Monday, January 31, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Hold fast to your dreams, for without them
life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly

Langston Hughes, poet; he was born on
this date, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri

One of America’s greatest poets and writers. He was known as “The Poet Laureate of the Negro Race”. You can find a biography here:

Langston Hughes knew about broken dreams. He once poignantly wrote, representing so many:

I swear to the Lord,
I still can't see
why Democracy means
everybody but me

Being a Human Being can be so disappointing! I find it so, at times. Think of Willy Loman in “Death of a Salesman”. On a scale of one to ten, relative to the six billion people of the World, I’ve had it pretty damn good. I started in a flat in Verdun, Quebec, went to university (when it only cost me about $1500 a year) and got a degree, joined a monastery, went to seminary, got a Masters in Divinity (ain’t that classy!), and retired as a priest after 40 years in ministry. And I can actually say I am happy, blessed, loved, befriended, and charmed by many things.

I “dreamed” of being a musician; that didn’t happen. I dreamed of being a holy monk; that didn’t happen. I dreamed of lots of things that didn’t happen. But what did happen was, I found out that one does not have to be enslaved by dreams, as if they trap you when they fail of “coming true”.

No. I found that Dreams are one of the few “renewable energies”, one of the few inexhaustible resources. They constantly morph into new possibilities ….. just like those weird dreams one has in the night.

Any “spiritual practice” worth its salt and worth commitment will teach us both to latch on to dreams because they nourish our Being ….. and not to cling to them when they become irrelevant. I think part of “faith” is to believe that dreams will be our guide forever ….. and they will teach us to trust in ourselves, to be flexible, to be amazed at Life’s possibilities, and to follow the paths that open without expecting them to last forever.

Life is too extravagant to have only one Journey. Dream on.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, January 31, 2011

Cocaine isn't habit forming. I should know –
I've been using it for years.

I'm as pure as the driven slush.

Tallulah Bankhead, actor and wit;
she was born on this day, 1903,
in Huntsville, Alabama.

Humour ….. and self-knowledge, with humour. Big gifts, skills, in dealing with Life.

I’ll bet that most of us don’t know just how many addictive patterns we are locked into! Ruts are SO comfortable! Addictions to food, booze, etc can be pretty destructive. But we also have addictions to religion, ideas, concepts, prejudices. Not only do they enslave us, they infantilize us. Frankly, I find that this country (and a lot of the rest of the World - like Mubarak in Egypt, Bashir in Sudan, Netanyahu in Israel, Sarkozy in France, the King of Saudi Arabia, Gbagbo in Cote d’Ivoire, Medvedev in Russia, Harper in Canada, as representative examples) is being run by infantilized people – and the same for those who elect and support them. No wonder we are in such a mess – as are most of the institutions that bolster them.

What point am I making? The point that we human beings have had some superb guides as to how to live Life. No question. And most of the World has honoured these guides ….. out of their mouths. But the test of authentic honour is (as Jesus made clear) is to DO what they teach: “Not everyone who SAYS to me Lord, Lord, will enter the Kingdom of Heaven!” And I would estimate it at about .001% - attributable only to the Justice and Mercy of “God”.

It might be helpful to think today about what WE are addicted to, about what is holding us back from launching into Freedom, about what is keeping us infantilized and unable to see each other as sisters and brothers, connected to each other and called to care for each other and look out for each other’s welfare. If you’re honest, you’ll see that you’re in an addictive rut.

We all think we are so pure ….. but there’s a lot of slush! Let’s admit it, laugh ….. and CHANGE!


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: The Weekend, Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Beatitudes

Jesus of Capernuam

[ You can read The Batitudes here: ]

Ah. The Beatitudes. Well, I’m off the hook ….. to be “original” that is. And someone wise once said that no one these days has any original thought. But: some so express them very creatively and very concisely. Thank God!

Here’s what (Episcopal priest) Cynthia Bourgeault has to say in her book “The Wisdom Jesus”. The Beatitudes are all about our transformation into identity with The Christ – i.e., becoming Fully Human.

“Poor in Spirit”. ….. “describes an inner attitude of receptivity and openness, and one is blessed by it because only in this state is it possible to receive anything”.

