POETRY: Juggler by Richard Wilbur

August 22, 2018

A ball will bounce, but less and less. It’s not A light-hearted thing, resents its own resilience. Falling is what it loves, and the earth falls So in our hearts from brilliance, Settles and is forgot. It takes a sky-blue juggler with five red balls To shake our gravity up. Whee, in the air The balls roll round, wheel on his wheeling hands, Learning the ways of lightness, alter to spheres Grazing his finger ends, Cling to their courses there, Swinging a small heaven about his ears. But a heaven is easier made of nothing at all Than the earth regained, and still and sole within The spin of worlds, with a gesture sure and noble He reels that heaven in, Landing it ball by ball, And trades it all for a broom, a plate, a table. Oh, on his toe [...]

POETRY: A Wonder Of Origins by Daniel Berrigan

June 27, 2018

flower points to a bird, bird cries like a closed eye I see your dreams. Things like my heart I never see, but see hearts bird-shaped, flower-shaped, the radiant weightless shadow my heart casts—upward, to ground; a rose, a wintering bird. They meet, they summer plummet and signet, in Hero’s [...]

THE EARTH: Creation—The Devil Is In the Details

June 17, 2018

There is a parallel saying to the title of this essay: God is in the details. When God is in the details then he will be revealed through your attention to detail.  Your sacred devotion to your work will return great rewards. But when the devil is in the details, your lack of attention to the work in front of you will result in mistakes, and you will be disappointed in your effort. I’m not using that phrase in the usual way. Instead I’m going on my own path with those words. I’m old.  I get very fatigued when I hear people say things that refer to God, the Father, as one who is aware of every blink of our eyes.  Making God, the Father, out to be someone who sits on his throne able to watch everything at all times at [...]

EVIL: Seeds

April 22, 2018

And so the process of separation was complete. Night could now bow to the rising sun.  Seas could caress the dry land.  Birds could watch the grass below for any signs of food. Man could hold woman in his arms and sway with the wind. The most important separation lay where no one was paying any attention.  In the heart of the garden.  Two trees.  Separate in their concepts themselves. But on one tree there existed the ultimate separation: Good from Evil. This divided wholeness came in the form of fruit, which we know is defined by having seeds. Strangely, given the context, but still very applicable, seeds are life. Literally. Figuratively. Spiritually. Nothing alive can live without seeds. Every seed has life in it, and every seed is [...]

POETRY: Once by R. S. Thomas

April 18, 2018

God looked at space and I appeared, Rubbing my eyes at what I saw. The earth smoked, no birds sang; There were no footprints on the beaches Of the hot sea, no creatures in it. God spoke. I hid myself in the side Of the mountain. As though born again I stepped out into the cool dew, Trying to remember the fire sermon, Astonished at the mingled chorus Of weeds and flowers. In the brown bark Of the trees I saw the many faces Of life, forms hungry for birth, Mouthing at me. I held my way To the light, inspecting my shadow Boldly; and in the late morning You, rising towards me out of the depths Of myself. I took your hand, Remembering you, and together, Confederates of the natural day, We went forth to meet the [...]

EVIL: Wholeness Broken

April 14, 2018

And so it begins. Or so the story goes: In the beginning. And like the good, little children we are, we begin there and go on. My prayer assignments during Advent and Lent can come with some very heavy lifting of some concepts.  It can feel like having one’s soul scraped.  With a wire brush. Nothing like a good cleaning, hey, Julia?  Hey, yourself. That anvil that invariably falls in there somewhere creates serious aftershocks. This Lent the assignment set itself up as my study of certain beliefs I have about myself. It’s always about me during these stirring parts of the church’s year.  That’s how I know that it’s going to hurt a lot. And then there was this strange clearing.  A clearing with just me in [...]

POETRY: The First Six Verses Of The Ninetieth Psalm by Robert Burns

November 7, 2017

Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.  Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the Earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men.  For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night. Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up. In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth. (Psalm 90:1-6) O Thou, the first, the greatest friend Of all the human race! Whose strong right hand has ever been Their stay and dwelling-place! Before the [...]

