Archive | March, 2022

Morning Over The Mountain

30 Mar

I happened to look out the window this morning, just at the right moment. And what I saw
was a very quiet morning trying to slip in over the mountains with little fanfare. Sliding silently,
hushed. And her entry was beautiful. Even elegant.

Beautiful things, lovely moments, often come softly into our awareness. Roses don’t ask permission to grow. They just unfold. So, today be aware of the quietly developing beauty around you. You’ll have to look because astounding beauty never announces her presence, rather like the Spirit’s movement among us. Now, there’s an idea. Why not spend time today watching for the presence of the Spirit? Better than reading that book or watching TV. Look! There’s an example right over there!

People Of The Table?

27 Mar

What if the symbol of the Christian faith was not a cross, but a table…as in food, meals, feasts. So wonders the Christian author-commentator-teacher Diana Butler Bass in her blog called The Cottage. In today’s installment, Butler Bass visits the parable of the prodigal son but instead of focusing on the brothers or the forgiving father, she takes a different approach and looks at the meaning of hospitality in the first century, especially Jesus’s apparent fondness for celebrating with his friends, eating with “tax collectors and sinners” and using table fellowship for some of his most important teachings.

It is interesting, she writes, that the setting of his final fellowship with his disciples, on that “night when he was betrayed,” was a meal, the upper room experience when he instituted the sacrament we know as the Last Supper or Holy Communion. It is very likely that the evening was not all hushed tones and somber faces. Surely they laughed and enjoyed each other’s company as they had done many times before. Put that experience alongside meals with Mary and Martha, the Cana wedding feast, dining at the tax collector’s home, breaking bread on hillsides, and as the risen Christ, sharing a meal on the Emmaus Road, etc, etc. So, writes Butler Bass: how would our faith be different today if we were known as people of the table, rather than people of the cross. No one is trying to diminish the meaning and power of resurrection, but it does make for good speculation.

The table of life, of inclusiveness, of diversity, of abundance vs. the cross of suffering and death. Perhaps repentance and even a changed life – resurrection – can occur around a table, too. What if we were a Maundy Thursday people instead of a Good Friday people? “What would it be like if Christians shifted the spiritual import of the Passion away from Good Friday and toward Maundy Thursday,” she asks. “What would Christianity be like if it saw the central act of Jesus’s last week as a meal instead of an execution?”

She concludes: “It would probably look a great deal like this parable (The Prodigal Son parable)” where redemption, reconciliation, forgiveness, and new life all focus around the lavish feast the father orders for his repentant son. I don’t think it is Butler Bass’s intention to start a campaign to replace the cross with the table. The cross is the traditional symbol of historical Christianity and will remain such. But her point does make for interesting consideration. Do symbols change over time? I suppose her musing might have some bearing on her understanding of the Kingdom of God concept. But that’s another column for another time.

Just food for thought.

Do What You Can To Make Things Right

20 Mar

Do what you can to make things right.
Leave no stone unturned, consider what might
be the best way to say “I made a mistake,
what can I do? What will it take
to open the door to friendship once more?”
Do what you can to make things right.
It’s a cold wind that blows through the darkness of night
when two friends can’t find common ground.

It takes courage to admit that a wrong was done,
especially if you have been the one
to cause the friendship to fall apart
by a careless word, a jealous heart.
If the blame is yours, just speak the words.
It takes courage to admit that a wrong was done
and to bask in false pleasures of a victory won
is to cheat yourself and your friend.

Forgiveness bestowed restores and heals;
forgiveness received so often reveals
the rebirth of hope, light in the night
dispelling the shadows, focusing sight
so that friends can walk side by side once again.
Forgiveness bestowed restores and heals.
Try to imagine the joy you will feel
if you do what you can to make things right.

Regardless of blame, in that cold winter’s night
it really won’t matter who’s wrong and who’s right.
Two friends will wait for the dawn.

