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, October 31, 2020

The Space Between

Thresholds are the space between, when we move from one time to another…

when our old structures start to fall away and we begin to build something new.  The Celts describe thresholds as “thin times or places” where heaven and earth re closer together and the veil between world is thin.


Thresholds are liminal times when the past season has come to a close but there is a profound unknowing of what will come next…  Thresholds are challenging because they demands that we step into the in-between place of letting go of what has been while awaiting what is still to come

                               Christine Valters Paintner (The soul’s slow ripening)


…when in the dark night of suffering sagacity cannot see a handbreadth ahead of it, then faith can see God, since faith sees best in the dark.

                               Soren Kierkegaard


See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the wilderness  and streams in the wasteland.

                               Isaiah (43)


For whoever would save his/her life will lose it, but whoever loses his/her life for my sake will save it.

                               Jesus (Luke 9)


Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, that one is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

                               Paul (2 Corinthians)



it feels as if I am an inhabitant of the world’s edge (Columbanus)

pushed by a chaotic and fiery world

to the brink


and here I teeter

scrambling for a toehold

for something to grab hold of, so that I do not fall


there is pain and sorrow behind me

but so much too that I do not want to leave behind


I am pushed by the raw brutality of toxic humanity

by the racism and infantile egoism of the Proud Boys,

the insatiable greed of the oligarchs,

the hypocrisy and deceit of our leaders,

the essential selfishness of those who cry “freedom”,

   but are slaves to their small selves,


I am assaulted by the brutality of children in cages

by the casual disregard of leaders who endanger those they lead

by the hypocrisy of those who gaslight and scapegoat

and think the rules they impose on others

do not apply to them


and yet there is comfort too

in things known

in old patterns

in old ways of thinking and being


and the terror of what is behind

is nothing like the terror of what lies ahead

beyond the threshold


in that dark space that looms beyond the edge


I do not want to let go

I do not want to take that step

that “leap of faith”


I would rather, it seems cling


to the small scraps of joy and comfort I have


and yet the words come

let go


the Kingdom is near

a Sacred “new thing” awaits


let go of your fear

let go of your hate

let go of the old

let go of the comfortable

let go of your old self



to all that holds you back

all that keeps you trapped



knowing that the moment you

die (let go of the old)

there will be birth


the new will emerge

slowly to be sure

as slowly as the dawn breaks through the darkness.


the Kingdom will come

but it must be born in each of us

and then lived by each of us

who seeing by faith in the dark


live hopefully

live love

and step faithful across the threshold

into God’s new thing



Thus says the Lord

Stand at the crossroads and look

          and ask for the ancient paths

Where the good way lies; and walk in it

          and find rest for your souls

                               Jeremiah 6:16

Friday, October 30, 2020

Dread and peace

Dread is anxiety on steroids.”

                     Emily Nagoski

“I dread to think of a society devoid of love, compassion and humanity.”

                     Suman Pokhrel



I have always been anxious

Even as a child, wrapped in the cocoon of affluence,

and nestled in the bosom of a healthy family


Even in the relatively secure world of the 50’s and early 60’s

(there was the cold war of course, and atomic bomb drills)


Even in the relative isolation of Eastern Oregon

where homogeneity was rampant

and our world was relatively small


Even with my fair share of intelligence, and talent

I was anxious and insecure


I worry about everything, all the time

And was living on Titralac in grade school

my body carrying my anxiety poorly


as a pastor I worried (and worry) about whether I was saying anything useful

and about whether people like and respect me


as a mental health director I woke up each morning

worrying about the budget, and funding cuts

and about whether our clinic was truly serving the community


so these are difficult times

Covid-19!  I am old enough to be at risk

Racial unrest!  I worry that once again we won’t listen, and once again

Things won’t change

There is so much going on, and we near a significant election


And so after restless nights

I wake up each morning

Even on these fine mornings

When the sun shines brightly

And the air is clear


And as I get out of bed

I put on dread, along with my clothes


There is that sense of heaviness, of discontent

That is so difficult to shake


I find myself lurking around the data

Furtively scrolling through the news


and feeling my heart ache

and my soul grow heavy


I know the platitudes, the comforting phrases

“I do not know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future”

