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

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Missing the point

Never invoke the gods unless you really want them to appear. It annoys them very much.
Gilbert K. Chesterton


the Sacred One can be so inconvenient
it seems he wants to turn the world upside down
it seems he wants to turn me upside down

now what is it about that?

it is so wonderful to be right
It is so amazing to be “a winner” in life

this game we play of domination
is so convenient
if you are in power
if you have money
if you have position and privilege
if you can present yourself as righteous and holy

but it is not so convenient…
for the poor
those afflicted by mental illness
for immigrants
or minorities
or even most women

and when domination is flaunted by those in the government
and when domination is embraced by those who would call themselves ‘christian’
the insult to Christ is magnified

Christ calls us to union with God
Christ calls us into communion with one another

Christ’s way is about giving, forgiving
Christ’s way is about serving

He showed us the way
there in the dirt
washing feet
what it looks like to be fully awake to God

Think of that, God in the dirt
Washing feet

I’d like to see the President
Or a congressman
In the dirt
washing feet

Hell, I’d settle for a little compassion

I’d like to see the CEO who makes $10,000 an hour
washing the feet of that worker who makes $7 some an hour

Hell, I’d settle for a little equality

even a little
how about $15 an hour
I know, I know, the “job creator” would make only $9,990 an hour
but I am sure such a sacrifice would be acceptable to the Beloved

I like to see a mega-church pastor wash some feet
You know
Before they board that private jet and head back their mansion

Heck, I’d settle for a little Gospel
a little good news

I can’t even escape the revolution myself
there are so many ways in which my life needs to be turned
upside down

the reality is Jesus looks on
and says
as the legislators legislate their version of morality
as the choirs sing
and the preachers preach
and the righteous strut

“what the hell is this!”

so many say
“come Lord Jesus”
do they really want that?

Monday, April 29, 2019

Changing the systems

You are to offer the stranger food and clothing, to guarantee the stranger justice, to treat the stranger like one of your own citizens, to welcome the stranger as Christ in disguise. This is God’s express will in both testaments of the Bible.
                                                              Barbara Brown Taylor

What would it look like to be a “Christian” nation?
Or rather, since there really cannot be any such thing,
What would it look like to be part of the Kingdom of Heaven (God)?

It would not look like spending more money on
the machinery of death (the military) than the next six countries, combined

It would not look like a wall
It would not look like ICE

It would not look like hate rhetoric
Or the exclusion of tired and abused people seeking refuge

It would not look like legislated morality
that is functionally abusive and coercive

It would not look like “Medicare for none”
Or tax cuts for the rich

It would not look like shaming the poor
or deciding that some do not have enough value
to be fed, and clothed and housed

The Sacred One is pretty clear
Through which ever voice the Sacred voice comes

Participating in the Sacred way is about love
The words are endless
And endlessly ignored

“however you define the problematic present-day-stranger,
 the religious stranger, the cultural stranger, the transgendered stranger,
 the homeless stranger, the scripture’s wildly impractical solutions is to love
 the stranger as the self”  (BBT)

we make a fundamental mistake if we think Jesus came to earth
primarily to rescue us as individuals.
to provide us with a way out of our own dysfunction, and pave the way
to heaven

Jesus did not come to sell fire insurance,
Jesus came to usher in the Kingdom!
Jesus came to call us as individuals, to a new way of doing life, yes

But he came to challenge the Kingdom of the World
With its greed
And its love of power
And replace that Kingdom with the Kingdom of God
That is what Palm Sunday was all about

Jesus came to change all those systems that
Pervasively, profoundly, persistently minimize and oppress
All those systems that crush the poor
And the “different”

And replace them with systems that nurture,
And feed
And clothe
And house
And heal


In the kingdom of God no one is without value
In the kingdom of God no one is left behind
In the kingdom of God there is no winning
There is no losing
There are just people, working together
So that everyone has enough

Enough justice
Enough water
Enough food
Enough housing
Enough clothing
Enough safety
Enough welcome
Enough forgiveness
Enough love

