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



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

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

It is finished


“When the last living thing
Has died on account of us,
How poetical it would be
If Earth could say,
In a voice floating up
Perhaps
From the floor
Of the Grand Canyon,
"It is done."
People did not like it here.”
 Kurt Vonnegut
______________________________________________

Our capacity for destruction
Is
Astounding

It is as if we humans are the hit and run drivers of the universe
In our determination to amass wealth
And dominate

We will do most anything
No matter what the impact is on other people
No matter what devastation it creates for animals
Not matter how destructive it is to this planet we call home

You might simply think it is a matter of being shortsighted
People are so fixated on what WE want that we don’t think of others
They are so obsessed with accumulation and winning
That they don’t think about the big picture

About the fact that fracking is cracking the earth
And dirtying the water
About the fact that this fouled water
Is lost to human use

And humans need water to thrive

They don’t think about the fact that
Because they refuse to accept lower profits
The weather is turning chaotic
Destroying lives and businesses alike

I keep thinking of those people I know who are addicted
They will do anything for their drug of choice
They will destroy their bodies
Abandon their relationships

They will lose everything
Everything
Home
Health
Family
Esteem
Hope

All for that one thing

For far too many
For far too many people in positions of authority
For far too many people who have the ability to dominate and coerce, and control

The drug of choice is money
With a chaser of power

This in spite of the teachings of people like the Buddha,
And Jesus

This in spite of the many warnings
“Love of money is the root of evil”

And this addiction
Is killing us
And the more addicted our leaders are
Our political leaders
And our religious leaders

The more the lead us into the desert
The more they lead us into the dark consequences of this addiction

And make no mistake
Unless we let go of this addiction

And start to care about the earth
And care about the people
All people

The earth will die
On account of us

We will have squandered the original blessing
We will have violated our role as stewards

Sure I know the language about a “new heaven”
And a “new earth”
Sacred is all about newness

But there are far too many passages that hold us accountable
And suggest that God may well us people
To drag this newsness into being

To suggest we just let the earth crumble because God is going to “fix it”
Makes about as much since as allowing children to die from gun violence
Because we think they will
“go to heaven” when they are blown apart by bullets

Personally I do not like to see creation suffer
Or people suffer
Personally I think it is my job
To work with God to usher in
God’s new thing

And so I believe it is time
Time to quit putting money and power
Over the planet
And over the people

It is time to deny the essential selfishness that grabs us
That selfishness our leaders encourage,

And say with the Psalmist (24)

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;”

and live accordingly

Sunday, August 4, 2019

I am Tired


We all grow tired eventually; it happens to everyone. Even the sun, at the close of the year, is no longer a morning person.”
                                                                        Joyce Rachelle
__________________________________________________________________

I am tired
I am tired for lots of reasons
Two weeks on the road (the wrong side of the road in Ireland)
Two weeks of fish and chips and cider (hard)

I am tired
After 16 years of working in the pressure cooker of community mental health
13 years as a Executive Director
And now as the Director of a pain program

It is tiring being in the middle of people’s pain!

It is tiring being in the middle of my own pain
I might well be bionic
(although I have had no joint replacements, yet)

12 surgeries later my body is a little beat up!

I am tired
After over 20 years in the pulpits of church
Small, medium, large, and then small again

I am tired because I am getting a little older
Turning 68 in less than a week

I am tired because I don’t know how to say no
Tired because I don’t always sleep well
Tired because I think too much
Feel too much
Care too much

I am tired because I am struggling against
Greed
Apathy
Fear
Hate
And I feeling like I (and those like me) are losing

My soul shrinks
My heart hurts
When I see 44% of America pick money over people

When I hear people call good evil, and evil good

I am like that plant
Roots thrust deep into thirsty land
Barely alive

Waiting for the rain

I echo the worlds of the Psalmist (63)
Who in a similar moment
“You, God, are my God,
    earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
    my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
    where there is no water.”

But here is the thing
Even though I am tired
And perhaps a bit shriveled and dry

I am not a dead twig
Broken and separated from the source of life

I am a child of God
I am connected
I have the Spirit

And this reality, in which I participate
Well

Isaiah (41) said it well

“The poor and needy search for water,
    but there is none;
    their tongues are parched with thirst.
But I the Lord will answer them;
    I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
18 I will make rivers flow on barren heights,
    and springs within the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water,
    and the parched ground into springs.”

I am tired
But I am also renewed

And so tomorrow I will arise
A greet another day



Saturday, August 3, 2019

wake up


“Wake up, you idiots! Whatever made you think that money was so valuable?”
Kurt Vonnegut
________________________________________________


Of all the things in this world we can love
Why money?

