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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

A Blessing for Renewed Common Good

This week’s OEP is a prayer was given to open the U.S. House of Representatives on September 10, 2015. I hope it will have meaning for you today.

I'm taking a little break from One Eternal Presence for a few weeks. In the mean time, each week I'm sharing one of the fourteen Opening Prayers for the U.S. House of Representatives I've had the honor and privilege to deliver through the years.  I'll be back after Labor Day.

As vacations and recesses draw to a close, we give thanks for the gift of rest and recreation afforded us while so many in our country and world have spent those same days in fear and suffering.

May we leave business as usual in the shadows of yesterday, seeking to shine with renewed purpose, inspired wisdom, and transformative action.

May every person associated with these Halls of power remember their calling as public servants to humbly hold the hopes, dreams, and trust of people from every walk of life in every State, city, town, village, and neighborhood of our country and world.

As numerous streams of opinion, interest, and need flow into the procedures, process, and decisions of this day and days ahead, may there be wisdom and patience to allow them to find their way to pools and ponds of peace, rivers of mercy, and eventually oceans of compassion and common good for all people. Amen.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

A Blessing of Possibility and Potential

This week’s OEP is a prayer was given to open the U.S. House of Representatives on March October 7, 2011. I hope it will have meaning for you today.

I'm taking a little break from One Eternal Presence for a few weeks. In the mean time, each week I'm sharing one of the fourteen Opening Prayers for the U.S. House of Representatives I've had the honor and privilege to deliver through the years.  I'll be back after Labor Day.

Creator God, Eternal Presence, Spirit of Life in whom we breathe and live, we come into another day that has never been, a new day, an empty day waiting to be; its possibility and potential filled with only that which we bring to it. 

As we pause in this moment may we have the wisdom, humility, and grace to lay aside the fear, scarcity, pain, mistrust and violence that has consumed so many of our yesterdays. 

Where discord has been our nemesis, may harmony be our friend.
Where suspicion shades our perspective, may trust bring light to see clearly and know your Presence in ourselves, in others and in all Creation. 

This is our prayer. Fill us with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self–control, so that these may be the gifts we bring to this day, to our work, our lives, our country, and our world.   Amen.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

A Blessing of Interdependence

 This week’s OEP is a prayer was given to open the U.S. House of Representatives on March 18, 2013. I hope it will have meaning for you today.

I'm taking a little break from One Eternal Presence for a few weeks. In the mean time, each week I'm sharing one of the fourteen Opening Prayers for the U.S. House of Representatives I've had the honor and privilege to deliver through the years.  I'll be back after Labor Day.

We come today with thanks and gratitude for the eternal presence of God, known by many names, that is within, around, and throughout all creation.

May each person in the human family be reminded today in every breath we take of the Spirit that binds and connects us to one another. With every morsel or drop of nourishment taken into our bodies may we remember our interdependence with the soil, streams, seas, plants, and animals of Earth. As we gaze to the sky above may we allow the mysterious vastness of the unknown to stir our imaginations toward creative care of that which is known.

As citizens not only of Nations but also of the Earth itself, may we live this day and every day in harmony with all. And may this Spirit of harmony be that which guides the ideas, conversations, debates, and decisions of our Nation's leaders today and always. Amen.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Blessing The Day

I'm taking a little break from One Eternal Presence for a few weeks. In the mean time, each week I'm sharing one of the fourteen Opening Prayers for the U.S. House of Representatives I've had the honor and privilege to deliver through the years.  I'll be back after Labor Day.

Today's prayer was given on February 4, 2010. I hope it will have meaning for you today.

In thanks and gratitude we breathe the life giving Spirit of a new day 
filled with creative potential and possibility.

As on the first day, may this day be "in the beginning."
May we see the goodness and abundance of creation.
May we embrace the name given to us, Human, – from the earth.

May we look into the eternal waters and see in our own reflections 

the image of the Name that cannot be named, 
the Eternal Living Presence we call by many names. 

May we see both the Human and Divine 

in ourselves and every other person. 
May we see the Eternal Presence of Life in all of creation.

May the Light of the first day be our guiding vision for every day 

particularly within the deliberations and decisions 
among the minds, spirits, and imagination of these chambers, 
leading us to see and respect the sacred dignity and worth of 

every one and every thing, everywhere.


Thursday, August 1, 2019

August Recess

It's that time of year again! Time for me to take a little break from One Eternal Presence. 

In the past, during this time I've posted some previous OEP reflections. This year, each week I'm sharing one of the fourteen Opening Prayers for the U.S. House of Representatives I've had the honor and privilege to deliver through the years.  I'll be back after Labor Day.

Today's prayer was given on July 23, 2012. I hope it will have meaning for you today.

