Search This Blog

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


God said, “This is the sign of the covenant…for all future generations…between me and the earth. When…the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant…between me and you and every living creature…and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.”   
            - Genesis 9:12-15

The rainbow of Genesis is a multicolored ribbon around God’s finger, a reminder to God that God is bound to all Creation for all time, and if God were to destroy Creation, God would be destroying God’s self. 
             - From “Lent – A Pilgrimage Into The Promise of God’s Covenant” 02-26-12

Today is a gift, not just because it is a day that appears on the calendar every four years, but because like all days it is filled with God’s Promise of Presence in a Rainbow Covenant that not only reminds God, but us, that just as many colors make up the wholeness of light, the Light of God is made up of the multiplicity of Creation, interconnecting and co-mingling all people and all things through One Eternal Presence.

In the gift of this day never given before
may we be open to new beginnings.
In the gift of this day of work and creativity
may our eyes be open to new ways of seeing.
In the gift of this day of play and rest
may our hearts be open to laughter and stillness.
Guide us, Great Creator,
that we may find you in one another.
Guide us, Loving Christ,
that we may give ourselves for the earth and its people.
Guide us, Spirit of New Birth,
that in the matter of our lives we may be bearers of hope.
                     - from Liturgies from Casa del Sol, Philip Newell

Several people have asked about the poem read at the close of last Sunday’s worship service at Capitol Hill Presbyterian.   Here’s a link to “For Presence” by John O’Donohue.

All are invited every Wednesday evening during Lent at 7:30 P.M. at CAPITOL HILL PRESBYTERIAN to explore God’s Calling to Humanity within the Interdependence of Creation through discussion of shared readings from Scripture and various scholars and theologians on Creation Care. Each evening will include times of silent meditation and contemplative music. For readings and resources please visit theresources page on the CHPC website.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

From Certitude to Wonder

There is a human propensity to turn wonder into certitude…we are so insistent, and good, at turning wonder into certitude that we don’t even realize we are doing it. Behind everything, even things like kindness, compassion, gratitude, and generosity there has to be a motive and a meaning.
Transfiguration is the threshold into Lent, which is traditionally a season of contemplation, examination, and penitence for Christians. The meta-story for Lent is Jesus in the wilderness for forty days.  Lent is a time to turn away from the comfort and familiarity of certitude and enter the discomfort and strangeness of wonder.

If Transfiguration is the threshold into Lent, then Ash Wednesday, which many Christians observe today, is the front lobby, the foyer, the entryway.  It is the room where we take off our coats of certitude and scarves of security becoming vulnerable to our own stories and beliefs, in order to hear, see and feel our own lives, through different words, images, and practices, opening ourselves to the transformative, transfigurative power of God’s wonderful, mysterious Presence.
For those in the DC area looking for an opportunity observe Ash Wednesday in a non-traditional way:
"Stardust to Ashes”
a Contemplative, Interactive
Ash Wednesday Liturgy
Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church

You are invited to participate in a very different, non-traditional Ash Wednesday observance. This is a self-paced contemplative liturgy that can be started anytime between 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. where people go from station to station on a guided pilgrimage exploring the miracle of creation and the frailty of life through poetry, scientific discovery, scripture, music and images. Along the way, there is the freedom to sit in the pews at any time to pray or meditate.

At the end of the pilgrimage all are invited to receive ashes on the forehead as a reminder and symbol of our mortality within the mystery of immortality.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

God Is - I am

But Moses said to God, "If I come to the Israelites and say to them, "The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,' and they ask me, "What is God’s name?' what shall I say to them?" God said to Moses, "I am who I am."
                                    -Exodus 3:13-14
“…the word “God” is too huge to allow any other word to breathe beside it.  Furthermore, it is unnecessary; God is omnipresent , and life itself is the primal sacrament, namely the visible sign of invisible grace.  
                                    - John  O’Donohue,  from To Bless the Space Between Us