Especially enough love

What does it look like to participate in the Kingdom of Heaven?
A Kingdom we are to participate in
And make real
Here and now
(On earth as it is in heaven!  We pray for this every time we say the Lord’s prayer)

It looks like welcoming the stranger
It looks like helping the poor
It looks like seeing those we would
Reject, discard, judge, fear
As Jesus in disguise

And acting accordingly
Come, Lord Jesus

Come in that person struggling with addiction
Come in that mother and child fleeing violence in Central America
Come in that libertard who wants Medicare for all
Come in that person with the MAGA hat
Come in that child
Come in that person bent with age
Come however you will

That we might welcome you
And love you as our self

Sunday, April 28, 2019

we love out of fullness

It isn’t that loving others will make us feel fulfilled.  It’s the other way around:  when we feel fulfilled, we will spontaneously love our neighbors, love them unconditionally and without motivation, not in order to gain anything but as a result of our own fullness of being.

Meanwhile, the craving for secure and complete being drives us to bolster our petty, finite beings in all these miserable and destructive ways.
                                                              Beatrice Bruteau

There is an old story about a man who had many faults
He did many things that people considered “sinful” and bad
But he attended a church that had a weekly “altar” call
A charismatic fellowship that took seriously the “filling” of the Holy Spirit

As the story goes each Sunday evening this man would sit through the sermon
and every Sunday he would become emotional and caught up in the moment
and every Sunday he would go forth to confess his sins and accept again
the grace of God

As he would wander forward to the altar he would call out, in a loud and fervent voice
“Fill me Jesus, fill me”  “Fill me Jesus, fill me”
He would leave renewed

Only to act the way he had always acted
Only to come back the next week and go through the some routine

Finally one Sunday, as we made his way forward calling “fill me Jesus, fill me”
A voice cried out from the congregation.
“Don’t do it Jesus, he leaks”

We all leak
All of us
We are such poor containers for the Sacred

And yet
And yet
This is our hope
This is the hope for the world

That we can be filled with God
And thus filled
Go forth in fullness rather than need
And love

Saturday, April 27, 2019

embracing an inconvenient truth

“Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their peers, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change.”
 Robert F. Kennedy

Once upon a time there was a man
who rode into a city, knowing he would die

knowing, that even as the crowds gathered
and Hosannas were shouted
knowing that even though people celebrated his arrival

his presence would be intolerable

For he came
this odd man of peace and love
bearing with him a way revolutionary
and deviant

a way so alien to the patterns of belief
and attitude and behavior
that they would not be able to endure it

He knew he was the pointed stick
poking the hornets nest
and that with his coming all hell would break loose

he came that hot afternoon
as the dust swirled up from beneath the hooves
of that plodding donkey

as the cheers echoes
and the branches waved

bringing peace into a world that depended on violence
bringing meekness into a world that worships power
bringing love to world that delights in enmity
bringing servanthood to world that seeks dominance

he was a walking, talking breathing indictment
of those who sat in the halls of power
and controlled the access to Yahweh

he walked into ground zero
and looking the way of power and greed
the way of hate and violence said

“this stops here”

And those who would not, could not
Let go of their hate,
And their lust for power

Those who could not release their death grip on their wealth

found him frightening, and painful

and they removed him

and he?
he let them
for his very message had to be lived out to the end

he had called them to love
to compassion and generosity
to forgiveness, acceptance and inclusion

and they only way for him not to die
was to contradict, through his actions
everything he had taught

so he gently, like a lamb
allowed them to do their worst
which was as bad as it gets

they thought it was all over then
but it wasn’t

for you can’t kill Love
and this power, that was Jesus
this way he taught

is eternal

humanity can do its worst
it has done its worst
the cross, the crusades, the inquisition
Hitler’s Germany
Stalin’s Russia
Pol Pot and the killing fields

