Monday, April 30, 2012


In Acts of the Apostles, Peter, a leader of the Jesus followers, has a vision in which he sees food, forbidden for a Jew to eat, come down from heaven on a big cloth.  A voice says, "Eat," but Peter says such forbidden food has never touched his lips.  Interesting.  Peter was very good about dietary rules, but not so good about the command, "Do not fear!"  What if an observant Jew was one who did not fear, rather than one who ate the right foods.  I suspect there would be a lot fewer observant Jews.

It would be the same with Christians.  We seem to take some commands very seriously, but not others.  We can be real careful about Church attendance or meat on Lenten Fridays, but not make too big a deal out of our lack of trust in God, our fears, anxieties that go along with lack of trust, lying to get out of messy situations, and so on.  There would be fewer Christians saying they are "observant" if Fear were the criterion.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


In the Catholic Church we have something called "Confession."  People go to the priest and confess their sins and ask to be forgiven.  What is that all about?  Well, often it is rather self-serving.  People feel shame and guilt about some action.  They want to feel better.  They confess.  They feel better.  It is not about God or love of God.  It does not lead to humility.  They are sorry for feeling so badly themselves, rather than that they have offended anyone.

Is it not like that in interpersonal relations?  We say that we are sorry, so that we will feel better, so that people will like us or not be mad at us.  How will sorrow, shame or guilt have anything to do with caring about the person we have offended?  When we love them more than we love ourselves.  Narcissism is a short-term solution to our miseries and foibles.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Today I ran a trail new to me.  It had a lot of hills and seemed to go on forever.  I ran very slowly with much effort up the many hills.  I felt that I had nothing today, no zip. I ran last, way behind the group.  Coming back I was not sure of the way.  But I kept going and going.  Is this not like our spiritual life?  Somedays we feel that we have nothing.  We feel a bit alone and lost.  These are the days that we just keep going forward, one step at a time.  The mind says to give up.  The body says, "No mas!" but the will is key.  The spiritual life in these moments relies on the will, the lonely will.  It has no support from body or mind.  All else says to quit, give up this God stuff.  Whine!  So I decide to pray, do a good deed with no desire to do so.  This is why I do the long hard runs.  It trains the will.  Oh!  The trail was beautiful.  I would have missed that if I had quit too soon to see the beauty that awaited me over yet one more hill!

Friday, April 27, 2012

A People

In the bible, Jews are often referred to by a person's name.  They are sometimes called Israel, or Judah or Jacob.  Why?  Well, they are a people.  They are from a lineage, from a person.  To a believing Jew, American individualism makes no sense.  A person cannot do whatever they want.  A Jew is free, but not to be self-imploded.  They are aware of being part of a group larger than themselves.  They have responsibilities and obligations to the group.  Christians come from a person too.  They come from Jesus, the Christ.  Christians have responsibilities to one  another.  They cannot do whatever they please.  Early Christians shared their wealth.  Freedom means that a Christian is free to be a Christian, with obligations to God and one another.  A mother is part of a family and she knows that her freedom has restrictions in order to care for members of the family.  A child who is immature wants to break away and do its thing, be free to center on themselves with no obligations to the family.  What would be the response of a mature Jew or Christian to this child?  I suspect it would be patience, compassion and hope.  The mature believer never gives up hope in one who they see as part of themselves, though adrift.  Isn't God like that with us?  I hope so.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A New Format

My blog has decided to give me a new format.  It does not give me instructions or even ask if I would like the change.  The blog gives no instructions.  I guess I am just supposed to figure it out.  So i asked for help from a friend.  Jesus rose from the dead and decided to change the lives of some people such as Mary Magdalene.  They did not ask for their lives to be changed.  They could not  really refuse.  I mean what does one do when their dead friend rises from the grave, comes into a room without needing a door for an entrance, and eats with you?  Jesus did not give much in the way of instructions as "how to" go on from there.  They had a friend, The Holy Spirit, and they had one another.  Jesus did not want them to go it alone, pioneer style.  He wanted a people, a community that needed one another.  I will figure out this new blog format.  I have friends to help me.  I will not figure out the Way of Jesus all by myself.  Friends and the Holy Spirit are needed too.  

No Writing?

