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

Friday, August 31, 2018

Swept away

At first,
the way of Your Love seemed easy.
I thought I'd reach ...Your union with speed.

After taking a few steps,
I found the way
is an ocean.

When I stepped in, a wave swept me away. "
                                             Awhad al- Din Kirmani

It seems simple enough
This whole spiritual thing

After all Jesus said it only involved two things
Well, maybe three

Loving Sacred
Loving self
Loving others

But what a mess we have made of the whole things

In the name of loving Sacred
We decimate the earth
We start wars
We kill others

In the name of serving others
We abuse children
And teach hate

And as to ourselves
We either hide behind the ramparts
Of righteousness
Or we debase ourselves

This is not easy
This Sacred way
We so struggle to find our place at the table
Sacred Children

Perhaps the problem is that we focus on
Written words
Instead of the living Word

We look to laws and precepts
Rather than empowering presence

And we pick what we like
That which eases or feeds our fear
Or which supports our prejudices and preferences

But we are called
To let it all go
To go “all in”

To consume sacred presence
The way we consume food
To allow the sacred to become part of us
Bound to our bones
Inescapable, inseparable

And thus
Be driven to accept,
To forgive
To give
To show compassion
To love

Not in safe ways
But in ways that are risky

The way is an ocean
May we be willing
To be swept away

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Pain Embraced

I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense,
once hate is gone,
they will be forced to deal with pain.
                                             James Baldwin

What is down there
Deep down in your soul?

What is it that lurks in the dark corners,
Waiting to pounce?

What powerful force looms
Behind the fear, the greed,
The lust for power

Perhaps it is made up
of all the pain we have suffered in our lives

all the failures, all the rejection
all the abuse
all the trauma

Perhaps it is pain
The pain of not being nurtured by a parent
The pain of not being loved
The pain that comes from deep rooted poverty
The pain of violence

The pain of being dehumanized
For being a woman,
Or being a person of color
Or being poor

We don’t like pain
We do not want that creature to come into the light
And so we leave that pain
Hiding in the corner

While we allow other things to pour forth

Substituting things that cause pain for our pain

Hate, anger, greed

Driving the monster deeper into the shadows, but feeding it
Feeding it

Until it fills our soul

Perhaps it is time
To walk into that dark corner
To walk into that place, with love, grace, and acceptance

Perhaps it is time to make that pain our friend
To embrace it
Welcome it
Explore it
Touch it

Pain loses its power when it is acknowledged
And accepted,
Perhaps shared
With another who can hold our pain gently

For pain embraced is softened
And as it is softened
So too our need to avoid

All our defenses can come crashing down
And we can find our humanity again
Homo divinus

Sacred Children

And so too we can once again se the humanity
And divinity of others

Then we can see the Face of God
Not only in the mirror
But in all we meet

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Child of God

Successful dehumanizing…. Creates a moral exclusion.  Groups targeted on their identity – gender, ideology, skin color, ethnicity, religion, age – are depicted as “less than” or criminal or even evil. The targeted group eventually falls out of the scope of who is naturally protected by our moral code….
When we engage in dehumanizing rhetoric or promote dehumanizing images we diminish our own humanity in the process… humiliation and dehumanizing are not accountability or social justice tools, they’re emotional offloading at best, emotional self-indulgence at worst.  And if our faith asks us to find the face of God in everyone we meet, that should include the politicians, media and strangers on Twitter with whom we most violently disagree.  When we desecrate their divinity, we desecrate our own and we betray our faith.
                                                                                          Brene Brown, Braving the Wildnerness

There are times when I look in the mirror
And wonder how much is left of my humanity

After Facebook conflicts and Twitter wars
Where I have been assailed,
And where I have assailed others

There are those calm moments of introspection where I realize
That something has been lost

I have taken a bite of forbidden fruit
And have been driven out of Eden

And now I stand in the wasteland
Of hate and greed
Anger and retribution

How have we found ourselves in this dry and barren land?

