Friday, August 31, 2018

Compassion's Gift

When you have compassion on someone, you receive a gift.  It is the gift of gratitude.  If you see someone who is drunk, all disheveled, and dirty, lying on the ground and you judge them as being say, worthless, or weak-willed, or a disgrace to humankind, you walk away totally disengaged with that person, and you get no gift of gratitude.  But if you see the same person and feel some connection with their pain, that would be compassion, "com passio" to suffer with.  You do not judge them, or go into false pride of how much better you are than that person.  Rather, you get the gift of gratitude, that you are not suffering his/her life and pain.  "There but for the grace of God go I."  Or, "Thank you God for the grace to have chosen a spiritual path that keeps me on a daily basis from a life of misery."  Then you might even see if there is some way to respond to the person lying heaped on the ground.  Maybe a simple hello, which recognizes their existence.  Maybe you will be the only one to say hello to that person all day.  Compassion closes the door on judgment and opens the way to gratitude.  We are all God's children.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Speak Little

St. Francis de Sales says that “to speak little does not consist in uttering only a few words, but in uttering none that are useless.”  It is not about saying nothing, but in not babbling which often comes from fear, or wanting to call attention to yourself.  Whenever I want to show off or put someone down, I tend to speak too many words.  I find that compliments, on the other hand, do not take many words.  When I offer advice, I simply tell people what works for me.  Maybe I should have shorter blogs?  Or no blogs at all?

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Dirty Cups

My mother taught me to clean the inside of a cup so that coffee and tea stains would not remain.  Clean the inside and the outside would be fine.   Don't be lazy and clean only the outside of the cup. At the monastery we each have our own cups which sit on a shelf with our name under our cup. I always clean the inside of my cup to this day.  But sometimes I will use a cup from the common stock of cups stored on the coffee cup shelf.  Stains on the inside of the cup!  I say, "Useless and worthless monks!"  My attitude is one of resentment and judgment.  If so, then maybe I ought to be cleaning the inside cup of my soul, and not just trying to look good on the outside, or focusing only the others and their perceived shortcomings.  Did not Jesus say, "Clean the inside of the cup, so the the outside also may be clean."  My daily spiritual life needs to focus on my insides or else I will be ever resentful and judgmental of the world around me.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Door To Happiness

Victor Frankl in, "The Doctor and the Soul," said that the door to happiness opens outward.  I think he was referring to Kierkergaard.  Anyway, the meaning is that happiness is relational, interpersonal and covenantal.  It reaches out, opens outward to others. When we bond with another person or persons, such as in community, where love rather than self-interest predominate, we tend to be happy.  People in recovery programs have discovered this.  People who live in small faith communities might discover this too, if their spiritual  practice is more about service than escape.  Loving families discover this. I know that I am in a bad spot, isolation, when I am asked to do something of service for another person, and I cringe, or try to find a reason to say no, or suddenly feel resentful that my "plans" might be interrupted or curtailed.  That is why being of service is always a corrective to the "selfing" life, and always a revealer of how I am doing.  If "Yes" is my second response to a request, then I am living the redemptive life.  

Monday, August 27, 2018

Stay Or Leave

Joshua 24, Ephesians 5: 21-32, John 6: 60-69
August 26, 2018, Snowmass Trappist Monastery

The questions asked in Joshua and John are the questions many a Catholic are asking themselves today.  Joshua asks, who will cross the line and join me?  Jesus asks Peter, “Do you also want to leave?”  Catholics are asking themselves theses questions about their church.  I too had to ask and answer this question for myself some years ago.  

I was 13 and an altar boy.  One of the priests was kind of “icky.”  I did not much care for him but he one day invited me to his room to see something that must of been of interest to me.  So I went.  As I was sitting as a desk he stripped down to his shorts and tank top.  When he did not change into some other pants, I thought that this might be a time to go.  So I did.  Years later, I heard that he had been found out and disbarred or whatever they do to priests.  Another fellow, a layman, wanted to start a summer boys day camp.  He seemed like a nice guy and it was cheap.  I enjoyed it, but found out years later that eventually “something happened” and he was not allowed to ru the camps anymore.  Finally, there was a fellow in town not connected with church at all, who helped local boys baseball teams, with equipment, league organization and such.  I met him once and he seemed like a nice guy though I never joined in the teams.  Years later he was tried and found guilty I believe.  This all happened in the 50s. 

