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

Saturday, March 30, 2019

still I speak

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope:

 “The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.”
 Elie Wiesel

It has been suggested that at time (at the very least)
I am caught up in hate

that hate oozes from my words
which I suspect, means it oozes from my pores

I cannot help but reflect on whether this is true

I do believe that hate, and particularly, the acting out of hate
The violence, the guns, the bullying, the ridicule and minimization
is a something that does not
in the end

and yet there is a side of me
that struggles with silence
and perhaps, what I would call passivity

there is something in me that rebels against
things (and people) I see as destructive

and in those moments, when I am faced with words
or behaviors
or policies that I believe hurt the vulnerable
I find myself unable to be indifferent

I find myself speaking out
Sometimes bluntly
Sometimes with a bit of finesse

but still I speak

and I fear that sometimes
I cross a line
and move too far toward reciprocal hate

I can try to justify
And point to the prophets
Who were anything but gentle

Or perhaps John the Baptist crying “You brood of Vipers”
Or even to Jesus with his “woes”

And yet I struggle
How far is too far
What does it mean to resist evil, and yet not be caught up in it?

I appreciate those who challenge me in my anger
who put the mirror in front of my face
and ask me what I see

I have no good answers
Somethings must be confront
There are moments not to be silent

And yet it matters “how” we resist
I matters how we confront
How far is too far?
How much is too much?
When do we cross the line and move into the kingdom of hate?
When we hold back, and commit, functionally, the sin of indifference?

This stuff is not for the faint of heart, and honestly, I have no answers
I would love to be a Martin Luther King Jr. or a Gandhi.
I would love, like Thich Nhat Hanh to be so centered, and so at peace
That I can approach what I see as evil
More gracefully

All I do at this point
Is seek to do the best I can do
Be aware that there are lessons to be learned
And seek to grow

And in the meanwhile
Rest in grace
And place those I struggle with, into the hands of grace

And wait
And hope

For those who struggle with my anger
Which is rooted in my concern for the vulnerable (with whom I work daily)
I am sorry

I am trying to walk that line
Between meaningful confrontation
And hate

I know at times I fail to walk that razors edge.

Mea Culpa
Mea Maxima Culpa

Kyrie Eleison

Friday, March 29, 2019

Something about love

“Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, "Love your enemies." It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. Just keep being friendly to that person. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies. (from "Loving Your Enemies")”
                                    Martin Luther King Jr., A Knock at Midnight

Love your enemies!
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5)

That is what it takes to live as a Sacred Child?

I mean who does that?
Who can do that?

I’ve tried
God knows I’ve tried
I’ve tried to love that person who lied about me
That person who cost me a job
That person who attacked me in order to promote themselves.

I have tried to love those who removed me from my job
Without even actually talking to me about what they though was wrong

I’ve tried to love that person
Who abuses others
Exploits others

That one who is greedy, and hateful
Angry and violent

That one who lies, and lies, and lies again

I have tried to love Trump
Really I have

And I have tried however feebly to have seek to understand
And dredge up compassion
for young men who walk into mosques and churches and malls and schools
and start shooting

Sometimes I can do it
Sometimes I can’t

But still the call remains
Challenging, humbling

Love, and keep loving
Because Love is patient

I hate that
That need to love, and love, and love and love
And keep loving even when the lies keep coming
Even when the behavior continues

That need to love even when one is attacked for loving
Or considered week
Or foolish
Or stupid

Even when love results in anger and rejection

Is it really true that love wins?
Is love truly redemptive?

Could the weight of love
Individual love, collective love

Bend history?
Could love change me, from the insecure person I am
(yes I know I am almost 68 and have pretty much been successful, but still…..)
Into a person who believes in himself.

Could love make Trump compassionate?
Could love stop racism?
Or calm fear
Or soften the hate?

Could it silence the guns?

Could love make us generous?
Or kind?

