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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Year End Musings

~ from Appolo 13:

NASA Director: This could be the worst disaster NASA's ever experienced.
Flight Director, Gene Kranz: With all due respect, sir, I believe this is gonna be our finest hour.

I recently ran across one of my favorite movies on television and as usual hung around to watch the entire thing (commercials and all). The exchange quoted above captures for me the year that looms on the horizon for people who believe in and cling to Divine Presence, Human Dignity, Justice, Mercy, and Love.

In these closing days of 2016 the air is filled with retrospection. I try to remember what my thoughts, hopes, and dreams were this time last year and reflect on how they fared. As with every year there were successes and failures, pride and disappointment, gains and losses, births and deaths, victories and defeats. As with every year, each day was the same yet unique, bringing its own opportunity, potential, challenge, and satisfaction. As with every year, there were “what ifs” and “if onlys.”  As with every year, I spend its waning days bidding farewell while turning toward the threshold of another year, a New Year. And, as with every New Year, what lies in wait are days of opportunity, potential, and challenge.

My prayer for the days ahead is John O’Donohue’s poem In Praise of Fire:

Let us praise the grace & risk of Fire.

In the beginning
The Word was red,
And the sound was thunder,
And the wound in the unseen
Spilled forth the red weather of being.

In the name of Fire,
The Flame,
And the Light:
Praise the pure presence of fire
That burns from within
Without thought of time.

The hunger of Fire has no need
For the reliquary of the future;
It adores the eros of now,
Where the memory of the earth
In flames that lick and drink the air
Is made to release

Its long enduring forms
In a powder of ashes
Left for the wind to decipher.

As air intensifies the hunger of fire,
May the thought of death
Breathe new urgency
Into our love of life.

As fire cleanses dross
May the flame of passion
Burn away what is false.

As short as the time
From spark to flame,
So brief may the distance be
Between heart and being.

May we discover
Beneath our fear
Embers of anger
To kindle justice.

May courage
Cause our lives to flame,
In the name of the Fire,
And the Flame
And the Light. 

Within every perceived "worst disaster" lies the potential for a "finest hour." I'm reminded of the chorus of a hymn I wrote a few years ago:

May the fire of faith burn bright,
May the flame of hope burn long,
Turn our shadows into light. 

And fill our hearts with grateful song.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Seasons Greetings

In my part of the world, the northern hemisphere, today is the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice.  Getting back to its Latin roots the word "solstice" literally means "the sun standing still." There are two times in the year when the earth's tilt toward the sun shifts and when that shift takes place there is a pause. From our perspective it appears as if the sun rises and sets from the same places for a couple of days. Then it appears to move to the north or south, depending on the hemisphere. Therefore on any given solstice people on either side of the equator are experiencing either their shortest or longest day(s) of the year. As we in the north experience our shortest day and the beginning of winter, it is good to remember that half of the earth is having a long day of sunshine as summer begins.

As the earth pauses, perhaps it is a good time for us to do the same. Today is a good day to stand still and contemplate the fullness of creation and the human experience that includes darkness and light, cold and warmth, pain and pleasure, and so much more...

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace. 
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 forever; 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

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Contextual Christmas

I did something last week I've never done before in my entire life - I put Christmas lights on a palm tree! Even though this is our second Christmas in Florida, (last year we decorated a traditional inside evergreen tree) I'm reminded daily, as I go about in short sleeves and sandals that my experience of Christmas has shifted. In our Christmas Eve worship last year we sang one of my favorite carols, "In the Bleak Mid Winter," then on Christmas Day lounged by a sunny pool. Instead of chestnuts roasting by an open fire and treetops glistening in the snow, bodies tan on a sandy beach and sunshine sparkles in the waves. As my late bother-in-law Jimmy used to say, "That just ain't right!"
It's all a vivid reminder that life is contextual. We all have our own experiences, perspectives, beliefs, customs, and traditions. 