Meaning Behind The Moment

19 Mar

Do you ever get up grumpy? Early in the morning? For no apparent reason? You just feel like shoving the cat out of the way when she comes up for a pet. I don’t have a cat. Lucky for the cats of the world. I’m up by myself. 4 a.m. No one to take it out on. So, I get dressed, go down to the first floor in the apartment building, walk into the Fitness Center thinking that vigorous exercise will expel the demons, and there is a terrible grinding noise coming out of a wall-mounted TV that had been left on all night. Awful noise. And, the TV won’t respond to the remote control, and, no, I could not unplug it for reasons that are too complicated to explain. So I put on my ear buds, crank up the volume on my music machine to cover the grinding noise…loud. And off I go on the stationary bike. The volume of the music is shaking my ball cap on my head, the wire from the ear buds to the clip-on music device gets tangled, so I reach for my phone to read news headlines or play a time-filling game, and, of course, I’ve left the phone in the apartment.

This is rapidly becoming a morning to forget…and then I remembered. Sue and I spent the last week in Sedona, Arizona, a place of spectacular beauty. We hiked majestic trails, ate delicious food, shared the company of good friends, ate more delicious food, explored the community, ate more…you get it. We had a wonderful time. And here I am, the first day home, and I have a case of the 4 a.m. Grumps. And then I remembered some more, especially the songs I heard from the river along the trail. Happy sounds. Laughing sounds. The sun speckled the water with hundreds of little dancing light spots. The performance was extraordinary. It’s still beautiful, even in my memory. While I was remembering the river’s songs, still in the Fitness Center, a different song came through the tangled wires of the music device. Michael Crawford, the magnificent voice, began singing “I’ll Walk With God”. Little by little the wires untangled. Little by little Crawford’s song softened my sharp edges. The grinding sounds from the suffering TV didn’t stop, but they didn’t have control anymore. The memory and the music did.

I seem to be a person who looks for the meaning behind the moment, and that’s what I did, clutching the Sedona moments and feeling the song begin to chase the demons from my grumpy brain. The meaning behind the moment: get over the Grumps, look around, see, a tangled wire and a broken TV don’t define the day, you can actually survive and prosper without a phone in your hand, how do you want to spend the rest of the day? Grumpy or grateful. Sing the river songs and hum along with Crawford. There’s a message coming through. Do you hear?

By the time I got back to our third-floor apartment, I was ready to hug my wife and pet my cat. But Sue was still sleeping and I don’t have a cat. No, I don’t want one. Thanks, anyway. I’ll save the hug and in the meantime I will sing a song or hum a tune. Walking with God is certainly better than stumbling along with the Grumps. I hope your day is calm, peaceful, and filled with joy. If you’re walking with the Grumps, say “goodbye”, part company and be attentive to the presence that is waiting in a song, a memory, a friend’s smile, a lovely dawning, a loving relationship. There is a good day in the making. You’ll find it, or it will find you. Walk the Way. Press on.

Spirit Speaking

12 Mar

And the Spirit spoke to me, saying:
See the mountain clothed in shades of sunlight,
she wears the robe of dignity, the cloak of integrity
See the mountain. Become.

Watch the ant carrying the broken twig to his nesting place,
He has a task to perform, others depend on him.
He presses on. Never quit.

Feel the first drops of spring rain on your arm,
Sky sends the gift to nourish the earth,
to wash, to clean. Seek purity.

Look through the eyes and into the soul of your companion.
Just there is where love originates, its origin.
You are loved. Be loved. Love in return.

In the just dawning light, the Spirit spoke to me:
Today you will see suffering, close to you and far away.
It is yours to bear, but not to affirm.
Respect the suffering. It is the reality of human life.
Live beyond the suffering. Teach peace.

This morning the Spirit spoke to me,
and I listened.

Thoughts That Come With The Dawn

11 Mar

First thoughts of the day,
gifts to capture and consider,
slow mind waking into the almost light,
old muscle and joints moving carefully
but with intention and determined
gratitude. Nuggets that become
the nexus of prayer.

