Welcome

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



Thursday, February 21, 2019

love


The
Moon asked me
to meet her in a field
tonight

I think
she has amorous
ideas

Fantastic

Hafiz
______________________________

on this day
when we talk about love
and pretend that a tiny
part of love is indeed the whole

when eros is celebrated
and equally powerful facets of love,
phileo and
storge
and agape are sometimes
neglected

let us remember
how big love really is

how it embraces
everything that
lifts up, and encourages
everything that protects
and builds

passion is there to be sure
but so too friendship
loyalty
kindness
generosity
patience
forgiveness

and let us remember that Love
is that from which all comes
and is that which holds
everything together

Love is
The Sacred One
God

And we can find Love everywhere
In a lover
A children
A parent
A friend

But also in
The moon
The sun
The wind
The trees
In the rivers and trees

And that is…
Fabulous


Wednesday, February 20, 2019

live like it's heaven


You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching,
Love like you'll never be hurt,
Sing like there's nobody listening,
And live like it's heaven on earth.”
― William W. Purkey
_________________________________


Just good theology, this

Live with gusto!  Check
Live in love! Check
Lift your voice!  Check!

But that last line says it all

Live like its heaven on earth
Exactly!

Think about it
Why did Jesus come to this earth?
To teach us how to get to heaven?
No!

Jesus came to show the solidarity between heaven and earth
To remind us that the earth is Sacred
And so are the people who live on it.

He came to teach us how to live on this earth
not how to scratch our way to heaven
To teach us how to bring the Kingdom of Heaven (or God)
In to being

Here!
Now!

And we are taught to pray
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done

On earth!

and we are impelled to live accordingly
which means fighting for justice
making peace
demanding and creating equity
advocating for and working for equality

We should support nothing on this earth
That would not be allowed in heaven
No caged children
No people without clean water (or water at all)
No greed
No hate

Nothing

We should do nothing on this earth
that would not be acceptable in heaven
We should feed the hungry
Clothe the naked
House the homeless

We should be people of
compassion
generosity
and kindness

we should live like its heaven on earth
after all the
Kingdom is very near
perhaps as near as our breath

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Part of a whole


No one ever knows what divine narrative God may be writing with the crooked lines of someone’s struggles, misdeeds, and omissions”
                                                            John O’Donohue
____________________________________________

to what degree do I believe
that God is engaged in my life
writing a divine narrative of which I am
somehow
a part?

that is a good question

I do believe that we live on Sacred ground
Moses was not unique
when his toes clutched the earth of the Sinai
and he stood in the flickering light of
divine fire

every step we take
we are in touch with what is Sacred
the earth
the sky
the mountains and rivers
the flora and fauna

that person we stumble across

all contain God
participate in God
are, in some sense Sacred

and the more aware one is of this
the more the Divine influences
each step
each action
each word
each thought

if I see God in the mountains
do I dare rip that mountain apart for coal
if God is in that river do I careless allow oil
to foul its waters?

If I see God in that child
can I pull her from her mother
and throw her into a cage?

If I sense the that man is a Child of God
can I discard him
because he happens to have an addiction?

I suspect that in some mysterious way
we do participate in some sort of divine narrative

But I suspect we participate in that narrative as a single thread
participates in an amazing handwoven carpet

We are woven into the fabric of something huge and complex

In my hubris I want God to be all about “me”
And my individual journey
I want God guiding each step
Determining my path
Setting me on my way

But the more I participate in the mystery
the more I understand that we are all so inextricably woven together
that we cannot separate our narrative from all narratives

our narrative is not more important than another’s narrative
we are not singled out for blessing
or for curse

we are part of a whole we cannot understand
we are in this together
each of us doing the best we can

moving along in torturous fashion
but all
together
creating the divine narrative

moving haltingly
toward that new heaven
and more importantly
that new earth


Sunday, February 17, 2019

no hate


“We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love.”
 David Mitchell, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