But I do not find them compelling


Any quick review of history will show that

there is no clear (it seems to me) sense of true justice

those who do evil flourish, the righteous often perish


there is little sense that “God has this”


and yet

and yet


the words of Isaiah resonate still

in the echo chamber of my heart


those that wait upon the Lord

those that wait upon the Lord

those that wait upon the Lord


will renew their strength

they will rise up on wings like eagles

they will walk and not grow weary

they will run and not faint


the promises are there


God has poured love into our hearts …

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Love

Who are called and live by love (my paraphrase of Romans 8)


I have no foolproof antidote for dread

No magic bullet


All I can do is humbly share the belief

That while I do not see “God” directing history

And while I do see what can only be called “evil” flourish


that this Love, this Presence, which is woven into the fabric of my being

has the power

to make a difference


in how I think

and how I feel

and how I live


God gives me the power the do life a different way


And while that may not make much of a dent

In the dynamics that surround me

It matters


As Jesus told his disciples, right before he walked out the door to his death

(and resurrection)


I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”


So we can have peace in our hearts

And we can be peacemakers


And I think I can say this too

While dread is contagious

So is peace

Thursday, October 29, 2020

God's radicality

[In the scriptures, in the Old Testament and in the in New Testament, in the Torah, and in Paul] a vision of the radicality of God is put forth, and then later, we see that vision domesticated and integrated into the normalcy of civilization so that the established order of life is maintained.

                     John Dominic Crossan (How to read the Bible and still be a Christian)



God is a radical

Jesus is a radical

The way of God and the way of Jesus are radical


Think about it!

Die to live

Forgive your enemies

Pray for those who harm you

Bless and do not curse

Turn the other cheek


Think about it

Blessed are the poor, the meek

Blessed are those who feel the pain of the world

Blessed are the peacemakers


Jesus is a radical

And his way is radical


and when we claim to embrace him


we are literally asked to die to the old way

to die to what is “normal”

in terms of the standards of the world


and embrace his way

Jesus was killed by the world, by the “normal” world

and then was alive in a new way to God


So we are to “die” to the “normal” world

and come alive in a new way to God


as Paul puts it

“all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death,

… we have been buried with him in a death like his” (Romans 6)


but all too often the “yes” we offer to God

turns functionally to a “no”


we seek wealth rather than generosity

power rather than servanthood

retribution rather than forgiveness


when the difficult choices come

we retreat to the norms of the world


and the difficult choices come all the time


this morning for example

we woke to the news that the President of the United States

after scoffing at the seriousness of Covid-19

and refusing to follow basic safety measures suggested by science


has tested positive for the virus


how do we respond?


in the radicality of God

I know that I, for one

have no choice in term of how I respond


The extreme, radical nature of the faith system I embrace,

a faith system shaped by the teachings of Jesus,

demands that I move away from a desire for retribution

and embrace compassion, generosity, and forgiveness, otherwise known as love. 


As Jesus himself put it in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5)  "But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you"


So Mr. President.  This prayer is for you!

“May the Sacred comfort you, and bring you healing, not just physical healing, but a 

 healing of your heart and soul!  Amen” 


And may that same healing come to us all.  That deep down kind of healing that happens when we die to the way of the world, and come alive to the way of God


May we all refuse to change Jesus into someone more comfortable

Someone more convenient


May we choose God’s radicality

rather than the world’s normalcy!




