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



Sunday, August 25, 2019

radical acceptance


“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”
                      Charles Dickens
“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”
                      John Holmes
“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”
                      Maya Angelou
“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”
                      John Bunyan
________________________________

Many wise people have figured it out

Jesus himself made it clear (Ephesians 4)
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Or as Ram Dass put it, “we are all just walking each other home…”

Unless we aren’t

The sad thing is, that at this moment in history
Far too many are tearing others down, rather than lifting them up

Its endemic
And devastating
Destructive
Painful

We see it every morning in tweets from the White House
It is found in way too many comment section on the Internet

The erosion of other
Is not just a matter of words

It is also a matter of behavior
It happens when people are excluded from a church
When graffiti is sprayed on their house
When their car is vandalized because it wear liberal stickers

It happens when a cross is burned
When a poster is held saying “God hates you”

Hate floats through the air like dust on a hot summer day
It chokes us

And the only antidote, is for us to become people
Who, awake to the presence of the Sacred
Awake to the presence of love
Build other’s up

It is not that hard

I remember a time, when, following in the footsteps of my father
(who really was, mostly, a saint)
I spent my time “improving” my son by pointing out those things I thought
He could do better.

After one ski race, when he had done very well
Ski instructor dad (I really was a level 3 instructor) was ready to correct the errors

And then it hit me
He doesn’t need criticism, he needs praise

And so instead of being a critic
I became his “greatest fan”

I never regretted that move

What would it be like, if those who follow (or say they follow) Jesus
Were to become the greatest fans of other people
Especially the people who have few fans
Those who are diminished, and shamed, by our society

What if, instead of criticizing, distancing, excluding and judging,
 we praised, accepted, included, and loved

It seems to me as if that is exactly how Jesus worked
(Except with the super spiritual, the spiritually smug)

So lets do this
Starting tomorrow
Starting today!

Right now,
This moment

Say something nice
Offer some prayer
Share your affection
Lift someone up

There is no exercise better

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Inside Out


“There is an inmost center in us all, where truth abides in fullness;....and, to know, rather consists in opening out a way where the imprisoned splendor may escape, then in effecting entry for a light supposed to be without.”
Robert Browning
______________________________________________________________________

I have always suspected
that my soul has a slow leak

for I have struggled, for as long as I can remember
feeling a profound degree of hollowness
as if somehow I was emptied out

a cracked vessel
dry

there is a certain desperation that comes
from being in such a place

it is not that I have not believed in my giftedness
for gifts I have
it is merely a sense that everything

respect
success
value
love

everything
is slipping away
vanishing
leaving me gasping for respect, and value, and love

and so most of my life
has been spent, trying to fill my soul
with achievement, knowledge, affection

and I have done wonderful things
and I have done horrible things

seeking to fill that void

I have sought relief through work
and relationships
through activity and creativity

I have abused myself
and tried to use others (how does one apologize to all those one has hurt in the process?)
seeking to fill the inner cup

and still the emptiness has returned

now I sit on the edge of forever
watching the sun rise
and the glint of the golden sun on mountain snow

one who is no longer young

knowing this one thing
(I have been a slow learner)

that one can only fill the cup
from the inside....

Friday, August 23, 2019

Grace or Merit


May I live this day
Compassionate of heart,
Clear in word,
Gracious in awareness,
Courageous in thought,
Generous in love.
                     JOHN O'DONOHUE
____________________________________

Tonight I cooked hamburgers
A lot of hamburgers
As the chaos of a rodeo swirled around me

Cowboy hats everywhere
A lot of extra long boot cut jeans (on the guys)
And really tight jeans (one the women)

And big hair

And, as the rodeo opened
Kind of a hyperventilated patriotism
A “love it or leave it”
“These colors don’t run”
Kind of patriotism

Offended patriotism
Resentful about affronts real and imagined
Hints about a liberal agenda that has dishonored the flag
And the ability to true patriots to flourish

(the slights were imagined and exaggerated, but I suspect few cared)

