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 28, 2019

Be Brave

Be brave
Little things
Still matter most

— Naomi Shihab Nye

Sometimes I want to quit
Quit the struggle
Quit the fight

I want to close down Facebook
Turn off the television
Throw my cell phone into the closest snow drift

And sit in my study with my books
who know how to be civil,
and who offer me comfort and wisdom
and pet my dog,
and cater to the cats (who must be obeyed)

Because it all seems too big
The greed and hate, all too encompassing
Racism is up
Fear is up
Hate is up
Pollution is up
Lies are endemic

and there is so little I can do

and yet

little things still matter

Sun, after days of clouds, matters
A friend painting a picture of me (thanks John), matters
Finn bounding through the snow, matters
Shu (the cat) warming my feet, matters
The smell of fresh coffee
The beauty of a winter morning

All matter

And there are little things I can do
That still matter

I say thank you
I can listen
I can visit a friend
I can refrain from a brilliant, but cruel comment
I can pray
I can be kind
I can be generous

I can do so many little things
that keep,
at least within my tiny sphere of influence,
the hate, and anger
the racism, and cynicism
from growing

I can do little things to build hope
Little things to comfort,
Little things to help people find faith,
Little things to nurture Sacred Presence within my self.

Yes the problems are huge
   but “be brave
  little things
  still matter most”

Wednesday, February 27, 2019


Washed into the doorway
by the wake of traffic,
he wears humanity
like a third-hand shirt
–blackened with enough
of Manhattan’s dirt to sprout
a tree, or poison one.
His empty hand has led him
where he has come to.
Our differences claim us.
He holds out his hand,
in need of all that’s mine.

And so we’re joined, as deep
as son and father. His life
is offered me to choose.

Shall I begin servitude
to him? Let this cup pass.
Who am I? But charity must
suppose, knowing no better,
that this man is a man fallen
among thieves, or come
to this strait by no fault
–that our difference
is not a judgment,
though I can afford to eat
and am made his judge.

I am, I nearly believe,
the Samaritan who fell
into the ambush of his heart
on the way to another place.
My stranger waits, his hand
held out like something to read,
as though its emptiness
is an accomplishment.
I give him a smoke and the price
of a meal, no more

–not sufficient kindness
or believable sham.
I paid him to remain strange
to my threshold and table,
to permit me to forget him—
knowing I won’t. He’s the guest
of my knowing, though not asked.
                        Wendell Berry

people come to us from everywhere
from Guatemala, and Venezuela,
from Syria and South Sudan
from Myanmar and Somolia

the come the lands of poverty
from rural byways in the deep south
from behind the sage brush curtain of the west

from the depths of great cities
where urine soaked back allies
and littered doorways are called home

they wash up to our doorways

wearing their poverty
their hunger and exhaustion like a dirt shirt
weighed down by hopelessness and fear

chased by contempt and shaming
neglected by those who are
too comfortable, too important, too busy
to stop, to see, to listen, to care

those busily on their journeys
to church,
or work

those who will not offer a glance
but stare stolidly ahead
head down
rushing through life

to whatever is next

rushing past hoping not to see

some offer a sort of welcome
a token gesture
a coin tossed

help offered at arms length
just enough to feel righteous
but not embrace

just enough to satisfy the conscience
and that strange Sacred pull
that comes from deep with in
that comes from Sacred Presence

a quick handout, a furtive meal
a scrap of cloth, a voucher
so one can hurry on our way
or hurry them on their way

Out of sight
And out of mind

Ah Lord
that is not the way it is supposed to be
you wish to ambush our hearts
interrupt our lives

you want us to stop
and turn aside
to kneel in the dust like the Samaritan
who was good

to see, listen, engage
to offer our hand
to welcome the stranger
to our table, across our threshold

we know all the reasons not to
it is scary and costly
and our minds scream that this one
who is in such a place
got there on her own

earned his discomfiture

we hide behind fear
and use merit as an excuse

but still You call us to welcome
and embrace

Ah, God who is Love
help us to understand
that this one who holds out her hand
his hand

is joined to us at the heart
do not permit us to forget
this one
whom we have found along our way
this guest
who has shown up
at the threshold of
our heart

Tuesday, February 26, 2019


Suffering equals the gap between what we have, and what we want.
Christopher Germer

There it is
That precious glittering treasure
that I so desire

it is there!
just out of reach
its rich colors glittering in the sunlight
taunting me

its brilliance mocking me
making me miserable
until my entire body
with the power of my want

I strive
stretching myself
planning and working
my hours
my days
my weeks
are consumed

my body is worn and bent
and still
I yearn

for such silly things, really
money, power
a sense that I, I have been

I strive
failing to see
that in my clenched fist
the one so curled and twisted
 by the immensity of my want
there rests

glittering precious treasures

waiting for me to stop
breathe again

open my hand
and let them be



good gifts
the gifts of Sacred Presence
The gifts of the One who is love

I will probably always have things that I want
but I have what I need
all this love.

Monday, February 25, 2019

really listen

I have just hung up: why did he telephone?
I don’t know….Oh!  I get it ….

