Thursday, April 28, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, April 29, 2011

A man is a god in ruins.

Duke Ellington; this great musician
and American icon was born on this
date, 1899, in Washington DC

A person is a deity in ruins.

-an inclusive elucidation, by B McHugh

ok. ok.
let’s give the “priestly gang”
affectionately knows as “P”
by biblical scholars
a hand for their tidiness
in organizing god’s handiwork
into seven days.

clap clap.

ah, but genesis two!
lumps of clay
fashioned by the divine
metaphorical hands
complete with genitals
which popes prudishly leaved
inflated with the divine breath
like a last-minute cpr of hope ..
and woman and man
open their eyes.

life infused by divine breath
which is metaphorically
god god’s self.

what grand images we have of god
so perfect so good so beautiful
so loving so just;
you’d think we’d have
come out better
but no, such a dim shadow
of all that perfection
and yet, and yet …

endearing. yes endearing
despite all the tattered ruins
of being woman, man.

the duke: a god in ruins
god love him.

and you. and me.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, April 28, 2011

God is not attained by a process
of addition to anything in the soul,
but by a process of subtraction.

Meister Eckhart

The normal state
for that of which we conceive as God
Is to fill all things.

And for God Who fills all things
To be One with that which God fills.
The Incarnator and the Incarnated
take up the same space.

But, when God comes seeking us,
Often what God finds is a place
Out of which perhaps a demon
has been cast
But Legion has moved in.

So the Process begins.
One by one,
those things that are
neither of God or of Us
are, like warping cancers
or destructive tenants,
By a process of subtraction.

Till, swept clean,
Unity and Wholeness
are achieved.

Be patient, trusting ... but firm.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Civilization is a progress from an indefinite, incoherent
homogeneity toward a definite, coherent heterogeneity.

Herbert Spencer, English philosopher; he was born on
this date, 1820, in Derby, England

In other words: “Civilization” is a progress from tribalism to not-tribalism. Can you see why the plans for Afghanistan (arrogantly undertaken) are doomed? This also presently, I think, includes America, the European Union, and umpteen other places ….. in fact, let’s face it, the World. We may get there at some point, but this ain’t it. If Jesus were to weep a second time, this might be it. He, I think, thought that we might be there by now. (Just kidding; being Jesus, He knew better. Which is why He promised to be with us until the end of the ages.)

It seems to me that all the great religions long for or hope for a “coherent heterogeneity”. “May they all be One”, Jesus prays. And Paul, bless his heart, had the spiritual chutzpah to blurt out that “in Christ, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, male nor female, slave nor free”.

You know what comes to mind for me? Brazil. I went there many times when a Brazilian diocese was our Companion Diocese and I was privileged to be the Chair of our Committee. What struck me was the visible “homogeneity”. Oh sure; there were still lots of “white European” types on their high horse. But the population was blending. And I think now they are far ahead of us in the United States when it comes to putting aside a divisive homogeneity.

Christianity, as a religion representing God and God’s “Universal Kingdom” of Peace and Justice, has a real and beautiful challenge from God ahead of us. We are still “tribal”. We still think in terms of “we are right, they are wrong”, or, “We have Truth, they don’t”. If we continue to think that way, we will never achieve “civilization” but, worse, we will never be faithful to God and to God’s Purpose.

What is needed is a Band of Indiscriminate Lovers.

I volunteer.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The secret of staying young is to live honestly,
eat slowly, and lie about your age.

Lucille Ball, actress, comedienne, businesswoman;
she died on this date, 1989, age 77

I eat fairly slowly. Mostly because of being in the Order of the Holy Cross. When I was a novice, I seem to remember that we whizzed through our (silent) meals just gobbling food. After I left West Park, I slowed down, and began to savour meals. I recommend it. Especially when you are out at a great eatery ….. alone or with others!

I have no desire to lie about my age. 65 has been hard come by. And “staying young” has nothing to do with chronology. But hey, go ahead and lie about your age if you want to!

