trying to understand…

11 01 2020


Who are we God?

Are we so lost?

Where lies become truth and divisiveness is lifted as unity;

where our leaders unsheathe fear daily.


And we justify…

We rationalize…

Contorting facts until

they match our truth.


Where one professes his Christianity –

a follower of the one, Jesus the Christ –

yet vehemently attacks the personhood of others daily.

Jesus…you did this?


Where one claims to be the chosen one…

placing himself equal with One who lived among us without stain.

one, a mortal, seeing no self-faults…no need for forgiveness.

Followed religiously by those who preached there is only One.


Others still, cower beneath the wielding of fear and hate –

selling their souls for the lust of power, prestige and approval;

taking the form of what they fear;

callousness their elixir…insecurity occupying their soul.


I am just trying to understand…

Who God is; our faith; what is gospel; who we say we are –

they are true in each moment?

Not to be  – can’t be – dissected from our living?


Why is there a need for such division among us?

My faith taught me God desires us to be community.

And why do believers follow this one so zealously instead of the One?

This one who reads Christmas greetings of unity – then attacks, divides,

and sows distrust.


A faith sojourner’s voice still rings within my preschool heart:

Mrs. Jackson…

“Be kind one to another”… “God loves everyone”…“We are all God’s children.”

Do we not know the greatest power – Love – already within?


And I am no saint for sure.

Needing daily awareness to tame my ego;

daily courage to choose Love over fear

(failure a frequent companion I must admit).


I have a part, I know, in applying a healing balm;

Speaking unity into divisiveness – within myself and into our world;

needing the touch of grace, forgiveness, and Love constantly.

So I write this as a beginning – trying to understand…

Railroad Tunnel


So many words…

28 09 2018

So many words being spoken today…

In Ireland, Iran, North Korea, Netherlands, Russia, Rwanda, Malaysia, Mexico, Bahamas, Burundi, Kenya, Kuwait, United States, and United Nations…

In courts, in state houses, in congress, at the White house, in politics…

Within religious communities, within businesses, and within schools…

On TV, on radio, on social media, on our phones…

In my house, in my family, in my head, in my heart…


I wonder if there is as much listening?

I hope so…

Friends Chairs

There’s nothing we can do about it…

30 05 2013






an icy surface paralyzes the depths of who we are;

a cool façade defends the vulnerability we carry.




hopeful liberation rises daily despite our protests;

Restoration places her warm hand on our icebound spirit;

Light thaws a frozen soul…


we are valued…

we are loved by Love…

there’s nothing we can do about it…




Fragile yet strong…

7 06 2012

fragile yet strong…

vulnerable – stretched in open space…

beautifully creative and practical…

connected fibers producing unimaginable strength…

flexibility amid rigidity…

much like the human spirit – like our spirit.

(web over the Choptank River)

It burns within us…

3 05 2012

It burns within us, this longing…

Exhilarating…terrifying, over the open waters of our lives…

Risking this flight – leaving the comfort of chains that bind…

of what we know…

Our soul finds her voice…


Drinking deeply…

11 04 2012


Drinking deep the nectar of life…

the spirit flourishes…

My wife, a hospice chaplain, sees the hummingbird as a symbol of the human spirit (studies have shown the difference between the weight of a person before death versus just after death is about equal to that of a hummingbird).

O that my spirit would hold things so lightly and drink so deeply.

Midnight Darkness…

1 04 2012


Midnight darkness…Light blazes –
a soul’s thirst

When it seems our life is covered in darkness, we long for just a sliver of light to sustain hope! This photo was taken looking over the Choptank River toward the town of Easton, MD. Sometimes, the light grows brighter the longer we open ourselves to the darkness, just as the camera absorbs the light with extended exposure.

Horizons – On the Edge

25 08 2011

I woke at 5:40 a.m. – another early morning at the beach. My body wanted to stay in bed – my spirit dragged me to the window. Like opening a gift that contained the thing you want most in the world, I pulled back the shades to reveal the rays of the pre-dawn sun barely illuminating the horizon – a deep blue sky above; darkness still swimming across the waters below; but that thin place in between – a deep, warm red-orange glow lining the horizon. I grabbed my tripod and camera, and soon found myself wading in sand.