Lynched black people in America
children in cages
the 1% dominating, hoarding and oppressing

but still the Sacred
still Love will ultimately win

even if the world explodes
even if we destroy the planet on which we live
Love will win

Jesus knew that
And so he rode into Jerusalem
Knowing he would die
Knowing too, I believe (although there may have been moments
When the human part of him had its doubts)
That death would become life
And ending a beginning,
And that love would win

Jesus still comes
he comes into our midst
bringing with him a way that is difficult

he is an inconvenient truth
telling us that if we want Love to rule
we have to engage in a different way of doing life

the question is
what do we do with Jesus when he comes?

do we embrace the pain of the world?
do we life others up?
do we forgive?
do we feed the poor, clothe the naked?
do we provide housing
and healthcare?

Do we welcome the stranger?
Do we fight for justice?

or do we double down
using and abusing power
grasping and hording wealth
shaming the poor
excluding the stranger?

do we shout hosanna
and claim the name
but functionally kill the one who comes?
remaining trapped in the ooze and slime and old decay (CS Lewis)

Once upon a time, the true light that gives light to everyone came into the world.
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.
He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name,
he gave the right to become children of God—  (John 1)

the light still comes
do we recognize him
more importantly, do we receive him

this inconvenient truth

and do we live that awkward beautiful difficult way
that marks
the children of God?

Thursday, April 25, 2019

thoughts about prayer

In reflecting on Jesus’ parable of the persistent widow, who keeps poking a judge in the eye until he gives her what she wants, Barbara Brown Taylor makes the following comments.

“… prayer like that [unanswered] can wear your heart right out, if you’re not careful – especially when there is no sign on earth that God has heard, much less answered, your prayer.  You can only knock so long at a closed door before your hands hurt too much to go on.  You can only listen to yourself speak into the silence so long before you start to wonder if anyone was ever there….  you are ‘losing heart’…

What the persistent widow knows is that the most important time to pray is when your prayers seem meaningless.  If you don’t go throw a few punches at the judge, what are you going to do?  Take to you bed with a box of Kleenex?  Forget about justice altogether?  No.  Day by day by day you are going to get up, wash your face, and go ask for what you want.. . .

One day when [my grandchild] ask me outright whether prayer really works, I am going to say, ‘Oh sweetie, of course it does.  It keeps our hearts chasing after God’s heart.  It’s how we bother God and how God bothers us back.  There’s nothing that works any better than that’ “

I don’t know about you
But there are times lately when I “lose heart”
I know Jesus tells me not to go there,
But I do

I have my reasons
Plenty of them

I suspect many of you have them too
Yours may be different from mine

But there are certainly enough reasons to “lose heart”
to go around


the list goes on

and there are times, it seems, that no matter how much we pray
not matter how many times we go to the God,
who is after all, Love

nothing loving happens
injustice still smirks in high places
greed still destroys the planet
lies are still ignored and tolerated (and believed)

we look at our own lives
at arthritis, and MS
and cancer, and chronic pain
and depression, and anxiety
and addiction
and we cry out for help. . .

and help doesn’t come
it is NOT just that we don’t see it

it doesn’t come

and so we lose heart

and yet

we are called to keep chasing after God
poking God in the eye
with our desire and anger and need

because here is the thing

there are things to be learned in the silence
things to be learned as we listen to our words
when the echo in the emptiness

in our persistence
sometimes, we find that we have it within us to overcome
in our persistence
sometimes, we find our desires and wants changing
our anger fading
our repentance growing

and sometimes, sometimes
an answer comes

something happens when we bother God
and God bothers us back

the world may not change, although sometimes it does
but we always change

and there is nothing any better than that

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

We belong to God (not the other way around)

“…. Being a saint means first and foremost belonging to God…  Once you are baptized, you belong to God and all that remains to be seen is what you will do about it.  Just remember that you do not have to be famous, or perfect, or dead.  You just have to be you – the one-of-a kind, never-to-be repeated  human being whom God created you to be – to love as you are loved, to throw your arms around the world, to shine like the sun”
                                                                                  Barbara Brown Taylor

