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, March 31, 2023

Justice equals compassion

If “compassion means justice” as Eckhart insists (and the Jewish prophets of old insist), then to do justice in the midst of injustice is to bring the Divine back to history and culture.  It is to bring love back since “God is love” and compassion is another word for love.  And justice is another word for love.

                     Matthew Fox (Daily Meditations)



when I was young we used to sing


love, love, love, love

Christians this is your call

love your neighbor as yourself for

God loves us all


it is more than that

God is love

and if we participate in the Sacred

if we are permeated with the Sacred

we will love


and love is not passive

love welcomes

love accepts

love embraces


welcomes, accepts, and embraces all people



not just those like “us”

not just those who are our color

embrace our creed

our culture

but all


and welcome acceptance, and inclusion

are not possible

without justice

without equity

without compassion lived out


how is it then

that some, in the name of Jesus

have embraced injustice and inequity

have pursued domination and coercion

have opted for exclusion and even eradiation

rather than love?


I supposed we should not be surprised

read a prophet, almost any prophet

and you will see there the ancestors of those

who today would oppress and hoard


those who today would dominate and control





those they have decided

are not children of God


Micah predicted woe on such people

“Woe to those who plan iniquity, to those who plot evil on their beds!

At morning’s light they carry it out because it is in their power to do it.”


We could come up with a lot of woes!

Woe to those who accumulate and leave others hungry

Woe to those who neglect the poor, the ill, the vulnerable

Woe to those who do not welcome the stranger

Woe to those who throw away transgender people

Woe to those who try to create a “Christian” nation through oppressive and cruel legislation

Woe to those who think guns are more important than children

Woe to those who think profits are more important than the planet

Woe to those who think they are superior to others simply because of pigmentation

Woe to those who minimize and marginalize women

Woe to those who push hate and fear for political power


The list could go on


None of us do it all right

all of us have ways in which we violate love


what do we do when we struggle to love those who do not love?


my thoughts about a certain political party and certain

political leaders are not very loving most days!


I admit it


but the fact is we must try love

and love requires justice

and justice must be equal

and for all

not just for some


love, love, love, love

that is our call

and we must live it out


and living it out is not just a matter of how we treat our neighbor

(although it is that)

but it is a matter of the systems we support (or don’t support)

the people who choose to listen to

and the people we vote for


to return to Micah

“What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”


we must get out of our egos

we must fight for justice

we must be kind (to all)

it is as simple and difficult as that

Friday, March 24, 2023

True Freedom

“We wanna go back to Egypt” the people cried

looking ahead into the unknown

into the undefined


“it may have been slavery back there,

but it was our slavery

it was our “known”

and we were happy (or so we remember)

with the scraps of vegetables and the fish that came our way

easing the hunger


“We wanna go back”

say all people, everywhere, in every time

looking ahead through the haze

into the unknown


true freedom is not all we thought it would be

it is uncertain and frightening



and God knows we love our certainty

and our comfort

we want what we believe we can control

what is safe


we would rather be enslaved and pretend to be free

than be truly free

we would rather be controlled, and pretend to be in control

than be truly free


we wanna go back to Egypt

we wanna go back to 1952

we wanna go back to those times

when everything was black and white

and the pews were filled with the unthinking


and we could ignore the harsh realities of racism

and ignore the gender spectrum

and ignore the poor

and ignore injustice


and pretend all was well

and that America was great


it is easier to trust old rules

old systems

old hierarchies

old prejudices


than to trust the One who would set us free


we do not want to be released

cast from our comforts

into the desert of the unfamiliar


and yet only if we trust

in God

in Love

in community


will we find our way through

the wasteland of fear and hate

to a land flowing with milk and honey

a land of equity and justice


only if trust

and let go of the old

can we find our way

to the promise




Thursday, March 23, 2023

Original Blessing

"And now, with God’s help, I shall become myself..."