It was unabashed
Intense
Aggressive
And yes, arrogant

And I thought about a mind set
That must go to that place of rabid and blind loyalty
To that place where no criticism is allow
No self reflection

Where is it all
Exceptionalism

And then I thought of my faith
And the teachings of the one I followed
And the call to be
Compassionate
Honest
Aware
Self-critical
Generous
Inclusive

And I thought about how
In America
Jesus has been wrapped in a flag
And his teachings ignored
In the cause of political and economic expediency

How the counter culture faith of Jesus
Has become the faith of the status quo

How the faith of humility
Has be come the faith of arrogance

About how the faith of service has become
The faith of power and coercion

About how the faith of inclusion
Has become the faith of exclusion

And the faith of grace
Has become the faith of merit

And the faith of love,
The faith of hate

I listened to he deep voiced, ultra masculine
Rodeo announcer pontificate
And I wanted to shout out about injustice
And the shaming of the poor
About our treatment of immigrants
And our abandonment of the poor

But I didn’t

I just turned hamburgers
And felt very, very sad

When [Jesus] had finished washing [the disciples] feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”  John 13



Monday, August 19, 2019

just cruel


“People speak sometimes about the "bestial" cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to beasts, no animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky
_____________________________________________________

I have been thinking a lot lately about cruelty

The cruelty of children separated from their parents
The cruelty of people in cages
The cruelty of SNAP benefits pulled from struggling families
The cruelty of the death penalty
The cruelty of people excluded and abused because they were born LGBTQI
The cruelty of people of color being treated violently and unjustly by police
The cruelty of ICE

Some people are just cruel
They are bullies
And they delight in abusing power

Because it is all about them. All about their wealth, their power, their ego
The other person doesn’t count.  They are nothing but an object to be used an manipulated, and even hurt, for the benefit of the abuser

They need to be cruel, for that is how they feel power
That is how their egos are stroked
They appear to have no other way of finding a sense of value

Seneca once said “all cruelty springs from weakness”

That is true

Cruel people like to act strong
Feel strong
Be seen as strong

But they are not
Their cruelty reveals their poverty of mind and soul

It is disturbing to see cruelty emerge as the modus operandi
Of our nation

Disturbing to see cruelty sitting in the seats of power

But it is even more disturbing to see so many people
Feeding off of this cruelty.
Finding delight in it
Cheering it
Finding their own sense of power through the cruelty of those they have chosen to adore

And doing so, in many cases, while evoking the name of God
Which is puzzling

Philip Pullman once made the following statement:
“…. there may well be a God somewhere, hiding away. Actually, if he is keeping out of sight, it's because he's ashamed of his followers and all the cruelty and ignorance they're responsible for promoting in his name. If I were him, I'd want nothing to do with them.”

I believe that cruelty violates the Sacred
I believe you cannot claim to “follow Jesus”, and follow the way of cruelty

It is as simple as that

Who are we going to belong to?
Which path are we going to follow?

That is the choice that confronts us this day

“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, ….  But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Mostly, I am sad


God,
Keep my anger from becoming meanness.
Keep my sorrow from collapsing into self-pity.
Keep my heart soft enough to keep breaking. Keep my anger turned towards justice, not cruelty.
Remind me that all of this, every bit of it, is for love.
Keep me fiercely kind.
Amen.
                               Laura Jean Truman,  Twitter, October 2018
__________________________________________________________________

It is another day in America
A polarized America
Spin, purposefully, into chaos and hate

It is an America in which
For most of us
Anger lies just below the surface

Our anger comes from different places
It is fueled by ideology
By fear
By resentment
By injustice, real or perceived

And it is fueled in many ways
By people purposefully manipulating us
But what we see, and hear, and read

But it is there

It is also an America in which there is deep, profound sadness
We all have our own reasons for that sadness
Children in captivity
Poor people neglected
Rich people entitled
The prevalent hate
The greed, and the apathy
The bullying from on high
The abandonment of the way of Jesus, by those who claim to follow him

