Welcome

Primitive religion is not believed, it is danced!

Arthur Darby Nock

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

Elizabeth Browning



Sunday, June 20, 2021

little old people

Where did that boy go

who with the crew cut and goofy glasses

looked out on the world so long ago?

 

where did that person go

who dreamed big dreams

and thought he could be anything he wanted

 

and that life would be easy

 

who thought that the good people won

and that evil was defeated

always

 

where did that one go who

so easily accepted the version of God

so blithely presented by his church?

 

how did it all get so complicated

and tortured?

 

it has not been a bad life

it has not been an easy life either (although to some it may look to be so)

I have my issues, my flaws

 

at times it feels as if my weaknesses cancel out my strengths

my mistakes invalidate my accomplishments

 

I am not who I thought I was

looking out so long ago

the world is not what I thought it was

God is not who I thought God was

 

and it is OK

 

I was thinking about the church year

Advent and Christmas, and those high holy days

of white

 

baby Jesus, the manger, magicians and stars

 

of Lent with is purple solemnity,

and Eastertide

with those huge pivotal moments

Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday

the vigil

Easter (white again)

 

And of Pentecost

our bright day of fiery red

 

those moments capture the imagination

and fire up our hearts

but now we are in “ordinary” time

almost half a year of unrelenting green

with no moments of high celebration

 

just the ordinary

the plodding along

tending the garden, pulling weeds

doing the mundane

ordinary

 

and I realize this is where life is

in the ordinary

this is where faith lives

in the ordinary

this is where Sacred dwells

in the ordinary

 

in the flawed and cracked adult

who no longer bright visage

and with eyes no longer quite as bright

who plods through each day

 

living out the Imago Dei

as best he can

knowing that even in this

messy, ordinary, daily existence

 

God is

 

and that there is a reason

even if I do not know what it is

for getting up in the morning

and welcoming another day

another week

 

it does no good to look back

at the good or the bad

 

no one who puts his or her hand to the plow

and looks back get anywhere

 

and so this morning

it is time to be again

that young soul

looking expectantly at the world

eager for what life will bring

 

Jesus once said, the kingdom belongs to the children

I suspect God wants us to be like children

those in whom the image has not been dulled

 

God want us to be eternal children

twisted, battered, grey, aching young ones

perhaps those with a long road behind

and a short road ahead

 

but still children

in whom, when God looks at them

God can still recognize God’s self in them

 

---------------------------------

 

Alleluia, Alleluia!  Open, all of you little old people!

It is I your God, eternal, risen from the dead, coming to

Bring back to life the child in you.

                     Michel Quoist (Prayers)


Thursday, June 17, 2021

A matter of heart

If your heart is a volcano

How shall you expect flowers to bloom in your hands?

                     Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam

_________________________

 

what is going on

down there

in our deepest self

in that place that defines who we are?

 

call it your soul

your heart

 

it does not matter

 

we all have that deep place

that is our true self

 

and it is this self

that gets revealed at the most inopportune times

it is this self that suddenly emerges when we are stressed

when life is difficult

when we are tired

or hangry

 

no matter how skilled we are at creating masks

and creating a dissembling narrative

no matter how adept we are at avoiding the truth

 

whatever it is that is going on in that deep place

will out

 

as Jesus warned us

by our fruits we shall be known

 

if we want to know what is really going on

there

down deep

all we have to do is look at what our lives produce

 

because eventually, the truth will out

 

it matter not if we are talking about nations

or political parties

or Presidents

or just individual people

 

eventually the “heart” will reveal itself

 

when we look at our own “fruits”

what do we see?

 

anger?

Bitterness?

Greed?

Compassion?

Humility?

 

do we see people built up

or people torn down?

 

do we see generosity

or a tendency to amass?

 

do we see kindness

or do we see cruelty?

 

are we surrounded by joy

or by despair?

