Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, December 1, 2011

My storehouse having been burnt down,
nothing obstructs my view of the bright moon.

Masahide, Zen poet

Delicious! Vast wisdom expressed in fourteen words. I am SO envious! But - Ha! I have to laugh at myself because I am so wordy!

I can give you and example from my own life of a burned storehouse and the bright moon: One day, I realized, tangibly felt in my being, that my partner’s happiness and hopes for the future were more important to me than my own (rather limited) desires for myself. That I would enter into a larger, more imaginative Life if I embraced it. My ‘storehouse’ burnt down ….. and in my inner solar system a “bright moon’ rose dazzling in the sky.

Oh, I wish you conflagrations of storehouses, and stunning visions of bright moons on your journey of Life!


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, November 30, 2011

An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile,
hoping it will eat him last.

Winston Churchill; he was
born on this date, 1874

Churchill was, I suppose, thinking of those who “appeased” Hitler …. and with which he then had to deal as Prime Minister of Britain through the utter horrors of WWII.

I think of his words as a brilliant spiritual metaphor. Our “destiny” is to become a fully realized being ….. understanding that every religion has their concept of what that is. Christianity – at least the sensible and not the wackos of which we have so many these days, alas! – is clear: we are to “be as Christ”.

I see it this way: there are many things that work to keep us from becoming a fully realized being. Those are the crocs! It would be reasonable to think that we would not feed these crocs ….. but we do! I’m not so sure that I can say why we do this. Perhaps it is because it requires work to become human? That becoming fully human can’t happen without our embracing our destiny and committing ourselves to the journey? And that we human beings are by nature spiritually lazy ….. a deliberate design factor, an evolutionary dynamic, pushing us to commit our energies, without which we will fail?

My own besetting crocodile is Anger. At the burning core of my anger is my rage at the way Gayfolk – and I - have been abused and mistreated and lied about in human history. I have of course experienced this, and it has come from society, from the Bible, from Church, from every direction. Over the years, I have learned to “understand” ….. intellectually. I have learned to try and respond rationally to it all. But inside I seethe. My mind and my gut are not aligned. And I feed this crocodile. I keep track of all the discrimination. I don’t seek out ways of dialogue. I am “secure” in who I am, but I have yet, after decades of Christian life, been able to see homophobic people with an understanding eye. I can’t see their imprisonment, or be compassionate. While of course, being a follower of the Gospel of Jesus (as I understand it), Compassion is my path.

I guess I think that if I feed this crocodile, it will “eat me last”. But inside I know that this is not true. This is “the work of the devil”. Self-delusion. While I offer it food, this crocodile eats me. And I am kept from advancing towards my fully realized being ….. from manifesting the Christ within.

So: what is your crocodile? Advent is a time to bring the crocodiles into the light. I have often said that God can’t do anything to heal us unless we acknowledge both the sickness and our desire to be made whole. When the Feast of the Incarnation arrives on Dec 24/25th - that day when we celebrate God’s self-pouring into our Being - we need to be carrying the honest truth into that moment. If we’re not, the crocs will devour us.

Today is Spiritual Crocodile Day. Prepare to wrastle!


Monday, November 28, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Be on the alert for symptoms of inner Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. The hearts of a great many have already been exposed to this virus and it is possible that people everywhere could come down with it in epidemic proportions. This could pose a serious threat to what has, up to now, been a fairly stable condition of conflict in the world.
Some signs and symptoms of The Advent Virus:

• A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experiences.
• An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.
• A loss of interest in judging other people.
• A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.
• A loss of interest in conflict.
• A loss of the ability to worry. (This is a very serious symptom.)
• Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation.
• Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature.
• Frequent attacks of smiling.
• An increasing tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen
• An increased susceptibility to the love extended by others as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it.

Fears. Well, I’m less fearful. I’ve been pretty good for quite a while at enjoying the moment ….. even in the face of criticism. Judging people ….. could be a little better. Ditto with “interpreting the actions of others” ….. this is a real challenge. Conflict? ….. I’m agin it. Worry ….. work to do. Appreciation ….. doing good! Feeling of Unity ….. Big Time! Smiling ….. I’ve never been good at it ….. but caught unawares at moments I’m known to smile. I’m much better at “going with the flow”. Love ….. It’s my Life Work.

