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



Monday, February 19, 2024

The Promise is Enough

It seems as if the “winter of our discontent”

will never turn into “glorious summer”

 

the darkness is so profound

late December early January darkness

that smothers and obliterates

 

leaving us lost and overwhelmed

 

this darkness rolls like storm clouds

obliterating the light

the fear deluges us, the lies

overwhelmed by pervasive hate

and foul greed

 

Evil ones promise shelter

But merely seed the clouds with more fear

More lies

 

We stand exposed

And face the storm

Small

So small

 

in these moments, bowed and cowed

I do not want to be small

I do not want to be a mustard seed, a touch of yeast

 

I want to be lightening and thunder

Earthquake and fire

I want to be a tsunami

That roars

 

But I am just me

One person

One voice

One heart

Small

 

With my little touch of faith

My little bit of love, and hope, and joy

Those meager resources I can share

With those whose lives I touch

 

But the promise is

That is enough


Tuesday, February 13, 2024

slow to anger, easy to calm

There are four kinds of temperament:

 

Easy to anger, easy to calm – the negative is canceled by the positive

Hard to anger, hard to calm – the positive is canceled by the negative

Hard to anger, easy to calm – such people are truly holy.

Easy to anger, hard to calm – such people are truly wicked

          V:14 Wisdom of the Jewish Sages (Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro)

_____________________________

 

It rises too quickly

This anger that eats at my soul

 

I like to believe it is righteous

This indignation

 

This ferocity that rises when I hear the lies

See the injustice, the racism

The fire that burns fiercely when I see suppression and oppression

When I watch people misinformed and mislead

And sucked into the abyss of fear

 

There is a place for anger

For the prognostications of the prophets

For the fierce burning God places upon the heart

For the agony that comes when we see

The rich plunder and see the poor abandoned

When we watch the powerful abuse their power

And see precious souls dehumanized and marginalized by racism, sexism, fascism

All the “isms” of the world

 

But we cannot live in anger

We cannot carry hate

Without becoming a force for harm

 

Even if we are on the side of righteousness

Unchecked anger becomes destructive

 

Anger distorts, even blinds

Anger becomes a powerful energy that leads to excess

To rigidity

To judgment

Exclusion

Even violence, a violence that emerges in many ways

 

We need calm

We need to find a quieter and gentler place

We need to find space in our heads, and even more

In our hearts

 

Where, as we breathe in and breathe out

We create room for love

And compassion

Generosity

Even forgiveness

 

Jesus got angry, but it took a lot

It took greed camping out in the place of holiness

But Jesus had a peace that passes all understanding

The calmness of watching betrayal

Of healing another, while being arrested

Of forgiving from the cross

 

He saw it all

He felt it all

The fire burned

But it did not consume

And he found that calm at the center of his soul

That allowed him to respond to the evil around him

Not with evil, but with love

 

Lord, this day

Help me to be slow to anger

And easy to calm

 

Help me to be holy


Saturday, February 10, 2024

Finding the words

If I can find the words in my mind

The words could explain, but the words won't come…

And I don't know what to say

          The Zombies, Chris White

__________________________________

 

It is like a silent scream

It builds inside me, filling me until I am stretched

 

Engorged

 

Unable to contain it all and yet

Caught with the unutterable

 

All around me, there is pain, anger, fear, distrust, hate

There are people trusting the deceitful,

living a lie

living without insight or understanding

 

pushing our world into the abyss

of climate change, division, and war

 

I pick it up and carry it

The slide into fascism

The racism

The inhumanity at the border

 

I pick it up and carry it

the pain of those I listen to and counsel

those who come to me with their own fear and pain

 

words spill out

there are always words

but they seem to get lost

 

I speak from the pulpit, and the words twist and vanish

Do they touch hearts?  Heal souls?

In counseling, I seek to say words that will unlock insight,

help people heal themselves (or their relationships)

but do I help?

 

Amid many words, I feel wordless

as if the words needed somehow

don’t come

 

not the right words

not

the kinds words

the healing words

the Spirit Words

 

those, perhaps, are stuck in my throat

in my heart

perhaps those Spirit Words are entangled

in my own inner chaos

 

I know I cannot “fix” the world

that it is not my job to heal people

they have to do that themselves

I am no Jonah, no Isaiah

Who can turn a city, and nation around

 

but I can speak words of love

of hope

of joy

 

I can speak words that open doors,

create space

raise questions

 

For today I will speak to God

I will shout to the skies

I will curse, perhaps

Lament

 

I will cry out for release

and will

try to find the words

to say to all I

I love you


Saturday, February 3, 2024

How Long

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?

How long will my enemy triumph over me?

          Psalm 13

 

"Open wide the door of your formless heart and allow God to God in you."

