Primitive religion is not believed, it is danced!

Arthur Darby Nock

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
And only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

Elizabeth Browning

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Enjoying God

"Your image of God creates you. You become the God you worship. If your God is an eternal torturer, then torture is validated. If God is presented in the image of a king, then we’ll all want to be kings. If God is Trinity—love and relationality—that creates a very different kind of humanity. It leads us to a different worldview, sociology, politics, and sense of belonging and purpose."
                                                              -- Richard Rohr

When I was a child
I learned the catechism

I was always struck by the first question
“What is the chief end of man (and woman)

The answer was also profound.
To Glorify God and Enjoy God forever

I have spent a lifetime trying to figure out what that means
And honestly, I can only come up with one answer to works

If I want to glorify God,
And if I want to “enjoy” God

If I want to ‘enjoy’ God I have to connect with God
I have to become as “united” with God
As I possibly can
(not an easy task for someone steeped in the culture of individualism, and merit)

And if I want to glorify God
I have to let my love relationship with God
My experience of God
Transform me

The way love always transforms us

And thus transform the way I am
And how I live

And how I treat the earth
And every creature who dwells upon this earth
What this means
Is that God is about “we” (all)
And not about “me”

I all comes down that what God is like,
This one whom I am called to love.
This one I must welcome, and allow to love me.

There are many images for God
Many of those images
Because God is by definition “big” and transcendent

Are images of power
God as King
God as Father (in a patriarchal society)
God as Judge

And it does not take much to move us from power
To fear
For we know what we do with power

We use it
And all too often we use it in way
That are self-focused
And protective
And controlling
And retributive

And so it is easy to see God
That way

But God gets us!
God understands how we work
And thus

Who came to reveal what God is really like

So much for our controlling, protective, power wielding retributive God

Instead we have one who emptied himself
Who loved
Who healed
Who taught compassion and generosity
Who warned against the love of power and greed

And we have one who rather
That use his power in a vengeful, retributive way
Went to the cross

And while mocked by his murders
Said “Father forgive them”

God is love
God is a lover
God is, Creator, Savior, Empowerer
A dynamic love relationship with whom I am called to have
A relationship
A dynamic love relationship
I must experience

Not as something up there out there
But as something inside me
As close as my breath

And that God of love must shape me
Instead of me, falsely, shaping God

It when I am shaped by God
That I become new
It when I am shaped by God
That I gain the capacity to do life differently
To live a life of welcome, compassion, generosity and kindess

It is when I am shaped by God
That I “enjoy God and glorify God

Friday, February 28, 2020

the forgotten ones

Sometimes a crumb falls
From the tables of joy,
Sometimes a bone
Is flung

To some people
Love is given,
To others
Only heaven
                                         Langston Hughes (Selected Poems, p. 99)

The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.
                                                                        Matthew 15

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
                                                                        Luke 16

I am thinking this morning as,
 rain and snow mix in the February darkness

And men
And women
Sit in the halls of power
And bicker
And lie

About the forgotten ones

about the children still separated from their parent
sitting in “camps”
traumatized and alone

about the children of single mothers
who bewildered
watch their mothers cry
at the news that their SNAP check has been cut

about the children in schools
hiding under their desks
during another “shooter drill”

about the brown children
who return home to find their parents gone
snapped up in an ICE raid

I think about the children
The people caught in poverty

But not just the children
Not just the most vulnerable of the vulnerable

But about all the forgotten and minimized ones
The elderly
The mentally ill
The uninsured or underinsured ill

Those deemed “odd” or “less”
Those who are a different color, or creed, or orientation
Who have been minimized or oppressed

I think about the people of despair
Who wait for crumbs
Who hope that someone will notice
That someone will care
And act with compassion

Not pity
But compassion

Will see them, and value them,
And will share even a crumb of their own
Their own blessing

Ah Lord, open our eyes to see those
We do not want to see

Open our ears, to hear the pleas
For respect and compassion
Of those diminished and rejected

Open our hearts
to those who have become invisible

so that we might have empathy
And open our hands
To offer gifts of love

May we not be those who
Throw bones
Or merely “drop crumbs”

But move us with you Spirit
To be people of generosity
People who know
That we are called

To feed the hungry
Clothe the naked
Be present for those bowed by injustice and inequity

To invite people to the table
Those people we may have forgotten
But whom you never forget

