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 30, 2019

I carry You in my heart

It took almost everything I had
To get up and get into the car

In the dry heat of an Eastern Oregon afternoon
I drove the back roads to Wallowa
The small town where many of those I worship with happen to live

As I drove I was haunted
Weighed down

More hate from the White House
More racism
More fuel on the fire of White Supremacy

Another shooting
20 plus people killed why shopping

Who were those people
Hispanic, mostly
Perhaps white

Who were they
What were they shopping for?
A birthday gift?

It doesn’t matter
For they will never return home
At least they will not return to an earthly home

Because those words, so casually spoken
At a rally of deplorables
“How do we stop ‘the invasion’”
“We shoot them!”

Became real

I carried it with me
The hate, the death, sat in the passenger seat

It took all I could do to drive those 30 miles
Because at that moment the day was full of death
(it would get worse)

Full of little failures
A failure to connect with the sermon passage
A failure to advise
A failure to connect

And then I tapped into so many other failures
As a pastor
A counselor
A friend
A pastor
A person seeking love

And as the miles passed
I wondered, ‘why bother’

What difference will it make
That I made this attempt
What will it change?

I’m still not sure
I hope, I hope against hope
That even with my deficits
I can touch lives one person at a time

I hope that even when I am tired and oppressed
I can find it in me to listen, and care.

I hope, that even when I walk in the door
Filled with a kind of rage over what is happening in our country
Filled with sadness over the deaths of innocents
Filled with despair over my capacity to make a difference
Filled with regrets over my own shortcomings, my own failures

I carry with me the Christ
Deep down in my soul

And then this presence

Thursday, August 29, 2019

I am what i believe

“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.”
                                Louise Penny, A Fatal Grace

It is true to say that our beliefs are revealed in our actions
Which means of course, that our actions reveal our beliefs

It is easy to say one believes this, or that
“I believe in Love”
“I believe in Jesus”
“I believe in life”

But words are words, and are the least trustworthy form of communication
Well, they are concrete.  And they are what they are.
We generally can’t take them back.
And they speak a thousand words

If I want to know what another person is really all about
If I want to know what I am really all about

Then behaviors may be the key

Instead of asking”What did they say?”
One can ask, “what did they do?”

and seek to find the values and beliefs
that drove those actions

What kind of values and beliefs drive

What kind of values and beliefs drive

Where does one have to be coming from
To cage children?
To exclude another from one’s church?
To hit a spouse?
To get arrested for protesting ?
To gut climate control legislation?
To give to a cause?
To be accepting of all (in behavior not just words)?

It is not infallible
We are complex creatures
But our body or work shouts loudly

About who we are and what we believe

Here are the things
I believe I value

God ( who is Love) and God’s way (which is Love)

I believe that we are called to protect the vulnerable
To lift each other up
To make sure we all get there (where ever “there” is) together
With no one, if possible, left behind

I hope my actions reflect this
I suspect they sometimes do
I also suspect they sometimes don’t (I am merely human)

My prayer for myself
Is that I will have values that honor my divine DNA
And that, as I connect with the Sacred within me.
I will live like a Sacred child
Each and every day

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Planet of Fools

Martin Luther King preached once on the passage of the rich fool.  He told this story. 
“The other day in Atlanta, the wife of a man had an automobile accident. He received a call that the accident had taken place on the expressway. The first question he asked when he received the call: "How much damage did it do to my Cadillac?" He never asked how his wife was doing. Now that man was a fool, because he had allowed an automobile to become more significant than a person. He wasn’t a fool because he had a Cadillac, he was a fool because he worshiped his Cadillac….

“Somehow in life,”  King continued, “we must know that we must seek first the kingdom of God, and then all of those other things—clothes, houses, cars—will be added unto us. But the problem is all too many people fail to put first things first...”

Sometimes I am a fool
I know that surprises some of you, but its true

Because sometimes
I don’t put first things first

Which of course raises the question,
“What should be first?”