SATURDAY READING: An Aboriginal Christian Perspective On The Integrity Of Creation by Stan McKay

October 7, 2017

From Native and Christian There is a sense of compromise in doing this essay as well as hesitancy in placing images on paper that reflect our spiritual insights.  The present urgency to come together for a healing vision for the Earth, “our Mother,” has brought our elders to advise us to share and risk even by writing what has been our oral tradition. Art Solomon is an Ojibway (Ontario, Canada) spiritual elder who attended the World Council of Churches’ meeting on the Island of Mauritius in February 1983.  Art wrote this prayer for the diverse group of people representing various faith communities gathered there to prepare for the Vancouver meeting. Grandfather look at our brokenness. Now we must put the sanctity of life as the [...]

POETRY: Genesis by Geoffrey Hill

October 7, 2017

I Against the burly air I strode Crying the miracles of God. And first I brought the sea to bear Upon the dead weight of the land; And the waves flourished at my prayer, The rivers spawned their sand. And where the streams were salt and full The tough pig-headed salmon strove, Ramming the ebb, in the tide’s pull, To reach the steady hills above. II The second day I stood and saw The osprey plunge with triggered claw, Feathering blood along the shore, To lay the living sinew bare. And the third day I cried: “Beware The soft-voiced owl, the ferret’s smile, The hawk’s deliberate stoop in air, Cold eyes, and bodies hooped in steel, Forever bent upon the kill.” III And I renounced, on the fourth day, This fierce [...]

POETRY: In The Beginning by Dylan Thomas

December 21, 2016

In the beginning was the three-pointed star, One smile of light across the empty face; One bough of bone across the rooting air, The substance forked that marrowed the first sun; And, burning ciphers on the round of space, Heaven and hell mixed as they spun. In the beginning was the pale signature, Three-syllabled and starry as the smile; And after came the imprints on the water, Stamp of the minted face upon the moon; The blood that touched the crosstree and the grail Touched the first cloud and left a sign. In the beginning was the mounting fire That set alight the weathers from a spark, A three-eyed, red-eyed spark, blunt as a flower; Life rose and spouted from the rolling seas, Burst in the roots, pumped from the earth and rock The [...]

PRAYER: A Prayer of Gratitude for Creation by Fiona Murdoch

September 1, 2016

From Eco-Congregation Ireland God of the universe, We thank you for your many good gifts: For the beauty of Creation and its rich and varied fruits, For clean water and fresh air, for food and shelter, animals and plants. Forgive us for the times we have taken the Earth’s resources for granted, And wasted what you have given us. Transform our hearts and minds So that we would learn to care and share, To touch the Earth with gentleness and with love, Respecting all living things. We pray for all those who suffer as a result of our waste, greed, and indifference. And we pray that the day will come when everyone has enough food and clean water. Help us to respect the rights of all people and all species And help us to willingly share [...]

POETRY: Gratitude by Anna Kamieńska

August 31, 2016

A tempest threw a rainbow in my face so that I wanted to fall under the rain to kiss the hands of an old woman to whom I gave my seat to thank everyone for the fact that they exist and at times even feel like smiling I was grateful to young leaves that they were willing to open up to the sun to babies that they still felt like coming into this world to the old that they heroically endure until the end I was full of thanks like a Sunday alms-box I would have embraced death if she’d stopped nearby Gratitude is a scattered homeless [...]

POETRY: Idiot Psalm 10, by Scott Cairns

June 15, 2016

—a psalm of Isaak, breathed beneath the chirp of evening swallows O Hidden Hand upholding all wrought works now flourishing before us, O Mad Architect of exuberant abundance, of flora both sweet and acrid, and lo, of all furred fauna frolicking the field, both the mild and the less so, baring tooth and claw and, lo, so often leaving in their wake so many tufts of plumage, tattered fur. O Great Zookeeper attending all such critters in Your ken, both microscopic and immense, the countless little fishes, our dear array of water mammals, yea, and this our great and lumbering leviathan fathoms deep, invisible. O Most Secret Agent of our numberless occasions, please also mitigate the ache attending all of the above. [...]

EDEN: God The Mosquito

June 10, 2016

The other day I was reminded of one of my first direct questions to God as a child.  There I was sitting in the field, back to the tree, sky and clouds above me. My sanctuary. And God had been going on for years about how everything in the universe is an expression of him.  Everything.  It was an interesting study.  I wondered why some churches use wine in their rites and other churches believed that all drinking was bad for you.  Why the difference? Well, he said…. Then one day I kind of had had enough of it.  All things can’t be of God, I thought. It’s impossible. (Striking how young I was to begin to confront and contradict what God was telling me.  Oh, well.  It just foreshadowed a lifetime of being wrong.) [...]