I’m with Ms. Ball ~ and I spent a lot of time watching her zaniness in my youth! ~ about Living Honestly. Few things I have found more draining in Life than dishonesty, with others or with oneself. Dishonesty is a heavy burden, and it makes you quickly old before your time. I feel young when I have a clear conscience and am living in Reality. Pardon me if I sound hopelessly old fashioned when I say that honesty is one of the best tonics!

“Staying young” has little to do with the body, or one’s looks. It’s Honesty’s gift to the heart and spirit. Remember the movie “Harold and Maude”? Harold, in his teens, was a reflection of the 80 year old honest – and wise - Maude’s heart.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, April 25, 2011
[ Monday in Easter Week ~ Christian ]

‎Resurrection is not an external event to be measured
for its historicity nor as fodder for theological invention
but an internal manifestation of what it means to be alive.

Jim Tarvid

I wish I could have said that that succinctly! But hey; I can always “buy in”.

So much of “religion” has become “Do you believe right”. Bottom line it comes down to, If you don’t believe what we believe, you are beyond the pale and will suffer for your obdurate ignorance. That stance is about Division, about Exclusiveness, about Power and Control. My experience of Jesus tells me that this is NOT what God has in mind for the human race. As usual, the “fringe people”, like Rumi in founding the Sufis, and the early Gnostics in the East and in the early development of the followers of Jesus, get it right. But the Constantines, and those who slaver for the power that affiliation with Power offers, so often ~ usually by violence and by perversion of the teachings of their founders ~ “win out”.

I have said this many times and I say it again: Jesus and the Bible are not essentially interpreted by the Church; rather Jesus defines the Bible and the Church. If the Church is not faithful to the “mind of Christ”, then the Church and all things related to it must be reformed.

We can talk all we want about the concept, the “how”, of Resurrection. It may be useful. We can use or misuse the metaphor of Resurrection to create “theologies” with which we try to bludgeon others.

But what Resurrection is, on whatever level one ponders it, is “an eternal manifestation of what it means to be alive”.

God is interested in Life. God IS Life. And “laying hold on Life” is what God desires for all of us.

Resurrection is an internal awakening, an internal transformation. I believe that, once one understands this, all Time and Space disappear. All things collapse into the one reality of the Present Moment. This IS Eternity. What came before and what shall come after is no longer relevant. There is nothing to redeem, no “Original Sin” to atone for either on one’s own or by an incarnate deity. The only reality is to be an Incarnation of God, in the particularity of one’s own uniqueness.

What a Journey!


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Easter Day, 2011


Now, God be thanked Who has watched us with His hour,
And caught our youth, and wakened us from sleeping,
With hand made sure, clear eye, and sharpened power,
To turn, as swimmers into cleanness leaping,
Glad from a world grown old and cold and weary,
Leave the sick hearts that honour could not move,
And half-men, and their dirty songs and dreary,
And all the little emptiness of love!

Oh! we, who have known shame, we have found release there,
Where there's no ill, no grief, but sleep has mending,
Naught broken save this body, lost but breath;
Nothing to shake the laughing heart's long peace there
But only agony, and that has ending;
And the worst friend and enemy is but Death.

Rupert Brooke, poet; he died on April 23, 1915,
off an island in the Aegean

“Easter” is as old as human record. It is a promise of Life, of Peace, of Liberation from all that seeks to defeat Life.

We human beings are created to Live. One of the greatest insights of “religion” is to have imagined a “God” Who grants the gift of Freedom to Live. The path to this freedom is Self-awareness. In that, God and We meet.

“Go in Peace. God has put away all your sins”.



Thursday, April 21, 2011

Brian’s Greeting: for the Triduum & Easter

This is my sharing with you all, for Holy Week and Easter. It can be a 20 minute time of Contemplation. Jesus – all that He is, said, did – was about Love and God’s love, and Jesus represents, in the Christian Story, the vulnerability of God. I hope you will give yourself the “mini-retreat”!



[ If this link is not highlighted, select it and paste it into your browser.]