Thursday, February 27, 2020

an invincible love

My dear, in the midst of hate, I found there was, within me, an invincible love.
In the midst of tears, I found there was, within me, an invincible smile.
In the midst of chaos, I found there was, within me, an invincible calm.
I realized, through it all, that…
In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
And that makes me happy.
For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me,
there’s something stronger- something better, pushing right back.
                                                             Albert Camus

my dears
it is a dreary time
up is down
down is up
good is bad
bad is good
truth is called a lie
and lies are presented as truth

Those who would divide us
and make us hate
and be afraid
clamor and rail

stirring the pot of enmity
until the world swirls with
confusion and fear

and friendships are sundered
and faith is shattered
and hearts are broken
and souls are shriveled

and people gather fearfully
into tribes
protective and hostile
red tribes
blue tribes
abysmal tribes

and the world fragmented
becomes a horror show

it seems at times as if we
are doomed to be crushed
by the weight of it all

our fragile beings
imploded by the pressure
of abused power

by the sheer number of lies
by the horrible atrocity of abused power
by the greed
and racism

that seeks and destroys
the vulnerable

and yet
we are called to remember

that we are Sacred Children
that we are Spirit carriers
that we are not empty fragile shells

but people filled with all that is good
and powerful
and loving in this world

we are not helpless
it is not hopeless

as long as we live from within
find out power, within

the moment we seek the answer outside ourselves
in a leader
a party
a lover
in money, or power
in an ideology
or even a religion

we are in jeopardy
for the answer is not in those things

the answer is in our hearts, our souls
given to the Sacred
open to the Sacred
powered by the Sacred
by wind and fire

ah yes, the truth is in there
and no matter how hard the world pushes against us
within us there’s something stronger-
something better, pushing right back

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

tired of stumbling

So let us pick up the stones over which we stumble, friends, and build altars. Let us listen to the sound of breath in our bodies. Let us listen to the sounds of our own voices, of our own names, of our own fears. Let’s claw ourselves out from the graves we’ve dug. Let’s lick the earth from our fingers. Let us look up and out and around. The world is big and wide and wild and wonderful and wicked, and our lives are murky, magnificent, malleable, and full of meaning. Oremus. Let us pray.”

                                                                        Pádraig Ó Tuama:

I am tired of stumbling
I am tired of wallowing in the muck
of fear and doubt

I am tired of that endless cycle
of digging my own grave,
and then having to recover

there is more to life that drudgery
we were put here for a purpose
put here

to build altars and worship
put here to listen to the song of the Sacred
put here to find our own voices
and sing the song of love

it is time to stand
even when the ground is sandy
even when the wind of hate blows harshly
and lies assail us like hail

It is time to stand
Even though the darkness encroached


Enough silence
Enough cowering
Enough watching
As others are buried by others
Beneath the heavy debris of prejudice and greed, and ego

“The world is big and wide and wild and wonderful and wicked,
 and our lives are murky, magnificent, malleable,
and full of meaning.”  (Tuama)

And God is around us
And in us
And for us
And with us

So let look up
And out
And around

And even as the dirt of the grave still clings

children of God
because that is what we ALL are.

Monday, February 24, 2020

God who is more than God

Neither I nor the poets I love have found the keys to the kingdom of prayer,
And we cannot force God to stumble over us where we sit,


I know that it’s a good idea to sit anyway.

So every morning, I sit, I kneel, waiting,
making friends with the habit of listening,
hoping that I am being listened to. . .

There, I greet God and my own disorder.
I say Hello
to my chaos,
my unmade decisions,
my unmade bed,
my desire and my trouble.
I say Hello
to distraction and privilege.

I greet the day, and I greet my beloved and bewildering Jesus.

I recognize and greet
my burdens,
my luck,
my controlled and uncontrollable story.

I greet
my untold stories,
my unfolding story,
my unloved body,
my own love,
my own body.

I greet
the things I think will happen,
and I say Hello to everything I do not know about the day.

I greet
my own small world,
and I hope that I can meet the bigger world that day.

I greet
my story,
and hope that I can forget my story during the day,
and hope that I can hear some stories,
and greet some surprising stories during the long day ahead.

I greet God,
and I greet the God Who is More God than the God I greet,

Hello to you all, I say,
as the sun rises above the chimneys of North Belfast.


