Thursday, July 31, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, August 1, 2008

Faith, like a jackal, feeds among the tombs, and even from
these dead doubts she gathers her most vital hope.

- Herman Melville, author (“Moby Dick”), born on this
day, 1819, in Manhattan

Well, what’s a guy to do?? “Brainy History” says that Melville was born on Aug 1. Another website about biography says he was born on Aug 19th. As usual, I invoke writer’s privilege! And wouldn’t that be a great title for a book - Feeding Among the Tombs!

It is easy to say, We are going to die. What does anything matter. Dick Cheney and others of his ilk are reported to have said it, sure of the “rapture” and therefore not caring about Life Now.

In a sense, Christianity is a religion/faith of the tombs. It unflinchingly immerses itself in death, the death of Jesus. It’s principle symbol combines the powerful symbols of Death and Life - the Cross: a crucified Jesus hanging on an almost eternal symbol of Life. The Cross symbolizes the intersection of Heaven and Earth where Life explodes into Being.

It is without question, in my mind, that Christianity gathers her most vital Hope from the Cross - from feeding among the tombs. There it confronts the utter reality of mortality - and from that contemplation Christianity and Christians understand that God is all about Life. The Resurrection of Jesus is the blazing fiery conflagration around which Christians gather. Christian liturgy is an astonishing drama where the Cross stands at the core, utterly surrounded and hemmed in and contained by the shouts of Thanksgiving and by the vision of Eternal Life and by the Defeat and Banishment of Fear. Christianity finds soul mates in other Faiths too.

Death is a phantom. A boogeyman dangled in front of us to crush our instinct for Living. Embrace Death, call Death Brother/Sister. Live by Hope. Hope is but another word for the unquenchable reality of Life and Love.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, July 31, 2008

It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.

- J. K. Rowling, creator of “Harry Potter”, born
on this day, 1965

Depends on what you mean by “dreams”. Dreams can be those thoughts where Life will be the fulfillment of all our fantasies. Dreams can be the mysterious strange images of the mind, sorting out Mystery for us in our sleeping hours. But “dreams” can also be our hopes, our longings, our desires for our own Life and the life of all Creation, based upon our experience and upon the vision that has taken shape in our heart and mind and spirit.

I think that Rowling is right. No dream will come true if we “forget to live”. Living freely, unashamedly, gratefully, gently, compassionately - this is the soil in which dreams can grow and flourish and flower. Some pretty silly “religious” people have condemned Harry Potter because of “magic”, which they see to be anti-God. Oh, that arid mind! Learning to accept and understand and use his magic powers, learning how to live into the fullness of his being, is how Harry learned to face down evil and bring all manner of goodness into Life. “Magic” is a metaphor for finding one’s truest Self and gifts and not forgetting to live. Jiminy Cricket knew it; remember his song? When you wish upon a star …. your dreams come true. And one of our Presiding Bishops knew it too when he said, The glory of God is a person fully alive.

Dreaming and Living go hand in hand. If we are dead, our dreams are dead. When we find the courage to live, honestly, boldly, “dream” is just another word for the presence of God.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, July n30, 2008

The secret of life is to have a task, something you devote
your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every
minute of the day for the rest of your life. And the most
important thing is, it must be something you cannot possibly do.

- Henry Moore, sculptor, born on this day, 1898

I slightly disagree with Moore. There is something that comes before the “task”. There has to be first an “everything” that you bring to your Life. And that “everything” is Yourself.

It’s indeed impossible to Be Yourself on your own. Oh, don’t get me wrong. Ultimately, no one can usurp the “task” (task?) of becoming who you are. Each of us bears responsibility for at least determining to make this Journey to Selfhood. But the Journey requires, demands, many companions. Teachers, lovers, mentors, friends, soul mates, “God”. We all have to learn the Goal. We may have an inkling deep within, but it takes others to guide us into the Mystery of being Human.

