Primitive religion is not believed, it is danced!

Arthur Darby Nock

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

Elizabeth Browning

Friday, July 30, 2021

if you say it, mean it

It is incredible dishonesty in the human heart to pray daily that this kingdom should come, that God’s will be done on earth as in heaven, and at the same time to deny that Jesus wants this kingdom to be put into practice on earth. Whoever asks for the rulership of God to come down on earth must believe in it and be wholeheartedly resolved to carry it out.

                     Eberhard Arnold



it is an irrevocable fact

that Jesus, in his teachings, was an extremist


he did not just parrot the “Word”

he took what was accepted by his faith system as the Word of God


and expanded it

reimagined it


pushing the way of love to the extreme limits

rejecting the way of resentment and retribution

in an equally extreme way


“You have heard it said”

“But I say”


in his words

which radicalized everything

he presented a vision for the Kingdom of God


and said to those who

were foolish enough to follow

“live this way”


and then suggested

that if they would die to ego

die to domination

die to greed

die to hate


that if they would take a deep dive

into their very being

they would find the power they needed

to make it happen


perhaps more radically yet

he promised that if they turned to

Love with all their heart, soul, and mind

and did so with all their strength

they would find him

even after he was gone

that in some powerful and mystical way

he would be there

in their midst


now here we are

thousands of years later

faithful intoning

“thy Kingdom come, thy will be done”


there is beauty in that

there is sadness too


the sadness of knowing

that we do not live the Kingdom

sometimes we embrace a way openly hostile to what Jesus taught

sometimes we simply turn away sad

from its radical demands


while praying for the Kingdom

and claiming Jesus

we continue to hate






we are the rich young ruler

the elder brother or sister

the rich person sprinkling crumbs to the poor


we are the judgmental one’s

ready to cast stones at the sinner

the money changers in the temple



how do we get it so wrong?


perhaps it is because we have forgotten

to die


to let go of ego

of fear

of power


perhaps we have forgotten

to let the Presence radicalize us

and make us new creations


I cannot pretend that my life

reflects the radicality of the gospel



but still I will pray

“Thy kingdom come”

and mean it


still I will pray

“thy will be done”

and mean it


and I will resolve

each day

to live out that prayer


I will seek to detach more and more

from the things that cause me to deny the Kingdom


And I will seek more and more

the Presence

the Power

that transforms and renews

not only myself, but all creation

Tuesday, July 27, 2021


Birthdays and family gatherings are a time to remember

a time to wander back through the crumbling neuropathways

of one’s brain


to times past


this past week I turned 70, and was joined in my rememberings

by sister who

truth be told,

are more aged than I  (although not by much)


so there we sat

ages 70, 74, and 77



hot summer days in Lake County, Oregon

4H horse club

treks through the sage and juniper

6am practices for the swim team


remembering our parents

our diminutive but powerful mother

who served with joy


our tall, lanky father

a physician and a true healer


remembering what it was like to grow up

in that small town full of

timber people and ranch people

first generation Irish, Armenians, and more.


remembering growing up with the same faces

the same names

first grade through high school


remembering how safe it all felt

that small town where people took care of each other

our small family

where mother and father create a free and friendly space

where we were able to grow up

and unfold

and become unique individuals


without fear of whether we would be loved or not

mistreated or not

abandoned or not


in thinking about this I am aware of how my understanding of

whatever it is that is underneath, in, and over creation

has been shaped by my experience

in that small town,

which supported and cared

and by my kind and loving parents


for me the Kingdom of God is like

a village in the high desert

where everyone knows your name

where you are accepted

and cared for and cheered for


and that reality we endow

so often

with the inadequate image of father or mother

is shaped by those loving

grace full people who were my parents


for me the Sacred is

warm, nurturing, supportive, and safe




I do not have to cower

be afraid



I know all too well

that not all see or experience Sacred this way


that for some

the power that is under, in and over all

is not safe

not predictable

not nurturing


it is instead

demanding, harsh, and punitive



and it is sad to see them

abused children of harsh parents

becoming harsh in their own way


abused children of a harsh God

creating their own forms of abuse

seeking to dominate


and coerce


rather than welcome, and love, and support


here is to good parents

human and divine

here is to allow love to overcome

the ways in which we were and are wounded


here is to love

Monday, July 26, 2021


There are two ways to live in this world:

As if everything were enchanted

or nothing at all

          Christine Valters Paintner



I have moments

when I aspire to be a mystic


I believe there is something out there

something big






and that I can connect to this reality

I can find communion

and union


I can be absorbed by it

and I can absorb it


this absolute power

this absolute love


until we are one


and so I stop

and breathe

and contemplate

that majesty of the mountain

the grace of the deer

the joy of a child

the freedom of the eagle


and there are moments

when I go


“Ah, this is it! 


but there are moments

when the cat vomits on the rug

when the tyranny of the urgent intrudes

when I am afflicted with messy relationships

and stalked by pain and illness


there are moments when I am surrounded by the

noise and detritus of grandchildren

and the painful honesty of children


when the phone rings


and the email inbox fills up



and life gets messy


that my illusions of being a mystic fade


and yet

and yet


whatever this is

many call it “God”


is in the mess


I believe I can only be a mystic

I can only be one who has absorbed the Sacred

and been absorbed by it


if I cand do that as a grandfather

as a therapist

as a human

caught up in the messiness of life


I must find Love

the creative power of the universe

in everything


God (for lack of a better word)

must be in the mountain

but also in the room, filled to overflowing

with dogs and grandchildren

and noise and chaos


the Sacred must be present

as on a hot summer after noon

I fall asleep at my computer

and wake fuzzy and confuse


God is

I am

we are


it is as simple and profound as that


Saturday, July 24, 2021

traveling light

“Faith is not the clinging to a shrine but an endless pilgrimage of the heart.”

Abraham Joshua Heschel



if I have learned anything in my 70 trips around the sun

it is that faith is a journey and living a life of faith is a pilgrimage.


sometimes the journey is coerced

Adam and Eve ousted from the garden,

exiled and excluded, more refugee than pilgrim


but on a journey none-the-less.


or Moses, fleeing blood stained sand

into the Sinai


the journey can be intense and focused,

like the desperate search of the magi following a star

to a newborn king


it can be a purposeful march toward a promise,

toward a land flowing with milk and honey


or it can simply be a matter of answering an inner call,

as with Abram and Sarai,

who are told to go into the unknown.


‘just go!” God demands

I will show you the place when you get there


Yeah!  Right!


but no matter how it starts

our faith is often a pilgrimage, and

we are pilgrims.


stumbling along, seeking to find our way to

the place God will reveal


one thing is evident about this journey


it must be traveled light


Adam and Eve fled naked (perhaps_

the people of Israel packed light


things were left behind


which makes me wonder

if I am going to be a pilgrim

what do I need to leave behind?


one collects a lot over 70 years

things mundane, and things precious

but which is which?

and what is really necessary?


I don’t have that many clothes

but I do have artifacts and art from all over the world

(I have been in 72 countries)

and to me they are special


I have glass art!

and coins

and books


oh, my

do I have books.


I love my books!

I often re-read them

I go back to them, like precious friends


but which one’s do I really need?

and which ones are expendable


but the need to drop baggage by the side of the road

has to do with more than just things!


there are beliefs I really need to leave behind

and attitudes,

and expectations

and narratives

and resentments



so much more


so as I enter into another decade

the challenge is clear.


I am being called to be a pilgrim.

I am being called to go new, and perhaps unexpected ways.


I do not get to settle and cling.


but where am I going

how do I get there

and what do I need to carry and what do I need to leave behind


God give me the faith to start the journey

the wisdom to travel light

and the faith that know

Love is with me, each step of the way



Friday, July 23, 2021

Utterly In

I am completely and utterly in God, I cannot fall out of God, I am imperishable.  “Who shall separate us from the love of God?” we can then ask with Paul the mystic: “neither death nor life, height nor depth, neither present nor future”.

                     Dorothee Soelle



there are days when one feels completely and utterly



surrounded perhaps by people

spouses, children,

loved on by pets


but still


there is that sense of isolation

as the huge gears of the cosmos grind on inexorably


as evil people with malignant intent use their power

to control and abuse


as people make choices that violate the common good

and wallow in toxic individualism


as the globe burns

and a virus spreads


and while misery loves company

in our misery we often simply feel



not just alone

but helpless and the hopeless

impotent spectators


and yet, and yet

all that is sacred

the energy and imagination that brought everything into being


is in us

woven into the fabric of our being


and we participate in this power, the energy, this love


God is in us

We are in God


we are completely and utterly in God

we cannot fall out of God

we are



of at least (since our bodies are quite perishable)

this bond, this connection

this love


is imperishable

and we, who we truly, fully are

at our core, are also imperishable


and we are never alone

never parted

from the love of God


the storm may come

the storm may rage

we may be tossed about

caught up in the chaos


but Love is always there

with us as the tempest rages

to calm

and see us through

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Creative energy

Try to imagine it, even though you know you cannot: a creative imagination and energy so great that it would produce light, gravity, time, and space . . . galaxies, stars, planets, and oceans . . . mountains, valleys, deserts, and forests . . . . gorillas, dolphins, golden retrievers, and us.