“Those who mourn”. It’s about ….. “vulnerability and flow”. She says, “To mourn is to touch directly the substance of Divine compassion.”

“The meek”. Or, the “gentle”. Blessed are those who have “tamed the wild animal energy within them, the passions and compulsions of our lower nature (note: I don’t like at all that word “lower”!)”

“Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness”. “In this ….. Jesus is not talking about doing virtuous deeds so that you will be rewarded later; he is talking about being in connectedness without fundamental yearnig” … i.e., to be anchored in God’s own Aliveness.”

“Blessed are the Merciful.” “It’s all about exchange ….. exchange is the very nature of divine life ….. and all things share in the divine life through the dance of giving and receiving” of Love.

“Pure in Heart”. In Wisdom teaching , “purity means Singleness, and the proper translation is really ‘Blessed are those whose heart is not divided’, is ‘a unified whole’ …. “cleansing the lens of perception”.

Intriguing? It sure is. Ponder this before you go to worship tomorrow!


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, January 28, 2011

I believe there are more urgent and honorable
occupations than the incomparable waste of time
we call suffering.

Colette, French novelist and symbol; she was born
on this date, 1873; she was accorded a state funeral
despite the refusal of Catholic rites on the grounds
that she had been divorced. Her funeral was attended
by thousands of mourners.

A very old member of the Order of the Holy Cross once gave a children’s mission. Facing a pile of 6-8 year olds sitting on the floor, his opening line was, “Now children, what does God love most?” After a significant pause, he said in a loud, sepulchral whisper ….. “Suffering!!!”

Ye gods! Talk about being stuck in a sick theological time warp! I’ve often wondered how much money was spent by those children in later life on therapists.

Be that as it may, Suffering’s a given of human Life. And the more we live with the illusion that we can avoid suffering, the more painful Suffering will be. Take my word.

Colette is bang on. Suffering is not, must not, be an “occupation”. The Christian religion tried, for many centuries, to inflict it on us. Shame on it. The Buddha rightly noted that Suffering was a central experience of being Human ….. but He did not suggest that we make it an occupation …. to the contrary.

The givenness of Suffering is no excuse for a Life of wallowing in it. That is a way of “death”. The Gospel - and need I say with St. Paul, the very wonder and beauty of Being – is about Life. If Suffering snuffs out Life, it’s time to move on.

At best, Suffering leads to empathy, to compassion, to generosity, to Love - and if we are fortunate, to freedom. Now THERE'S a spiritual Journey!! I have a way to go!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, January 2, 2011

It is not hard to feel like an outsider. I think
we have all felt like that at one time or another.

Alan Cumming, Scottish actor; he was born
on this date, 1965, in Aberfeldy, Perthshire

I have. Oh God, I have.

Yet, I have been blessed. Extraordinarily so. And when I look back on it, it comes as a great “surprise” to me. As if I had nothing to do with it. And yet I did. Though I often didn’t, don’t, see it. What I didn’t – and still often don’t - see is that there was, is, a Mystery working in me that has guided me throughout my Life. It isn’t a Mystery that I know just through my religious journey in Christianity. It turns out that it is much more brilliant, more wondrous, more charming, more deep than I even now understand. Which I find utterly delightful! By some cosmic grace, I was enabled to choose not to demean, to dehumanize myself.

Believe me, I had a much less traumatic journey as a Gay man than most of my Gay friends. In my journey, I avoided any sense of self-hate, and sense of inferiority. My sense of that for Gayfolk didn’t come until later ….. and it is the reason that I have been consumed by a sense of rage all my Life. And yet, as much as my insides churned with this rage, I somehow managed not to act out that rage, but to find in my ministry as a priest ways to lead others to new understandings.

So many Christians want God to be picky and exclusive. Meaning they want to control and define and limit God. And to make God in their own Image. In this, the Church often colludes – to its shame.

For the “God” I know, there are no outsiders. And I am deeply grateful that I encountered this God early in my Life. If you feel an “outsider”, I happily transfer my blessing to you! The fact that others would consign you to being an Outsider does NOT make it so. They do not have that power. Only you can concede that power to them ….. and I beg you not to.

