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, October 31, 2018

make your life a poem

“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”
 Walt Whitman

make your life a poem
its not that hard

if your life is written
by the great poet

know that you are a love poem
that you lift up hearts
and pluck souls from the abyss

for your rhyme and meter
are generosity and acceptance
kindness and forgiveness

make your life a poem
defined by the cadence of love

resist evil
mingle with the questionable
examine everything

make your life a poem

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Anyone can destroy

“It takes no genius to destroy. The creators, the givers, the lovers, the healers - these are the heroes who know - the building up is so much more difficult than the tearing down.”
― Laurence Overmire, New York Minute

It doesn’t take effort to cut someone down
It doesn’t take much to criticize
It isn’t difficult to find the problems

It isn’t easy to destroy laws that protect the earth
Or legislation that protects the vulnerable
Its damn easy to cut the poor out of the budget

It is the building up that is difficult
It is hard to love the unlovable
Hard to find that “something good” to praise

It is hard to make the difficult choices that will lead to better health care
Hard to go against those you fear to stand up for the weak

It is damn hard to confront hate
To call out liars
And insist on the truth

It is hard to give
Hard to create something new
Hard to heal
And near impossible to love

Our President does nothing that is hard
He simply flails and destroy
The Congress that supports him does nothing different
Simply allowing laws to be destroyed that did much good
(may put a little restraint on rampant and greedy capitalism)

The American church
Simply attacks
The LGBTQI community
People who are poor

Shaming, insisting on excluding them, diminishing them
Hating them (fundamentally)

For all its talk about following Jesus
It is easier to grasp to hate, to exclude, to judge
Then it is to give, forgive, include and love

It would be easy for me to spend my time ripping apart those I disagree with
Some might say that is what I am doing now
Perhaps that is what I am doing now

Mea Culpa
Mea Maxima Culpa

Lord, whatever we do this day
May it be something positive
Something loving
Something generous
Something life giving

Because anyone can destroy
Only a Sacred Child
Living out his or her inheritance
Can build up.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

thoughts on prayer

“Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one's weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”
 Mahatma Gandhi

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

Prayer is not the “art of the deal”
It is not a matter of us calling out to all that is Sacred
Seeking to manipulate
Whatever power might be there
To do our will

Jesus made it pretty clear
That God is God
Sacred is Sacred

“Thy will be done”

Paul suggests that when it comes to prayer
We suck


Not because we cannot mouth the words
Not because we cannot turn a phrase
But because we have no clue how to pray (Romans 8)

Instead he suggests that we let the Sacred in us, the Spirit
Pray for us
With “wordless groans”

When prayer is really prayer it is nothing more (or less)
Than a cry of the heart
Prayer happens when God awakens in us the longing to connect
The desire to be filled
The hope for healing, and forgiveness

Prayer is when those things we cannot put into words
Wing their way toward the Sacred
And when the love of the Sacred finds its way back
Along the bridge of prayer

To change our minds
Our hearts
Our souls
And we are made new

Saturday, October 20, 2018

loved back to life

“It happens to all of us," I concluded that Easter Sunday morning. "God simply keeps reaching down into the dirt of humanity and resurrecting us from the graves we dig for ourselves through our violence, our lies, our selfishness, our arrogance, and our addictions. And God keeps loving us back to life over and over.”
 Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastrix

it has been a long road
and now that I am no longer young

and perhaps not truly old

I pause, as one pauses before that final climb
to the top of the hill

clarity, that final clarity that only death will bring
is over the hill
and for now

is am merely on the way
a long path behind me,
a much shorter one ahead

and in the stillness
I ruminate

I chew methodically on
the stuff that comes up
good, bad, and indifferent

there are memories that bring joy
and those that bring pain
memories of proud moments
and memories of abject shame

it has not been smooth
this path
there have been far too many moments when I have been over my head
in the ooze and slime and old decay (CS Lewis) of failure

ah yes, there were times when I broke free
and for brief bright moments felt good about myself
and what I was doing

but so many times
when I wondered if I could keep putting
one foot in front of the other

and I have been no stranger to death
the death of hope
the death of dreams
the death of a career, and then another
the death of a marriage, the death of joy

Oh yes, I have done much of it to myself
Although sometimes, life just happens

but for each death
there has been a resurrection
for each ending, there has been a beginning

it seems that God cannot leave well enough alone
(thank God)
and keeps “loving me back to life”
again, and again, and again

if I am “average” I will live another 11 years
what will that “final climb” bring?
what will I do between now and that final then?