A TED talk by Brene Brown on Vulnerability & Being Oneself

2. A sharing from Taoist wisdom

To be whole, let yourself break.
To be straight, let yourself bend.
To be full, let yourself be empty.
To be new, let yourself wear out.
To have everything, give everything up.

Knowing others is a kind of knowledge;
knowing yourself is wisdom.
Conquering others requires strength;
conquering yourself is true power.
To realize that you have enough is true wealth.
Pushing ahead may succeed,
but staying put brings endurance.
Die without perishing, and find the eternal.

To know that you do not know is strength.
Not knowing that you do not know is a sickness.
The cure begins with the recognition of the sickness.

Knowing what is permanent: enlightenment.
Not knowing what is permanent: disaster.
Knowing what is permanent opens the mind.
Open mind, open heart.
Open heart, magnanimity."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, April 21, 2011
[ Maundy Thursday {Christian} ]
[First Day of Ridvan {Baha'i} ]
[ 2nd day of Pesach/Passover {Jewish} ]

O God, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted
the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may
receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who
in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life …

Collect (“gathering prayer”) for Maundy Thursday
[The solemn Feast of the Institution of the Holy Eucharist]

“In remembrance”. How insipid. “Remembering” can be powerful; but that was not, I think, what Jesus was doing in this profound Myth about the formation and nourishment of the Beloved Community. I don’t think that a simple “remembering” was how the early followers of the Way of Jesus understood it.

Think of the word as “re-member”. To pull back, to “reassemble” into our Present and our Consciousness the living presence of Life, which we call God.

And where does the Divine Presence “re-assemble”? It reassembles in us! When I receive the Bread and Wine, the symbolic and real Body and Blood of Jesus, at the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, I feel the texture of the bread in my mouth, and, even more, I experience the fire of the wine spreading down my throat and into the blood vessels of my chest. My brain is aware that God is filling me ~ that my Being is being renewed with the Power of Aliveness. It is indeed a “Holy Communion” ~ I feel myself absorbed into Existence, into the Universe.

I am also then aware that I am to be the vessel of that Power in the World. That the whole Beloved Community is that vessel. That we are all to pour Love into the World. That we are each a “Christ”, a balm of healing and of peace.

Everyone has sacraments. For John Muir, the Sierra Club and lover of Nature, who was born on this date in 1838, Nature “re-membered” God. I think we all need sacraments, or we slowly die to Life.

I think we all metaphorically must “Eat this bread, Drink this wine” if we would Live.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, April 20, 2011
[ Wed in Holy Week {Christian} ]
[ 2nd day of Passover {Jewish} ]

Someday, after we have mastered the winds,
the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness
for God the energies of love. Then for the second
time in the history of the world, we will have
discovered fire.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ

For some years, as a monk, I lived across the Hudson river from the great (900 rooms!) Jesuit novitiate in Hyde Park NY. Once or twice, I wandered over there – after the place had been sold and become the CIA (Culinary Institute of America). The Jesuits left ….. but they didn’t take their dead fellow Jesuits; they are buried behind an iron gate, amongst the tall grass. Having read many of Teilhard’s poems, I sat for an hour and thought.

I don’t for a minute think that Fr. de Chardin wanted us all to have to wait so long for the flash of the kindling of the Second Fire! The “winds, the waves, the tides and gravity” are great Mysteries; perhaps we will one day have “mastered” them ….. but I doubt it.

But de Chardin understood that the nature of Love, as a primal force of Being, anchored as the others do the Mystery of Life on this Earth. The four lead us to the wonder of Aliveness; the One – Love – leads us to the Meaning of being Human, and offers us the gift of transcendent Freedom.

Holy Week is leading us into the Mystery of the Cross and Resurrection. There is no part of this Week that is not about Love. Every question one can ask about all the events of Holy Week ~ the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, the challenge to the debased Temple trade, the scene of Jesus search for clarity in Gethsemane, the arrest and trial and insults, the crucifixion, the burial, and the empty tomb ~ all have only one purpose: the honouring of Love as the surest path to Peace and to the deepest flowering of the great Mystery of being Alive.

