Showing posts from January, 2019

I See You

O, Distance-Keeper brilliance-edged, cloud-sustaining, sky-imprinting, Easer-of-Hearts—
O, Morning Mountain ruckled, massive, hollow-holding, horizon-lining, Interrupter-of-Grief—
I see you.

On Rules of Life

(This is an edited version of a discussion I had with my fellow Solitaries in the Community.)
“If you are to have a rule to guide you, who is to write that rule? You ask me to do so, but I am not qualified. I cannot claim to be any wiser than you, so I could not presume to formulate any kind of law for you to follow. Should Jesus write your rule? The teaching of Jesus must be the primary guide for any disciple. Yet Jesus did not give clear rules. Jesus gave us stories whose meaning is infinitely profound; and Jesus gave us sermons in which every sentence and even every word is pregnant with truth. We cannot reduce these stories and sermons to a set of laws…If you wish to formulate a rule you must listen to your own conscience and discern these principles. Write down with your own hand on paper what God has written with God’s hand on the human heart.” —Pelagius

I’m going sideways again, trying to ignore Old Man Zen over there in the corner, rolling his eyes.
I used to tell my Karate stude…

Poet's Drift

(This is not a Lectio Divina reflection. This is the plain truth of what happened to me today. You'd be surprised how often it happens.....)

If you suspect I'm clinically depressed,
I don't appreciate your kind dismay.
So what? I haven't had a meal today,
or made my bed, or even gotten dressed.
(Obsessed, I just neglected to ingest.)
I mined for words to prove in the assay:
the lode of metaphor that would convey
the deepest nuance languagemight suggest.

So don't you worry that I've lost my mind.
I never felt the hours passing by;
I didn't hear my stomach's aching groan.
I'd gone prospecting in a place behind
the world, where time's an evanescent lie
and every glinting word's a precious stone.

I Want to Know

I see You—
I see how it’s more important for you to be angry
than to question your convictions.
I see You—
I see how it’s much simpler for you to buy a packaged meal
artificially pre-flavored with easy ethics and instant justice.
I see You—
What are you cooking?
I want to know!
Because when I look at you
I see You—
mixing and adding
your pain
your compassion
your fear
and blending all those real ingredients
into what’s already cooking
but I never saw the poisoner
I never saw anyone slip in behind your back
with an ampule of rage
and dribble it into the recipe you’re making.
I see You—
and I want to know
if you had seen that assassin
would you still serve that meal to the world?
Would you feed it to your children for their dinner?
I see You—
and I don’t believe that you could.

At The Mercy of Zen

There is nothing to fix.
Wanting and not-wanting are both beside the point.
Why is that? Because there is no point.
Points are for things like needles and nails.
Points only serve a purpose when they penetrate, transfix, or align with distant objects.
In order to bring something to my cushion, it’s necessary to carry it there.
Too much work.
My cushion brings me nothing, and so I am moved to return the favor.
Cushions were made for no other purpose than to be sat on.
A cushion that is not being sat on is a pointless thing.
Nevertheless, my cushion is often left bereft, bored with aligning itself with my distant behind.
Sometimes my heart growls like an empty stomach.
Sometimes the compass-needle of my mind points to a very, very long way off.
Sometimes memories bite my hand right through the bars of their cage and the food I was trying to feed them goes flying.
Sometimes my imagination leaves me stranded in a smelly, fluorescent-lit nursing home in some future hell.
Some …

We Will Deliver

Ephesians 1:1-14
(“you were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit;”) —
“who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” (Daily Office Lectionary)
“thisis the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.” (NRSV)
“which is the guarantee of our inheritance vouching for God’s redemption of his possession to the praise of his glory.” (Mounce Reverse Interlinear)
“which is the pledge of our share; the voucher for God to reclaim his belongings; (and) the wholehearted endorsement of God’s marvelous honor.” (My version; from Mounce)

It’s happened again— several translations which have opposite meanings than the Greek. In this case I believe it shows a near-perversion of the intended meaning. I remember the phrase from my baptism: “You are sealed with the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ’s own forever.”
We can’t possibly own God! The Lectionary seems to imply that the seal of the Holy Sp…

Get It?