Why did not Jesus write things down like the prophets did? Well, how much do you remember of what you read, especially if it is challenging you to live in a way that you find rather inconvenient? I forget a lot of what I read. Students cram for an exam and then forget. But you never forget an experience, a profound experience. You may deny the experience, but you will not forget it. So Jesus appeared to his disciples and gave them a simple message. Their early speeches were the interpretation of their experience of the Risen Jesus. In the gospel, Jesus says come to me, and believe. First, you have to accept that your experience is really about God in your life. First, you have to "come" to the experience. Then faith will follow. Some people deny that their religious experience has anything to do with "God". Why? One reason is that a wondrous experience of nature taken as just that and nothing more, might invite you to take more such walks or hikes, but not to change your life in any other radical sense. You can still go on nature hikes, have a powerful experience, deny that God is any part of it, and go on being selfish, petty, and narcissistic. If you accept that God was the experience, hidden in nature, then you might begin to pursue who and what this God is. Then you will have to change your life. Let's face it. Non-belief is so much easier a way to live for many of us.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Nuns

The Vatican has told the USA Women Religious (nuns) Leadership that they have to spend less focus on social justice issues and more on abortion, same sex marriages and birth control. The Leadership Council represents thousands of nuns who work very closely with the poor. Bishops do not work closely with the poor. They have people to do that The nuns have a particularly unique view of these sex issues because they are so involved with the poor. The nuns focus on social justice issues because they see that poverty has a lot to do with one's decision to abort or use contraception. The women religious want to limit abortions too, but they see it as part of a large picture of poverty and indifference to the sufferings of the poor. The nuns agree that all life is precious, including the people on death row, and those killing one another in wars. Is this an issue of women who are more practical and compassionate versus men who are more into control and power? No doubt there are women religious who agree with the Vatican, but then ask where these women are working? Teaching in seminaries, Catholic colleges, and high schools? Not being ordained, and not working for a bishop, many women religious are therefore beyond the church powers to punish them in any significant fashion. The press is going to have a field day with this stuff.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Two Masters

Jesus says that you cannot serve two masters. You will love one and pretty much forget the other. He might have been talking about the Sabbath. Six days a week our master seems to be our work, plans, exercise, shopping, and whatnot that pretty much master us. On the Sabbath we are supposed to have only one master, God. In our religious culture, serving God on the Sabbath pretty much means we go to church. Then for the rest of the day, some other project seems to take over our lives. We are mastered by some of the things we did for the other six days, but we might add something such as a housekeeping project, or watching sports on TV. Sabbath has become a "Free Day". Free for what? We don't free much of it up for God, and we are hardly free of the slavish or addictive response we make to so much other stuff. Many of us serve only one master, our compulsive 24/7.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Push

I ran a 5K race yesterday in Boulder, at mile high altitude. Coming into the last half mile, I was breathing pretty hard, and thought that I was running max effort. My coach came up alongside me. He had been watching the race. Then he began to run with me and told me to run faster, to push harder. I thought I could not. I wanted him to go away. But I kept trying to run harder. Lots of pain and suffering came with this effort. When I finished the race, I realized that I would have run a lot slower if he had not "pestered" me. He believed in me and was encouraging me to do more. God can be like that. God comes up real close to me when I think I am doing fine in my faith and practice. God calls for more. I don't think I can do it, but if I try, then I will find out that I had more in my spiritual life than I thought. Jesus rose from the dead and "pestered" his disciples, telling them to go throughout the world and preach repentance. They were having trouble believing he was real! Jesus knew they had a lot more in them than they even knew. We all do. So be careful when you feel God near to you. It could challenge you to move out of your comfort zone. You might find your potential become a reality, as real as the Risen Jesus.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The What?

When you meet the love of your life it is an encounter that can change you and continue to change you as long as you see this person as the love of your life. If they eventually become referenced as "The wife," or The husband," then they become one of the things in your life. You could change the word "the" to "my" but it becomes one more thing you have, like my car or my cell phone or my job. We sometimes say, "My God" like it is something we own. John's Gospel says that God is Love. God is a verb. Verbs are always acting. God is always at work ready to change our lives if we can see the relationship as "The Love of My Life." We would pay a lot of attention and spend much time communing with such a God, just as we would with a person who is our great love. If someone asks me if I believe in God, I think I will say, "I believe in Love." That might lead to a very good conversation about faith.