However, the Christmas story is also a reminder of our shared experiences as part of one human family. In the stories of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus we remember that life will continue in spite of difficult circumstances.  The shepherds call to mind human curiosity and amazement. The Magi stir our sense of wonder, exploration, and adventure. Angels coming, going, and proclaiming tell of the mystery of Eternal Presence sometimes quietly hidden and other times bursting forth in startling ways.

So wherever this Christmas may find you, and whatever kind of symbol you raise, remember The Story is an Eternal Story of human determination, wonder, adventure, mystery, and above all love with us.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016


"What is truth?"
~ Pilate to Jesus

"Is it true, is it kind, or is it necessary?"
~ Socrates

"...whatever is true, whatever is honorable, 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."
The Apostle Paul

Truth was important to Jesus. Numerous times (over 20) in the Gospel of John he mentions truth as perhaps the essence of his teaching.  On one occasion he tells his disciples, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free." (cha.8 vv. 31-32).  On his final night with his disciples he responds to a question from Thomas by saying, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to [God] except through me." (cha. 14. v. 6). And then before Pilate asks him the question quoted above, Jesus says, "For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice." (cha.19. v. 37).

The truth of which Jesus speaks has little to do with verifiable realities we call facts.  The truth of the Jesus is an inner knowledge of values and virtues that hold creation together. Truth to Jesus is an umbrella for values like fidelity, compassion, justice, mercy, kindness, forgiveness, and love that are lived with integrity. When we know and live these values we know truth, regardless of facts.

In today's world people are using and creating "facts" to manipulate public opinion. More and more we find ourselves in situations where what is being presented as fact just doesn't resonate with what we know deep inside to be the values of truth that Jesus teaches, practices, and invites us to live. 

I'm reminded of the tag line from the TV show The X Files:  "The Truth is out there..."  In our culture today it is more important than ever to seek truth. However, a more appropriate tag for us may be, "The Truth is in here - deep inside each and every heart."


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Moving and Changing

We have spent the last month moving. In many ways it was much more exhausting moving two miles than it was moving from DC to FL last year. It has been a pretty constant process of packing boxes and transporting them by car to the new place over several weeks time.  And since we moved from a third floor walk-up to a ground, single level house this meant hundreds of trips up and down two flights of stairs. Then came the big day when movers loaded up the large items and transported them. We are now "in the door" among boxes and resettling.  Whew!

This process has me wondering about changes in our lives and how we sometimes adapt to sudden change more easily than incremental change. Sure, the old axioms are true that every journey consists of many steps and you fill a bucket drop by drop, but much can also be said for taking a big leap, and diving in.  Sometimes we drive and enjoy the scenery and other times we hop a plane to our destination.

Life for the most part comes to us day by day, moment by moment. By living each moment and each day we find ourselves in different places along life's journey. However there are times when life throws us to the ground or lifts us to the sky and in a blink the world has changed.

Either way life is a process of moving and changing. However change comes, ours is to embrace the steps and leaps we are privileged to take.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Circle of Thanks

Today is the day before Thanksgiving Day and the day after our 41st wedding anniversary. I have so much for which to be thankful, yet my circle of thanks seems so small this year.

Our family has gathered for the holiday in a mountain house near Asheville, NC where the view from the porch would normally be a beautiful fall mountain vista, yet the sky is filled with smoke from nearby raging forest fires. Much is happening in the world that stretches my capacity to accept even the title and premise of my own blog. Where is One Eternal Presence, and my thanks and gratitude, when some things seems to be unraveling?

Within the unraveling the people closest and most dear to me are gathered in One place. For today and the next few their Presence will be my solace and my hope. In them I see the Eternal beyond the hazy present. In them and for them I feel gratitude and love. They are the morning sun rising beyond the mountain piercing and painting the smoky sky with thanks, with gratitude, with hope, with love. The One Eternal Presence fills even small circles of thanks.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Being and Doing

Do what can be done
let go of what can't.
Don't be afraid of fear.
Held too tightly it turns to hate.
Sit with it, hold it gently.