But embrace and support everything Jesus spoke against

I am angry (at times)
Mostly, I am sad

And so I pray
That the God in me will stir
Or perhaps, that I will awake to that presence

And be so permeated by love
That even though
There is anger and sadness

I can allow my self
To remain open, and empathic

And walk through each day
Building up, and not tearing down

So that I may approach each person I meet
With fierce kindness

Saturday, August 17, 2019

A bad week for the God of Love


“The God of Love had a really bad week”
                               Diana Butler Bass
___________________________________________

The God of love had a very bad week

It was a week where more legal immigrants we detained at the border
Mostly because the color of their skin made them a perfect target
For a racist leader.

It was a week when children remained in cages
Their fragile selves being destroy day by day by the cruelty imposed on them
By people claiming that God blesses their country

It was a week when gun control continued to be blocked

It was a week when hatred flourished to the shout of
“send her back”

A week when so called “patriots” tried to stir up both hate and
Fear, in front of my county’s courthouse

A week in which a person who dared to challenge them
Woke up to a broken car window and a vandalized care

It was a week when vitrol flooded the comments sections
On Facebook and News articles

It was a week when the Evangelical church, claiming to follow Jesus
Doubled down on its support of a cheat and liar
And worse

It was a week when an evangelical pastor
Suggested that if Trump loses the election
Christian leaders and politicians will all get murdered
(this same “pastor” suggested that the children and grandchildren of all who oppose Trump will be cursed)

Yep,
The God of love had a bad week

Meanwhile, the God many Americans have created in place of this God
That tougher, stricter
Emperor God
Who is all punishment, wrath and exclusion
That God who plays favorites
And is all about power and wealth
And winning

This militaristic, angry
Cruel God…

Did so well

This God (or so we are led to believe)
Rode along with ICE as they rounded up good people
Smiled benevolently at the angry, chanting crowds
Blessed a country that has created economic inequity
Made race based injustice the norm
And neglected the vulnerable

This God sided with winners
This God flat out squashed the God of Love….

Or not

The truth is
And this is something
“a minority of white Christians know,
and the majority of Christians of color never need be reminded,
the God of love is always hanging around,
the brown-skinned Jewish rabbi preaching about the poor being blessed
and the broken-hearted comforted.

Love your neighbor as yourself.
Do unto others. Let the little children come.
Faith, hope, and love.
And the greatest of these is love.”  (Diana Butler Bass)

It was a bad week for the God of Love
But it is (symbolically)
Friday

And Sunday is coming

And on Sunday, Love wins

Friday, August 16, 2019

journey inward


If you want to find God, then honor God within you, and you will always see God beyond you. For it is only God in you who knows where and how to look for God.

When you honor and accept the divine image within yourself, you cannot help but see it in everybody else, too, and you know it is just as undeserved and unmerited as it is in you. I call this the “Principle of Likeness.” From this frame you stop judging and start loving unconditionally, without asking whether someone is worthy or not. The breakthrough occurs at once, although the realization deepens and takes on greater conviction over time.
                                                                        Richard Rohr
____________________________________________

Spirituality requires two journeys
First a journey inward
And then a journey outward

The journey inward is that profound effort we must make
Not to the center of the earth
But to the center of our selves

That journey into the depths
To that place that defines us, and makes us who we are

Our core
Our soul

The place where the Sacred dwells
And is at home

We must go to that place
And find that Sacred Presence
And we must become intimate with it

There really is no other word
Intimacy
Intimacy implies closeness, connection
It implies “knowing”, “being awake” to the other
It implies passion, and uniting

The moment we become intimate with the Sacred
When we have become connected to the divine within us

Something happens
What happens is that we discover the divine image
We discover who we truly are

We become, ironically, intimate with ourselves
With the Divine Child

And loving the Sacred within
And loving ourselves

We are then ready for the journey outward
We are then ready, to seek to connect with others

We go forth transformed
Because we are now going forth out of authenticity
We are going forth out of fullness

Not out of need
Not out of emptiness and fear,

And this transformation shows
In a profound way
In the way we interact with others

If we have made the journey inward
The journey outward produces
Generosity, kindness
Compassion, and love

If we have not made the journey inward?
If we are not intimate with the Sacred presence
If we have not discovered our Sacred heritage, the divine image?