Hey! I think I’m getting into this Advent Agenda! Hope you are too.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, November 28, 2011

I am in you and you in me,
mutual in divine love.

William Blake, poet; he was
born on this date, 1757.

Yes. I agree. We have to make choices in this life. All pretenses to Truth are relative and arbitrary. Everyone has their opinions ….. and they are simply opinions, based on what each considers “the Truth”. And there are as many “truths” as there are human beings.

Blake’s words are like the Golden Rule. If we treated each other as if we were “mutual in divine love”, the World would live in Peace and Compassion.

Today I’ll try to live mutuality in divine love. I believe it intellectually. I need to make it visceral.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Sunday, November 27, 2011
[ Advent Sunday in the Christian Kalendar ]

Therefore, keep awake-- for you do not know when
the master of the house will come, in the evening, or
at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he
may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And
what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.

From the version of the Gospel called “Mark”,
chapter 13 [ appointed for Advent Sunday, 2011 ]

[ The full text can be found at ]

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

[ The Collect for Advent Sunday ]

“When will God be born in me?” Christian spirituality sees this as one, if not “the” essential question for every human being. It lies at the heart of the human longing to discover, to experience, the full meaning of being alive.

Christianity recognizes this by making the Incarnation, the birth of Jesus the “son of God”, the first of the Great Mysteries it celebrates in the yearly liturgical journey. On the surface, the Incarnation seems to be about God’s Son born in human form. But it is far more! It is about the immense mystery we call Life manifesting Itself in you, in me. The Biblical Creation stories use another rich image to speak to the same issue: God breathing the Spirit of Life into the inert dust to make human beings.

The liturgical season of Advent, meaning “to come to”, prepares us for this Coming, this In-Breathing of Life. First, with an apocalyptic vision of the End Times and of Christ’s Coming. Secondly, with the appearance of John the Baptist, proclaiming the Coming of the Messiah. Thirdly, John the Baptist’s call to Be Prepared - how to be open. And Fourthly, Mary, representing all human beings, told that God, Life, will come and be born in her ….. reminding us that we each are Theotokas, God-bearers.

For me, the possibility that at some End Moment of Time the Son of Man will come to judge, to reward or punish, is imaginative, thought-provoking ….. but mostly irrelevant. My concern, my passion, is: “now, in the time of this mortal life”, am I awake to Life’s “daily visitation”? We understand “God” to be the Fullness of Being, and that we human beings participate in that Godlikeness. We have Life to live it fully.

For that to happen, we must Be Awake. We must learn what Life is about, what constitutes fullness of humanity. And, as the great 17th C Jesuit spiritual teacher Jean Pierre de Caussade once said, “God speaks to us in everything that happens to us”. Are we paying attention?

The season of Advent tries to awaken our heart, mind, spirit, body, everything that constitutes our human nature, to God’s Coming ….. to the journey to fullness of Being. And the liturgical year keeps pulling us back to the Mystery.

May we “Keep Awake”.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, November 23, 2011
[ In Anticipation of Thanksgiving Day ]

All this hurrying soon will be over.
Only when we tarry do we touch the holy.

Rainer Maria Rilke
[ In Praise of Mortality, translated and edited by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy ]

The Thanksgiving Day holiday/”holy-day”. Dennis and I are keeping it with a dear friend and some other friends old and dear and some new. Thanksgiving is, relatively speaking, a holiday that hasn’t been commercialized and contaminated with money (except for food extravagance – but you don’t make too much on a turkey!) No presents, etc. And thank God we don’t have to hear music for it months ahead, like Christmas! (I can’t help speculate that Americans must be very depressed if they need to ratchet up a little jollity two months before the holiday!)

Thanksgiving is a day on which we “tarry” and touch what truly is holy. Yes, we overeat ….. but the real generosity of people comes out, in that at Thanksgiving we do try to make sure that those without have a feast.