Take a deep breath, or two, or three.
Feel the cool of morning, 
the warmth of noonday sun. 
Gaze into the wonder of a night sky.
Smell a fragrant flower in bloom
or the pungent waft of decaying leaves.
Breathe again, and again, and again.

The One Eternal Presence is just that -

Now, do what can and must be done -

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Morning After

I am feeling so much more than can be said today. My heart aches. My mind drifts into despair. My emotions are frayed. I grasp to make meaning of what appears as an endorsement of fear and hatred. So I fall back on words from my sermon delivered this past Sunday in hope that I can hear them anew.

Irish poet Michael Longley is known for his prophetic voice during the height of conflict between Catholics and Protestants, the IRA and the British and all factions within Northern Ireland. One of his poems is called “All Of These People” 

Who was it who suggested that the opposite of war
Is not so much peace as civilization? He knew Our assassinated Catholic greengrocer who died At Christmas in the arms of our Methodist minister,And our ice-cream man whose continuing requiem Is the twenty-one flavors children have by heart. Our cobbler mends shoes for everybody; our butcher Blends into his best sausages leeks, garlic, honey;Our corner shop sells everything from bread to kindling. Who can bring peace to people who are not civilized? All of these people, alive or dead, are civilized.

Civilization is not a place void of conflict where everyone agrees all the time. It is however a place of shared human dignity where diversity is held together by hope, respect, compassion, mercy, justice, kindness, forgiveness, and love for all people. I have to believe this or else I succumb to darkness myself. I have to believe this or else my righteous anger devolves into hate.   

Love is the life we are called into. Love is the life we strive to live every day. May we have the grace and courage to do so.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Decision Time

One week from today the elections will be over.  I don't know about you but I'm ready to move on from the three ring circus that our elections have become. Our country's politics are usually not a place for the thin-skinned, but this election cycle has gone beyond the pale.  The fear, rancor, tension and anxiety that has been stirred up in our country is frightening and sad.

In the meantime there are decisions to be made and the American people will decide just as we have done hundreds of times in local and national elections. We will choose, for whatever reasons, the people we think will be our best leaders. However, the thing that seems to have been lost in our election process is the wider perspective of the common good. Too many of us vote according to what's best for me rather than what's best for everybody - and not just today but tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

I voted over two weeks ago by mail-in ballot and will spend parts of the next few days encouraging others to vote.  So that's what I'm doing here. If you haven't already voted, please do so!  And when you do, please take time to forget the polls, the TV ads, the internet memes, and talking heads of cable news.  All of these have vested interested in keep things stirred up as long as possible. Take time to consider the people you vote for, and whether they have the best common interests of our communities and nation at heart.

In the end, next week it will be decided, and the decision is ours to make. Whatever the outcomes are, may the day after elections be the first day of a journey toward healing in our lives and our country.


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Most and Much

Last Saturday a friend of ours died in a mountain biking accident. She was a vibrant, joyful, and adventurous person who enjoyed and lived life to its fullest, and as it turned out, to its very end. Earlier this week I visited a church member on his ninety-first birthday in a rehabilitation center. He is rehabilitating from a stroke and has a positive attitude about his recovery.  When I left his room I passed another man in the hallway with a walker and his therapist.  I overheard this man say gloomily, "First I lose my arms, then my legs. Then I fall and that's the end of it."

The elderly gentleman in the hallway has obviously lived a long and hopefully full life, however the resignation in his voice anticipated and even embraced death. I know it is unfair to judge a person's life from one brief encounter, but I immediately wondered if he had carried a similar attitude throughout his life. In contrast, the attitudes of our friend and the elderly church member anticipate and embrace life.