Jesus was unequivocal
The Sacred should be first
In all its forms

We should build “richness towards God”
In other words we should invest in all things Sacred

The planet for example!
God’s first self incarnation
It is Sacred.  We should invest in it
Not rape it, plunder it, abuse it, for the sake of short-term profit

But devote ourselves to the nurture and enjoyment
of the self-expression of God

The Sacred as Sacred
We should invest in that reality in which we
“live and move and have our being” (Acts17)
We should wander, regularly
Into the depths of who we are, and find the Sacred Presence
That IS there
We should become awake to that presence
Nurture it
And allow it to transform us, from the inside out

The Sacred as other people
Oh, yes, God is everywhere
In everyone

In that smiling child in affluent America
In that child crying for its mother on our border
In that young urban professional
In that rural farmer, or rancher

In that young person, old person
Short person, tall person
Slight person, stout person
White person, black or brown person

It is pretty simple really
Being rich towards God is putting God first, and then people
Those beings in whom God dwells

And then?
Well then, as Jesus and Martin so aptly put it
True riches will come

Then meaning will come
Then joy will come
Then love will come

Being rich toward God
All of life will become a treasure

But if we don’t put first things first?
If we seek power first?
Or wealth first?

We see how that plays out every day,
In the greed, and injustice, and inequity…
In the fear, and cruelty that surrounds us.

If we don’t put first things first,
We are fools

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Die to live

It’s like when you climb a ladder. When you get to the fourth rung, you may think you are on the highest step and cannot go higher, so you hold on to the fourth rung. But in fact there is a fifth rung; if you want to get to it, you have to be willing to abandon the fourth rung. Ideas and perceptions should be abandoned all the time, to make room for better ideas and truer perceptions. This is why we must always ask ourselves, “Am I sure?
                                                   Thich Nhat Hanh, The Art of Power

Die to live
Give to receive
Lose to win

This is Sacred mathematics at work

As long as we hang on to
Old ideas
Old perceptions
Old fears
Old hopes
Old expectations
Old injuries
Old narratives

Old victories

We will fail to find the truth
And fail to find Sacred vision for ourselves
Our relationships
Our work

Instead we will be stuck
Inside a dense box
Of our own making

We must die
Let go
So that God’s new thing
May emerge in us, and through us

Monday, August 26, 2019


“Anybody can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody's power and is not easy.”

I lost a friend on Facebook
Imagine that !

“There is just too much anger here”
She said

That is not a comment one can just ignore
Such comments are kind of like communion
Which is kind of the like the Gospel
Which is very much like the Truth

Beatrice Bruteau, in her book the Holy Thursday Revolution
Has this to say about communion

“I myself think that using the physical act of eating
to express spiritual intimacy is brilliant. 
If a new idea is offered, first we have to be “open to” it. 
Then we have to “take it in”, “receive” it. 
We taste it, “savor” it. 
We may have to “chew on it” for a while. 
Some things we find “hard to swallow”,
some we just can’t “stomach”.
if we have swallowed the idea we have to give ourselves time to “digest” it. 
Perhaps we actually “assimilate” it,
make it part of ourselves, and begin really to live from it. 

So such a comment must be chewed on
Even if it is hard to swallow

And I will admit
I have thought about this myself
About the anger, perhaps even rage, that arises in me
At some of what I see and hear

Is what is happening acceptable?
I don’t think so

Is it appropriate to be angry when people
Vulnerable, and fragile
Are treated with cruelty?
I don’t think so

Is it important to speak out against that which,
From one’s understanding of God as revealed through Jesus,
is wrong?!

Dead wrong?

I think so

But . . .

That dreaded word

But as we respond to that which cannot simply be tolerated
HOW we respond is important

As I think about this it seems appropriate to set some guidelines
At least for myself

First it is much, much better if one attacks the ideas, the words, the actions,
Rather than the person.

I know, I know
It is hard to separate the person from their thoughts, words and actions
For those things reveal much about who they are.

But still
“It saddens me that the choice to cut 3 million people off of SNAP will leave many of them without food security, and leave children hungry”

Is much better (I think) than “He who shall not be named is a heartless, brutal, greedy asshole!”