How many more holes will I dig for myself?
How many more times will I get lost in the swamp?
What lies along the path?
Pain, joy, love?

I do not know
but this I know

God will keep reaching down into the mess that is this world
and God will keep reaching down into the mess that is my life
and God will keep nudging, and guiding, hinting and helping.
God will keep picking me when I fall down
And if necessary, keep resurrecting me, when I am buried in the rubble of my own making

And this I know
When I hit the top of that hill
And look over to the other side

God will be there again, with one last resurrection, and one last surprise


‘when the evening gently closes in, and you close your weary eyes
I’ll be there as I have always been, with just one more surprise”
                                                            Contemporary Hymn

Thursday, October 18, 2018

I am therefore I think

I am
Therefore I think

It is not always good thing

There are times when it feels as if there are a thousand TV blaring in my skull
All of them on a different station!

There are times when it is like a whirlwind
And I cannot grab
One cogent thought out of the chaos

At other times my thoughts simply fail
Slipping away in to oblivion
Like the mountain in the clouds of winter

Names, dates
Appointments, tasks
In the twinkling of an eye

And oh the thoughts that come
“you are not enough”
“you failed”
“you are not loved”
“you need to quit”

My brain is a bully
No doubt about it

And O the feelings it generates
Fear, anger
Hopelessness, helplessness

Sometimes I think my mind
While trying to define me
Causes me to lose my self

Drawing me away from my heart
Drawing me away from my soul

Someday, perhaps,
I will learn to live from the heart
Not from the mind

Someday, perhaps, although probably not today
I will learn to listen to the prompting of the Sacred within
Rather than the voice of my unreasonable reason
Perhaps someday, I will learn to “step away from the brain”

“be transformed” I am exhorted, “by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12)

The only way that is going to happen
Is if I learn to quiet the mind
to have a calm brain

where the storm is quieted
and I can hear a single drop of rain
land on the pond

hear the ripple of the waves
the song of the sparrow
the cry of the hawk

where the chaos is stilled
and the cry of the heart is heard

“the mind is now stilled
hear the loving call of the Sacred
I am now at peace”

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

let God

By love, God can be embraced and held, but not by thinking.

It doesn’t matter how much profound wisdom we possess about created spiritual beings; our understanding cannot help us gain knowledge about any uncreated spiritual being, who is God alone. But the failure of our understanding can help us. When we reach the end of what we know, that’s where we find God. That’s why St. Dionysius [5th/6th century] said that the best, most divine knowledge of God is that which is known by not-knowing.
                                                                                    Richard Rohr

Bless our little concrete minds

we are soooo uncomfortable with the unknown
with that which we cannot totally define
cannot totally explain

but how do our finite minds understand the infinite
how do we explain a feeling?
or the irrepressible surge of the Sacred
in our souls?

it scares us
this vastness
this mystery

And so we try to contain it!
anyone have box?
and some tape?

So we create ideology, philosophy
and worse yet, theology

but all we manage to do is
make God small
we squeeze the Sacred into our mold
we create God, as some have said, into our own image

and all of a sudden God is about rules, and dogma
and religion replaces relationship
and certitude replaces mystery

and faith becomes striving
and inclusion becomes inclusion
and acceptance becomes judgment

We take Jesus
Word become Flesh
The one who points us toward the mystery

And we try to tame him

Jesus was wild and weird
and said things we do not understand
and walked a path we cannot truly fathom or follow
but we want to distill him
to capture him, own him

we might as well try and catch the wind (or the Spirit)