With feet and tripod dug into sand, I looked over the Atlantic, snapping pictures, standing in awe – then somewhere in between the two, Light began to illuminate what was within. From the distant horizon in my soul, Truth exposed a spiritual desert within. I couldn’t seem to find my center – the Center. Somehow the Center would need to find me. Instead of standing there on the beach, my soul felt like fleeing to the mountains – my sanctuary…to nestle into coves and hollows; to lean against foothills; to rest in the shade of mountain peaks; to stroll along high ridges; to soar from lofty vistas.


Yet, there I was, on the edge of a vast ocean: openness; uncovered, nothing to nestle into; nothing offering midday shade; no lofty terrain to soar from; nothing to lean into except breaking waves. Open and exposed…just me, an empty lifeguard chair, and the burning horizon illuminating whom I really was; illuminating the truth as to where I really was – no place to hide from me.


But it was okay. Underneath the restlessness…within my soul’s desire to take sanctuary in higher elevations…in the midst of feeling lost – there was a peace. There was an opportunity here – an opportunity to be found. A transformation was in motion (and still is).  As I stood at the ocean’s edge, struggling to comprehend its vastness, I was brought to the edge of trust.


I have to trust that the waters continue beyond the ever-brightening horizon…that they continue beyond the reach of my eyesight. Isn’t this the way of faith? Some things I can see…but I can only see so far. I can only know what I know up to this very moment. Because of my limitations, I cannot know it all. It comes to the point where the known meets the unknown…when I cannot step into the future with full certainty. Here, at the edge, I have a choice – I can choose what is safe, what I know, what has already been lived; or I can choose to risk and step toward what is before me, toward the unknown, toward the horizon God holds for me. I can choose to step into what I do not know for certain – letting go of pre-conceived notions…using fear’s fuel as energy to propel me toward adventure…letting go of who I think I will become and trusting that God is creating me to be more than I can image. This is an opportunity to go deeper…deeper within ourselves…deeper into others…deeper into God – stepping up to edge of and then into what we fully do not understand or know. With faith we trust the Spirit goes before us preparing the way…preparing us.


As I stood gazing over the beautiful painted horizon, I was reminded of a quote by Andre Gide:


We cannot discover new oceans


unless we have the courage to lose sight of
the shore.


Skies on Fire

15 03 2011

Sometimes it seems as if the sky is on fire…

Earthquakes…tsunamis…power hungry leaders…revolutions…bickering over millions while others just hope to make it paycheck-to-paycheck…cancer…nuclear meltdowns…hunger…addictions/unhealthy attachments…self-created delusions to cope with the failure of not living into who we were created to be. How can one hold all this? – so many questions to God…of God. We look to the skies – arms raised, and ask, “Why?” My hands have been lifted skyward many times. I claim this question too.

Many Sundays I pronounce the following benediction as our community of faith walks back into the world:

“And now go in peace, and as you are going, know this:

by the grace of God you were brought into this world;

by the mercy of God you have been sustained to this very moment,

and by the love of God, fully revealed in Jesus the Christ,

you are being redeemed, now and forevermore. Amen.”

(Bill Leonard – adapted from John Claypool)

Redeemed…to save…to restore…to bring back to wholeness. Is this taking place in our world…in creation…in you…in me? Within the events of this life – the good and the bad, is there hope for restoration…or at least to move toward wholeness? Where is God in all of this? Are we, too, a part of the restoration equation?

Being human…being one that has experienced – and will experience – pain and grief…being one who watches devastation beamed from across the world and in my community…and being one who has seen – and will see – the pain of others…I am thus invited into a deeper conversation with God – hard questions to ask…truth and reality become palpable…what is most important in life becomes crystal clear. What am I to do with this all? What am I to do with this question of redeeming?

My faith – my confidence in what I hope for…my assurance in what I do not see – awakens. It allows me to hear the whispers of hope within what I experience…in what I feel…in what I consider. It tells me that just as I am a co-creator with God, I am also a co-redeemer. I have responsibility to do my part in bringing about wholeness in this world – even when I do not understand…even in the shadows of what seem insurmountable odds. Why? Because I have been the recipient of grace…of forgiveness…of nurture…of encouragement…of a challenge to live into whom God created me to be – I’ve been offered and experienced restoration. And I want more – I want it for others…I want it for all creation.  So maybe I can help provide some sacred space for others to discover and uncover their gifts; maybe I can help open up space where nurture, encouragement, and healing can embrace another; maybe I can help provide holy space where another feels safe enough to risk becoming who God has created them to be; maybe I can help have faith for another when the other feels like their faith is a black hole – just like so many has done for me.