The World today is drenched in suffering and death. It is not the first time and it will not be the last. One can have many reactions to it all. I fluctuate among many, but I try to keep one at the center: that it is a moment for the Second Fire to burst forth. Politics, economics, technology, science, religion – none of these will create a World in which the Human Community will thrive. Not without Love. Not without the kind of Love that Jesus lived. St. Paul wisely said that only three things last ….. and the greatest is Love.

This Wednesday in Holy Week, I am encouraged to try and fan the embers of that Second Fire, that we all may live together in Unity.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A 41-inch bust and a lot of perseverance will
get you more than a cup of coffee - a lot more.

Vera Jayne Palmer (Jayne Mansfield), va-voom
bombshell, born on this day, 1932, in that cradle
of American main-line chic, Bryn Mawr, PA
( She died at age 34 in a car crash.)

While you have the light, believe in the light,
so that you may become children of light."

John 12; for Tuesday in Holy Week

Truth. As Pilate is reported to have intimated, Truth isn’t easy to figure out! So, you may see why I paired ~ like aged Stilton and a crisp not-too-flowery Riesling ~ Jayne and Jesus.

Jayne understood the Reality of American “culture”, sex, straight men (excuse my stereotyping), and patriarchy. I live in eternal optimism that we will “get over” this! Gay men are the antidote; look at all my straight women friends who have told me how they wish their men could be like “us”!)

In the Gospel reading for Tuesday in Holy Week, Jesus says, “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

Reality. All we humans most deeply long for will be found in living a Life of outpouring Love. This Life is made possible by knowing that we are unconditionally loved – and that is why we have created a God of Unconditional Love, and why parents are to love us so. Alas, many parents were mis-loved, so their work is hindered. All the more important that God is not mis-represented, as God so often is these days ….. especially by American politicians, who should be keeping their noses out of business they know nothing about.

I find these to be dark times in our World. All the more important, then, to “believe in the Light”: Love, Compassion, Generosity, Justice, Gentleness.

I find it hard, I really do. I rage at the hardness of heart of so many in our World.

But I choose to believe in the coming of the Light. This is Faith. Which is Hope. And I understand that I must add to the Light. As Jayne said, perseverance will get you a lot more than a cup of coffee.

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, April 18, 2011
[ Monday in Holy Week {Christian} ]
[ Hanuman Jayanti {Hindu} ]

I do not believe in God because I
do not believe in Mother Goose.

Clarence Darrow, defender; he was
born on this date, 1857, in Kinsman
Township, Trumbull Co., Ohio

If you are drawn by the Mystery of Life and Meaning ~ and perhaps “God” as part of that mix ~ this is a good time to reflect deeply about it all.

It has long been my feeling and observation that, for far too many people, God is too much like Mother Goose. Not that there is anything wrong with Mother Goose as a vehicle for a little wisdom; I’m sure Mr. Darrow wasn’t denigrating Mother Goose! The point I think he was making is that God is often portrayed as something as silly as a talking goose wearing a little bonnet. I seem to have spent many long decades trying to wean people off the Mother Goose version of God. Alas, a lot of people prefer God as Mother Goose.

If one is going to “believe in” God as part of entering into the Mystery of Life, it’s much more useful to believe in a God Who can shape and sustain a Life with the power of Love that permits one to “lay down one’s Life for one’s friends” than in a God who performs magic tricks.

But of course, very few of us want, I guess, to be transformed into such a crucible of love. Which is why it is such a “fearful thing” to fall into the hands of such a God.

The Question is: would being a person of generous love bring us more Life and Joy than we can imagine?

I rather think so, if I can judge from the fleeting moments I’ve seen it in my life and in the lives of others.

If you are a Christian, remember that Christians do not venerate the Cross of Jesus as an instrument of torture and suffering. Jesus did not invite his followers to take up such a cross. We venerate the Cross as a sign of the great love in which we are invited to find the deepest wonder of being human.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, April 15, 2011

There are few hours in life more agreeable than the
hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.

Henry James, author, philosopher; he was born on this
date, 1843.

