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

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Choose this day

Rabbi Shimon said

“Each moment you are called upon to choose

what you shall bring into the world.”


Joshua implored

“choose this day whom you will serve”


and those who seek to follow prayer

thy kingdom come they will be done

on earth as it is in heaven


each moment we are called

to choose

the empire of this world

the empire of domination and oppression

of suppression and minimization for profit


or the kingdom of God


each moment we are called to choose

the way of domination or the way of service

the way of accumulation or the way of generosity

the way of welcome or the way of exclusion


we are told the outcome is inevitable

that at some point the oppressed will be free

that at some point the poor will be blessed with “enough”


we are told that hate will be conquered by love

and death overcome by life


at some point


it doesn’t feel much like that now

as we watch empire beat a man to death

as we watch empire lie its way to power

as we watch those who have chosen the empire of the world

and have eroded their souls

until the divine spark

is more than blurred


it is hard to let go of the kingdom of the world

especially for those who enjoy and profit from it


it is hard not to respond to that kingdom, poorly

with retributive violence

with blame and fear-mongering

with detachment (run away, run away)


fight, flight, freeze

or perhaps fight, flight, blame (and shame)


and yet it is time

to choose

to choose this day

Love’s creative future


The kingdom of heaven is near

Perhaps within us

We can (as Brian McLaren says it)

“Seek it, enter it, receive it,

live as citizens of it, invest in it, even sacrifice and suffer for it”

(Secret Message of Jesus)


and the choice we make

to live the Kingdom

can change everything


making the future heavenly

instead of hellish


each moment we get to choose

will we live love?

Will we forgive?

Will we give?

Will we welcome?


Each moment the choice is ours

Which kingdom will we bring into the world?

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Jesus came

sometimes we say

Jesus came to turn the world upside down


perhaps it is better to say

Jesus came to turn the world right-side up


it is not as if the world was Eden still

or people image bearers of Sacred Love


it is not as if those faith systems

battered and beaten by time

set people free


but then Jesus came

announced by angels

born among the poor


then Jesus came

nurtured in obscurity

but proclaimed by Cousin John


Lamb of God

Lamb of God


then Jesus came and called the disciples

out of lives of obscurity and indebtedness

and turned the water into wine

and declared the day of the Lord’s favor


then Jesus came and shattered the preconceptions of blessed

and the definition of holy


then Jesus gathered around him

the mournful, the poor, the ill, the messed-up, and tuned out

then Jesus challenged the Pharisees and Sadducees

those “chaplains of Empire”*

and the rich and powerful walked away sad


“you have heard it said… “

“but I say…”


and still, Jesus comes

turning things right-side up

turning our hearts

transforming our lives


sometimes it feels as if Jesus turns things upside down

so inculcated are we

to the way of power and accumulation

so enmeshed with Empire

and systems of oppression and injustice


but no

Jesus calls us back to ourselves

back to original blessing

back to justice, equity and love


come, Lord Jesus




* A phrase coined by Erica William and quoted by Richard Rohr



Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Seeing Jesus

I believe that there is some power behind it all

I hesitate to call that power “God”

For our attempts to anthropomorphize this power never turn out well


Our images are always too small

And our small god tends to be way too much like us


But I believe

There is a power that helped shape this universe, in its unfathomable glory

This world, with its absurd beauty

We human creatures, who are both terrible and amazing

All at the same time


Call this power


The Beloved

The One



It is (I believe) real

And I believe that this Love

Is woven into the fabric of our being


I believe that we come from love

That we carry Love in us, for all of our days

And that when we die we return to Love


While alive we have the capacity for communion with Love

And when we die we move into a union

so profound

That all the pain and failure we gathered during our lives

All the illness

Melt away in the heat of divine love


So as I walk this earth, I have to recognize that it is populated

by image bearers


by people who carry Sacred in them

and who, to various degrees, let that presence leak through the cracks in their souls