Wednesday, October 28, 2020

distributive justice

The well run peasant household… was the biblical tradition’s metaphor for both a well-run World at large and a well-run Country at home.  That is why God acts with “justice and righteousness in the earth (Jeremiah 9:14) and the King with “justice and righteousness in the land (Jeremiah 23:5).  From House through Land to Earth it should always be a matter of distributive justice and restorative righteousness.  Hence the biblical tradition can accept extreme poverty as sometimes necessary, but not extreme inequality.  Imagine, it thinks, of entering a peasant household and finding some of the children starving while others are overfed.  That is the obscenity haunting the biblical imagination, causing its God to demand adequacy for all and enough for each.

                               John Dominic Crossan



The kingdom of God

a realm soaked in righteousness and justice


is like a home


it is like a home (idyllic to be sure)

where all are accepted, equally

where all are fed, equally 

where all are clothed

and protected




it is like a home

where the parents don’t play favorites

and where love rules


it is like a peasant home

set in the matrix of want and danger

where the members of the family need each other and know


that the goal is not for one person

or another to flourish

but for the family to flourish


it is not enough for one to survive

at the cost of “others”

all must share, and give, and toil

so that all survive


we can work up from there

or down to there


The Kingdom of God is like

The world is like

A healthy, just, righteous nation is like

A community is like….

A church is like


a home

where love lives

where equality and equity rule


this is what I hope for

when I think of my home, my family

this is what I hope for

when I think of my church, my beloved community

this is what I hope for and work for

when I think of my country


I cannot live with an ideology of retribution

I cannot live with an ideology of essential selfishness

I cannot live with a strategy of domination and coercion


because the biblical imagination

sees such things as obscene


and so I strive for justice

not retributive justice, but distributive justice


I work so that all are included

All are accepted

All are fed

All are clothed

All are housed


I fight for not just equality, but equity


It fight for restoration and renewal

not domination and revenge


sometimes I fail to be restorative

sometimes I get angry

sometimes I stumble


but still I persevere



I do not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time there will be a harvest if God’s people do not give up.  (Galatians 6:9, loosely)

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

I arise today

I arise to-day:


Might of God for my piloting

Wisdom of God for my guidance

Eye of God for my foresight

Ear of God for my hearing

Word of God for my utterance

Hand of God for my guardianship

Path of God for my precedence

Shield of God for my protection

Host of God for my salvation . . .


Christ with me, Christ before me,

Christ behind me, Christ in me,

Christ under me, Christ over me,

Christ to right of me, Christ to left of me,

Christ in lying down, Christ in sitting, Christ in rising up

Christ in the heart of every person, who may think of me!

Christ in the mouth of every one, who may speak to me!

Christ in every eye, which may look on me!

Christ in every ear, which may hear me!

                     Excerpt from “The Lorica of St Patrick” (the Deer’s Cry)



I arise today

it is dark out


I wander deep into my soul

it is dark there too


I feel assaulted, abused

by what is going on around me

it is shadowy




so much dysfunction and chaos

a dystopian nightmare

of ego and power lust

greed and graft


it brutalizes and dehumanizes


until, violated, and my soul suffocated


as a drowning soul

seeking air and safety


I arise today

and words about love and compassion

forgiveness and generosity do not come


instead I am left weak and gasping

on the shore of this day

as the sun rises

murky in the haze


and all I have is Christ


it is not bad that I have been driven to this point

where I must cling to the savior

like a drowning soul


for in this time

there is no power on earth that can give me breath

and keep my feet moving

no power that can overcome the encroaching darkness


except Christ


“Christ with me, Christ before me,

Christ behind me, Christ in me,

Christ under me, Christ over me,

Christ to right of me, Christ to left of me,

Christ in lying down, Christ in sitting, Christ in rising up”


Only in my deep awareness

that Christ is in me, and I am in Christ

and Christ is in all

and Christ, and love, will win

can I breathe again

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Only one path

Know it well, love is its meaning

Who reveals this to you?  Love

What does he reveal? Love.  Why? for Love

Remain in this and you will know more of the same.