Because we have stopped seeing the face of God in others
We have forgotten that each person is fundamentally homo divinus
Created in the image of the Sacred
Participating in that reality that is Sacred

What we see is an enemy
Someone we fear
Someone we can use (or even abuse)
Someone who, perhaps, makes us feel uncomfortable

And so an African American woman becomes a “dog”
And so does Mr. Trump
Immigrants are rapists and murders
The poor are lazy moochers
Young black men are all violent and angry
The police are cold hearted people who abuse their power

The face of God is long gone

And every time we say something,
Do something
To dehumanize another

We open the door to terror

Not seeing the other as fully human
We can do most anything to them
They simply do not count
The rules do not apply

In those moments when their humanity is gone
We drop nuclear bombs
We set off backpacks filled with nails
We walk through malls randomly shooting people
We tear families apart at the border, and put children in cages
We remove services from people in need
We name call and attack on Facebook and Twitter

And the ultimate tragedy is
That as we strip others of their humanity
We strip ourselves of our own

I am guilty
I suspect we are all guilty

There is not easy answer to this
Being connected to the Sacred, to that bigger than ourselves is hard work
Letting the sacred rock and roll in our souls feels dangerous
Seeing the face of God in Donald Trump, or a Muslim terrorist,
Or a predatory Christian minister

Is not easy

I think I need a mantra
Something that I say, over and over and over again
As I look at the picture of those I want to despise
As my hand hovers over my key board
As I work on my sermon

I think it needs to be

Child of God, Child of God, Child of God

Otherwise I diminish others
And I diminish myself

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The Blinds are Broken

“We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of humanity. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the way God’s universe is made; this is the way it is structured.”
                                                                                                         Martin Luther King

There is a place
Where all the power hungry
Frightened souls are wrong

There is something missing
From the agenda of the far right
From the capitalist ideology of the very rich
From the frightened isolationism of the white nationalists

While they shout about excluding those who are not like them
And grasp resources to themselves
And use and misuse power for their own benefit

They forget that in the divine design
We all participate in something much vaster than ourselves
In something big

In a reality (I call it God), a force that is both unity and diversity
Power and love

We are bound together
And if one’s soul is awake at all
It cannot ignore, oppress, minimize, exclude,
Those other souls who inhabit this planet

We are bound together

I have powerful memories
Of trying to eat dinner in parts of the world
Where radical inequity exists
I can remember, picking at a meal
Because outside the window of the restaurant, destitute people
Lay crumpled on the ground

That sight hammered my soul
But many chatted, and sipped their wine
And simply didn’t care

The restaurant owner, seeing the distress of our small group
Had a solution
He pulled down the blind

We cannot pull down the blind
We cannot shutter our souls
To those hungry in our streets
To those feeling violence and oppression, coming to our borders, seeking help
To the people of color who walk the streets in fear
Of police violence against them
Of immigrant workers waiting to hear the echo of boot as ICE comes to arrest them
Of mentally ill people who struggle to stay rooted in this reality

Because we are bound together
And I cannot be who I ought to be, and can be
Until those around me are who they ought to be
And can be

Thus I pay my taxes without complaint
Thus I resist those who would rob others of their rights
Thus is struggle with my own greed
And my own need for power

Thus I try to be generous when I can
Kind when the opportunity presents
Loving, always

For me the blinds are broken
I can no longer hide
I can no longer shout America First
I can no longer simply ‘take care of number one”
And celebrate those things that help me but hurt others

It Is true, sadly
That sometimes I do act out of greed
I am protective
I do participate in that essential selfishness that is so much
A part of American culture

But the blinds are up
Mea Culpa
Kyrie Eleison
Auxilium me amare

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

step by step

If you can see you path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path.  Your own path you make with every step you take.  That’s why it’s your path.
                                                                                          Joseph Campbell

Here I am, wandering into my 67 year
And I really have no idea where I am going

And that is a good thing

For too much of my life I have tried to lay out my path
I have counted my steps
Mapped out my future

I have been careful
An old soul

I was going to be doctor, until I discovered that science and I hate each other
Than a super star pastor
So I set my path, and followed it
Pushing through the undergrowth of doubt and low self esteem
Until I climb to the top
And stepped off a cliff

There is nothing wrong with setting a direction for your life
To know what you value,
And live toward that value

I value service,
Being a help to others;

There is nothing wrong with living toward that compass point

I value lifting others up
And value compassion

And I can live toward those things every day

But I do not have to follow the path others have set for me
Or even the path I have set for myself