Think what you will about Sacred
There is something in us
Each of us
That participates in something we can only understand as Mystery

Some call that mystery God
and try their hardest to remove the mystery from Mystery

It doesn’t work
It only gets confusing

Others choose to think of the Mystery differently
As something woven into the earth
Into the sky, the ground
The mountains, the valleys
Into the lakes and rivers and streams
Into the trees, and the animals that live in and under them

However you think about it
We are part of something that is beyond us
We cannot contain it or grasp it
We can only participate in it

Or accept that it participates in us
As Rumi once said
“you are not a drop in the ocean,
 you are the entire ocean in a drop”

We are not people who believe in Love
We are people who participate in Love
Who are filled with Love

And our lives are to be about one thing

Love God, love others, love yourself
Said Jesus

That’s it!  Period
That is the sum of it all

Love, love, love, love
Christians (and everyone else) this is our call
Love your neighbor as yourself
For God loves all

We sing it
We are called to live it

When we don’t, no matter how many Bible verses we know
Or how “correct” our theology
We are simply sinners

Sometimes garden variety sinner
Sometimes a hot mess sinner
But a sinner

Which simply means, there are tears in the fabric of love
We have become rent
And need repair

Our goal is to become saints
Its simple
“You just have to be you –
the one-of-a kind, never-to-be repeated  human being
whom God created you to be –

to love as you are loved,
to throw your arms around the world,
to shine like the sun” (Barbara Brown Taylor)

Simple, but not easy

But we all know saints!
And at times, most of us are one.

We all have those people in our lives

We all have those people who
For whatever demented reason, choose to be our “greatest fans”
And love us with that love that is not calculating
But just is

With that love which welcomes
And affirms
And forgives
Which lifts us up

Each of us has personal experience with saints
Or we have failed to have such a person in our lives
Either way, we know how important they are

The world is full
The church is full
Of saints and sinners

But it is not that there are saints and sinners
As much as we are saints and sinners

Works in progress
Imperfectly reflecting the divine image

But as those who participate in the mystery
We are always a little bit what we have not yet fully become

Here is to all the saints
Living and dead
Noble and ignominious
Loving, and not so loving

Here is to all those people seeking to
Be love
Who embrace the world,
And shine like the sun…..

May we be one of them

Sunday, April 21, 2019

May God easter in us

“Let Him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us, be a crimson-cresseted east.”
                                                                                      Gerard Manley Hopkins

may God “easter” in us all
no matter who we are

may Sacred rise
casting light
into the darkness

waking us up to our
essential beauty
and our original blessing

stirring our souls
into earnest acceptance
of Sacred Love

opening us up
filling us,

as the sun spills across the earth
caressing it and revealing its beauty

the Sacred Presence spills forth

kissing  the earth
with love

Friday, April 19, 2019

continuous resurrection

“There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection.”
George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie

Your life should be a continuous death and a continuous resurrection so that you remain fresh until the very last breath.

Every time night falls
part of me wonders, will there be a dawn

every time I fail
part of me wonders, can I pick myself up,
one- more – time?

every time a relationship ends
part of me wonders, will love ever be birthed again

every time joy dies, and sadness comes
every time love vanishes, and the bile of hate burns

every time I die to some thing
and I die and die and die again
a part of me is willing to believe
that this
is all

that there is no way out
no “next”

so too the beaten and battered ones
on that Friday
when Jesus died

they must have felt as if nothing
would ever be ok

as they hid
as they fled
as a few gathered
at the foot of a cross, and watched their beloved die

as they dragged the body down
and hastily, furtively, placed it in a tomb

and yet
out of death life came

the slow spiral of hate and violence
the oppressive weight of power
was stopped

and death began to work backwards (CS Lewis)

as it was, so it is

out of failure, a fresh start
out of pain, cleansing and hope
out of every ending
every death