“To hate man and worship God seems to be the sum of all the creeds.”
 Robert Ingersoll, Some Mistakes of Moses
___________________________________________

I was taught to follow Jesus
by a father who was a healer
and a mother who, although she rarely “spoke love”
lived love, doing things for others

I was taught to “keep it simple”
to love God
and
to love those around me

So I will admit that I do not understand
those who say they love God
but have no problem hating other people

its endemic
this hate

every morning I am assaulted by hate
it is like a stream of fetid sewage
springing up out of the heart of our nation
(not just ours to be sure)

racism, overt and growing bolder
violence, with a red hat assaulting a British photojournalist
lies, lies, lies and more lies,
designed to nurture hate and fear
greed, causing such economic inequity that the poor are literally dying in our streets

and all of this is supported
by religion

I cannot call it Christianity for it cannot and does not come from Christ
I cannot call it faith, for such fear driven behavior is the antithesis of faith

It is simply religion
Which is not necessarily spiritual at all

Spirituality is about our connection with what is Sacred
It is our being touched, changed, driven, empowered by Sacred Presence

Religion is about ritual, and dogma
It is about buildings and program

And all too often, instead of it being the place with the Spirit roars like wind
And consumes like fire
Impelling us into the Sacred’s “new thing”

It is fearful people
Huddled together in a building
Windows closed
The wind of the Spirit still

Listening to fearful people
Instilling fear

It is nothing more than an institution
Trying as hard as it can to maintain a social cultural status quote

And using hate as one of its primary weapons

Religion allied with politics
killed Jesus

Religion created the inquisition
It burned my ancestors (Mennonites) at the stake
I caused the Crusades and has been the driving force behind many a war
It has prompted the genocide of indigenous peoples around the world

Today in America
Religion has joined hands with a political agenda
It has closed its heart to people in need
And allied itself with people in greed

It has chosen to close its ears to lies
And support hate and fear

It has chosen to believe that money is more important than people
And more important than the earth

It has chosen to rely on power
and on guns
on walls
on brutality

rather than on the God who says
“do not be afraid’

which is why each morning
I try to remind myself
That the way of the Sacred was embodied in Jesus
Not in the Pharisees and Sadducees

That the way of the Sacred was lived out around tables
in the homes of common people
not in the Temple in Jerusalem (which had become, as many of our mega-churches, a den of thieves).

That the way of the Sacred, which bubbled up out of Jesus
like a Spring of Living water

caused him to accept, and welcome all
feed all, with no eye to merit
love all
forgive all
heal all
die for all

and he only asked us to do two things
love God
and love the people
God places in our path

hate bubbles up
it is so easy to drink from that cup

but we are called to drink from a different cup

Saturday, February 16, 2019

we rise


There is a brokenness
out of which comes the unbroken,
a shatteredness
out of which blooms the unshatterable.

There is sorrow
beyond grief which leads to joy
and fragility
out of whose depths emerges strength.

There is a hollow space
too vast for words
through which we pass with each loss,
out of whose darkness
we are sanctioned .... into being.

There is a cry deeper than all sound
whose serrated edges cut the heart
as we break open
.... to the place inside
which is unbreakable and whole,
while learning to sing. "

 Rashani Rea
____________________________________

We always want to “get it together”
It sounds so nice

The idea of finally figuring it out
Whatever “it” is

The idea of getting our thoughts in order
our emotions in check
our bodies whole

of course there is no such thing as stasis
for every brief moment when it feels like
we are where and who and what we want to be

there are a million moments when life unravels
when the earth shakes beneath our feet
and the foundations of our soul are shaken

we are shattered, grieved, wounded
cast into the dark empty place of endings
where loss and failure and loneliness eat at us

until our hearts cry out

and in those moments we die
it is all too much
the pain that wracks our bodies
the anguish that assaults our hearts
the chaos in our minds

and we wonder if we can take one more step

into such moments Sacred comes
perhaps only in such moments
when we have let go, released
when the vastness of it all has driven us to that place
of ultimate struggle

and we find that there is something deeper still
call it grace
call it Love

and having found that deeper place
having found that which is “unbreakable and whole”
that Presence that defines us, and empowers us

we rise
resurrected
newly born
and singing



Wednesday, February 13, 2019

killing Jesus


Jesus did not die at the hands of muggers rapists and thugs.
He fell into the well-scrubbed hands
of deeply religious people
                                    Brennan Manning
____________________________