I don’t’ know

But it seems like it’s worth a try
Because it is all too clear

That hate and violence
Don’t work

Thursday, March 28, 2019

go beyond

“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.”
― W.B. Yeats, The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats

What is the latest on the news?
Another shooting
Another angry white guy with a gun

Killing innocents
Leaving bloody bodies behind as he laughs
And posts evil on facebook

Add this on top of
The latest lie
Or latest rabid tweet from our liar in chief?
Another tax cut for the very rich?
Another protection removed
Another assault on the planet earth

What is next?
More Christians justifying hate and greed?

Everything seems to be running down

Where are the good people?
Where are the faithful people?

Christ is not ambivalent
Be generous!

But the people who claim God
Seem to be the worst
Full of destructive intensity

Willing to destroy the earth
Erase protections for the poor
Exclude the strange
Oppress the vulnerable

Its enough to make God cry
It is enough to make me despair

Some say this is the way of the world
This the way it has always been, and the way it always will be
Some suggest (most those already on the right) that we fight fire with fire.
We put guns in the hands of teachers,
we wall up our borders,
we exclude the immigrant and refugee
we respond to hate and violence with hate and violence.

How has that worked?

I struggle to remember
That this  is not the way God designed the world.

And I vow
Compelled by the Gospel
And Jesus
And the Sacred that lives with in me

To counter these narrow, closed, violent, hateful ones
who believe they can shape the world their way through abusive and deadly power.

As Richard Rohr has noted,

Albert Einstein once wrote

“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. One experiences oneself . . . as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of one’s consciousness. . . . Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

We are call to embrace not exclude
To love not hate
To heal not destroy

We are called drag the Kingdom of God,
However difficult that task is
Into reality
Into this world
Into this time

We are to be the place where earth and heaven meet

This is what it means to be a Sacred Child

“. . . God is a beggar of love seeking to be love at the heart of this evolutionary creation; yet God cannot enter into our world without us.
Our challenge today is to stay the course of love in a world that resists love,
fears love, and rejects the cost of love.” (Richard Rohr)

God who is love
Is always seeking to move in our souls
Always seeking to fill us with the kind of love
Shown by the Muslim in Christchurch who greeted his killer
With the words, “Hello Brother”

This fight is beyond me, beyond you, beyond us
But it is not beyond God
Who enables us to go beyond
And imagine and create a world worth of love (Rohr)

“Christian life is birthing love into greater unity;
it is our contribution to a universe in evolution.
We point the way to something more than ourselves,
something up ahead that we are now participating in,
where heaven and earth will be renewed (Revelation 21:1). " (Richard Rohr)

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Where do heaven and earth meet?

The history of almost every religion begins with one massive misperception; it begins by making a fatal distinction between the sacred and the profane. Low-level religions put all their emphasis on creating sacred places, sacred time, and sacred actions. While I fully appreciate the need for this, it unfortunately leaves the majority of life "un-sacred." I remember reading about an Irish missionary's attempt to teach the Masai people about the Catholic Sacraments. The missionary said that a sacrament is a physical encounter or event in which you experience Grace or the Holy. The people were then confused and disappointed when they were told there were only seven such moments. One Masai elder raised his hand and said, "We would have thought, Father, there would be at least seven thousand such moments, not just seven."
                                                                                    Richard Rohr,  Blog, 2/17/16

It is an important question…
where is that place where sacred and profane meet?

where sacred shines through,
where we can catch a glimmering, glistening momentary
flash of holiness?

is it, as the priests of Israel insisted,
on Mount Zion, in that place behind the veil?
on the seat of mercy?

is in the cathedral
or country church,
where prayers are often spoken
and sometimes left unspoken?

Is God present in the chalice upheld,
“behold the cup of the new covenant!”

Is the meeting place where mountains thrust boldly into azure blue,
or where sky and land greet each other at the rising
or the setting of the sun?

is it in the journey of the stars across the sky?

or is that place where heaven and earth collide
in the grasp of a baby’s hand,
or in the smile of a child?

or perhaps, in the drop of a quarter into the cup of a homeless man?
in words of forgiveness
in our welcome of the immigrant
in our acceptance of that person so different from ourselves

perhaps it is found
when we feed the hungry
protect the child
lift up the elderly
value the poor

Where do heaven and earth meet?

