Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, May 31, 2012

Behold I do not give lectures or a little charity;
When I give I give myself.

Walt Whitman, poet; he was born
on this date, 1819, at West Hill NY

Ourself. This is the greatest gift we can give. Including to ourselves. Everything else is a token … and it’s important what we give is a token of. Gifts of “things” don’t have to be expensive … but at their best, expensive things should express that we are giving a great deal of Ourself. However, “simple gifts” … like that of a child to a parent or friend - a drawing, etc., are on the level of a big diamond to a person one wants to marry.

When I was the Rector of St. Peter & St. Andrew in Providence RI, I asked a 12 year old ADHD boy names Andrew to give the “homily” at the Christmas family liturgy. It took him forever to write it, his mother told me. It was about 30 words long. It  took him about 7 minutes to read it from the pulpit. But there wasn’t a dry eye in the house! He just told the Baby Jesus how wonderful He was … and thanked Him for coming. But what a gift! It was both a gift of himself, and an understand that Jesus had given Himself so that the Human Race might know who they were.

I guess Walt’s message is clear:  Never give any gift to anyone without asking yourself: Does it carry me as the true gift?

The Christian Myth says, “God so loved the World that He gave His only-begotten Son”.

A human being bearing the gift of Divine Origin, of Unconditional Belovedness.

There’s our standard.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, May 30, 2012

One life is all we have
and we live it as we believe in living it.
But to sacrifice what you are
and to live without belief,
that is a fate more terrible than dying.

Jehanne d’Arc. She was condemned as a “heretic”
and burned at the stake in Rouen, France, by the Roman Catholic Church
(supposedly representing the love of God) on this date, 1431.
Later politics having conveniently intervened, she was declared a saint in 1920.

Who are you? Who am I? I have asked  myself this a lot over the decades.

Alas, I have found the institution, in which I have spent over 45 years, sadly hypocritical.

Do not “sacrifice what you are”. Be the beautiful human being you were created to be.

Deepen your “belief” … which, as Karen Johnson points out, means “to trust” in what your spirit tells you is Truth and Reality … about yourself, about “God”, about what it is to be Human, about Love.

How the World needs us!

Step forth today into Life. Be Yourself. You will bless the World.


Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Let yourself get shaken up.
What are you willing to give up to ensure your own unfolding,
and the unfolding of what is holy in your life?
Where you stumble, here is your treasure. 

Joseph Campbell

I don’t like getting “shaken up”! Perhaps we all have a longing for calm and smoothness in our lives. I know I do … and I think a lot of it has to do with a sense of inadequacy, of the nagging inability to cope, to deal with the things that shake us.

Remember “No Pain, No Gain”; “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”? Essentially, it’s accurate. Perhaps more of the mind and spirit than the body … but having had an aortic valve replacement, a burst colon, colostomy and reversal, and a hole in my heart repaired, my body too is much better than it was for the shaking up and repair work! Each time, I gave up a bit of the fear of dying. New life unfolded.

I think any good life path, religious or philosophical or whatever, will tell you to expect shaking up, to engage with it, how to prepare yourself mentally and in spirit to do that … and how to get help.

Number one:  tame the Ego! (That’s what “turn your life over to your higher power” means.)

Hope you have a great day of giving up and unfolding!


Monday, May 28, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, May 28, 2012

Not to need illusion -
to dare to see and say how things really are -
is the emancipation I would like to attain.

May Swenson, poet; she was born on this date,
at Logan, Utah,  in 1913

May Swenson, the first of ten children, rejected the Mormonism of her immigrant Swedish family and escaped from Utah in her early twenties. She knew, probably, that otherwise she would never be able to live her life as a lesbian. She wrote the above quote to her great friend and possibly lover the poet Elizabeth Bishop.

I am under no illusion that war and militarism are a fact in human life. However, I think and feel deep within me that it is an illusion - and a profound spiritual malaise - to think or believe that war and militarism or violence either “make us free” or safe, or will ever bring about peace with justice  -  something I think that, deep within, the vast number of human beings “would like to attain”. Small numbers of politicians promote war … and most of the rest of us are caught up in the slaughter and the hell and the horror and the blood and the death. Those with the most power may attain some temporary freedom from dominance, but the vicious cycle will continue and their time will come, as it always has.