The Encounter

We are forever trying to confine our God or gods. The Romans liked to build statues to represent their gods, or to have their gods inhabit certain mountains or spaces. Judaism did not do this. Judaism encounters God in an event that has no specific place. "God saves his people" not one time only, in one place, but always and in all places. God cannot be confined to a space. God can be encountered anywhere. Moses encountered God in a bush. Where? The place was never important. Moses encountered God on mountain, in a fiery cloud, and thunder. But we seem to need arks, temples, churches, and tabernacles, to confine God because we are too lazy or driven by daily life to stop and be in the moment wherever we are. God is an encounter. Many people go to their buildings and experience nothing much. So they stop going to these places. It is not the place that makes God "pop up" but the attitude and openness that a person has to the Holy Presence. God is right here now. So where are you? Chewing on the past in resentment, guilt, shame or disappointment? Looking to the future for more of what you have, or better times, or just a fantasy? God is in plain sight for those who have the eye to see.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Thing

Today is First Holy Communion at our parish for many second graders. It is a bitter/ sweet day for me. The sweet is to see all these children coming up to communion for the first time. They are enthusiastic and excited about this event. It will be a forever memory for them. The bitter is that we won't see much of these same children on future Sundays. Some will want to come back, but their parents have others interests. Some will look forward to presents today, but lose or forget about rosaries and prayer books that they are given by relatives. What is happening? For some of us, the Eucharist is something we get or go to. It is one omore thing in our life. It is like having a car, or a toy, or new clothes. We get clothes. We get Communion. They are all things in our life, so much stuff. When things are new, we pay them attention. In time we grow bored, or get used to them and put them aside for newer diversions, like so many cell phones or gadgets. The Eucharist is not a "Thing". It is an event, an encounter, that is timeless. Once we encounter the Holy in Eucharist, we are drawn into wanting more, to touch it again and again. We never forget the first encounter, but also, it stays with us as more than a memory. When you see your true love, for the first time, it is never forgotten. It goes where you go. You want to be with that loved one. When that encounter becomes "The Husband" or The Wife" then they are just another "thing" you have in your life, and they may come to bore you. The children who have an encounter with Christ in their First Holy Communion, will want more. Those who see communion as one more thing in their lives will be gone soon enough. We pretty much treat God the way we treat one another.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Time and Space

We don't really have time, as if it were like a car that we possess. We share time with six billion other people on this earth. What we do have is space. I take up a certain amount of space during my life on this earth. Time is eternal. it belongs to God. When I meditate in stillness and quiet, trying to accomplish nothing, not moving through my space of tasks, I live in the moment. This is where time is experienced. Usually, we think of time as having a past, present and future. But that really is space moving along. Time only has the moment and the moment is now. God creates in the moment. To experience more the mystery of God, we live in the moment at some point each day. We stop moving through space. We stop accomplishing. I think that is what the Sabbath is all about. Stop working and be present to the moment, to God in time. We find it hard to stop doing things because we are addicted to accomplishments, to gadgets. We are controlled by things. We need a Sabbath rest just to let go of our addiction for one 24 hour period. Try it. Not just going to your church or synagogue for an hour, but for the whole 24 hours, try to not work, or accomplish something, or even to get into arguments. It is hard, no?

The Bottom

There was this fellow who could not stop his drinking bouts. Oh, he did stop, about a hundred times, with all sorts of resolutions. He just could not stay stopped. He kept losing things, cars, jobs, friends, home and health. Finally, one morning he woke up with a terrible hangover and thought seriously of killing himself. Then the light went on. He decided that his life was more important than drink. This is called "a bottom". As far as I know, he never drank again. Oh, he got the help he needed, for he knew alone, he was a goner.

When you are practicing ongoing bad behavior, hopefully the day will come before you lose all, that your realize the next thing you are about to lose is more precious than your bad behavior. That is your bottom. It is also called the beginning of conversion. Conversion is the ending of bad behavior and the beginning of a new way of living. Judas decided that guilt and shame trumped his life, so he killed himself. The Apostles decided that living, holed up in fear, cowardice and guilt was going to cost them a relationship with the Risen Christ. Christ was more important, so they lived, and became all Jesus believed they could be.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Two Guys

Once upon a time there were two guys. They loved to party together, drinking and staying out late, running around with all kinds of wildness. They both were young and had goals. One of the two guys decided that his partying was getting in the way of his goals. So he stopped partying. It is called growing up. The other fellow decided that his goals were getting in the way of his partying. so he lowered his goals in order to keep partying. This is called addiction.

