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Wednesday, March 30, 2016


I remember back in my "theatre days" of directing how the week following the opening of a show always felt so empty.  Up to opening night the pace slowly built for weeks as each piece of a production was added and rehearsed. Then came the final, often frantic, week of technical and dress rehearsals.  There were even times when the curtain opened and lights when up on wet scene paint while costumers made final adjustments in the wings.

There is also another memory, a recurring dream I would usually have sometime during those final hectic days.  It was recurring in the sense of theme, but always with new content of the particular production.  In this dream, on opening night everything that could possibly go wrong with the production happened. Scenery fell. Actors forgot lines, came on stage in wrong costumes, props were misplaced, or just didn't show up at all.  I would be in the audience frozen with horror, or worse yet begin shouting at the cast and crew and jump up on the stage myself.  Complete chaos!

The morning following "the dream" I would announce to Peg, "I had the dream last night. Everything is going to be fine."

In many ways this is one way to reflect on the week following Easter and the preceding days of Lent and Holy Week.  The lenten journey begins quietly on Ash Wednesday and steadily builds to the drama and eventual chaotic horror of Holy Week.  Then the curtain, or in Easter's case, the tomb opens.

In the theatre, the empty week following opening night was always the empty place where creativity began to stir and the seeds of the next production began to grow.  The emptiness of Easter's tomb is a place of potential and possibility, resurrection and new life. It is a time to take a deep breath, breathe in the Spirit and begin new things.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it.  ~ Jesus, Luke 17:33

Our Lenten Pilgrimage of Prepositions brings us to a threshold.  Just as Jesus in the passion narratives of the Gospels goes into Jerusalem to face the darkness that awaits, we too stand at myriad thresholds in our lives.  Time and again throughout life we are invited into the shadows of our lives.

In the various biblical accounts of the final week of Jesus' life we see him playing a deadly game with the fate that awaits him.  As mentioned in the previous blog, once he leaves the safety of the Palestinian countryside on what we now call Palm Sunday and enters Jerusalem his life is endangered. Throughout the week he goes in and out of the city until finally on Thursday he steps completely into the darkness of death. 

The game he plays is one we often find ourselves playing as we stand on the thresholds of the situations and circumstances in life we fear. The ultimate threshold is of course the same one which Jesus steps through, the door of death.  

In many ways the season of Lent and the week we Christians call "Holy" is our annual pilgrimage to death's door.  It is our annual reminder of our mortality when we are invited to mentally, emotionally, and spiritually rehearse our death.  Much like Jesus going in and out of Jerusalem, we face death without dying, knowing fully well that one day we will step into what seems to be final darkness.

The good news in all of this is also the ultimate Good News - by going into and through death's shadow, we discover life's light.  On a smaller more practical level we now know that all of life's shadows are also thresholds into life's light. Perhaps this is why we can call the pain, suffering, death and darkness of Friday "Good."         

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. ~ Luke 9:51

As our Lenten Pilgrimage of Prepositions continues we find ourselves in the fifth week of Lent.  For Jesus and for us, this means Jerusalem is in sight.  Some translations of Luke render the above verse, "...he set his face towards Jerusalem." Jesus knows what is ahead for him.  

The religious leaders in the Jerusalem temple have already said they want to kill him.  As long as he stays away from Jerusalem and in the countryside and small villages among his followers he is safe. This dynamic is even reflected in his coming and going in (during day) and out (at night) of Jerusalem the week before his execution. Jesus' life becomes more complicated.

In the same vein our Pilgrimage of Prepositions moves from simple prepositions to a compound one - "to-ward." We already know "to" indicates direction, but what in the world is "ward?"  

It seems that "-ward" when used as a suffix gets its meaning from an Old English word "weard" which means "turn."  Putting all of this together "toward" is much like the word "repent" - turning.  In an odd way, Jesus, by facing his dilemma, is practicing what he has been preaching - repentance. 

Sometimes repentance, which we usually understand as turning toward the light, requires turing toward our darkness and fear, facing it head on, in order to find our light.  As the old saying goes, "The path to resurrection always goes by way of the cross."

The "Passion" of Jesus is his and our story of the journey through darkness into light.  

Oops!  We just may have stumble upon our next preposition as our Pilgrimage continues...

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!  ~ Jesus, Luke 13:34

One evening while enjoying still another beautiful Florida sunset during that magical 30-40 minute time after the sun actually sets, the sky filled with breath taking color as if the sky was aflame. Then I turned around.

While I had been watching the western sky burn brilliantly the easter sky had become an envelope of pink and lavender hues that not only painted the sky and water, but also surrounded and caressed everything it touched, including me.  The air was literally filled with color - all around!

I think this may have been what Jesus was saying to the people of Jerusalem and to us in describing God's Presence as a mother hen gathering her brood.  

God, the One Eternal Presence is always around us, holding us, inviting us to snuggle.  Sometimes we know this without doubt.  Other times we may need to turn around in order to know that God is all around us, like the color of a sunset filling the air.

Our Lenten Pilgrimage of Prepositions continues...

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours,
yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion
is to look out to the earth,
yours are the feet by which Christ is to go about doing good
and yours are the hands by which Christ is to bless us now.

~St Teresa of Avila

...our Lenten Pilgrimage of Prepositions continues.

"God has no hands but ours" is a common belief among many religious people.  Even though the quote above expresses the sentiment from a Christian perspective, similar beliefs can be found in most of the world's religions as people are called to do good works, to treat one another with compassion and equality, to recognize and respect human dignity for all, and in general to live what we believe and practice what we preach.  By whatever tradition or name we know the Divine Presence, most spiritual people sense the Presence working "through" us.

We Christians, even though many accept the above concept intellectually, are reluctant to fully embrace the full impact of such a theology.  For example, in our trinitarian theology, even though we say God is three in one, we like to keep the the three persons of the Trinity separated when it comes to our own incarnate nature.  So, many Christians have no trouble saying and believing that the Holy Spirit embodies us, or that we are "filled with the Spirit."  Most of us don't hesitate to say we are created in God's image, or the resurrected Christ is alive in us, or that we encounter Christ in "the least" of humanity.  However, many have great anxiety with God living through us.

The framers of the Doctrine of the Trinity went to great length to use language (mostly Greek philosophical and metaphysical language) as they wrestled with the multiplicity yet singularity of God.  The language they eventually decided on presented God as one substance, essence, and nature that we experience through three persons or persona who share the one nature. Unfortunately they stopped with only three when in the biblical tradition there are numerous, perhaps endless, personifications and representations of the multiplicity of God.  But that's another blog or perhaps what all of these blogs are about.  

Christians without knowledge of these original intricacies have lost the nuances of the Trinity and have basically divided one God into three Gods.  And so when talking of the Trinity we say "God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" as if God were a fourth entity.  A more accurate phrasing would be, "God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit."  Each and all are God.   

And so, back to the original question of this blog - How do we so easily accept the Spirt and Son in our lives and have so much trouble admitting that God the Eternal Presence, lives through each and every one of us?  Aren't they one (or three) in the same?

God lives "through" us! 

These little prepositions are powerful, and often times unsettling, things!   The Pilgrimage goes on...