The more you know who you are, the more you have committed yourself to the Discovery, the more passion you can bring to your “task”. What is your task? Mine is to help usher in “the Domain of Goodness”, which is what Harry Cook+ calls what we used to call “The Kingdom of God”.

I’ll be honest. When I hear what Robert Mugabe has done to those he governs (by vicious, perhaps senile, dictatorship), the desire that someone will kill him rises into my gorge. But then I move on, and I hope that somehow Divine Compassion will find a way to change his heart. Or, that others of the African community will “assist” his removal.

Moore is correct, I think. We have to have something that is at the centre of our heart, a “task” that defines the meaning of our Life.

May you know yours. May you know You.


Monday, July 28, 2008

When I have a terrible need of - shall I say the word - religion.
Then I go out and paint the stars.

-Vincent Van Gogh, who died on this day, 1890, age 37

You know, I have the classic love-hate relationship with the Church. I absolutely love the vision of the Church - the fellowship of graced believers, the upholder of Justice and Truth and Peace, the practitioner of Unconditional Love, the lover of humility and honesty and simplicity. And I absolutely “hate” it for its hypocrisy and weakness and venality and greed and power-madness and downright evil and wickedness at times in its history. Sigh.

I try to remember that the “Church” is a symbol. A symbol of the love of God and the beauty of the Creation. And sometimes I see the poignancy of the Church trying to represent the Love of God, compromised by us fickle, maddening, weak, grasping human beings. And I try to remember that God, in spite of our reality, unconditionally loves us.

St. Paul was right. God is magnificently seen in the beauty of Creation. The Psalms are right. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the Firmament declares God’s handiwork. When I really get fed up with the Church, and with myself, I go and gaze at the stars, at the wonder of the Creation. Oh the nights when I would lie on the grass at my grandmother’s cottage as a child; on the banks of the Hudson River in the summer darkness; on the beach in Nicaragua; on the little tower of the Villa Merlo Bianco in Florence; at midnight in my hot tub in Millerton NY. My soul would be soothed, and my mind would become a little calmer.

The Universe, the blazing, playful stars - they do put things back in perspective. When religion, Life, exasperation, discouragement press on us, then lie under the stars and let them paint their calm wonder on the heart.

The stars are a balm in Gilead. Tomorrow comes easier.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, July 28, 2008

All outward forms of religion are almost useless,
and are the causes of endless strife. Believe there
is a great power silently working all things for good,
behave yourself and never mind the rest.

- Beatrix Potter, author, born on this day, 1866
(her house, Hill Top)

Now! Who would have thought that the lady from Sawrey, Cumbria, in the lovely Lake District (where Dennis and I were in July and bought fabulous real gingerbread in Grasmere, also the home of the poet Wordsworth), the author of the charming Peter Rabbit and Nutkin the Squirrel stories, would have come up with such a sharp comment on Religion!

God bless her! (She did have a reputation for being “grumpy” among the local children). Such things need to be said. Because they are - true! You have to stay on top of Religion all the time. It is a troublesome and dangerous beast. Though I am willing to admit that, in my old age, I am becoming a little more tolerant of the often utter hypocrisy of Religion. That is, understanding, but endless vigilantly critical. Religion is too important not to be!

Because Religion is so important, it is easily prey to perversion and misuse. In modern times, “religion” and “faith” have become almost antithetical. Our preacher today, in my interpretation, said as much, when she pointed out that it is easy for the Life of Grace to be swamped by the Life of Rules and Regulations - and to many people, “church” is about Rules and Regulations, not Grace.

Believe there is a great power silently working all things for good, behave yourself and never mind the rest. This is a good basic place to start. And hold “institutional religion” to, fiercely!


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Saturday, July 26, 2008

As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence
is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.

I have treated many hundreds of patients. Among those in the
second half of life - that is to say, over 35 - there has not been
one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a
religious outlook on life.