All of this has me wondering about the expression "getting the most out of life," and especially the word "most."  There is no preset amount of life for which we strive.  The "most" and "much" of life depends on each person's circumstances, abilities, and especially attitude.  How we spend most of our lives, determines how much we get out of life.

The Latin expression "Carpe Diem," or "Seize the Day," seems to be mostly associated with passionately accomplishing extraordinary things, or doing ordinary things extraordinarily. It can also be taking the circumstances and abilities of the moment and putting one foot in front of the other through difficulty and challenge.  Whether we are riding a mountain trail or pushing a walker down a hallway we can still get the most out of life. In the end, we never know exactly how much we have left.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

First, Last, Only

For some strange reason this morning I am remembering the first time I saw and used a microwave oven.  It was at a friends house in the mid 1960's, a friend whose family had the means to own one of the first microwaves.  It was called a Radarange.  We spent the afternoon thawing out frozen hotdogs and eating them.  Now everybody has a microwave oven. First times often become routine.

Do you remember the first time you did or saw something that was totally new to you? Things like: the first time you saw the ocean, your first plane/train/bus ride, your first car, first love, or first loss. The lists can be endless because the old cliche is true, there is a first time for everything.

The same can be said for the last time as well. Accept it or not we all eventually die and there will be, and already has been, a last time for everything. We remember some of these like our last encounter with a deceased loved one, or saying goodbye to someone while knowing you'll not see them again. Last times often become wistful or haunting memories.

Sometimes the first and last come together and we experience something for the only time. We may remember a special place we visited knowing we'll never return, or a person we'll never see again. Or perhaps it was something you knew you didn't wish to do again, as in: That's the first and last time I'll ever do that! Only times are sometimes remembered with regret, relief, or pride at having done something at least once.

Our lives consist of first, last, and only times. Perhaps it would behoove us to pay more attention to all of them, to experience each moment and what that moment brings as fully and as best we can. For whatever the moment brings, it may be the first or last of many, or it my be the only chance we get.

It occurs to me that an attentive life is like breathing. We can't remember our first breath, nor will we know when our last comes, but we can always pay attention to one we are taking right now.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Stepping Back From The Fray

When I turn on the radio or TV, or sign into Facebook these days most of what I hear is quite distressing. The world appears to be coming apart at its seams. War, terrorism, racism, sexism, religious extremism, and rancorous politics dominate our information sources. En depth conversation and discourse has fallen victim to sound bytes and tweets aimed at shaming and blaming someone or anyone for everything.

I step back, as best I can, from the fray and see flashes of light and glimmers of hope in the darkness and dread. We live in an age of turmoil because it is an age of unprecedented social, economic, political, and theological change. As our world grows smaller through rapid travel and instant communication we are confronted with the vast and wonderful multiplicity of life on planet Earth. Multiplicity also brings the different and other into our lives. We humans have always been drawn toward and feared whoever or whatever the "other" might be. Like a snake, it terrifies and fascinates at once.

One reason for the terror and fascination is that we recognize, either consciously or not, something in ourselves. We see ourself in the other. We encounter our own darkness and our own light. And our darkness and light is reflected to those who consider us as the other. 

This is where the wisdom of sages, saints, and mystics comes to remind us that there is no such thing as the "other." Whatever language or words we use whether: "One," "Neighbor," "Sister," "Brother," "Namaste," "Shalom," or "Communion," the spiritual teachings and practices of the ages call us into the reality that we all participate in and are part of a force and process called Life. 

Our challenge today is not to find an answer or solution to the world's problems. We already have the answer deep within us. We already see the answer in others. We already know the answer.  Love one another, even, and probably more importantly, those who threaten us the most.


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Anniversary Week!

Today is the fifth anniversary of One Eternal Presence (OEP). It began as a way to share my experience while on sabbatical in the summer of 2011. Then on October, 5, 2011, I published the first post of what became a weekly reflection on faith and life. Along the way I've shared wisdom gleaned from others and offered some of my own insights on experiencing the interconnected wholeness of life. I've also heard from many of you as you've commented on posts, shared insights of your own and sent me encouraging emails.

