my writing

THE CHURCH: A Theology Of Disconnection

February 24, 2019

The medieval mystic, Hildegard of Bingen began to have visions as a very young girl.  Her parents decided that it would be best for her to enter a monastery where she was educated by a fellow anchoress and the monks there.  As she grew into an adult she became oppressed by what she felt was the corruption of the priests and monks.  So she picked up her skirts, fled into the countryside, and established her own convent where she wrote down her visions and some very beautiful music. For me this is a perfect illustration of how a person of profound faith can come to feel a serious disconnection with the church. I relate to her story.  But there are differences in our storylines. First, in my church history I have rarely come across a [...]

GOD 101: Forgiveness, Grace, And Mercy

January 13, 2019

I have a new little wooden box that is sectioned off.  It allows me to put small bottles in each section. I relate to that box.  My mind likes to put its ideas in little sections, and organize and reorganize the sections to see how things line up. Like a kaleidoscope.  Each piece standing in its own place, but changeable in its relationship to the other pieces. There’s a lot in theology and even in our liturgy that I find sloppy.  Or is done in such a way that causes a person’s sloppy thinking. I would like to say, Well, we don’t have to always be exact about things in the church, and mean it.  But, well. That’s just not me. Yes, I know.  People are good-hearted.  And they mean well. But let’s talk [...]

EDEN: A Spit Of Chaos, or, The Serpent’s Motive

November 23, 2018

I just want to say upfront, so there’s no confusion here, that I have come to feel that the most significant barrier to a person’s reading of the Bible is the church.  How it’s waved its paw to erase subtlety, explained things in such a child-like manner that people have dropped any desire to be curious or assertive about the words before them, and insisted on being The Experts that must be listened to. Over the last I-don’t-know-how-many years, I’ve really come to appreciate the Bible.  Most of my life it served as my code book: I would search it to find explanations to visions, to confirm them as accurate, to show me my way. But as I’ve come into old age and now have the confidence to know that the [...]

THE MECHANICS OF PRAYER: When The Prayers You Make Make You

October 30, 2018

My mother, not a kind or generous mother, told me that my first words were the Lord’s Prayer. I have always treasured that knowledge, holding it close as an affirmation of who I am. My badge of identity, as it were. But after the past year or so I have come to a new appreciation of that choice of mine. To reach out into the air and decide which words I was hearing around me were the ones I wanted to speak aloud. I have experienced something strong and heart-changing in the past few months. It has to do with my prayers. Of course I have prayed all my life. In church. At the dinner table. Before meetings. For other people. From time-to-time, even for myself. Prayer is a part of my life.  In the doing.  In the studying under God.  In [...]

JESUS CHRIST: A Battle Worth Fighting

October 16, 2018

We can wander into Renaissance Festivals and see people all made up to be people of that time. We can watch the news and see how a group of people have assembled to recreate an historical battle, complete with swords and drums and even working muskets. There was a time when young people liked to dress up as druids and demons just to play a game. And so the list can go on:  People who put themselves into a Sherlock Holmes story; people who dress up as Antony and Cleopatra; even children in a Christmas play, miniature wise men and a pregnant lady. In a way I am one of those people.  Except without a costume. When I am in visions of being back with Jesus, in his time, I am not there physically.  I am not part of the scene. I am just breath [...]

THE EARTH: The Grace Of Farewell

September 10, 2018

We come home, shut and lock the door, and pull the drapes together. Nature has been shut out. The wind.  The stars.  The rain. It doesn’t matter.  It’s out there. And we are safe inside here. Increasingly, I think that we like to feel separate from nature because we don’t want to listen to her.  We don’t want to know what she teaches us everyday.  We want to be our own men.  We want to determine what happens around us. And we work very, very hard at that.  We construct hospitals to cure everything.  And when something isn’t cured, we blame the doctors. We Must Be In Control Of Our Lives At All Times. But nature doesn’t do this.  Just the opposite, in fact.  Nature gives us a continuous montage [...]

THE EARTH: The Nature Of Dirt

August 12, 2018

It’s funny how the length of time that I have been studying God (62 years) has shaped my mind.  Like water shapes the stone as it runs through the canyon.  A new way, I guess you could say. So as I type up these writings about dirt and soil, on cleanliness, on health, my mind drifts into its own paths of knowledge. And, for me, the concept of dirt really belongs inside our bodies, so to speak.  In our souls. I see a soul as being like a terrarium, when you take a glass container usually used for fish and plant a little garden in it. If we all allowed ourselves to let this metaphor sink in – really sink in – we would have a better time with our lives. This is because one of our greatest barriers in life – barriers to [...]