The Sacred is indeed difficult to embrace and hold
sometimes we simply have to accept
that we don’t know
we don’t understand
that for all our striving to understand,
we may be wrong

and in that moment of uncertainty
we are forced to let go of all certainty
and let God be Love

Monday, October 15, 2018

In the morning when I rise

Grace isn't about God creating humans and flawed beings and then acting all hurt when we inevitably fail and then stepping in like the hero to grant us grace - like saying, "Oh, it's OK, I'll be the good guy and forgive you." It's God saying, "I love the world too much to let your sin define you and be the final word. I am a God who makes all things new.”
 Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint

In the morning when I rise
In the morning when I rise
In the morning when I rise

give me Jesus   (African American Spiritual)

each morning when we rise
we have two choices
we can be defined by the world
or we can be defined by the Sacred

in the world we are defined by
money and power
possessions and influence

in the world we are defined
by labels and titles

with the Sacred we are defined by love
we are defined by One who makes all things news

Sometimes it doesn’t feel that way
for in our own weird way we have Secularized the Sacred
giving God attributes which are ungodly
making God a judging retributive being who counts our
ills, and holds them against us

who controls us, manipulates us with fear
and threats of eternal damnation

who demands performance, or else
turn or burn

but in reality God is love
God is a parent in whose eyes
We are wonderful and beautiful
Albeit a bit flawed, and perhaps a touch naughty and willful

But God persists in love
Persists in forgiveness and generosity

In the morning when I rise
I do not, therefore
Want to embrace the world
With its hate and greed
With its demands for performance

In the morning when I rise
I want Jesus
I want grace
I want love
I want it all

So that secure and loved
I can walk through my day
As a Sacred child

Open, vulnerable
Giving, forgiving
Caring and yes

It’s a much better way to live!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

the Great ones

" The great do not regard themselves;
look not for godliness
... in a self-conceited man.

Eminence does not consist in
... outward show and vaunting words, ...
nor dignity in hauteur and pretension. "
- Shaykh Sa'adi Shirazi

where do we find the great ones?
the ones who touch hearts and souls
and carry others through the terrors of this world?

look not to the corner office
nor the pulpit
look not to the capital building or the White House (especially not there)

look not to those who preen and boast
who stand in front of thousands
preaching or ranting
nor to the ones who wear the accessories of success
and gather all things to themselves

look instead to the half way house
the homeless shelter
look to the classroom
and that dank kitchen in the basement of an old church building

look at the bent body, in the veteran’s hat
at the grandmother shepherding her grandchildren

look in the places where the “least of these” are served
and look toward the quiet ones who humbly attend

with compassion and kindness
with acceptance and encouragement
with love

look for those, not with shiny gold veneers
but for those with deep souls
who reach out their hands to
the lost, the poor
the ill, the agitated
the dirty, the ragged
the addicted
the immigrant

look to those who reach out to the vulnerable ones of this world
and in doing so
touch God

for to such belong the Kingdom

Saturday, October 13, 2018

with hands empty

“That which we die for lives as wholly as that which we live for dies.”
― e.e. cummings

He lived for 93 three years
my old friend

when but a spritely 90 he asked his doctor how he was doing
compared to other men his age

“they are in the ground” his doctor said
“well I will not be in the ground” he replied
“I will be soaring in the skies”

life and death
we are so often confused
thinking that the life for which we fight
is life indeed
when instead it is a sort of death

and we think that death
that dark specter
is something to fear
when instead it is a sort of freedom

it is a funny thing
that the more the we cling to things
the more they cling to us

and weigh us down
and so we plod, we plod
unable to soar

our self turns in on our self
and we are trapped
living for self we die

but when we let go
better yet, when we not only let go
but offer that to which we have clung, to others
we are able to travel light
and love given become love returned
hope given becomes hope returned

dying to self we live

This is God’s economy
Where giving we gain
Where losing we win
Where dying we gain

God must be at least a little bit weird

And yet in a strange way we know
this way is true

when hands full
we find that what we grasp decays

when hands empty
we can reach for the stars
and “catch the joy as it flies” (Blake)

Friday, October 12, 2018

until we are healed

Of all the times - Time be the recorder,
Of all the things - Time be the robber,
Of all the sorrows - Time be the healer,
Of all the powers - Time be the taker.