Thursday, April 18, 2019

Broken Open, Poured Out

“I tell you this
to break your heart,
by which I mean only
that it break open and never close again
to the rest of the world.”
Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems, Vol. 2

The Sacred wants to break our hearts
Break them open
With Sacred love

Break them open
So that we might be touched
By the world around us

Jesus said blessed are those who mourn and grieve
He knew, better than anyone else

That it is only when our hearts are broken
That we can feel the pain and despair
Of the poor,
The homeless, the rejected
The shamed
The oppressed
The minimized

Only when our hearts are broken
Can we be moved to act with compassion
And generosity

Only then will we dare fight against injustice
And reject bigotry
And let go of hate
And refuse to accept violence as a solution

For only when our hearts are broken
Will we let go of all of those things that bind us and blind us,
and move into that compassionate and generous place
that marks real love
Paradoxically is through pain that we find healing
And through expending that we are filled
And through a dying to self, that we find true life

 “All great spirituality is about letting go.
Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection show us how to win by losing.
In fact, this “Path of Descent” could be called the metanarrative of the Bible.
It is so obvious, consistent, and constant
that it’s hidden in plain sight.” (Richard Rohr)

And that is why Jesus would say
Blessed are the broken hearted

The way of Jesus is indeed way of the broken heart

Think about the beatitudes.
The Beatitudes reflect what life looks like when we are on the path of descent.
We are on that path when

We have expended ourselves for others in a costly way (become poor).
We have entered into the pain of others, and sat with them in that pain (grieve)
We have chosen to be humble rather than full of ego (meek)
When we have fought for what is right, instead of what is convenient or beneficial for us (righteous)
When we have had empathy and have been people who welcome rather than exclude (merciful)
When we have insisted that we must base our behavior on purity, and do not accept lying, fraud, bullying, name calling, and all the impurities that come from the ego (pure)
When we choose the way of peace rather than the way of violence and retribution. (peace makers)

I don’t know why the church refuses to get it
And instead immerses itself in Luke’s woes. 
In wealth and abundance
In power and acclaim

I do not know why we become the “church of closed hearts and closed minds, closed doors”

For the call is clear
I echo the words of Paul in Romans
Where he offers this powerful plea

“Open your hearts to one another as Christ has opened his heart to you, and God will be glorified”

Be broken open
And poured out

Open your heart
Open your heart

And never close it down again
In that way
And that way alone

Will God be glorified

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

this is how it ends

“An eye for an eye, and the whole world would be blind.”
Kahlil Gibran

“Forgiveness means it finally becomes unimportant that you hit back.”
Anne Lamott

In my dreams
I am standing again in a field in Kurdistan

The sound of military helicopters growing ever louder
As like vultures
Or is it angels of mercy

They drop from the sky
Disgorging their sad burden

Tattered  and wet
Fragile with hypothermia
Bent with the burden of the precious bundles they hold in their arms

Barely protected from the bitter weather
by the rags with which they are wrapped

We tried, Oh we tried
But they were too weak
Too far gone
And so, as we held them, they died

These little innocents
Their faces drawn and grey white

This was the fruit of war

I wake and remember
Other babies, starving to death in Africa
Poisoned in Syria
Shot and bombed in Gaza

Put in cages,
Deprived of healthcare
Shot in their classrooms in America

So many children, destroyed
The fruit of prejudice, and anger, and hate
The fruit of violence
The fruit of our need for power
The fruit of our Greed

As I walk in the rain, in the silent peace
In the relative safety of rural Oregon
I wonder how we respond to our fears?
I wonder how we deal with our prejudice?
How do we answer real injustice and real threat? (not just imagined)

Is the answer missiles, bombs, drones
Is the answer violence?
Has that ever worked?  Really?
Even when it appears to have benefited the world,
Were not the seeds of hate sown?
Was not the groundwork laid for the next conflict?