Then our journey outward
Is made out of emptiness
And everything we do, is an attempt to fill that emptiness
To ease the fear

And what emerges is greed,
And domination
Grasping
Hate
Aggression
Worse

How we interface with others
How we treat them
Is a clear indicator of the quality of our connection with God

Jesus made that pretty clear if you think about it
“By their fruits you shall know them”
“By this all people will know you are my disciples, that you love one another”.

The journey inward
Determines the journey outward

We cannot truly love others
We cannot be God’s people in this ungodly world
We cannot resist the temptations of wealth and power
We cannot be Sacred Children

Without it

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Essential Selfishness


I am done with the monster of "We," the word of serfdom, of plunder, of misery, falsehood and shame.
And now I see the face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, this god whom men have sought since men came into being, this god who will grant them joy and peace and pride.
This god, this one word:
"I.”
                                                    Ayn Rand, Anthem
_________________________________________________________

I have often wonder how humans can manage to get things so wrong
Humanity has been gifted with the planet
It is destroying it

It has been gifted with brains
But doesn’t use them, allowing demagogues to manipulate and control

It has been given the ability love
But has allowed this gift to devolve into lust

It has been given the power of creativity
And creates wonderful things
But also creates weapons of mass destruction

It has been given an intimate look at what Sacred looks like
In Jesus
It has been given clear instructions
Through Jesus
But others teachers as well

About what it looks like to live a life
Awake to the sacred

But even human religions have
Become things of horror
Used to justify war and killing
Used to justify hate and exclusion

What is wrong with the human race?

It seems to me that he problem is that we have made a god
Out of “I”

And have rejected the power of “we”

We have chosen individualism over community
Individual “winning” over the “common good”
We have chosen power, which is very much an “I” thing
And have let go of service, with is a “we” thing

It is not that it is not important to have a sense of “I”
It is not that we do not need to nurture and take care of ourselves as individuals

But we have to have a balance
Between ourselves as individuals and between ourselves as part of a greater whole

If Jesus taught us anything it was that philosophies such as that propounded by Rand
Are deadly

“what good is it” he said, “to gain the whole world and lose your soul”
Which is simply another way of saying
That when you are only about “self” you lose your self
And that when you give yourself, in the service of the “we”, you find yourself.

This basic message is woven into the fabric of the scriptures
If you ignore it
You violate the scriptures

It is that simple
That clear

And yet today, many pursue the God of I
Instead of the God of Love

And from this fundamental failure
A failure as old as the Garden of Eden

Comes all the ills of this world

It is clear that we have a choice
We can worship the god of “I”
Or we can worship the God of “we”

And that choice determines the
What legacy we leave

It is the difference between inequity, and economic injustice
It is the difference between war and peace
It is the difference between inclusion and exclusion
It is the different between fear and peace
Between a flourishing planet, and wasteland

It is the difference, between life and death

What will we choose?

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Avoidance is a thing

The more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer, because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you, in proportion to your fear of being hurt. The one who does most to avoid suffering is, in the end, the one who suffers most.”
                               Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain
________________________________________

Avoidance is a thing

As we try to move toward what we value
As we try to take tentative steps toward
Meaning
And love
And other people

Stuff comes up
Ugly stuff
Difficult stuff
Uncomfortable stuff

It might be fear
Or anger
It might be twisted thinking
It might be mental scripts

Those inner rules and commandments
Imposed on us by our parents
Our church
Our party
Our life experiences

I am not enough
I can’t do that
Winning is everything
If am not rich and powerful I am nothing

If I try I will fail
No matter what I do it is not enough
I am not valued
I am not loved
I am not respected