We cannot become that which we assail
Or we still lose

We must, as we think about, and talk about, those wrapped up in the cloud
of division and deceit, continue to seek understanding and have compassion and patience

It may be frustrating, that people we care about believe what we understand to be misinformation.  Or that they have grabbed hold of and bought into priorities that are, from the perspective of our values system, questionable.

But much goes into our perceptions.  The lenses we look through, of culture, ideology, gender, life experience, religion, economic status, educational experiences, family imprinting, and the like, radically effect what we notice, and how we interpret what we see.

I seems important to ask questions, before one gets polemic.  Why do you feel that way about that issues?  What has shaped your thinking?  How do you see the issues.  I will admit I don’t always take the time to do this.  Because to me, it is so clear.

We must take the time to seek to understand

If we are going to be angry, perhaps it is best if we are angry for others, not angry on account of how something affects us. 

In the current mess, my anger is not because any of what is happening affects me
(at least in the near future, the environmental stuff will impact us all, eventually)
It is because it impacts those who are most vulnerable.  The poor, the immigrant, the aged, the ill, the person who happens to be a member of a minority population.

Some people are truly victims of a system designed to victimize them
Their voices are muted if not completed silenced by many factors
They have little opportunity to advocate for themselves

Someone has to advocate.
It is much better to be speaking out because one sees others being treated unfairly, than to speak out of one’s own resentment.

Try to advocate, in a way that is not abusive or demeaning

It is not a comprehensive list
But for me, this helps me begin to wrap my head around my
Huge concerns over what is happening in this country and in this world

And it helps me to put some boundaries around what is
Admittedly, anger

Will I always be appropriate?  No!
Will I always seek to understand first?  Sadly, No
Will I always express anger over what is happening to the vulnerable, rather than what is happening to me?  I hope so.

For the times my words are just “too much”
Mea culpa

For the times I have not spoken up when I should have,
Mea culpa

For the times I am wrong (always a possibility)
Mea maxima culpa

Lets carry one dear ones
The truth is out there
and the kingdom is near, as near as our next kind act

Sunday, August 25, 2019

radical acceptance

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

Many wise people have figured it out

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

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

Unless we aren’t

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

Its endemic
And devastating

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

The erosion of other
Is not just a matter of words

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

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

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

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

It is not that hard

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

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

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

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

I never regretted that move

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

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

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

So lets do this
Starting tomorrow
Starting today!

Right now,
This moment

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

There is no exercise better

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Inside Out

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

I have always suspected
that my soul has a slow leak

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

a cracked vessel

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

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


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

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

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

seeking to fill that void

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

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

and still the emptiness has returned

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

one who is no longer young

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

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

Friday, August 23, 2019

Grace or Merit

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

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

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

And big hair

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

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

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

It was unabashed
And yes, arrogant

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

Where is it all

And then I thought of my faith
And the teachings of the one I followed
And the call to be

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

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

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

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

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

And the faith of grace
Has become the faith of merit

And the faith of love,
The faith of hate

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

But I didn’t

I just turned hamburgers
And felt very, very sad

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

Monday, August 19, 2019

just cruel

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

I have been thinking a lot lately about cruelty

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

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

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

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

Seneca once said “all cruelty springs from weakness”

That is true

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

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

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

Disturbing to see cruelty sitting in the seats of power

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

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

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

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

It is as simple as that

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

That is the choice that confronts us this day

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

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Mostly, I am sad

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

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

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

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

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

But it is there

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

But embrace and support everything Jesus spoke against

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

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

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

I can allow my self
To remain open, and empathic

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

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

Saturday, August 17, 2019

A bad week for the God of Love

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

The God of love had a very bad week

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

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

It was a week when gun control continued to be blocked

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

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

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

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

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

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

The God of love had a bad week

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

This militaristic, angry
Cruel God…

Did so well

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

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

Or not

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

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

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

And Sunday is coming

And on Sunday, Love wins

Friday, August 16, 2019

journey inward

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

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

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

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

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

Our core
Our soul

The place where the Sacred dwells
And is at home

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

There really is no other word
Intimacy 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

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:
                                                    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
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!
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!?

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


“People wake up!!!!!”

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