Creating God, we come together today in a simple prayer. 
May we be who we are created to be, reflections of your image. 
May we live as we know we should, as caretakers of creation. 
May we participate in the purpose of life, as companions to God and to one another. 
May we truly embrace the equality of humanity as ‘‘self–evident'' and know 
that just beneath the surface of disagreement, conflict, discord, and even violence and death, 
there is a deep river of grace, love, and forgiveness that truly binds us. 
May this stream of eternal presence be solace for any pain in our lives; 
but, more importantly, inspiration and hope of reconciliation and peace 
in personal relationships, in our Nation, and throughout the world.

May the deliberations and decisions of this day and all days 
take place in the spirit of common good, the spirit in which we are created.


Wednesday, July 24, 2019

If there is...It is we...

“You are the light of the are the salt of the earth.” ~ Jesus

“The love you take is equal to the love you make.”  
~ Lennon and McCartney

The world we have 
is the world we made 
and continue to make. 

If there is hatred, 
it is we who hate.
If there Is love, 
it is we who love.

If there is violence, 
it is we who are violent.
If there is peace,
It is we who are peaceful.

If there is restlessness,
It is we who are restless.
If there is contentment.
It is we who are content.

If there is cruelty,
It is we who are cruel.
If there is kindness,
It is we who are kind.

If there is ugliness,
It is we who are ugly.
If there is beauty,
It is we who are beautiful.

If there is despair, 
it is we who who are desperate.
If there is hope,
It is we who are hopeful.

The Universe is.,
Creation is,
pure Possibility. Potential,
Our tiny piece. Earth,
the world, our world, waits,
not for a savior, 
not for a Deus ex machina,
but for us.

The world we have 
is the world we made 
and continue to make. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019


A couple of days ago here in Estes Park, Colorado as I hiked with Peg and dear friends a slight breeze led my attention to a small Aspen tree. I took a deep breath and remembered.

Eight years ago as I sat under a much larger Aspen tree in Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, the sun crept over the hundred million year plus, layered walls of Kitchen Mesa. The early morning chill had begun to recede into Box Canyon, ancient home to dinosaurs. The sky was blue, and deep in the way it can be on a late Spring morning on the Colorado Plateau. A gentle breeze suddenly became stronger and with it came a sound as if a flock of birds were overhead. Looking up, I saw, not birds but leaves, thousands of them shimmering, glistening, singing, dancing. Breathing in, eternity collapsed into one moment. Breathing out, one moment became eternal.

I can’t say for sure but that moment may have been the beginning of this weekly blog. What I do know for sure is it was an epiphany that shifted my perspective and perception from one of an autonomous individual to that of a participant in and expression of a wonderfilled, mysterious, on going process of One Eternal Presence.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019


"We sure could use some rain."

"When will it ever stop raining."

We have all felt and expressed the above in some form, depending on our location and time. Rain is a fact of life. In fact, it is necessary for life. Without rain there would be no life. So, how come we humans are always grousing about rain?

Maybe our basic problem is we insist on keeping on regardless of rain while most of the rest of nature simply takes it in stride and waits it out. There are exceptions of course like hurricanes and floods when we are forced to acknowledge rain.  But for the most part rain is seen as a major inconvenience to "normal" life.

We have this audacious notion that somehow we are separate from and apart from the rest of creation. Unfortunately, this notion of environmental autonomy has led humanity to abuse our planet to the point that weather is becoming more and more threatening, not only to our comfort, but to our existence.  Places that need more rain don't get it and places that could use less get too much. Our climate is changing and we are a major factor in that change.

It is long past time for humanity to stop hiding our heads and sipping lemonade and realize that rain or shine we have an effect on our environment. In the end regardless of what we do or don't do the weather will be fine. But will we?

Rain - The Beatles

If the rain comes
They run and hide their heads
They might as well be dead
If the rain comes
If the rain comes

When the sun shines
They slip into the shade
And sip their lemonade
When the sun shines
When the sun shines

Rain, I don't mind
Shine, the weather's fine
~ Lennon and McCartney


Wednesday, July 3, 2019

from Andrew to Andrew

Dear Andrew,

We welcomed you into this world less than a week ago. You surprised us and came early. But that’s ok because you’ll discover that some of the best things in this life come as surprises.  Your early arrival is a pretty good example of that.

Coming early the way you did also means you need a little extra care. That’s another thing you’ll learn about living. It is awfully tough to make it alone in this world, practically impossible. Even though you’ve shown us you have a strong will to thrive, you need other people in order to survive and thrive.  As your Mama Carina, recently pointed out, it really does take a village of family, friends, and community --all of whom have already surrounded you with support and love. 

Always remember, it is ok to ask for help. It is natural to need other people. This wonderful creation you have entered is mysteriously and amazingly interconnected and interdependent in ways that you have already experienced without even knowing.