                                                              Pádraig Ó Tuama

Sometimes we like to think of God
as up there, out there
transcendent and aloof

wandering perhaps
in the garden
in the cool of the day

and we hope against hope
that we can find a way
for God to stumble over us

we hope that for some glorious moment
God will notice us
there, squatting near the ground,
praying perhaps,
and touch us

as Jesus touched the woman
who touched the hem of his garment

so we sit
and pray
we squat in our own
inner places

populated with
the untidiness of life

that space littered with fear and failure
and agendas
and desires
littered with the unknown
and the unresolved

and in that unkempt garden of
the mind
if we listen
we hear the sound of God’s voice

this is not where we expected to meet God
here in this disordered place
this is not when we wanted to meet God
not now
not surrounded by all this debris,
by our unwashed laundry,
and half finished dreams,
and broken relationships

yet here God is
and there is nothing to do
but say “hello”

and welcome God into our mess
welcome God and our mess

There is nothing to do but to “greet God,
and [] greet the God Who is More God than the God [we] greet,”

knowing that it is when we welcome all and God touches all,
that our small worlds become greater worlds,
that our paths become populated with surprising and joyful stories,
that our wounds become healed (if not cured)

So we greet God
And we sit with our “beloved and bewildering Jesus”
listening and being listened to,
there in the midst of the perplexing mess of our lives

We sit there with our transcendent and immanent God.
And we greet the day.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

not damaged goods

“Who hurt you, once,
so far beyond repair
that you would meet each overture
with curling lip?
While we, who knew you well,
your friends, (the focus of your scorn)
could see your courage in the face of fear,
your wit, and thoughtfulness,
and will remember you
with something close to love.”

― Louise Penny, Bury Your Dead

When we do not believe in ourselves

We all we can feel is our failings
Our deficits

When all we can remember is the hurt
The loss
The times when we were judged “not enough”
And love faded
Or perhaps sprinted for the door

There are people
Angels perhaps, in disguise

Who see the best in us
And think of us

Not as damaged goods
But as precious souls

And give us the acceptance
And love we need

To  start anew

Friday, February 21, 2020

What would Jesus Tweet

I wonder how Jesus would have done
In a world with Facebook and Email
With Twitter and LinkedIn

How would he have dealt with the intentional liars
And with the people
Blinded by those lies

Claiming to be followers
but doing anything but following
his way of compassion and generosity?

I suspect he would do better than I do
Have more patience
And compassion

But what would he do with those
Who persisted in believing lies?
Who persisted in supporting leaders who
Damage the earth
Abandon the poor

Would Jesus block them?
Keep arguing, even as they return
Again and again to their delusions?

How would he respond to the raw assault
That happens

When one is “at a distance”?
When there is no real accountability?
Just rhetoric

What would he do with the black and white]
Win win
Transactional stances
Of people who tout him in their profiles

But deny him in every way imaginable?

Perhaps he would engage
Perhaps he would argue
Perhaps he would try to penetrate the bubble

Or perhaps he would never engage
In a way that did not involve
Looking in the other’s eyes
Being face to face
And accountable

I do know that he would toss a few tables
And that he would be kind
(not a paradox, just Jesus)

I know that he would look me
And everyone else in the eye
And say, “Really?”
Or perhaps something more graphic

And I suspect that I would not be able
To hold on to my delusions
That I would be pushed into the realm of Truth
And that my feet would be set on the path that is the Way
And that I would understand love and life in a new way

So as we argue on FB and twitter
As we use the cover of anonymity
To be our worst selves

It is time to think
What would Jesus do?

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

small self, true self

The small self takes one side or the other in order to feel secure. It frames reality in a binary way: for me or against me, totally right or totally wrong, my group’s opinion or another group’s—all dualistic formulations….That is the best the small egotistical self can do, yet it is not anywhere close to adequate. It might be an early level of intelligence, but it is not mature wisdom. The small self is still objectively in union with God, it just does not know it, enjoy it, or draw upon it.

Either you allow Holy Scriptures to change you, or you will normally try to use it to change--and clobber--other people. It is the height of idolatry to use the supposed Word of God so that my small self can be in control and be right.
                                                                        Richard Rohr

It is a problem
When we walk through our day scared
In an adversarial, transaction world

Where it is all black and white
Right or wrong
Win or lose

This is the perspective of the isolated self
The small self
Which somehow has forgotten its connection

to the amazing presence of Sacred
to the power of love

this self feels alone
and hungry

as it searches to fill
dark voids within
and combat the hungry ghosts that linger
those inner threats that threaten to destroy from within

and searches to combat the threats from within

Frightened the small self seeks to align itself
With others
It gathers with other fearful small selves
Into an unholy alliance
Pulled together by hate, perhaps
Or greed
A resentful and retributive tribe