Why
Why
Why

OK
I get money
Money is power
Money is comfort
Money is toys
Money is food, and housing and healthcare

But money is also war
And graft
And abuse
Money causes us to destroy the planet
And abandon people
And lie

Money drives us into dark places
And causes us to do ugly things

And when all is said and done
It cannot satisfy

Trump is wealthy (or says he is)
Does he look happy?
Act happy?

What about Epstein?
Who with all his millions needed to prey on young girls

Paul (or the author of Timothy) said the “love of money is the root of all evil”

Jesus said we would be better off if we gave it all away

It is not that money is bad
We need it
And it can be a power for good, if we let it

But still
We have to put money in its place
We have to know its limitations
And its dangers

And it can never ever, be something of supreme value

So many other things must come first
People, for example
Equity
Justice
The planet
Children

Love

We are so easily seduced
Politicians understand this
So do advertisers
So do those false prophets who equate faith with prosperity

All those who would control us and manipulate us
Know

The seductive power of money

But in the end
Only two things save

Love of the Sacred
And all things Sacred

And love of people

It is only when we are full to overflowing with the Sacred
It is only when our hearts are full of love

That we stand a chance

I suspect this sounds simplistic
It feels simplistic

But just try it
And you will know it is hard
And not for the faint of heart and soul

But just try it
And you might find

What you have been looking for.




Friday, August 2, 2019

Denial


“The human mind isn't a terribly logical or consistent place. Most people, given the choice to face a hideous or terrifying truth or to conveniently avoid it, choose the convenience and peace of normality. That doesn't make them strong or weak people, or good or bad people. It just makes them people.”
Jim Butcher

“I could deny it if I liked. I could deny anything if I liked.”
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

 “How 'bout a shot of truth in that denial cocktail.”
Jennifer Salaiz
____________________________________________________

I’ve been thinking
I know!  Shocking isn’t it!?
But I have been thinking about denial

In addictions treatment we talk a lot about denial
About that powerful mechanism that keeps us
“doing what we are doing and expecting a different outcome”

That makes denial a form of insanity

But denial isn’t really insanity
It is part of the human condition.

We don’t like the uncomfortable
We don’t like the painful
We don’t like seeing things that collide with our values systems
We don’t like feeling small, or deficit, or weak, or sinful

And so we do most anything we can to avoid
Those inconvenient truths

About our planet (its dying)
About our nation (its not exceptional)
About ourselves (I am insecure and seek to compensate by getting people to admire me, which makes me seem arrogant.  I’m also a little too tied to things, and yes, I am opinionated at a level that is probably not healthy).

Avoidance
Denial

Call it what you will

And we attempt to accomplish this profound act of lying to ourselves
In all kinds of ways

We tell ourselves that what is true is not true!
We reframe so that what is ugly and sordid is no longer ugly and sordid
We justify, and rationalize, and excuse

Caging children is about safety
Destroying the planet is just good business

Sometimes this attempt to move into an alternate reality doesn’t really work
We see the earth dying
We see ourselves behaving poorly
We feel our personal deficits at our core

And it hurts
So we medicate
We play, we drink, we smoke, we eat
We have sex

Sometimes we bring God, or the Sacred into the equation
We try to use God to excuse the inexcusable
We take one or two verses in huge book, and use them to exclude, and judge, and hate
While ignoring the huge preponderance of passages that tell us we can’t
Exclude or judge or hate

We turn a God who is love into a God who is wrathful and cruel
We turn a God who warns us about accumulation of wealth, and misuse of power
Into a God who gives us wealth and blessing our use of power

We turn a God who is revealed as a power that comes and disturbs and roils
A god of wind and fire
A god whose very nature is to uproot us from where we are
And blow us to someplace new

Into a God who simply looks on benignly as we perpetuate systems
Of inequity and injustice

There is perhaps one more form of denial
Some people see clearly what is happening
They see the hate and the fear
They see the greed and the lust for power
They see abusing immigrants as immoral
The destruction of the planet as evil

They feel real pain
When they hear lie after lie
When yet another protection for the planet is removed
When yet another policy is put in place that is intentional cruelty

They are offended (being offended is not bad)
When they see economic injustice
And racism

And they deny the fact that they are helpless
Instead they dive in
And they write their legislators
They post things on FaceBook
They speak out
They vote
They work in soup kitchens
They give time and money to non-profits
They act with kindness and generosity

Their way of medicating the pain of living in a messed up world
Is to engage in the process of trying to change that world for the better
Even when those efforts seem ineffective
Even when at times, they feel powerless

This is a profound form of denial
It denies the power of evil
It denies the power of evil people to destroy our country and our planet
It denies helplessness

And this is when denial
Becomes expectation

The expectation that God is
That God is present among us and in us
And that God can use people
People like me and you

to change the world
or at very least to change the space
which surrounds us

to change our family
our church
our community

for the better

I am in denial