Here is a very “complicated “ man. And a beautifully uncomplicated thought.

I’ve had “Afternoon Tea” in a LOT of places. In the convents of the Sisters of the Church in Ham Common, England, and in the beautifully austere refectory of the Sister of the Love of God in Fairacres. In one we talked, quietly; in the other, we were silent. It was “heavenly”. In rectories all over the Caribbean, in England, Scotland, Wales, and in peoples’ homes ~ great tea, and great sandwiches, and great “sweets”. In a great Tea Shop in the West Village in NYC ~ homey and elegant in a “down home” sort of way. In a Scottish castle, with the best of china and silver ….. and liquors afterwards! At a Japanese tea-house – with a formality and a sense of respect for people that was deeply healing. And, as a boy, at my aunts and grandmother’s, informally, and at Scottish friends.

Afternoon Tea is secular version of the Holy Eucharist. Participants are One, they are part of the “family”.

We need more such occasions. We need to be reminded that we Belong.

I really hope - speaking metaphorically - that “in Heaven”, Afternoon Tea is served promptly at 4pm, with the angels serving, and Blessed Mary “pouring” from hallmarked Sterling.

But more: I would like to have many more such events - however simple - among us here on the Earth.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, April 14, 2011

Before you can do something
you must first be something.

Sir John Gielgud, actor; he was
born on this date, 1904, in London

I think that this statement by Gielgud is profoundly true. He was a Gay man; he was arrested early on for soliciting. He struggled mightily about what to do with his future. And with the help of true friends, he forged ahead. With trepidation, he went onstage at Stratford-on-Avon in Hunter’s play “A Day at the Sea” – and was greeted by a standing ovation by the audience, despite the efforts by the press to shame him. He was opposed in this by Sir Laurence Oliver – who, as is often the case, was a “closet” homosexual, once married to Vivien Leigh, and later to the brilliant Joan Plowright …. who simply ordered him to behave! (He didn’t.) Why am I telling you all this? Let’s be REAL!

As to “being something first”, I will invoke the mythical person of Jesus. Jesus would never have been able to become the Path to full humanity for all human beings as “children of God” if He had not come to the realization that he was incarnate as the Love and Justice of His God. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He knew that He would betray his very Being if He did not make His witness before the powers of the state and of organized religion. On He went, to Pilate, Calvary, and the Garden of Resurrection.

At their best, authentic religions show us how to “Be Something”. I’m not saying that, left on their own, human beings can’t “do something” that makes the World a better place. Many do. But what a difference it makes when someone who has become a living Flame of Love sets out to do something! Such people capture a power to transcend all fear and to live lives that free others to follow them on the path of Radical Compassion. They change the World.

Who are you? Have you Become? This is the Journey on which our ”hearts are to be fixed”. We are meant to burn like a “consuming fire”, cleansing each other of Falseness and forging Beings that radiate Compassion.

We each can “do something”. First, let’s Be Something.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Do we mean love, when we say love?

Samuel Beckett, poet, novelist, playwright;
he was born in Dublin on this date, 1906;
he received the Nobel for Literature in 1969.
He lived in Paris for 50 years, and was buried
in Montparnasse cemetery.

A very important question for us all, yes? The answer, I think, determines the quality of human life on Earth.

I am very very careful about using the word “love”. I ask myself every time I do, in a letter or email or in conversation, Do I mean it? I live with a very high standard of Love. I have followed a Gospel path for over 40 years. I have accepted that the Judeo-Christian God is essentially defined as Love/Compassion. I believe that, in the Christian Myth, Jesus willingly accepted death because He knew in the very core of his Being that this was the path which alone had integrity, since he felt incarnated with the love of His God. While I don’t agree with the apostle Paul about a lot of things – and I don’t need to; I have as much right to interpret Jesus as he does - I think he got it pretty much right in his terrific soliloquy about Love. [First Letter to the Christians of Corinth, chap 13.]