There is no war to end all wars
There is only war after war

We must go a different way
We must walk a different path
And it will not be an easy path I fear
We must walk the path of love

And it takes more strength to love in the face of hate
Than it does to return hate
I am not sure I am strong enough to do that

Very few, in the history of the world have been

One was
That one who “humbled himself”
And refused to take on the way of power, although he could have
And walked in love all the way to the cross
to say in a way unmistakable

this is how it ends
the endless cycle of violence and retribution
this is how it ends

How do we approximate that way?
What does it look like, today?
God help me, I do not know

But I am fairly certain it does not look like missiles
Hurled into space
It does not look like dying babies
It does not look like chronic retribution
It does not look like lies and hate mongering
It does not look like guns or walls

It looks as radical and costly as the cross

Sunday, April 14, 2019


 “To leave the world a bit better, whether by healthy child, a garden patch, or redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you live—that is to have succeeded.”
                                                   Ralph Waldo Emerson

We ask the question different ways
At different times of our lives

What do I want to be when I grow up!
Which career option is really “me”
Have I lived a life worth living

But most of us, if we are honest,
are actually pretty concerned about whether our lives on this planet
have had meaning.

Meaning and purpose count!
We want to make a difference

But what makes a life “count”

How do we measure value and success?

It is the number of degrees?
(I have two Masters and a Doctorate)
Is it jobs held?
(I have been very blessed to have pastored four churches,
 Done international disaster relief, taught at a medical school,
 and run a community based mental health program)
Is it titles
(you may call me the Rev. Dr. Father, Sir if you wish, or not)

Do we measure success by the fact that we have “stuff”
A nice house
Cool cars
Our net worth?

Do we count if we have power?

Even if we don’t admit it I suspect that for many of us these are indeed
the things we count.

But I can’t help but think about Jesus, and his strange, conflictual life
and his scandalous end

And I can’t help but think of what he taught about life
And what it means to be “blessed”

Accordingly we have made our lives count
according to the Divine Economy when

We have expended ourselves for others in a costly way (become poor).
We have entered into the pain of others, and sat with them in that pain
We have chose the way of service rather than dominance
We have fought for what is right, instead of what is convenient or beneficial for us.
When we have had empathy and have been people who welcome rather than exclude
When we have insisted that we must base our behavior on purity, and do not accept lying, fraud, bullying, name calling, and all the impurities that come from the ego.
When we choose the way of peace rather than the way of violence and retribution.

We have succeeded when, because we hold fast to the way of Jesus
Those who worship power and wealth call us snowflakes and libertards,
Weak and pathetic.

Our job is to make sure that we don’t leave behind us
a trail littered with people who have been shamed, neglected, used, or abused

but to walk through life
helping, encouraging, healing
lifting up

making sure no one
no one (all means all)
gets left behind

our job is indeed

“To leave the world a bit better, whether by healthy child, a garden patch, or redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you live”

Saturday, April 13, 2019

showing up

Living in the Wonder teaches us to “show up” . . . and “showing up” teaches us to “be with” the Beloved. . . .

The Beloved is not in a far-off land, waiting for us to catch up with him (or her). . . . The Beloved is Love and there is no other place for Love to be than in the act of holding tightly to you and to me. Deep within the recesses of our very being, we are held . . . known . . . treasured . . . not “out there” somewhere, but in the very Wonder of Love . . . in the very seat of the Heart . . . in the very core of the Soul.

The more we live in the Wonder and welcome our placement in this very heart of Love, the easier it is to trust . . . to “release our fears” . . . to live without proclaiming certainties . . . to settle into this very core we can only call Love.
                                                                                  Richard Rohr

We often talk about trudging through life
How tragic

If I cannot wake up in the morning
and be captivated by the beauty of the world that surrounds me
up here in the middle of nowhere
the center of the universe

then there is something wrong

it means that somehow I have stopped
living in the wonder

I have stopped breathing in the Sacred
which is present in every breath I take
in the pneuma , the Spirit, the Sacred

and have decided that God is “far away”
up there, out there
that the Sacred is someone, something that must be chased after

but my experience with God is that God is indeed
as near as my breath
as near as the beating of my heart