It gathers with other small selves
And cheers power and even brutality
On the playgrounds
In the streets
In auditoriums filled with political banners
Feeding off small egos (that paradoxically present as big) seeking power

It gathers with other small selves
In churches
Seeking good things, such as safety and wisdom
Seeking change

Sometimes it is hard to find
The small self is fierce and protective
Too protective to let even the Sacred in
through the cracks and fissures of a crumbling soul

Sometimes what should change and transform
What should soften and open
Does not
And becomes another tool in the arsenal of the tribe

The scriptures, instead of being the living and powerful
“God’s word to us”
Become dead words on a page

Twisted and tormented by the small self
And used to justify the unjustifiable
to prop up the small self
to keep out those who are not in “our tribe”
to make others less (so that “we” might feel more)

Ah Sacred One
You are always lurking in our souls
You are always hanging around
Ready to breach our defenses
And transform
Ready to take that small self
And free it from its bonds, so that the true self
The created to be self

Can flourish
And we can once again reflect our Sacred DNA

You are always there
Even when we don’t know it
Even when we don’t show it

Jesus came to set the prisoner free

Yes, there are many who need to be set free
Immigrants in camps
People imprisoned by poverty
And illness
And mental illness

Trapped by addiction

But I am also one who needs to be set free
To set others free, we must start with ourselves

Jesus came to transform

To free us so that we do not have to be
Protective, fearful, and small
So that we “will no longer be infants,
tossed about by the waves
and carried around by every wind of teaching and by the clever cunning of men
in their deceitful scheming.
[But] instead, speaking the truth in love,
we will in all things grow up into Christ Himself

Help us grow up Lord
Help us be people who want to be love
More than we want to be right

Who want to be changed
More than we want to control and change others

Help us truly be
Sacred Children
Our true selves

Monday, February 17, 2020

short-hand religion

“It’s short-hand religion without a deeper theology,” he said. “If you don’t have a theology of empathy, there is no Jesus there. Even if you look at someone who is gay [greedy, dishonest, hateful, racist] and you believe that’s not what God wants for people, Jesus encountered people throughout his ministry that would be doing things God wouldn’t want for them. And he always leaves them with more dignity than he found them.”
                                                              John Pavlovitz

Why bother with faith?
Why bother, to put it more bluntly
With religion

I mean really, what a pain
You’ve got to give up part of a weekend
To go listen to some dude or dudette talk
And talk
And talk

you’ve got to give up not just time
but money
and perhaps
if your faith system has really got religion

things like
depending on your brand

coffee and coke
swearing (I mean WTF?)

and you’ve got to behave
or not

but seriously

what is it that moves a think adult
to embrace a religion

a lot of thinking adults aren’t, anymore

and so we have the “none”

As in I’ll have none of that!

But for those that remain….

Honestly it seems that for many it is a matter of….
Wait for it…..

I participate in this faith thing
And I get blessed
I get prosperous
I get happy
I get saved
From eternal torment

Its turn or burn!

I ran across a song the other day
That might well be the national anthem
Of much of American Christianity

'll be so happy (Lord I'll be)
I'll be so happy (yes I will)
I'll be so happy (when I see his precious face)
I'll be so happy (When I see Jesus inside of me)
I'll be so happy (All my heartaches, they will be over)
I'll be so happy (All my sorrows, they'll be over)
I'll be so happy
(All my tears and my pains, it will be over, yes it will
Oh I won't have to bear noo, won't have to bear no more burdens
I'll be so happy
They'll be nothing but joy and peace over there
Every day will be Sunday
So Happy, Jesus and Me

Jesus and me
We are like “this”
And all is well with the world

I wonder

Is that really what it’s all about?

As I think about my choice
To engage with a God who is love

There are of course “Jesus and me” moments
Oh yeah

I want to be in communion with the Sacred
Drawn into a swirling vortex of Love

I want to be filled to overflowing
With Sacred Presence

But there is the critical point
Filled with sacred presence not just
So that I can “be so happy”

But so full of God’s love
That I leak love
So full that it oozes out of me
And transforms

The way I see
The way I treat
Other people

All other people

Not just the easy people
The beautiful people
Rich people
Smart people
Kind people
Clever people

But all people
All meaning all

Even that dirty and drained soul lying on a park bench
Even that greedy and shriveled soul sitting in chairs of gold

My religion (I prefer spirituality)
Should be about how I interact with those people
Who I encounter
Each day