Love is a very difficult learning curve for most human beings. Why? Because being able to love demands a critical transformation. We must somehow move from our infantile egoistic nature, in which “Me” and the meeting of our needs is at the center, to (a) the knowledge of our own intrinsic value, and (b) the understanding that, as Jesus taught, we become our fully human selves by giving of ourselves generously to others. I think it is impossible truly To Love until we achieve “the freedom of the saints”. What do I mean? I mean that we are not free authentically to love until we grasp that we are unconditionally Beloved as the very heart and given reality of being Human. Then we can give ourselves away and never diminish. I often think that this is the heart of the Gospel.

I don’t know how I came to it. But I know without question that I am Beloved. It has utterly freed me. Perhaps this is the Mystery of what the Gospel calls the working of the Holy Spirit? I believe that it is the essential truth we must all learn. And I believe that the God of Jesus speaks this Truth.

The offering of Love, in any manner, is a sacred gift. I think it important that we be sure that we are offering Love without any inappropriate agendas.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Confidence... thrives on honesty, on honor, on
the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection
and on unselfish performance. Without them it cannot live.

FDR; President Roosevelt died on this date, 1945, of a
cerebral hemorrhage, at Warm Springs GA, age 63

Nor can any relationship with the great Mystery we call “God”. Relationship and Faith thrive on all the same things as Confidence. Without them they cannot live. And alas – while I in one sense regret to harp on it - in the World today we have little honesty, honour, sacredness of obligations, faithful protection, or unselfish performance, especially on the political and often religious end of things. How have we come to this? Do we just go relentlessly through cycles? Is Life an endless repetition of gerbils running in their endless circular tracks? Do we learn nothing?

Well, according to Diana Butler Bass, some Christian congregations are learning. (See her book, “Christianity for the Rest of Us”) They are learning what it takes to thrive, as human beings and as Christians. Just those things that FDR spoke of. Those principles have been lost from American education – not because of some misguided “political correctness”, but because it has become crucial to insist on the separation of “church and state” to prevent morality and ethics becoming victims of perverted power-mad religionists.

The living of Gospel Christianity depends on all the things FDR so clearly enunciated. And on a few other things. Ms. Bass states a few: Transformation, No exclusion. No intolerance. No coercion. No fear-mongering. No division. I would add: the Acceptance of things the Spirit of God has taught us post-Bible. Because the Incarnate One lives, Truth deepens.

As I try to live by these principles, my relationship with the Mystery we call “God” grows. Yours will too.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, April 11, 2011

Oh, Please have never bitched ????? It's time to
repent and fess up !!! I on the other hand have been an ex-
emplary example of serenity and acceptance.

Pam Dunn Rosenbluth; she was born on this date, 1950; today
is her 61st birthday

I have known my beloved friend Pam for about 40 years. I was a seminarian, age 24, and in the Order of the Holy Cross. She was 21, and worked for the Order. I could tell you the details that would prove what a challenging life she has had, but it wouldn’t be appropriate. Suffice it to say, she has been through the proverbial ringer! In spades. She has had to struggle to make it, raising her first daughter by herself.

She is one of the best “Christians” I know, by which I mean a follower of Jesus and His Gospel of Compassion. Hasn’t been to church in decades. It’s hard to have been brought up Roman Catholic and then had no support when divorce and other things came along. She knows what is right and loving and has tried her best to live it. She is generous, loyal to friends, funny (as you can tell by her sarcastic response to me, quoted above), smart, skilled, enjoys Life, is understanding, non-judgmental, and she does not evaluate except by the standard of dignity and love.

Much of Pam’s Life has been anything but serene. Depression. PMS. But she has a deep inner sense of justice, and she has a blind eye to the things that many others use to discriminate.

My Reflection today is to honour Friendship, and to honour Pam as a true Friend. And through her, all my many wonderful friends. I am thinking of Jesus saying to His followers, “I no longer call you servants, but friends”. A true Friend is one who sees you as part of them - a sister or a brother; a part of God’s family. And I am thinking of all those wise writers who have said that there is no greater treasure than a True Friend.