Today? The first fellow is now a successful, caring doctor who can order one glass of wine at dinner and never even finish it. He got married and has children. The other guy? He lost everything including his life. You say, "So? That is not me." Maybe not the party part. The addict was consumed by one thing, one focus, to the detriment of other healthy things. There was no balance in his life. His soul thirsted. If you are unhappy, yet focused on one thing, one activity, above all others, then ask yourself what goals you dropped along the way to get to this dark place. I suspect that if we do not get a life, we will get an all too soon death.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Search

Instead of trying to figure out how to solve my problems, I try to find God and let God figure out how to solve my problems. When I spend time in quiet meditation, instead of trying to expend energy to fix the world, and you in particular, a shift seems to take place in my perspective. I seem to feel more whole, more peaceful, more accepting, while leaving you to be you. I cannot fix you. I cannot even fix me. But if I attend to God, I will be OK. I will be more who I am supposed to be. If you attend to God, on those days, when I am acting like an idiot, I won't bother you so much. Maybe your good example, on those days, might remind me to take a "time out" with God.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Look Where?

Recently someone said I should turn my eye glasses around. Weird, I thought. Suddenly, I realized what he meant. We wear eye glasses to see better the world out there. I was seeing all the faults and mess in people, places, and situations. My response was to whine, criticize and complain. I was unhappy, others were unhappy, and no one took my advice. Things did not change out there.

Turn my glasses around and take a better look at me, is what the fellow meant. I began to see better my own faults. I needed to work on me. Well, alone, I tried to work on me. I got no better. Daily resolutions, will-power, discipline, all seemed to come up short. I needed a daily booster. God is that for me. I find the boost in prayer, reading, and talking or listening to someone talk about issues that are like mine. As long as I begin the day, or soon into the day, focus on my faults, i.e. look within, that world out there seems not to make me so crazy. I lower expectations for you, but raise hopes for me. I see better on those days.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Look, The Touch, The Change

I don't think that Jesus was a good looking man. Why? Well, when God became human, God did not want people to be admiring the face, like a person admires a movie star. Jesus said, "Come follow me," that is listen to what he has to say, and how he acts. Don't get tied up in watching and worshipping the "look." What do many of us Catholics do? We don't follow Jesus. We make nice holy cards and statues, with a face that we can admire, that attracts us. We sit and look, but ignore the Sermon on the Mount, and the parables, and just go about with our bad behavior.

In John's Gospel, chapter 20: 19-31, Jesus wants his disciples to touch him so that they will believe he has a body, though a new, resurrected one. My belief in the Risen Jesus is not so much from what they say they saw, but in how they were so changed. In this Gospel the disciples are clueless and frightened. Eventually, they become courageous enough to witness to what they saw. To me, they could not have changed so much, had they not seen Jesus and received the Spirit breathed upon them. I want to change rather than just sit around looking at holy pictures and statues.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Touch

In Luke's Gospel, when Jesus rose from the dead, chapter 24, he appeared to the disciples and tried to convince them that he was not a ghost or a fantasm of their imagination. He ate some cooked fish and invited them to touch him. Why all this? Well, the pagan Greeks believed in the immortality of the soul. Something of us lived on. But this does not defeat death. Paul and Christians believe that death was the result of sin and Jesus came to free us up from the power of death, the power of our own faulty lives to defeat us. If the body does not rise after dying, than death wins out. Jesus reveals that nothing is going to beat God, not even death. So Jesus' rising is a body rising, not the exact same constitution as the body we lug around now, but our own body transformed by grace. We only get this eternal body if we let the one we got now die. It is better than trading in your old car, or getting new body parts from the orthopedic surgeon. Those new things can crash and burn, or wear out. The beyond death body has lifetime guarantees, eternal lifetime. Death is big and scary and so final when faith is small and full of doubts.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