CHRISTMAS STORY: The World In A Bowl Of Soup — A Christmas Story by Annie Dillard

December 25, 2015

from Harper’s Magazine Once there was a great feast held in a banquet hall of such enormous proportions that you could not believe men built such a thing.  Two thousand chandeliers hung from the ceiling: lumber cut from all the world’s forests made the walls and parti-color floor.  Great loose areas of the hall were given to various activities: there were dances and many kinds of gaming: a corner was devoted to the sick and injured, and another to the weaving of cloth.  Children chanted rhymes wherever they gathered, and young men sought pretty girls in greenhouses or behind the damask hangings of booths and stalls. The feast lasted all night long.  Guests sat at a table as long as a river that stretched down the middle of [...]

CREATION: Natural Knowledge Of God Is “Natural” by Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen

August 13, 2015

From Trinity and Revelation Both common sense and Christian tradition have always believed that the “traces” of God are to be found in the world God created.  This intuition can even be placed in a wider framework in the history of religions and of cultures: “The idea that a transcendent reality can be known or at least intimated through the mundane has a long history and is not a specifically religious idea.” (Alister McGrath)  To say that common sense and Christian intuition have posited the existence of God on the basis of the created order is not to say that the expressed doctrine of natural theology has always been a pedigree of Christian theology.  Indeed, “natural theology – as this notion would [...]

POETRY: The Brown Forest by Robinson Jeffers

August 12, 2015

I entered the life of the brown forest And the great life of the ancient peaks, the patience of stone, I felt the changes in the veins In the throat of the mountain… and I was the stream Draining the mountain wood; and I the stag drinking; and I was the stars, Boiling with light, wandering alone, each one the lord of his own summit; and I was the darkness Outside the stars, I included them, they were part of me. I was mankind also, a moving lichen On the cheek of the round stone…they have not made words for it, to go behind things, beyond hours and ages, And be all things in all time, in their returns and passages, in the motionless and timeless center, In the white of the fire…how can I express the excellence I have found, that has [...]

POETRY: The Indwelling Presence, by William Wordsworth

August 12, 2015

And I have felt A presence that disturbs me with the joy Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime Of something far more deeply interfused, Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, And the round ocean and the living air, And the blue sky, and in the mind of man; A motion and a spirit, that impels All thinking things, all objects of all thought, And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still A lover of the meadows and the woods, And mountains; and of all that we behold From this green earth; of all the mighty [...]

CREATION: The Sacramental Approach, by John F. Haught

August 11, 2015

From The Promise of Nature The beginnings of such a change are now taking place in what I shall call the sacramental approach to Christian ecological theology.  This second type focuses less on normative religious texts or historical revelation than does the apologetic approach, and more on the allegedly sacral quality of the cosmos itself.  It is more willing to acknowledge the revelatory character of nature.  It comes in a variety of theological forms ranging from what has been called “natural theology,” which focuses on the apparent evidence for God’s existence in nature, to the cosmic spirituality of Thomas Berry and Matthew Fox and their followers.  It is also found, in different ways and degrees, in [...]

PROPHECY: Revelation Revisited by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I

August 12, 2014

From the Parabola Welcome.  We shall be voyaging to Patmos on the sea of possibility from which life emerged.  It is a time of profound cultural change, and at this moment we are mindful of the Spirit of God, which in the beginning moved upon the face of the waters and which continues to move. We have been brought together by a memory.  Nineteen hundred years ago on the island of Patmos, Saint John received the Revelation which forms the final book of the New Testament.  This is not intended, however, to be a simple anniversary or an academic conference about an ancient text.  Revelation begins and ends with the good news of the Parousia, the coming of Christ.  At the climax of the New Testament, there is no full stop, but an [...]

THE CALL: Listening by Robert Benson

July 17, 2014

From The Echo Within My life is a listening.  His is a speaking. My salvation is to hear and respond. (Thomas Merton) It was early fall, and it was late afternoon, and I was walking through old Carolina pines with a new friend.  We were near the ocean, near enough to hear the surf as we walked along a broad path through the forest. I saw I was with a new friend.  I only spent five days with him, and I had never seen him before and have not seen him since.  He and I were two of about sixty people at a retreat, and I was the speaker. “I think I am being called to go to seminary,” my new friend said.  “Do you think I am?” He was wrestling with a question that almost always arises whenever questions of calling are [...]