Happy 61st Pam! I wish for everyone who gets this Reflection that they will at one time in their Life have as wonderful a friend as you have been to me, and that they will know the great Treasure such a friend is.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: The Weekend, Sat, April 9, 2011

[God] set me [Ezekiel] down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.
He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and
they were very dry ….. I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath
came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.

Ezekiel, chapter 37

[Jesus] cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" The dead man came out,
his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth.
Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."

The Gospel called “John”, chapter 11 [for Lent V, Year A, RCL]

The complete Readings for this Sunday’s Liturgy can be found at;

I’ll tell you what these stories generate in me: the desire to LIVE!

And the next thing is: What constitutes REALLY LIVING??? And how does one get there?

Human beings are not stupid. That’s what our magnificent brains are all about. The human brain is – to use the mythological language of religion – “God’s instrument” for getting us up to speed. As soon as our brains were able to do so, we began to wonder what Life could really be like at the high end. Being human beings, we thought of fabulous possibilities! As most thinking people will know, it is quite a complex thing actually to figure it all out.

Sensible Christians have come up with a rather sensible symbol: We must become A Chip off the old Divine Block. To put it another way, God has to breathe Her breath into our material stuff, and we Come Alive. Just as God did with Adam & Eve, the metaphorical prototypes of Human Beings. (Take the 7-Day theory of Creation story with a big grain of salt; the authors of that one are real Late Comers!)

So: how can we express in words what it means to become Really Human? I’ve been trying to do this for near 40 years ….. and it isn’t easy. I keep getting older, and new ideas keep popping into my head. So today I say this: we have to wake up to the fact that our Humanity is incomplete until we have discovered how to Love. How to incarnate Compassion. This is the great evolutionary step. But it should come as no surprise; every great spiritual teacher and spiritual path has proposed this. It is disappointing that we should have arrived at April 10, 2011, and that political leaders all over the World should not yet have arrived at this elemental stage of human development. And need I make any comment about those of us who elect them? Talk about an unevolved stage of understanding how to make out lives wonderful!

“God” is, if I may use the authentic Gospel version of it, Unconditional Love. Jesus is the Incarnate manifestation of that Unconditional Love. It is reflected in the Buddha, hopefully The Prophet (I hesitate simply because I know woefully little about the Qur’an), Zoroaster, Moses, and any other enlarged Spiritual Being. The Message is clear and simple: “Love one another as I have loved you”, and “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. It’s really very simple.

We Human Beings are not simple. We are very complicated. But the Readings for today proclaim – as we head towards Holy Week – “These Bones Can Live”. Israel can. Lazarus can. You can. I can. And folks: I’ve experienced it. So, as Easter approaches, ask yourself: “Can I Live?”

The answer is: Yes. It is the heart of the Mystery of God. “__________, Come Forth!”


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, April 8, 2011

The search for human freedom can never
be complete without freedom for women.

Betty Ford; she was born on this date, 1918
(one year after my father), and is 93 today.

Betty says “freedom”. I add “equality”. It’s not that men and women are not equal. They are. It’s that religion continues to support the idea of inequality.

It is long past the time for Patriarchy as a perversion of Religion, “Culture”, Justice, Dignity, and Love to go.

When it does, perhaps the major block to Peace, Happiness, Harmony, Prosperity, War, Poverty, the eradication of Violence, Compassion, Abuse, neglected children, and countless other causes of human suffering will be removed.

The God of Compassion I know is waiting for us to hear Her Wisdom.

How many more centuries?


Monday, April 4, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I shall allow no man to belittle
my soul by making me hate him.

Booker T. Washington, educator; he
was born on this date, 1856, in Virginia

Oooo. Hard one there! Of course, no person can make you hate them; they can only give you cause. But the hate comes right down to your/my choice. I’ve said a lot over my Life that human beings always have a choice. It’s part of Who We Are. Granted, there are plenty of things that can stand in the way ….. from not knowing we have choices, to all the inhibitions against exercising our Choice. I’m willing to admit that there are many things that hinder us from choosing. But bottom line, Choice is always a possibility.

Mr. Washington has it correct. He shall not allow! He came to know the dignity of being a human being, and to make the choices he could to sustain that innate dignity.

