Still Breathing

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It has been awhile since I posted.  In the space of just a few months, beginning in May of last year, I ended a difficult ministry and decided to retire.  Then in the fall, we sold the tri-level home we had owned for 30+ years, and we bought a smaller one-level house a few miles away.  All good things, really.  The ministry wasn’t working and leaving it was a good decision, especially for me and perhaps for most of the congregation as well.  I do miss being an active minister, but I also know now that I only want to do the kind of ministry that will make a real difference.  That was the joy I experienced serving our Ogden, Utah congregation.  Life is too short to spend it doing things that are not only personally frustrating, but also unlikely to make much of a real difference.

Winter is here now, even in California, and the rain finally has begun to fall.  I am trying to just breathe and figure out what might come next for me.

Breathing is suddenly a bigger issue for me as I have been diagnosed with COPD.  The condition is chronic, but with care can be managed.   I was a smoker for years, which is what did most of the damage to my lungs, although the air pollution I have been exposed to certainly didn’t help.   A one level house is a particularly good thing to live in now.

Breathing is such a metaphor.  The following chant is one that is done often in UU congregations:

Meditation on Breathing

“When I breathe in, I’ll breathe in peace, when I breathe out, I’ll breathe out love.”

Now, when I sing those words, I know that breathing is not an easy or a simple thing.  It can be hard work.  Just like peace.  Just like Love.  Namaste

 

 

 

The Fierce Sun

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The sun was fierce this morning

It was not a gentle rising

No soft breezes were blowing in the new day.

The light was bursting

With a fire that burned into my eyes

Blinding me to beauty

Stark the truths we face today

Anger pain and loss

Fear and evil stroll along together

We are all refugees running for our lives

But in a moment a year a decade

This day will end at last

Fading with the soft colors of the setting sun.

 

 

 

Banning the Children from the Temple

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In Matthew 19:14, Jesus is quoted as saying, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Maybe the elders of the LDS Church have never read these words.  Or never taken them seriously.  Yesterday they banned the children of same gender parents from receiving blessings or the priesthood. (OK , they actually only banned the sons of GLBT folks.  Daughters of straight couples are also forbidden the priesthood.)  Even adult children of gay parents cannot be baptized in the Mormon faith until and unless they renounce their GLBT parents.

News article:

Mormon Church makes same-sex couples apostates, excludes children from blessings and baptism

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe the LDS faith is the one true faith and I think never participating in it may in fact ultimately be healthier emotionally, psychologically and, most especially, spiritually, for the individuals involved.  The church authorities could actually be doing these kids a favor in the long run.

For seven years I served as the minister of a Unitarian Universalist church in Utah.  Almost half of my congregation was ex-Mormon.  I know the pain that faith can cause.  I know the havoc it can create in people’s lives who don’t fit the stereotype of the perfect Mormon, or who just can’t help but question some of the beliefs.  People can lose their jobs, their homes, and their families when they become apostates.

And there is so much good about the faith as well, which is why it can be so hard to leave it.  This latest action will doubtless drive more people to leave the LDS church.  They will be, as before, mainly the ones who really strive to follow the teachings of Jesus and finally realize that their church hierarchy either can’t or won’t do the same.

There is much grief in Mormonland today, tears, sorrow and pain.  My heart breaks for those who are suffering.

“Let the children come.”  “Do not hinder them.”

If you are still a member of the LDS faith, it may be past time to find another church, my friends.  Unitarian Universalist congregations will welcome you in the fullness of who you are.  Other faith traditions will as well.

Please know that you are worthy of love and respect.  You are a precious child of God, blessed from the moment of your birth.  The whole sacred world is your temple.  You don’t need theirs.

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Death and Dying

Death is not the problem

Dying is

Death comes to all of us

More certain than taxes

Even for the rich

From our very first breath

Fresh with the damp of our mother’s womb

We begin to die

What is hard is the slow decline

The faltering

The shrinking down

Of possibilities

The wondering

What more can we do

That we have not yet done?

What will be left for others?

How long can we go on making

Dreams come true?

Breathe deep

And know

Even your bones

Will someday nourish

New life

All will be born again.

Stone

Short-tailed-Albatross-FlyingThe stone you carry may be heavy

Its jagged edges might rub your heart raw

But, remember please

It isn’t an albatross

It isn’t tied around your neck

There are no chains around your ankles

Linking you to that stone for all eternity

Put it down

Let it go

Roll it away

Downhill is just fine

And if it is an albatross

Ask it to teach you

How to fly

So Many Years

It took so many years
To rake the leaves together
Tasting of stone, they did – and milk
Feed me I cried
And the rain fell
Something grew
And it was mine to love
The sun sets only once
In each of our lifetimes
Leaves will dance in the wind.

River of Wondering

I went down to the river

Wondering

Where all the fish had gone

The mud on the banks had a funny smell

There was not one bird to be seen.

I sat down in the mud

Because there was no grass

And began to softly hum

An old woman wandered by

And joined in my song

A little boy stopped to sing

And a young woman began to dance

We laughed and played

By that river bank

And shed some tears as well

Hand in hand

Together at last

We washed the river clean.

Skating on the Edge

Skating on the edge

Of pregnant possibilities

We wonder

Is the ice too thick

The ride too bumpy?

Is the world frozen

Beyond all thawing

The ground so slick

We slide off the path

Into frightful chaos

Will all our promises

Fall into the failure

Of bruised knees

And broken dreams

No no

It can’t be so

We are alive

And therefore

Miracles can happen

Balance

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My balance has never been great.

Polio at age one

Left one leg a bit shorter

Easy to trip on my own feet

Scabby knees a fashion statement

All through my childhood.

Hiking sticks came in handy

When hitting the trail

The rock strewn pathways

I tried to travel for too many years.

Now my knees are going

Aging is like that.

It could be worse

The physical is one thing

The spirit another.

Friends lend a hand

When the going gets rough

Life has its lessons:

Keep moving along

The path knows the way

Sometimes we stumble

Sometimes we fall

Learn how to balance

Hope against fear

Justice and joy do come

The Window

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There is a tiny window

Somewhere in your life

It could be in your attic

Behind that antique chest.

It could be covered in dirt

Far beneath the floorboards

Of your living.

It could be in your closet

Lounging behind the skeletons

That always linger there.

It could even be outside

In the branches of a tree

Or deep down in the ocean

The one that holds your tears.

Find that window

I know you can

Breathe on it softly

Clean it with your thumb.

Try and find the courage

To press your nose against the glass.

If you gaze with rapt intent

The soul of God will appear

Before your shining face.

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