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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.