But I decided to stay with the church just as did Peter in the gospel.  He did not say, “Where should we go” as in going to some other place, but rather he said, “To WHOM shall we go.”  It is about relationship with Christ.  I have this relationship with Christ that is fed by the Eucharist and this holds me.  But if I am going to cross the line as Joshua challenges, there is more that I must do.  Joshua says, “Decide whom you will serve.”  He did not say that by crossing the line, anyone would get power, control, complete authority.  No, he said “serve.”  Jesus was about service. 

If you want to join, or lead, you had better be of service, such as washing feet of disciples, rejection by people in power, crucifixion and such.  Which brings me to the letter to Ephesians.   Paul calls us Brothers and Sisters.  We are all interconnected in this.  We are supposed to be subordinate to one another that is, to serve one another.  If you are the head, as the husband is supposed to be in marriage, as in this reading, you are the first servant of your wife.  Being a leader in the Christian community is not something you seek.  The first are last.  The church lives in a hierarchical model based upon the Roman government.  The top guy has all the power.  No checks and balances.  In Jesus’ community the top is the bottom.  But families developed with the idea that the male is boss, that is, in charge to get his way.  Jesus did not come with that model.  The only reason you break from being servant is if your partner does not love their flesh, which includes the other person, you.  “The two become one flesh” in the bible.  If one person is on drugs and alcohol then you have to take charge, or if they hurt you, you have to take charge.  

In AA, leaders are servants.  If you lead a meeting, you serve the needs of all at that meeting.  If you sponsor someone, you give up of time and energy to help the recovering addict through the steps.  Meetings give you comfort, but being of service gives you sobriety.  This is more what Jesus had in mind than the top down power grab of Roman rule.  

It is correct to be outraged and want some change, but the question that might be asked is the one I had to ask myself some years ago.  Do I have a relationship to Jesus Christ that is fed by the Eucharist, becoming one with his flesh, and am I willing to be of service?  I have found the being of 

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Power And Love

Many people seem to want a god of power so that their power god can fix things, prevent bad things and keep good things going.  But what if God does not care much for power, but does care about love.  Why? The power god fixes things for people, or they so hope.  The God of Love wants people to fix things.  God is about relationship that bonds.  There is a bible story for this.  There was a king who had all power, and a servant who had no power but was in debt to the king, big time.  The servant cannot pay up.  So the power decision of the king is to sell the servant, his family and belongings to recover the debt.  The servant begs and whines.  The king becomes a king of compassion now.  He forgives the debt, not postpones it, but forgives it.  The hope is that now the servant will do likewise with others and the world will be less fractured.  But the servant does not learn from the king.  The servant goes to someone who owes him a debt and cannot pay.  First a beating and then off to prison goes the debtor. The king then goes back to the power game and punishes his servant.  What do we learn?  God shows us a way, by forgiveness and compassion.  This makes for a world more whole.  We are then supposed to do likewise with one another.  When we do not, our world becomes fractured and we are all broken by bad behavior.  Asking God to make things right when we won't is insane.  I pray for sanity each day.