          Søren Kierkegaard


But I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell

I know right now you can't tell

But stay awhile and maybe then you'll see

A different side of me

I'm not crazy, I'm just a little impaired

I know right now you don't care

But soon enough you're gonna think of me

And how I used to be

          Rob Thomas (Matchbook 20)



we hear it all the time

I am

I am broken

I am a sinner

I am an alcoholic or an addict

I am


but the real question is,

“Who am I?”

Do you know

Do you care?

Do I even know who I really am?


I believe in original blessing

that we come into this world

stuffed with Sacred


look at a child

any child

even children who, from a human perspective

with syndromes and other challenges


look at a child

look deep into their eyes

and you will see


or if not God

a stairway to heaven


in those eyes


I have gone through I lot in life

I had wonderful parents, healthy siblings

Privilege, and safety


I was gifted with reasonable looks

Moderate size

Decent intelligence


I have been educated beyond all reason


I have also made horrible mistakes

and have allowed an overactive and anxious brain

to haunt me


I have stumbled through 70-plus years

doing good, doing bad

helping and hurting

being moral and being a mess

eating well, and eating poorly

compensating for my bully brain in ways

that damaged and eroded soul, mind, and body


and here I am

wondering, as I look in the mirror at this sagging body

wondering as my soul stumbles as much as my feet

and my brain replays all the lowlights of my life

who I am


when was I most who “I am”

when was I optimal?

the closest to the divine blessing

the original intent?


I don’t know

I can remember a time when I was healthy




Relatively undamaged





At least I think I can!

How old was I

Before I started to pick up the garbage

That I have hauled around for so long?


The thoughts and feelings,

The memories

That cling and burden

And twist and distort?


That leave me saying

“I am not enough”

“I am not loved”

“I have made too many mistakes, and am not respected”

“I have nothing to say”

“I am only liked for what I can do, not for who I am”

(Perhaps you know the litany?)


How old was I before those years when I drank to me

And now, these times when I eat too much

Hammered my body

Until now everything hurts, and what doesn’t hurt doesn’t work?


I can picture myself





And as I do I remember Jesus, talking to another

Wrinkled gnome of a soul, Nicodemus

Another soul deeply imprisoned by his head

Out of tune with his heart and saying


You must be born again

(which means you must be born from above)


You must open yourself again to Sacred Love

Be filled again, even if you leak

With God’s presence


You must once again see yourself as a child of God

A child

twisted, humped, wrinkled, white-bearded, but a child

one in whom the Sacred shines through

one with bright eyes, looking forward into the future

one still grown

still improving

on the way


one God can look at as see God’s self

the image

reflected back


one with eyes, full of love and hope

acceptance and welcome

In heaven (perhaps) there will be only five-year-old eyes (Michel Quoist)


I do not want to see myself

As old


Twisted, withered, dried, hard


I want to see myself as a Sacred child

Forever (in all the ways that count) young




Open, all of you, little old creatures

It is I, your God, the eternal, risen from the dead, coming to bring back to life the child in you.


Hurry! Now is the time. I am ready to give you again the beautiful face of a child, the beautiful eyes of a child.


For I love youngsters and I want everyone to be like them!”   (Michel Quoist, Pr

Tuesday, March 21, 2023


“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.”

          Pablo Neruda




Spring)and everyone's

in love and flowers pick themselves”

          e.e. cummings


“The first day of spring was once the time for taking the young virgins into the fields, there in dalliance to set an example in fertility for nature to follow. Now we just set the clocks an hour ahead and change the oil in the crankcase.”

          E.B. White



they say it is spring

it is quite astronomical


that moment when the sun appears over the equator

and darkness and light are balanced


sometimes it feels as if someone didn’t get the memo

still the flowers slumber

reluctant to rouse themselves from under

the blanket of snow

God’s winter comforter


but still, we know

spring will come

the crisp snow will turn to mud

and the crocuses and daffodils will poke their heads

through sullen earth


spring is inexorable

this time of new beginnings

when what was sleeping awakes

and what was dormant blossoms into newness


there are those moments

when we wonder if spring will ever come

when the grip of winter seems firm

and yet it comes

and brown turns to green

black and white is replaced by Kodachrome

that which is asleep wakens

and even the dead rise


spring is the resurrection of the earth


there are other resurrections


I cannot help but think of the tired earth

that is my aging body

and of my tired soul

frozen by too many lies and too much hate

smothered by the coldness of white supremacy

and those who would be king


sometimes it feels as if it is always winter

never spring (thanks C.S. Lewis)