That’s another thing. There is a whole lot of information in the world that you will learn, but simply knowing something doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve experienced it, or vice-versa. So many of the best things like joy, peace, gratitude, and love are experienced before we know what has happened. 

There is so much more you need to learn and know about life in this universe, but there will be plenty of time. Right now, you just keep on thriving, surviving and experiencing the sounds, touches, smells, and tastes that tell you, not only are you loved, but also that you bring joy, peace, gratitude and love to Mommy Jayme, Mama Carina, Brother Oliver and all of us other family and friends. Come to think of it, you bring love into the whole world. 

So one day I hope you’ll look back on these days and truly know that you are deeply loved and that you are the presence of love in this world! I also hope you’ll never forget this!

Well that’s all for now. I’m sure there will be more later.

Your Papa, Andrew.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019


Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me…If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea.
~ Jesus, Mark 9

Teach your children well
Your father's hell did slowly go by
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks
The one you'll know by
Don't you ever ask them why
If they told you, you would cry
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you
~ Graham Nash (Crosby, Still, Nash, & Young)

And when I die and when I'm gone, 
there'll be one child born,
and a world to carry on, to carry on.
~ Laura Nyro (Blood, Sweat, & Tears), (Laura Nyro)

The quotes above invite you into a couple of ear worms I have this morning - two songs from my youth, two songs among many about how the past becomes the present, becomes the future. 

If you want a glimpse at the future look at how children in the world are being treated today. There is a wide range from total neglect and cruelty to obsessive attention and smothering love. Countless children are born into fear, poverty, and violence, while others come into comfort, wealth, and safety. The divides that exist in the world today become tomorrow's, or not, depending on how we welcome, teach, and nurture all children, not just our own.

Today, as the song says, "there'll be one child born," one child, and another, and another and... "and a world to carry on."  May we do our part to "teach them well."

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

A Father's Day To Remember

On Father's Day this past Sunday I remembered something that Peg and I experienced on Father's Day back in 1976. My reflections on that day were subsequently published in a religious weekly publication in 1981. It took me a couple of days to find my yellowing copy. So I'm sharing it now.  

On a technical note, in order to make it readable I inserted a large photo copy that requires using the vertical and horizontal scrolling bars on a computer and/or the zoom functions on phones and tablets. Sorry for this inconvenience. I hope you are able to read and enjoy. 

Thursday, June 13, 2019


"Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe." ~ Thomas - John 20:26

"Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."  ~ Jesus - John 20:29

"A man [sic] hears what he [sic] wants to hear and disregards the rest." ~ Paul Simon - The Boxer

"I'll believe it when I experience it," said a deputy sheriff as we told him about the good experience friends had at the local small community hospital. "Don't go there unless you have to," one person after another told us. But our friends "had to." And what they discovered was a hospital under new management, a recently remodeled facility, a friendly, efficient staff and highly qualified physicians -some local and some resourced from other "big city" hospitals. The once inefficient, sketchy hospital has evidently taken a turn for the better.  It is changing.  But that doesn't change the past experiences of many people in the community who continue to believe their hospital is bad.

Which comes first - belief or experience?  In the Gospel of John, Jesus' disciple, Thomas, won't believe Jesus is alive until he sees and touches his wounds. Then Jesus blesses everyone who will believe without seeing and touching.

There are also those who say, "I can't believe this is happening." in spite of their experience and evidence all around them - hearing and seeing what they want to hear and see.

Believing can save us or it can lead us into destruction. What we believe, how we believe, and why we believe is a tricky thing.  I really believe this!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

"words" Expressing Word

“Words make worlds” — because it’s true...language in poetry is magical language. It creates a world. It summons a world into being. The existential necessity of poetry — lyric poetry and song — emerges from the magical power of language to create worlds that dramatize both our experience of disorder and our need for order — vividly present, both.   

In the beginning is the Word. The Word becomes flesh and lives among us.  
~ John 1:1, 14, my paraphrase

Language constitutes our reality. It is the expression of the human experience of the essence of existence. The Word (Logos) is the embodiment, the becoming flesh, of experience. And words give shape and meaning to The Word. 

My Old Testament professor at Columbia Seminary, Walter Brueggemann, once said in a lecture, "Yahweh lives on the lips of Israel's praise." This is truly Incarnation! If this is also true in our time, that God lives on our lips, then God may very well be on life support today.

In the same interview quoted above, Gregory Orr shares the following lines from William Wordsworth:

“Let’s remake the world with words.
 Not frivolously, nor 
To hide from what we fear,
 But with a purpose. Let’s remove
 the dust of custom so things
 shine again, each object arrayed 
In its robe of original light. And then we’ll see the world
 As if for the first time.
As once we gazed at the beloved
 Who was gazing at us.”