                               Julian of Norwich (Showings)



all we need is love

or so the song goes


but we struggle to love

we struggle to accept love

we struggle to offer love

and we find it difficult to engage with Love


that one who in love

through love

created and sustains all that is


love is fluid, quicksilvers

it is a flow of something




it trickles sometimes

sometimes it rushes and roars


and it connects us one to another

it is exchanged

given and received




just given


love comes from God

“if you have never let God love you in the deep and subtle ways God does,

 you will not know how to love another human in the deepest ways of which

 you are capable”


but love of other is important too

God’s love is made most real in human love

In generosity, and forgiveness,

Compassion and kindness


the moment we chose to forgive

or include

or care

or listen

or give


love begins to flow

human love and divine love intermingled



flowing, unstoppable

rushing, rippling, trickling

to the lowest place

to the place of pain, and hurt

to the region of fear and anger

of ooze and rot and old decay


and touching all it transforms


moves us forward into what is good


which is why

twisted visages, full of anger

people with guns

hateful rhetoric





are all so tragic


How can we choose this way?

Why do we listen to the voices of hate and prejudice?

Why do we think power will solve things?

More money

More domination?


When we have touched by Sacred Love

When it has flowed from the Sacred One

Into us

Filling, cleansing, transforming, empowering


And then has flown onward, outward

to all, all


there is “just no room for human punishment

vengeance, rash judgement, or calls for retribution” (Richard Rohr)


none of that

in spite of what “some people” say

will get us where we want to be

none of that will give us true safety, or true power




There is only one path

The path of love




“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature[b] of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!


That’s love

That is what we need

If we remain in love we will experience more love

If we remain in the realm of domination, retribution and hate?


Figure it out!


Friday, October 23, 2020

nothing like a little temptation

As long as the Church bore witness from the margins in some sense, and as long as we operated from a minority position, we had greater access to the truth, to the Gospel, to Jesus. In our time we have to find a way to disestablish ourselves, to identify with our powerlessness instead of our power, our dependence instead of our independence, our communion instead of our individualism. Unless we understand that, the [teachings of Jesus, and Jesus himself] isn’t going to make any sense.

                               Richard Rohr


For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?  Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?

                               Jesus (Mark 8:36)


Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written,

          ‘Worship the Lord your God,

              and serve only him.’”

Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.





Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness

He was tempted by power


It was a temptation much like that offered Adam and Eve

grab all you can

all the knowledge, all the power

be like God!


As sat in the hot emptiness

Surrounded by the rubble of creation

Rocks strewn like the ruins of a fallen temple


The temptations came


to appeal to the people by giving them what they want

but not what they need


to hold a political rally and give the people a spectacle

so they would “worship” him


to grab hold of earthly political power

and control it all


Jesus rejected this way of power and domination

and chose a very different way


he taught a different way

turning the theology of power into a theology of

service, even suffering


blessed are the poor

blessed are the hungry

blessed are the meek

blessed are those who mourn (feel for others)

blessed are the kind and merciful

blessed are those who create peace




And it gets harder!

the first shall be last

you must give to receive

you must die to self to find yourself

you must die to live

you must put others ahead of yourself,


“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” (Philippians 2)

actually Paul said that! But he was channeling Jesus!


none of this makes sense if you have a theology of domination

none of this


it only makes sense if we live on the fringes


if we identify with powerlessness instead of power,

dependence instead of independence,

communion instead of individualism.


Jesus ministry started with the temptations

it ended on a cross

after another blood sweating, painful temptations


the path Jesus set it clear

and it is the only way to get to the Christ

who brings the Kingdom of God into being


and yet

and yet


here we sit, for 37 days

in the rubble of the world

in the twisted wilderness of climate change

and armed militia

and abusive and dishonest leaders




confronted by a choice

between the way of power and domination

and the way of servanthood and service


what will it be?

what will we choose?