People only value me for what I can do
They don’t really care about me

Chatter, chatter, chatter,
The Bully Brain

Pain comes up
Depression comes up
Anxiety comes up

And when we get uncomfortable?
We go into avoidance mode

We isolate
We drink
We smoke weed
We work our asses off (to prove we are OK, and when you are working too hard you don’t have to deal with your stuff)
We get angry
We hate
We jump on the band wagon of the latest fad
We immerse ourselves in Facebook

You know the drill

And it works!
Sometimes
For a while

And sometimes it doesn’t work
And we feel worse
And we avoid more
And we end up stuck

What we don’t do, is move toward whom we want to be
What we don’t do is move toward those we love
What we don’t do is connect with the Sacred
And let the Sacred empower us

Right now there is a whole lot of avoiding going on

Perhaps it is time to stop avoiding
Perhaps it is time to look in the mirror and really see
What is going on in our heads

Perhaps it is time to take a deep breath
And awaken
To ourselves
And to God

To accept all that we see in that mirror
To accept all the noise in our heads

Not accept it as good
But accept it as present
Accept it as “stuff that comes up” and runs our lives

Accept it
And let it go
And then let God take over
And move us forward

Not in hate and fear
Not with the monkey brain chatter

But in hope, and joy
In peace and love

So that we can do what we want to do
Love the one’s we are with
And become who we were created to be

Sacred Children

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The job, is love


“Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody's business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy.”
                                                                        Thomas Merton
____________________________________________________________________

We only have on job
To love others
Not just to love others

But to love others without asking whether or not they are worthy

The Bible calls this agape
With agape we don’t love someone because they deserve it

With agape we don’t demand value
We create value

Once when I was younger
And my daughter a little child
There was a doll named Heidi

A gift from a much admired cousin
Named Heidi

Heidi had no value
She was a stuffed triangle with felt feel and hands
Glued directly to the body
Yarn for hair
And a painted face

She played “thank heavens for little girls”
One day, as we were 30 minutes
Into a 9 hour drive to grandmother’s house

My daughter suddenly exclaimed
“where’s Heidi”

Where indeed!?
Nowhere

And so, even though we had a long drive ahead
We turned back
To get Heidi
That doll of no value

I would not have returned for my wallet
But …..

That doll of no value
Had immense value
Because it was loved

That is agape
And that is what we are called to have

Agape love
We are called to have that love for the dirty and frightened
Families at the border

For the children in cages

We are called to have that kind of love for the homeless person
Asleep on a grate
And for the addicted person
Who has wet himself once again

We are called to have that kind of love for poor people
Rich people
White people
Colored people
Ill people
Old people
Young people

All people
We don’t love them because they have value
From a worldy perspective
We love them and give them value through that love

They become precious

And I suspect, so do we
One cannot love in that way
Without being changed

We are transformed by our caring
Our giving
Our kindnesses

Each of us will find this love a challenge in our own way
I have no trouble loving immigrants
I have no trouble with people who have mental illness
Or who are old (duh)

I have no trouble with the poor
Or the addicted

But I have people it is hard to love
I have trouble with Trump
Those who embrace racism

But I suspect when Jesus says
“love your neighbor”
(with agape love)
He means them too

And so I cannot be arrogant
Or smug
I cannot judge

I can only seek to be loved by agape love
Filled with agape love
And give agape love

It is a complicated thing indeed
There are boundaries in there
And even Jesus had his moments when he said

Essentially

“People wake up!!!!!”
“Enough!!!”

Loving doesn’t not mean challenging lies
Resisting evil

But it does mean
Seeking not destruction
But restoration
And reconciliation

I know!  Right?