All I have to do is put one foot in front of the other
Left foot, right foot, left foot, breathe

All I have to do is live in the moment
And notice what I am thinking, and accept what I am feeling
And do what I care about

Living in the moment the path unfolds before me as I go
I am not stuck with an agenda that may well be wrong
A goal that may well be unobtainable
I am not burdened by what has gone before

I just live

Open to what is in front of me
Open to who is in front of me

Walking down
My path
Wherever it may lead

Monday, August 20, 2018


“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.”
                                              Dwight D. Eisenhower

People of privilege
Seldom know they are privileged

The Rich

All view the world from their bubble
Which protects them from the understanding
That their pathway is easier than others

I should know
I am a white
Who was born to affluence

That affluence did not make me a success
But it made becoming a success easy

No issues with debt
A good college

It is hard for me to understand how much more difficult the path is
For a person of color
A woman
A Muslim
And person who is poor

I just take for granted my advantages

It takes work to put one’s self in another’s shoes
It takes humility
And generosity

But mostly a willingness to say
Life is not fair
And to respect how difficult it is
To move up out of poverty
To deal with sexism
And racism

Every day
Every damn day

To have people shame you
Diminish you
Reject you

and the worst thing we can do
is hang on to our privileges
at the cost to other

for then we lose our souls

we become empty ciphers

when we value our privileges above out principles
we end up with border walls
children in cages
tax cuts for the rich
cuts to the safety net
marches to “unite the right” (white)

we end up with greed
and worse

we end up with petty cruelty

We who are privileged must be willing
To see our privilege
And let it go

For the cost of our privilege
Is simply too high
In the sacred economy, which is based on equity and love

Thursday, August 16, 2018

What kind of God do you worship?

“when the imitation of Christ does not mean to live a life like Christ, but to live your life as authentically as Christ lived his, then there are many ways and forms in which a man can be a Christian.”
                                                            Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Wounded Healer

There is a place in scripture where we are told to be imitators of God
To, literally

Live in love
And give of ourselves

But somehow it often seems to go wrong

Perhaps it has to do with the God we imitate
For some people God is judgmental, stern, retributive, even angry
God is a God with conditional love
A God who demand and expects and puts all kinds of conditions on sacred love

And so, our imitation of God
Becomes a matter of “us” and “them”
“in and “out”
“Good” and “Bad”
“Blessed” or “cursed”

Having kind of an ugly God
We become kind of ugly people

But, if God is love
If God’s love is unconditional
If God sees the worth in all people
Then we move into a love that is generous

A love that does not shame the poor
Exclude those different from us

If you want to know what kind of God you worship
Then look at how you view the person who is among the “least of these”

Then you will know
Then you will know

But just remember
In the end… God is love

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

love versus attachment

“Love wants the best for others. Attachment takes hostages.”
                                             Louise Penny, The Cruelest Month

Love is an amazing thing
Love sets us free from the self
And gives us an eye for the other

It gives us the wisdom
That joy is to be found most profoundly
In the act of giving others joy

Attachment is another matter
Attachment is the grim task of hanging on

To people
To values
To agendas

it moves us away from others
in a paradoxical way,
toward ourselves

and often becomes essential selfishness
A patriotism that is rigid and brutal
A “love” that is obsessive and manipulative

“Attachment takes hostages”
Children in cages on the border
Women who are abused
Children who are oppressed
Church members who are manipulated

Love is selfless
Attachment is selfish
Love is freeing
Attachment is controlling
Love enables growth
Attachment encumbers
Love is ego reducing
Attachment is ego boosting

Attachment can destroy love
Love will transcend attachment

No matter what the relationship
Between one and country
One and one’s job
One and another person (children, one’s love)

We want to love
Without an unhealthy attachment

I want to love my country
Not have an attachment to that causes me to support walls, and exclusion,
Not an attachment that makes me blind to where we could be better
And unwilling to change

I want to love the woman in my life
My children
My friends
The members of my church the same way

Because I want what is best for my country
My church
The people in the pews
For my family
And yes,
For you

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

A global view

“We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it.”
                                              Wendell Berry, The Long-Legged House

Essential selfishness
It is the stuff that politicians sell

It the place from which comes
The darker angels
Lust of power

America First!