 

as I walk into this new day

the early morning lit by God’s glory

my prayer must be this

 

“create in me a clean heart O Lord”

for it is from the heart that I live


Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Help him

Help him

that’s what faith is

he can’t bring it about

his kingdom

couldn’t then couldn’t later can’t now

not at any rate without you

and that is his irresistible appeal

                     Dorothee Soelle

_______________________________________

 

what’s the end of the Jesus story?

him hanging there on the cross, dead?

him lying in a tomb?

him resurrected?

 

descending ascending

 

it has been a lot of years

where is that kingdom?

 

it seems we are no closer now than we were then

to the City of God

 

perhaps God made a mistake

to choose the work the God did

by sending One who asked us to follow

not merely idolize

 

perhaps God miscalculated

by being a God within us rather than a God from above

by making us the hands and feet of justice

the voice of compassion and love

 

at the end of the story

Jesus left

and left us behind

filled with fire and wind

 

to carry on his revolution

 

at the end of the story

Jesus “rises again and again in our lives” (DS)

 

as Christ lives in us and through us

empowering us to feed the hungry

create equity

fight for justice

create peace

love without condition

 

it is up to us

how this story ends

what this world becomes

 

the City of God

or Gehenna


Tuesday, June 15, 2021

newly minted

I am weary but at least now, I know I am becoming

newly minted

amidst the fire

inside

                     Jyl Anais Ion

______________________________

 

I cannot watch the news any more

it is too painful

to watch the foolishness of those

who would catch the wind

 

by grabbing hold of power

by amassing the wealth

 

I cannot read even the well written

words of legitimate reports

rare among the garbage and flotsam of extremism

 

for the insanity of our time

is oppressive

 

who ever said

“the one thing we learn from history

 is that we do not learn from history”

was right

 

some mornings it is all one can do

to drag an aging body out of bed

when everything hurts

and what doesn’t hurt doesn’t work

 

it is the year of the cicadas

it feels more like a plague of locusts has come

as malignant souls

seek to dominate and control and

leave us with a world plucked clean of kindness and compassion

justice and equity

 

I sit, looking out at the beauty of a place

not yet pillaged

and hear the words of Micah echo is my heart

 

“Woe to those who scheme iniquity, who work out evil on their beds!

when morning comes, they do it, for it is in the power of their hands”

 

and I become weary

 

and yet

and yet

and yet

 

like the Psalmist who laments

only to rejoice

who despairs only to hope

 

the stirrings of the Spirit remind me

that the Power that created all

and sustains it with love

 

is a Power that makes all things new

that in every ending is a beginning

in every death a new birth

 

in the end every tyrant falls

the way of domination fails

and love wins

 

for I am (and so are you) a Sacred Children

I have Sacred DNA

I have the powerful presence of Love within

 

And even if I am weary

I know, that I am becoming

newly minted

amidst the fire

inside

 

 


Saturday, June 12, 2021

Bridging the Gap

Incarnation is the overcoming of the gap between God and everything visible and concrete. It is the synthesis of matter and spirit. Without incarnation, God remains separate from us and from creation. Because of incarnation, we can say, “God is with us!” In fact, God is in us, and in everything else that God created. We all have the divine DNA.

                     Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations, 6/6/2021

____________________________

 

I can’t help it

It is a reality that I cannot escape

 

Even though it is difficult to define it

label it

capture it

 

there is something that permeates everything

something creative

ordering

and yes, loving

 

a power that brings into being

that sustains

heals

repairs

and comforts

 

this very real power

this presence

is something I want to be connected to

it is something I want to participate in

 

because whatever it is that is “out there”

is also “in me”

I am irresistibly drawn

 

But while it is so real

as real as the sunrise, or the sunset

as real as Mount Joseph, looming over my home

as real as my heart beating

and my breath, moving in, moving out

 

it is also so vague

 

hooray for incarnation

for that is what this power does

call it God, call it whatever you will

 

it is the nature of this reality to incarnate

to put on flesh

the universe, this planet

the wind, the sun, the moon and the stars

 

all incarnations

 

so too Jesus

so too you and me

 

and here is the thing

whatever you call this power, we know its nature

 

love

all the incarnations make this perfectly clear

 

which teaches us something

the incarnation is always love

love is always incarnational

 