But still, there it is
Agape is not for the faint of heart

So this day, I pray for love
I pray for transforming love
I prayer for enough love to embrace the world

And I pray
That even in the most tattered of hearts
The most empty of souls

And I prayer that even in my dark and angry places
Love can be born




Monday, August 12, 2019

the faith of fools


“I quickly found that the American church is a difficult place to fit in if you want to live out New Testament Christianity. The goals of American Christianity are often a nice marriage, children who don't swear, and good church attendance. Taking the words of Christ literally, and seriously, is rarely considered. That's for the 'radicals' who are 'unbalanced' and who go 'overboard.' Most of us want a balanced life we can control, that is safe, and that does not involve suffering.”
                                         Francis Chan, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
_________________________________________________________

It seems all too clear
We have made Christianity about cultural norms
Rather than about Jesus

We have made it a comfortable thing
Where we simply affirm the status quo

A faith where we can claim allegiance to God
And pay lip service to Jesus

While simply settling into our affluence
Our privilege
Our power

Perfectly happy to not only accept things the way they are
But eager to keep things the way they are

But following Jesus will never be comfortable
If it is in fact really following

To follow Jesus means to see the pain
To follow Jesus means to see the injustice
To follow Jesus means to see the inequity
The hate
The greed
The lies

To follow Jesus means to see it all
And then
To do whatever it takes

No matter how scary
Not matter how costly

To respond to those things that violate
The Kingdom of God

To follow Jesus means to give of what we have
It means to risk
It means to speak out
It means to challenge the status quo
It means to fight for justice

Even if that costs us popularity
Safety
Money
Position

To follow Jesus means to love others
And serve others
The way Jesus loved us
And served us

And Jesus love and service
Took him to the cross

Christianity is not meant to be comfortable
It is not meant to be a matter of gathering in lovely buildings
Singing lovely song
Listening to lovely words

It is not meant to be about domination
Or wealth

Christianity is to be costly
And difficult
And dirty
And messy

And lived out on the streets
And in the alleys

Our faith in Jesus is to take us into the places
Where the poor live
And the mentally ill struggle
And the immigrants are detained
And the aged linger between life and death

Our faith is to take us into all those places
Where we are to engage with all those things
With all those people

Where we are to empty ourselves for others

But who am I fooling?

American Christianity has watered down the faith to
The easy and comfortable adherence to cultural norms

Taking the words of Christ literally, and seriously?
Not to be considered.
“That's for the 'radicals' who are 'unbalanced' and who go 'overboard.'

That is for snowflakes
And libertards

That is for fools

(We have become a spectacle to the whole world, to angels as well as to men. We are fools for Christ,  I Corinthians 4:10)

Sunday, August 11, 2019

what makes you weep?


“Check times and places where you weep and you will see the places where God was getting through to you… We should weep at church: Weep for the death of Jesus, weep for the love of God, weep for our sins, weep for our salvation, weep for the poor, weep for the dead, weep for the dying, weep for the frightened, the lonely, the lost and the oppressed. When we do not weep I worry that we have not heard the Word, or we have left our feelings at home, or they are so deeply buried that prayer and scripture and song and sermon will not reach them.”
                                                                        Frederick Buechner
________________________________________________________________________

What brings tears to your eyes?
Does anything bring tears to your eyes?

It is an important question
For it tells one much about his, or her heart

It is telling that the plight of the people in the detention camps
Brought tears to the eyes of AOC, and many others

It is telling that the sight of those same people, crowded together
Hopeless, unwashed, crowded,
Brought nothing but a scowl to the face of Mr. Pence

What brings tears to your eyes?

Yesterday I participated in a memorial service for
A kind and gentle man
His family held the service on what would have been the 73rd anniversary
Of he and his wife, Irene

As friends and family gathered after the service
To share and reflect
The granddaughter cued up one of this man, Kenneth’s
Favorite songs
One he used to hum, even after Alzheimers began to make his lost and confused

“Goodnight Irene”

As that song played, Irene, 90 plus years young
Danced with a friend
Her daughter had tears in her eyes
So did her granddaughter
So did it

I sometimes have tears in my eyes when I watch a moive
With a happy ending

Or watch a mother look at her newborn child

I have tears in my eyes when the sun comes up
And when it goes down

And there are tears when the milky way sprawls across
The deep darkness of a rural sky