On this fall morning
as morning struggles to arrive
I sit and stare at windows which are dead eyes
staring back

There is nothing there,
no mountain dusted with snow
no golden aspens, fluttering in the breeze

just blackness, unrelenting

and yet I know the mountain is there,
the aspen too
somewhere the sun creeps slowly toward the horizon

and this dark moment will pass

in this timeless moment
when the world has stopped
in this difficult moment
when it seems as if nothing will change

as the darkness of hate and greed seem unrelenting
and it feels as if it will be always night
never morning

we must look beyond

time is relentless
as relentless as that sun that soon shall rise over
the jagged teeth of the Seven Devils

It feels so shallow to say, “this too shall pass’
but it shall

and that Force which drives the universe
that Power which set time in motion
that One who envisioned and created us
that One who loves us

is in time
and those who think their momentary triumphs
of hate and greed
will stand

are mistaken

for although what we do now
is written into the fabric of the universe
so that the very soul of creation is imprinted with our acts
for good or ill

time moves on
and what is, passes and goes away
empires and buildings crumble and fall
and with them the arrogance of human kind

power comes, and goes
and comes and goes again

even the arrogant who smugly strut and smirk
will find, someday, their power gone
their hands empty
and perhaps, perhaps, their souls lost

and sorrow too
for time is the healer

it is not just that we forget the pain, the hurt
the loss, the defeat

it is truly that over time
love and light gently flow over and around us
through us

slowly filling the empty places
easing the pain
calming our hearts

until we are healed

it is not that all sorrow flees, is cured
but it is healed
and becomes a doorway into what is next

Thank your creator God
Thank you heavenly father / mother
For bringing your loving presence into time
and help us to know
that all will be well
in time

Thursday, October 11, 2018

enemies within

“Declare your jihad on thirteen enemies you cannot see -egoism, arrogance, conceit, selfishness, greed, lust, intolerance, anger, lying, cheating, gossiping and slandering. If you can master and destroy them, then you will be read to fight the enemy you can see.”

Who are our enemies?
It is the Muslims?
The immigrants at the border?
Is it people of color,
Or those whose sexual orientation is different from mine?

Who do I need to fear?
From what do I need to protect myself?
Against whom, against what do I need war?

Perhaps the greatest enemies lie within,
and are those inner trolls of the soul
that blind us,
numb us
mislead us

Perhaps the greatest dangers are those things
that ooze up, out of our inner swamp
the greed and lust,
the lying, the abuse of power

unless we understand who our true enemies are
we will kill what is good and kind within us
we will erode out souls

and then we will join the crass throng
that calls good evil, and evil good

and crucify the true self
on the cross of blind desire and fear

and kill justice, and equity
hope and joy

and kill love
at the same time

there is another path
there is a better path
where, in meditation, in silence, in prayer
we come to that place
where we see ourselves clearly
and walk the path of truth, generosity, and love

Thomas Merton once said “I die by brightness and the Holy Spirit.”

Let us be drawn by the light into that place
Where we see what is real, and what is not
Where we see that is good, and what is not

And move from life to death
And in that dying to life
Have been overwhelmed and undone by the Sacred
And given rebirth

As a child of God

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Be an epiphany

The way to any universal idea is to proceed through a concrete encounter.  There are a number of ways to say the same thing:  The one is the way to the many, the specific is the way to the spacious, the now is the way to the always, the here is the way to everywhere, the material is the way to the spiritual, the visible is the way to the invisible… we live in a fully sacramental universe, where everything is a pointer and an epiphany….
                                                                        Richard Rohr

How do we find the Sacred?
How do we find meaning, or peace, or hope?
How do we find love?