There are so many ways to kill Jesus

When we exclude the immigrant, we kill Jesus
so too when we separate children from their parents, in the name of safety

When we choose the way of abusive power
and put most of our resources into a military
that we do not use wisely
and when we support a program like ICE
within our own borders
we kill Jesus

When we neglect our own children
failing to education them well
or provide them with food security
or clean water
or housing
we kill Jesus

When reject and demonize others because
their skin is a different color
or because they follow a different creed
or because we have decided they are unclean (think about Peter’s vision of the blanket)
we kill Jesus

When we choose wealth over generosity
judgment over compassion
power over servanthood
lies over truth
bullying over kindness
anger over forgiveness
hate over love
we kill Jesus

It’s a good thing Jesus refuses to stay dead
It is a good thing Jesus is about resurrection
It is a good thing that love never dies

So while we do our worst
God / Love is always at work
overcoming evil with good

There is no question here
it is not to be debated
life is one mixed up mess.

We are people caught between all kinds of conflicting forces.
our desire to be generous, and our greed.
our desire to include and welcome, and our fear.
in America, between truth and falsehood.

this is painful, and as we consistently reject the way of Jesus
and virtually crucify him, again and again
we are also allowing what is good in us to die
our choices kill our love, our hope, our spirit.

But that Jesus!
That risen one
Who not only lives but lives in us

That one rises up, refusing to let death win
and takes with him
lifting us up to a new level of loving and living



Monday, February 11, 2019

creating hell


Hell is not a place you suffer
Hell is a place where no one sees your suffering
                                    Mansur Al Hallaj
_____________________________________

There are many ways to create hell
Far too many

Sexual abuse
Sexual assault
Neglect
Verbal abuse
Hate
Anger
Greed
Abuse of power
Lies
Bullying

These are the tools we use to inflict
A sort of hell on earth

We take women and minimize and marginalize them
We take vulnerable little children and use them as pawns
Putting them in cages

We build walls to keep out those in need
Physical walls
Emotional walls
Behavioral walls

But perhaps the most pervasive way we create hell
I by failing to see the person in front of us
Failing to see their pain, and struggle yes
But also failing to see their glory
Failing to see that this one is a child of God

Infinitely love, infinitely valuable,
A carrier of the Sacred

There are also many ways to bring in the Kingdom
(Which is that place (or perhaps even that moment when Sacred dominates and defines)

Forgiveness
Generosity
Compassion
Caring
Humility
Calm
Love

These are the tools we use to build sanctuaries
Safe and calm places
Hospitable spaces

Where people can be who they truly are
Seen
Beloved
Glorious
Sacred Children

Hell may be the place where not one sees your suffering
The Kingdom is where your suffering is seen
Respected
And shared

Perhaps the cause of the suffering is healed
But if not healed, then, as something share and touched with love
turned
From suffering into simply pain
(for there is always pain)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hell or Kingdom
The kingdom does not emerge (as some like our Vice President claim)
Creating enough hell to destroy the earth
But by creating enough love to reclaim the earth

O Lord, thy Kingdom Come.