I find it a deep affront to pray for peace at religious services, as we did yesterday in our Episcopal Church, complete with flags, while at the same time giving liturgical affirmation to those who promote or participate in war.

If we are going to call Jesus the Prince of Peace, or the Buddha the Lord of Compassion … then I think we should shed all the illusions and radically refuse to support or to participate in any way in violence. Or at least try our very best.

Freedom, ultimately, comes only from exorcising hate, power, and violence from our hearts – personally, nationally, and as the Human Race.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Sunday, May 27, 2012 [ The Feast of Pentecost in the Christian Kalendar ]

Brian’s Reflection: Sunday, May 27, 2012
[ The Feast of Pentecost in the Christian Kalendar ]

Bishop Steven Charleston writes so poetically and so beautifully (and “prayerfully”) that I want to share with you today his words on this Feast of Pentecost.

You will find, for meditation,  the texts for Pentecost at:

Here are +Steven’s words:

May the flame of the Spirit burn brightly in the church today.
May it dance and flicker and scorch and singe and get us to move.
May it be just far enough out of our control to make us uneasy.
May its light wake up the sleepy and its warmth comfort the ones who cannot find rest.
May the Spirit speak through a thousand voices whose meaning is known
to the stranger who sits in the far back corner for fear of being welcomed.
May the house of God shine today, and every day,
with the fire that first kissed us when we huddled in the darkness,
the fire that still burns in hearts too holy to accept the cold.

The Collect asks that “the way of eternal life” be shared with the whole world “through the preaching of the Gospel”. I think it’s important for us to remember that “the preaching of the Gospel” means embodying Love in every way … not in forcing or enticing people to make intellectual assent to dogmas or to churches/institutions. It is clear, at least to me, from Jesus’ life and teachings that He was first committed to Love; churches/institutions are but instruments (hopefully) of His essential passion.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, May 25, 2012

When all your desires are distilled,
you will cast just two votes:
To love more and be happy.


that’s what the old song says …
you can’t have one without the other
deep inside, most people
most americans
know you can’t really  be happy
when some are benefiting,
many lavishly,
and many more can’t eat or buy meds
the buddha discovered this
jesus knew that only loving more
revives one from death.
give and you shall receive back
a hundredfold
it’s at the core of the mystery of Life
it’s what holds us all together
“love more … and be happy”
love more
love more
love more
love more
love more
eventually we awaken
to what happy really is.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, May 24, 20

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, May 24, 2012

The important thing is not what they think of me …
but what I think of them.

Queen Victoria of Great Britain, Empress of India;
she was born on this date, 1819.
[ Queen of GB & Ireland 1837-1901 & Empress of India 1876-1901 ]

[ the statue was done by her daughter, Princess Louise ]

 I have no idea to which “they” Her Imperial Majesty was referring! But I suspect it was a “blanket” kind of thing. She had no power, really, but a lot of influence … and a profound sense of “imperiousness”! But of course, she went into a profound funk after Prince Albert died (and she and he had had 9 children by then).

I am a devout monarchist … of the constitutional type. I like (a) that the “head of State” not be a partisan politician, and (b) that there be a sense of elegance and style when it comes to what/who represents the State. Victoria, of course, failed in her duty, re. the profound funk after Albert’s death and her refusal to “be among her people”. I firmly think that her present Britannic Majesty Elizabeth II of Great Britain, about the celebrate her Diamond Jubilee as Monarch, has done a superb job of personifying and representing Her country and people.

My special connection with her is that She was crowned on June 2nd, 1953. [ Her father, George VI, had died on Feb 6, 1952. On that day, Elizabeth officially became the Queen.] I was ordained priest on June 2, 1973, twenty years after Her coronation. If I may be permitted a ribald comment, Two Queens celebrating a significant day! And I remember, as a little boy, sitting in the library of my elementary school to watch the Coronation … on an amazing device called a “TV”!