I love the story of Jesus

not just the story of the mewling baby, pink and raw lying in a manger

not just the story of Jesus

who instead of watching the sinners get dunked from the safety of the shore

jumped into the dirty waters of the Jordan and joined in,

but the story of Jesus, refusing to answer hate with hate

violence with violence

and saying

 

THIS STOPS HERE

 

on the cross

(you can’t get anymore “all in” than that)

 

Love is incarnational

if we would be people of love

continuing the incarnation of love

 

we have to dive in

get wet

go in over our heads

 

we have to get out there

and get our hands dirty

helping those who need help

feeding the hungry, clothing the naked

housing the homeless, protecting the vulnerable

welcoming the stranger

fighting for justice

 

giving all we have

time, energy, money, all

 

If we want to understand God, if we want others to catch

a glimpse of who God is, what God is really all about

we have to be the incarnation

now

 

get it?

 

Christ came singing love

Christ lived singing love

Christ died singing love

If the song is to go on, we must do the singing

(Words used by New Freedom Singers, Whitman College, 1970’s, original source unknown to me)


Wednesday, June 9, 2021

through the cracks of the old

God is doing new things, Jesus proclaimed, but only those with new minds and hearts can see a new world breaking through the cracks of the old.

                     Ilia Delio, The Hours of the Universe

______________________________

 

here I am

dangling over the precipice of the new

hanging on for dear life

 

oh Lord

you are calling me to let go

to open my mind, my heart, my soul

you are calling me to let go

 

and to plummet

into that fearful newness

to die as it were

 

so that I might be born again

 

I am a creature of habit Lord

I like what is familiar and comfortable

I cling to old thoughts

old habits

old systems

 

I cannot see

I do not want to see

Where things are broken

 

I do not want to examine closely the foundations

of my society

my life

and see where things are rotten

 

instead I cling

I patch over the cracks

I ignore the rot

 

And I cling

Perpetuating not just that which is good and noble

but that which is destructive and life-denying

 

I ignore my privilege

my bias

my greed

my anger

 

I ignore systematic racism

and injustice

 

I celebrate inequity

 

Still I cling to the old

Still I pretend that it is “not that bad”

That with a little effort I can, we can, patch things up

Hold things together

 

But you know better

You know how desperately we need to let go

To die to the old

To fall into your grace

 

So that we might rise

And begin again

 

You know how radical the change

Inside

Needs to be

You know that a minor facelift simply won’t do

 

So help me to let go

 

and to plummet

into your fearful newness

to die as it were

 

so that I might be born again

so that I might rise

 

help me accept (as Richard Rohr puts it)

the unraveling, breaking, and cracking

 

that I might be the part of a movement

that helps the whole world rise up

and ushers in

the Kingdom of Love (God)


Tuesday, June 8, 2021

nurture my unbelief

Doubt need not be the death of faith. It can be, instead, the birth of a new kind of faith, a faith beyond beliefs, a faith that expresses itself in love, a deepening and expanding faith that can save your life and save the world.

 

          Brian D. McLaren, Faith after Doubt: Why Your Beliefs Stopped Working

          and What to Do about It (St. Martins: 2021), 212 (As quoted by R Rohr)

__________________________________________________

 

I believe

Help my unbelief

 

Nurture my unbelief!

 

It suddenly struck me today that certainty can be the enemy of faith

If I have to know everything

If I have to possess all the little details

If I have to understand how it all works,

 

before I will believe in a product,

I wouldn’t buy much

 

If I had to have perfect knowledge in a person,

if I had to know them inside and out, and reach the point

where there was nothing new to be learned

no surprises to be had

before I would accept that person as a friend

 

I wouldn’t have many friends

 

If I have to know everything about God

How God thinks

Who, exactly, God is

All of the ins and outs of the Sacred

The way God works

 

If I have to have God all wrapped up in a

nicely wrapped ideological or theological box

 

If I have to be certain

And know that I know (and perhaps that you do not)

 

Alas

 

As if I can ever know God!