Sunday, February 10, 2019

Pay Attention


“Between the onion and the parsley, therefore, I shall give the summation of my case for paying attention. Man's real work is to look at the things of the world and to love them for what they are. That is, after all, what God does, and man was not made in God's image for nothing.
                                                                        Robert Farrar Capon
___________________________

I have never been good at paying attention
In school I was always someplace else in my head
Miles away

A cowboy
A doctor
A pilot

Out in the sage
Performing miracles
Free as a bird 

I got poor grades in math
Not because I didn’t know the solutions
And formulas
But because I didn’t pay attention
And made little math errors
That were nothing but carelessness

When I am with another person
I admit it, often my mind wanders
Sprinting off into the jungle of my mind

Even when I try to be mindful
I usually have what my yoga people call
A “monkey” mind
Chatter chatter

So perhaps it is no wonder that I miss things

Honestly?  I think I get most of it
Perhaps that is not the problem
Perhaps the problem is that is miss the most important things

I miss the beauty behind the beauty
The depth behind the fa├žade

I miss the real

I see the sunrise, but sometimes forget to be grateful for the miracle of the sun
I see the person in front of me, but forget to be grateful for the miracle, that this one
Yes this one, right in front of me, is a child of God
Another miracle if there ever was one

I forget the see what is central
And innate

And thus I because I am not paying attention
I miss out on gratitude

Gratitude that in everything that is
There is at least a little bit of Sacred / God
Perhaps more than a little bit

OK
I guess it is time to pay attention
And be grateful

Friday, February 8, 2019

We are our Choices


“We are our choices.”
― Jean-Paul Sartre
__________________

I get from time to time
in rather dark places

I have my moments when I complain
About being tired
About being unhappy with my accomplishments
About the fact that I am sometimes lonely

I have moment when I whine
Because my church doesn’t grow
People don’t show up for pain school when they are supposed to

And I wax philosophical
About self doubt, and low esteem
And my struggle to feel relevant

And almost without fail
There is someone who says…

“you’re an adult
  If you aren’t happy with the way things are
  Change them.”

Or another who point out that I am,
After all, being shallow and unenlightened

Their point of course
Is that I have had choices
And I have made choices
And I am still choosing…..

to continue in the situations I lament
to over work
to eat poorly (at times)

Such comments always silenced me
For I have no good answer
As to why I choose to be a human doing, not a human being
As to why I can’t say no
And have such ridiculous expectations
And seek affirmation in such ridiculous things

I am my choices
My
Choices

So here I am
Looking at 70 from a relatively near distance

I am my choices
What different choices should I have made?
How would I be different If I had chosen this school, not that one
Pursued this career, not that one
Said “no” at this moment
And “yes” at that moment

How would I be different I had told my bully brain to STFU
If I have chosen to seek value in a different way

In a sense it doesn’t matter
Because the paste is the past, and who I am not

Well that is who I am

So going forward…
What are the choices I might want to make?

I think I would like to
Say “no” more
Listen more
Sleep more
Read (yes, you read that rightly) more
Isolate less
Spend less time trying to find approval, and more time giving it
Less time worrying about whether my life has been worth it
And more time just living the life in front of me.

Choices


Thursday, February 7, 2019

Don't Lie... to yourself


“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 Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
__________________________________________

Jesus once said
“the truth will set you free”

I’ve wondered about that sometimes

I remember a card I once read

“I have abandoned my search for truth
And am now looking for a good fantasy”

I get that !
We have this idea that the truth is an inconvenient thing
That a deep dive into who we really are
Will always be, uncomfortable, disturbing
Perhaps even painful

But I have slowly learned a weird thing
The truth is not as painful as my attempts to avoid it

It is less painful to engage in this world as I really am
With all my shortcomings and failures
With all my rumpled past

It is less painful to truly be who I am
Than to try and live a lie

It takes a lot energy to lie to ourselves
And then lie to others

Lies are like a force field
That we must constantly keep in place
Lest others get in, and see who we “really are”

We must maintain them at all cost
And the cost, ultimately, is that we lose touch with ourselves
And we lose touch with others