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Choices Matter

“There were always choices to make. Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you become the plaything to circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity.”
                                                                                                Viktor Frankl

There are always choices to be made
10 times
100 times
Thousands of times a day we make choices

Some big, some small
Some casual, some intense
Some irrelevant, some critical

We choose how to spend out time
What to eat
How long to sleep

We choose where we will invest our energy
To whom we will give, or withhold our love

And our choices reveal who we are

Or perhaps, more accurately
They reveal who or what we have allowed to shape us.
What values we embrace
Who is important to us
What we value

What shapes us can be an emotion, such as fear
I can be an ideology, which values power and wealth
Or an ideology which values compassion and generosity

It can be a culture
A faith system (religion)

Or what shapes us can be the Sacred
The indwelling presence of the Sacred
Which irresistibly bubbles up from with in
Changing us dramatically
Creating us new
Changing us forever.

What can shape us can be the Sacred
Which frees us from the powers of the world
And keeps those things that would distort us
And blur the Sacred Image from destroying us

But it’s our choice
And saying we are making choices because…. God
That do not reflect the nature of God,
Does not mean that those choices
Are Spirit driven

Not at all
At all

How do we know we are shaped by the Sacred
Spirit driven?

How do we know we are free (at least somewhat)
From the powers of the earth
And how do we know we still reflect our Sacred DNA?

The Beatitudes make sense
We have glad and generous hearts
We welcome and embrace

We are appalled at the abuse of power
and at the obscenity of extreme wealth

We love God
And we Love others
All others


Friday, March 15, 2019

seeing what we want to see

Do not try to explain
They will only understand you
as much as they see and hear

it is an undeniable truth
people see what they want to see
and hear what they want to hear

those who want a savior President
will have their savior President
no matter what

those who want immigrants to be a threat
will see and hear only that which confirms their bias

those who believe that climate change is a hoax
or that supplement “A” will cure cancer
or that vaccinations more dangerous than the diseases they prevent
will see and hear only that which keeps their beliefs intact

this tendency knows few limits
and is no respecter of ideology
we find it on the left and on the right
(perhaps not equally, but it is there)

people who want to diminish you
because you are a woman
or colored
or from another culture
or hold fast to another creed
or because you were born LGBTQI

will always see and hear that which enables them
to reject you
exclude you
marginalize you

it works both ways
lifting people up
and tearing them down

confirming and denying

and so too our relationship with Jesus
and with the Sacred/God

we tend to see what we want to see
hear what we want to hear

we ignore what does not fit our framework
Oh the pieces of scriptures we grab onto with vicious intensity
Oh the verses we simply ignore

Sadly the ones we hold fast too are often socially and culturally determined
by the time in which they were written
while the ones we ignore?

God is love (not judgement)
God loves all (not just me or us)
God expects us to feed the hungry
Welcome the stranger

God loves all
Not just those we approve of

God is not pro-power
Not pro-wealth

God is pro-sharing

(Don’t believe me?  Read the beatitudes)

If we would walk this earth

we have to go beyond what we want to see and hear
past our own bias
and privilege

we have to go past all of that
to the place where truth lies
where the Sacred dwells

Sure, we will find, sometimes what we want to find
Perhaps not
Perhaps what we will find will challenge our hearts
Our minds

And change us forever

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Whatever happened to grace

Grace is the celebration of life, relentlessly hounding all the non-celebrants in the world. It is a floating, cosmic bash shouting its way through the streets of the universe, flinging the sweetness of its cassations to every window, pounding at every door in a hilarity beyond all liking and happening, until the prodigals come out at last and dance, and the elder brothers finally take their fingers out of their ears.”
Robert Farrar Capon, Between Noon & Three: Romance, Law & the Outrage of Grace

whatever happened to grace
that powerful child of Love that should make us

sing to the heavens,
dance with light feet

open our hearts
our minds
our arms

whatever happened to grace
which should free us from our chains

those we forge ourselves
our of fear and heat
greed and a lust for power

how is it those who take the name
of the one who lived grace
and revealed Love

have become those trudging through life
weighed down
bowed over
closed and rigid

excluding, judging
oppressing, minimizing?

