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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Our Way of Life

"Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know." ~ Pema Chödrön

Prophets come proclaiming Truth that threatens the "way of life" we worship. So we kill them. Then we domesticate and twist their Truth into our way of life. We deify them, and eventually build monuments that worship our way of life.

Demagogues come proclaiming lies that stroke our fears and feed our pride in the "way of life" we worship. Lies are twisted into truth. Believing that others, and not them, threaten our way of life, we go to war and die for them. We eventually build monuments to them and worship our way of life.

Whether through Prophet or Demagogue we end up at monuments of cold stone worshiping our way of life. Until we we learn and know at the core of our being that the problem lies in our way of life, the cycle will continue.

We seem to be living in a time that begs for the cycle to be broken. It is time to create a way of life that works for everyone!

When will we ever learn?

Post Script:
I took a walk after posting this and feel the need to say:  In no way am I creating a false equivalency between prophets and demagogues. If there is equivalency, it is in the way we receive and act upon their proclamations. The "way of life that works for everyone" is the Truth of the prophet and mystic which is justice, kindness, peace, and Love.

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017


…our years come to an end like a sigh.
The days of our life are seventy years,
   or perhaps eighty, if we are strong...
they are soon gone, and we fly away...
~ Psalm 90

I'm thinking about death today.  I went to bed last night after reading about singer Glen Campbell dying.  I awoke to news that a dear friend of many years died early this morning. Another friend died recently. And of course, thousands of lives end every minute of every day on our planet.

When someone I know dies, the first question that usually comes to mind is: "Where are they now?"
Where is the energy, the laughter, the tears, the hopes, the dreams, the imagination, the love that was unique to one person? Where is all that made up that one life? Having been in the presence of death several times, I have witnessed the "sigh" of the psalmist. One second a person is here and the next moment who knows where.

We have our religious beliefs, rituals and myths of afterlife that make the mysteries of death tangible, as good ritual and myth does. However, thinking beyond pearly gates, gold streets and crossing rivers we come to a place of finality that begs the question "Is that all there is?"

One of our daughters once announced to my wife that she "didn't want to go to heaven."  This threw Peg into a moment of existential angst until she simply ask, "Why?" Our daughter's reply was telling, "It just sounds awfully boring!"

In the end we simply don't know what comes after "the end."  It may very well be a new beginning, a new adventure beyond our imagination. Perhaps "the sigh" is actually a gasp of surprise. One thing is sure, every person that lives will one day know.

In the mean time, what we have are "the days of our lives" to fill with laughter, tears, hopes, dreams, imagination, and love.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Nothing's New

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 

The longer I live and more I read the Bible and other sacred texts, the more I realize that Jesus and other mystic visionaries of the ages are mostly telling us to stop our frantic grasping for God in order to experience the Eternal Sacred already present, here and now. In this sense, Jesus comes not to change anything, but to reveal everything as already Holy.

When "the preacher" of Ecclesiastes says, there is nothing new under the sun, this is another reminder that whatever we are presently experiencing has already been experienced by others somewhere and sometime in human history, and will be experienced again. A long view of history shows us that with each cycle of experience adaptions are made creating an illusion that things are getting better or worse when in fact they are simply more or less sophisticated.

The human challenge is not so much to break the cycles of history as to be fully aware of them in order to not get swept away by them. In doing so we begin to experience the Divine Eternal Presence calling us into authentic relationships within Creation in our time and place. 

We look to the past for guidance from those who have already experienced the challenges and celebrations of life. By living with integrity now we offer hope to future generations when they face similar experiences.

Again, "the preacher" says, 

What gain have the workers from their toil? I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with. God has made everything suitable for its time; moreover, God has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil. I know that whatever God does endures for ever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it; God has done this, so that all should stand in awe before God. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already is; and God seeks out what has gone by. 
~Ecclesiastes 3:9-15

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Life is Holy

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
~ Psalm 118:24 (bold underline is mine)

If we weren't blind as bats, we might see that life itself is sacramental.
~ Frederick Buechner

For the past two weeks I've been privileged to experience a combination of continuing education and vacation that is sometimes called "sabbath." One of the graces of time away from a normal daily and weekly routine is to ease into a more natural rhythm of hours and days. Several days into this sabbath time the hour of the day and day of the week became less apparent, as well as my need to know. This blog is even a day later than usual.

Somehow this awakens me to a timeless awareness that each moment, each hour, each day is holy, sacred, and inspired. So, why then, do most spiritual and religious traditions have "holy days" and "sacred places" set aside for the practice of faith?  Perhaps to remind us that all days are special? 

Somewhere along the way in my life as a pastor I picked up a couple of liturgical phrases that I regularly use when celebrating the sacrament of the Lord's Supper - "Because this bread is holy, all bread is holy. Because this wine is holy, all wine is holy." 

In non-religious life most people "work for the weekend." As a Christian pastor I have a tendency to live and work from Sunday to Sunday. Clergy of other faiths do so with their holy days.  On the surface it may appear that we do this because that's how many people and cultures view religion as ritual practiced apart from the rest of life.  

How would our world change if we began to see and experience any old Wednesday morning as if it was just as vibrant as a weekend and as holy as the highest holy day of any religious tradition?