into this world

there was one who truly bore the image

that one, Jesus

who was so full, so open, so permeated with the Sacred

that he was God with us


and we are told that this One

lives still

and is present still

in us, in we human creatures

in all of us


which means

if I were to look carefully into his eyes of that one sleeping it off

in a doorway in Portland,

I would see Jesus


if I were to look in the eyes of a beautiful child

an aged saint


if I were to look into the eyes of that person

fighting for the environment, or gun control

into the eyes of that dude with the MAGA hat


if I were to look closely, I would see Jesus

the burden is for me to see

and for the Jesus in me to find the Jesus

lurking in that person’s soul

however hidden Jesus might be


I am not naïve

I know we can deny the presence

I know we can deny the presence even while claiming the presence


to carry Jesus but refuse to participate in the work of

gathering, welcoming, reconciling, and healing

is to deny our true self

it to work against the Jesus in us


and when we do we become people who scatter rather than unite

and create division and exclusion

and we must at some level guard against things

we are not called to naïve inclusion anymore than we are called to

hostile exclusion (Brian McLaren)


but still, each person is a Sacred Child

and each person has the capacity

the potential


to be image bearers


so all we can do is have eyes that see

and as best we can

create whatever space is there

to make love visible and real


and make that space accessible to all

and let Sacred, Jesus, Powerful Presence

move among us


doing the work of Love

calling out that love that dwells within


who knows what might happen?!


Monday, January 23, 2023

the hour of love

          Sandol Stoddard in The Hospice Movement, quotes Dr. Cicely Saunders:  “We learn, for example that time has no fixed meaning as such.  An hour at the dentist seems like forever, but an hour with someone you love flies past.  And yet, wait a little and look back on it.  The hour of discomfort and anxiety is totally forgotten.  What we remember is the hour of love.”

          The hour of love is the hour when God’s creature, time and el’s human creatures like us collaborate with each other.

                     Madeleine L’Engle



on Sunday mornings people gather

and sing (as CS Lewis once said)

fifth-rate poems set to sixth-rate music

and share joys and concerns and ponder the mystery of the Sacred

and drink coffee (and tea) and eat cookies


on Wednesday nights

people struggling with addiction

gather to share stories of triumph and failure

to be as honest with each other as they can be


every day

in every way

at every time

human creatures gather


we gather in store aisles and share the latest

we gather in coffee shops and do lunch

we gather in hospital rooms and pray

as people we love

are knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door


we speak sometimes of intentional communities

but the truth is

our lives are marked by interdependence

and the fuel for our souls

is community


community is our life

each of us gathered

making sure that the other is taken care of

that they have what they need to not just survive

but flourish


that is how we were designed to live


each of us gathered

filled with Sacred Presence

permeated with love

using our gifts for one another

coming together to make a whole


dare we say a living organism

a body

the body

of Christ?


that is not intentional

that is our natural state

we image bearers


we do not bear the image alone

but together


when in sanctuaries, dusty and musty

in church basements and grange halls

in coffee shops and bakeries

in hospital rooms

and living rooms


we gather

for the hour of love

and the Sacred fills our hearts

and fills the room

and binds us together


as one

Saturday, January 21, 2023


“There are far too many silent sufferers.  Not because they don't yearn to reach out, but because they've tried and found no one who cares.”

          Richelle E. Goodrich



I think therefore I am

I am therefore I think


I have been thinking a lot lately

About life, and death

About joy and suffering


There are days when I lift up my eyes

and throw my laments to the heavens


I did not ask to be born

I did not ask for all of this


I cherish life

I do

I know that for all the moments of despair,

there have also been moments of exultation

mixed into the loneliness, has been love


and there has been meaning and purpose too


but I was not prepared for this

for the complexity and pain

for the feeling of powerlessness


Someone once said

pain is inevitable, suffering is optional


but I believe that all of us

if our hearts are open

are people of sorrows, acquainted with grief


the only way to avoid suffering is (as Oscar Wilde once noted)

to become an observer of one’s own life.