No choice will be perfect

But I will make the choice that I believe is the choice that aligns with

Acceptance and inclusion

Kindness and generosity

Unity and compassion

Kindness and love


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Hold on!

From Augustine’s theological “no” [original sin] the hole got only deeper.  Martin Luther portrayed humans as a “pile of manure,” John Calvin instituted his now-infamous doctrine of “total depravity,” and poor Jonathan Edwards famously condemned New Englanders as “sinners in the hands of an angry God.”

                               Richard Rohr


Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. ... And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

                               Paul (to the Corinthians)




when I look at the behavior of human beings

when I watch how people with power abuse it

and how people re-create God into their own image

and twist and torture the good news into bad news

and how money has become more important than people


I almost believe in the “total depravity” of human kind


I mean seriously!


We may be the children of God

created in God’s likeness

carrying God’s image


but you would never know it

by looking at how we behavior


Donald Trump alone is enough to have me join Luther

in his assessment of human beings!


So is a look in the mirror!

Paul was certainly correct when he insisted

“all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”


me too


and yet

as politicians plot

and leaders lie

and “ministers” hate (and claim to have prayed RBG to death)

and church goers throw aside the teachings of Jesus

to follow the way of domination a greed


the fact remains

we ARE children of God (even Trump)

we are created in God’s image

we are carriers of the sacred


and that means

that woven into our DNA are faith, hope and love


the faith, that this all means something

the hope that we can, and at some point will be, our true selves

the love that comes from LOVE, and permeates us, and then


even if it is only a trickle


flows from us


In this time, when it feels like there are piles of manure all around

and the temptation is there

to give up

or to become what we resist


we must be people of



and love


How do we get there?

I once read that it takes great pain and great love

to open us up to the presence of the Sacred


this is a time of great pain

and if, in this time, we can hold on to great love

love of God

and love of others


then we can make it through


that is the only way to make it through

for only great love can overcome hate

only good can overcome evil


only as we live as children of God

(as best we can)

can we bend the world away


from the chaotic, violent

hateful place

where some are valued and many are not


that some would make it


this day as the sun rises once again

my prayer is that God’s light will penetrate

my darkness

that it will light up the corners of my soul

and reveal



and love


especially love

Monday, October 19, 2020

When you can bear it no more

There was the moment you could bear it no more

Your eyes brimming with glistening drops’

Summoned by the hunger of the world

The callous and terrible things

Men and women do to one another

                               Christine, Valters Paintner



Perhaps this morning it became too much

the hunger and the emptiness

of men and women


who although opulence and power

already drip from their finger


sit, bloated with self

engorged with fear and anger


reaching with oily, tiny hands for more


what kind of emptiness does it take

to be so unfeeling


so cruel?


what kind of pain must permeate one’s soul

that one lies awake at night “planning iniquity, and “plotting evil”


And then

Because they have the money

Have the power

Have the allies

“carry it out because it is in their power to do it.”  (Micah 2)


There have always been these

Empty souls

Who cornered by their own pain

Have sought to assuage their pain

by gobbling power and wealth


by creating chaos

and inflicting pain on others


seeking to end their pain by passing it on


but this is now

this is my land, assailed by this emptiness

these are my people, threatened by smallness


and so

I can bear it no more


I can no longer ignore

No longer excuse

No longer hide or pretend


this is the way a country, perhaps a world dies

not from Covid

or even global warming


but from the small decisions of small men and women


who daily erode all that is good

all that is love


my heart echoes the words of Chief Joseph

in whose beloved valley I now live

“I am tired; my heart is sick and sad.

From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever.”