It’s all about us

The rest of the world is there to satisfy our rapacious hunger
And they should be happy
To feed us

This plays out at so many level
It is seen in the acts of Congress
In the “minster” who drives up to his megachurch in his $350,000 car

It is seen in the people “packing” in McDonalds
And in the super patriots who cheer the caging of children

It is seen in the desire to “remove” people who are different from our country
In the ability to neglect the vulnerable and the poor
It is seen in the angry faces, and crude gestures of people debasing the press

Some how we think all this power
All this anger
And this self focus
Will make us strong
Keep us safe
Get us what we need

It won’t

The odd economy of the Kingdom
Suggests that
We must think a different way

That is not about me, it is about we
It is about all of us
Who inhabit spaceship earth
Finding a way

To live together
Survive together
Flourish together

And the economy of God suggests
That if anyone is left behind

That is not good

It is not good for us
For they are us
And we have left part of ourselves behind
And we have become smaller

Perhaps that is the problem in America
We have become smaller and smaller and smaller and smaller
All in the name of seeking to be great

So it is time to change the question
Time to change the focus

From what is good for me?
What do I need?
To, what is good for us, for all the family of God?
And what can I do
To meet that need?

Monday, August 13, 2018


“The function of prayer is not to influence God,
but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”
                                                            Søren Kierkegaard

When you pray, pray this way….

I have always struggled a bit with what we call prayer
Oh, I know the Lord’s prayer

Its nice, and it makes sense
Focus on God
Ask for the basics of Life
Ask to be forgiven, and for the capacity to forgive others,
And remember, well, that God is God

And I do pray
I have my own unique style
It is mostly a matter of muttering under my breath
As I go through my day

Things like
“I’m sorry”

And of course, “thank you”

But sometimes one wonders
Does God listen?
Does God hear?

I am reminded of the journalist who lived in Jerusalem,
Close to what is known as the wailing wall
He would watch the people come and go from that sacred place,
And he could not help but notice one elderly man who came to the wall every day

One day he approached the man and said to him, “I cannot help but notice
That you come to the wall every day”  The man replied, yes, I have been coming to the wall every day for over 30 years.  And every day I pray to Yahweh, I pray for peace”

“What” responded the correspondent, “is it like to do that?”  “It is like talking to wall”, the old man replied.

What comes from prayer

I would have to say that the main benefit of prayer
Is the same benefit we get when we talk, really talk, with anyone

A sense of knowing and being known
A sense of loving, and being loved

As to outcomes?
Well, I think Kierkegaard was probably right

If we want to see what happens when we prayer,
We need not look to the world
Or to others

We simply need to look inside ourselves
What is happening in my heart, my soul
What has changed in the way I see other people
In the way I feel
In my relationship to adversity, or even success?

For the function of prayer is, perhaps above all else
A plea that God will work Sacred miracles of love
Inside us

And the hope of prayer, is that this inner work
Changes, in a profound way
Everything else
Even if it doesn’t

Saturday, August 11, 2018

be yourself

You are only free when you realize you belong no place – you belong every place – no place at all. The price is high, the reward is great.
                                                            Maya Angelou

You will always belong anywhere you show up as yourself, and talk about yourself in a real way”
                                                            From Rene Brown

I was the geeky kid who didn’t quite belong
Oh, I wasn’t “out”
And I had a good childhood

But there was this way, in which I didn’t belong
Or perhaps should more rightly say, in which I didn’t feel I belonged

And so I was always trying to earn accepting
Trying to figure out the magic word that would gain me entrance in
The “inner circle”

Being me just wasn’t an option

I am not sure things have changed a lot
Over the years I have been many things
Pastor, EMT, disaster relief worker, Assistant Professor in a medical school, mental health professional

And still I have felt that I had to
Manufacture a self
So that I would belong

A self for every place

And in the process, I somewhat lost my true self
Not completely perhaps, but in some profound ways

Now as I near 70, the thought occurs to me
Perhaps what I need to do, most of all, is show up as myself
To ground myself in who I really am,

I need to say to myself (Thanks again to Maya Angelou)

“I belong to myself (and by default the Sacred in which I participate), and
I like Stephen very much.  I like the humor and passion and creativity, very much.
And when I find myself not being, just me, then I have to deal with that.”