In the realm of the Beloved, there are no Outsiders.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, January 26, 2011

To bring the sublime into the mundane
is the greatest challenge there i

Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan
Alchemical Wisdom

Sublime: “up to a next hearth”. Mundane: “of the World”.

It seems to be rather difficult for us human beings to infuse the Mundane with the Sublime. Oh, we have plenty of advice! Religions. Philosophies. Wisdom. Truth. Gurus. Priests. Shamen. Scriptures. Gods & Goddesses.

We have grand ideas about what it is to be a fine human being, both as individuals and as part of the Human Community. We have lots of advice and guidance about how to be fine human brings – some helpful and some not so. But we don’t do it. As PVIK says, with a bit of obviousness, bringing the “sublime into the mundane is the greatest challenge there is”.

“Bringing the sublime into the mundane” is about evolving as a human being. It is about “dying” – dying meaning letting go of “stuff” we started out with from our birth and which was helpful in establishing our Ego and Identity as a unique person, and then integrating into the Universal Unconscious, into “God”, into the matrix of All That Exists – however you want to conceive it. We fear this because we think that we “disappear”. But Rumi clarifies this spiritual and philosophical and metaphysical misconception:

I died as a mineral and became a plant.
I died as a plant and rose to animal.
I died as an animal and I was Man.
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?

If you have a weak Ego, work on that ….. we all need a strong one. But when the Ego has been shored up, begin work on “sublimating” the Ego. In other words, start evolving to the next level of human evolvement, the next "hearth" (yes, that place of home!). As you move there, the fighting, the alienation, the fear begins to dissipate. Harmony and understanding grow.

Soon, there is Enlightenment and Peace and Freedom.

Think: is that not what we most desire?


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, January 24, 2011

Success consists of going from failure
to failure without loss of enthusiasm.

Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister;
he died on this date, 1965, age 90

You have really got to have your act together actually to believe this! (Note that I did not split the infinitive; it is usually done these days ….. but I absolutely refuse to break about the only rule I remember being taught about English grammar. It also connects me in a pedantic way with Mr. Churchill, who famously said, “Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put.”)

If you know that you are loved, and respected. If you know that Failure is part of being Human, as well as a necessary part of being courageous and of growing up and of learning what one needs to learn in order to be a mature adult. If you know that honest mistakes are part of Life. If you know that Forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts (including to oneself), and is one of the chief characteristics of the God of Compassion. If you know that your true friends will always respect you for admitting failure and moving forward …..

You will succeed.

Of course you know there things, yes?

You don’t?

They are all true.


Be enthusiastic about Life.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, January 20, 2011

First you forget names, then you forget faces.
Next you forget to pull your zipper up and finally,
you forget to pull it down.

Nathan Birnbaum; born on this date, 1896, in NYC
[ Who?? George Burns, of course! ]

I’m like that ….. and I’m only 64.6!! For years, I could remember the name of every parishioner at the Communion rail. Now, I forget those I know the best. Faces? Well, I’m pretty good at that still ….. but what good is it if you can’t say Hi! by name? As to zippers, I rarely if ever forget to pull it up. But, with the results of radiation and seed implants for prostate cancer, I often “forget” to pull it down fast enough. Sheesh! I figure if a policewoman ever asks me why I’m skulking in a corner with my pee bottle, I’ll just shame her and gently lecture her on the necessities of older men with prostate cancer treatments!

My mother used to go on with some frustration and anxiety about the forgetful issues of aging. As did many of my parishioners. In particular, my mother would fret about being up half the night. When I would visit, I would say, “Mum! You don’t have any schedules to meet. Just relax! If you are up, do something interesting. Sleep late in the day if you want. You’ve earned it!” I’ve taken my own advice to heart. I get most of my reading done after pee-alerts in the middle of the night!

Young or older, my advice is: Give yourself a break. God, what pressures we put on ourselves! To no good end, as far as I can discern. Some young people would call this old age rationalization. I call it Old Age Wisdom – and I think that young people could vastly benefit by it and enjy their lives more if they could learn it early on.

I hope you feel liberated! You’re allowed to ….. I say so!


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, January 20, 2011

You'd be surprised how much it costs to look this cheap!