to shut down, tune out

to disassociate


there are people who do that

who turn off their hearts

who seal off

and become dangerous and often malignant souls

who do untold damage because they do not see

do not feel

do not care

about anyone, or anything


but most of us cannot escape the pain, the suffering

that comes our way


not our own

and not that of others


for suffering is part of love

if we love we suffer


to truly be awake (no wonder so many don’t want to be ‘woke’) to others

is to feel pain and enter into suffering


and what is most profound is how

we are drawn into the suffering of others


indeed, it is perhaps our calling

as children of God, followers of Jesus

Jesus was that one of sorrow

that one who picked up and carried all the pain, all the suffering of the earth

carrying it, and redeeming it

touching it


and we are called to share that suffering

we are called to choose to suffer the pain

that comes from seeing and feeling, from entering into the suffering of others

and walking with them through it all


sometimes it is very hard

being there, being real

being open

to the pain


of infected bones that will not heal

of marriages on the brink of disaster

of addiction, and recovery too


open to the pain of cancer

and surgeries extreme and grotesque


open to the free-floating fear

and the hate and bias that is all too prevalent

open to the poverty

the despair


sometimes it is hard to enter into all of that

and to be there

with ourselves, with others

in the midst


sometimes it is hard to be the one that cares


in such times

when it all seems like too much

too heavy, too painful, too hopeless

in such times when we try to be there with (and for) others

all we can do


is turn to the One

who understands

who went through suffering

to the One who cares


knowing that we will never be alone

and that the One who shares our suffering

will also see us home


Wednesday, January 18, 2023

tripping in the dark

the day began

with me tripping in the dark

one step, two

toe meets German Shepherd

curled up on the floor, all 100 pounds minding his own business

wanting only to be close


some days are like that

this day is like that

my body is weird today

uncomfortable in its own skin

unhappy and telling me


the day continued with me tripping in the dark

Loki the cat pawing at the window

let me in!

and then, one step, two

foot meets Shu

who offended yowls her protest at my carelessness


some days are like that

tripping in the dark

tripping over cats and dogs

tripping over pain and distress

anger and fear

tripping over those others who land in our path

on our Facebook page

in the news


it shakes us out of our complacency

as heart racing arms flailing we seek equilibrium


as if one can ever find balance

just rest in God, some say

but often I am tripping over God

stumbling as I experience the radicality of the Gospel


as I think about how Jesus challenges everything

I am unbalanced, careening through the dark

trying to find my balance as I stumble toward that light

what is clean or unclean

what is holy or unholy

sacred and profane

loving and unloving


what does welcome really look like?

do I really have to love my enemies?

is it really possible to overcome evil with good?


it is not easy, this life!

just one day, I cry, I would like to feel peace

just one day I would like the pain to go away


but thank you, Beloved

thank you for those things in my path

over which I stumble


which rouse me out of my reverie

which way me up

which make me struggle and fight

to stay standing


thank you

for I need to look where my feet lead me

I need to stop, sometimes, in my headlong rush

and stop

heart pounding, face flushed

mind racing

and pay attention

good morning, Finn, greetings Shu, and Sofi

Tiger Lilly and Lady, and all the girls (my hens)


good morning world

good morning Jesus

good morning to all I will meet


how are you today?

are you well?

you are loved!

welcome to this day

Monday, January 16, 2023


Let us hear it for the prophets!

Let us hear it for those voices crying in the wilderness

Opening up the future

Preaching the Kingdom of Heaven in the Kingdom of the World


Let’s hear it for the prophets

Who walk unwanted into our lives

And disrupt them with the truth


Prophets are truth-tellers

Crisis makers


We want to wander along through life

Embracing our convenient lies

Those falsehoods we have all agreed to embrace


About our world, our country, our churches



Enter the prophets

Revealing our racism, our greed

Lamenting our neglect of the poor

Chastising us for our destruction of the planet

Our reliance on violence


All our “sins”

All those things that exist on earth

That could not, would not exist in the Kingdom of God


Telling us what we do not want to hear


Here is to the prophets

To Isaiah and Jeremiah

John the Baptizer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Martin Luther King Jr