Since OEP's anniversary always comes the week after World Communion Sunday, it is a reminder that even though we may practice religion in different ways, or have no religious tradition at all, we still remain one human family, sharing the same planet while carrying similar hopes, dreams, sadness, and joy.  Our common needs far exceed our individual fears.  We really do share the heart of One Eternal Presence.

To commemorate and celebrate five years and 245 posts I ask you to take a moment and consider sharing OEP with someone you think will enjoy reading it by forwarding this email to them or sharing the OEP site link. 

Thanks to each of you, and I look forward to more years of sharing One Eternal Presence. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016


We spend half of our lives doing it. We can't function without it. Many of us don't seem to get enough of it. We know a great deal about it. Yet it still remains mysterious. I'm talking about sleep.

As I write I'm still waking up from last night's sleep and wondering not so much about the physiology of sleep but rather the mystery and wonder of what happens, where we go, and who we become as we regularly suspend physical activity, close our eyes and enter another state of being.

Dreaming is probably the most mysterious aspect of sleep. Our dreams take us into other realities where time and space are fluid and boundaries are porous and pliable. Sometimes we find ourselves in elaborate narratives populated by people we don't know, yet who seem familiar. People and things can morph into other people or things and it makes perfectly good sense within the dream narrative. Events long forgotten (we thought) come into dreams to haunt or comfort us.

History is full of mystics and prophets who find special meaning and "words from God" in dreams and visions. Most religions and sacred scriptures have dreams and visions in their origins, myths, and beliefs.

However, most dreams are not even remembered. How many times have you awakened from a night of dreaming, unable to remember what seemed so vivid and clear while dreaming it?  So what purpose do they serve?  There are too many studies and theories about dreams to even begin addressing in this short space, so suffice to say, dreams remain mysterious and fascinating.

All of this takes place while our body rests and recuperates. Then, we awaken and enter the other half of our life, hopefully having had enough sleep so we can be fully awake and aware of the wonder in which we live.    

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Ideally Human

I would ask that you address your spiritual questions to someone more qualified to comment. Ideally a human. ~Siri

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote in this blog space about the amazing times in which we live, especially how our technology makes knowledge and communication so accessible and instant. Since then I've been reminded in several ways that as wonderful as texting, email and "wiki"-information can be, human beings still need vocal, visual, and physical connection with one another.

One such reminder came yesterday morning while I was on my morning walk. While walking and thinking I often use the afore mentioned technology to listen to podcasts and music. I also regularly have "tech free" walks to fully take in my surroundings. But whatever the atmosphere, rarely does a walk go by without me having a memory or thought that I want to remember.  In comes Siri.  I hold down the start button, say, "Note", and Siri responds, "What do you want your note to say?" 

Yesterday my wires got crossed with Siri and thinking I was dictating a note about the "Presence of God," I was actually at the first step of requesting Siri's assistance. So I was surprised when Siri gave the response quoted above. 

Over the years as I've contemplated, written, and spoken about "One Eternal Presence" I've often emphasized the Presence in all of creation.  However, there is one part of creation where the Divine comes shining through like no other. There is one place where consciousness, emotion, imagination, creativity, and compassion reside. There is portion of creation that has the ability to reflect and contemplate all the rest of it. There is one presence created in the image of and thus reflects the One Eternal Presence.

Thanks, Siri, for reminding me that of all the places and ways to experience One Eternal Presence, the ideal way is in humanity and our relationships with each other.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I'll Be Back

"Love your neighbor as you love yourself."
~ Jesus

In a couple of days it will be the two year anniversary of adopting our dog, Wilson. He was nearly five years old when we rescued him so he came with his own baggage.  We don't know much about those years but we do know he ended up in a shelter as an "owner surrendered" pet. It is understandable that he has a certain degree of separation anxiety.