as if the long darkness will never leave

as if the path one trods leads only to the tomb,

to dark stillness

as if the light has gone out


and “It's so much darker when a light goes out

than it would have been if it had never shone.” (John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent)


and yet spring comes

life comes

resurrection does come


for the light shines in the darkness

the warm of Sacred love quickens us all

stirring even cold hearts and tired souls

to new life


even as we slow and tire

and our bodies grow old

even as malignant forces

smother love and compassion

and the earth itself struggles


new birth comes

again and again and again


that time when all is new

heaven and earth

and you



Tuesday, March 14, 2023

when equality dies

Turn in whatever way you will—whether it come from the mouth of a King, an excuse for enslaving the people of his country, or from the mouth of men of one race as a reason for enslaving the men of another race, it is all the same old serpent.

          Abraham Lincoln via Heather Cox Richardson


Once you give up the principle of equality, you have given up the whole game. You have admitted the principle that people are unequal, and that some people are better than others. Once you have replaced the principle of equality with the idea that humans are unequal, you have stamped your approval on the idea of rulers and subjects. At that point, all you can do is hope that no one in power decides that you belong in the lesser group.

          Heather Cox Richardson              


Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to me.

          Matthew 25 (A Parable of Jesus)



I remember well

Sunday School classes in the basement of the Presbyterian Church

in Lakeview, Oregon


There we would gather, in a time much different from today

and sing with youthful voices

“Jesus loves the little children, ALL the children o the world…”


And we meant it!

Sure, the world was full of prejudice

But we meant it, we little ones, when we insisted that all were loved

Red and yellow, black and white (and brown I might add)

(and yes, I know defining people by those limited and simplistic color codes is awful –

there are so many shades of beautiful – God is so creative!)


All were God’s children

All were created in God’s image

Male and female and everywhere in between God created them


And many of us, myself included

As we grew older and if not wiser, at least less naïve

Hope, nay believed, that a time would come

When our attitudes and actions would catch up with our

Innocent singing


that time has not yet come

indeed over the past several decades

as right-wing, domination-oriented ideology has gained power

in America and across the world


the idea that all are created equal

(it is in the Declaration of Independence)

has waned


we are sliding back into hierarchies

and heavenly-ordained domination


huge swaths of American Christianity have decided

that Jesus does NOT in fact love all the children of the world

just some

just the favored


how do you know the favored?

they are the ones with power

the ones with money, and beauty

the ones who “fit in”

who conform


who are not LGBTQI+

not on the autism spectrum

do not have bi-polar illness or schizophrenia

are not addicted

and are not one of the many beautiful colors (other than white)

that God and nature have created


the bottom line is this

too many do not see all as children of God, as sacred

do not see Jesus in all others (Matthew25)

do not believe all human creatures are created equal

do not believe all are to be treated with equal respect

have equal right

equal freedom

equal protections


too many believe they are better


and thus have the right

to dominate and control

and an equal right to oppress, suppress, and minimize


and yes, even eradicate


there is no room




for inequity in the Kingdom of God

in the Kin-dom of God


we are all sacred children

we participate in an amazing and holy diversity

of color, gender, and size

we think differently

we act differently

we have different strengths and weakness


but we are all sacred

all loved by the Sacred

all equal in God’s sight


and so this is the one thing we must start to do

see each person in front of us as a carrier of the Sacred

as one who participated in the Sacred

is permeated with Love (whether we can see it or not)


and treat them accordingly

for how we treat that transgender child

how we treat that young black person

how we treat that person who does not have a home

or is addicted

or who suffers from mental illness


is how we treat Jesus

and to not treat them with love and respect

is to violate God


Jesus had only one group he openly challenged and condemned

(yes, he did that)

those who abused power and hoarded wealth


he called them a brood of vipers

and suggested they bore “bad fruit”

today we see them still

those in power who use it to oppress, suppress and minimize

those who seek to marginalize and eradicate


we see them, we know them by name

we can create a roll-call of those who have rejected

equality and equity and replaced them

with privilege and inequity



this is the one thing we must resist

of all our sins

this is the one

that denies God

Friday, March 10, 2023

Wear your love like heaven

Lord, kiss me once more

Fill me with song

Allah, kiss me once more

That I may, that I may

Wear my love like heaven (Wear my love like)