Brian D. McLaren, We Make the Road by Walking



try to imagine

that force, that power, that reality

that is behind everything


everything we see, smell, touch, feel


imagine if you can the kind of imagination



that came up with an aardvark


that came up with the quirky

with the vast

with the microscopic

with the grand


imagine the giftedness

the power


but above all, imagine the love

the love we see in creation

the love we see in the creatures of the earth

the love we see in Jesus


such love!


imagine being loved that much

and then move beyond imagining


move to that place where you accept

that this “great, big, beautiful, mysterious goodness, wholeness, and aliveness”

surrounds you and upholds you


and not just you

those around you

the good, the bad, and the ugly


the saint and the sinner



how great is the love with which we are loved

that we should be called

the children of God


for that is what we are (1 John 3:1)




Sunday, July 18, 2021

Why I am here

More than ever before in our history, we need a new kind of personal and social fuel. Not fear, but love. Not prejudice, but openness. Not supremacy, but service. Not inferiority, but equality. Not resentment, but reconciliation. Not isolation, but connection. Not the spirit of hostility, but the holy Spirit of hospitality.


So the “most excellent way,” Paul said, is the way of love [1 Corinthians 13:13]. Old markers of gender, religion, culture, and class must recede: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” [Galatians 3:28] . . . [and] “the only thing that counts is faith working through love” [Galatians 5:6]. Where the Spirit is, love is. Where the Spirit teaches, people learn love.


                     Brian D. McLaren, We Make the Road by Walking

                     Quoted by Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations, 7/8/2021



I come from God

at least I come from something I cannot really describe

or encompass

something greater than myself

that I can only know but not understand


I come from a power that stand under, over and around

all that is


at eventually I will return to that reality from whence I came

at some point whoever brought me here will have to take me home (Rumi)


but for now

I stumble through each day

vaguely aware (at times)

acutely aware (at other times)


of my original blessing

of the fact that I am meant to be the “image”

of that force that is somehow behind my being



aware too of how blurred that image can be


I have read (somewhere) that the more connected I am

to the root of my root

the more the image emerges


sometimes its is almost as if I am a new creation

born again

by Love to be…


to be what?


ah, that is indeed the question

to be powerful, rich, in control, safe?


an awkward idea to have at the foot of the cross!


it appears as if the path I am called to trod

takes me not into places of power

but into places of service and vulnerability

even sacrifice


I am called to love

I am called, as one who came from Love and will return to Love

to live a life of generosity and kindness

a life of forgiveness and reconciliation


I am called to welcome, and embrace

not just the friend, but the stranger

especially the stranger


I am called as one who came from Love and will return to Love

to live a life of love


that is why

I am


Wednesday, July 14, 2021

God wears our skin! (Incarnation)

God of those who suffer

You wore our flesh

And in the terror of the cross

You wore the outrage of our pain

                     Jan Richardson, In Wisdom’s Path, p. 126



just how far can we take this “incarnation thing”?

I mean seriously!

the very idea!


I think most times we shy away

from the radical identification of God

with our often miserable state


think of our metaphors and images

footprints in the sand


God with us, sure

but not in us

still outside us

deigning, perhaps, to carry us

or not


but how satisfying is it to think of a God

standing there, outside

watching our pain and choosing

to respond, or not respond?


I remember hearing of a person in an addictions group

sexually, emotionally, and physically abused

recoiling from the footsteps in the sand story


“I didn’t want God to carry me” she cried

“I wanted God to make it stop”


and yet the idea that God was in her

woven into the fabric of her being


going through the pain with her

was something richer and deeper


God in her, as she was abused

a new moment on the cross

a kind of death

and yet out of that death

because of the presence, possibility


that she could and would rise


ah!  present One

ah! Love!