In Peter's First Letter in the New Testament he tells slaves to obey even harsh masters. I thought that he was being soft on slavery, but as pondered it I realize that he has another agenda. Christ suffered harsh punishment unjustly. He was innocent. He did right and got beaten and then crucified. So to be punished unjustly is to follow Christ. To suffer unjustly without complaint is to follow Christ. That would take a whole lot of transformation for me to be able to live that way, much less suffer with that attitude. But then no one ever said transformation would be easy. Maybe true freedom is to not have your emotional response to a situation be controlled by another. A slave can be treated unjustly. The slave can respond in kind, and be treated even worse. The slave can go inward and feel hatred, self-pity, want revenge and let all those feelings have their way in him till it eats away the soul. Freedom however, might mean that the slave can forgive, and even pray for the master. Only Christ followers will have a choice.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Blessing

In the movie, "The Hunger Games" there is a blessing from a godless society. It goes like this: "May the odds be ever in your favor." Life for them is a matter of fate. There is no caring God. There is a little hope that the odds will favor you. Someone does have to win the games. You hope you will live, which means everyone else will be killed. In religious Belief there are so many beautiful blessings. We pray for good things for all of us. "May the wind be ever at your back." "May the face of God shine upon you." In the secular world, belief may seem odd, but it is never about odds, or chance or fate. It is really about love and the belief that there is plenty enough of it for all of us.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Where Is He?

In John's Gospel, chapter 20, Mary Magdelene is clinging to Jesus outside the empty tomb. He tells her to stop clinging to him, that he has to go to His Father and her Father, to his God and her God. What is this all about? Well, John is highly symbolic in his stories. He believe that God abides within us. This is his theology. Mary is trying to cling to Jesus outside of herself. She is searching for Jesus. By letting go of this outside search, she may be able to realize that he will dwell within her as he returns to God who lives within us. It takes us back to the Garden of Paradise. Our soul is the Paradise where God dwells. So Jesus is truly the gardener who brings the soul to bloom and bear fruit. Our bad behavior is what gets us separated from our interior life. Or we search for fulfillment in outside stuff such as gadgets, people, thrills. Those are never enough as we all come to know, no matter how much we cling to them. Beautiful religious art, buildings, rituals are are all meant to awaken us to the God within. They are not an end in themselves. Even the Bible is a pointer. God is beyond the mind, the visuals. If you are like Mary Magdelene, in tears because you cannot find your God, maybe stop clinging to outside things, even holy things. Be still. Be in some solitude and silence. For some people that would be a weird or different experience. No wonder we cannot enjoy the Divine Presence.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What's His Name

In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 26, the disciples ask Jesus where they are supposed to go for the Passover Supper. Jesus said that they should go to a "certain" man. It would be his house in which they would eat the Passover. In Spanish the translation is "so and so," or "what's his name". The rest of this section of the Gospel is all about Judas who got to sit at the table and eat with Jesus.

Now Judas' name is remembered for all time. The fellow who owned the house,
his name is anonymous. Now who would you rather be, an unforgettable name, or anonymous in this story? So then why do you try so hard to be remembered? Anonymous is better than you think when you are doing the Will of the One who made you. If you are loving, but people forget your name, it is not all bad. It might be all good!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Color of White

In "The Hunger Games" the soldiers of the ruling class wore white. In many places white was the color of the good guy. The bad guy always wore black. Remember Darth Vader in "Star Wars"? He wore black. I think that the "Games" movie was trying to say that the ruling class saw themselves as the civilizers, the ones who were keeping order amongst a rabble of lesser beings. They thought that they knew how things should be. If the masses were free to do whatever they wanted to do, it would be chaos. Freedom was not for all.

In Jesus day, I suspect that the Romans thought they were wearing the white hats when they got rid of him on the cross. It was a cruel, but necessary punishment to keep the peace. They did not know that he was "The King of Peace." In the Transfiguration on the mountain, he was the one in white. When he rose from the dead, he is pictured in white. His kingdom was not of this kind of "Hunger Games" world. But he did leave us with something that would connect us with his kingdom: Love one another. Love, even from your cross.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Oh Those Clothes!

In "The Hunger Games" the ruling class wore clothes that reminded me of the munchkins in "the Wizard of Oz." They all dressed the same in a fashion that displayed color and said, "Look at Me." How one looked on the outside was very important to the ruling class. Why? Because in a world without God, without a spiritual center, there are no insides to which we attend. It is a soulless people, that take joy in seeing others suffer and kill one another in what is called a "game."

