesn’t really get us through the mess
It just makes the mess worse
That doesn’t empty the swamp, it expands it, deepens it

How we get through the mess matters

And we should work our way through this mess
Listening, caring, giving, helping, supporting, affirming, loving
We should wander through the mess making sure, as much as possible
That no one
No one
Gets left behind

That no one is diminished, marginalized, bullied, excluded

Not that woman
Not that man
Not that person with addiction
Not that person with mental health issues
Not that aging person
Not that ill person
Not that minority person
Not that person who just happens to be LGBTQI
Not that Christian
Not that Mulsim
Not that Hindu

No one is expendable
And if someone says others are?
If someone is willing to bully and belittle?
They are just


Friday, July 14, 2017


“There’s a trick to the 'graceful exit.' It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, or a relationship is over — and let it go. It means leaving what’s over without denying its validity or its past importance to our lives. It involves a sense of future, a belief that every exit line is an entry, that we are moving up, rather than out.”
                                                                                                                   ― Ellen Goodman

My life has been full of  endings
The end of gestation,
Which is really a beginning, sending me squalling early born and small
into the world

“not even good fish bait”, according to an Irish rancher

the end of infancy, as I learned to run on skinny legs
and raced into kindergarten

now on my way
beginnings followed by endings
which were beginnings
and on and on life went

endings after endings
which were beginnings after beginnings

the end of grade school
the beginning of junior high
which came to ignominious end and became the beginning of high school

on and on
college, seminary, first church, second church, third church
no church
disgrace and the death of a journey

but in that death a new beginning
working international disaster relief
teaching at a medical school, international projects in places like Azerbaijan
being the executive director of a mental health program

and now another ending
an ending that began 2 years ago,
and still limps along

an end that began when my board basically said
you are not enough
and “suggested” it was time to step down

and continued for two years as I took on new roles
and tried to stay out of the way of the new  (which by the way is amazing)

Now another step away from what was
Tomorrow a picnic, a “retirement”

A stepping away from the program I worked to build
And into which I put so much of myself, for almost 14 years.
A program where I was at the “center” for so many years
And now am hanging around on the fringe

It feels good to know the program is amazing, and I played a small role in that
It feels a bit sad to know I didn’t quite measure up, ultimately

It is a bit difficult, knowing that my successor, who is amazing
Now “owns” much of what I started
And the final stages of what I began will be her success
Not mine (at least in the eyes of many)

And it feels weird
To now be so “outside” the circle
Of activity, planning, friendship
And to know I will soon be an “after thought”

Yes a new adventure awaits
An new program is there to be birthed
But still
This is big

This ending is perhaps the most profound I have experienced
For over 20 years
And may be the biggest ending before the end

And yet it is time
For a graceful exit
A time to say goodbye
And let it
To let go of what was done
And not done
The failures
And the successes too

To let go of the need to be “important”
And noticed

And just
Walk gently
Into whatever is next

And hope
Perhaps hope against hope
That I will be remembered
And when remembered
That memory
Will bring

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A lack of caring

“I asked participants who claimed to be "strong followers of Jesus" whether Jesus spent time with the poor. Nearly 80 percent said yes. Later in the survey, I sneaked in another question, I asked this same group of strong followers whether they spent time with the poor, and less than 2 percent said they did. I learned a powerful lesson: We can admire and worship Jesus without doing what he did. We can applaud what he preached and stood for without caring about the same things. We can adore his cross without taking up ours. I had come to see that the great tragedy of the church is not that rich Christians do not care about the poor but that rich Christians do not know the poor.”
                                            Shane Claiborne, The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical

We hear the flurry of words
Justifying the unjustifiable

They are lazy
If they are sick it is their own fault
They should just live better lives
They should just get a job

Meanwhile, back at the high rise office building
Back at the tower

The rich sit in $1000 suits
Sipping their bottle water
Or their wine

And figuring out what they can do
To become richer than they already are
Luxury cars
Vacation home
More money they could spend in a life time is not enough

More, more, they must have more
And to get it?

They will leave those they do not value behind
They will strip healthcare from the vulnerable
The disabled
The elderly

All for the sake of another $33,000 for people who are worth millions, even billions
This is the shame of America
This is the shame of those who think others are expendible
Who walk the walk of essential selfishness

This is the sin of America
That we not only do not understand the poor
The pain they go through
What it is like to live every day, on the edge of not enough
What it is like to be homeless
Car less

These rich, do not know, they do not understand
They think the pittance these people get, is a motivation
Not to work
Perhaps they think these people lie around eating bon bons

Many of the work, one job, two jobs, three jobs
Trying to scrabble a living for themselves and their families

Yes that is hard to understand when you make $178,000 and barely work any days at all
And charge most of your expenses to a bottomless expense account
That is hard to understand when you are a CEO and make $5,859 an hour
And drive a car that costs $70 or $80,000 (that’s around 5 years gross salary for a poor person)

Yep, hard to understand
But what really hurts is that in America
The rich (Koch) the powerful (Trump and the GOP Congress)

Not only don’t know
They don’t care.