Dag Hammarskjold

Greta Thunberg


The times are dark

But Ah! The prophets

Shine the light on the right

Sharing inconvenient truths with those

Who do not want to hear


To us

Recalcitrant and stubborn

They come deconstructing our carefully constructed illusions

Rooting out the root causes

Of pain and suffering


Daring us to see

To hear

To feel

To change


To die

That we might be born again


@Martin Luther King Jr day, 2023


Friday, January 13, 2023


I, Thou, We


I do a lot of reading

as most of my friends know

I have shelves of books

some of them new, barely explored


others old friends among whose pages

I have wandered countless times


Sitting there small, but not insignificant

among heftier tomes

is Martin Buber's little masterpiece

"I and Thou"


Buber's work has been referenced

in at least three other books I have recently read

used different ways

but all still talking about the way we

through dialogue

help shape and form and create each other


When the relationship is I - Thou

rather than I - It

(or in these days it might be even more powerful to think of "I - THEY"


it is a lover-beloved relationship

in which people find not only each other

but in fact, themselves...


your "Thou", helps me discover my "I"


Gone is the functional, calculating relationship

where affection and value must be earned and is not just given


One author goes even further

and suggests what would be even better is if we went beyond “I-Thou”

to "we"


to a place where our encounters with others

leads to kind of a profound synthesis

which is somehow better, more evolved than what was there before


I love that idea

Which brings to mind the concept of synergy

where 2 + 2 = 5, or 6

or more



The idea that two people, when they come together

in a radical connection of love,

(perhaps Spirit fueled)

create a reality that is bigger



more loving

than if they had never come together at all


And yet, we seem to be so stuck on “I”

in that "I - It" world

where one must be right and the other wrong

where one must lose in order for another to win


Yesterday I sat with a number of people

I also sat with cancer and impending death



I sat with frailty

and heart failure

I sat with addiction


It was a day just to sit

and listen

and try to be a Thou

so they could be an I

and the kind of I that allowed them to be a Thou

(confused?  I am)


Mostly it was a day to just “be with”

sometimes mostly in silence

to create a 'we'

a moment of transcendence

a moment that was sacred, loving, and healing


where 2, or 3 were gathered

and Jesus was there

in the midst

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

We are needed

He needs you

That’s all there is to it

Without you he’s left hanging

Goes up in dachau’s smoke

Is sugar and spice in the baker’s hands

gets revalued in the next stock market crash

he’s consumed and blown away

used up

without you


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




this world is going to he$$

in a handbasket!


it certainly is

it certainly can

it certainly will




that is what Saviors are for

to save

to make things different

to bring repentance


not the repentance of

poor pitiful me

but the repentance of

“things have got to change”

it is time to turn things around



Jesus came to turn things around

he came to turn us around

to turn me around


with Jesus up became down, and down up

the first became last and the last first

giving became receiving and receiving became a time to give

and death became life


and so it is

and so it ever shall be

Jesus saves


by turning us around so that we

permeated by His presence


doggedly, persistently, hopefully, faithfully

to turn the world around


we are the hands and feet of Jesus

we are the givers, the healers

we are the salt that flavors

we are the light that shines

we are the voice of love


Jesus needs us

to be new creations

people reborn

the ongoing incarnation

that is all there is to it

Monday, January 9, 2023

more than doctrine

I was just another believer… I had become a believer but I had no idea what it means to be a follower

          Shane Claiborne



Jesus is a problem

Forget the images we have fabricated

of this lily-white dude wandering around

dusty rural roads in lily-white roads


this Jesus who oozed love and patted children on the head

and made everyone feel



forget the Jesus most of us are introduced to in church

so socially acceptable and safe

so conforming


to the culture we live in


that Jesus who blesses our 401k

and provides us with a ticket to heaven

for no charge at all


I suspect that Jesus is not comfortable or safe at all

think about it!


that scruffy brown dude covered with dust

that fiery teacher who told those who listened

that they would have to turn their entire lives

upside down

that weird soul who ate with sinners

used spit and mud to heal the blind


that one who suggested that if you wanted to be great

you had to be the least

and if you wanted to live

you had to die

and said that the blessed were not the rich and powerful

but the poor and mournful


what does it mean to follow such a Messiah?


it is likely to wreck one’s life!

one will have to leave the old behind

and move on to what is fresh and new


and difficult


loving enemies

giving away our goodies

forgiving those who have hurt us

welcoming those we fear and misunderstand

fighting for justice

telling the truth

demanding the truth


it is easy to say Jesus is Lord

it is easy to spout a creed

it is not so easy to follow


but on the shore of Galilee

Jesus didn’t say “believe”

he said “follow”


and he says it still

Friday, January 6, 2023


Little drops of water,

Little grains of sand,

Make the mighty ocean

And the pleasant land…

So the little moments,

Little deeds of kindness,

Little words of love,

Help to make earth happy,

Like the Heaven above.”