But here’s the cliché – and by God it’s OK for Thanksgiving to be a cliché! We tarry with friends and family ….. and if we are lucky, with strangers drawn into our Life and whom we now recognize as in some wonderful way family or friend. So much of Life is hurry, hurry, hurry. And Rilke is right, it will soon be over. Remember Scrooge? He almost got to the end as a miserable, lonely human being. Around food and drink, we are together primarily for two things: to see, really see, how people have made our Life holy; and to recognize what is important in this Life and what is not.

And let’s face it: too few people in our World have reason to be thankful when it comes to material things. But Love! If anything is going to make a difference - to sustain us - family and friends and their love is at the core. I think about the Thanksgivings I’ve celebrated. Some serving food at a “soup kitchen”. Some in another country, with fellow Americans or Canadians grateful for a shared experience. Some with blood family. Some with the Gayfolk who were and are so much the friends and chosen family who upheld me with their Love and affirmation, and I them.

We have this glorious Mortal Life to live ….. and it flies by. We can’t afford to waste any time! We are here to learn what is important for Life, to learn what is Holy. Christians and other religious communities gather every Sabbath to acknowledge the Holy at the Heart – God, and each other.

Of course we should enjoy the “turkey and all the trimmings”! But on Thanksgiving Day we gather to enjoy and respect and Give Thanks for each other, in all our weirdnesses and delightfulness.

I wish you all tomorrow a holy tarrying, full of laughter, delight and Love.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, November 18, 2011

Once upon a time
the world was sweeter than we knew.
Everything was ours;
how happy we were then,
but then once upon a time
never comes again.

Johnny Mercer, American songwriter; he
was born on this date, 1909, at Savannah

“.. for there is nothing either good or bad , but thinking makes it so.” “Hamlet”, Act ii, scene ii. Well, wrong; there are good things and bad things, I think. However, the spin we put on things ….. that makes a huge difference in how we live in this World. And it’s interesting how one “good” thought can alter the effects of “bad”. Silver linings, “God”, Attitude, grasp of reality, all that sort of stuff.

Today, this is what I think. There is always a “sweet World” ….. some-“where”. Finding it, or creating it, or imagining it, there’s the work of each of us. Frankly, I think it’s critically important for us to be able to envision a “sweet World”. “Heaven” is one of those imaginings which supports living.

There never was and never will be a time when “everything was ours”. And, there is a time when everything is ours. Life is chock full of such dualities. There are ways to experience “everything is ours” ….. that is our spiritual work.

I’ve been happy. I know how blessed I am to be able to say that! Discovering what makes us happy ….. that too is the work of a Lifetime. Lucretius said (De Rerum Natura) that the pursuit of Pleasure was humanity’s first work. He is right ….. as long as we understand what Pleasure is (and it isn’t, he says, just hedonism).

“Once upon a time” - that is, when all was perfect - never was and “never comes again”. Johnny’s right. But. While I long ago gave up “perfection”, I’ll never give up the Pursuit of Pleasure, as Lucretius and I think all the great thinkers of the ages understood it.

Pleasure - for oneself and all beings - is the life-giving fire of the Soul.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, November 17, 2011

People, even more than things, have to be restored,
renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed;
never throw out anyone.

Audrey Hepburn

Now, that’s real love. In the process of Life, we learn about love. We come to know it’s not essentially about feeling, but about commitment and will. We hold to it because we have come to see what it takes to be the kind of human being we respect and value - and because we have understood the “Golden Rule”: if I know what makes me happy, then I know how to treat others.

As a person, and as a priest, I have been blessed to be given the opportunity to work on and from these principles all my Life. I’m still working on them!

And I have to say that the Christian religion, as I have been taught and have lived it, is just what Audrey says. See the Christ in everyone, and do your best to honour each person as a Christ, as a manifestation of the God Who is Love. So, it may not work all the time; but it is the place to start, and to hold to for as long as possible. That’s what “until death do us part” is all about ….. in the many and various ways that that commitment operates in human relationships.

I’ve been restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed. I’ll bet you have too.

Do Unto Others.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The principal thing in the world
is to keep the soul aloft.

Gustave Flaubert

Apologies for not being in touch over the last few days. We have been in New Mexico birding. And later this week it will be time with the tens of thousands of Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes (and the Hummers) at Bosque del Apache. What a glorious sight to see them all in flight as they return at dusk! Birds are amazing beings! They are definitely one of the things that “Keeps my Soul Aloft”.