So if I try to contain God (which is somewhat like trying to catch the wind)

I of necessity make God small

at least small enough for my feeble mind to contain

 

If I try to define God

I limit God to the limits of my own imagination

 

That is bad enough

 

But what is really problematic

Is that my need to have total understanding,

Is also a need to have total control

Is also, fundamentally, a lack of trust

 

It violates the fact that we don’t know God (the devil is in the details)

As much as we experience God

 

We don’t believe in a set of theological constructs

As much as we commune with a powerful presence

That touches us and changes us

 

Knowing God is, to a great degree, about learning to be comfortable

About our unknowing

 

We know God, at an experiential level

While still failing to understand so much ABOUT God

 

But it works

Because we while we may not know

And there may be times we do know believe some of what we thought we knew

And times when we run across things we just can’t believe

 

we trust this reality

this Love

this One

we call God

 

and our ability

to have faith in this one

in the midst of doubts

in the midst of things that don’t make sense

in the midst of massive confusion

in the midst of all the pain and chaos of the world

 

that is what frees us

that is what opens our hearts

 

the less we have to hold on tightly

to deeply held beliefs

the more open we are to the infinite nature of God

to new lessons and new truths

to other people

to the immensity of God’s love

 

I do believe

but sometimes it is good and wonderful

the way God comes to me in my unbelief


Monday, June 7, 2021

Time to show up

Ken Wilbur (as quoted by Richard Rohr), talks about four stages of spiritual and moral development.

 

Cleaning up is mostly about the need for early impulse control and creating necessary ego boundaries—so you can actually show up in the real and much bigger world.

 

Growing up refers to the process of psychological and emotional maturity that persons commonly undergo, both personally and culturally

 

Waking Up refers to any spiritual experience which overcomes our experience of the self as separate from Being in general… The purpose of waking up is not personal or private perfection, but surrender, love, and union with God. This is the Christian meaning of salvation or enlightenment.

 

Showing Up means bringing our heart and mind into the actual suffering and problems of the world

 

As I reflect on this it occurs to me that most of American Christianity is stuck in the cleaning up stage of development, meaning it is stuck in spiritual infancy.

 

Faith is primarily a matter of “behaving”.  Of believing the right things, saying the right things, and doing the right things.  Sadly in too many cases the “right things” are more a matter of right-wing social and cultural norms, than they are about the Bible.  Even the grim and cruel concept of retributive justice emerges more out of a culture of domination than out of the Gospel itself.

 

Behave

Turn or Burn

 

And so faith is not an encounter with something bigger than one’s self, not an experience of being loved, not a matter of union with Love, but a matter of following rules, voting for the right person, earning safety from God’s wrath.  And it should be no wonder that those whose lives are all about living under the authority of a malevolent God choose an authoritarian ideology.  Where might makes right, and obedience and loyalty to the “great leader” or to “the party” are everything.  Where reality is shaped and controlled by those who speak for “god” or “the party” or by a totalitarian leader.  Questions are not allowed.  Truth does not matter.  Only the approved narrative, the alternative reality

 

This kind of faith is powerful, in its own way, and persistent.  It is a faith that makes us dependent in an unhealthy manner.  It is a faith that controls with promises of power and affluence, or abandonment and destruction.

 

Leave and perish

Question and perish

 

There is of course a element of this necessary in faith.  We do in fact need to “come to our senses”, like the prodigal child, and realize that perhaps the mess we are in is not the only option.  That hate, and racism, abusive power, guns, violence are not things we have wallow in.

 

But this is a starting point!  It is a matter of getting up, out of the mud and corn cobs, and offal, dusting ourselves off, straightening our clothes, and starting the long journey home.

 

This is how we start growing up.  Developing a faith that is our own.  Developing relationships that are built on love, trust, and truth.  Knowing that we are an individual within a community.  Developing the capacity to think, and question, and seek the truth.  Moving out of the “bubble” created by others into the world as it is.

 

And then we wake up.  We wake up to Sacred, to love.  We encounter, we experience the Sacred.  Not as a concept, not as a book, not as a set of rules, not as a religion, but as a powerful reality that comes as wind and fire.  That overwhelms us, and shakes us, and leaves us utterly transformed.  And utterly in Love.  Once we were blind but now we see.

