Showing posts from February, 2016

A Lenten Journey, part 3: Supper with Satan

I don’t know who said that if you want to know someone, invite them to dinner, but in my experience it’s been true. Breaking bread and sharing some wine creates a convivial atmosphere conducive to revealing our ideas, hopes, dreams, and fears to one another.

During his time in the desert, Jesus doesn’t exactly dine with the Devil, but they do get to know a lot about each other. During this part of our Lenten journey, I’d like us to consider that the devil is nothing to be afraid of—and that, in fact, there is no devil. At least, not the way we in the West classically think of the devil as an individual entity.

The longest of the temptation stories is found in Matthew (4.1-11), with a virtual clone in Luke (except for a slight change of event order for narrative continuity). The story is only a single sentence in Mark (1.13), probably because Mark’s Jewish audience would have understood the underlying metaphor better than Matthew’s partially Gentile, and Luke’s extremely Gentile, audien…

Monday Meditation

Waves of curiosity and wonder crash against the desert of my mind,
ending a drought of indifference,
plunging me into
a sea of introspection.

Compelled to wonder,
I see spinning universes
of red and blue
forming into a compassionate
and somewhat bemused visage.
Your mouth spreads
into an enormous grin,
revealing so many new worlds
that my senses cannot keep up.
I am overflowing with excitement,
and finally,
I stop thinking
and solely experience.

[pause to experience the creation of new worlds]

Once I let go,
you carry me
on a journey of discovery.
I’m no longer observing
what is happening;
I am part of what’s happening.
I am the formation of a new world.
I am the explosion of a star
into a billion new realities.
I am consciously aware
of every conscious being
in actualities too numerous to count.

[pause to experience the consciousness of all life]

Carried along on your creative wave,
I cry uncontrollably
and watch,
as each teardrop creates
a new world teeming with life.
Has this been within me all along?
Why have…

A Lenten Journey, part 2: Finding Transcendence

I often escaped to the mountains surrounding Salt Lake City, Utah, to enjoy some peaceful and God-filled moments. One spring day, the little yellow and purple flowers that would eventually form a carpet across the ground were just beginning to bloom. The sky had a crisp, clean snap to it, willowy wisps of clouds gently relaxing against a clear blue canvas that extended beyond the horizon.

The entire serene scene, rather than lulling me into a state of ecstatic trance, slapped me across the face like my mother catching me with my hand in the cookie jar (that’s just an analogy, my mom never struck me, even when she caught me with my hand in the cookie jar). At that moment, I realized that no matter how big the city or how busy our lives, there is always a wilderness to which we can escape. Anyone can drop out of society entirely (and I admit the thought remains quite tempting). I think it’s much tougher to stay in the world and find ways to transcend it.

What is transcendence? Most defini…

A Lenten Journey, part 1: Finding Wilderness in the Midst of Chaos

Throughout history, people have left the chaos of life to enter a place of quiet stillness. When I was in college in Salt Lake City, Utah, my dream was to find a monastery somewhere; to escape from “civilization” and live a life more deeply connected to God. I always experienced God’s energy more powerfully in the mountains surrounding Salt Lake than in the city itself, although it’s a beautiful city with great energy. Still, I rarely felt God in the hustle and bustle of the city. Today, I love the noises, smells, architecture, food, and sights of cities, but at that time, there was a disconnect between the extreme humanness of everything happening in Salt Lake and the astounding divinity I felt in nature.

It would take years for me to connect to God in every space I found myself—years examining the wilderness of my soul until I started to realize that God is everywhere, only waiting to be discovered. Cities, mountains, beaches, forests, and especially people, all contain God and emit …

An Invitation to a Wilderness Journey

Today is the beginning of the Christian season of Lent. For most of the modern era, Lent has been understood as a time to give something up—usually something material like chocolate or meat. While letting go of something can certainly be an effective spiritual practice, giving up something simply to go through the action of giving up something is not enough. There is nothing effective about giving up chocolate for 40 days unless there is some spiritual meaning to the act.

In reality, it’s not necessary to give anything up during Lent. There are no “rules” in the Bible about Lent. Lent isn’t even mentioned in the Bible (not directly, anyway). The entire idea of a 40-day Lenten season is a religious fabrication. This does not necessarily mean it’s a bad fabrication (although religion has certainly created plenty of those).

The practice of a 40-day period before Easter first started soon after the Roman Empire established Christianity as the state religion. With a sudden influx of many new…

Monday Meditation

Holy and loving God, your capacity to love has no limits. We come into your presence today in awesome wonder of your ceaseless love. Inspire us to love others as completely as you love us.
We are continually encouraged by the way you work through us, enabling us to bring aid to those in need around the world. Thank you, Holy Presence, for the generous and useful gifts you bestow upon each of us. May we use them in service to you and the creation of a world more reflective of your divine compassion.
As the life of Jesus Christ shows us, generosity and compassion are not only available to all of us, they are our very nature. We are at our finest when we serve each other. Guide us and nourish our souls, God we love most dearly, as we do our best to be examples of love in this too-often loveless world.
We humbly ask you, God of all healing energies,

Monday Meditation

Holy God,
Creator and Sustainer of all things,
fill my soul,
my heart,
my mind,
and my body
with Universal Conscious Awareness
of my interconnectedness with all beings.

I pray for
an expanded understanding
of what it means to call you Creator.
Help me see you
as the creative energy
that is all things in the universe,
rather than a mad scientist
in an alien laboratory.
Through that awareness,
may I understand that
all people are made from God.
All people are God.

Move me to realize that,
if all people are God,
then all people must be treated
with compassion and love.
All people must have food
and shelter,
and deserve respect.
If all people are God,
then all people are to be welcomed
without condition,
into my country,
my church,
my home,
my loving arms.

What does it mean to call you Creator?
It means you are
the underlying consciousness
of all being
and therefore,
all being deserves my love and acceptance.

Make me understand you as
Sustainer of all things—
As the fundamental building block
of the physical universe.
Make me acute…