Is that not a superb poetic phrase! And image! “To keep the soul aloft”. “Soul”, to me, is not a separate part of us. It is the essence of Being ….. that mysterious force that propels us along in the enterprise of Life; fills us with hope, courage, and vision; picks us up when we have been dashed to the ground.

My List for keeping the Soul Aloft would be endless! On top is Love (often called God), Beauty, Friendship, Generosity, the Universe. Somewhere in the middle: Laughter, Birds, Memories, Good Books, Warmth; towards the bottom: my iPad, Black Russians, Steak & Kidney Pie, Scotch Meat Pies, Empire Biscuits, tea (with milk and sweet), Tuscany, chiming key-wind clocks.

For awhile, I’m going to make this my succinct “morning instruction” when I awake: “Brian, Keep the Soul Aloft ….. yours and whomever else’s you can assist.”

If your or my soul sinks, it pulls the World Soul down with it.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, November 10, 2011

When I grow up I want to be a little boy.

Joseph Heller, author; on this date, 1961, his
satirical, anti-war novel “Catch 22” was published.

Canadians in 1961 didn’t hear much about American books. After all, it was before the Internet, etc. And we Canadians were being “patriotic”. I was 17 when I read “Catch 22”, in 1963. Being a little Gay Christian, I was opposed to war, and I loved the book ….. though with humility I have to say that unless I had been told beforehand, I probably wouldn’t have “got it”.

In one famous scene, Jesus tells his disciples that, unless you become as a little child, you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven. And he tells Nicodemus the same thing: you have to be “born again” ….. in a sense, become a child again.

I am hoping, now that I am in my 66th year, that I am on the path to becoming “a little boy” again. I am so aware that decades of my Life have been consumed with all kinds of “stuff” - questioning, and reevaluating, and questioning, and doubting, and examining, and questioning, and formulating, and adjusting, and reshaping, and “sophisticating”, and abandoning.

The implication seems to be that children have an innate sense of Truth. Well ….. I’m not so sure I believe that. But I think I do believe this: that after decades of struggling with Life, we eventually can “let go” of the struggle. And then we can become “a little boy” or girl again. Not as we were then, but informed by our decades of engagement with all that Life is. I think the best way to approach Death, that great Mystery, is as a little boy or girl ….. looking at it all with the openness and wonder of childhood.

Start as early as you can! Let go as soon as you can of the cynicism and pain and closedness of heart, mind, and spirit. Expand! Meet Life with wonderment.

Grown-Ups who have come back die the best.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The universe seems neither benign
nor hostile, merely indifferent.

Carl Sagan, scientist, philosopher;
he was born on this date, 1934

I loved Carl Sagan. He was such a charming man. And I could listen to him for hours talk brilliantly and clearly about the wonder of the Universe, its beauty, its Mystery. Everything he said made sense to me.

Many people of faith have such an annoying habit of anthropomorphizing the Universe. Worse, of transferring to the Universe the anthropomorphized “personality” of “God”. And even worse, of blaming the Universe – or God – for the sufferings we human beings undergo as mortal creatures living on a still-growing and developing planet. But, I agree with Dr. Sagan. The Universe is morally, ethically neutral. The Universe just IS. It is neither “for” us or “against” us.

And I would venture to say that “God” is morally and ethically neutral as well. The moral and ethical policeperson is a trait that we human beings have foisted upon this Devine Being, Whom we have created in the various images of our own fears, needs, and yes hopes. Some of the ethical images we have foisted upon God I agree with, mythically speaking; and many I do not.

But, since I accept that it is a perfectly understandable thing, given the amazing capacity of the human mind and spirit, to endow God with ethical characteristics, I accept that God is primarily defined as Loving, Compassionate , Just, Merciful, and determined to demand that we humans be so too. What defines God defines us. We and God are One, insofar as I understand Christian mystical theology.

The Universe is not against us. What we have to struggle with, especially the things that cause is suffering and pain and anxiety, just are. What is critical for our Life and our happiness is what we do with the deck we are dealt, both individually and, perhaps more importantly, together.