In order for humanity to survive and thrive we must "remove the dust" of the current, rampant abuse of language, stop "tweeting," and sing in full measure of the great goodness of all people and all creation. 

Words matter. Language makes a difference. We must pay attention to what we say, write, and hear because in the end "The Word" is expressed through our "words."

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

"ins" and "outs"

According to an online dictionary the word "in" has at least eleven different meanings and functions, and "out" has at least six. Both can be prepositions, adverbs, adjectives, nouns, prefixes, suffixes, and more. The function determines the meaning.

For example, when I say I "believe in love" am I saying I believe something called "love" exists or am I believing while surrounded by love?  If something is considered "out" is it physically away from you or not under consideration?

What is in and what is out may very well be the primary decision process of most of human thought as we continually choose which objects and ideas receive and hold our attention. Attention then becomes thoughts, which become actions that become our life. Much of this process takes place subconsciously in the routines, habits, preferences, and prejudices of our lives. We choose one thing/person or another without realizing we are choosing. We also make conscious choices, but my guess is that even most of our conscious choices are somewhat predetermined by subconscious ones.

Another tendency of this process is that whatever is "in" probably provides comfort and love, and the "out" stuff generates suspicion and fear. This does not necessarily mean that one or the other is good or bad. We can embrace bad things and be fearful of good things.

My point in all of this is to heighten awareness of what/who is "in" and what/who is "out" in our lives, and to realize that we make choices every moment of everyday whether we realize it or not. Our "ins and outs," whether conscious or not, determine our lives 


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Rest Patterns

Do you remember TV test patterns?  Recently in a conversation with some peers we were reminiscing on those odd looking, but familiar, mandalas that occupied TV screens while stations were off the air. 

Image result for tv test pattern

Among the several purposes for test patterns was the need to occupy the frequency of the broadcasters signal while programming took a break. The patterns also gave technicians reference points for adjusting things like focus, contrast, and eventually color. Perhaps the most beneficial purpose of the test pattern was hidden and even unintentional - they gave the world a break, time off from the consumption of images and sounds. They helped sustain rhythms and cycles of activity and rest, awake and sleep. They even mimicked the mandala, an ancient art form of introspection, contemplation, and meditation of the universe.

I've rarely been one to pine for the "good old days" but wouldn't it be nice to have test patterns again, not just on televisions, but also radios, computers, phones, and all of the "smart" devices that occupy so much of human time, energy, and imagination? Wouldn't it be nice if the whole world, within our respective time zones, could pause each day, take a deep breath, and get off the media grid if only for a few minutes?

Of course we can do this as individuals and groups. We humans have been meditating, worshiping, gathering, relaxing, and sleeping since our beginnings. However, we also have a strong tendency to be drawn toward whatever is flashing and shining in front of us. 

Our current reality is one of constant exposure to all manner of media containing information and data in imagery and sound. There are no more test patterns. This leaves us to our own devices. And, we do have a choice. We have on/off switches. We have imagination. An amazing creation surrounds us and already provides seasons, cycles, and rhythm, if we will only turn away* from flashing shining screens on our walls, our desks, and in our hands. We may not have test patterns on our media today, but we can develop and practice "rest patterns" in our lives!

*"repent" - to turn from one thing and toward another 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019


Propaganda: the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person; ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one's cause or to damage an opposing cause.  ~ Merriam-Webster online dictionary

Our modern lives are fueled by information, so much so that we've labeled our time as the "age of digital information." An older friend recently shared that several months ago he had given in to  his children's chiding to trade in his flip-phone (now considered ancient technology) for a "smart" phone of which the "phone" part is the least used. "Now," he says, "I can't imagine not having it with me,  and I feel disconnected if I don't."

The more we learn about the technology in our lives, the more we realize how we literally live in a multilayered maze of manipulation of information that feeds our desires and fears while shaping our perspective of the world. Remember the phrase (I suppose we call it a "meme" now) "you are what you eat." Updated a bit, it becomes "you are what you read, watch, and hear on the various screens in your pockets and on your desks and walls." Swirling about in this sea of information, sometimes surfacing enough to see it, is propaganda.

The original meaning of the word "propaganda" was religious.

The Congregatio de propaganda fide (“Congregation for propagating the faith”) was an organization established in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV as a means of furthering Catholic missionary activity. The word propaganda is from the ablative singular feminine of propogandus, which is the gerundive of the Latin propagare, meaning “to propagate.” The first use of the word propaganda (without the rest of the Latin title) in English was in reference to this Catholic organization. It was not until the beginning of the 19th century that it began to be used as a term denoting ideas or information that are of questionable accuracy as a means of advancing a cause.  ~ Merriam-Webster online dictionary.