Wilson is use to having one of us around much of the time, usually Peg because she works from home, and me when she is traveling. Whenever one or the other of us leaves him he always whines for a while after the one who just left. He presses his nose against our glass balcony door when either of us is out on a walk. When we're both gone we're not sure what he does. What we do know is that he just wants to be with us.

When we leave we always say to him, "I'll (we'll) be back." At first he would stay at the door and bark or whine but over time he learned that we do come back. Now, when we leave, he usually looks at us with cocked head and raised ears as if to ask, "Am I going?"  Then when we say "I'll be back" his ears relax, then he turns and walks to one of his favorite lying places.

As pack animals most dogs do not enjoy being alone, even when their pack is human.  However they do need quiet time and perhaps solitude because sleep is important to them. We humans are much the same. As social creatures we need relationships of various kinds with other people.  We need intimate relationships. We need social relationships. We even need superficial relationships. However, we also need time alone - not loneliness, but rather solitude.  Loneliness laments not being with someone else, while solitude welcomes being alone with yourself.

As poet John Donne said, "No man (sic) is an island."  However it is good to occasionally go to an "island" of solitude even, and perhaps especially, when we are feeling lonely.  According to much spiritual teaching learning to be alone with ourselves and loving ourselves is the beginning of loving one another.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Pocket Library

One of the things hurricane Hermine left behind last week was a mess in our church library. The roof over the library had major leaks and water completely ruined the ceiling and carpet. At a church workday last Saturday the still soaked carpet and padding was removed, books were boxed up, and shelving was disassembled. For some people it was the first time they had ever been in the library, or even knew it existed.  This all prompted the question - do we really need a church library anymore?

As books came off of shelves the vast majority of them were deemed outdated and no longer usable and a few were put aside to make available on other shelves in a conference room in another, more accessible, part of the building. Most of the books, including numerous biblical and theological reference volumes and and collections, have since been donated to several thrift stores and library sales.

This all has me thinking and wondering about the availability of information in our world today, and how we carry this access around in our pockets and on our wrists. For example, in our church's Wednesday Study last night there was an obscure word in one of the biblical passages.  Instead of waiting until I could get to a bible dictionary in the library, I pulled my phone from my pocket, "googled" the word and within seconds had the meaning. This kind of access to instant information has become so common that we rarely stop to consider how amazing it really is.

When I was in seminary only 25 years ago I needed all of those references on the library shelves. Today they are only a few keyboard clicks or a question to Siri away. Everyone in the developed world under 35 years old can hardly, if at all, remember it any other way.

I truly believe we are living in one of the most amazing times of human history. This is both a privilege and a challenge because along with the availability of information comes the responsibility to use it wisely, creatively, compassionately, and judicially, not only for our own convenience and edification but for the common good of all people as well as our common home, planet Earth.

So, in a matter of minutes and key clicks my thoughts will be on the way to your pocket or desktop library. What an extraordinary privilege and responsibility to be so personally connected.


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Sacramental Potential

"Do this in remembrance of me."  ~ Jesus

Forty-eight years ago today, August 31, was the last full day of my father's life. Tomorrow, September 1, is the anniversary of his death.  Since those days in 1968, these dates have never gone unnoticed nor unfelt in my life. I have told the stories many times in conversations, sermons, and writings. Today, as a memory of him, I share a piece I wrote several years ago. You can find it here.

Thomas Raymond Walton
December 24,1909 - September 1, 1968

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Down For Maintenance

"Be still..."  ~ Psalm 46:10.25

Most of us have experienced something I did this morning.  You're clicking through emails and links on your computer and come across an intriguing article or photo only to get the message "down for maintenance." Of course my first reaction is to go back and click again to make sure it was the correct link only to get the same results - "down for maintenance."