It might be a really eye-opening challenge today to see how many times we face choices we could make but are tempted to avoid personal responsibility, or succumb to fear of the consequences.

Little Gethsemanes.

There is strength in knowing that being incarnate with God’s Love banishes fear, and frees our human dignity.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, April 4, 2011

I don't think I've got bad taste. I've got no taste.

Graham Norton, British BBC Talk-show host;
he was born on this date, 1963 (He’s Irish)

This will tell you a lot about me. My absolute favourite TV show is “South Park”. I have two sets of shorts with the South Park “boys” on them; their little figures stand on a table in our living room; and I have a decal of Eric Cartman on the back window of my car - Eric is definitely my Dark Shadow, or Evil Twin!

My next favourite TV show is Graham Norton. He hosts a show on BBC on which he interviews mostly entertainment celebrities. He is hilarious, and he and his guests can say practically everything, since the BBC is not hypocritical like American TV when it comes to so-called “morality”.

I said in my homily for Ash Wednesday that Lent was about Reality. So I’m using Graham’s quote to hold that up again. Some people think that evading the truth is a good idea. I don’t. I think that Reality, truth, is always the best course. Lying to oneself or others – and especially to God, since “God” is your truest Self - is always a bad idea. Lies breed deeper lying faster than brine shrimp reproduce in Australia’s Lake Eyre. It doesn’t take long to become lost in the wilderness of Falseness, Denial, Avoidance, Repression - and they lead equally quickly to sickness and death, metaphorically, spiritually, and sometimes physically.

I’ve gotten to the stage in Life where one of the things that brings me the most amusement is catching myself lying about myself ….. to myself! It has been MOST liberating to arrive at this point. I feel like the Samaritan woman in the parable who, after her encounter with Jesus at the well, ran back to her friends and exclaimed that He had told her things that astonished her! I have discovered what an enormous burden is lifted by being truthful. I just wish I’d learned it earlier.

So, go for it ….. today and as much as you can stand. No need even to pretend that you have Bad Taste (symbolically speaking). Having “no taste” is even better for your health!


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: The Weekend, Sat, April 2, 2011

Then how were your eyes opened?" He answered,
‘The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my
eyes, and said to me, `Go to Siloam and wash.' Then
I went and washed and received my sight.

The Gospel called “John”, Chap. 9
[for Lent IV, Year A RCL]

[The full Readings can be found at ]

Don’t, of course, look to any ‘official’ source of the Episcopal Church to tell you how to “understand Scripture”. There is no such source. There are, of course, many wonderful persons and sources, including the Sacred Liturgy, within the Episcopal Church that will help YOU engage with the Scriptures, and with the living presence of that great heart of Life we call “God”. In the shared life of the Church and it’s people and their relationship with God anyone can find ample resources for living a moral, ethical, and holy Life as a mature, whole human being. Here’s my bit added to the “pot”.

I’ve recently read a very useful book by Robin Meyers (a UCC pastor) called ‘Saving Jesus from the Church’. In one sense, all of us are ‘blind’ about how to become a whole human being, how to understand the mystery of ‘God’. Robin poses an interesting question to Christians: Do we find the path to fullness of Life by what we intellectually know and assent to about Jesus or what the Church teaches as doctrine about Jesus or God, or by following Jesus? He comes down firmly on the side of Following, of Imitating Jesus. He says,
“a quick glance around this broken world makes it painfully obvious that we don’t need more arguments on behalf of God; we need more people who live as if they are in covenant with Unconditional Love, which is our best definition of God.”

Creeds, doctrines ….. they all may be useful IF they guide us to a faithful following of the Path of Radical Compassion. IF they undergird the essential Wisdom of Jesus. Often they don’t, since many have been formulated by humans beings and by institutions for their own self-empowerment, and we need to reject them.

The way is Compassion, Inclusiveness, Oneness, Unconditional Love, Community. Think on these things as you picture the Man Born Blind who, anointed by Love and washed in the Water of Life, could say firmly:

‘I was blind, but now I see.’