THE EARTH: The Healing Nature Of Nature

July 21, 2018

Florence Williams begins her book, The Nature Fix, with a very startling story: A middle-aged Japanese business man with a very serious case of cancer decides to go sit in the forest before he turns himself in for treatment. He stays a few months, and when he walks out again, his cancer is gone. The author goes into the chemical affect that cypress has on a body, one, apparently, that changes the nature of cancer cells in the body.  She connects this reality to biophilia: a belief that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life.  In this case, to heal. The book continues as the author travels the world looking at the ways people’s encounters with nature result in physical healing.  [...]

MIRACLES: Knocking On Heaven’s Door, or The Stretch

July 8, 2018

I don’t write about miracles that often.  I suppose that is because finding words to describe the depth of transcendence involved in a miracle is a strain, even for me. I have defined a miracle though: a stepping out of time to ensure the outcome. What this is is a comparison with ordinary prayers.  And I’m realizing that I can write about miracles a bit by comparing them to ordinary prayers. An ordinary prayer, a petition of some kind to God, involves three elements: God, the pray-er, and time. All three of these elements must align in order for a prayer to be answered.  The person making the petition must be aligned within himself (that is, his thoughts, feelings, and actions must all agree with the petition).  God, of [...]

EVIL: Understanding Lucifer

June 21, 2018

I have a son who, when he was young, played some video games.  One type he played were called role-playing games.  In these, the player assumes the identity of a fictional character and works to accomplish the many levels that are in the game.  One challenge on each level is to defeat the “boss.”  The antagonist to the player’s protagonist.  As the player climbs to the next level, the difficulty of defeating the boss gets harder.  Until the last level, when the player meets the “Last Boss.” The worst enemy of them all. Seven years it has been.  Funny how so many things in our lives revolve around the number seven: days in a week, continents, seas, deadly sins. It began back then, but it took a few years [...]

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 [...]

THE EARTH: Co-Creation

May 29, 2018

When Christianity came along it did one thing: it separated the sea and sky. Or, better perhaps, it separated Heaven from Earth. God, the Father, is in Heaven.  Up there in the wild blue yonder. What is down here on Earth is evil. Because it’s not God. The Father. A real and significant push to overlay this absolute view of God, the Father, onto the ancient Earth-worshiping religions produced very real effects. But whose idea was it, anyway, to make Earth and all that it does not a part of God, The Father? It was God the Father who created Sacred Earth. It was the Holy Spirit who got its inherent wildness under control. Well, under some control at least. The Earth was created to be fecund.  It was designed to go forth and [...]

EVIL: Loneliness

May 6, 2018

Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty. (Mother Teresa) Loneliness is taking the illusion of separation and making it real. Loneliness is sitting down in a boat ride at an amusement park and never coming out of the tunnel. Loneliness is believing every lie that has ever been told us. Loneliness is the root of all evil. There are two parts to loneliness: self-centeredness and disheartenment. Self-Centeredness There is a difference between being alone and loneliness.  We could live in a large family, have a job with many others, attend a large church, and live in a big city and still feel lonely.  On the other hand, we could live in a cabin deep in the woods and, while being alone, feel connected. How can [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

TALES FROM BEYOND THE HORIZON: Orange, Chocolate, Milk

March 18, 2018

It was the first time I received that command: Eat orange, chocolate, milk. I was a young woman.  With long hair.  A car of my own. I had graduated from Berkeley.  Was working somewhere. I lived in a few rooms in an apartment, with my canoe tied up out back, in the little waterway that meandered through that neighborhood. My life, on the outside, at least, was most ordinary. Inside, it was a different story. For a few years, I studied a woman who led a church that followed the philosophy of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Transcendentalism, it was called. Nothing outrageous.  Nothing strikingly heretical. Just a general softening of the gospels. It was a system of thought that I was well aware of. Even though I was living in California, Emerson [...]

SPIRITUAL WARFARE: Finding Reality In God

December 10, 2017

It was a long battle. Eight years in the fray.  And so many more in recovery. I was very aware that my marriage was an assignment from God.  I even verified that before the wedding took place. As it went on, I found I was being trained: lessons specific for handling what was before me that I rigorously worked to learn and apply. One lesson I was being taught – this was fresh knowledge for me – was about binding a soul.  This binding works to lessen the negative effect that an evil person can have on the world. This was something very new to me. Over the years of the battle I watched as my binding would take effect, then watch some more how, in time, the binding would ease and slip off.  And the rancid behavior, calmed for a time, [...]