 

And then we show up.  We live love.  We don’t pretend the world is different than it is.  We don’t create our own reality.  We don’t try to force the world into our mold.  We don’t let the world force us into its mold.  We show up, seeing the world as it really is, with all its beauty and ugliness, with all is hate and love, with all its despair and hope, and we live lives of love, and generosity, and compassion, and forgiveness and truth.

 

We heal the sick (and fight for healthcare)

We clothe the naked

We feed the hungry

We house the homeless

We welcome the stranger

We fight for justice

We insist on truth

We embody, as best we can

Love

 

Today it is my prayer that I “show up” for love

I hope you will join me


Sunday, June 6, 2021

see love

Sometimes, in this troubled world of ours, we forget that love is all around us. We imagine the worst of other people and withdraw into our own shells. But try this simple test: Stand still in any crowded place and watch the people around you. Within a very short time, you will begin to see love, and you will see it over and over and over. A young mother talking to her child, a couple laughing together as they walk by, an older man holding the door for a stranger—small signs of love are everywhere. The more you look, the more you will see. Love is literally everywhere. We are surrounded by love.

 

Steven Charleston, Ladder to the Light:

An Indigenous Elder’s Meditations on Hope and Courage (Broadleaf: 2021), 60–61, 67.

_______________________________________

 

Sometimes it is hard to believe in the arc of love

Sometimes it is difficult to say

LOVE WINS

and mean it

 

All around us we see people doing awful things

Believing lies

Doubling down on guns and violence

Choosing the way of abusive power and domination

Marginalizing and minimizing other

Destroying justice

Enriching the rich, abandoning the poor

 

All around us we see anger, and despair

We see angry people with guns kill without reason

We see people, despairing, take their own lives

We see wars and hear rumors of wars

 

This wounds our souls

we are pierced through by the hate, the racism, the greed

 

and we cannot heal from these wounds

we cannot keep going in love

we cannot keep the flickering light of the Spirit burning

 

unless we believe that in the end

God get’s God’s way

In the end

Love wins

 

As I look at my country

And watch it unravel and spin

into authoritarianism and nationalism

 

when it feels so much

as if evil is winning

 

the only way I can keep going

keep preaching the good news

keep giving

keep serving

keep forgiving

keep loving

 

is if I believe that Love will win

that it WILL win

even if not in my life time

 

if I believe Love wins,

even if the path to the ascendance of love

is through the valley of destruction and death

 

Jesus is my model

that one who entered Jerusalem

knowing that from a short view

he was going to fail

 

knowing that his flash of popularity

would disappear,

and he would be rejected, even reviled,

knowing that he would be betrayed,

knowing the torturous path to the cross

 

but still stayed the course of love

because he also knew that in end

love would win

even if that win would come on the other side of death

 

so this day, l remember

good people and good works

I remember sacrifices made

 

this day I chose to look around me

and see love

in all the small places

 

and I will have hope

and I will keep loving

and I will keep moving toward the kingdom

 

left foot

right foot

left foot

breathe

 


Thursday, June 3, 2021

hungry ghosts

only this

that I may never hunger

for that

which is not

your bread

                     Jan Richardson, In Wisdom’s Path (Wanton Gospeller Press)

_______________________________

 

I live in dread

Oh one who came as love

to remove all fear

 

I live in dread of the hungry

ghosts who would gnaw at the bones of freedom

and rip and tear the flesh of unity

 

hungry, brutal people

intent only on satisfying their lust for power

 

why can they not see?

why do they no understand?

that in their machinations lie not victory

but ultimate defeat?

 

perhaps it is as simple as this

they hunger for that which is not bread

 

ah Jesus

you knew the power of those things that do not satisfy

you were tempted by them too

there in the wilderness

 

tempted to grab for power

and domination

tempted to hug to yourself

all the riches of the world

 

but you chose the true bread

of sacrifice and service

of compassion and generosity

of Love

 

so you implored us

to join you at the table

to gather, united, to eat of the bread that fills

to drink from the cup that satisfies

 

to be people who see not domination, power and control

but to be people who seek to serve, to lift up, to heal, to welcome

 

you told us how to be blessed (Matthew 5)

“hunger and thirst for righteousness,” you said

For then you will be filled.