You do not merely stand with me

You dwell in me

You are woven into me



what I feel, you feel

what I think you experience


my pain, my joy

my love

my all


sometimes I am your joy

sometimes I am your cross

but always I am yours

and always

I am you

working your purpose out


be ever present

incarnate if you will

we are in this



whatever may come

Monday, July 12, 2021

Don't forget gratitude

Walk your walk of lament on the path of praise

          Rainer Maria Rilke



they are unrelenting

the hungry ghosts

that linger in the dark recesses of my soul





anger (not always righteous)

assail me from within


even while the storm without

grows ever darker and more violent


there are days when my body’s reluctance

to get out of bed has less to do

with unrelenting pain

and more to do with unrelenting anguish


I am in the territory of lament


and that is OK


for there is a place in our lives for lament

there are reasons to despair

and regret is collateral damage from morality

anger is sometimes necessary

and resentment, alas, inevitable


but it is easy to wander aimlessly

in this wasteland

to turn in on ourselves and endlessly circle




lost, aimless


we must past through lament

if we are ever to get to joy


there are no five happy hops to delight

more like a thousand grim steps


but in our walk of lament

we can still walk the path of praise


in each moment

even as we plod through the pain

through the lies

and the cruelty

the toxic individualism

that denies the original blessing and blurs the image


we can reach for praise

as the sun rises,


as a cat nudges

and a dog lavishes us with affection,


as we observe a random act of kindness,


as we experience love



the way through lament is paved

with little praises


through praise

God draws us up from the desolate pit,

out of the miry bog,

and sets our feet upon a rock  (Psalm 40:2)


so this day I will lament

but this day

I will also praise!


I will have gratitude

I will give thanks with all of my heart

and share Love’s marvelous deeds (Psalm 9:1)



Friday, July 9, 2021

the flawed are called

We can only transform people to the degree that we have been transformed. We can only lead others as far as we ourselves have gone. We have no ability to affirm or to communicate to another person that they are good or special until we know it strongly ourselves  

Richard Rohr – Daily Meditations 7/2/2021



Love it appears

is always incarnational


if it is truly Love, it must be fleshed out

made real


Love created all that there is!

stating firmly (in my opinion)

“Here I am”  “I am love”


When we didn’t get it

Love incarnated again, coming as a squalling child

coming as one who forgave, healed, and welcomed

to remind us


and now

in this time and in this place

Love calls people to be people of love


But it is not an easy task

being the ongoing incarnation of Love

for we are fearfully and wonderfully made

and we are also a right mess


we love power, way too much

we are afraid, way too often

we fall into rank tribalism far too eagerly


and our love of money

leads to a plethora of ills


and yet, here we are



set aside


to be the ambassadors of Love

to be the image of Love in this world


It is the intention of that reality we called Sacred, or God

that when people look at us they go

“Hey look, Love!”


Scary, right?

because as has been mentioned, we are a right mess


But then it is always the flawed who are called

(we all are flawed and we all are called)

and our flaws are not a problem


because here is the truth

we are the ongoing incarnation

we are filled with Love

transformed by Love

empowered by Love


and that love leaks out


perhaps that is the way things were intended

that Love would work through such flawed people as

Abraham, Moses, Aaron, David,

Peter, Paul,

You and I


so that “no one should boast” (says Paul)

so that it should be clear

this when we serve Love

it is through a power not our own


I may be a mess

You may be a mess

But we are God’s mess

We are love's handiwork

set aside to do the work of Love




Thursday, July 8, 2021

it was good

Love created

and it was good

very good


this was the original blessing

this goodness that fills everything


the mountain that looms

the sea that crashes

the creek that bubbles


this is the goodness that makes

saints of all four-legged animals (Thomas Merton)

and perhap a few two-legged ones too


this goodness is Sacred

the Sacred is goodness


and it is all too often forgotten!

the original blessing soon forgotten

paradise lost

Eden exchanged for a wasteland


and so we trod, snake infested ground

sterile ground

unaware of the blessing

which we have left behind


and yet there is goodness all around us

there is goodness within us

there is goodness in our play

and goodness in our work


goodness lies deep

it is woven into the fabric of everything

for goodness flows

from the good heart of God

and permeates all


the earth is good

life is good

we are good

very good indeed




so let us wake up to the goodness

let us look for it and find it

in the earth

in those around us

and in ourselves


and live life

with open hearts

open minds

open eyes

and open hands


for we are God’s workmanship

and that

is very, very good



Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Live Goodness

[Julian] tells us that Goodness “is the quality of God that meets evil with good.”  For her retrieving and remembering goodness and recovering a sense of goodness, is at the heart of combatting suffering and evil.

              Matthew Fox, Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a time of Pandemic – and Beyond


hello heatwave!