But let’s not forget the wonder and joy. It isn’t all bad by any means. Ponder the old Inuit song:

I think over again my small adventures, my fears, those small ones that seemed so big, all those vital things I had to get and to reach, and yet there is only one great thing: to live and see the great day that dawns, and the light that fills the world.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Will you ever understand
how near God is to you?

Lalla, fourteenth century C.E.

She was a mystic Islamic poet and saint from the 14th C, born in Indian Kashmir. She wrote:

“God does not want meditations and austerities
Through love alone canst though reach the Abode of Bliss.

Thou mayst be lost like salt in water
Still it is difficult for thee to know God.”

Lalla is, I think, right. “It is difficult for thee to know God”. And human beings had better remember this if we do not want to fall into delusions of grandeur leading only to destruction.

For most of my life, various “teachings” – especially those in preparation for my ordination to the priesthood some 39 years ago – misled me. On the other hand, perhaps we need to be misled ….. until we come to that point where we have the inner courage and learning to acknowledge the truth. And so I say, Thank God for age!

Now I know how near God is ….. to me and to you and to all of us. In fact, inseparable, indistinguishable. Until we know this, any deity we think we have discovered will be false.

And our humanity will be defective.

As we see.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, November 7, 2011

I want to stand by my country, but I cannot vote for war.

As a woman I can't go to war, and I refuse to send anyone else.

Jeannette Pickering Rankin; on this date, 1916, age 36, she was
elected Republican Congresswoman from Montana, the first
woman elected to Congress, and the first woman elected to a
national legislature in any western democracy. She was the only
legislator to vote against war.

Ms. Rankin was elected 4 years before the passage of the 19th Amendment, forbidding restricting the vote on the basis of gender. The first quote is from her vote re the USA entering WWI, four days after taking office. The second was her vote re entering WWII, after she had been re-elected. In between, she worked tirelessly for Women’s Suffrage, and for Peace.

I think her first vote expresses her principles, including her feminine perspective. (I would have voted to enter WWI; but I deeply value her patriotic stand against war.) And the second, her frustration at the, to the present, continuing refusal to see women for what they are by nature and should be by cultural and political reality: Equal.

But there is a profound Christian dimension, from my point of view. War is unacceptable to any God Whose essence is defined as Unconditional Love ….. in other words, the God of the Gospel of Peace. War may be a fact, but War is never morally or spiritually acceptable, and we must face into our failure.

Our culture (and our religion) is chock full of – in my view - false heroes. To me, whether she so deliberately intended to support the Gospel or not, Jeannette Pickering Rankin is one of my spiritual heroes. When I think of her, and of all she suffered because of her votes, I can only number her among the those of whom Jesus spoke in the Beatitudes when He said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for my sake”.

I wish she were here today.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, November 4, 2011

America and Islam are not exclusive and need
not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and
share common principles of justice and progress,
tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.

President Barack Obama; he was the first African-
American to be elected (the 44th) President of the
United States on this date, 2008.

I agree that America and Islam need not be in competition. But, America being what it is, that needs to be demonstrated.

Personally I do not see, from the behaviour of many either Muslims or Christians, that we share “common principles of justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings”. Is this because extremists dominate in the media? Fundamentalist Christians, and most Muslim media voices, dominate the airwaves – and this is because Americans support, by what they view and by what the corporations support, the view that division and hate and violence “make money” ….. and making money is the defining force in American life. Where in the media are the moderate voices of either Christianity and Islam?

I would agree that both Christianity and Islam - AS UNDERSTOOD AND INTERPRETED BY ENLIGHTENED AND SPIRITUALLY EDUCATED PEOPLE - “share common principles of justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings”. So, why are these voices from both religions not heard in the media? Because the media in America is in the servitude of GREED. Why is it that we hear ad nausea the opinions of Muslim and Christian wackos on the “evening news”? Why are there no responsible media types who go to sensible Christian and Muslim clerics and layfolk and broadcast their views?

If all we have to listen to are Muslim extremist feudalist narrow-minded tribalist clerics shouting at Friday prayers against American “values” (some of which need to be questioned), and racist, homophobic, sexist Christians railing against everyone with ideas that are in fact contrary to the Gospel of Jesus and the Unconditional Love of God, what the hell do we expect our country is going to be like?