In the Hebrew Scriptures the name of God is comprised of four letters: YOD, HAY, VAV, and HAY with no vowel markings.  Even though we may pronounce them as “Yahweh,” Rabbinic tradition would substitute “Adonai” or “Lord” claiming the name is too holy to say.
Once in a retreat setting a Rabbi shared with our group that in truth the letters are unutterable not because of the holiness they evoke, but because they are all consonants. You cannot pronounce a string of consonance without vowels.   The Rabbi said if we tried it would sound something like a hissing sound, which he then demonstrated.  The four-letters when “said” together are actually the sound of breathing. The holy Name, the Name of the Creator, is the sound of our own breath.
These letters are also the root letters of the Hebrew verb “to be”, giving us the possible translation of God’s Name given to Moses at the burning bush as  “I am who I am,” or more accurately “I will be who I will be.”
With all of this in mind I suggest combining these imaginative linguistic observations into a simple mantra for meditating and contemplating our identity as being created in God’s image.   It’s as simple as breathing in an out while thinking: “God Is – I am.”
Inhale – God Is.
Exhale – I Am.
And so the act of breathing becomes not only the Name of God but also our name as created in God’s image.
The practical beauty of this meditation is that it can be done anywhere – in quiet, still solitude as well as within noisy, active congestion of daily life.  Wherever we are or whatever is going on, if we are alive, our own breath reminds us:  God Is – I am.
Happy Breathing!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

One With God

“I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”
            -  Jesus, John 14:20

Earlier this week I listened to an interview with the Irish poet, priest and philosopher John O’Donohue and was again inspired to consider and experience the presence of God in all of creation - including humanity.

So it is in this Spirit of Incarnation that I share two poems, the first an ancient Irish poem (read as part of the previously mentioned interview), the other from the Psalms.

As you read and contemplate these ancient words, do as Jesus reveals – claim them as your own, knowing the One Eternal Presence of God within you.

"Song of Amergin."

I am the wind on the sea;

I am the ocean wave;

I am the sound of the billows;

I am the seven-horned stag;

I am the hawk on the cliff;

I am the dewdrop in sunlight;

I am the fairest of flowers;

I am the raging boar;

I am the salmon in the deep pool;

I am the lake on the plain;

I am the meaning of the poem;

I am the point of the spear;

I am the god that makes fire in the head;

Who levels the mountain?

Who speaks the age of the moon?

Who has been where the sun sleeps?

Who, if not I?

Psalm 19

The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims God’s handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In the heavens God has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,
and like a strong man runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them;
and nothing is hid from its heat.

“I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”

What happens when we consider ourselves as interconnected and interdependent with all of Creation?


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Road Trip!

For the past three days I spent 20 hours and a thousand miles behind the wheel of a U-Haul truck through the countryside of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.  My daughter Jayme, her dog Matilda and I were moving them from Atlanta to Austin.   It was quite an adventure and good to get out of DC to experience parts of the U.S. that were very familiar as well as totally new.  
Here are just a few things that caught my eye and imagination while riding along the highway:   
·      KIA and Hyundai plants in GA and AL respectively - just in case you want to buy an American made car.
·      Hank Aaron baseball park in Mobile – as a boy in Alabama could he have even imagined it?
·      The turn off to Bayou LaBatre where CHPC did a mission trip after Katrina.
·      Mississippi State Troopers scratching their heads over giant bales of hay in the middle of the bridge crossing into Louisiana – the source of the mess nowhere in sight.
·      The Mississippi River – always a wonder to behold.  
·      Only “Christian” stations on the frequencies where NPR usually is – OK for a while since I love listening to radio preachers.
·      Tony the Tiger, a poor soul in a cage at a truck stop, in Louisiana
·      Playing interstate leapfrog with a semi flatbed stacked with beehives - and bees. 
·      The word “Texas” on everything – even Texas shaped waffles for breakfast.
·      The lights of oil refineries east of Houston shining like small cities dotting the horizon.
·      Crossing the same meandering river (Texas has its own Colorado River) at least a half dozen times between Houston and Austin.
·      A billboard for “Anteeks!” – yes, that’s the way it’s spelled.
·      Wide open highways where 75 mph feels like sitting still.
·      and finally in Austin, one of the best hamburgers I ever ate – ground sirloin!
All of this is a reminder to me, and hopefully to all of us, of the amazing variety, diversity, and local flavor of the world in which we live.   Wherever you are today, take minute and imagine outside your immediate surroundings and circumstances and ponder the endless places, people, and possibilities on this wonderful planet we call home.  Rest in the truth that as participants in Creation, we all share the same basic needs, hopes, and dreams.   We’re all on the same Road Trip!