I expect a post later to the new Sacramento Clergy Write blog (from someone other than me) from our session today.  But I will post this, from me, here on my blog.  The prompt was from George MacDonald’s Phantastes:  “Art rescues nature from the weary and sated regards of our senses.”

Been there.

Done that.

Seen that before.

There is a sense in which this is true – for adults anyway.  Maybe not a child.  For adults, as we generalize our experience, there really may be “nothing new under the sun.”

Except, of course (more…)

Today we gathered again, and I was asked to post the following.  It was a quick write in response to a single reading of David Bottoms’ “Eye to Eye” (which follows the actual write).

Birds are not people – though some of them can, at least in part, “think” like people do.  They can problem solve – some even abstractly – and use tools.  But I think something much more basic must have gone on here – always assuming the encounter was not pure poetic license.

I’m thinking predator to predator, omnivore to carnivore. (more…)

“Words form the thread on which we string our experience.”  That’s what I read.  What I heard, what I thought, what I jumped to:  narrative (or story) is the thread out of which we create meaning and make sense.

Of our lives.

Of the world around us.

Of our faith.

Jesus was a story teller.  And his stories, and his story, shape or orient the way we see and process …  everything.

Without the words, threaded together, we have …  nothing.  Without the Word, spoken to bring about and order all creation, there is nothing – nothing that is would be.

So there is something fundamental and mystical in the threading of words into story.  And somehow, it seems tome, it is in the intersection of our stories, the weaving together of our varied threads, that fulness in life, and meaning, emerge.

We sit here writing.

A sacred task.

Possibly the most sacred.

Threading together the story of our life, and God, and one another.

A sacred weaving of sacred thread.

One of our writing prompts today at our clergy writing group was from this “Late Fragment” by Raymond Carver:

And did you get what
you wanted from tis life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

Which led me to this:

What do I want from life?  I think I may, at this point, have a clue. (more…)

This is from my clergy writing group:

There is a stillness, sometimes …

There is a stillness, sometimes, in the midst of life …

There is a stillness, sometimes, in the midst of life, every day life, that is like being reborn or renewed.  And this stillness dies in the clutter of my busyness, my refusal to sit still, or at least to live in the awareness of what I am actually doing that needs to be done …
Maybe it’s the dishes – which I usually power through, my mind focused, not on what I am doing, but rather on what I may be doing next.
So I am unaware.
Merely busy.
No silence.
No stillness.

There is a silence sometimes – and I miss it.

My clergy writing group resumed this past week, after some months off.  It looks like we will start a blog for the group to share what we do sometime the beginning of next year.  Until then, our prompt was two poems by Emily Dickinson related to facing death (one of which featured a fly).  This is what I wrote:

“I am of an age, now, when limits and mortality are in my thoughts with regularity.

I’m not sure when they were ever absent, mind you. (more…)

Ok – this started out as an idea that didn’t quite gel.  Then I got a real start at my clergy writing group.  And it evolved into this sermon:

So, here are these Greeks, these Hellenists, these outsiders to the Jewish faith.  They’ve been hearing about Jesus.  There’s just something about Jesus … (more…)

We were asked, at the clergy writing group, to give the opening sentence of a seasonal sermon we would probably never give in our congregations.  Here are my two entries:

It might surprise you to learn that our ideal person of faith is an expectant, unwed twelve year old …


Having the magi recognize Jesus’ birth is like having palm reading astrologers give him their seal of approval …

Paul can be a hard case:  blaming illness and death in the community on coming unworthily to the table.  It feels a lot like blaming the victim or the patient.  And it resulted, historically, in my church, in most members (for many years) receiving communion (at most) once or twice a year.

That’s really putting the fear of God in us!

So I like Luther’s take (if I understand it) that knowing and feeling your need of the sacrament is coming worthily to the table.

And I like Anne’s take even better:  Isn’t it precisely when you come unworthily to the table that you most need to be there and be fed and graced by God? (more…)

What we have is a story.

Yes.  It’s God’s story — even Jesus’ story.

But it’s a story without any power at all if it’s not also our story.

And it’s not that we don’t have a story.  In my experience, we all do.  We just don’t seem to recognize our own story.  And we don’t seem to want to tell it.

All of us have our reasons for being members of our particular church family.  When asked, I have yet to find one person at St. George’s who couldn’t tell me why they were here.  But almost none of them recognize their own story as a story of faith.  Which it is.

I wonder sometimes if it’s simply a (mis)perceived dualism between realms we see as “holy” and “secular” (when in fact it’s all one).  But somehow we fail to see God at work in our daily lives and work — even as we are drawn to God precisely because of our everyday life experiences.

And I’m not so much talking about the mystical here — seeing the whole of creation in a walnut or some such.  We just all seem to intuit, or experience, or whatever some kind of connections to something beyond ourselves — some kind of leading or guidance or caring …

Which I’m more and more convinced is what it’s all about.  Relationship.  Caring.  Love.

That’s our story.

That’s the difference maker.