My point? Complain! Tell the media to stop this! Stop buying and listening to their propaganda. Occupy American Media. Occupy your church or mosque. Yes, of course, the Bible and the Qur’an have at their core the words of a Holy and Compassionate God. But both Scriptures have been corrupted by the humans and their agendas who shaped them, and by the clerics who continue to misuse them for their own unholy purposes.

Say NO to this in every way you can. Be true to yourself as a being of Grace, Compassion, and Truth. Let’s go to our Christlike Christian fellows and to our true followers of the Prophet and hold each other up in witness to their holy teachings.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, November 3, 2011

I consider myself to be a pretty good judge
of people... that's why I don't like any of them.

Roseanne Barr, comedienne; she was born on
this date, 1952, in Salt Lake City, Utah

When I was in the Order of the Holy Cross, we had a consulting psychiatrist. He was reported by his colleagues to be “one of the best in the World” ….. and crazy as a loon! Though he once told me something interesting: that whenever he had a dream in which he was a participant, he went back into therapy; it was a clear sign that he had lost his “objective distance”. I greatly respected him for one observation he made at our Chapter; he said, “I have never met a group of people who say that they want to live under the vows of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience, who are absolutely determined to have everything they want, have sex with anyone, and who, from the newest postulant to the Superior, not to be told what to do by anyone”. He was indeed brilliant, and he had us to a “T” – then; I’m making no assessments about now.

But, the thing I remember the most was his comment, “People come to me for help, and I tell them what to do to get well, and they say they wouldn’t like it; I tell them, “I didn’t say you have to like it, you just have to do it!” (This in his thick Viennese accent.)

We may not “like” a lot of things in Life: people, and the things we have to do for the sake of Love and self-respect and dignity and commitment and faithfulness. Jesus, I’m sure, didn’t like what He went through in order to be faithful to His God of Infinite and Unconditional Love.

But Dr. Holt was right, I think. “Like” is not a category by which to guide our Life. No one likes the suffering that can come from some of the hard choices we have to make, nor the unpleasantness we feel. “Feeling” is a minute dimension of authentic Love. Love is essentially an act of the will.

Spiritual maturity teaches us to do what is just and compassionate, whether we like it or not.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Government is a contrivance of human
wisdom to provide for human wants. People
have the right to expect that these wants
will be provided for by this wisdom.

Jimmy Carter; on this date, 1976, he was
elected President of the United States.

I’ve been writing these Reflections now for over 7 years. There are nearly 1500 of them. Today I want to reflect on WHY I write them.

I write them as my principle form of Prayer. Which is the same reason I love preaching, which I do far less now that I am retired. Five to six days a week, I ponder an enormous range of comments and thoughts from a mind-blowing group of people and sources. I use these to think about human Life, about “God”, about Religion, about Art, about Good and Evil, about body and spirit and mind. About everything. Prayer, for me, is the way I open myself to Wisdom, however Wisdom is communicated.

I write them to Learn. About myself. About the World. About human beings. About emotions. About ideas. About Love and Hate and Mystery and Confusion and Desire and Despair and Elation and Freedom and Slavery and Frailty and Courage and Failure and Success and Sex ….. anything that pertains to being Human.

I write them to hear Wisdom and Graciousness. And to try and understand.

I write them to “train up” my Being. I’ve been at it for decades (along with preaching), and I still believe that at 65 I have lots to discover, and lots to affirm, and lots to let go of.

I don’t write them to tell people what to believe or what to do. I express my thoughts, with the recognition that we all have the freedom and responsibility to engage with Life and to learn its lessons.

I deeply believe that Jesus is not “sectarian”. Jesus is one of many Wisdom Teachers that Life has given to us, given to us by the deep deep Mystery we call “God” to help us to become fully human ….. and I equally believe that that fullness of humanity has to do ultimately with becoming a blazing flame of Love.

Jimmy Carter is, I believe, correct about Government ….. and I passionately hope that we in America will learn this again before we destroy ourselves. And I would paraphrase his words to say, “GOD is a contrivance of human wisdom to provide for human wants”.

I would like to think that America is a vehicle for this Wisdom. And that we will heal ourselves ….. soon.