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Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Even though most of us are focused on Halloween, the day after, the first day of November is All Saints Day on the Christian church calendar.  It is traditionally a day to remember, recognize, and honor the people who have gone before us in life and in some way left a lasting impact, large or small.

Today most people understand a saint as someone who has lived an exemplary good, compassionate, and pious life.  It is considered to be a category reserved for a few.  However, in New Testament times "saint" was used, especially by the Apostle Paul, in reference to people still alive and living their faith.  He even addresses some of his letters "to all the saints of..."

So what if in the spirit of Paul we take All Saints Day and imagine it a bit further as a day when we remember, recognize and honor the Divine Promise in each and every human being, a day when All people are Saints, and we treat one another as such.   Then imagine every day as All Saints Day.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


"…be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Paul's Letter to the Romans, 12:2

"…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness…" 
Paul's Letter to the Galatians, 5:2

Surely just about everyone has heard the old joke attributed by many to Jack Benny:  The hurried visitor to New York City asks a person on the street:  "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" To which the person replies, "Practice, practice, practice."

We become who we are through practice and who we are right now is the outcome of previous practice. Take for example two common things among most humans, speaking and walking.  Both actions are developed through repetition, trial, and error over course of time in the first years of our lives.  Both then become part of who we are to the point of being perceived as natural.  There are so many other things we have practiced as well such as attitudes, emotions, intellect, and myriad skills and talents.

Much of my personal experience and understanding of "practice" comes from participation in athletics and theater.  In both cases practice and rehearsal are the precursor to performance.   Can we imagine a basketball player playing a game without repetitive drills, shooting, and running; or a baseball player hitting a 95 mile and hour fastball without hours in a batting cage? Or how about actors just spontaneously creating a fully polished play or musical.  Even improvisation requires practicing the art of improvising.  All great performing artists and athletes spend countless hours practicing and rehearsing.

The same is true in our emotional, social, and spiritual lives.  We can be just as intentional in developing what our religions and faith traditions call "spiritual practices" as athletes and artists are in developing skills and talents.   Gifts, or fruit, of the Spirit such as love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control do not come to us fully developed, or ripe. Just as delicious fruit needs water, sun, nutrients from soil, and time to ripen on a tree, our lives need nurturing and developing through practice.  

The Good News is that wherever we are, whoever we are, or whatever our circumstances we can literally transform our minds and our lives through practice.   Of course the first step is to take intentional, regular time off stage and away from the arena to read, listen, look, meditate, and contemplate who we want to be. 

The alternative is to constantly remain on autopilot and haphazardly make our way like an actor without rehearsal or an athlete without practice and training.

So, when do rehearsals begin?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Aligning the Planets

whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing [these things] and the God of peace will be with you.
Paul's Letter to the Philippians, 4:8

be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Paul's Letter to the Romans, 12:2

‘The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
Jesus in Matthew, 6:22-23

Recently a friend asked the rhetorical question, "Is anything going right in the world these days?", then added, "The planets must be out of alignment or something."   I must admit that I quickly agreed.

But then I am reminded by words from my own faith tradition's scriptures that my thoughts, my perceptions, and my responses to what goes on around me determine whether the "planets are aligned" or not.

So, no matter how dark or drear the world may look to you today, find one good about it and think on it, then find another, and another until a smile comes to your face.

The line from the old song really is true;
"When you're smiling, the whole world smiles with you."

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Prayer With A Little Help From My Friends

On Monday of this week I had the honor once more of delivering the opening prayer for a session of the U.S. House of Representatives as their Guest Chaplain.

Last week when I received the invitation I posted on Facebook a simple question:  If you if you had the opportunity to pray in 150 words for congress during this government shutdown, what would you say? 

I received numerous responses, some of which were (even though true) not suitable for public presentation.  The most thoughtful response came from my good friend and colleague Roy Howard who is Pastor at St. Mark Presbyterian Church in Rockville, MD.  Thank you, Roy for providing imagery and phrases for the prayer given as written below:

God of Light and Life, our prayer today is simple. 
May the Eternal Spirit that embraces All Good deliver us from fear.
May the hearts, minds, and souls of the women and men 
of this House of Representatives elected to serve the people 
be released from fear into freedom. 
In freedom may they discover and re-discover 
what is already deep within themselves 
as humans created in Divine Image. 
May every conversation and deliberation of this day 
and days to follow be filled with
-compassion for the millions of people whose lives and livelihoods 
are affected by these decisions. 
-courage to compromise when necessary to sustain and provide 
for the well being of all people 
-humility to let go of ideological convictions 
when those convictions hinder the common good. 
- and clear vision to see beyond narrow agendas 
toward a nation filled with promise 
to be a beacon of light for all people. 

Even though the prayer was written for Congress, in the end it is a prayer for fearless freedom, compassion, courage, humility, and clear vision in each of our daily lives.

Today's is the 100th One Eternal Presence post and this week marks the two year anniversary of One Eternal Presence as a weekly blog.  My thanks go out to each of you who read them, comment, and share with friends.  

To help me celebrate this milepost, take a minute and forward today's post to 10 friends who you think might enjoy getting them weekly.      

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


After several conversations yesterday with a few "non-essential" government employees I began wondering if any of us are really "essential" in the sense in which we use the word today.  Is anyone's work, or cause, or purpose absolutely necessary?  Millions of people die every day, yet the earth keeps turning and tumbling through space. Life in all of its multiplicity goes on.  No one is indispensable.

Yet, if we reclaim earlier understandings of "essential" we discover it's not about what we do but the essence of who we are.  Our essence makes us unique yet inextricably interconnected with and part of a whole existence both visible and invisible.   Our essence is the gift of life we have been given and the gifts of life we have to offer.   No illness, furlough, government shut-down, or even death itself can ever define who we are as long as we know our true essence.  We are all essential.