 

you asked the hard question

“what good will it be for someone to gain the whole world,

yet forfeit their soul?”

 

but here we are

tearing apart the fabric of our world, our nation

our communities

for just a little more power

a little more wealth

 

never satisfied

never

 

in the midst of it all

even as we strive and strive and strive

for more

even as we suppress and oppress

marginalize and minimize

and dehumanize

 

the voice of God sounds clear

 

“Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;

and you that have no money, come, buy and eat!

Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,

and your labor for that which does not satisfy?

Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.

Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live.”

 


Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Time to be radical

In the Bible we see a “…clash between a radical and normal vision for the future of human life on earth.  The radicality of nonviolent resistance versus of normalcy of violent oppression, and the radicality of peace through distributive justice versus the normalcy of peace through victorious force…”

 

… the challenge to our species is clear.  Governed not by chemical instinct but my moral conscience, , can we control escalatory violence before it destroys us?  Can we abandon violence as civilization’s drug of choice?

                     John Dominic Crossan (How to read the Bible and Still Be a Christian)

__________________________________________

 

ah Jesus,

humble and gentle one

 

ah Jesus

who, while capable of domination and violence

chose the way of service and peace

 

you gave us one commandment

one

Love the Lord your God

Love, with all your heart, soul and strength

 

and you suggested that this one love

should lead to other love

 

that we should love ourselves

as children of Love

and love others as ourselves

 

this is the radicality of your Gospel Lord

this love

 

this is the one thing

you ask us to do

think love

breathe love

live love

 

there is no complexity here

no need to parse this command

 

it is simply there

clear and uncompromising 

as stark and powerful

as you, kneeling in the dust, washing feet

as clear as you hanging from a tree

 

how do we miss it Jesus?

 

how do we skip right over those teachings

that call us to feed the hungry

clothe the naked

house the homeless

heal the sick

welcome the stranger

 

how do we miss those teachings that tell us

to be generous and take care of the poor

 

that tell us to turn the other cheek

walk the second mile

 

how has your gospel of humility and sacrifice

become a gospel of power and accumulation?

 

how have we allowed the radicality of the Gospel

to be blunted, even muted

by the normalcy of the world?

 

so that we have replaced plowshares with swords (or guns)

and become people who dominate rather than serve

control rather than set free

exclude rather than include

judge rather than forgive

hate rather than love

violence rather than nonviolence

 

ah Jesus


Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Gotta Believe

Sometimes it feels

as if the world has a “sickness unto death”

 

as if not only we individuals humans are terminal

but as if humanity as a whole

is toxic

and headed toward destruction

 

I am right there with Kierkegaard

for whom (as I understand it)

the sickness unto death was despair

an inability to be believe in love’s power

 

we do not, I think, really believe in love

we believe in a lot of things

but not love

 

we believe in guns

we believe that the more guns in the hands of more people

in more places will make the world safer

 

it won’t, of course

it will merely mean more shootings

more fear

more death

 

we believe in political power

we believe that might makes right

we believe in money

and that the person who dies with the most toys wins

 

but what we don’t believe in is love

somehow we don’t believe in valuing all people

we don’t believe in equity

we don’t believe in forgiveness

we don’t believe in generosity, or compassion, or kindness

 

we say we do

we blithely repeat in litany like fashion, “love wins’

 

but do we really believe it is true?

 

Sometimes it feels as we have a sickness unto death

 

but enter Jesus

who says to us, as he always says

“this is not a sickness unto death” (John 11:4)

 

but enter Jesus

who touches our despair

who gives us back our self

who reminds that death is merely a stop on the way to eternity

who grounds us in love

 

enter Jesus

who says, “believe”

believe in me

believe in love

believe that God will make all things new

 

enter Jesus who says faith is the antidote for despair

just a little faith

faith the size of a mustard seed

 

maybe it is time

to really believe in love