we should be assailing the world
with laughter and joy
with love, generosity and compassion

drawing all in
to the vortex of the Sacred
the perichoresis
the whirling dynamic dance of Love

grace is “a floating, cosmic bash shouting its way through the streets of the universe,
flinging the sweetness of its cassations to every window,
pounding at every door in a hilarity
beyond all liking and happening, “

until those unloved and unlovable
until those who are fearful and lost
oppressed by sorry
brutalized by guilt

catch the joy
and come out at last and dance,

and those who are stuck and tired
carrying the weight of their own salvation
self burdened
and burdening

join in

Whatever happened to grace?
It is still here
As near as our breath
As near as a heart

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Deeper Eyes

The Yoruba tradition uses the term ashe to mean the essential divine nature in everything.  It is the idea that within all things lives sacredness if looked for with “deep seeing eyes”.  Even negative people or events are not void of ashe; it just takes deeper eyes to see it
                                                            Laura Berman Fortgang.  Little Book of Meaning, p.95

Sometimes I have trouble remembering
That Sacred came down

That Sacred made itself touchable
In that incarnation we call the earth

And Sacred was everywhere
And in everything

I have no troubling believing
That the first incarnation was in the
Moment we called creation

I can see Sacred in the bright blue sky
The white peaked mounting soaring

In the eagle, the hawk
In the deer who leap nimbly through the woods
even in the turkeys, predatory and messy

But the sacred also came down in a person
A baby
A brown man who walked the dust of Palestine
Who taught and lived and died
Divine nature beautifully aroused and visible

To remind us that the Divine is in people too
Those seemingly twisted and messed up creatures
Who afflict the planet
Their very home

I can little trouble seeing the divine in the faithful people who sit
In old pews, keeping hope alive
I an often see Sacred in smiling children
In the enthusiastic young

But it takes more work to see Sacred in those people
Who for one reason or another are,
The one who is violent
Or who struggles with addiction, and turns his desires in on himself

In the one is fearful

And then there are others
Way too many others
Where I struggle to see Sacred Presence at all

My vision is blurred
There are so many things that blind me

An Ideology of hate(that’s a big one – I admit it)

People actively tearing others down to build themselves up

All of a sudden all I can do is label

I no longer have deep seeing eyes
With some people
(to my regret)
I am almost blind

Lord give me eyes that see
That recognize
Divine presence

For there is something divine, good, right
Something blessed in every person
If I have the eyes to see it

Yes, this idea challenges me
Expands me
I don’t want to believe this about some
(my favorite villains, who will go unnamed)

But even they
Even they
Have essential divine nature

I just have
To look
Deeper eyes

Monday, March 11, 2019

Winners and winners

" Other's weakness
cannot be  your strength. "
- Wasif Ali Wasif

this is the lie
that far too many believe
this is the flaw in the American ethos

that we can get to that mythical place of wealth and power
by ourselves

that all that matters is that WE get there,
no matter what happens to others

that it is acceptable for others to LOSE
as long as we WIN

in fact we take a certain, sick delight
in using power on others
on having power over others

subjugation is the name of the game
marginalization, minimization

whether it be our country over others
our religion over others
our gender over the other
our race over others.

it plays out in so many ways
with whites marginalizing
men marginalizing
the rich marginalizing
Christians marginalizing

Ah, what we can do when we go to this place
where we ensure our safety
amass our wealth
build our egos
by making others less

we can play deadly and destructive political games in South America
we can abuse and use women
we can shame the poor
we can systematically destroy, literally, by taking away hope
and taking away life from young people of color
we can rejects and demonize people born LGBTQI
we can bully
we can ridicule
we can exclude
we can lie

we can even worship and cheer in our
fearful gatherings (such as CPAC and some churches)
a “leader” who embodies the lifestyle of a predator

feeding off of, devouring others
in order to exist
seeking to find his own strength
in the destruction of the vulnerable

but we cannot find our strength in the weakness of others!