People who worked all night while I slept,
for their vigilance.

My friend’s smile because love has
returned and filled an empty place.

Imagined sounds of exploding bombs,
weeping. The smell of fear.

The realization of oneness connecting
all living beings: people, animals, growing trees,
rivers and oceans.

Hello…Good Morning…Have a great day,
Nice to see you this morning. Greetings.

Songs and poems and words used to
build up, affirm, validate. Conversations
that construct, not condemn.
Glad welcome

My love, still sleeping, as I
thought-pray into the new day.

Mystery that I cannot explain,
beyond comprehension,
formless form but
persistent presence.

Old friend. Way Walker,
joke teller and life changer.
Comforter, Challenger,
Embodiment of all.

First thoughts in the new day
as light seeps into the darkness.
Slowly waking to all that is sacred.

Come To The Center

10 Mar
I’m not sure why I’m drawn to this flower, but I keep coming back to it and wondering about it. The pure white? The ruffled edges? Something pulls me back and invites me to sit and see. And what I see is a charming combination of colors, a blending so complimentary. A design that welcomes like open arms. It’s the center, isn’t it, that makes the white so bright. It’s the center, the golden eyed center, that captures my observing. Going to the center , sitting and seeing, wondering and waiting. It’s all in the Center, isn’t it. A simple flower invites: come to The Center.

The Left Behind And The Lost

7 Mar

Weep for the ones that can’t understand,
for the left behind and the lost,
defenseless, in fear of savage man
whose actions exact such a terrible cost.
Left as their masters flee to survive,
condemned to forage and find their way,
these beautiful creatures from whom we derive
such joy and love in a different day.

Pray for the helpless who hide in the night,
who die as we ravage the suffering earth.
They cannot survive this terrible blight.
Please, God, may their sorrowful deaths give them birth
into realms of contentment and peace once more,
to live without the evils of war,
my faithful yellow Labrador,
afraid in the dim light of smoke shadowed stars.

Anatomy Of A Morning Walk

5 Mar

6:15 a.m….Choice to make…small Fitness Room with piped-in elevator music and/or talking heads on two TV screens…or…out the door into 46 degree weather for a power walk.

6:25 a.m….out the door.

6:28 a.m….listen to my heart as it moves toward high gear; up the steep incline on Innovation Park Dr…thump, thump; breathing more labored. The sound of my footsteps becomes a cadence for the uphill march.

6:33 a.m….say “good morning” to two small singing birds; accept their invitation to join them. We sing.

6:37 a.m….out of breath at the turn around point, .75 miles; welcome new light rising behind the mountains; beautiful mural as the shadowy mountains meet the crisp morning light.

6:39 a.m…now it’s downhill; yea!; such a lovely winding path lined with trees and green bushes; downhill is easier.

6:45 a.m….the wind is at my back helping me along like an old friend; I say “thank you” and listen to the wind’s song in the trees.

6:48 a.m….I am shocked to see, just in front of me, a sleek (and large) bobcat come out of the bushes on my right, cross the four-lane street…slowly, like he owns the territory…and disappear into dense foliage across the street. I follow. (I know) I want to see him closer, to take in that graceful beauty. But, it’s his territory and he disappears. What a sighting. What a gift.

6:50 a.m….approaching the last curve before my home comes into sight; the sun is just touching the mountain peak now and it broadcasts long arms across the tree tops, fingers stretching out and dropping big splashes of light everywhere.

6:55 a.m…at my front door; sweat on my back and mental pictures of a wonderful walk…a wonder walk; along the hallway I pass the Fitness Room, elevator music is competing with thundering TV sets; I smile. What a way to begin the day. This IS the day the Lord has made…and the Lord did a very fine job of it.

Write It On Your Heart

2 Mar

He said, “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety. Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and some absurdities, no doubt crept in. Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense. This new day is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on the yesterdays.”


Ralph Waldo Emerson