God is love
And love just is

It is present
It is pervasive
It is persistent

But above all it is present

“The Beloved is not in a far-off land, waiting for us to catch up with him (or her). . . .
The Beloved is Love
and there is no other place for Love to be
than in the act of holding tightly to you and to me”  (Rohr)

so when I wake up
with aches and pains

and with a monkey brain full of things to be done

when I sit in my study
full of fear, and anger,

Love is there
Holding me tight

Telling me it will be alright
Telling me I am loved

Freeing me
To notice the crispness of a spring morning
And the sun peeking out of the clouds
And the smell of rain

Thursday, April 11, 2019

the path of descent

All great spirituality is about letting go. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection show us how to win by losing. In fact, this “Path of Descent” could be called the metanarrative of the Bible. It is so obvious, consistent, and constant that it’s hidden in plain sight. Christianity has overlooked this overwhelmingly obvious message by focusing on other things. Why did that happen? How is it that we were capable of missing what appears to be the major point? I think it has to do with the Spirit patiently working in time and growing us historically. I think it has to do with human maturity and readiness. And I think it has a lot to do with the ego and its tactics of resistance.

Author Philip Simmons (1957–2002) shared what it took to awaken him to this wisdom:

We’re stubborn creatures, and it takes a shock to make us see our lives afresh. In my case the shock was the news, when I was just thirty-five years old, that I had the fatal condition known as ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and would probably be dead within a few years. . . . At some point we all confront the fact that each of us, each individual soul is, as the poet William Butler Yeats says, “fastened to a dying animal.” [1] We’re all engaged in the business of dying, whether consciously or not, slowly or not. For me, knowing that my days are numbered has meant the chance to ask with new urgency the sorts of questions most of us avoid: everything from “What’s my life’s true purpose?” to “Should I reorganize my closets?” What I’ve learned from asking them is that a fuller consciousness of my own mortality has been my best guide to being more fully alive. . . .
                                                                                            Richard Rohr

most of the time, we have things backwards
inflicted it would appear
with chronic cases

of cranial-anal inversion

sometimes in our more egotistical moments
we suggest that Jesus, when he came, turned the world upside down
when in reality he turned the world right side up

it is not that his way of descending and emptying
and his teachings about
sacrifice and service were radical an new

it is that they were simply God reminding us of how we were intended to be
revealing the original design for Sacred children

If God is love
and we are created in God’s image
that would mean that we were designed to love
designed to feel empathy
designed to have compassion, offer forgiveness, and act kindly

and the problem is that we can’t do any of that very well
if we are focused too intently on ourselves
on our need for power
our desire for wealth
our need to win, and dominate

if we are, to use the old language from the scriptures
focused on the “things of the flesh”

it is not the things of the flesh are unimportant
the Sacred is woven into all thing corporeal
the mountains, the trees, and yes
our bodies

we need to eat, and to take care of ourselves
we need clothes and housing

any quick glimpse at the words of Jesus reveals
that he did not discount the reality of the body
and its needs

but it is how we use that body, that mind,
as we move through life that is important

and Jesus suggests that we use our resources
including our body
the way he used his

not just to protect and promote the self
but to serve others

there is this thread in Jesus teachings
hinted at in the Old Testament,
but clarified by Jesus,
that insists we are to be people for others

not abandoning our self
but seeing our self in the context of others
seeing ourselves as bound together by sacred bonds
by the breath of God itself
to one another, to all others

and thus what happens to one happens to all
when one is lifted up, all are lifted up
when one is crushed, we are all crushed

when one children is thrown into a pen
we all suffer
when one person can’t get healthcare, we are all wounded
when one person is lifted out of poverty or addiction
we all rise

but we cannot find this radical unity
this way of healing and reconciliation
if we are not willing to watch the path of descent

we can see the “Path of Ascent” in full force
playing out each day
we can see the damage it causes