It's a good thing I was born a girl, otherwise I'd be a drag queen.

I wanted to be the first woman to burn her bra, but it would
have taken the fire department four days to put it out.

I modeled my looks on the town tramp.

Dolly Parton, fun and talented lady; she was
born on this day, 1946 (she’s older than I am!!)

I’m not a Country & Western aficionado, so I haven’t listened to Dolly singing more than once or twice. But I loved her in “Steel Magnolias”. And I love anyone who can tell jokes on themselves! I suppose that anyone who would say things about herself as I’ve quotes Dolly could be hiding a horrible self-image. But I don’t sense that about Dolly Parton. She sounds like she’s got her personal act together. She knows herself, Dolly does – the wonderful things, her talents ….. and the things you have to laugh at.

Her comment about looking cheap reminds me of one of my very favourite cards. On the front is a woman looking like Tammy Faye Baker – lots of mascara, super-producted hair, piles of makeup. She says, “Lord, I’m sorry about the money.” You open the card and it says, “Bein’ pretty ain’t cheap!” I keep a copy of that card, scanned into my iPhotos, and I look at it quite a lot. It just makes me laugh ….. and it reminds me not to take myself too seriously – or a lot of other things for that matter, including Politics ….. though I could get better at that!

Knowing and owning our sillinesses and stupidities is a sign of wisdom. Laughing at them is a sign of spiritual health. It helps us to see that they need not control us, and that helps us to be free of their control.

One personal memory always makes me chuckle. I was visiting a priest friend in England. My mother had flown over with me to share the adventure. We spent the first day with Derek. Next morning at breakfast (after daily mass, during which Derek’s slobbering English Bulldog sat on the altar step drooling), Derek with a smile said to my mother, “Mrs. McHugh, I can already tell that you are naturally a kind and caring person ….. unlike your son, who has had to be softened by Grace - and still has a long way to go.” Derek was/is right ….. and it taught me to laugh at my opinionatedness and try to be open to “softening”!

Thanks Dolly!


Monday, January 17, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What I say is that, if a fellow really likes potatoes,
he must be a pretty decent sort of fellow.

A. A. Milne, author, (“Winnie the Pooh”);
he was born on this date, 1882

Potatoes!! I absolutely adore potatoes! My favourite way is fresh mashed Yukon spuds from “scratch”, with heavy cream and butter, and drenched in a thick turkey gravy. Yum! Next: little red or fingerling potatoes, scrubbed, slathered in virgin olive oil, and roasted in the oven at 400F until done. Yum!! Next, red, boiled, tender, slobbered with real butter and a little sea salt ….. perfect! And one more glory: my friend Peace’s double cooked baked potatoes, the skins stuffed with fluffy potatoes, garlic, chives, and butter!

I have always said that if I could have only one thing to eat on a desert island, it would be ….. potatoes – as long as I had fire! I am definitely NOT a fan of raw potatoes ….. nor any food raw, except Carpaccio in the Carpaccio salad (served with braised radicchio at Buona Tavola in San Luis Obispo, CA. Yum!!!

So, I’m with Milne: “if a fellow [or woman] really likes potatoes, (s)he must be a pretty decent sort of fellow”.

Potatoes are, almost by definition, the “soul” of personal authenticity and of moral solidity!

For what might a potato be a metaphor? I think for ….. the rootedness, the earthiness, of human being-ness. All of us are rooted in our “dust”, our “animal” nature. We are hard-wired for this when born. But in us, latent, lies the coming choice: to choose to be transformed into our identity as One with the Divine and with the Creation. To be fully, wildly Human.

We are all born hidden, in the metaphorical Earth. We are all destined to be hauled into the Light, washed in some aspect of “baptism” - cleaned up, spiffy-ed up, and sent forth to delight others in the World.

Elegant spuds, to comfort and nourish!


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, January 17, 2011

My rackets are run on strictly American
lines and they're going to stay that way.

Capitalism is the legitimate
racket of the ruling class.

Guess Who

I’m trying to stay away from politics for politics sake. But so often, politics and economics and who we are are profoundly related.

I am reading a fascinating book on economics ….. as far as I can understand it! It’s hard; I have no background or education. It is called “The Value of Nothing”. And the author, Raj Patel, and American from San Francisco, has the knack for helping ignoramuses like myself to comprehend.