The poor who live in the outer districts, on the other hand, dress on the outside in rather plain clothes, no color or flash. Yet it is from them that comes compassion, love, sacrifice, the things that make us brilliant of soul. So, how much time do you spend trying to look good on the outside? How much time do you spend in prayer, which dresses the insides of ourselves?

Sunday, April 8, 2012


In "The Hunger Games" the fear of the ruler was that the people might get too much hope if love won out in the Games themselves. Survival of the fittest, kill or be killed, was their preferred outcome. A little hope would allow the poor to continue to survive and provide for the ruling class. A lot of hope might incite change that was feared by the rulers.

The crucifixion and death of Jesus brought despair, and loss of hope for his followers. They gave into fear and did not change for the better. They had failed Jesus and would just go back to fishing or whatever else they did to survive before they met Jesus. Then came the Resurrection. This unexpected event brought a whole lot of hope, enough for these same followers to become changed persons. The ruling class kept trying to snuff them out, but could not. The Roman Empire? Gone today. Christianity of hope? Lives today, at least for some of us. Do you have Easter Hope? Or is today just another Sunday for a fitness run, pilates, zumba, or watching the final round of the Master's golf tournament? Or some other interest.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Hunger Games

Well, I am no movie critic, but I would not tell my friends to rush to see this one. But it reveals what a world could look like without God, without religion or a spiritual life. It would be a world without compassion. The president of the victorious ruling class sees problems with compassion. He wants none of it. It is dangerous to his rule. If you become willing to give up your life for another person, that causes problems in the whole balance of commerce. It is enough that the defeated class show some care among themselves. They have no power. But don't let this spread to the ruling class. Something besides "me" might become empowered. It is easy to control your people if they only care about themselves. The rulers will "sponsor" someone fighting survival, but only in a game.

I wonder if this is why people in power had problems with Jesus? He was willing to die for love of others. He showed compassion for the suffering and the poor. If this catches on it will upset the balance of life, the balance of power. You cannot control an idea or a community that is willing to suffer rather than protect themselves, willing to share what they have that others may have something. I think that is what Christianity is supposed to be. Followers of Jesus.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Consumerist

A young person said that their peers were threatened by becoming "consumerists" of holy communion. You can take it or leave it. It might make you feel better. We consume pills, drugs, booze, sex, movies, TV, music, and it all might make us feel better, for the moment. But none of these things will really change us. Communion is not supposed to be a pill for an upset soul.

Communion is the very opposite of self-focus. It is anything "but" all about me. It is a matter of touching the divine. How so? Well, Jesus said, "This is my body, which is given up for you." It was not just his body, with good things to fix us, but it was a body given up for us. All around him were nasty people who wanted their own self-will. Jesus was a nuisance or a threat. His response. Love. He forgave them, including the ones who nailed him to the cross and divided up his belongings. He did not hate or seek revenge, or curse anyone out, or even feel particularly sorry for himself. He died rather than hurt people. So impressive was his response that 2100 years later people still admire, talk about and even want to be more like him. The rest of the nasty people at the cross, no one talks about them at all.

Now, many people believe that Jesus' actions and even his person were divine, and still are. What he did was Godness in the flesh. So that wafer you eat is not just to fix you. It is to change you. Touch divine things and you get more divine. Touch dirt and you get dirtier. Now becoming more divine does not mean you will feel better right away. You might feel like your life is a bit more of a cross for a while. That is what transformation is all about. You live more for love of others, you forgive those who are nasty, and you chose to love even when you don't feel like it. Know anyone like that? Rare, those people. It is a tough way to grow. It is also the only way to grow. No wonder we avoid receiving holy communion on any regular basis. But what if transformation ultimately is quite a bit more happiness than you could ever imagine? Touch the divine too often and you might find out.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Hair For Whom

If people think about their hair at all, it is usually rather self-absorbing. i want to look good, or at least not dreadful. We speak about "bad hair" days. We wear or don't wear certain hats depending on our hair. Some people like their hair to call attention to themselves. a lot of money is made on hair products.