          Julia A.F. Carney



we watch with eyes wide open

mouth agape

heart pounding, mind racing


we watch the chaos unfold as the chaos makers

for reasons of their own

create disorder


in the beginning the power of Love

that something greater

created order out of chaos


and now here we are

creating and climbing our own foul tower of Babel

undoing creation

each one thinking of self

of power and money

the Kingdom of the earth


yet we were created “in the image”

imago deo


does that not mean,

dare we not believe,

that we were designed to be those

who participate in the making, not the un-making

of the Kingdom

co-creators of the peaceable kingdom


where enmity is destroyed

and differences are laid aside

and all are together

lion, lamb, goat, wolf, child, viper

old, young, rich, poor,

live together in peace, caring for, and protecting one another?


co-creators of an earth that is happy

and healthy

not burning?


is this not the truth, nay, the expectation behind

the teachings of Jesus

who bore the image so completely?


give to the poor

feed the hungry

cede power

hold fast to the truth

fight for justice


destroy the chaos of the kingdom of abuse and greed

be salt

be light


this is who, what, we were created to be

people who make the earth happy

people who do not just carry the Spirit in us

but allow that Spirit to transform us

and move us

into service and humility


so that order is created out of chaos

hope emerges from despair

service replaces domination

exclusion is replaced by welcome

love overwhelms hate

and life emerges out of death


at times it seems hopeless

at times we feel helpless


but we are not in this alone

we are in this together

it is together, working with Love and

with one another that we find our power


as was once noted

if you cannot do great things yourself,

remember that you may do small things in a great way

(Napoleon Hill)


I may not be able to save the House of Representatives from itself

I may not be able to reverse climate change

but I can be kind

I can help a neighbor

provide food to the food bank


visit a person who is trapped in their home by infirmity


helping create in my own small way

the Kingdom of Love

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Sometimes I Pray

sometimes I pray

or something like it


sometimes as I feel the pain of the world

and see the suffering

as the powers and principalities

do their malevolent thing


I find myself muttering under my breath

to someone, something






wouldn’t it be nice to be able to simply

call upon Love, and have it simply show up

healing, calming, protecting


I saw a meme the other day

“heaven is holding a conversation about you right now

 angels have been assigned, [God] is at work on your behalf”


there is a part of me that wishes this were how it worked

that I, one of millions and billions on a planet in a galaxy in a universe

could call upon that power in which we live and breathe and have our being

and bend that will to my will


there is a part of me that feels this kind of individualistic

perception is flawed

as if Sacred is at my beck and call

as if I can use prayer for myself

(or even use prayer against you!)


does it work?

it seems to, sometimes!

but then there are those other times


and if it works for me, then why not for you?

why am I comfortable and healthy

while you are without a home or in agony?


is that creative loving power so random?

biased? selective?

does God play favorites?

does this have to be earned?


why do bad things happen to good people?

and very, very, bad people flourish?


none of this really makes sense

and yet


I keep muttering, keep praying

for it goes beyond wishful thinking


for there is something in the universe

and in me

that when focused can create

can heal

can love


it is there, that power

and somehow, when,

through prayer,

through angry words thrown into the sky

through passionate painful pleas

we open the universe, ourselves, a crack


something happens


when we, along with others

in community

dredge this power up and focus it

on a person, a problem

intending good


something happens

beyond that?

I have no answers

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Uncertain certainty

I had escaped the snare of certitude that I welcomed so avidly at first and entered, via the name of Jesus, the wide and comprehensive company of Jesus.”

Eugene H. Peterson


Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant, in this field as in all others. His culture is based on "I am not too sure”.