Saturday, August 25, 2018


When I try to be a friend to someone, I hope that I am bringing them a little bit of happiness and lessening the pain in their life.  In my actions and my manner, I ask myself, "Am I bringing a bit of happiness or lessening pain?"  I think that a friendship can be longterm if I keep these thing in mind.  Some people see  "progression" in a relationship, that is, we move from friendship to sex.  Not just young people do this.  "We are friends.  We enjoy one another's company.  Let's go to bed and make love." For most people this progression is soon followed by the last step, which is a breakup with pain and unhappiness on one or both of the couple.  It is not that longterm friendship does not think about sex.  Thoughts and emotions about sex are just that.  You don't have to act on them.  This is what I like about true recovery of a spiritual practice.  It is not just the practice of meditation, yoga, walk in the woods, etc. It is about how you then live out your life with another person.  Intimacy does not mean you have to take your clothes off.  Intimacy is a slow gradual process.  It takes patience, trust and hope.  You will learn to listen.  You will learn to speak from the heart.  It is in our DNA.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Private Property

Private property, a bedrock of capitalism, is not much for sharing.  "I have mine.  You get yours."  If there is sharing it is called charity.  Capitalism has done a lot of good things, but individualism as part of its economic religion does not do much for the have nots.  "If they would only work," say those who have.  Charity or government taxes fill in for those who have not, and in some places that is never enough.  It was no better in feudal times when the Lord of the Manor owned all the land and people got to work it for a fee or tax.  Fail to pay the tax, and you were out.  Charity, steal, prostitution or Robin Hood were some options.  It seems that what is missing is a sense that we are all interconnected, relational, rather than separate.  You are a person because you are in relationship with others in a sharing manner.  "Tribe" might be the image. Everyone tended t work in a tribe because they felt a relational connection with one another.  "Advanced" people thought that "Tribe" was primitive, backward, economically deficient.  Lots of such modern thinkers go to religious worship.  But their Scriptures are tribal.  Maybe avarice makes us illiterate?

Thursday, August 23, 2018


Some people believe that once they stop practicing an addiction, everything should be fine.  Life will be good and virtue easier to do.  Not so.  Why?  You stop bad behavior, should not good behavior move in as a replacement?  Think of bad behavior, addiction, bad habits, as things that start out small, but over time progress, deepen, worsen, become habitual.  A person might be a blackout drinker from the beginning, but they don't drink every day.  They do not yet crash cars, lose jobs, and get divorces. They don't start out living in parks and shelters due to booze and drugs.  The disease or habit increases over time until it kills you or you decide to change out of desperation.  So why should the solution begin full blown?  New behavior takes time. Recovery is as progressive as was the outrageous lifestyle you once lived.  The good news is that if you continue on the spiritual path to better behavior, there will be steady improvement, maybe with some rough patches, but everyone has those days.  Patience and practice.  Are you having a bad day?  You probably know what to do, but have not done it.  Go to the spiritual tool kit.  Doing nothing is never doing nothing.  For many people it is the beginning of the way back to the darkness.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Shame And Love

Why do some churches tell people to love their neighbor while at the same time delivering shame and guilt for our human imperfections, our failure to follow the rules, or even wear the right clothes to worship service?  It seems to me that if you shame and guilt someone then they will not love themselves very much.  If you don't love yourself, why would you love others?  You might be co-dependent, but that is not love.  I know I am imperfect.  Being constantly reminded of that is not very good news.  The wisdom saying that Jesus quoted is, "Love your neighbor as you love yourself."  Love yourself in your humanness and then you can love others who are also imperfect human beings.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Too Literal

We Westerners tend to take things too literally, in part because we know little about myth and storytelling as a way to express truth.  We tend to the scientific.  The Ancients did not do this.  They spoke in metaphor, or symbol because truth is hard to pin down literally.  Example: in Psalm 119 in the Bible it says, "How sweet to my palate are your promises, sweeter than honey to my mouth."  This refers to the idea of examining closely some piece of scripture.  The metaphor is that you "eat the scroll."  Eating means meditating or pondering some truth to get at its deeper meaning.  The prophet Ezekiel is told to eat the scroll and then to proclaim it.  Westerners would assume today that you eat the paper.  If I were to tell someone new to AA that they should "eat the Big Book," they would probably begin to tear pages and eat them.  What I would of course mean, is that they should read the book closely, slowly and more than once, stopping when something strikes them and ponder it.  Science can give up facts, but meaning is something else.  You have information, but what does it mean?  For this you have to "eat" of what you hear, read and experience.