There is a woman named Mary, who perfumes Jesus' feet with precious oils, and then, get this, dries his feet with her hair. What a mess that might have made of her hair and appearance. People are all looking at her at the dinner party, as she does all this. In one sense, she is calling attention to herself, but to me, she is pointing to something outside of her, away from her. She is absorbed in another, Jesus, and does not worry so much about her appearance. Her dreadful look calls attention to someone else, not to herself. I know people who go out of their way to have dreadful hair, but it is to call attention to themselves. Mary probably had long beautiful, soft hair, that could indeed dry the oiled, perfumed feet of Jesus. Now, with her wrecked hair, both she and Jesus would share the same aroma or scent. Mary loved someone to the extent that she stopped thinking so much about Mary. Could this be the scent of love?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Washing Feet

In some Christian circles there is a foot washing ritual this week in church. It seems that foot washing had a special meaning in Hebrew circles. Abraham washed the feet of his visitors. He did that because they were from heaven or especially connected to things eternal or of God. His visitors were angels or God's own self. A woman washed Jesus' feet because she believed that he was especially of God. He was seen by her to be "heavenly."

Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. They were not heavenly at all. They were about to do all kinds of despicable things, such as lie, run away in a cowardly fashion, deny him. No angels in this crowd. So why did Jesus wash their feet? I suspect he did it because of the potential he saw in each one of them. In spite of their "imperfections," he believed in them, that they could become heavenly, more like himself. His washing their feet was in anticipation of what they could be some day. Jesus is the hopeful one. Well, don't each of us have this potential? Be hopeful. Go to church or wherever, and get your feet washed. Believe in yourself. Today's mess and tomorrow's right action could be all in the same person. Of course, a pedicure would be nice too!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Yesterday I was at 8,000 feet altitude in short sleeves. Today it is snowing in Boulder, at 5,000 feet altitude. Sudden change. People are like that too. One day Jesus comes into town and the crowd is praising him at a Savior King. A short time later, same town, same crowd, crying, "Crucify him!" Never put too much stake into the mood of the masses. One day they praise you, and the next day they condemn you or are angry about something for which they blame you. People are like that, no?

Really close friends, the few, will be a constant, yes. But others? One day your boss, your child, your spouse, your co-worker, are saying nice things, even wonderful things about you. The next day? People are like that. When everyone says how wonderful I am, I enjoy it for today, but have no expectations about tomorrow. This way I don't spend time in disappointment.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Passion

I have been reading the passion of Jesus according to Mark. Boy, did he pick a bunch of losers to be his followers and future leaders of the Community. They were cowards, a betrayer, a liar, and all disloyal. I bet there were some in the community who thought, "Couldn't we have gotten better than this?" So what was God thinking when these fellows were chosen? I don't know what God thinks, but it makes me think about my complaining about today's Church leaders. They have so many faults, in my opinion of course, but no more faults than the original prototypes. So if Jesus wanted the original Twelve or Apostles, and they were good enough for him, then maybe I better accept what we have today. We do believe in Grace, right? Jesus' followers did change. The Holy Spirit is at work, just not according to my plan.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

What's In A Word

Someone asked, "How are you?" and the person replied, "I am good." Strange. Good has expanded its meaning from an action, moral state of good or bad, to now a feeling of how you are. You don't so much do good actions, as you feel good. The neighborhood of feelings: happy, sad, joyous, jealous, has added good to its list. It seems strangely out of place but there it is. So what?

Well, I began to think about the word, "God." It is a name of a deity, the deity, but it also gets used as a feeling of surprise, as in, "Oh my God!" We don't say, "Oh my surprise." I do it myself. But then what happens when I mean to use the word "God" to refer to my Lord, the Divine Lover. I think the name God gets diminished or loses its specialness if I am more often using the same word to mean something else, a feeling of surprise. What happens when you decide to use the word "good" to refer to an action you did or the state of your moral character. You say, "I am good," and people think you mean a feeling. The word God will lose meaning and specialness if I use it for other purposes. I would be upset if people said, "Oh my Terry," when they mean surprise or their tummy aches. I want my name to refer to me and other Terrys in the world. I wonder how God feels about me using God's name for things unrelated to God? I don't want to find out too late! Maybe I will just begin to say, "Oh my goodness!" Well, there's that word "good" again. What to do?