And I should be about one thing

Building a bridge between myself and the other
So that the Sacred can cross over
And do for that person
As much or more as the Sacred has done for me

What I want from my “religion”
Is to become human
To be drawn out of my subhuman
Selfishness and greed
Out of my need for power
And my need to put others down

Into the fullness of my humanity
Into my divine heritage
Into the image

So that I can work with God
To help others
Find themselves
Their true selves
That precious, amazing self
That reflects the very nature of the Sacred

What I want my religion to do
Is to make me a person
Who leaves other people
With more love
More hope
More joy
More peace

With more humanity
With more dignity
Than when I first met them

And that
Is why
I bother

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Defy the darkness

“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”
                                                              Anne Frank

Endure the injustice and take the opportunity to put the extravagant love of Christ’s Kingdom into practice; bring the audacious and everlasting love of God into the daylight and dazzle those whose eyes have never seen or imagined such overwhelming and sincere love. This is how we change the world. This is how we transform our enemies into friends. This is how we end the violence. This is how we push back the darkness – not with more darkness – but with true, undeniable light; the light that only comes from God.  If the best we can do is take an eye for an eye, we will never escape this world of blindness.
                                                              Keith Giles (Our Christless Christianity)

What do we do in times like this?

We know the litany of ills
The exclusion of the needy from our shores
The neglect and oppression of the poor and vulnerable
The proliferation of lies
The rise of hate
The destruction of the earth

We know them all to well
They are encroaching darkness
That threatens to smother us
And rob us of sight
And sound
And feeling

Leaving us
With nothing

Our hearts pound
Our heads scream with a thousand voices
As we are consumed by it all

And yet
And yet
And yet

We believe
Not in the power of the darkness
But in the power of the light

And we
Beloved children of God
Spirit carriers
Precious souls

Are the candle
We defy the darkness

For blown by the Spirit
Consumed by the flame of Sacred love

Through us sacred love
flames out (like shining from shook foil)  (Hopkins)

and we
by how we live
By how we accept and welcome
By our kindness and caring
By our generosity and service

By our love
Reveal the darkness for what it is
We define it as small
Empty and ugly
Powerful but powerless to defeat

And we shine on
Pushing back the darkness

Bringing “the audacious and everlasting love of God
into the daylight”

destroying the darkness with overwhelming and sincere love.
Bringing sight to the blind
Giving voice to hope
Thawing the frozen heart

We do this
One by one

We shine on
With the “true, undeniable light; the
light that only comes from God”

and darkness define
and darkness defied

the kingdom comes

Friday, February 7, 2020

Do not be afraid

“Worrying is carrying tomorrow's load with today's strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn't empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”
                                                   Corrie Ten Boom

“I've spent most of my life and most of my friendships holding my breath and hoping that when people get close enough they won't leave, and fearing that it's a matter of time before they figure me out and go.”
                                                    Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet

“A psychiatrist once told me early in treatment, “Stop trying to make me like you,” and what a sobering and welcome smack in the face that statement was. Yet somehow, every day of my life is still a campaign for popularity, or better yet, a crowded funeral.”
                                                    John Waters

I don’t know when it started
this endless litany in my skull

you are not enough
you are not enough
no matter what you do it will not be enough

but I cannot remember a time when my stomach did not hurt
and each day
as life assailed me

I chewed an anti-acid
Even my grade school body
Revealing my anxiety

I know I wanted to please
I know I wanted to be liked

And the judges were out there
Real and imagined
My father
My classmates

That cute girl in 7th grade math

And soon my life became
A test

Of value
Of worth

An examination in worthiness

And all too often
I failed

Not perhaps in other’s eyes
But always in my one

Do they like me?
Am I “in”?
Will she admire me?
Will he respect me?

And life was shaped
by my attempts to be
what I thought others wanted me to be…

and the voice in the head
that bully brain
continued the refrain…

“how am I doing?”

And still today
As I write my blog
Or give a sermon
Or work with a Mental Health client

I worry
And I want to make everyone happy

Just try that these days !!!

I suspect there is plenty of evidence I do just fine
but then that comment comes

and it all floods in
the doubt,
the anxiety,
the pain
that I carry, carry, carry
in the aging body

and still at 68
as at 8
my stomach hurts
and my heart hurts

and I am haunted
by failures real and imagined

and then there is nothing to do
but to turn to the One
who always loves
always accepts
always sees me as a precious soul

there is nothing to do but to breathe
and sink into the depths
where love lives

and in that deep place seek God, and seek, perhaps myself
St. Francis of Assisi would spend whole nights praying “Who are you, my most dear God, and who am I . . . ?”