Of course the "faith" being propagated was that of the Doctrine of Discovery, a Papal Bull from a previous century that sanctified domination and exploitation by European "explorers."

The only thing that seems to have changed in five hundred years is the means of communication - from Papal Bull to Presidential Tweet.

Our dilemma, and task, is first being aware that we live in this maze and sea of propaganda, and second to discern how our own desires and fears are being fed by the information we consume. Humans have a tendency to gravitate toward things we desire and hide things we fear.

There is a reason most spiritual traditions hold at their core detachment from unbridled desire and release of unfounded fear. These are truly worth propagating.


Thursday, May 2, 2019

The Breakfast Tree

Sorry about the late OEP this week. I've been kinda busy because my grandson, Oliver, and his Mommy and Momma are visiting us this week. A four and half year old boy in the house keeps you pretty busy! He's up early and goes 100% all day long!

Oliver is into super heroes theses days and his favorite is Cat Boy on the animated series "P.J Masks." Picking up on this we've had fun imagining some other "boy" names connected to all of the things he's been doing this week.  Oliver now has a string of aka's like Pool Boy, Beach Boy, Surfer Boy, Noodle Boy, Drip Castle Boy, - The different "boys" just keep showing up.

This morning I made Oliver his favorite breakfast - a ham and cheese omelet and, you guessed it, Omelet Boy appeared. While enjoying our omelets and some fruit, Oliver made the observation that we could save money by planting orange seeds in our back and then pick our own oranges for breakfast. So, I suggested why not go for the whole works and plant an omelet tree!

You can imagine where the conversation went from there. 

"What if it were a breakfast tree with any kind of breakfast on it?"

"We could have a lunch tree too!"

"And a dinner tree!"

"What would be on the dinner tree?"


That's when it occurred to me -

"You know, Oliver, actually it all comes from seeds and plants."

"What? Even meat? And eggs?"

"That's right. Even meat and eggs. Meat comes from animas that eat plants that come from seeds. Eggs come from chickens that eat grain that comes from plants, that come from seeds."

Thanks, Oliver, for reminding us that we are all connected to each other and to all of creation.

There really is a Breakfast Tree!   

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Life is a Poem

"We’re taught that poetry is some kind of elevated language about an elevated life we don’t live. It’s ordinary language about an ordinary life that we live." ~ Dionne Brand

April is National Poetry Month. I discovered this from my car radio last night as I drove home form a church meeting.

As is the case for many of us who spend time in and out of automobiles, I caught a snippet of a radio program. The program is "q" with Tom Power from the CBC and it airs on our local NPR station when I'm driving home from evening church meetings. I've never listened to an entire program, only snippets, but I usually like what I hear.

The bit I heard included the above quote from Dionne Brand an acclaimed Canadian poet. Brand, in the interview, goes on to describe poetry as where "...the music and matter of language come together..."  Her ordinary poetic definition of poetry sent my thoughts to an OEP blog I wrote last year about poetry. It also inspired me to ponder the extraordinary reality of the ordinary in our world.

The convergence of music (spirit) and matter (body) is how I have come to think of, believe in, and experience religion and spirituality. We are spiritual bodies. This is an ultimate teaching and tension in every religious tradition. Our problems seem to come when we think of spirituality as "elevated" beyond our grasp, when in reality it is forever within our reach in the ordinary. Even our rituals, sacraments, and holy days point us in the direction of talking, listening, eating, bathing, giving, receiving, living, and dying.  It's all so ordinary yet so poetic.

We are God's poetry, created in One Eternal Presence to be artisans and poets of good as we live in God's eternal poem.  Ephesians 2:10 (my translation)

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Where is Your Jerusalem?

It's Wednesday of Holy Week. According to the biblical Gospel stories, this is the week Jesus finally went to Jerusalem, the place where he knew he would be killed. During the days (at night he went to safe places outside the city) he taught in the temple, mostly about the corruption of the religious leaders in Jerusalem, and their capitulation to imperial powers. By Friday afternoon he was dead.

I know it sounds cliche (probably because it is always true) but we live in such times. Imperial powers, which include untethered corporate greed, threaten not only human dignity, but also human existence. And religions in which many of us participate prop up these forces with theological acrobatics, but mostly through apathy.

What would happen if all the people who claim to follow Jesus actually did? What would happen if people of all faiths began to live by the basic values of these faiths - love, compassion, generosity, justice, grace, hope...? What would happen if each person of faith was to identify a threatening place in their life, a "Jerusalem," and enter proclaiming and living true values of human dignity? 

Would we be killed? Maybe. But like a man on the news last night who escaped starvation in Northern Africa by crossing the Mediterranean in a small boat when asked, "Why risk your life crossing the water?" said, "What did I have to loose. I was already dead."