What Her Imperial Majesty said is true of the “God” that Christianity postulates. The most important thing about our concept of “God” is  “what {God]  thinks of us”! It would be very easy to have a very negative comprehension of “what God thinks of us” from the Bible …. but not from the Gospel or from the person of Jesus. God loves us unconditionally. We human beings perceived this, and it lies at the foundation of our “picture” of God.

It doesn’t matter what fluctuating ideas we have about God. God loves us unconditionally. God thinks very highly of us! That’s all that matters.


Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, May 23, 12

Sometimes we behave as though
there was something more important than life.
But what?

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

But what indeed.

In general, I don’t “approve” of private schools. Because, in principle, I want a strong public school system where all get the best education. As a boy, I went to elementary and to high school with 40 students per class in 5 rows of 8, in Montreal. I got a good education. No one thought – or at least it was never said – we were being educated to get a job. We were being educated to be a person. We were being taught skills and develop talents for Life. At least that’s how it came across to me. I think we’d be a lot better off if we went back to this as a basic premise of “education”.

The Christian Myth (“myth” meaning “truth story” – should I keep saying this every time?) is that Jesus, the God-Bearer, died ….. and rose again. Even the Psalmist says, “I shall not die, but Live!” The concept of Eternal Life, proposed in various forms by various religions and philosophies, is a construct of the human mind which seeks to overcome the inertia of “death”.

LIFE is what it’s all about. I will always remember awaking from my open heart surgery and being astonished that I was Alive! I was literally amazed at the wonder of Being Alive. I think all my Life I’ve had a sense of that wonder, and I’ve tried to live fully most of my Life … but that moment clinched it. I’ve been hell-bent determined since then to grab as much of Life as possible … and I think that having a husband whose name is MUCH is one of God’s little jokes!

There’s nothing more important than Life. Our work is to learn, on every level, how to Live and for what purpose, both individually and as the human race.

May today be abundantly, ecstatically Lived!


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I have always believed that it's important
to show a new look periodically.
Predictability can lead to failure.

T. Boone Pickens, oil tycoon;
he was born on this date, 1928, at Holdenville, OK

 I “love” the word “tycoon”! I wonder if there is such a thing as a “spiritual tycoon” ??

I wonder:  does Thomas Boone Pickens have a “spiritual” life? I don’t have time to research it, alas.

So: first, I would “quarrel” with the word “”show”. “Show” is never authentic. Our politicians these  days are “putting on a lot of show” … pretending to care. But they don’t care … not about the American people … though I hope that Obama does. If he doesn’t, he’s really betrayed us, the American people. I think our major problem in America today is that (and this is a “spiritual” issue) Power has become the modern God … in the Bible myth,  Power is called Satan. As I understand the Gospel, the Path that leads to Holiness, to “fullness of humanity”, is Love … and Love is always Service. Loving Service was Jesus’ Way … He washed the feet of His disciples and said “Do Likewise”. The Path that we are called to comprehend is (a) God loves us (b) we love ourselves as God loves us and (c) we love others because it makes us wholly ourselves … and that cycle brings Peace and Justice and Kindness.

“Predictability can lead to failure” says Pickens. I think he is bang on. Predictability infers an unwillingness to Change … and Change is the signpost of Growth. Remaining static means, spiritually, Death.

Of course we humans resist Change. It’s apparently a human “thing”. I’ve embraced Change enthusiastically all my Life … and it has brought me Growth and Life.

An example of the difficulty?  The Episcopal Church has changed it’s Book of Common Prayer many times since 1776. Do you know that the man “in charge” of the BCP change process for the 1979 BCP received countless letters of death threats and violence? True! Which indicates to me that being willing to change is clearly perhaps the primary tool of spiritual growth. If we cannot change, we cannot grow, and therefore we become tools of everything that is contrary to the Gospel. Success in Living is Change … growing. Remember the words of that lovely hymn?:  “Three things I pray … To see Thee more clearly, Love thee more dearly, Follow Thee more nearly, Day by Day”.