ANGELS: The Seraphim And The Holy Spirit—Heaven’s Fiery Force

December 17, 2013

Praise to you Spirit of fire! to you who sound the timbrel and the lyre. Your music sets our minds ablaze! —Hildegard of Bingen I have long been fascinated by The Holy Spirit in the form of fire.  I savor the potentiality in it: fire as holy. Holy destruction. And so I was delighted to read about the Seraphim, those angels that are ranked highest in their hierarchy. (Though, to admit it, the concept of putting angels into some sort of greater-lesser relationship frustrates me.  Because even in the natural world, who is greater in the long run, the lion or the cockroach?) But, going along with the accepted notion of no-I’m-first-you’re-under-me for the angelic hosts, I read along about the Seraphim and their attributes. [...]

SERMON: The Creation — A Negro Sermon, by James Weldon Johnson

June 4, 2013

And God stepped out on space, And He looked around and said: I’m lonely— I’ll make me a world. And as far as the eye of God could see Darkness covered everything, Blacker than a hundred midnights Down in a cypress swamp. Then God smiled, And the light broke, And the darkness rolled upon one side, And the light stood shining on the other, And God said: That’s good! Then God reached out and took the light in His hands, And God rolled the light around in His hands Until He made the sun; And He set that sun a-blazing in the heavens. And the light that was left from making the sun God gathered it up in a shining ball And flung it against the darkness, Spangling the night with the moon and stars. Then down between The darkness and the [...]

REFLECTION: God, The Failure

January 11, 2013

I am always amazed by what we, Christians, never talk about. But it is even deeper: not only do we not talk about certain things, it’s as though we don’t even have a language to discuss them. And because of our innate tendencies to take control of things, we even steer away from what is right in front of us. Take for instance, the first thing we learn about God. In Genesis, at the very beginning of the Bible, we learn that God takes his time. Six days. Six God days. To my mind, that probably means that the Earth and all that surrounds her is probably infinitely older than even scientists take her for. Six whole God days. To mold and combine and design and fiddle. To make perfect. Or what would represent perfection. All together in one [...]

MIRACLES: The Wonder Of Co-Creation, or the real significance of the word, Yes

December 4, 2012

As I poke about in the realm of miracles, realizing that it’s an amazingly broad while underwritten subject, I’m torn between delving into miracles of healing and miracles of creation.  So I finally decided to divide them up and do two posts, this one being, oh, well, you already know what this one is on. It’s easy to settle on this one because it is that time of year when we can snuggle down somewhere soft and warm and gaze upon the image of a pregnant Mary.  A simple girl who was confronted with the most amazing proposition by God. Bear my child, will you? One major problem with Mary, for us, I think, is that we look at her and say, well, that was her situation then, I’ll never be in that kind of situation with [...]

POETRY: thanksgiving, God, and love by e. e. cummings

November 28, 2012

i thank You God for most this amazing day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes (i who have died am alive again today, and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth day of life and love and wings: and of the gay great happening illimitably earth) how should tasting touching hearing seeing breathing any-lifted from the no of all nothing-human merely being doubt unimaginable You? (now the ears of my ears awake and now the eyes of my eyes are opened) “next to of course god america i love you land of the pilgrims’ and so forth oh say can you see by the dawn’s early my country ’tis of centuries come and go and [...]

SERMON: Chaos Or Creation by Charles Gilchrist Adams

November 4, 2012

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the waters.  Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.  (Genesis 1:1-3) There are two ways of looking at the creation of people and things; two theological ways of understanding how the world came to be.  First, there is the Western philosophic tradition, which is defined under the Latin term creation ex nihilo, which means “creation out of nothing.”  The Greek and Latin theological fathers and scholars who, reflecting philosophically upon the creation, made a clear distinction between something and nothing, between being and nonbeing.  They said: God created the universe out of nothing.  [...]

GOD 101: Instructions—The Principle Or Foundation, by Gerard Manley Hopkins

October 11, 2012

Homo creates est — creation, the making out of nothing, bringing from nothing into being: once there was nothing, then lo, this huge world was there.  How great a work of power! The loaf is made with flour; the house with bricks; the plough, the cannon, the locomotive, the warship, of iron — all of things that were before, of matter; but the world, with the flour, the grain, the wheatear, the seed, the ground, the sun, the rain; with the bricks, the clay, the earth; with the iron and the mine, the fuel and the furnace, was made from nothing.  And they are made in time and with labor, the world in no time with a word.  Man cannot create a single speck, God creates all that is besides himself. But men of genius are said to create, a [...]