If I spent enough time with the tiniest creature, even a caterpiller, I would never have to prepare a sermon. So full of God is every creature. Meister Eckhart

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Holy Spirit, bringing order out of chaos,
Come renew the face of the earth.

Holy Spirit, breathing life into the lifeless,
Come renew the face of the earth.

Holy Spirit, making strong the weak,
Come renew the face of the earth.

Holy Spirit, giving talents to your people,
Come renew the face of the earth.

Holy Spirit, guiding all who venture,
Come renew the face of the earth.

Holy Spirit, filling all things,
Come renew the face of the earth.

The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
That you may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

David Adam in The Rhythm of Life

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Tom Cowan tells a story that echoes the old Irish tale of the voyage of King Bran. As the coracles of Bran and his men sail into the west they are met by a strange vision a chariot and driver are speeding west over the waves. The driver is Mannanan son of Lir one of the Irish gods of the sea. Where the sailors see ocean and dolphins Mannanan sees a field covered with grass and flowers.

Cowan’s tells the tale of two Irish hermits. The first leaves his hut by a lake to catch a fine, fat fish for his breakfast. As he casts his line he spots his neighbor hermit from across the lake. His neighbor is calmly walking across the WATER. Hailed by the curious boatman he tells him he is seeking flowers for his alter and what is his neighbor doing in a boat in the middle of a flower filled meadow. The confused fisherman tells him he’s looking for breakfast. “The fish are biting over by those foxgloves” says the second hermit and so they are. Each returns to his hut, one with breakfast, the other with his flowers.

Perhaps the difference between paradise and a desert depends on your point of view. And your ability to find a fine, fat fish swimming over by the foxgloves.

Saturday, December 05, 2009


There are two Creation stories in Genesis. The first story ends with man being granted dominion of the earthly part of the Creation. The second story ends with the Fall. The usual interpretation since the days of Augustine, the melancholy former Manichean, is that sex was somehow involved.

Part of an essay by Thomas Merton put a different cast of the story of the “Fall.” In Merton’s interpretation what man reached out to take on his/her own was something that we already had; but it was within the relationship with God. And it doesn’t have anything to do with sex. It has to do with men reaching for the power of Gods, without the relationship, knowledge or respect for the rest of Creation. To me that dominion was granted within our relationship with God. When mankind reached for the power of God outside that relationship we lost the right to that dominion. We’re still trying to exercise it, but damn it we continue to destroy far more than we create.

We heard the litany all through the eighties and beyond. “God gave us dominion, we can do whatever we want with the earth as long it makes a profit for somebody; especially me.” “And anyone who doesn’t agree with this is a tree hugging, tree worshipping pagan.”

I have a variation on the old philosophy question. “If a tree dies in a forest does it go to waste?” It’s a question that gets asked a lot in the Northwest. And the usual answer from the big lumber companies is “Yes!” We have very little old growth forest left and there are still some companies that would love to take their chainsaws to it.

And no, I don’t believe that when a tree dies and falls in the forest that it’s wasted. I’ve seen those old, fallen trees. They support a whole universe in that rotting tree. You can find insects, mushrooms, moss, lichens and small bushes living on that old log, For me the whole idea of sustainable logging is an oxymoron. There is no way you can keep taking the life from the forest and not put back. You can do it for a few generations but in the end you’ll be left with a forest that’s a shadow of the old growth stands.

Thursday, December 03, 2009


God created the garden and put man and woman in it to tend it and care for it in partership with God.

Now we seek to recreate the garden, Paradise, on our own. If only we had enough power, enough resources, enough labor saving devices, enough of something we don't seem to have. Except people. All the schematics for paradise from the seventies and eightes seem to have room for everything but people. And this abundance comes with a price tag. After we've come up with the ultimate labor saving devices and put everyone out of work who will have the money to buy all this abundance?

Machines planting, harvesting, recycling; cycle after cycle: a paradise of machine perfection. No disruptive, unprogrammable, imperfect humans need apply.

Note to self-reading Wendell Berry before noon is not for the faint of heart

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


I’ve never been very comfortable in my own skin. I don’t really know why. Maybe it’s curiosity; trying to understand how all the pieces fit together. The problem is, somebody took all the puzzle boxes, upended all the pieces on the table and hid the box tops with the pictures. At least that’s how it seems sometimes.

So there I went again. Threw up my hands and headed out the church door. Funny thing is I keep spiraling back. At least I managed to fit a few of pieces together. I’ve been reading Seeking God by Esther de Waal. It’s a commentary on St. Benedict’s rule. One of the vows Benedictine religious promise is stability. Briefly put, it means grow where you’re planted. Stop trying to reach that glow on the other side of the mountain. The glow just keeps moving. Stop, listen, read, pray; and grow where you’re planted.

Friday, November 27, 2009

ON MY ASS IN THE GRASS-rough draft

A funny thing happened to me on the way out the church door. My path spiraled right back into the sanctuary. I tripped over a movie, dove back into an unfinished book and, like William Wilberforce sitting on the wet grass in Amazing Grace, I'm trying to figure out if I found God or if God found me. And, like Mr. Wilberforce, I find the whole situation.......inconvenient for the lack of a better word. I keep telling God to go away and like the relative who knows that home is the one place where they have to let you in.......God keeps saying "let me in."

I really wish I could be like so many of the people I see around me. Of course I have no X ray vision to see into their souls, but they seem serenely untroubled by the soul searching that I can't seem to shake.

There I was, supremely prepared I believed to strike out on my own and follow some neo pagan path to spiritual fulfillment only to be reminded that frankly, that view of God is too small. I am strongly drawn to much of Celtic view of the world. The grounding in the earth and the beauty of the created world and that does exist within Christianity. From Iona to Bobbio in Italy, those wandering Irish holy men and women planted their love of God and His creation. It surfaced time and again in Hildegard and Mechtild, in Francis and Ekhart.

Saturday, November 07, 2009


Bandit is the only cat I've ever seen that loves to sleep on their back. Up until recently she only did it when the others were out of the house. Lately she and Lucky have been sharing moms' chair when she isn't in it. And Lucky doesn't yank chains unless she really feels like it.
I really get a kick out of her half asleep grooming. Just a lazy half wash the face and almost make it to the ears.
Just lazin' around.

And then look really cute.

Saturday, May 09, 2009