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

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Blessed are the poor

" The poor man
is not disgraced by poverty
For mankind attains ... glory from penury.
Gold and silver are the glory of the rich,
But the poor have inward repose. "
                                           Shaykh Sa'adi Shirazi

It is interesting how the well off in America
Love to shame the poor
Moochers, Lazy, Stupid, Unmotivated,
There seems to be no end of labels that can be applied

No end to the strategies that can be used
To minimize, diminish, even oppress the vulnerable

Why do we feel the need to do it?
It is simply a matter of creating a “pecking order”,
pushing others down so we can feel bigger and stronger?

It is a way to assuage our guilt, for our own affluence,
Or for our role in creating the dynamics that make others poor?

How else does a CEO who makes multiple millions a year
Justify failing to pay a living wage to the worker he/she relies upon?

We have always had a complex relationship with wealth
I like having money, and the things money can buy
I am certainly not poor, although I have had moments when I was close

But even then I had a safety net, and never believed I would be without a home, without food

But for so many that is not the reality
They work, they struggle
The scrounge for food and clothing
They do everything they can
But the wages are too lower
The opportunities, even though they look for them, are too few

Many of them have been at a disadvantage since they will children
Poor diets, families that did not prize education, no resources to pay for and education
Surrounded by violence, legal issues, and so many other adversities

We cleverly call them Adverse Childhood Events
But they are real, and basic
And if you experience them you are at risk
For cancer, obesity, failure in school, encounters with the law,

The children of poverty grow into poverty
Not because they are lazy
Not because they or their parents are stupid, or have grown up in a culture of dependence

But because they started from a place from which
In America
Yes, in America

There was little chance of recovery

This is the great American failure
The great American sin!

We not only do not have justice
We do not have the kind of equity that allows people to succeed
We had it once

But the rich have taken control
And so that they might stay rich, and get richer
They have made chosen to use and oppress the poor
And neglect the vulnerable

All for a few dollars more
That they don’t need

But here is the joke!
Jesus understood it!
“Blessed are the poor”

Even the poor can have, and often do have,
Rich souls
And the rich?
“It is harder for a rich man to enter the Kingdom (a place where they valued and celebrate justice and equity) than it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle


We need to rethink things?

Monday, September 18, 2017

awful thoughts

“I thought such awful thoughts that I cannot even say them out loud because they would make Jesus want to drink gin straight out of the cat dish.”
                                                                                       Anne Lamott

There are days
When I just can’t handle the news
Can’t abide the hate
Can’t respect those seekers of wealth, who make money more important that people

There are days when everyone is an idiot and an asshole

And there are days when, in my bully brain,
The biggest idiot and asshole is me.

Ah, my sweet God of love
How you must shake your head
And wish
That I could seem look for what is good
And real
And positive

In others
And in myself

This is the grand paradox that can drive us to drink
That the one who accepts us and loves us as we are
(although this one does not necessarily like where we are, and may be determined to change us)
Is the same one who asks us to accept and love those around us
Even those we hate.

So Mr Trump
So too, signers of the Nashville Statement
So too, those who would throw the vulnerable under the bus
So too, the old guy looking at me out of the mirror

You are loved
As much as possible by me
A whole lot


Sunday, September 17, 2017

foolish losers

“You can either practice being right or practice being kind.”
                                                           Anne Lamott

It takes a lot of work to be right!
To work out all the formulas
In just the right way
So that you have all the answers

To put yourself in that position of power
Where you can look down at others
Those fools
Those losers
Those sinners

And pronounce them less
Pronounce them sinful
Pronounce the excluded

It takes more work to realize your own faults
Your own blind spots
To realize that you too
Are a foolish loser
A sinner

Who has no more claim on God than anyone one else
(which means no claim at all)
But are merely one on whom God has staked a claim

Of love and acceptance

IT takes more work to be kind to that flawed, miserable beautiful you
Than to pretend righteousness