I belong to me
And I belong to the Sacred woven into my fabric
And if I am just me
I am where I belong

Whether it is comfortable or not
Whether I fit in or not

The price is high sometimes
Being who you really are, and not altering yourself for others
But the reward?

Is great

Friday, August 10, 2018


“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.”
                                                                           Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

We all have choices
Some are easy, some are hard
Some are obvious, some are veiled

We make thousands of choices each day
From the mundane (do I get up, or sleep for five more minutes)
To the profound (am I going to exclude or include, forgive or seek revenge)

Wayne Muller says we only have one choice really
The next one

But of course that choice leads to the next one,
And the next one
And the next one

And our choices become
In a way, like the “breadcrumbs of God”

Our ultimate challenge?
To make the next choice the “right” choice
To make the choice that follows the prompting of the Sacred

We will of course make bad choices
We will wander off the path into the swamp

But God is the great innovator, and gently, or not so gently, nudges us back toward the path

Of course sometimes we get so far off the path, the only choice is to find a new path
Call it Plan B

I think I am on plan Z, perhaps even Z25

And still the choices come

We can choose to hate, chose to lie, choose to grasp, choose to bully, choose to use, choose to abuse
We can choose selfishness and cruelty as values

We can

But if we pay attention to the Sacred
To that presence within, perhaps, perhaps, our choices will be better
Perhaps we will choose love, generosity, compassion
Perhaps we will choose hope, and service

And it is good to remember
Our choices determine our direction
Are we marching toward Zion?
Or wandering into the city dump (otherwise known as Gehenna)

(sorry for those semi-obscure Biblical references, I could not help myself
I choose poorly)

Our choices do more than that
They determine who we are

Thursday, August 9, 2018


I wonder if this is how people always get close: They heal each other's wounds; they repair the broken skin.”
― Lauren Oliver, Pandemonium

What makes life worth living?
Ability to use and abuse

Ask those who have more than they need
And find it isn’t enough

’Why spend money on that which is not bread,
and your labor on that which does not satisfy?”


How do we find what we seek
Which is closeness to the Sacred
Closeness to other people

We reach out
With compassion
And love

Wednesday, August 8, 2018


“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it--always.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

 “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”
― Aldous Huxley, Complete Essays 2, 1926-29

 “Above all, don't lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Do we live in a post truth world?
Today, as I try to wade through the lies coming from almost every direction

The White House
Politicians on the stump

Even people I know,

I wonder about our relationship with the truth
I wonder about the power of truth

Right now it seems as if lies have more power than truth

And unlike Gandhi, I despair
I know the power of love and truth
Jesus was love and truth

But the tyrants, the greedy, the abusive
Right now they seem to be winning

And facts
Do they even matter any more
There are people out there who are angry and entrench because
They don’t bother with the facts
They choose a voice to trust, such as FOX, and that is the end of it

What is said becomes fact for them
And thus, as the Bible says, the good becomes evil and evil good

But mostly I worry because we all seem to be lying to ourselves
Those who follow the path to the far right lie, and say they don’t hate
They aren’t racists
They have compassion

Those who follow the path to the far left pretend they are more forgiving, more compassionate
Than those on the right, they aren’t
They are just a different flavor of angry, rigid and judgmental

And I
Dare I look in the mirror
In how many small ways do I ignore the facts
Pass on misconceptions and falsehoods
How many times do I pretend to be better than I am?

How dare I challenge the person who dehumanizes Muslims
Or is willing to throw immigrants to the wolves
When I have my own essential falshoods

What do I do, when immersed in many shades of gray
I lose my own grip on the truth
And thus lose my own fundamental ability

To speak the truth
And when I speak that truth
In love

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

close to God

I was in a Q&A session recently with a somewhat earnest, young seminarian whose hand popped up and said, Pastor Nadia, what do you do personally to get closer to God? And before I even realized I was saying it, I was like, what? Nothing. That sounds like a horrible idea to me.

When it comes down to it, my spirituality is most active not in meditation, but in the moments when I realize God may have gotten something beautiful done through me despite the fact that I'm an asshole.