Sometimes it feels as if we must somehow transcend this present moment
that we must leave this particular moment behind,
lose ourselves in mystery
to connect with such deep realities

and yet
and yet

perhaps we have it all wrong

Perhaps the answers are not hidden
up there, out there, beyond the stars.

Perhaps the answers are right in front of us
in a child at play
in a stormy fall morning,
in the touch of a hand

the material is the way to the spiritual
the visible is the way to the invisible
everything is a pointer and an epiphany

Jesus was a pointer to the Sacred
An act of kindness a pointer to love
A fall leaf, painted orange and red, a pointer to Sacred creativity

I need to see Sacred everywhere
In everything
In everyone

But more, I need to understand the profound fact,
that I too am a pointer
and that people need to see the Sacred in me
in the way I laugh, play, serve, forgive, give
in the way I love

It is difficult in these times
when we all feel so powerless
to remember the “Scandal of the Particular” (Walter Brueggemman)

that this is how God has always worked
through Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Jesus, Peter, Paul

and now

through you and me

may our lives be a pointer
and an epiphany

Monday, October 8, 2018

keeping going

“If you are going through hell, keep going.”
― Winston S. Churchill

“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”
― Confucius

Why keep fighting?
Why keep spending so much time an energy

When the power of the Presidency,
The power of Congress,
The power of the very rich,
Mean that they can and will ignore what is right?

Why keep trying to change minds, and hearts
When no one is willing to listen
When everyone is entrench

When misinformation and propaganda
Have enslaved so many,
Causing them to support what is fundamentally, evil?

Why keep trying to lift souls up,
when they are so very busy wallowing in the swamp,
supporting the unsupportable?

Why keep going
when it is clear that greed and the lust for power
are more influential than generosity, compassion, and love?

When even the sacred fellowship the ekklasia, the Sacred gathering
Has now become a insider club marked by fear, exclusion, judgement and even hate


Because God is love
Because if we are open to Sacred presence
We can be the light in the darkness

We can be the mustard seed
The pinch of yeast

If not us, who?
If not now, when?

The light appears to be flickering
in danger perhaps, of going out
the places from whence the light should shine
have become dark holes
sucking goodness out of the world

be we cannot give up
For “we know that for those who love God (the God who is love, not the faux God) all things work together for good

Not all is good
Not all will be good
But even out of the most horrendous times
Good can come

But it will only come
through those who are willing to stay connected to the Sacred
through those who remain open to Sacred Presence

it will only come
as the “God in us” oozes out through our words, our attitudes, out actions

we may be going through hell
keep going

Sunday, October 7, 2018

True Community

Extremists at both ends of the political continuum have more in common with each other than they do with the vast majority of people from their own constituencies.  What they share is leveraging any opportunity to discharge their denied and festering pain, hurt, and feelings of smallness or powerlessness.
                                                            Brene Brown,  Braving the Wilderness

We live in a world
In a country of extremes

I know, sometimes I live there
On the end of the spectrum

But most of the time I live in the middle
Confused, angry, disconnected

And really, really sad

For in trying to celebrate collective values
And pain
And hope

We have ended up dehumanizing and objectifying each other

We have reached the place where our bonds with one another are counterfeit
Based on the fact that we hate the same people

This is an intense bond, it is gratifying
We are caught up in it
Just watch the faces behind Trump at a rally
Or think of our own delight when one of “them” is shamed and defeated

Hate is a fuel that burns fast, and “leaves a trail of polluted emotion” (BB)

We must learn to choose
Not the bond of hate
Not the bond of ridicule and shaming

But the bond of love
The bond of shared pain
The bond of shared hope

The bond of gathering on a Sunday morning and experiencing real community
Sharing real joys, and real hurts

The bond of being captured by something bigger than ourselves
Be it Harry Potter
Or the Seahawks

Or love
Especially love

We need real community
The community of hope
The community of love

You want false community
Go to a Trump rally
Or to many churches

You want real community
Go to a homeless shelter
To a family gathering
To a community potluck
To a fourth of July parade in a small town
To a concert
To a funeral
To a wedding

Community is to be found
And it, ultimately
Is what will save us