Perhaps we are living Biblical truth here

a truth we have seen and discounted

a truth laid out before us by Jesus and his life


that we minimized, thinking it was not really about us


Perhaps we are now the Kingdom of Israel

Trapped in greed and injustice, doomed to fail

Doomed to fall


Doomed to a time of mourning and exile

Before we can be restored


Perhaps we are those who must experience

a dying

before God can raise us up to newness


perhaps it is only out of the rubble of what was once great

but is no longer

that greatness can once again emerge


Perhaps now we will learn


That the last will be first and the first last

That if one would live, one must die

That if one would prosper, one must “let go”


Perhaps it takes one

So empty, so in pain

So desperate, so reactive and cruel


To wake us up

And bring us the deep truths

of the Gospel


Perhaps this country must die

Perhaps the church, much of which is so apostate, must die

Perhaps our own way of life

Our old priorities

Old patterns of consumption

Perhaps this all must be destroyed and die


So that God’s new thing might emerge


I don’t know

What I do know is

Is this is the moment I can bear it no more


this is when I hand it over to Sacred

and this is, probably

when Sacred hands it back to me


and gently say

carry on, I am with you




Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.


“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—   John 14

Sunday, October 18, 2020

If you claim to follow, then follow

Up to now we have not been carrying history too well, because “there stood among us one we did not recognize”… He came in midtone skin, from the underclass, a male body with a female soul, from an often hated religion, and living on the very cusp between East and West.  No one owns him, no one ever will.

                               Richard Rohr



It is an interesting thing about Jesus

how those who most proclaim his name from their lips

are those who least reveal his presence in their lives


it is such a temptation it seems

to clothe Jesus with the robes of our

political, social, cultural preferences


and call it good


than to let Jesus


rabble rouser

lover of the unsavory


wander naked through our midst


it is such a temptation to create our version

of Jesus our of the clothe of our values

our “deeply held” beliefs, which are

more likely deeply held biases


and worship our creation

rather than

follow Jesus who is also the Christ


and do what he teaches


So here we all are

Valiantly fighting to install Jesus

On the bench of the Supreme Court

in the Congress

in the White House


seeking to have Jesus “sit” in those high places


no knowing it appears

we are merely propping up ‘gold calves”

or are they money green?

And worshipping power and wealth


and our prejudice


instead of a Jesus who was not about that

that kind of power

or any kind of wealth


and who only excluded the excluders

not the poor

the sinners

the brown and black

the ill

the addicted

the desperate


just the ones in their tailored suits

with their party affiliation on their lapels

who think they own him


Jesus never asked us to worship him

He asked us to follow him

Many times


And we instead have grabbed his name

Since we cannot grab him,

And tried to drag it along other paths

As if somehow that sanctifies that path


It doesn’t

Hate spouted in God’s name is still hate

Retribution served in God’s name is still retribution

Violence proffered in God’s name is still merely violence

Greed invoking Jesus’ name is still greed

and none of it is “Jesus”

who calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves

to see the Sacred in everyone

to stand in solidarity with all others


and who never ever can be claimed by

one party or another

only followed, more or less, however poorly


the GOP cannot claim Jesus

as the one they follow leads down a path 180 degrees from the path of Jesus

but neither can the Democrats


no one can claim Jesus

we can only love Jesus

be loved by Jesus

be transformed by Jesus


and the follow

wherever Jesus leads


and he will always lead toward love

and equity

and equality

and generosity

and compassion

and forgiveness

and kindness


I don’t care how much a candidate

Or party

Or church

Invokes the name of Jesus


If that candidate, that party

That church

Is not about those things


Jesus does not know them

no matter how much they claim to own him


its is that simple

and that complex




Saturday, October 17, 2020

How Long

Gentian blue sky

dandelion seed clouds play

hide and seek with the sun


brightly colored ribbons hang

from hawthorn, old party

streamers from branches, banners


of longing, a prayer for healing

the great divide of the heart

or a beloved consumed by cancer


or simply the echo of the Psalmist’s

ancient cry, “How long, O God?”

into the vast and thunderous silence

                     Christine Valters Paintner



Injustice lurks in the hall of justice

How long, O God?


Narcissism ignore 200,000 deaths

for petty grievances

How long, O God?


