Friday, January 18, 2019

Leviathan at Seabright

Murals in the Seabright Neighborhood

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

A Practice of Prayer: "Passage Meditation"

For about a decade now, I've drawn on "Passage Meditation" for my own daily spiritual practice.  At its core, the practice looks to prayers and poetry of the great spiritual masters (past and present)...and encourages memorization, repetition and deep meditation.  As these prayers become part of my daily round, in the moments between moments, in the seams between tasks, the Wisdom of God works her way into my breath, my discernment, my ordinary life.  

This month, my chosen text is an old prayer by the French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.  I keep it close in the cold, damp, dark days of winter.  And it feeds my soul.  It's a prayer for the vulnerability in us all, for the mortal fragility of my life and all lives.  And it imbues that fragility with the great eternal promise: of love, and homecoming, and life beyond fear and despair.
When the signs of age begin to mark my body
(and still more when they touch my mind);
When the ill that is do diminish me or carry me off
strikes from without or is born within me;
When the painful moment comes
in which I suddenly awaken to the fact
that I am ill or growing old;
And above all at that last moment
when I feel I am losing hold of myself
and am absolutely passive within the hands
of the great unknown forces that have formed me;
In all these dark moments, O God,
grant that I may understand that it is You
(provided my faith is strong enough)
who are painfully parting the fibers of my being
in order to penetrate to the very marrow
of my substance and bear me away within Yourself.
In some arenas, I've seen this called "A Dying Prayer" or "The Aging Prayer"...but I don't see it or experience it that way.  These days, I take it along as a Living Prayer, a prayer of praise for the "great unknown forces that have formed me" whose hands I dwell every day and whose care and protection extend far beyond my physical health or longevity.  This is a source of great joy, encouragement and peace to me!  Befuddling and bewildering as this life can be: it is You who are painfully parting the fibers of my order to penetrate to the very marrow of my substance...and bear me away within Yourself.  Wow.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Josh Garrels - "Pilot Me"


I will arise and follow you over
Savior please, pilot me

Over the waves and through every sorrow
Savior please, pilot me

When I have no more strength left to follow
Fall on my knees, pilot me

May your sun rise and lead me on
Over the seas, savior, pilot me

O' Lord

Sunday, January 13:  This song lands like a prayer in the deepest parts of my soul.  "Savior please, pilot me."  In the wilderness I wander now--between sure places, between known futures, between jobs--I trip at times over my own hurried steps, a dozen anxieties like roots in the path.  "Savior please, pilot me."  But I'm coming, slowly perhaps, to appreciate the gifts of this wilderness: the long walks from sustenance to sustenance, the rediscovered poetry of mystics, the questions raised.  The darkness is disorienting, but not final.  The unknowing is fierce, but strangely satisfying.  "Over the waves and through every sorrow / Savior please, pilot me."  For you too, my friend, I pray the assurance of God's guidance, the comfort of Jesus' steady hand.  And when you have no more strength left, fall on your knees.  And surely, there, you will know.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Maryam of Bethlehem

I'm so happy for my friend Victoria Rue, who's been in Palestine this year working with artists of many faiths and rewriting her own original work, "Maryam."  This was a piece she staged first at Peace United in Santa Cruz a couple of years ago.  Now, fueled and inspired by the stories of women she's met in the West Bank, she offers a new take!  Congratulations, Victoria!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019


Icon, 2008
Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” (Mark 10:46-49)

I'm moved, every time, by the part where "Jesus stands still..."  How is it that the Child of God stills his body, his heartbeat, his soul...when you and I cry out?  How can it be that Jesus of Nazareth--the sun in his hands, the moon in his eyes, the stars in his heart--brings all of this energy into stillness and quiet, into a moment in time?  He's receptive, even in the busy street.  He's patient and present, fully available to the desperate and broken.  "Take heart," the followers say to Bartimaeus (and to us, too).  "For he is calling you."  

Tonight the house is quiet: the kids at their parties, my wife sound asleep with a winter cold.  I take an old icon--a memory from an iconographer in Bethlehem years ago--and I sit in meditation and prayer.  "Jesus, Son of David," I pray, "have mercy on me."  Just that.  "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on the ones I love."  Only this.  "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on my country, and all who seek solace and safety here." Kyrie Eleison.  

And for fifteen dark minutes, just a candle and an icon before me, Jesus is still.  The sun in his hands.  The moon in his eyes.  The stars in his heart.  And I know.

He is calling me.  He's waiting for me.

Monday, December 17, 2018

ADVENT 3: "Working Together!"

A small step, to be sure, in freeing the good earth from violence, war and fearful suspicion...but this story reminds us all what's possible, reminds us that peoples working in concert can reclaim the land from warring generals and conspiring colonialists.

See the link on the milestone reached in de-mining these sites:

Qasr al-Yahud: Study War No More

From the Times of Israel: "Christians believe that Qasr al-Yahud, located about 10 kilometers (about six miles) east of Jericho, is the spot on the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized. Qasr al-Yahud was a popular pilgrimage spot until 1968, when Israel blocked access and enfolded it in the closed military zone along the border with Jordan, fearing terrorists could use the churches as staging grounds for attacks on Israeli settlements. The Jordan River is only a few meters wide at that point."

Friday, December 14, 2018

POEM: "The Pros and Cons of Going"

Perpetua and Felicity: An Icon

A Poem for Advent

In the hills tonight she scrambles urgently,
Through dried out brush, across the forest's fallen limbs.
Only when she makes it, only in the soft light
Of Elizabeth's kindness and solidarity,
Will she feel the sting of so many scrapes.

Behind her, others wait, wondering why,
But she has no time for their questions.
Mary makes haste to see her cousin.

Go urgently, friend, to where the wise one waits.
Listen to the spirit, stirring now, yes right now,
In your womb, your holy and once-in-forever womb.
Do not weigh the pros and cons of going.
Do not check the weather app, on your device.
Just go, even if your going bewilders those close,
Even if your shins are cut in a hundred places
By the thorny twigs you cannot see in the hills.

You will find her.
She waits there for you.
There will be time for patience then,
In the soft light of Elizabeth's kindness,
And for the conspiracies that promise peace.

14 December 2018
After Luke 1: "Mary set out and made haste..."

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

ADVENT 2: "Salvation in Christ?"

I don't know if you'll find it so--but I think Kallistos Ware is a provocative and pastoral companion on the Advent journey.  He's talking about salvation/wholeness/theosis--not as a fundamentalist lottery ticket, and not as a kind of license to self-righteousness and certainty.  No, for the Metropolitan and his Orthodox community, salvation is a journey into paradox, a strange piligrimage with metaphor and symbol and story.  

Most delightfully, Kallistos Ware insists we think and pray and listen EXPANSIVELY to the narratives of sacred word.  It's not about deciphering the one true story, or the one efficacious model to wholeness or salvation.  It's about living with the multiplicity of story, the pervasiveness of metaphor, the befuddling liturgies of paradox at the heart of Christianity itself.  I love this stuff.  And I think it follows that how we READ scripture matters: that we read playfully, thoughtfully, collaboratively; that we keep our eyes and hearts on the prize of justice, humility and mercy; that we allow the voices and languages of scripture to speak in our lives and meet us in our daily round.

Keep watch.