- Carl Jung, born on this day, 1875

At the Easter Vigil Liturgy of the Christian Church each year, a great candle is lit with a “new fire”. It is called the Paschal Candle, the “Passover” Candle. After being lit, it is lifted up, and the deacon sings, The Light of Christ! The people respond, Thanks be to God! The Paschal Candle then becomes the central liturgical symbol for the whole Easter season, to be removed only at Pentecost, when the invisible Spirit becomes the symbol of inner Divine Light leading through Life.

Though my friend Harry Cook+ and I disagree about this, the word “religion” comes from the Latin root “to be re-tied to” [as in a ligament]. I “know” that to be human is to know the connection between our human being-ness and the Source of Life, which we often call “God”. That connection, which I believe to be a “given”, is easily “lost”. I agree with Jung, that Life becomes “a problem” when we become untethered, and that we must be retied if we are going not to be sick of soul.

God must be Light. God must be that which leads us out from “the darkness of mere being”. God cannot be Dark. Alas, God has often been portrayed or promulgated as Dark – and then God is only a projection of the dark shadow of the potential Evil of the human heart.

If God isn’t Light, then “God” is worth diddly. The Christ is the divine light within each of us. It makes each of us a light-filled Being. Today let’s, as the hymn says, Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, July 25, 2008

- an atomic bomb is detonated by the Americans at
Bikini Atoll, in the Pacific, on this day, 1946

So much potential, so much power. Either for good or for evil. God is like that. So much potential, for Good or for Evil. “God” has in fact been used to promote much Evil in the World over the millennia - and God is appalled! I say this with the firm and utter conviction of a prophet.

I have come to think that the “sin against the Holy Spirit” which cannot be forgiven, spoken of in the Christian Scriptures, is the appropriation of God for anti-God purposes. And so it stands that all of us are guilty, if not individually, then corporately, culturally, nationally. “God is on our side”. “God Bless America”, invoked by those in power, and a prayer to which I absolutely cannot ascent, unless it is that God will show us our blasphemy.

God built into the nature of Creation the power of the atom, to be used for the good of humankind. God also gave the Creation a beating heart of Love. If we misuse, there is no saving us – and our destruction is our responsibility.

“God is known chiefly in showing justice and mercy”. OK gang; let’s get with the program!


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, July 24, 2008

Adventure is worthwhile in itself.

- Amelia Earhart, adventurer,
born on this day, 1898

In fact, it’s what any kind of sensible Life is all about! “Adventure” always sounds a little wild and crazy, done by weirdoes or people a little off their heads. Not something sensible, down to earth, responsible people do. And it helps if you have money. But if you look at the etymology of the word, adventure is just mundane, a normal characteristic of being alive.

The root of the word is from the Latin ad + venire, meaning “to come to”. In other words, adventure is a matter of the heart and mind and spirit. An attitude about Life. It’s part of being fully alive. Life is one great and glorious Mystery, a Mystery which any good religion and religious practice will invite you to and open you up to. Sometimes we may go after “It”. Sometimes we will just stay still and open our whole being to “It”. In my view, the principal purpose and goal of education (again, from the Latin, to lead to or out from) is to prepare us for adventure.

Any good education, secular or theological, will teach us how to pay attention, how not to fear, how to desire, how to surrender, how to reach, how to expect. It’s all in the approach. All “good” fiction and all “good” poetry (including Scripture) trains us to be an adventurer.

May you come to at least one new revelation today - a person, a place, an idea, a wonder.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, July 23, 2008

If one is cruel to himself, how can we expect him
to be compassionate with others?

- Hasdai Ibn Shaprut (10th C AD)

Self hate. Many many people are roiling with it. I often see peoples’ Shadow in their face, their self-hate manifesting itself in unrestrained aggression against others. Now and then, to my horror, I feel it my face and have to bring it to my consciousness so I can deal with it. Religions and cultures can have self-hate too. And it seems to me that we are in a vortex in the World today of the acting out of self-hate turned outward.