There is life and there is the illusion of life. In which are we living?


Thursday, April 11, 2019

Space and Time

Thirty-five thousand years ago a human migration began in East Asia and for thousands of years made their way across frozen oceans to what we now call Alaska, eventually spreading east and south into North, Central, and South Americas. My daughter and son-in-law recently flew from Beijing, China to Newark, NJ in less than thirteen hours.

It took only five hundred years or so for European conquests to decimate most of those ancient people. Today a "tweet" can span the globe in seconds and affect millions of lives.

We have always been One Planet, One Creation, and One Human family. Space and time are just getting smaller and faster.

One Eternal Presence still holds it all together.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019


In our neighborhood brewery recently, the room was filled with sound: conversations, laughter, and not too loud jukebox music.

The guy beside me at the bar and I talked sports until he left. On my other side was a couple engaged in their own conversation so I took a minute to sip my beer and take in the room. But I couldn't help hearing snippets, then more, of the couple next to me. I looked straight ahead pretending not to listen. They were engaged in a fairly common conversation between couples about how he/she "never listens."

He got into a long explanation of how when he first comes home from work he has so much on his mind and that was why he often didn't hear what she was saying to him. In the middle of this rather rambling rationalization he stopped mid-sentence and said, "I've always loved this song."

Of course, my own attention at the time was on the couple's conversation. I had never even heard the music, nor did I recognize it when drawn to it.  He loved it. I had never heard it. And the expression on her face screamed, "See what I mean!" 

Attention. What are we hearing, seeing, feeling? Where is our attention? Is it focused? Scattered? Bouncing all over the place?

Remember the scene from The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy and her friends finally come into the presence of The Great Oz?  The "great" oz turns out to be a "little man" who is good at creating illusions. "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!" He shouts.

Meditation can be described as the practice of paying attention to our attention. Taking a few minutes each day to sit quietly and let the myriad attentions of our lives settle into silence is perhaps the only way we can begin to cope with the too often chaotic cacophony of attention grabbing noise around us.

The "man behind the curtain" is all around us, but most if all he is us.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Long Time Passing?

What has been is what will be,
   and what has been done is what will be done;
   there is nothing new under the sun.  ~ Ecclesiastes 1:9

Is there really nothing new under the sun? It sure does seem like we humans keep having the same conflicts and conversations about all the same things. How many times have you thought or asked out loud, "Didn't we get all of that worked out back when?"  Yes and No.

The problem may be that we keep thinking "back when" is "now," or that we can somehow go back to "back when." Today's world is inhabited by different people, information, and  technology that have changed "the way we used to do it." Besides, those good old days many people long for never really had things as settled as we thought they were. Some people were always left behind or worse trampled down.

Perhaps the thing that doesn't really change is the human penchant toward cultural amnesia and shortsightedness.  Most of the time, we forget where we come from and have no idea where we are going, which means we don't even know where we are.

So, if what's going on in our lives and the world today seems like deja vu. It probably is. The illusion of change swirls around us, when real change only takes place in the human heart.

So we keep asking the same questions.  When will we ever learn? 

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Here Comes the Sun!

Today at 5:58 p.m. is the vernal equinox. Below is a slightly adapted reflection from 2013.

Spring Threshold

Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?   Isaiah 43:18-19

Today is the first day of Spring in the northern hemisphere of Earth. At 5:58 p.m. today the tilt, rotation, and orbit of the Earth are such that the Sun is directly over the Equator and moving north.

The wonder and vastness of this mysterious yet predictable moment becomes evident to us as days become longer, the sun rises higher in the sky, and the dormancy of winter stirs awake in countless ways.

The early days of Spring are days of transition not only in the Earth as green shoots appear, blossoms flourish, and foliage comes alive; but also above the Earth as cold and warm air collide in turbulent ways bringing both destruction and nourishment.

Spring reminds us that transition and change in our lives just like the seasons of Earth continually ebb and flow between dormancy and new life. And like the storms of Spring, changes in life produce turbulence as former ways collide with the new.

Today, and everyday for that matter, is a threshold where the "no longer" and the "not yet" meet. To stand in the threshold too long is to endure unnecessary turbulence and even pain.  However, stepping through opens us to emerging possibilities and potential of Life.

Enjoy this from 50 years ago -   Here comes the Sun!  

Happy First Day of Spring!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Reformation? or Transformation!

Many people in religious and spiritual circles think and believe that we are living in a time of reformation similar to time in Western history we know as The Reformation or The Renaissance.