I suppose that no form of economics is intrinsically “wicked”. But that all forms of economic structuring can be used either “wickedly” or not. “Wicked” meaning: it harms and demeans Humankind.

To be simplistic, an economic system can be considered “wicked” (my “take”) when it defines human beings as objects to be used for making money, with no consideration for any other dimension of being Human.

Shaping human beings into Consumers, into essentially objects or tools for making unlimited amounts of money by corporations and politicians, is “wicked”.

The exercise for today is for us to think about what is essential for being a Human Being ….. for being the person you want to be. What principles do you use for making this determination? It could be an interesting day!

The quotes are from Al Capone, who was born on this day, 1899. And I think his insights into Capitalism as it is now in America, and his insight into his “rackets”, are both bang on.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, January 14, 2011

Do something for somebody everyday
for which you do not get paid.

Albert Schweitzer, healer, philosopher;
musician; winner of the Nobel Peace Prize
(1952); he was born on this day, 1875

Talk all we want. Pray all we want.

Schweitzer’s words point to the essence of Love and Compassion, Generosity and Kindness. And they are the heart of “spiritual” and religious life ….. and of Prayer.

Prayer, for me, has nothing to do with cajoling some Deity into doing what must be our own work. In Prayer, we speak to the Divine Within, seeking insight and courage and wisdom ….. to ACT, in Love and Compassion, Generosity and Kindness. It doesn’t matter how simple or “grand”. Like all Love, no reciprocation is required. Love is its own blessing, and deepens our Humanity. It is its own reward.

More than any worship, this will transform us.

To be authentic, it must be free.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, Jan 13, 2011

Satan, really, is the romantic youth
of Jesus re-appearing for a moment.

James Joyce, Irish author; he died
on this day, 1941

I often wonder if the people who said these things had any idea of their profound import!

There are many things I could comment on. But what “grabs” me is this. Joyce is thinking mythically. “Jesus” represents our wholeness as a human person evolved into full consciousness as fully integrated “matter and spirit”. “Satan” represents our unevolved, “youthful” immaturity - our non-integrated Self.

“Satan” reappears fairly frequently. The path from “romantic youth” to mature being is not a straight one – as we all know! I am constantly appalled by the re-appearance of my “Satan” self ….. but I understand that evolvement is a spiral process.

Tucson is an opportunity. I’m praying that “Satan” will be faced down ….. and “Jesus” will reappear.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The proper function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.

Jack London, author [“The Call of the Wild”]; he
was born on this day in 1876, in San Francisco

“The Call of the Wild” was one of my absolute favourite books when I was a boy. I must have read it four or five times. It became a prophetic book for me, at least the power of the title did. At age 20, after graduating from University, I responded enthusiastically to a request to go to Manitoba for the summer and pastor 4 churches in the United Church of Canada, 200 miles north of Winnipeg, near Dauphin. What an adventure! Here I was, a fat kid, an Anglican, given one volume of the Interpreter’s Bible. I lived with a widow in Ochre River; designed and presided at the Sunday “services”; did the bulletins; played the organ (and believe me, I was no organist!), preached the sermon, visited people, etc. And drank a lot of tea with the ladies!

I was there for four months. In September, I boarded a plane in Winnipeg (a four prop engine Constellation – my first time on a plane; tears came to my eyes when I realized that this huge thing was actually going to rise into the air and fly me 1500 miles “home” to Toronto. Now I know that the concept of “home” was about to be transformed! “Home” since then has been wherever the Spirit took me. And I always think of the Biblical phrase, “The Spirit blows where it will”. I left Canada and my family and friends to come to the USA and join a religious order. The last 45 years have indeed been a Journey of Surprises.

I long ago became a man who knew that my “proper function” was “to live, not to exist”. Oh, there have been times when I was tempted to “nest”, to get into my ruts and just coast along. But my “spiritual journey” has taught me, every step of the way, to respond enthusiastically to the metaphorical “Invitations to Manitoba”. I haven’t regretted it one bit. I’ve had a grand time!