Monday, August 20, 2018


In his book, "Just Mercy," by Bryan Stevenson, which is all about our criminal justice system or lack thereof, he refers to people who are "stone catchers."  This goes back to the Bible story about a woman caught in the act of adultery for which capital punishment was death by stoning.  Stone catchers are those people who act in ways to prevent such things from happening by acts of mercy for instance.  Stone catchers get in the way of systems that seek to punish people with death for their offenses.  I think that whenever we simply decide to not judge another person for their imperfections, much less the color of their skin, or their economic status,  we are stone catchers.  Whenever we walk away from gossip we are stone catchers.  We are all wounded in some way or another.  Judging others might be but a bandaid on our own wounds.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Trophies And Awards

There is a debate going on about giving awards to everyone simply for participation.  There are no losers, and for that matter, no winners.  The “for” side says that it enhances self-esteem.  The agin’ side says that it limits people pushing themselves.  Personally, I found that awarding the winners and those who do well, was a good thing.  One, it made the award special to me.  I saved all my running medals, gold, silver, bronze and put them on a board that I hung in my room for years.  Two, I found out what I was good at and what I was not good at, and the sense of failure, did not so much lower my self-esteem, as get me to give up what I was bad at, and go on to what I was good at.  I could not hit the curve ball, so I gave up baseball.  I took up cross-country running.  Failure was the indication to me to move on to something else.  No one is good at everything.  I think that self-esteem comes from doing what you do well, rather than from getting participation awards.  No one wants to hire and pay me for simply showing up and doing a so so job for the wage.

Saturday, August 18, 2018


Ann Voskamp, who wrote the book, "One Thousand Gifts," said, "Never be afraid of being a broken thing."  She was referring to the wisdom saying, that the seed must die to produce the fruit.  Think of how you get fresh baked bread.  The ground must be broken up (plowed) to receive the grain of seed.  Then the seed must be broken to begin to produce the wheat.  The sky has to be broken to produce the rain.  The harvested wheat must be broken to give us the bread, and finally, the bread must be broken to eat at the feast.  Being broken is very much part of becoming what we are supposed to be.  Brokenness is part of our spiritual, full development.  Are you a broken thing?  It is not the end.  You are not  failure.  You may well be on the Way.  More will be revealed.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Saintly Shift

At one time early on in Christianity, those who were considered saints were looked at as examples of a way of life.  Some were martyrs, but many were not.  By and by, over time, believers began to lower the bar of what it was to be a Christian.  Instead of trying to live like the saints as in "Follow me," they began to pray to the saints to get things.  Saints became heavenly go-betweens for whatever you wanted to get or avoid.  St. Christopher was for travelers.  St. Blaise was for healthy throats.  St. Barbara was for protection against lightening.  I thought she was for parking places.  Who is the one for parking places?  Anyhow,  fewer believers cared to see in these saints a way to follow Christ, and saw the saints as more of a way to have a better life.  It was part of the shift of Christianity as a communal religion of service to one another, to a more private, individual effort for personal salvation, and a better life on earth.

Thursday, August 16, 2018


I posted two pictures recently of me with a big dog, named Jack.  I was on a couch watching a movie.  Jack was beside me watching too.  Good movie for dogs and people.  Now I don't get a lot of hits for my blogs, but boy I got a lot of FB hits for Jack and me on the couch.  I guess people like dog pictures more than my blogs and that is OK.  I am trying to accept being not so important, and Jack helps me in this.  You see, I am not special to Jack.  He likes everyone.  But this is key for me.  I don't need someone or some dog to like me special over and above anyone else.  I just like being liked by Jack and people.  Let's stop trying to find people who like us so that we will feel special, unique.  It appeals to self-importance, and soon bondage to self, and self-centeredness.  I am just glad that anyone likes me, including dogs.  A good day for me is when I don't have to be special.  This blog isn't very special is it!  Oh well, there is always Jack.  He cannot read, but he does like mystery movies.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018