Both The Reformation and The Renaissance were times of great change that involved reshaping and reforming the religion, art, and science of the time. However, this was mostly change in form rather than substantive, transformative change. Such transformation, or dramatic change in form and substance, came later with The Enlightenment when seeds of radically new concepts of freedom, equality, and independence took root. This created a tension that we continue to live with today between the dynamics of reformation, which cling to old substance in new forms, and transformation that seeks new substance and form.

In the broad story of the Bible we see this same tension between reformation brought on by empires and kings, and transformation imagined and announced by the prophets of the Old Testament and evangelists of the New Testament. Kings and empires preserve the status quo with just enough change in form to placate most people. Prophets and evangelists inspire toward radical change that fulfills deep desire for meaning within all people.

The New Testament word for transformation is metamorphosis, the word used to describe the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly. This is the kind of radical change in form and substance called for by not only prophets and evangelist of old, but voices of today calling us into transformation not merely reformation.

Here are some biblical voices of transformation:

Do not remember the former things,
   or consider the things of old. 
I am about to do a new thing;
   now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
   and rivers in the desert.   ~ Isaiah 43

Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transformed before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. ~ Matthew 17

Do not be conformed to this world, but 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.  ~ Romans 12

Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit. ~ 2 Corinthians 3


Several readers have suggested that "Stardust to Dust..." is not just for Ash Wednesday, but also a meaningful contemplation throughout Lent or anytime.  So, I'm keeping the link here for a couple of weeks.

 "Stardust to Dust - A Deep-Time Creation Contemplative Liturgy for Ash Wednesday."

Feel free to share!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Stardust to Dust

Ten years ago I ran across a concept called a "cosmic walk" that had been conceived by a progressive, evolutionary minded nun, Sister Miriam Therese MacGillis.  I adapted her labyrinth walk into a 28 station pilgrimage through creation in deep-time. The first version of my adaptation was the culmination of a study on evolutionary faith by a group at Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC. The second and subsequent versions have all been on Ash Wednesdays. We go station to station in a darkened, candle lit sanctuary in a participatory, meditative experience which ends with imposition of ashes. Through the years I have added scripture, tweaked photography, updated some of the readings, and given it the name, "Stardust to Dust."

Tonight at Trinity Clearwater Presbyterian in Clearwater, FL a group of Ash Wednesday pilgrims will again travel through time and space to experience our oneness with the universe, our interconnection with Creation, and the One Eternal Presence in our lives. From Stardust we come and to dust we return. If you are in the Tampa Bay, FL area I invite you to join us in this unique Ash Wednesday observance.

For those in other parts of the country and world, I offer for the first time a video version of "Stardust to Dust," available to One Eternal Presence readers.   Sometime today, Ash Wednesday, or anytime really, find a quiet, darkened place where you can be undisturbed for about 25-30 minutes, light a candle, follow the link, and experience "Stardust to Dust - A Deep-Time Creation Contemplative Liturgy for Ash Wednesday."

Feel free to share!


Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Universal Language

I love music.  Even though I don't identify as a musician,  I enjoy all kinds of music, even music that many don't recognize as music.

Music has been called the universal language. It has been said to bridge the bounds of culture. It can ignite anxiety or sooth the soul. Music stirs our imaginations as well as calms a racing mind. Music communicates in ways that words fall short. Even words themselves are musical.

I looked up online the elements of music and found numerous lists claiming anywhere from 5 to 12 basic elements. Music is not as simple as it sounds. So, tapping into my thoughts last week on "complex simplicity," I've come up with my own simple list.  To me, in order for music to be music, it needs three things: sound and/or silence, combined with pace.  I think all other elements are derived from these three.

This week our church is hosting the the Florida Vocal Association assessments of all the Pinellas County, Florida middle and high school choral groups. What this means is about 2500 teenagers cycling through our building, pouring from buses in the parking lot, warming up in the music room over my study, sight reading in our chapel, and performing in the sanctuary.

There is literally music everywhere in the building, all week long! It's not just in the rooms already mentioned, but on sidewalks, in hallways, and lobbies.  Anxious silence sings as a group files into the sight reading room. Nervous sounds come from the warm up space. Excitement exudes as rapid chatter fills the lobby when all is done.

Our lives are also made up of music. Everything we experience has a sense of sound, silence, and pace, generated from without and within. Our hearts beat. Lungs breath. Minds imagine. Ears hear. Eyes see. Voices speak. Music abounds.

Ancient philosophers, sensing and observing the sounds, silence, and pace of creation itself, described them as "music of the spheres."

Take time to enjoy the music of life. It may not be as dramatic and obvious as a building filled with teenage choirs, but it is always with us, waiting for us to stop and listen - even better to sing, play, or dance with it.