                                                                                          Nadia Bolz-Weber

When do I feel closest to God
It’s a good question
Do I even try to get  close to God, really

I mean seriously, the Sacred is scary stuff
Life changing

I have to admit I have never really found a “sense” of God
By reading the Bible
Ore even prayer

Although I pray all the time
I say “help” about 100 times a day
And “I’m sorry” about 100 more

I feel closest to God, when my dog gives me his lopsided grin
And when the sun comes up
I feel closest to God when suddenly
In the midst of all I am doing I stop, and realize that I have actually helped someone

It might be small, like opening a door for an older person
It might be stopping by the house of a “ranch widow” just to say “hi”
It might be when the light seems to come on in someone’s head and heart
In therapy

It might just be when I am silent, when I want to speak
Or speak when it would be easier to be silent

Getting close to God is about
Doing what is easy
Doing what is hard
Doing things intentionally
Doing things by accident
Doing things big and small

But doing them
While muttering under one’s breath

“I’m sorry”
“thank you”

And doing them in love

Monday, August 6, 2018

Never Quit

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief
Do justly now
Love mercy, now
Walk humbly, now
You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it
                                                            A “gathering” of statements from the Talmud

The world is in pain
Evil people are in power
With no compassion, no sense of other

They are legislating and promoting cruelty and hate
The “enormity” of what is happening
To the poor, to minorities, to the earth

To all vulnerable creatures and all creation
Is unmeasurable

And those who see the earth
And see the poor
And see the young black man
And see the immigrant mother who has lost her child
And see the person with an addiction
And see the person with mental illness

Those who look into the eyes of the suffering and say
I see you


We grieve about the damage,
The minimization, marginalization, oppression

We grieve to see so many wounded
With hope stolen

But we cannot stop
We cannot quit
We cannot let these people win
Who seem to have lost their own souls

Who seem to have lost their humanity
The divine spark
The Sacred presence

These empty ciphers cannot be allow to define the future
They cannot be allow to dictate how things will be

And we cannot, by inaction (or collaboration)
Compromise our own inheritance as Sacred Children

So we must each day see what is in front of us
All the beauty, all the ugliness
All the joy, all the pain

And we must walk
Sometimes in the darkness, where we stumble
And fall
And feel pain

Sometimes in the light
Where the way is more clear

But we must walk
Living justice (where there is no justice)
Living mercy (where there is cruelty and shaming)
Living humility (where there is arrogance and power lust)

Letting the Spirit rock and roll in our souls
And living love

And we must never quit

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Live with Courage

Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life.  Only dead people don’t feel pain, sadness, worry.  We can’t embrace a “dead person” perspective… the process of developing emotional agility isn’t about ignoring difficult emotions and thoughts.  It’s about holding those emotions and thoughts loosely, facing them courageously and compassionately, and then moving past them to make big things happen in your life.
                                                                           Susan Davis

Emotions are
They just are

We can’t avoid them
We can’t deny them
We can’t suppress them

Without committing ourselves to an ongoing task
That will rob us of life
Cause us to narrow down our living to almost nothing


We do not have bad emotions
We just have emotions
They just are
Part of the human experience

So when things assail us our response must be
“Oh, I am having a human experience!”

And the we notice, let go
And choose to embrace life, and love

Simple, yes
Easy, no!

Live with courage my friends
Live with courage

Saturday, August 4, 2018

lifting others up

"I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes, this makes planning the day difficult. —E. B. White"


I’m conflicted
I admit it

Sometimes I just want to have fun
I want to engage in life playfully, and not worry about a thing

But then
There is that Mennonite heritage
Which says you must contribute
You must make a difference

In this dualistic world in which we live
Those are not easy value sets to wed

Life is difficult
Evil lives in high places
People are willfully ignorant
Nurturing their dark angels for the gods of power and wealth

There is so much to do
And so one grabs moments
A walk under the mountain
An adventure in a new place
A touch of music here
A good book there

And then one descends into the region of “ooze and slime and old decay” (CS Lewis)
To do the work of lifting others up (and one’s self as well)
Into the region of light

Where love lives
Where people care
Where healing happens

Friday, August 3, 2018

the bottom of the cup

“He had the look of one who had drunk the cup of life and found a dead beetle at the bottom.”
                                                            P.G. Wodehouse

What do we carry in our souls
Hate, greed?