And where is God in all of this? Maybe we do not see God in the events of this world – the good and the bad – because we are looking skyward with our hands raised…instead of looking down. Maybe God is down – down in the muck of our living…in the debris of our lives and of creation…within the pain and horrors we experience. Maybe God is in the tears of the heartbroken…in the anger of those who stand against injustices…in the fear of those who are being abused…in the bewilderment of those in the wilderness…in the gaze of those who see – in us. If so, then, there is always hope…a light shining in darkness…the possibility of wholeness.

In the end, I still have deep questions. I do not understand it all…I never will. Many times it is as if my vision is veiled – “I don’t yet see things clearly. I’m squinting in a fog, peering through a mist.” [1 Corinthians 13:12, The Message] So I will rely on my faith…listen within for the conversations between my spirit and the Spirit…ask hard questions, risking a deeper intimacy with God…try to live into the Mystery of it all…and embrace hope as I ask for courage to do what I can to be a co-redeemer with the Creator.


Just Breath

22 01 2011

Now I think there is only one subject worth my attention

and that is the recognition of the spiritual side of the world

and, within this recognition, the condition of my own spiritual

state. I am not talking about having faith necessarily, although

one hopes to. What I mean by spirituality is not theology, but attitude.

Mary Oliver, Winter Hours

(Boston, Houghton Mifflin Co., 1999)

In his book, God of Dirt: Mary Oliver and the other Book of God (Rowman and Littlefield, 2004), Thomas W. Mann talks about natural spirituality – “how one relates to the natural world as the realm of God.” (p. 11) He then reminds us that the word spirit – at its root – has the primary meaning of “wind” or “breath.” Mann goes on to point out the interdependence of humans and the natural world; especially between humans and plants – one breathing out carbon dioxide that the other takes in as life, then the other exhaling oxygen…life for the one.

The realm of relationship with God is the same – breathing in God’s Spirit…God’s breath-giving life. And then exhaling our gratefulness; our expectant hearts’ deires; our questions; our inner quietness…listening again for God’s life-giving wind that blows in and through us. In this sacred relationship there is an ongoing conversation between the Spirit and our spirit. And like in any conversation, we learn that listening is at the heart…intentional focus on the One who is speaking. At listening’s foundation is trust and an active waiting – a trust which is a letting go…a patience that is open to and expectant of hearing God’s voice within living life. It is looking into God’s eyes and not looking beyond God’s gaze to the next thing.

Often my spiritual breathing is labored with no clear rhythm. I try to control the natural exchange of Spirit to spirit. My spirit’s knuckles become white from the firm grip I exert – trying to hold on to expectations…trying to hold everything in my mind – not giving heed to the heart. I hold my breath thinking I can sustain life on my own. But just as a deepening relationship is a process, so is the process of “letting go” – of not laboring after every breath…of trusting the natural rhythm…of learning to be open to God…to just be. The grace and good news is that we do not have to do this alone. God reminds us of the natural heart-to-heart that takes place in every day living with the One who gives life. The key is to let our breathing happen naturally – not rushed…not controlled …just being patient. For in the patience, in the waiting, in the listening, conversion happens – a little more Light shines within…we see a little more clearly through the dimmed glass… we feel our hearts begin to change – they soften, feeling more deeply for those around us. Our grip loosens. We find our palms are face-up, ready to receive – ready for servanthood. Our vision changes – ego begins to fade to the background and compassion for all creation surfaces.

God encourages us…gently speaking with a longing for us to listen more deeply – to love more intimately. And when we find ourselves breathing harmful fumes of hate, rage, manipulation, revenge, self-loathing, and passive-aggressiveness…when we are distracted by ego or by the world’s expectations, God’s breath whispers, “I am coming to you,” gently calling us back to the natural, holy breathing of Spirit to spirit.

God help us to just breath…