a ruined planet
damaged children
people mired in poverty
we can see it in the anger and the hate
we can see it in the addiction and in the suicides (which abound)

we are called to walk the path of descent
as best we can
and this means we must let go
of ego, of power, of the need to have more than we need
(most of us are guilty of holding on to these things, I know I am)

and even at some level, we must let go of our fear of mortality
for losing our life is the ultimate sacrifice
the ultimate loss
the ultimate letting go

we are indeed “fastened to a dying animal”

it is not that we seek death or even “misery”
there is nothing more irritating than a spiritual person who sees it as their
call to be afflicted

but if we are mired in a fear of death and loss
we find it hard to give
we find it hard to not to be aggressive and violent
and greedy
and find it difficult to have empathy

it is simply that we need to see our walk through life
not as a path of ascent, where we climb to the heights
to a place, perhaps where we can touch heaven (Tower of Babel)

but as a path of descent, where we enter into the
struggle and pain, the joy and love
that is inherent with our messy life on this planet

and in that place
where we join all others
do the work of love

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

God drought

The time is surely coming, says the Lord God, when I will send a famine on the land; not a famine of bread, or a thirsty for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord (Amos)

“Why is Amos in such a bad mood?  Because the rich have used their riches to burden those who will never work their way out of debt.  Because the clever have used their cleverness to trick those who cannot think as fast.  Because making a profit has become more important than anything else in the land – more important than justice, more important than Sabbath, more important than God… Amos is in a bad mood because the health of the market has become a higher good than the health of the people and God can’t stand it anymore… He is stabbing an entire nation on God’s behalf”
                                                                                  Barbara Brown Taylor

I believe we are going to pay
For calling good evil and evil good
I believe we are going to pay
For putting profits above justice
And power above love
And money above people

It may not be
That anytime in the near future
America will simply collapse

It may not be that those who legislate injustice
Will find themselves voted out of office

It is doubtful that those who with great impunity break the rule of law
will ever have to answer for their crimes.

I am not suggesting imminent calamity

But I am suggesting that we will experience poverty
And a gnawing hunger
And extreme thirst

I am suggesting that we will end up, in this country
Which suggests it is “blest by God”

Will find itself with a God drought

I have listened for years
While the right has talked about how God was “driven” from the schools
and courtrooms.  I have wondered just how you get rid of God, who is in everything and everyone.

The fact is, that we, Sacred Children, carry God with us, everywhere
Where ever we go God goes
Whatever we do God is there (scary thought)
Whatever we think, the Sacred senses
Whatever we say the Sacred hears

So if I walk through any courtroom, or classroom, and think for a moment of God
God becomes real
God emerges as something real and tangible in my heart

But it is possible, Amos reminds us, to stop thinking of God
And stop thinking about all those people in whom God dwells
All those black people, brown people
Poor people
Ill people
Old people

All those convenient and inconvenient people
Who stumble around this planet

It is possible to make power and wealth
To make profit and control
So important that people no longer matter

And when people no longer matter, God no longer matters

We can pretend all we want that wealth and power are signs of God’s favor
They aren’t
Jesus, paradoxically, says poverty is, as is grief, and compassion, generosity, and a thirst for justice.

God’s presence comes
God’s favor comes
When we are people who (you guessed it )
Love our neighbor as ourselves
(and everyone is our neighbor)

But when we focus on power and profit
And when people no longer matter
The Sacred in us dries up

It is not that God is not there
It is not that we can’t tap into that living spring again

But God droughts can and do come
And in those moments
We are thirsty, and hungry
And our souls cry out

For what we have lost
And we are the most miserable of people

Who all too often take our misery out on others

Thankfully, droughts end
Droughts end when we seek God
And they end when we find God, in the people around us
All the people
They end when we feed and clothe,
When we advocate, and comfort (Matthew 25)

I am tired
Tired of living in a ‘dry and thirsty land”

I want living Springs
I want life
I want vitality
I want love
I want justice to roll like a river,
And righteousness to flow like a never-failing stream!

I want God