We live in a fast paced world of demands, deadlines, desires, and instant gratification. Through texts, instant messages, instagrams, voice mail, snap-chat, and the like, all done from "personal" devices, we find ourselves in a never-ending need for connection and stimulation. Then we wonder why so many seemingly comfortable people seem to be agitated, angry, depressed, and violent.

Perhaps we can learn something about our lives from websites that are occasionally "down for maintenance," clearing out the cobwebs, updating systems, deleting irrelevant material, and even coming up with a new look. Sometimes it doesn't take much, perhaps just a few minutes or hours of turning off devices, dis-connecting, and clearing our own cobwebs.

I've discovered that when I do take some down time, I find a deeper, more real connection with the world around me that transcends technology. I begin to notice things like leaves dancing in a breeze, or puffy white clouds in a blue sky, paintings that have become invisible on familiar walls, and people dear to me taken for granted. Then when I go back "on line" it is with a renewed, refreshed perspective.

By the way the link that started the whole blog is one called "Life reimagined."  :)


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Heart and Home

"Your treasure is where your heart is."
~ Jesus

On two consecutive weekends we got to see our daughters.  First was Ali and her boyfriend for just a short drive-by visit as we went through Baltimore on our way home from Maine and Pennsylvania. It was brief but good to see her, hug her, and hear her voice in person.  We also got to see the house they just moved into.  Last weekend Jayme, Carina and Oliver came to see us in Florida and we had a great weekend that included Roller Derby, the beach, and lots of "Oliver time."

Years ago when Peg and I would be leaving her family after a visit, her mom and dad would stand on their front porch and watch us pull away. After her dad died, the ritual continued with her mom, except by then there were our two daughters and no porch. She would watch through a sliding glass door from her apartment.

Our side of that ritual was usually rather hurried trying to get packed up and on the road or catch a plane.  With children we were even more occupied by making sure we had all of their stuff and getting them ready for travel.

Through the years Peg and I have had our fair share of goodbyes and see-you-laters, especially as our daughters grew up, went to college, and now have their own lives. We've stood on porches and stoops, hugged on the streets of New York, DC, Atlanta, Austin and Baltimore, and done endless airport, busstop, and train station drop-offs and drive-bys.

It wasn't until I was in their shoes that I ever really stopped to think about what it was like for Peg's parents to turn back into their house and face the empty silence we left behind. Now I do. I also know the void is not really in the house, but in our hearts.

The house usually returns to normal in a few days, but hearts take a lot longer.


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Sacred Sunrise

Last week you didn't get your regular One Eternal Presence because my wife, Peg, and I were on vacation for a few days. We spent some time on the coast of Maine, enjoying the cool weather, eating great seafood, and hiking the wonderful craggy coastline.

For a couple of nights we stayed in a quaint, mom and pop type motel with cottages on the western shore of Penobscot Bay. The sunrises were particularly magnificent and early! - (by nearly 90 minutes before the west coast of Florida). 

Our first morning there we were not so keen on catching the 5:27 am event.  Even still our room was filled with early morning light and Peg got up and took just one photo.

A couple of hours later we received the news that our brother-in-law, John Farr, had died. Even though he was in a long struggle with cancer, his death was unexpected. Later that day we learned that the coroner had determined John's time of death as between 5:00 and 6:00 a.m. -  just about the time Peg was taking the only photo of the sunrise that was taken that morning.

The Celtic Cross is an ancient symbol of Creation infused with the Divine Presence. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Reciprocal Reflection

I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen.  ~Exodus 33:22-23

To love another person is to see the face of God. ~ Les Miserables, the musical

God created humankind in God's image, in the image of God, God created them; male and female God created them.  ~Genesis 1:27

The thing we are looking for is the thing we are looking with. ~unknown

Have you ever seen your own face?  Of course you can see your face in a mirror or a photograph, or video, or painting.  But these are all images of your face, not your actual face.  It is physically impossible to see your own face with your own eyes (perhaps the tip of your nose if it is long enough).