Alas, many religions develop and encourage and teach self-hate. I can’t speak too expertly about other religions, but Christianity has been rife with it in its many forms. I think it must stem from the almost inherent dualism, that separation of the “flesh” and the “spirit”, with the assumption that Evil stems from the flesh and from the “satisfying” of it’s “desires”. We see it in saints flagellating themselves until they bleed. Mel Gibson projected his self-hate onto Christ in that disgusting movie he made. The shocking addiction to both violent behaviour (war, gangs) and vicarious participation in it (movies, TV) around the globe just tells me that self-hate, wherever it came from, has overwhelmed us. And, as Shaprut says, if we hate ourselves and treat ourselves cruelly, how can we expect compassion towards others?

I have said it before and I will say it again ( and my own personal struggle with being Gay led me to this blessing) : There is only one standard for how we think of ourselves and how we treat others. It is the unconditional love of God, manifesting itself in tenderness, compassion, forgiveness, acceptance of our human frailty, unfailing desire to give strength and hope.

So-called “freedom through victory”, interior or exterior, lasts only “for a night”. The only way to true freedom is through Justice and Compassion. No cruelty is Godly. We love ourselves as God loves us. And then compassion pours out towards others. Peace, personal or global, lies no where else. Even in the midst of the hell we have created for ourselves now, we had better start building a new foundation for the human community. Put your vote to those who see this vision.

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lonely Burial

There were not many at that lonely place,

Where two scourged hills met in a little plain. T
he wind cried loud in gusts, then low again.
Three pines strained darkly, runners in a race
Unseen by any.
Toward the further woods
A dim harsh noise of voices rose and ceased. --
We were most silent in those solitudes --
Then, sudden as a flame, the black-robed priest,
The clotted earth piled roughly up about
The hacked red oblong of the new-made thing,
Short words in swordlike Latin -- and a rout
Of dreams most impotent, unwearying.
Then, like a blind door shut on a carouse,
The terrible bareness of the soul's last house.

- Stephen Vincent Benet, American poet,
born on this day, 1898

I love thinking about dying! Not because I am morbid in any way. But because I like to think about what other people think about dying. Human beings are fascinating. It is amazing how differently we all think about things. And culture! Different cultures, brought up in different ways, forming our thoughts and our ideas. When I look at Indian culture, and others, I can’t help but think (and wonder why) our own American approach to death is so very very weird!

Benet is lovely. I memorized poems by him in high school. Does anyone do that any more? The terrible bareness of the soul’s last house? That won’t be my end! Ashes returned to earth in as beautiful a spot as I can find!

Life is infinitely more important than death. Think about Life mostly. And plan your death ceremonies to reflect not terrible bareness but lush wonder and happy times.

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, July 21, 2008

God gave men both a penis and a brain, but unfortunately
not enough blood supply to run both at the same time.

- Robin Williams, actor and comedian, born on this day, 1951

Well, come on gang – it’s Robin Williams! How could I not choose something zingy! (Robin is 57 today.)

So, this quote gives me a chance to ride one of my favourite hobbyhorses. Robin’s quote is a perfect example of the point of the parable that Jesus told about the “wheat and the weeds”, which we read for the Liturgy yesterday. We human have brains and can (if we choose) think. And we have hormones that are very powerful and that exert enormous power over us, and which seem to short-circuit the briain.

Jesus’ point was, I think, that we humans are a mixture of things over which we have control or not, things which enhance our life or things which complicate our lives unhelpfully. And His further point is that we need to deal with ourselves in a realistic way, and count on God to supply us the grace and love and forgiveness we need to get on with Life, heading for Glory. (Robin Williams also said, “Reality: what a concept!) And remember: God is not going to pull out the “tares” and free us from the troublesomeness of Sex. But note: many think of Sexuality as a “weed”; I, however, object to thinking of sexuality as a “weed” rather than “wheat”! This is part of the problem.)