Music really is the universal language!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Complex Simplicity

The amazing complexity of the most simple things reveals the miracle of life. As I write this blog, impulses in my brain fueled by chemicals generated in my gut go to my brain and produce thoughts that generate other impulses into the muscles of of my hand causing my fingers to push particular buttons that send signals throughout my computer resulting in characters on a screen arranged in a particular way and sent through a web of electronic beats and waves so that someone who happens to be motivated through their own impulses to see the characters, understands their arrangement and comprehends meaning. I type in my living room and you read wherever you are.

Similar complexity exists in everything we see, touch, smell, hear, taste, think, imagine, as well as the processes of seeing, touching, smelling, hearing, tasting, thinking, and imagining. Yet it all seems so straight forward that we rarely stop to contemplate the wonder of it all and simply enjoy it.

The wonder of the universe hides in plain sight around us.


Wednesday, February 6, 2019


For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 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, Matthew 6:21-23

You probably know by now what the acronym SOTU represents. Did you watch it or listen to it last night? I chose not to because on one level I can sense what the state, not only of the Union but the World, is today - FUBAR (look it up).  However, this is looking with eyes that desperately need new vision to see God-given goodness within apparent chaos, to see within FUBAR the seeds of A-OK.

When we do this we begin to see from inside, from who we really are, from our created goodness. In other words, from our hearts. So the real question for us in not "What is the SOTU?" but "What is our SOTH (State Of The Heart )?

The SOTU is in our soul.

The SOTU is actually the SOTH!

It really is this simple, but not always easy.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Welcome to Life!

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. ~ an ancient Buddhist teaching

This morning an imaginative meme was shared by a friend on Facebook. It mused about living on a billions year old "spaceship" Earth that hurls through space while sustaining life as we know it.  It ended with, "Welcome to life! It's more exciting when you think on a larger scale."

Then I read the comments and was taken back by the mostly unimaginative cynicism that spewed out. At first these responses made me a little angry because I know my friend is an imaginative, thoughtful person who is on a faith journey open to potential and possibilities beyond static understandings of religion and science. My anger quickly became sadness for people whose imaginations are not open to the amazement of life.

Ultimately, I know I have to accept where these people are in their lives and realize they are not ready to imagine and entertain such thoughts and understandings of life. They just don't know that even cynicism has its own wonder.

Life is exciting and amazing on all scales, or it's not. We see it, or we don't. It isn't, until it is.  But when the moment comes, the universe opens up and we become participants in the wonder rather than observers.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Creation's Nightlight

Man in,
Man on,
Dark side of,
Crying for,

What is with our fascination with the moon? Maybe it's because we can actually see it, as opposed to the sun that we can only see just as it rises or sets - hence our fascination also with sunrises and sunsets, but I digress.

As we were recently reminded with the lunar eclipse, the moon does not have light of its own. Its illumination is reflected light of the sun. And this reflection is so bright that when it is full and passes in Earth's shadow (cast by the sun) the moon still has a glow, as we witnessed with the recent "blood" moon. 

The reflected light of the moon is comfortable, pleasing, intriguing, restful, whimsical, and harmless. Have you ever heard of anyone suffering from moon-burn or needing moon-screen? Have you ever seen a moon scorched field or had the moon beat down upon you? Of course not. This is because, according to the Bible,  the moon is the "lesser" of Earth's lights. The moon is Creation's nightlight, a comforting presence reminding us the Sun, our source of light and life, is still there, just on the other side of Earth.

All this time
The Sun never says to the Earth (and the Moon),

"You owe me."

What happens
With a love like that,
It lights the whole sky.”

~ Hafiz

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Signs Of The Times

They asked him, ‘Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?’ And he said, ‘Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, “I am he!” and, “The time is near!” Do not go after them...Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near.'

There is a street in our neighborhood that has signs, similar to the one above, posted where the street dissects a small lake. I've driven past and mused at these signs many times. Well, yesterday while taking that route to the Post Office, I was annoyed by a car stopped in the middle of the road, before realizing that a big fat duck waddled across the street between these signs, within the painted lines of the crosswalk. This has me wondering how many "signs" of the times are all around us that we muse upon as quaint, take for granted, and otherwise ignore.

Prophesies, parables, and predictions like the one above by Jesus, and found in numerous sacred texts,  are in many ways actually timeless - meaning they can be True in any age and context. However, as we look around our communities, our nation, and the world today there are signs that we live in times of disruption intended to deceive that have us off balance and anxious. These signs, as well as human history, are telling us something - disruptive deception leads to destruction.

The signs of our times are not quaint musings to be ignored. Just as sure as the fig tree yields its fruit and fat ducks cross the road, the chaos being sown in our world today may very well be a sign that the One Eternal Presence of Truth cannot be deceived by disruption. However, when signs are ignored, there are consequences.

To use another metaphor, perhaps we have used the "snooze" on the alarm enough and it's time to wake up.