I'm wondering if this whole idea of "image" is at the core of the Divine/Human relationship. What if God creates humanity (and all of creation) in order to "see" God's Self reflected by creation.  In turn, humans "see" the reflection of God in relationship with each other and the world around us.  In this way the very essence of Divine Presence is experienced in the mysterious, yet all so common, act of reciprocal reflection between Creator and Creation. Furthermore and especially since God's image resides in each and every human, we need one another as well as the marvels of creation in order to experience God's Presence in our own lives.

The ramifications of reciprocal reflection permeate our lives and determine how we see, experience, and create the world around us, and how the world around us can determine our experience of God within us.

Namaste!  (The Spirit in me greets the Spirit in you)


Thursday, July 21, 2016


The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his 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. ~ Psalm 19

OEP is a little late this week as I've been hiking in the Colorado Rockies.  Thought I would share some speechless Presence - Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Still Dancing!

~ John Lennon and Paul McCartney

The other night I fell asleep in a semi-dream-like state with brief images of my face and name scrolling back through time.  It was a slide show of someone named Andy Walton at different ages.  I knew each one intimately, yet there was a since of separation from the persons I once was.  There was also a strong sense of “this is how others knew me at that time in my life.”  The slide show eventually became a collage of countless Andy Walton’s, many forgotten by me, and even more unknown to me, all living somewhere in an irretrievable yet unforgettable past. I awoke the next morning with a profound sadness and sense of loss.

Now, I know enough about dreams to realize that they are made of thoughts, feelings, and events lingering in my sub and semi-conscious mind.  I also know these ghostly images appeared days after my daughter’s wedding and shortly before the anniversary of my brother’s death – both events of personal loss - one filled with joy and hope, while the other was painfully sad and final.  I had also recently seen numerous photos from the wedding in which I saw myself as considerably older than I perceive myself. “Who was that old man dancing with my daughter?”

Many of my contemporaries and older friends may be thinking right now, “Welcome to the crowd!”  And other may offer familiar advice, “You’re only as old as you think you are.”  Both are true, however there is a threshold on which all of us stand throughout life – the threshold of “nevermore and not yet.”  Perhaps all of this is my coming to terms with “nevermore” far outweighing “not yet.”

These visions and musings can also signal a letting go of the “nevermore” so all that’s left is yet to be.  As Robert Frost says, there are “…miles to go before I sleep.”  And besides, the man in the photo is still dancing!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Circles, Small and Large

"God is a circle whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere."
~ attributed to many

For the past week our family has been celebrating the wedding of our daughter and her partner (and their 22 month old son). It was five days filled with final preparations, one on one time with my daughter, time with family and friends both old and new, a lovely ceremony in a beautiful setting, drinks, dinner and dancing, a honeymoon sendoff, grandson time, and then tying up all the loose ends.

I was honored to officiate the ceremony, which was one of the most difficult as well as fulfilling things I've done as a pastor and father. Right now, I'm trying to remember my own words, which were not scripted, as I shared by thoughts and feelings about two lives coming together.  

I spoke of the small circles of life, the ones we share with those people nearest and dearest to us, the people who we affect directly and who directly affect us.  Our small circles are the people who, when absent, we miss the most and who miss us the most. These circles are also our places of deepest disappointment and hurt, as well as profound pride and comfort.  As the traditional words say "for better or for worse."

We may accomplish many things in our lives and affect many lives for good or ill, however when all is said and done there will be, at best, only a handful of people to whom it really matters.  More than likely these will be spouses, children, grandchildren, and perhaps a few other relations. I can't help but think of my own mother and daddy, whom my two sisters and I hold in our memory.

One thing I wish I had said to my daughter and her new wife is that just as one drop of ocean contains the properties of the entire ocean, the small circle they now form with their son contains the same Love that holds the universe together. 

Our small circle is often much bigger than we think, while our big circle is usually much smaller than we imagine.