Over the years, I’ve almost died three times. Serious medical issues. But I have only relearned from them the Message: Life is out there to explore. Go for it!

I have. I have no concern how long I’ll live. I “use my time”. So far, it’s been a blast! And it’s all been accomplished with very little money. It still is.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, January 11, 2011

If any organism fails to fulfill its
potentialities, it becomes sick

William James, philosopher, theologian; he
was born on this date, 1842

What Religion or Philosophy or Art does, essentially, is try to direct us to an understanding of our “potentialities” as human beings.

Have you ever read Oscar Wilde’s “De Profundis”?? I read it for the first time in 3 wakeful hours last night. He wrote it while in prison for the “crime” ostensibly of being homosexual ….. but in reality he was imprisoned for challenging the prejudices of the English aristocracy in the person of the Marquis of Queensbury, whose son was Wilde’s lover.

In it, Wilde presents an analysis of Jesus that is breathtaking! I recommend it.

The events of Tucson these past few days can be seen as an example of the truth of James’ insight. Much of America claims to be a Christian country, or followers of other faiths at whose heart is a God of Love and Justice. When you look at the Gospel and the person of Jesus, with some help perhaps from disciples both ancient and modern, there is clearly a depiction of the potential of being Human, of being “as Christ”, of being a “child of God”. It does not square with the behaviour of a huge percentage of American “Christians”.

The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights reflects the potentialities of those who would be Americans. I do not see much of their grand vision being reflected in American Life, culture, politics, or the media these days – and our country reflects the ugliness, especially in the horror of Tucson.

It seems to me that we have failed of our potentialities ….. and we have sickened “even unto death”. The “face” of what it is to be American these days is inhuman to much of the rest of the World (who often do not see the same reflected in their political and cultural lives).

We must recognize that we are sick. We must hold a mirror up to those who are disseminating the sickness, including ourselves if we are part of it.

If the Gospel is about anything, it is about healing and wholeness.

Healing and wholeness, through the medicines of Love and Justice and Respect, is what we need.

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, January 10, 2011

Peter Marshall: During the War of 1812, Captain Oliver Perry made the
famous statement, "We have met the enemy and..." What?
Paul Lynde: They are cute.

Peter Marshall: Will a goose help warn you if there's an intruder on your property?
Paul Lynde: There's no better way!

Peter Marshall: In "Alice in Wonderland", who kept crying "I'm late, I'm late?"
Paul Lynde: Alice, and her mother is sick about it.

Peter Marshall: Prometheus was tied to the top of a mountain by the gods
because he had given something to man. What did he give us?
Paul Lynde: I don't know what you got, but I got a sports shirt.

Peter Marshall: It is considered in bad taste to discuss two subjects at nudist
camps. One is politics. What is the other?
Paul Lynde: Tape measures.

Peter Marshall: What do you call a man who gives you diamonds and pearls?
Paul Lynde: I'd call him "darling"!

Paul Lynde, the very “out” (especially for the 70s and 80s);
Hollywood Square personality; he died on this date, 1982

I know. I’m being lazy! But, laughter is VERY good for the soul (and apparently for the body)



Thursday, January 6, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, January 6, 2011

Life is like an onion: you peel it off one
layer at a time, and sometimes you weep.

Carl Sandburg, American poet; he was
born on this date, 1878

Sandburg once said that he had written poetry that he didn’t even understand! But this quote isn’t one of those. I think of Sandburg (albeit not having read huge amounts of his work) as one of that group of American philosopher-poets: simple and wise and uncomplicated.

Yes, sometimes we weep. It’s a given of being human. And it’s important – hell, there is a lot of stuff about being mortal and built to decay that should bring on tears! I remember being in Liberia. Children would die, either at birth or soon after. Mothers and their women friends would carry on working ….. but at the funeral, screeches and wails would pierce the air. It almost looked staged ….. but it was the necessary “getting it out”. But then, community and conviviality at the feast, and then on with Life.

We are peelers, we human beings. We ought to teach each other - in education, socialization, religion, in all ways - to peel, peel, peel. It’s always about Life, not mortality. Every day we’re alive, another layer to be explored. We will die, all of us, sooner or later. That fact lets us Live ….. or should. Sandburg once said “”mysteriously”: “A man may be born, but in order to be born he must first die, and in order to die he must first awake.”