We are burdened souls
Weighted down
Lifted up

And whatever is in there
Deep in our souls
At the central place
Where we are who we are….

Is etched in our face
Revealed in our bodies

There is a reason I look the way I do (tired and overwhelmed)
There is a reason Trump looks the way he looks
And you look the way you look

Whatever is happening
Oozes out through our eyes
Our mouth
Our chin

So look at that person in the mirror
What does your face reveal about you

The truth is out there

Thursday, August 2, 2018

lift others up

“When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don't blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change”
                                                                                                         Thich Nhat Hanh

Why is it
That so often those with the capacity to truly help others, don’t?

Why is it that the people with the most wealth
Are often the least generous?

It seems as if they had turned shaming and blaming into a fine art
And find every reason they can think of
To make the poor responsible for their plight

Just get a job
You are lazy moochers
If you worked harder you would succeed

The message is clear
“You are directly responsible for your plight!”

It is true, at times, that people have made mistakes
True at times that they are working the system

But what I hear echoing back from the poor
Is a plaintive protest
“I am trying as hard as I can”

And they are!

But in America, because of our worship of power and wealth
The system is against them

Wages are too low
Health insurance is too high, or unavailable
House is out of reach
Education is astronomical

It is harder to work your way out of poverty now, than at any other time in American history
And studies show that under Trump and the GOP, things are getting worse.

Jesus talked about the “little ones” a lot
He meant children
But not just children

The phrase might just as easily be interpreted
The least of these

What we are really talking about, is vulnerability
People made vulnerable by violence, trauma
Addiction, mental illness, poverty, oppression, minimization, ignorance

It is an American past time, at least by the right (I will not call them conservatives,
That is an insult to conservatives.  They are right wing ideologues who love power and dominance)
To shame and blame these people

To hypocritically remove services from them (claiming they don’t want to ‘enable’ them)
And at the same time minimizing and oppressing them

This does not work
It creates smugness on one side
And anger on the other

“Blaming has no positive effect at all,
nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument....
No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding.

If you understand, and you show that you understand,
you can love, and the situation will change”

We are admonished by the Bible, to overcome evil with good

Maybe it is time we tried it

To love and understand those who are poor
To support, to nurture, to lift up

To curb out own desire to accumulate
For as someone said
“poverty exists not because we cannot feed the poor
But because we cannot satisfy the rich”

To curb our need to exercise power over others
To build ourselves up, by putting others down

And find that spot within us, that is kind, and generous
And lifts others up

Food and housing
Healthcare and education
Without these no one can flourish

But it takes more
Sometimes what a person needs to soothe their soul and ease their burden is the loving hand of a friend gently touching their heart and lifting them towards love

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Dare to lose

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to
succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.”
                               Abraham Lincoln

We live in a world of flawed formulas

Work hard and you will succeed
If you live a good life you will be blessed

Those formulas were, at the very least,
Somewhat well intentioned

But we are now bombarded by values and beliefs that are not merely wrong
None of them are new
But they are newly embraced
And they are destructive

The end justifies the means
God loves and blesses us, but not them
People who are not like us have less value
Might makes right
If you have the power, you should be free to use it (without worrying about how it impacts others)
It is more important to be strong, than just, or compassionate
Its ok to scramble and fight to get what I want, even if it means others get left behind

We live in a world
More specifically in a nation
That is no longer “true”
And no longer living up the “what light” it has

We must respond
And grab hold of the truth
That we are in a win – lose culture
That is really a lose – lose culture

This must change.  To quote the words of Joseph Kennedy, as he spoke recently to spiritual leaders

“This moment demands more of us than we might feel capable of giving; more than we have traditionally done; more than we have ever expected.

But those of you in this room tonight — with your reservoirs of faith, of wisdom, of gentleness and justice and generosity – with the trust you have righteously earned from the people you serve — you are the ones to meet this moment.

Help us tell America an alternative story. Help us show our fractured, fearful country a different way.

Not a Democratic agenda or a Republican agenda – but a decent one.

“From the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

Where you lead with strength and surety, a grateful nation will follow.”

We must lead
We must challenge the way that leads to lose – lose
We must live up to what light we have