Thousands of years along, we are just idiotic about how we deal with sex and sexuality in our culture. Bad thinking! It creates enormous trouble in our whole society. So, would someone please start a “Let’s Deal with Sex Head-on Society”. (Excuse the pun.)

Meanwhile, pray that blood and brain might find a good working relationship!


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, July 18, 2008

There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling
for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.

- Nelson Mandela, prisoner of Apartheid, President of South Africa,
born on this day, 1918, 90 years ago

I have often quoted the famous line by the Mahatma about Christianity. He said, It is a wonderful religion; I hope that someone tries it sometime.”

Gandhi was not, I am sure, poking fun at Christianity. I think he was in awe of what the Gospel calls a person to be. Fully human. With Jesus as the Guide. And with the best of passionate thinking by passionate followers of the Gospel path. Of course, there have been many passionate teachers of a radical way to finding the full glory of being human.

I think about who I am called to be as a priest, and I am chagrined at how puny my efforts have been! (Though, I am glad to admit that over the years I have accepted the limitations of being human.) I look at most followers of a religion and see how far short we fall from the breathtaking possibilities we are offered. And I mean far short. Jesus summed up everything by saying simply, Love one another. And I imagine how different my own life and the life of the World would be if I could just keep that in focus for even 25% of the day! I know that every person I meet in a day I could meet with the conscious intention to love. But I don’t do it. Too self-preoccupied, or whatever. Maybe an iPod would come in handy here as a modern version of prayer beads – a constant quiet voice whispering in our ears in the midst of the chaos around us: Love, love, love!

Maybe we could have Play Big days. Take risks, go all out. Look everyone in the eye and determine to love. I have said for a long time that Love is an act of the will. It’s not about how we “feel”.

Time we all got conscious about it. Blessings on King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia for calling us all this week to reject extremism and live together in peace and acceptance.

Good luck tomorrow!


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, July 17, 2008

"If they don't have the guts to come up here in front of you and say,
'I don't want to represent you, I want to represent those special interests,
the unions, the trial lawyers ... if they don't have the guts, I call them girlie men

- Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of CA, on this day, 2004

Why do people say things like this? Especially people in positions of governance. Especially people who have been educated and who know all manner of people and who should know better than to say things that demean people and create division and promote ignorance??

To me, it shows just how little influence religion has made on the American people. And it shows just how ingrained in the human psyche it is to fear and demean people who are “not like you” - though it always makes me wonder about people like Schwarzenegger - they are usually are hiding some severe deficiency in character.

Jesus (and God) would only sigh. Jesus tried to teach people to respect others, not to judge, to be caring and compassionate, to understand that every person was of equal value and to be honoured as a child of God. It makes me wonder just how much real influence Christianity has had in America. Not much, I think, as I see what America is like in terms of racism, homophobia, compassion for the needy.

Have the clergy been such bad teachers that millions of people thought that the Gov’s comments were “funny” or “appropriate”?? Maybe. It’s time for a real change, friends. If America is going to claim to be a “Christian Nation” (not that I agree), it better at least take it seriously and get it right! I volunteer to replace Billy Graham as the Pastor to the Presidents!


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My mother told me I was dancing before I was born.
She could feel my toes tapping wildly inside her for months.

- Ginger Rogers, dancer & star, born on this day, 1911

Fred Astaire was great. But - I always took to Ginger! She was the one who said (and I love it!) “Fred and I were doing the same thing ….. but I was doing it backwards and in high heels!” But didn’t she look fantastic??!!

I probably floated in the womb as a witless, complacent fat blob. I had no idea what was coming, what was in store. No toe tapping wildly on my part. But then again, I never asked my mother, so how do I know? Maybe I was tap dancing in there! After I emerged from the womb, I was a bundle of energy, alas often in a negative way, crying, awake all night, my poor father walking me up and down the halls.