We’re Peelers. “Weeping may come with the night ….. but joy comes in the morning”.

Sandburg also said:

I tell you the past is a bucket of ashes,
so live not in your yesterdays, nor just
for tomorrow, but in the here and now.
Keep moving and forget the post
mortems; and remember, no one can
get the jump on the future.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What if imagination and art are not frosting at all,
but the fountainhead of human experience?

Rollo May
The Courage to Create

They are.

“Imagination and art” are indeed the “fountainhead of human experience”.

If it were not so, why would we conceive of “God”? Why would we write? Why would we tell stories? Why would we paint pictures, from the earliest of human history, in caves? Why would we sing? Why would we create musical instruments? Why would we have “religion”, literature, poetry, sculpture, Myth, gardens?

The Biblical story in its import is correct. The abandonment of “imagination and art” (Eden) inflicted Work, and Work crushed Humanity. Work, that is, that is done only to preserve biological existence. Work, to be nourishing of our Humanity, must nourish our Soul, our Imagination, and the Art that each of us Is.

We must not settle for being “dust”. We know we are the Breath of God.

Live for Imagination and Art. Have the Courage to Create yourself.

Addendum to Brian's Reflection for Tuesday, Jan 4, 2011

Creation happened at 9:00AM on October 26th,
in the year 4004BC, in Mesopotamia.

Anglican Archbishop James Ussher so declared;
he was born on this date, 1581.

You see what I mean about the need for both God and our intelligence to be liberated.

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Blessed are the hearts that can bend;
they shall never be broken.

Albert Camus, French philosopher; he
died on this date, 1960

I think that many hearts are “broken” because we are unable or unwilling to face Truth. There is a good reason for this: many if not most people are brought up with Lies. I guess that’s why the figure of “Satan” is called the Great Deceiver.

Today is also the birthdate of Sir Isaac Newton, in 1643. Look at all the trouble he had getting people, and in particular the Church, to accept his scientific truths. Is it not ever so, this avoidance of the truth?

Think about the idea of God. In all my nearly 45 years of monastic and ordained ministry, I would say that my primary work has been liberating both God and people from lies about God and people. From magic, and from fantasy ….. and from the heartbreak that such lies inevitably bring about.

Truth is always Life-giving, and Lies death-dealing.

I wish us “hearts that can bend” ….. including to both the great strength of our own being, and to Understanding and Forgiveness.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, January 3, 2011

I love mankind; it's people I can't stand.

Charles M. Schulz, creator of “Peanuts”;
on this date, 2000, the last new “Peanuts”
comic strip ran in 2600 newspapers.

Well: the challenge here is pretty obvious, isn’t it? “People” in the abstract are manageable. People in the particular are damned annoying!! I’m even annoying to myself!

I get up a couple of times in the night to pee, because of the affects of radiation for prostate cancer ….. and I forget to keep my eyes closed and then I can’t go back to sleep and am awake for 2-3 hours in the night. I tell myself to stop and think before I leave the house ….. do I have the things I need; then, I don’t, and I don’t! I write things about what I think are important in being a healthy person ….. but I don’t listen to myself. I know that listening to the “news” is toxic to my emotional, spiritual, psychic, and even physical health ….. but I find myself turning it on, which only stokes my rage. I know perfectly well that more than 3 ounces of protein is enough, and NONE of Dennis’s fabulous peanut-butter-and-choco cookies during the week is better for my total well-being ….. but I sneak them anyway. I know that following Don Miguel Ruiz’s “Four Agreements” would really balance my Life ….. but my mind is becoming more like the proverbial sieve every day; I can barely remember what the Four Agreements are!


However. As I think about it, if the “God” of the Bible had paid too much attention to the individuals of the ancient Israelite community, without having an “overview” of the Whole, He (and I use “He” advisedly here) they would have indeed have been annihilated very early on in one of His undoubtedly frequent fits of exasperation.

I think it’s OK to be daily pissed off with “people” ….. as long as one has an equal balance of appreciation for the Species.

Individuals are intrinsically annoying. But as a whole, Humankind can be pretty fascinating and even ….. charming.