I have tears when I remember my dad, who died over 30 years
Of cancer

And my mother who quickly followed him
Both dead before they reached 70

I have tears when I see pictures of beloved pets, now gone

And tears when we sing my favorite carols on Christmas eve

I have tears when I remember little babies, dying in northern Iraq
After the first gulf war
Dying in spite of all we did to try and save them

Tears when I remember malnourished children living in the dump
In Mexico City

I have tears when I remember those times
When I failed to be there for my children
Because I was too busy being a minister

There is nothing wrong with weeping

Mary wept at the foot of the cross
Peter wept when he denied the Christ
The people of Israel wept when they realized they had abandoned God’s way

We can weep about loss
Weep about failure
Weep about cruelty
We can weep about inequity and injustice

Weeping means we are awake to what is going on around us
Weeping means we are awake to what is going on inside us

Weeping means we are awake
To pain
But also love

To fear
But also hope

Weeping can lead us in the house of the Sacred
Into the realm of the Spiritual

"With weeping they will come, And by supplication I will lead them; I will make them walk by streams of waters, On a straight path in which they will not stumble… “ (Jeremiah 31:9)

So let us “check times and places where [we] weep
and [we] will see the places where God is getting through…



Saturday, August 10, 2019

love others, all others, period


“The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.”
                                                               G.K. Chesterton
_____________________________________________________________

We only have one job
OK
Make that two

Love God and
Love our neighbor

If we suck at one, we suck at both
Really

If we really love God we will love our neighbor
If we love our neighbor, we are loving God

It is that simple, and that complicated

Who is our neighbor?

According to Jesus
Through the magical and mystical parable of the Good Samaritan
Our neighbor is whomever we find I our path
More specifically
Whomever we see as we walk along our way
Who is need

Which means of course, is that our neighbors may well
Be the last people we would pick to be our neighbors

The poor
Those with addictions
Those who are troubled and difficult
Those who are different

Our neighbors are the vulnerable
The ones who are very often, difficult to love

But God says,

“you have one job
Love me
And by the way, loving me means loving “them”

The two tasks are inseparable

And if you pretend you love me
But don’t love them

That’s a no go
Sorry

You can’t ignore people in cages and love me
You can’t bully people, and love me
You can’t tell people of color to “go back to from whence they came”
And love me

You can’t be greedy
Can’t lie
Can’t cheat people
Can’t provoke violence against the defenseless
Can’t send a dark force against the vulnerable

And love me

Yes there are two great commandments
But they are really one

You can’t do one without the other
For I am in each person you meet

You love me
You love them,

And don’t you forget it”

Friday, August 9, 2019

don't be hardened


“Do not be hardened by the pain and cruelty of this world.
Be strong enough to be gentle, to be soft and supple like running water,
gracefully bending around sudden turns, lithely waving in strong winds,
freely flowing over sharp rocks, all the while quietly sculpting
this hard world into ever deeper beauty,
gently eroding rigid rock into silken sand, tenderly transforming human cruelty
into humankindness. Remember, true strength is not found in the stone,
but in the water that shapes the stone.”
                                                                         L.R. Knost
______________________________________________________________

Ah the persistent love
That flows from the source of our being

That power that is Love

It is our only hope
Technology will let us down
Our own efforts will let us down
Those who tell us they are our “only hope” will certainly let us down

But this power
Which gently permeates our being
Which flows like a never ending stream
Of living water

It is the one thing which can save us

For we are all too ready it seems
To succumb to cruelty

To, out of our petty greed
Out of our fear and hate

Do terrible things
Do all the things, the Sacred pleads for us
Not to do

We are all too ready to make

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Looking for Heroes


“Here's to the bridge-builders, the hand-holders, the light-bringers, those extraordinary souls wrapped in ordinary lives who quietly weave threads of humanity into an inhumane world. They are the unsung heroes in a world at war with itself. They are the whisperers of hope that peace is possible. Look for them in this present darkness. Light your candle with their flame. And then go. Build bridges. Hold hands. Bring light to a dark and desperate world. Be the hero you are looking for. Peace is possible. It begins with us.”
L.R. Knost
__________________________________________