I watch as the normally verdant valley

bakes to brown

and hardy shrubs with and succumb


the heat sucks  the life out of one’s soul

and one can only trudge through the day

scorched and listless


it is a wasteland out there

a desert


in more ways than one


hello suffering and evil!

they too seem to bear relentless down

suppressing and oppressing


leaving us sucked dry

and wondering


sometimes we merely attempt to hide

sometimes we battle

the heat and the evil alike


but just as we cannot battle heat with heat

we cannot battle evil with evil

we cannot return hate for hate


there is no solution

in such a response


it is tempting sometimes

to “own” the enemy

and the slide into retribution

there is momentary satisfaction in the scathing reply


but then

there we are

standing in the wilderness

devastation all around

Adam and Eve in exile


only cooling clouds and life giving rain

can break a drought


only goodness can combat evil



it is no mystery why Paul the Apostle implored

overcome evil with good


it is the way of God

it is the way of Jesus

it is the way of the cross


this day

even as the heat intensifies

my the cooling presence of grace

calm the fires within

as we seek to combat the fires without


this day may I wander into the coolness

of those deep places

where love lives


and remember





and then, live it



Sunday, July 4, 2021

At the Crossroads

Thou who dwells at the crossroads

bless the choices gone before

the roads not taken

the thresholds not crossed

the lives not lived


on the terrain that we have chosen

may we travel lightly

shed of regrets

and shorn of illusions

of other landscapes

that we reckoned

and did not choose to cross

                     Jan Richardson, p. 119, In Wisdom’s Path



life is full of choices

small choices

about breakfast and shirts


larger choices

about tasks to be done

and left undone


and those large heavy and choices

about careers

and relationships


about behaviors good and bad

that carry with them

consequences weighty


at times one cannot help but ponder

about choices made

decisions that changed the course of a lifetime


and one cannot help but wonder

what if

what if I had not made that choice

done that deed

gone that direction


what would my life have been like?

who would I have been?


Some of the most impactful choices I have made

Have been the one’s made in the heat of the moment

when my spontaneous and undisciplined soul

has veered right, or left


when I have jumped with both feet

into the swamp

when for the worse of reasons

I have chosen poorly, and seen my life unravel


there have been those larger choices too

the choice of a career

where I chose theology over English

the choices about who to marry

and which job to take


and yes

I wonder how my life had been different

If I had not jumped into that swamp

or if I had turned right instead of left


but there is one thing that I do know

even as I have tried to make the next “right” choice

even as I have both succeeded and failed

one thing has remained constant




while it is clear that because of my choices

certain doors were closed

it is also clear that in spite of my choices

door continued to open


even though at moments if felt as if there were

no way forward

as if I were trapped

and there was no exit


there was always a way forward

always an exit


always a something new


would those other lives

I once imagined have been better?






but I walk the path I have chosen

and love walks with me


and while I can learn from the past

and learn from choices made and unmade

in the end

the road goes on forever

into a future ever shaped by love and redemption

into eternity


so may I travel lightly

with few regrets, without false illusions

about what might have been

may I travel lightly

rejoicing in what is, and kissing the joy

as if flies! (Blake)


for God is doing a new thing


can we not see it?

Friday, July 2, 2021

Gradually Growing

What nine months of attention does for an embryo

Forty early mornings will do

For your gradually growing wholeness.




we are always pilgrims

if we are alive

always moving toward something new


a new task

a new relationship

a new understanding

a new birth


but it always a journey

a process


Abram spent years in the wilderness

Before he became Abraham


Moses journeyed from princely power

to being a Bedouin shepherd

before helping set his people free

and meeting God by a burning bush


David went from being one so unpromising

as to not be invited to an anointing

to being the anointed

and then a King after God’s own heart


and even then, he journeyed through betrayal

and violence, infidelity and murder

to being one who jotted down psalms of

confession and anguish

and hope


who knows what inner process Mary went through

before her “yes” to the angel

who knows what kind of inner journey enabled her

birth the Sacred

with her youthful body


Always there is a journey

Jesus in the wilderness

Paul on the road to Damascus, and then

in dark loneliness of blindness


we all must journey

my journey so far has been full of twists and turns

straight paths have turned torturous

safe paths threatening


failure has been snatched from the of jaws of success


some paths have come to an end


and yet the process continues

for every ending means a beginning

in every failure is the seed of a new journey


this day I sit

as the earth burns

and my soul struggles to rise from lethargy

and I understand


it is time to get up

and begin again

to move, left foot, right foot, left foot (breathe)

into the unknown


to go to the place the Sacred with show me

(I hope)


It is time to say yes