Conor McCourt (Whispers from the Sanctuary

___________________________________________

 

I have heard it said

that we have shapeless hearts

we are creatures unformed

 

ready to be shaped and molded

 

it matters, it seems

what we take into our souls

what we read

who we listen to

whom we trust

 

we cannot remain empty

for the world assails us

we sink deep into the depths and the pressure grows

as we watch the machinations of human creatures

who have lost their compassion

who have chosen the way of power and cruelty

 

we watch liars adored

the rich prosper, the poor suffer

we see evil people prosper

and good people die too young

 

we watch as the planet burns

and humans rain death and destruction on other humans

we watch children killed

We see the blood on the floor of American schools

The shattered bodies of Palestinian, Israeli, Ukrainian children

 

It is all too much

 

empty we would implode

and so we seek to fill ourselves

we look for a savior

 

desperately seeking we consume whatever we think

will keep us powerful, wealthy, safe

 

and our shapeless hearts are shaped

by whatever we draw into ourselves

by whomever we choose to listen to, and follow

 

it is easy in our pain, our fear

to choose poorly

to seek power, or wealth

to choose the path of domination and control

to lust for retribution

 

so easy

 

and thus we let hate-filled leaders

fill us with hate

people caught up in greed, seduce us with promises of wealth

people filled with resentment fill us with a desire to hurt and punish

 

our shapeless hearts become hard

and we respond to pain by creating more pain

to violence by creating more violence

to hate by creating more hate

 

we drop bombs

send drones

close borders

shame and abandon the vulnerable

embrace racism

pursue power and wealth

 

This is why the wicked prosper

 

Open our hearts, O Beloved one

Open our shapeless hearts

And fill them with your presence

 

The world is a mess

The evil do prosper

Justice is a joke

Equity is a distant dream

 

Fearmongers on the right

Fearmongers on the left

And there we are in the middle

 

Crying out “How long!”

 

Shape our hearts O Lord

So that we may resist the world with love

So that in the midst of our lament, we may still love

So that as everything falls apart around us

We may still love

 

 


Friday, February 2, 2024

love alone

It was as if

all the miseries of human creatures

had rained down

 

pain and hate and fear

searing the soil, consuming the fragile buds of the acacia tree

leaving nothing

but stones

 

there with only a stone for a pillow, he sat

this beloved child

surrounded by whisperings

 

make this stone bread

 

It is all yours if you want it

All the power!  Grab it

All the fame and fortune!

 

You can be king of the world

Yes, you can!

 

There is that place where there was only want

Where there was every excuse to grab power

The Beloved chose another way

 

He did become exalted, with a name that is above every name,

He did become one to whom every knee should bow and tongue confess

But not by grabbing power

 

 

He humbled himself

He gave it all up

The power, the glory,

Even life

 

To love us to God

To show us the way

 

Power without love becomes cruel

Heartless

Cruel

 

Greg Abbott

Donald Trump

And so many more

 

Some, wanting what is wrong

Some, perhaps, wanting what is right

Have heard the whisperings

And responded

 

Have chosen to grab power

To control, to dominate, to coerce, to punish

 

There is no right relationship possible here

Just walls

Just people with power, and people without

People with, and people without

People winning and people losing

People turning other people into objects

To be “acquired, controlled, used and discarded” (Spellers)

For power

 

The world has never gotten better

We have moved no closer to the Kindom of God

When the state, the church, and individual Christians

Have listened to The Whisperer

 

It has only gotten crueler

More deadly

More unjust

More divided

 

We have not learned

That we can have it all, and have nothing

And we can have nothing and have it all

 

What good is it

If we win the world

But lose our souls

 

There is only one path to true power

One path to the Kindom

One path

 

Paul said it well

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Phil 2)

 

The path of humility

And servanthood

 

Jesus showed us the way

It is not an easy way

It seems nonsensical. It seems impossible, weak

 

We act as if Jesus was wrong

But if the cross shows us anything

It shows us that the power of God shows up most

When we are humble

When we cede

When we serve

When we love

 

There is a way other than domination

Maybe we ought to try it.

____________________________________

 

There is no possibility for right relationship if one powerful group protects and sustains itself over and against all others. From there, it’s just too easy to construct binaries and hierarchies of human existence. Our group is good; all of you are bad. Our group belongs on top; we have to keep you low. Our group owns these resources and knows the best way to use them; you will only receive what we give you. Other members of the human family become objects and tools to be acquired, controlled, used, and discarded.

          Stephanie Spellers, The Church Cracked Open: Disruption, Decline, and New

Hope for Beloved Community (New York: Church Publishing, 2021), 39.

 

Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Justice without love is not justice. Love without justice is not love.

 Mother Teresa

 

If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.

          Paul