It takes more work, to accept, and love and care for,
That one who fundamentally
In so many ways,
Is just like you

It takes so much work
To be


Saturday, September 16, 2017

One step

“One step is better than no steps.”
― Rebecca Brockway quoting 14-year-old son Carlino

We say it so many times
One step at a time
Left foot, right foot, left foot, breathe

The reality is
For all our plans
And all our fears
For all our hopes

There is only this

The next step, the next choice

So many things try to pull our attention away from
That one step
Our feelings, which we judge
Our thoughts, which are often unhelpful, and even devastating

But if we think about that next step
Just that one!
If we step away from our unhelpful brain
And pay attention

That next step can take us
To where
To whom
We want to be

This morning was difficult
This day was difficult
My mind hated me
And my body was worse

So I just kept taking steps
One step at a time
Left foot, right foot, left foot, breathe

And I did what I cared about
I walked my dog
And taught a class
And saw people doing amazing things
Learning, growing
Caring for one another

Left foot right foot
And my heart soared
Left foot breathe

Sometimes one step is all you can manage
But one step tends to lead

To another

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


“But most days,
I wander around feeling invisible.
Like I'm a speck of dust
floating in the air
that can only be seen
when a shaft of light hits it.”
                                            Sonya Sones,

Sometimes I feel as substantial
As a speck of dust

Something separated from the earth
Not so much set free
As cast adrift


Where does this place of isolation come from?
Why is it that I struggle to find a place to land,
Where I belong
Where I feel “in place”?

Is that I am propelled by the wind?
It is that people always brush off the dust?
Or is it that I am simply unable to
Let go of those things that cause me to strive, and protect
And close off

Those things that keep me detached
And isolated

A speck of dust

Floating on air

Monday, September 11, 2017


“If your body is screaming in pain, whether the pain is muscular contractions, anxiety, depression, asthma or arthritis, a first step in releasing the pain may be making the connection between your body pain and the cause. “Beliefs are physical. A thought held long enough and repeated enough becomes a belief. The belief then becomes biology.”
               Marilyn Van Derbur, Miss America By Day: Lessons Learned From Ultimate Betrayals And
                                                     Unconditional Love

There are days like today
When everything hurts
And what doesn’t hurt doesn’t work

There are days when my whole body hurts
And my mind hurts
And my heart hurts
And my soul hurts


Yes, I know how to manage and control it all
And manage it and control it I do

But it can still be a lonely place
Where you breathe and meditate
Where you walk, and take pictures

And just do what you care about

But long
For someone who seems to care
Someone to touch
And be touched by……

I know my pain is physical
And mental
And emotional
And spiritual

And it goes with me
Into the places I go
It goes with me as I do what I care about

And how my day goes,
Depends on how I think about things

And I chose
To think
I can

My time is spent working with people who struggle with pain at
The Center for Optimal Living
Persistent Pain Program

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Blessed are the healers

“This is the kind of Friend
You are -
Without making me realize
My soul's anguished history,
You slip into my house at night,
And while I am sleeping,
You silently carry off
All my suffering and sordid past
In Your beautiful

Blessed are the healers
Blessed are those who find a way

To take away the pain of others

Those who accept, rather than merely tolerate
Those who forgive
And care

Who sneak up on others
And gently
Touch their lives for the better

Blessed is the Lord
For above all others
This god who is love
Finds us
And when we least expect it

Carries away that which
Which is limiting and harmful

In beautiful


Friday, September 8, 2017

Bending history

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
                                                           Robert F. Kennedy

In a time like this
When those with the most power
Refuse to stand up for justice
Refuse to act with true compassion
Neglect the vulnerable
And Support and even enable racism, hate and greed

It is difficult to believe
That we can bend history
Difficult to believe, that I, an aging, tired
Small church pastor in a remote corner of Oregon

Can do anything about the pervasive injustice that
 Permeates our land

But that does not mean that I don’t try
There are words to be spoken
Words to be written
There are actions to be taken

No, I probably will never influence a congress person
But I can listen
I can care
I can encourage, and forgive
I can be generous

The ripples I make are so small
So very small
But if you make your own ripples

Perhaps together…..


