Archive | September 2015

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.

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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.

Ten Years after 9/11

This is a repost of part of homily I wrote for a service on the 10 year anniversary of 9/11.  It was delivered at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden in Ogden Utah during a joint service with the local United Church of Christ congregation.  Their pastor also delivered a homily.  ….

We need the spirit of God in the world. We need the spirit of humans who are willing to devote their lives to compassion, to work for justice and for peace, and to hold the love of our neighbors, our neighbors here and around the world, as our highest religious value.

This isn’t easy, especially when we are remembering that horrible day when we saw the planes crashing into the towers and so many died. Life has its tragedies of course. People die in floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, in car accidents, and of disease. We grieve at those times, but there is usually no one obviously to blame. These things just happen. When a tragedy is intentional, however, when another human being willingly sets out to cause others immense pain and suffering, it is so much harder to understand.

The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were not the first such events in history, even our own history here in the United States. Oklahoma City and Columbine come to mind. And can we forget the mass lynching of African Americans, the mass murder of the Native American peoples, the shame of the lives lost during the middle passage during the slave trade?

The Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in NYC in 1911, where 146 workers died because the owners had locked the exit doors was one of the worst disasters in NYC and it is all but forgotten.

The holocaust, Rwanda, Bosnia, the Belgian Congo, South Africa, Hiroshima, the Crusades, how can we forget those events and how can we feel alone in our suffering?

How can we forget the murders of Gandhi, of Martin Luther King and the Kennedy brothers, of Jesus and John Lennon?

How can we stand silent when people are being attacked and beaten in our own state simply because of who they love?

How can we stand silent about two wars that seem they will never end, wars where there will be no victory, just continued, pain, sacrifice and suffering? Revenge does not relieve pain, it just creates more.

One of the images that has most stayed in my mind from ten years ago is one that is not often shown on television anymore. Some of you probably remember it. Just before the first tower collapsed, people jumped out of the windows. Certain death, I am sure they knew, but it was an action they could take, something they could do. I was most moved by seeing two people holding hands as they fell. Do you remember that? As far as I know they were never identified. How could they be? Two people, maybe they were friends, maybe lovers, or perhaps they were even strangers. Were they a man and a woman, two women, two men, maybe one of them was transgender?

Were they Muslim, Christian, pagan, Jew or atheist? Does it matter? Whoever they were, they each reached out in that moment and held on tight to the other person’s hand. With courage and with faith, they knew they were not alone. They knew what they were holding in their hand was another human being, just like them, another human soul, precious and rare, fragile and miraculous. At the very last minute of their lives, they were holding on to what matters most. They were caring for each other.

That is what matters most. It is what we need to remember when we think about all the times and places where we humans have committed atrocities. None of us are alone. We are all connected. We all have each other, all the hurting hopeful people of the world. It matters. We matter. We just have to reach out and take that hand. Together we can manifest the spirit of God in the world. May it be so, amen and blessed be.