It is a good question

But who God is love

And in that love one experiences
the absolute safety of God
one finds a God who is “always and forever larger than we expected” (Rohr)

and in that Sacred space, one finds one’s True Self,

I have become a fan of self-compassion
And there are standard phrases (metta phrases)

But here is mine

“As I wander deep within
May I find myself again
In the context of Sacred love
May my body be healed
May my mind be healed
May my heart be healed
May my soul be healed
May I be at peace”

It is in those moments when I find that peace
That I can quit trying so hard to please
Quit trying to make people like me

And just be

An agent of reconciliation
So that others
Do not have to be afraid

And do not have to wonder

Am I enough?

Thursday, February 6, 2020

close to the ground

Life in the desert is not easy. It does not offer moderate temperatures to please the human desire for comfort nor abundant water to quench inevitable thirst. The caves that offer shelter likely don’t provide a soft place to lay tired bodies. And yet, the desert abbas and ammas sought out these conditions, believing they would find new and abundant life—even where life seemed impossible. We invite you to take a few breaths and to slowly and contemplatively read this passage from Howard Thurman’sMeditations of the Heart, in which he describes an encounter in another kind of mountain wilderness

It was above the timber line. The steady march of the forest had stopped as if some invisible barrier had been erected beyond which no trees dared move in a single file. Beyond was barrenness, sheer rocks, snow patches and strong untrammeled winds. Here and there were short tufts of evergreen bushes that had somehow managed to survive despite the severe pressures under which they had to live. They were not lush, they lacked the kind of grace of the vegetation below the timber line, but they were alive and hardy. Upon close investigation, however, it was found that these were not ordinary shrubs. The formation of the needles, etc., was identical with that of the trees further down; as a matter of fact, they looked like branches of the other trees. When one actually examined them, the astounding revelation was that theywerebranches. For, hugging the ground, following the shape of the terrain, were trees that could not grow upright, following the pattern of their kind. Instead, they were growing as vines grow along the ground, and what seemed to be patches of stunted shrubs were rows of branches of growing, developing trees. What must have been the torturous frustration and the stubborn battle that had finally resulted in this strange phenomenon! It is as if the tree had said, “I am destined to reach for the skies and embrace in my arms the wind, the rain, the snow and the sun, singing my song of joy to all the heavens. But this I cannot do. I have taken root beyond the timber line, and yet I do not want to die; I must not die. I shall make a careful survey of my situation and work out a method, a way of life, that will yield growth and development for me despite the contradictions under which I must eke out my days.In the end I may not look like the other trees, I may not be what all that is within me cries out to be. But I will not give up. I will use to the full every resource in me and about me to answer life with life. In so doing I shall affirm that this is the kind of universe that sustains, upon demand, the life that is in it.” I wonder if I dare to act even as the tree acts. I wonder! I wonder! Do you?
                     Howard Thurman,Meditations of the Heart(Beacon Press: 1999), 123-124

                     Richard Rohr (meditation 1/25/2020


This morning
as on many mornings lately
I did not want to get out of bed

call it depression
call it despair
call it hopelessness

the world seems stunted and barren these days
and only the limbic mewing of the cats
and the unbounded enthusiasm of my  dog
drag me

even while darkness lingers
into the barren and uneven terrain of a new day

I am tired to the bone these day
Tired of the vindictiveness,
The lust for retribution
The need to win
To dominate and control

I am tired of
the evil
the duplicity
the hypocrisy
the greed
the abuse of power
the lost of justice
the growing inequity
the racism
the fear
the hate

and yet
if I look

near the ground
I see caring and kindness
Compassion and generosity

Grimly hanging one
Their roots clinging desperately
To the hearts people

Who in such an inhuman world
Would be fully human

Children of God
Bearers of the Sacred
Reflection of the divine image

There close to the ground
As the winds of hate blow
And the freezing power of greed oppresses

And people obsessed with power
Discarding all semblance of honesty, and integrity
call evil good and good evil
and stunt all that is sacred

There close to the ground
Love grows
Tortured and oppressed
But still alive

Striving toward the light

There close to the ground
People sit by the side of dying friends
And listen to hurting friends
And do acts of random kindness
And welcome the stranger
And wrap the vulnerable in acceptance and compassion

And love lives

So I will not give up
And I will seek
With every fiber of my being
And with the help of the Sacred Presence
Which lurks in my soul

To answer life with life