for each person carries the DNA of the Sacred
we are all “children of God”
we are in this together
and the Sacred design is that we all find our way to that place
where Love lives and rules

no one left behind
no one excluded
or minimized
or marginalized

a philosophy of life that believes
We can diminish and crush others to benefit ourselves
is an affront to the Sacred
it tears at the fabric of who we are

the weakness of others is our weakness
and we can only find our true strength
by lifting them up
welcoming them in

in the divine math
all means all

Friday, March 8, 2019

Say it

You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe (I), oh I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
I believe
                                    Lauren Daigle

there are times
when everything the world around us rages
crashing against our of “self”
wearing us down
wearing us away

eroding us until we become thin
almost ghost like
no longer at home in the world
no longer at home in our own skin

there are times
when no matter what we do for ourselves
when all the practices in the world
cannot rescue us

all our neat tricks
deep breathing
even walks with happy dog
in full beauty of winter

are not enough

in such moments it is nice to hear
that someone believes in you
so that you can believe in yourself

human voices are nice
those voices that say ‘thank you”
“I appreciate you”
“nice job”

I hear such voices
from 80 and 90 year old ranch widows
who have seen and done it all
from younger folk
and yes, from children
with their energy and hug and smiles

and it all counts

but it is when I understand
it is when I “hear”
in whatever way it is that we hear from the Sacred
that I am enough
that I am strong
that I am loved

that the world
becomes a different place
and I once again find my place
and my role in it

it is then
that I believe
in myself
in hope
in love

the thing is
relationships are often the bridge
Walks over

that voice of the Sacred is often
found in the voice of another person

how many people are out there
who just need to hear from one person
“you count”
“you are special”
“you are loved”

and this day
each day
fine someone
and let them know
that you love them
and God does too

say it
live it, though welcome and acceptance
through forgiveness and generosity
and compassion

help them

Thursday, March 7, 2019

I might be wrong

"One is
in one’s worst state
when one considered himself or herself
.... good and pious. "
- Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya

what I know is that I do not know

what I understand, is that I am a beautiful and terrible mixture
of strength and weakness
intelligence and rank stupidity
persistence and irresolute
faithful and doubting

and I know, that this is good

for when I forget that I might be wrong
and might be selfish
and might be controlling

then I am likely to be a danger
to myself and others

the error of those who resisted Jesus
was not that they did not believe
nor was it that they did not want to be “holy”

they were not people of evil intent

but they were people who did not understand
that there is no hierarchy in the kingdom
we are all “in Christ”
all participants in something we cannot begin to understand
or define

something that permeates creation
and permeates each one of us

and we all have one job
to awaken to this Presence as best we can
give this Power (we call it The Spirit) room to move
and then live accordingly
as best we can
(Jesus is our model)

So we cannot say
As those who stood on the street corner, aloof and proud
We cannot say from pulpits high
Or from the safety of our pews

“Thank God I am not like them”
For we are.

We can not say
“There but for the grace of God go I”
But must instead understand, that at a profound level
“There am I”

Call it Spiritual humility
Call it theological flexibility

Call it what you will

I often think of the story Jesus tells
of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

I hate the way the story ends
So I want to write a new end to this story

I don’t want the Pharisee to go away, arrogant, entrenched and separated
I don’t want the tax collector to go away, still, perhaps,
wondering if he is really loved by God
And still outside the circle, still trapped in his old life.

I want the Pharisee and the tax collector to move toward each other
For the Pharisee to come down off those steps (move away from the Temple)
And the Tax Collector to move out of his hiding place, out of his place of shame (get out of the gutter)

I would like to think of them, meeting, perhaps in the middle of the road
Standing ankle deep in dust

And hugging, perhaps crying
Both aware of their failure, yes, but both aware, so aware of God
of God’s love, and God’s power
And aware of, and open to, each other

I would like to think of them standing there, together
There in the middle of the road,
Bound together by love