However: Life got good for me as the years went by. I certainly wasn’t on the Silver Screen tap dancing my heart out. But. I was wandering all around the World, meeting fascinating people, doing fun things centered in what I think as important about being human. Standing as an icon at altars in far-flung places, inviting people to enter more deeply into the Mystery of “God” - and therefore into the Mystery of Themselves. And I was being dragged along into the same Mysteries – often “dancing” backwards and, in a sense, in high heels, i.e., having to learn how to be nimble.

I think that God wants us to be like Ginger. Waiting with wild expectancy in the womb, tapping wildly, just crazy with excitement for the adventure ahead, anticipating untold delights. And then being led by God in the Great Dance of Life, having to figure out how to follow, not lead, understanding that if we can just surrender, it will be a glorious swirl!

It doesn’t matter if it didn’t happen at birth. Any time is a good time. The dance can begin now. Just go with the flow, precarious as we may be on those high heels. Lightness of Being soon becomes natural - and off we go, God leading us back and forward and around in circles, enjoying the sparkle of what it means to be Alive. You don’t need special skills – just the ability to accept yourself.

Enjoy the Dance!

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I can't give you anything but love, baby
That's the only thing I've plenty of, baby
Dream a while, scheme a while
We're sure to find
Happiness and I guess
All those things you've always pined for
Gee, I'd like to see you looking swell, baby
Diamond bracelets Woolworth doesn't sell, baby
Till that lucky dayYou know darned well, baby
I can't give you anything but love.

- Dorothy Fields, born on this day, 1905

Many years ago, I was lying on the little beach that served the lake on which my grandmother’s cottage was built, in the Laurentian mountains north of Montreal. I fell asleep – and dreamed. I heard a noise behind me. I looked, and Jesus was standing there on the beach. He looked very much the Middle Eastern Jew, dark-skinned, black short hair, black eyes. And He was singing! To me. Guess what He was singing?? “I can’t give you anything but Love, Baby!” . I awoke, and I was humming the song - which, by the way, was partially written by ….. Jimmy McHugh! That was my father’s name!!

I love dreams. They are a part of the language of the Divine. I firmly believe that our needs connect with God, and what we need is gifted to us, often through dreams. I really needed to know that God was all about Love, that Love trumped everything else. And here was my message! In a delightful way, God had used Dorothy Fields to send me a singing “telegram”.

While I’ve “forgotten” it often through the years, when needed the song has come back, reminding me of what I need to stay centered in.

The best part of the message, of course, was “I can’t give you anything but love, baby”. That’s the true character of God. Forget anything else! That’s the only thing God has plenty of, Baby!


Monday, July 14, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, July 14, 2008

Write the bad things that are done to you in sand, but write
the good things that happen to you on a piece of marble.

- Arabic proverb

I’ve had quite a weird five years, health-wise. A doctor punctured my aorta (almost died); open-heart surgery to replace my aortic valve that had to be delayed because of that doctor; gall-bladder removal; cyst removed from my throat; discovered I have a hole in my heart; colon burst from diverticulitis (almost died), had a colostomy; severe ecoli bacterial infection, took 6 weeks of daily intravenous antibiotics to get rid of it; reversal of the colostomy, 2nd major abdominal surgery; surgery to repair a major abdominal hernia, 3rd major abdominal surgery.

First: whatever difficulties you’ve had, this should make you feel at least a little better!

Second: All the above is “written on sand”.

Third: each morning when I awake, I will recall one of the countless good things that have happened to me, which far outweigh the “bad”, and write in on the piece of marble that is erected like a beautiful temple in my heart.

“Where your “treasure” is, there will your heart be also.”

Blessings on this day!


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, July 4, 2008

Caresses, expressions of one sort or another,
are necessary to the life of the affections as
leaves are to the life of a tree. If they are wholly
restrained, love will die at the roots.

- Nathaniel Hawthorne, author, born on this
day, 1804, in Salem, Massachusetts

The World, and human beings, are for caresses. It may sound sappy, but it’s a lot better than greed, power, control, hate, racism, homophobia, sexism, arrogance, indifference, war, militarism, etc.