Lies are like Spiritual hazmat suit
They isolate us

But not from bad things,
From all the richness of life

From growth and
Change and passion

But mostly from love
Above all from love

It must be painful
In a strangely numb way
To live inside a bubble of lies
Afraid to see the truth
Afraid that others will see the truth

Liars have terrifying eyes
Some of them are merely empty, black holes
Others are angry, or cold
Cruel

We know those eyes
We see them all around us
We see them standing at the podium
Pink rimmed and cruel

We see them as we walk down the street
Those eyes that do not see

We seem them in the glittering glance of the
Abuser, the oppressor

We see them I suspect in the eyes behind the gun
As the mass shooter pulls the trigger

Yes, the truth has its own sort of pain
Its own sort of inconvenience
But the eyes of truth
Are the only eyes that can hold love

For in fact the truth does set us free
It does not set us free from pain and inconvenience
As much as it sets us free for love



Wednesday, February 6, 2019

the bully brain


“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
Gandhi
_____________________________

Some say that our beliefs
Determine how we interpret life

Our self talk, our metal scripts, our life commandments
All become the lens through which we see life, and others

Ganhdi suggested that our thoughts
Determine our words and our actions
And ultimately our patterns…

I would not disagree
And yet
I will not agree

This is indeed the way it can be
We can listen to our thoughts
And allow our thoughts to shape us and direct us

The brain can in fact be a bully
And create all kinds of pain
And dysfunction

But I believe that we have a choice
Our choice is to set our values,
Understand our values
Verbalize our values

And then live toward them

Rather than the other way around

I would say
We pick what is important to us
Who is important to us
And then we choose to live toward those values

Values determine actions
Actions emerge from the way we talk to ourselves
From the way we think

And the fact is we can “step away from the brain”

We can realize that so much of what holds us back
Is only in our head
It is our thoughts, our patterns, our habits, that are the enemy
That keep us stuck
Or in a painful, hopeless loop

And we can choose not to let our thoughts make us sick

We can choose to notice them,
And let them go
And do what we care about
Anyway

Right now it is 7pm
The rain is falling
The temperature is dropping
The snow is coming

The week ahead is full

My bully brain says
“life sucks”
“why bother”
“you aren’t doing anything well”

“Go to Bed, NOW!”

Ok, that last thought may not be that bad an idea
But I don’t have to listen to my bully brain
I can, because I value helping others

Step away from the brain
Take a few deep breaths
And then move toward what I value

Nope, not the Super bowl
But there is a book with my name on it
There are things to learn

My values
My choice
My life



Tuesday, February 5, 2019

vulnerability, our secret sauce


“I love, therefore I am vulnerable.”
 Madeleine L'Engle,
Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art
________________________

The greatest enemy of love
Is not hate

It is instead our unwillingness to be vulnerable
Our desperate need to protect ourselves from all
Unpleasantness

Vulernability was Jesus’ secret strength
Call it emptying (kenosis)
Call it humbling
Call it openness

Jesus did not consider emotional, physical and spiritual comfort
A thing to be grasped
He did not hide behind money or power
(although he was tempted to)

Instead he placed himself in the middle of a messy world
And screwed up people
and loved

loved even though it hurt
loved even though his love wasn’t earned
loved even though it was dangerous
loved even though that love was rejected
loved even though it killed him

he became vulnerable
and allowed people to touch him
question him
resist him

he let them in
as wounded and messed up as they were
so he could touch them with Sacred Love

it was the only way

it is the only way

When we close down, we lose love
When we close our borders out of fear, we become unloving
When we protect ourselves from what is not comfortable, and easy
When we close our eyes to poverty and homelessness
We become unloving
When we protect our interests while ignoring the needs of others
We become unloving

Whenever we move “away” because is it
Challenging
Painful
Scary
Threatening
Uncomfortable
Costly
We are moving away from love

Bottom line
The only way to follow Jesus
Is to embrace vulnerability (as Jesus did)
And Love (as Jesus loved)

Vulnerability is our secret sauce