GOD 101: From His Bookshelf, or, Watch your backs

September 29, 2017

More and more it becomes fascinating to me how old I am.  Both because most serious mystics die young (it is very hard on the body), and because I can sit quietly and trace themes and currents that have been with me all my life. One set of visions I have found mostly annoying, to be honest.  Until very recently. At a very busy point in my mystical adventures I felt a sharp poke in my mystical rib-cage.  Poke.  Sharp.  Repeated. It was the insistence that I stop what I was doing and read a certain book. Which I thought was absurd. Now I have thought God’s instructions ridiculous, even stupid, throughout my life, but this one so astounded me that I reasoned that it proved that my visions my whole life were nothing more than the [...]

PAIN: My Father’s Back

July 2, 2017

In the chaotic swirl that has been my last few weeks, I planned to categorize this essay with something a bit less direct.  Something more acceptable. But I always came back to PAIN.  I didn’t want to be so stark in identifying what this was about, but, in the end, there was no way around it. It’s about pain. The conflict with being in pain and being a person of God is that as we turn our lives over to God, we want the pain in our lives to be explained away somehow.  In that great promise that we call God’s love.  God’s love for us.  Individually. God loves us.  My pain is somehow part of that love. Somehow. So as I work on the tapestry that is the picture of my conception – the tangle in the bathtub between [...]

SOUL STRUCTURE: Evil And Asceticism

July 15, 2014

Balancing the costs of being a mystic, there are the benefits.  A most unusual approach to understanding reality is one. For every seen definition of life, there are unseen definitions.  Corners around which reveal if not a completely different reality, than, at the very least, a distinct lens through which to look at it. It’s a way of thought that most often supplies reasons.  As though God, for the most part, keeps the mechanics of his creation well hidden under the skin of the truth of the matter.  Why he does this is perhaps a study for another mystic. And I will admit to wondering if knowing some of these hidden natures of things would change the world in any way. Can’t imagine. Anyway. There [...]

HUMANITY: Shame

July 8, 2014

My favorite movie of all time is The Nun’s Story, a thinly veiled autobiography of a woman who did her best at being a nun during World War II. She is the daughter of a brilliant doctor, was raised at his knee, and grew up learning all about medicine.  Her passion was for tropical medicine. Eventually, she is allowed to go to tropical medicine nursing school in order to fulfill her dream of being an African missionary. While there, she is under a Mother Superior with very unusual ideas of her own.  There will only be room for four nuns to be sent to the Congo.  The Nun (the heroine) is sure to be one of them.  The Mother Superior, who feels deeply for all her nuns (kind of), pities one of them who is struggling through the [...]

GOD 101: The Matter Of Authority

July 3, 2014

This wasn’t what I had in mind when I contemplated writing about authority and power.  The difference.  The balance. But it’s a start. And this start itself began while sitting in church a few weeks ago.  How do we share our faith with others? And I thought, Well, whatever we are doing now, it’s either inadequate or flat-out wrong because the nonfaithful don’t appear to be interested in the least. And so, in times when I could sit and think, I counted up the ways we promote Christianity. Catholics have it different from Protestants, granted.  And so I began there. Here I was sitting in a church that has continued the tradition of not believing in the ordination of women.  To my mind, just that alone would put [...]

MYSTICISM: Connecting With Divine Energy

January 30, 2014

Oddly, twice in the last couple weeks I have seen and mostly read two articles about ecstatic experiences arrived at through sexuality.  Even odder, the author of the first one I read claims that this touching of the divine put her off sex altogether. I didn’t read through the second one. An odd fashion in journalism, it seems to me.  Perhaps one editor read the first one, liked the subject matter and went off to find her own sufferer of sexual ecstasy. Or perhaps it was just an editorial coincidence.  Simultaneous creation, as it were. Then, even more recently, reading a short article, a list really, over on David Virtue’s blog (Virtue Online), I noted that the reasons given for ardent churchgoers leaving the church were [...]

LIFE ON T’OTHER SIDE OF THE PEN: Organizing God And Blog

July 15, 2013

One of my favorite things in life is organizing.  When I was young, I used to think how great it would be to organize God. This thought expanded infinitely once I had experienced childbirth and the absolute delight that is the raising of children.  Good grief. It could have been better designed.  That’s all I’m saying. And so for years now, ever since I received my most recent pronouncement that I was about to die (something for which I clearly have absolutely no talent whatsoever), and I figured that as I was supposed to be home-bound, I would do something that would keep me from eating my own brain from sheer boredom (illness – even threatened illness – has to be one of the most boring experiences one is forced to go [...]