I talked a lot and listened very little

Forgive me, Lord; it was a monologue and not a dialogue
I explained my idea and did not get his;
Since I didn’t listen, I learned nothing,
Since I didn’t listen, I didn’t help,
Since I didn’t listen, we didn’t commune.

Forgive me, Lord, for we were connected,
And now we are cut off
                                                Michael Quoist  (Prayers)

It happened on Facebook
It happens all the time, said to say

It happens in bars,
And around the tables in the local café

It even happens in churches

A comment is made
And the feeding frenzy begins

I started such a frenzy myself, just this evening
A comment was made
I didn’t agree
I made assumptions
I threw out the challenge

And I did it in such a way as to make the other defensive

I asked a question
But it was loaded

I could have been different
I should have been different

It is really not that hard

“Tell me more”
“What makes you feel the way you do?  Tell me your story”

I might find that that person so passionately upset that people with an addiction
get free drugs to help them,
may be in danger of dying because the drugs he needs cost more than he can afford

That the woman who is so violently angry at women who have an abortion
Hides the pain of not being able to bear a child her self

That the person who is sharp and judgmental
Is really tired and frustrated and struggling with whether his life has any value
(Hmmmm, is that me in the mirror)

Perhaps we will find that other person has a valid point
A valuable perspective

We can stop
Ask questions
Ask more questions (based on the free information we receive)

Slowly but surely the gap between ourselves and others
Will narrow
Slowly, in spite of all the landmines that lie strewn between us
We can work our way toward one another

Its possible
Jesus was great at it
I, sadly am not

But I can try

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Just sit there

Just sit there right now
Don’t do a thing
Just rest

For your separation from God
Is the hardest work in this world….

Avoiding the God takes a lot of work
You can’t do it easily

How do you avoid the God in a sunrise
Or in the light, glistening off a mountain
Newly white
On a winters day?

How do you avoid God
In a spring breeze
Scented with pine,

Or in the nudge of a dog’s nose
when it is time to rise?

how do you avoid God in
the smile of a friend
or the hug of a child?

Oh we try
We spend hours on Facebook
Get tangled up in tweets

We put our head down
And refuse to look up

We bury our lives in busyness

But still God comes
In the rising of the moon
In the laughter of coyotes

In the dancing of deer through the trees
In the pressure of a horse nose
In the small of one’s back

And catches us by

Saturday, February 23, 2019

wake up

passion pray
with passion make love,

passion work,
with passion eat and drink
and dance and

Why look
like a dead fish

this ocean


Rumi (The Subject Tonight Is Love, Trans. Ladinsky)

Perhaps the problem
is not
that our theology is wrong,
or our litany is tired

Perhaps the issue is not our music
which is either old
and sometimes tiresome

or new
and repetitive and shallow

Perhaps the problem
is not

perhaps the problem is
that we have lost our passion
for God
for justice
for equity

perhaps we have lost our passion
not just for God
and the Sacred way

for people

those people who surround us
the poor, the hungry
the homeless

the family fleeing
oppression and death

the person who is addicted
and the one
who is mentally ill

the one who struggles
the one who has failed

We cannot have passion for God
without passion for people

for each person is

each person carries divine presence
the Sacred looks out
through every set of eyes

no passion for people
is perhaps
a symptom, more than an illness

if we love God with passion
we will inevitably love others

so wake up
children of God
wake up to passion
wake up to God
with passion
live this new day

Friday, February 22, 2019

May I hear the laughter of God

Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,
May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul.

As the wind loves to call things to dance,
May your gravity by lightened by grace.

Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth,
May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect.

As water takes whatever shape it is in,
So free may you be about who you become.

As silence smiles on the other side of what's said,
May your sense of irony bring perspective.

As time remains free of all that it frames,
May your mind stay clear of all it names.

May your prayer of listening deepen enough
to hear in the depths the laughter of god.”
― John O'Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings

I am *%$#ing out of balance
Maybe its Trump
Or aging
Or being surprised by people misinterpreting me
Whom I thought knew me

Maybe it is injustice
Or inequity

Or border walls
Or lying Presidents
Or States of Emergency

It could be a lot of things

But this I know
I am out of balance
Up is down
Down is up
Good is evil
Evil is good


But then
There are those beatitudes

Which suggest this is the way it is
 “Blessed are you who are poor,     for yours is the kingdom of God.
  Blessed are you who hunger now,     for you will be satisfied.
  Blessed are you who weep now,    for you will laugh.
  Blessed are you when people hate you,     when they exclude you and    
      insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.

“Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.
“But woe to you who are rich,     for you have already received your comfort.
  Woe to you who are well fed now,  for you will go hungry.
  Woe to you who laugh now,  for you will mourn and weep.
  Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,   for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.


I get it
All this external stuff
Is external stuff

What matters is the Sacred
What matters is Presence
What matters is how I respond
How I live
How I love

May I breathe deep
May I seek the depths
May I feel the presence
May I hear the laughter of God

Thursday, February 21, 2019


Moon asked me
to meet her in a field

I think
she has amorous



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
and agape are sometimes

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

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

Love is
The Sacred One

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…

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

Think about it
Why did Jesus come to this earth?
To teach us how to get to heaven?

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


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


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
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
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
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
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