John 9:1-12 — John 9:35-38 (redacted: verses 13-34)
Oh boy, here we go again with the censoring. In this case the Daily Office Lectionary has omitted the very best part of the story and what’s more, the missing part is the absolute core of the story. Without it, the last section is out of context and makes no sense at all. This is the story of the man born blind whom Jesus healed with his spit and some dirt. The Pharisees got all wound up about it, and wouldn’t leave it alone. They even went and pestered the man’s parents. They kept on coming back to the man and asking the same questions over and over, hoping for a different answer.
The missing section contains some of the snarkiest comebacks in the entire Bible, and I’m even including Job’s “Won’t you ever take your eyes off of me, at least long enough for me to swallow my spit?”
(Hey, look, more spit! Everybody knows that spitting is nasty. In almost every context, all over the world, from the distant past to the present day, it’s an …

Only A Door

Revelation 3:7-13
7 ‘Here is the message of HaKadosh, the True One, the one who has the key of David, who, if he opens something, no one else can shut it, and if he closes something, no one else can open it.
8“I know what you are doing.
Look, I have put in front of you an open door, and no one can shut it.

(Source of quote in bold: Isaiah 22:22 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) 22 I will place the key of David’s house on his shoulder; no one will shut what he opens; no one will open what he shuts.)

There are only two places in the Bible in which the Key of David is mentioned, and here they are. I did a small amount of research on the internet, and found that there is no consensus on what the phrase “key of David” means.
I did find a Messianic Jewish site ( that had some very interesting etymological insights. Their interpretation turns on the meaning of the word ‘shoulder’. (“Shoulder” is ‘she-kem in Hebrew: ‘the place of burdens like a yoke’.) They (I was unabl…

Body and Blood

From reading the book “Living Zen, Loving God” (by Ruben Habito) I discovered a way for me to understand the words of the Eucharist—“This is my body” and “This is my blood”—in terms of the interconnectedness of all things.

The bread and wine are made of the same materials as we are; they are of the substance of Creation.

Not only that, but we (human beings), in taking the materials of creation and crushing them, mixing them, and transforming them through heat and fermentation and time, to make wine from grapes and yeast; to make bread from wheat and yeast: in this way we act in ‘the image of God’ by making something come into being that did not exist before.

I also considered why we make bread and wine - not just to feed ourselves, but to give us delight.

This understanding gave me a great sense of relief, because for a long time I had been struggling with the imagery of “the body and blood,” and feeling a suppressed horror at the cannibalistic connotations. This perception had been trou…

Kneeling in the Autumn Garden

Something in the air—
A slight scent like a cold hearth—
and pools idly
between thewaiting stones;
the stubborn stones,
the constant stones
that lie unburied on the steady ground.

Something in my chest—
A faint weight like an old grief—
and slides quietly
under the fallen leaves;
under the aspen leaves,
the cherry leaves,
the apple leaves
that lie still over the red stones.

Something like my hand—
A warmth of outstretched fingers—
and waits steadily above the chill earth
over the place where no quick rustle is;
over the lost leaves,
the gold leaves,
the heavy leaves
that lie unmoved on the enduring stones.

Something like my head—
But not under the weight of pain—
and sees and smells and hears
with senses other than my own:

Beyond the empty air—
Past the unburied patience of the stones—
Along the unseen path beneath the leaves—

Down to the cold and stubborn kindness of the turning Earth.

The Dance of Call and Answer

I am not reading the Lectionary today. I have done something momentous and irreversible— I started feeding birds. I bought a feeder that attaches to the outside of the picture window in my kitchen. I thought it would be amusing and delightful to watch birds right there on the other side of my window. It took the birds two months to find the feeder but, once they did, events spiraled out of all control. I have two kinds of birds at my feeder: House Finches and House Sparrows. The sparrows live in a long-established colony in the ivy that grows on my chimney. They are a constant presence all year round. I don’t know where the finches come from but they can’t really compete with the sparrows, and so they tend to flit into range in stealth mode, snatch a beakful of seed, and execute a strategic retreat. New Year’s Eve was very cold, and the birds’ behavior that day showed me very clearly the final phase of a progression that I realized had begun the very moment the birds first discovered the f…