Wear my love like heaven (Wear my love)

                     Donovan Leitch



sometimes as I wander the outback

driving the tattered two-lane highways of

Eastern Oregon

I listen to the radio


and sometimes as I listen to my classic rock stations

which play the songs of my youth it is

Kairos time


I am no longer in my black AWD

but am back in a rather battered 60’s Willy’s station wagon

and I am young again!


it is Kairos time

I am not remembering what it was like to be 16

I am 16



somewhere between Silvies Valley and Burns

the words came from my radio

wear my love like heaven


lord kiss me once more

fill me with song

that I may wear my love like heaven


and once I came back into chronos time

I wondered

what would it be like to wear our love like heaven?


it occurred to me that this is exactly what we are called to do

if we would wish the Kingdom to be

on earth as it is in heaven


wearing God’s love means

to live a life consistent with heaven

it means, perhaps to create heaven, or Kingdom (as you will)

to drag it into being

here and now

in chronos time


to me, this is not so much about individual “purity”

if there is such a thing

as it is about working to eradicate those things that could not

would not exist

in heaven


in heaven, there would be no abuse of the new earth

no hungry children

no homeless families

no people thirsting for water (because Nestle bought the water rights)

no guns


in heaven, there would be no CEO’s making $5000 an hour

while their employees struggle to make ends meet

no large corporations buying politicians


so to wear my love like heaven

means to be a person who seeks to get rid of anything here on earth

that could not exist in heaven


to change my own behavior, yes

to be a person of agape-type love

but also to fight to change those systems

that crush, oppress and destroy


to fight systematic greed (toxic capitalism)

systematic racism (it is everywhere)

systematic abuse of political power



if only the Lord would kiss me

and fill me with song

and turn me into on

who wears my love like heaven


so that I with joy

accept all, welcome all, help all,

encourage all

so that I with joy

give all


including my heart

Thursday, March 9, 2023

I know not this God

the wind blows hard and cold

on the high desert sagebrush bend in the wind

and roads disappear beneath the misty white

of drift snow


a battered Trump flag, torn

flaps wildly and even more tattered

“don’t tread on me flag”


squatting back from the road a small church

huddles bleakly in the gusts


a lone sign asks the question

“where will you spend eternity?”


the threat is there

turn or burn

appease a wrathful God, or pay the price

get in line

believe the right thing

say the right thing

be against “those people” destroying our country

or else


they grip my heart

those words

and I ponder as the miles stretch on

and the wind continues to blow.


why does my soul hurt?


I have experienced the Sacred

I have sensed a presence

seen miracles

I have been comforted with loved ones die

and been lifted up when I have fallen


I have seen Sacred open new doors

when old doors close

I have felt grace


I know God as love

as One who comes to heal and restore

to fill me to overflow with

hope, peace, joy, and love


I do not know this grim God

who looms and threatens


yes, Sacred impels me to live

as a sacred child

yes, the presence of love compels me to

love, give, forgive

to seek to do no harm

to work for reconciliation


no, Sacred does not leave me untouched

and unchanged


but this?


another town looms

another church

another sign

“Everyone will have to talk to God in the end”

and the chill returns


Perhaps everyone will GET to talk to God in the end

but what kind of God, what kind of presence or reality will they meet?

will we meet?

will I meet?


I believe God is love,

and so this fear-based faith oppresses me

and I wonder,

what does having a God who is angry, perhaps cruel,

for there is nothing so cruel as condemning a vast majority of human creatures

to eternal torment,

what does having a retributive God who is controlling and retributive

do to the human soul?


perhaps, perhaps

such a god creates angry, retributive, controlling, cruel people?

or perhaps fearful people, who for whatever reason, cannot trust

cannot accept love and grace

create an angry, retributive, controlling, cruel God?