I am looking for a few heroes

Young or old
Male or female
Cis or not
Black, or White, or Brown, or……

well it really doesn’t matter

so much time and energy is spent on the villains today,
and rightly so, for they are many and dangerous, and destructive

but I am looking for heroes

for people who
are kind
who see others
who respond with compassion
who are generous

there are a few out there
Nelson Mandela
Thich Nhat Hanh
Noam Chomsky
Dalai Lama
Greta Thunberg
Parker Palmer
Brene Brown
Wendell Berry
Barbara Brown Taylor
Rachael Held Evans was a hero
So was Mary Oliver

These are people who care about people
And about the earth

They build up rather than tear down
They are not into power

And we need more like them

There are some not so well known
Closer to home
My sister, Susan Kliewer Duncan, with her gift of hospitality, is one of my heroes
So is Lise Porter, mental health therapist, actor, person of resilience
And Jan and Dan Blair, who tireless love others, even in times of personal distress
There are more

Thank God

But the world could use more
not faux healers

not those who talk and bluster
not those who impose and coerce
not the people of the lie
or the people with power and money

but those people who
are poor in spirit
and mourn
those who are humble,
and work for peace, justice and equity
those who are authentic
and generous
compassionate
and engaged

(if you want my definition of a hero, read the beatitudes, Matthew 5 and Luke 6)

So I’m looking for some heroes
They won’t know who they are,
But I will,
And so will God


Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Toxic beliefs, toxic actions


“Your beliefs become your thoughts
Your thoughts become your words
Your words become your actions
Your actions become your destiny.
Mahatma Ghandi,” he said. “There’s more, but I can’t remember it all.” L                       Louise Penny, A Fatal Grace
______________________________________

If we want to know where we are really at
In our hearts and heads
All we need to do is work back from our actions

I sometimes say to clients
When they share that they are struggling with their emotions
Or when they share that they have done something unproductive,

What did you just say to yourself?

And then, of course the follow up question is this…

Where did that come from!?

I sometimes find myself saying “yes” when I should say “no”
When I am already exhausted
And when I have taken on way too many tasks
And am doing poorly at all of them
(because there are way too many)

I have to say to myself
Why!?
Why did I say yes?
What did I say to myself to so that I said yes

And stepping back I can observe that my bully brain
Had been murmuring in my ear that I am not enough
Not kind enough, smart enough accomplished enough

So of course, I have to “do something” to prove that I am

But where does that come from?
From the belief that one has to earn love
That people love you for what you do, not from who you are

Stupid belief
Leading to a devastating thought
To foolish actions
To exhaustion
To despair

Nice

It makes me wonder what belief system our country functions from
What belief system those in the oligarchy allow to run their lives,

About what goes on in the head of Mr Trump
What does he have to believe or not believe
What does he have to think
In order to behave the way he does

If I peck my way back, as I do with myself
I feel profoundly sad
And know, I would not want to be in that skin
In that head
In that heart

There must be so much pain

Only profound pain could cause one to become so self focused
So non-empathic
So cold, so cruel

But I wish we could figure it out
And know just the right words to say….
To ease that pain

I wish we could find a way to bring a genuine smile to that face
And some warmth to that heart

But I suspect I need to work on myself first
So that I can get past needing to prove myself
And past the efforts to earn love

To that place where, full of love
I can settle
And focus
And listen
And give love to those around me…..

So not be immersed in frantic activity

By their fruits you shall know them Jesus said
But I have noticed
That the best fruit comes from healthy trees
With roots sunk deep
Into the rich soul of the Sacred

And the belief
That one is loved
That one carries love
That one is love

From that belief comes thoughts of love
Words of love
And actions, filled with love