I wake up every day rejoicing that I am who I am … and literally thrilled by the possibility of Changing. Everyone who chooses to marry/commit to another understands this! A partner is primarily an invitation to learn and change and grow … to transcend the box we’ve become imprisoned in and grow in our humanity … by learning to serve and to understand another human being … and thus be freed to deepen our humanity.

Our goal? Have a “new look” every day.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Sunday, May 20, 2012

God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not
have the Son of God does not have life.

1 John 5 – the Epistle for the Last (7th) Sunday in
Eastertide, Year B, Revised Common Lectionary

[ The full texts of the Readings can be found at:

Daughter/Son. You, I, are that daughter, that son.

The Gospel, and Jesus, clearly wanted each of us to identify with the designation “Son/Daughter of God”. Phrases come to mind. “May they be one as You and I are one”. “We are heirs in Christ”. “You are Friends”. “You will do things even greater than I”. Christ is the Alter-ego of each and every human being. And no  -  we are not destined to follow the particulars of His “external” life. But we are, I think … in some essential and profound way … destined to follow the inner dynamics of His life. Every human being is so constructed. The Life of the Christ, and of most of the great faith teachers, is the universal Inner Path to Wholeness/Holiness. One does not have to be “religious”. One only has to be human, and a Seeker of the Path.

This last Sunday of Eastertide is a jumping-off point for Christians on a path we follow until next Advent Sunday … when we start over again. Easter told us that that “we shall not die, but live”. It set us on that path of Life … because that’s what it’s all about:  Living. I would say, Forget about the “where” of Living … past, present , future, eternity … it’s not about that. It’s just about Living as fully as we can in each moment given to us. The qualities and characteristics of Living are never different, in whatever dimension. To Live is to Live. That is the powerful message of Resurrection.

The Collect reminds us that that there is a “spirit” in the Universe empowering us on. I believe it is genetically embedded in every one of us. The “spirit” does not “come from without”. It is of the essence of  Us.

Acts, with the election of Matthias to replace Judas as an Apostle, reminds us that we can always count on guides, true guides, to lead us. Jesus promised that we would not be “left comfortless”. Life is such:  it is imbued with the power to Live. (I believe that, from experience!)

The Psalm (1) reinforces the reality that, if we follow the Path, we will find the way to Wholeness. The codeword is “God”.

Finally, the Gospel reading (John 17) reiterates the Oneness we have with the great Mystery and Fount of Life which vibrates at the core of every human being.

All authentic paths to Wholeness say:  Go There. Go within.

May worship tomorrow be Lifegiving.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, May 18, 2012

A happy life must be to a great extent a quiet life,
for it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy dare live.

Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, philosopher,
logician, mathematician, historian, and social critic; he was born  on
this date, 1872, at Ravenscroft, Trellech, Monmouthshire, Wales

Is this an elitist thought … Russell’s, I mean? Something that only a person of privilege can relate to? (I recently had an email from an 80 year old friend who said that one of the reasons she didn’t read my all my Reflections was that some were “elitist” … I haven’t yet written back to ask what she meant by “elitist”. Happily, since I’ve been following as best I can Don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements, trying not to take  anything “personally”, I find myself much freer to appreciate others’ perspectives without feeling defensive or threatened!

I “gaze” about the World and I think, “Who the hell of these people without food and family and education and money etc etc etc can possibly have time for Quiet??” Quiet, it seems to me, is a gift of privilege, essentially. When Religion is being authentically lived out, Quiet is something that one can receive, be taught, regardless of economic or social standing. How I wish that Christian missionary thinking would move from “making new converts for the Church” to gifting people with such inner gifts as Quietness!! What a gift we would be giving to the World! A gift that the Christ would, I think, desire. Jesus was not an Egomanic!

I will try to be quiet today. I invite you to join me. Quiet of spirit, quiet of mind, quiet of emotion, quiet of thought.

I think what Russell meant was that a “quiet life” was a life of Simplicity. I have discovered that Simplicity indeed fosters Freedom … and Freedom fosters Joy.