I do not know

but I do know this

the God I know is love

is kind

is comforting

and works to heal and guide


and in love

simply asks for love returned

and love shared


where will I spend eternity?

I believe I will be home

where I belong

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

A different way

“If our social justice is guided by retribution, we will simply perpetuate the use and abuse of power to inflict violence.”

          Jamie Arpin-Ricci

From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we no longer know him in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; look, new things have come into being! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.

          Book of 2 Corinthians


“A society built upon a foundation of vengeance is a society doomed to destroy itself.”

          Richelle E. Goodrich

“Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”



“Vengence is mine saith the Lord, but I enjoy being God’s tool”


“An eye for an eye, and the whole world would be blind.”

          Kahlil Gibran

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.



“When you repay evil with evil, you become evil.”

          Wayne Gerard Trotman

“Don’t overcome evil with evil, overcome evil with good”

          Book of Romans



I sit and watch the sunrise

into a bitter cold sky

the mountain looms, white and stark

into brilliant blue


I lift up my eyes unto the hills

seeking help

wanting to trust that the One who is love

gets us

and has got this


I want to trust in Love, and trust that in the end

Love wins


I want to let go of my fear and anxiety

and I want my heart to stop hurting

every damn day


and yet I am afraid

afraid of the bitterness that drips from too many souls

like the sap from a wounded tree


I am afraid of those who are addicted to resentment, anger, and hate

and are driven to imbibe of the power to dictate

and even embrace a dictator


I hear the voice of one who would take us down a path

rejected by the One

“I am your warrior. I am your justice.

And for those who have been wronged and betrayed:

I am your retribution.” (DJT)


Those words freeze my soul

They violate me.


Ah, Lord, if that were your way

You would have listened to the tester

And accepted the crown of Empire


Ah, Lord, if that were your way

you would have aligned with those

who held earthly power and wealth


Ah, Lord, if that were your way you would not

have allowed the world to mutilate you

and hang you on a cross

and then look down with love

and say

“may forgiveness be theirs”                         


It is hard, this path of Love

This way of emptying and service

This way of generosity, compassion, kindness, and empowerment


Fear is much easier than love


And yet the only way for the Kingdom to come.

For it to be “on earth as it is in heaven”

Is for us to be people who seek to reconcile and restore rather than people who punish and destroy.


There is plenty of evil in the world

Plenty of hate, violence, resentment, and retribution

There is not enough love

Not enough reconciliation and restoration


Jesus came with a ministry of reconciliation

Not vengeance

And that work has been entrusted

To us


Let’s do it

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Stuffed with God

Preach the Gospel always, and when necessary use words

          Franciscan saying


We are trying to shout the Gospel with our lives

          Sister Margaret


Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

          Jesus (According to John)



we are not meant to be observers

we are not meant to stand on the sidelines and shout “Yay Jesus!”

or stand in the midst of this incredible world unmoved and unattached


we are not meant to be people who simply believe

and affirm


it was not enough for Nicodemus to affirm

even with all of his heart

that Jesus was stuffed with God

(not a bad starting point, but still)






we all must be born from above


which is not a casual thing

nor is it safe


being born from above is allowing one’s self

to be picked up by the wind

and blown where God wills


being born from above is like diving into a raging torrent

and carried by the current of the Spirit

where God wills


we cannot huddle and hide from the wind

we cannot merely dip our toes into the water


we have to open our arms and allow the wind to pick us up

we have to go all in


there is danger here

and powerlessness too

we are at the mercy


but Ah!

“The world is charged with the grandeur of God.

It will flame out, like shining from shook foil…” 


“    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;

And though the last lights off the black West went

Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent

World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.”

(Gerard Manley Hopkins)


the Holy Spirit fills us with grandeur

and freshness

newness and life


permeating us until we too

are charged with the grandeur of God

and no longer merely watch and wait

but live



leaking the Gospel

shouting God’s love with our lives