H.L. Mencken


My interpretation can only be as inerrant as I am, and that's good to keep in mind.

Rachel Held Evans,


The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.”

Bertrand Russell



The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it

the words crossed the heated space between us

this person of certainty wielding their faith as a bludgeon


I have a grudging respect for such conviction

and sometimes think it would be nice to be so sure

of God, and what God wants


to be able to frame God as a stolid father in the sky

replete with beard, and robes

armed with righteousness and rules

and reward and punishment


but such certitude also fills me with sadness,

and a deep kind of dread


some call this certainty faith

I am not so sure

perhaps it is instead the opposite of faith


a fearful need to have everything settled,




black and white

in and out

good of evil

blessed or damned


perhaps such certainty reflects a reliance upon things seen

and a need for security and manipulative power


The certainty that is uncertainty is an attempt to create

a narrow way.  A clear way

where the rules and known and obedience gets one to a destination

Safety?  Salvation? Heaven?


Here is where we get into trouble

When we frame the world in this constricted and restricted way

And then insist that everyone else sees the world the same way,

and follow the same path we have defined

and then insist that if they don’t they are wrong

not just wrong, sinful

adding the judgment of God to our judgment


I may be wrong

but it seems to me that even as we consume the scriptures

and study the sages of the ages

we are all still

just guessing


We have some tools

the scriptures, prayer, meditation,


But mostly what we have is connection

we are branches attached to the vine….

We have an ongoing attachment to the Sacred and through that connection

love and wisdom flow


Without that connection? We are like a branch broken off

Littering the ground

Dry, brittle

Not fruitful


that connection is what gives us life

and freedom

that connection allows us to be open, and curious

that connection allows us to embark on a journey


not into the known and certain

but into the unknown and uncertain (ask Abram)


that connection sustains us along the way


and that connection allows us to join other pilgrims

each on their own journey, their own path

to join them without


without the need to manipulate and control

without the need to be right

without certainty


knowing that we may be right

but we may be wrong

and we must always be learners

know that we will never fully understand

the mystery


that is God

that is love


know that all we can do is keep stumbling

from one wonder to the next





being kind and caring to those

we meet along the way


until we all finally

find our way home

into the Sacred Heart


Sunday, January 1, 2023

New Years

New Year 2023


Transformation usually includes a disconcerting reorientation. Change can either help people to find a new meaning, or it can cause people to close down and turn bitter. The difference is determined by the quality of our inner life, or what we call “spirituality.” Change of itself just happens; spiritual transformation is an active process of letting go, living in the confusing dark space for a while, and allowing yourself to be spit up on a new and unexpected shore.

                     Richard Rohr



We come to the end of another year

limping, stumbling forward

into a new year


that seems so terrifyingly



dazzling balls drop as we count down the old

fireworks explode

glasses are raised

bells ring

as we welcome a new year

that is replete with oldness


It seems we have a problem


And the problem is that we want change, not transformation

We want to change our habits,

our way of doing life,

but not our hearts, our souls, our minds


But such change does not come unless we change our hearts, our souls, our minds


What we need is not change, but transformation

And transformation

Is a process


A scary, troubling, painful, exhilarating process

It is like a high-flying trapeze artist

having let go of the bar

spinning for a while over the abyss

suspended over, nothing


And then only then, after those moments of sheer terror

Finding something to grab hold of and hang on to


It is letting go of what has been

risking that wild and terrifying flight

to find what is next, what is new


Sometimes we do not know

exactly what it is we grasp for

sometimes, when we first let go of what was

it feels as if we are literally grasping for air


the new is often unexpected

sometimes challenging

often scary


But it is out there

a gift of Sacred Love


we can fear it and fight it

we can entrench and encapsulate

and live trapped in the old

shriveled and bitter         

perched on  razor’s edge, staring into the abyss


or we can, in faith

trusting that God is love

that God is good


Take a moment to breathe

And think

Pray, meditate


Then believing there is something out there is that new, and good

let go of the old

spin in the confusing darkness

And then, grab hold, of God’s new thing

Happy New Year!