Good people die

and not so good people plan even

over a still cooling body

How long, O God?


Covid-19 spreads among people

who refuse to do the simple things

to keep each other safe

How long, O God?


Division rules

and “we the people” are ripped asunder

by those who would polarizing

using party and prayer

How long, O God


You are a God of love

woven into the fabric of the universe

into the hills and trees

rivers and streams


present in the gently waving aspen

and stately conifers

in the brilliant red gold coats or oaks and maples


part of our flesh and bone

we Sacred Children

who carry you

the third incarnation


after creator created

after creator enter creation

after creator arrived to dwell not just among but within us


how can we deny this presence

so readily, so profoundly


how can we listen to lies and shrug

violate morality so casually


how can we chose the way of domination and wealth

so eagerly


do we not know the story of Adam and Eve

and the tempter

who lured with the promise ‘they would be like God’


do we not know the story of Jesus in the wilderness

as the tempter offered fame and fortune

and early power


to Jesus

who reject that path


for another of sacrifice and service


How long, O lord

How long


Will our choices cause such pain?


until we follow

until we realize that an unholy alliance

with power

and with the world


will cause our souls to shrivel

and the image of God to be blurred


We cry to God

“how long?”


there is thunderous silence


and out of the silence

word’s echo’s back


“how long?”

God asks

“how long?”




Friday, October 16, 2020

here is to the homesick

Is there a place for each of us

Where we no longer yearn to be elsewhere?

Where our work is to simply soften,

Wait, and pay close attention

                     Christine, Valters Paintner



here is to the homesick

those who have never found their way home

to their true self


which is their loved self

forgiven self

generous self

sated self


here is to those who desperately try

to recreate themselves

in the image of the world


which values power and wealth


rather than accept the image of God in them

which is enough

which is content


which is at peace

and no longer has to strive and struggle

but can just be


and just being

a human being


can open to Sacred

open to love

open to others


here is to those who struggle

and strive

and present hard fronts to the world


their need of power and wealth



Here is to those who have found their way home

who can settle into their own skin

and be a home with love


who can be in image of God,

and as the circle dance of LOVE (Creator, Redeemer, Helper)

roils though their souls

send peace and joy

hope and love into the world


here is to all of us

lost and found

striving and at peace

angry and reconciled

fear full and faith full

grasping and giving

hating and loving


here is to all of us

may we find that place

where we no longer wish to be anywhere else


and can simply wait

upon love

Thursday, October 15, 2020

filling the cup

Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are all dead.

                                Oscar Wilde


You are holding a cup of coffee when someone comes along and bumps into you or shakes your arm, making you spill your coffee everywhere. Why did you spill the coffee? "Because someone bumped into me!" Wrong answer. You spilled the coffee because there was coffee in your cup. Had there been tea in the cup, you would have spilled tea. Whatever is inside the cup is what will spill out. Therefore, when life comes along and shakes you (which will happen), whatever is inside you will come out. It is easy to fake it, until you get rattled. So, we have to ask ourselves “what's in my cup?" When life gets tough, what spills over? Joy, gratefulness, peace, and humility? Anger, bitterness, harsh words and reactions? Life provides the cup; you choose how to fill it. Today let's work towards filling our cups with gratitude, forgiveness, joy, words of affirmation, and kindness, gentleness and love for others.

                               Friend of a friend


Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 15 Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them

                               Jesus (Mark 7)


First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

                               Jesus (Matthew 23)



If you want to know how you are doing spiritually, stub your toe


What comes out of your mouth?


You all know what I am talking about


If you want to know how you are doing spiritually, look at how you respond

to the tough things in life,


along comes Covid

along comes financial distress

along comes a person who is a different color, or one who speaks a different language

along comes a person who spouts hate

along comes an injustice





we are shaken

what comes out?








Do we respond to hate with hate, or with love?