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Stupid Things

“When we struggle to change ourselves we, in fact, only continue the patterns of self-judgement and aggression. We keep the war against ourselves alive.”
               Jack Kornfield, A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life

I do enough stupid things in a day
To last a life time

Some of my errors are massive
I get tired

And then I act, talk, behave stupidly
Sometimes hurting myself
Sometimes hurting others

And when I screw up
I am the master of self condemnation
I make an art of it

But here is the thing
Most of my stupidity emerges out of a sense of deficit
Of “not being enough”

And with this as a back drop I act in ways I hope
Will make me look bigger, or bring me relief
But which make me small, and make things worse

And I only become smaller
And more in need

I lose
And sadly I usually don’t become better
I just get entrench in further attempts to compensate
For my deficit

Sometimes you just have to let go
Sometimes we just need to step away from the brain.
And end the war against ourselves

Monday, September 4, 2017

Lets get loose

Let's get loose
Let's drown in the delicious
ambiance of

What can I say?
There are too many people rattling around the universe

To many people who are hungry, homeless
Struggling with demons we can only imagine

There are some who think this is just fine
And who in fact would make it worse
Classifying real people as
Junk to be thrown away
Used and discarded

There are some who think that all that is important is power and wealth

But if we gain power and wealth
And leave anyone behind
Simply because they are not rich and powerful

We fail
We create inequity and injustice
A radical disparity
That eventually
Will rend and destroy
Hearts, and mind
And souls

And our country

So Let's get loose with compassion.
Let's drown in the delicious
ambiance of

what do we have to lose?

Sunday, September 3, 2017

it comes naturally

“I am selfish by habit, but sacrificial by nature. Therefore, I’d be wise to develop the habit of following my nature.”
― Craig D. Lounsbrough

It is in our nature to be selfish
Or so I hear

Natural to be protective,
Natural to grasp
And hug all things to ourselves

Natural to look at others with suspicion
And to hate what we believe threatens

But we are created in the image of God
And God is, in spite of our horribly distorted views of God

Life Giving

And willing to do anything
For those who are loved
Which for God
Is everyone

So perhaps it is natural to be sacrificial
Life giving

And anything else
Habitual distortion
Taught by our culture

Just, perhaps 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Owls Sing

in the early morning
as the sun struggles to awake
and the sky lightens slowly
into red haze

two owls sing
haunting notes floating through the trees
in red gray dawn

they call

sending chills perhaps
through the inhabitants of the forest
singing perhaps about the hunt
or even love

until silently they leave their perches
and swoop silently
through the trees

deep silence

Friday, September 1, 2017

Teach your children well

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
                                                                        Nelson Mandela

How do we teach people to hate?
How do we do it

I watch the little kids in the play ground
All colors, all shapes all sizes
Picking each other up  Getting from here to there

How we do manage to go from that
To shields
And slogans
And baseball bats
And cars
And guns

How do we go from that to turning children away at our border
Just because they might be an inconvenience to us
Or because of the slight possibility they may someday do harm?

Would they do harm if welcomed with acceptance, and lover,
Rather than distrust and hate?

Somewhere along the way
Something is added
Something is taken away

And we are left with hate filled faces
And angry eyes
And mouths that curse
And people dying on the street

So we must teach love
And it must come from the President
And the Congress
And the police
And all those in power an authority

But it doesn’t

And it must come from the pulpit and pew

But it often doesn’t

And it must come from teachers
And parents, and grandparents
Even brothers and sister

If it won’t come from the top
It must come from the bottom
Perhaps that is the only place from whence it can come
And perhaps

It is not adults teaching children well
It is children teaching adults

What the divine image looks like
Before it is blurred, eroded, destroyed

It looks like love