This July 4, why not (within the bounds of appropriateness) do a lot of caressing?

E-caresses to you all!!


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, July 3, 2008

There is a communion of more than our bodies
when bread is broken and wine drunk.

- M.F.K. Fisher, goddess of food, author,
born on this day, 1908, in California

Her many books sit on my shelf, and I have read them on and off almost weekly over many years. I particularly love “The Art of Eating”. And I have another connection with her. I love Laguna Beach. And her father used to take the family to camp on the hills for the summer in Laguna – how I wish the world were still such!!

Bread and wine are eternal metaphors of life and connection. Jesus or course used them (as have other great teachers and deities, and the Israelites) to gather His friends and to Remember, to make present. Certainly most of us remember Thanksgiving or Christmas meals, and the people we loved remain present to us in metaphorical bread and wine.

I have travelled a lot. The times I remember most are around a meal. I close my eyes, and immediately a three-decker server filled with ice and topped with luscious oysters and mussels and other seafood in a little Paris restaurant with friends on our way to Madagascar shimmers in front of me. Or a meal in Mary Korvah’s house in Bolahun, Liberia. And of course Eucharists in thousands of places from Brazilian slums to Westminster Abbey.

May you have many meals together, with friends old and new, family, communities of faith, the Deity. On many a day may they rise in your heart, and sustain you.

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, July 2, 2008

In each individual the spirit is made flesh,
in each one the whole of creation suffers,
in each one a Savior is crucified.

- Hermann Hesse, author, philosopher, born
on this day, 1877, Calw, Germany. Nobel prize
for Literature 1946

Hesse said, As a body everyone is single, as a soul never. I agree with him. We all get to choose what we believe, from among an enormous variety of terrific ideas. Because no one, no one, knows the whole truth, if there is such a thing.

The older I get, the more I understand that all is connected. There is nothing that is not somehow related to everything else that exists. And I have come to “see” that the Christ-figure is an icon of each of us, an icon which each of us lives out more or less authentically and powerfully based on the choices we make, the thoughts we think, the actions we take, the things we value and/or love.

Imagine if we understood each and every person, including ourselves, as both a salvific being and a sister or brother! Maybe we would still be bastards towards one another, I don’t know. But maybe, just maybe, we would begin to understand what Jesus meant when He said, What you do to the least of these, you do to Me. That when we hate another, abuse another, demean another, we are destroying ourselves. And that’s exactly what I believe we are doing in our ignorance.

Today, as you see each person, think, That is I. And think of the Golden Rule: Do to others are you would have them do to you.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, July 1, 2008

All mankind is divided into three classes:
those that are immovable,
those that are movable,
and those that move.

- Ben Franklin, who, on this day, 1731,
established the first circulating library.

What a morning! Lovely in Santa Maria CA. But it is amazing to me how much there is to fill the day in “retirement”!! On top of it all, the new vertical blinds have been delivered, and one box is so long I can’t even begin to think how I will get it into the house! And I’m just getting to the Reflection – but that’s because I am a distracted multi-tasker, always have been and probably always will be! (Some would call it scatter-brained.) Might as well accept it!

So - which are you?? Of Ben’s “classes”, I mean? I suppose we are all a bit of each, with one that tends to dominate? In terms of Life and relationships and relationship to God, I think you can’t be immoveable. It’s a dead-end. We have to be moveable. Jesus was always saddened by immovables, and encouraged movables. How often did He say, “Moses” (meaning the sacred texts) may have said this, but I am telling you ….. . Life is all about growing, expanding. I was thinking about this when I heard on the BBC this morning that 1300 Church of England clergy say they will leave the church if they ordain women bishops. I tell you: the status quo when it comes to our understanding of God will kill you!

The real challenge, of course, is to move! Getting off the dime. It’s one thing to think that it’s necessary to die with Christ in order that we might live in Christ, and another to get on with it! And I think that’s true with almost everything. That’s why Faith is useless unless actualized.

So: let’s get a move on!