Do we respond to want by hording, or by giving?

Do we turn our backs on the pain and suffering, or do we enter into it,

and respond to it with compassion?


How we respond is determined (and reveals) what is inside our “cup”

what fills our heart


I would like to believe, I would like to say

that as a person connected to the sacred, like a branch to the vine

I am filled with Sacred (the Spirit)

and that I would respond in a Sacred manner to those things that come my way


but alas

too often I respond with anger (there is a place for anger, but it must be anger transformed by the Spirit into redemptive anger – deep topic)


or fear


sometimes I suddenly find harsh words spilling forth

sometimes I find myself turning my back on the pain

or withholding love


Right now life is tough

I am appalled by the lies

By the disdain for human life

By the greed, and racism, and abuse of power


I see such awful things oozing forth from those with power

and all of the ugliness trickling down

seeping through the cracks in our souls

infecting all of us


until what spills out of us

do not honor God


I so need to take the time to stop

to breathe

to center

to connect with all that is Sacred


to let Love (God) fill my heart

to let love grow in my heart

to let love flow from my heart


so that when life gets tough

I am not piling pain on pain

but instead am there

with calmness, and love


nurturing peace and reconciliation


Life provides the cup; we choose how to fill it.

Today let's work towards filling our cups with gratitude, forgiveness, joy,

So that what spills forth from us


Are words of affirmation,

and kindness, gentleness

and love

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Goats, Scapegoats, and sheep

….  Christians, with utter irony, worship [worshipped] Jesus the Scapegoat on Sundays, and on the other sixed days of the week make [made] scapegoats of… almost anybody who is [was] not like themselves…  The central teaching of Jesus on love of enemies, forgiveness and care for those at the bottom was supposed to make scapegoating virtually impossible and unthinkable….  Jesus… refuses the very starting point of historic religion.  He refuses to divide the world into pure and impure, much to the chagrin of everyone – then and now.  Jesus is shockingly not upset with sinners.  This is a shock so total that most Christians, to this day, refuse to see it.  He is only upset with people who do not think they are sinners.

                               Richard Rohr,  the wisdom pattern  pp168-169


Interesting the classroom where God says,

“forget all that you think you about Me”

That way some real knowledge might dawn




we say it without blushing


“We create God in our own image”


Perhaps we do not blush because we do not really believe it is true

Believe it!


When I look at the life of Jesus

And then look at his teachings


I am stunned, at how badly we have gotten it all wrong


We with our Books of Order and our Confessions

We with our culturally accumulated life commandments

We with our deeply held beliefs

We with our static concepts of right and wrong


Here we stand, in a polarized world

Hugging that divisiveness to ourselves

rather than the robes of Christ


here we stand

looking at the “other”

with disdain


that right wing other

that liberal other

that gun toting camo clad other

that Black Lives Matter other

that filthy rich other

that poor as a church mouse other


here we stand, making the other the enemy

the cause of all the miseries of creature

the scapegoats


if those people would just see how awful Trump is

if those people would just see how wonderful Trump is

if those awful leftists would stop rioting

if those awful right wing Neanderthals would quit acting like vigilantes


if they would be just like me

all would be well


When taught he asked his followers to do one thing


Forget everything you thought you knew about God

And listen to me


God is love

God loves all

God is forgiveness

God is reconciliation

God is


there is no need of scapegoats in the kingdom of God

you do not need to create people God hates

in order to know that God loves you


you do not need to create people who are bad

in order to feel good


you do not need to create people who are dirty sinners

in order to feel clean and holy


what you need to do is remember

God is love

God loves all

God is forgiveness

God is reconciliation

God is


and then accept God’s love

be transformed by God’s love

be healed by God’s love

live God’s love

and share God’s love with all, all


for there are no goats out there*

only sheep



*Yes I am aware of Matthew 25, but we do not get to define who is a goat

  When we do we make the scapegoats, and we subvert the Gospel