Today, in Catholic circles, the Feast of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, is celebrated.  Is this literal or myth?  Well, for many a Catholic it is literal, a faith based upon facts.  If it is a fact, then it is true.  If not a fact, then it is false, and so it goes for many a Catholic.  The Assumption says that Mary, after she died, or "fell asleep in death," did not get buried.  She went up to heaven, all 100 plus pounds of her.  Staying with the "facts" she would be the only one with this kind of a body in heaven, wherever that might be.  Even Jesus had a "Resurrected body." Now God can do anything, so many believers have no problem with this, but others are quite puzzled.  Now what if the Assumption is really truth in myth and symbol?  Then it might be a way that the Ancients used the myth of a special person ascending to the realm of the gods.  In other words, the teaching is for the pagan mentality which believed in myths as a way to express truth.  Cristians were trying to speak in a language appropriate to converting pagans.  Assumption is then speaking about union with the Divine that comes about through how one lives one's life.  Mary lived her life in a singularly spiritual manner, such that she is in union with the divine like no other person.  She did not literally go up into the sky with her 100 plus pound body.  The truth, I suggest, is not in body assumption, but in how she lived.  The significance of Assumption is to ask ourselves how we are living so as to deepen our union with the divine.  See Mary's life as an example.  How about Acceptance!  Surrender!  Your will, not mine be done!  Trust in God when your child is murdered!  Yeh, its a lot easier to just believe the bodily assumption.  It lets the ego live.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Potter

I think of creation and its ongoing activity with stars forming, becoming super novas, blowing up, black holes and new stars, galaxies, planets forming, as something done by "The Potter."  A potter works on creating something and when it is not quite finished, or quite as she might want it, she takes it apart and reusing the same clay, and maybe some new clay, continues to create the pottery.  The attitude of the potter is, "not quite."  That is, things are not quite as they can be or the potter envisions it.  I am like a mound of clay and the "Great Potter" is working on me.  I am "not quite." When I am unbalanced, not quite all that I can be, the Potter takes me apart a bit and works on me some more.  Spiritual growth is the "not quite," not yet all that I am meant to be.  I can only hope that being completed shattered is behind me, that I am on more of a continuum to some completion of the Potter's plan for me.  I don't think that death will end the process.  I may not be in this human flesh, but as with all creation, once you are, you are.

Monday, August 13, 2018

We, Not Me

HOMILY, Sunday, August 12, 2018
John 6: 41-51
Someone reminded me that the first step of the twelve step recovery program begins with the word, “we” and not “me.”  The wisdom of “we” is that no one recovers alone, no one develops a spiritual life in isolation.  I have met people who say they do not drink or drug, but “don’t go to meetings anymore.”  It reminds me of many a Christian who wants there holy communion each week but is otherwise not much interested in anyone else in church or their neighborhood or place of work.  They interact when they need to, but otherwise tend to be judgmental, with a lack of kindness or compassion.  But that very holy communion was an act of friendship and bonding on the part of Christ.  “This is my body and blood” sounds like a rather intimate act.  I think that Jesus was about oneness amongst differences.  It is in community that we grow, learn acceptance, forgiveness, and compassion.  The Western brand of Institutioal religion tents to singularity.  The idea of “more” means that someone else will have less.  That is how it works out.  In recovery programs, people are always reaching out to be helpful to the person who is feeling “less recovered.”  The giving of time and self, gets people out of a bondage to self.  Bondage to self is a subtle foe.  It can show up in self-improvement programs, religion, even meditation when they all keep a person focused on self.  After I meditate, or go to the gym, or do a long run, stretch, I must ask myself, “Who might need some help today?”  If I am spiritually fit, God will show me the next right thing.  I need to be a “we” or I will be a disaster.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Wheat And Weeds

Do you sometimes feel like a weed that does not fit in, is not wanted, nor belongs in the wheat world around you?  Well, Barbara Brown Taylor, in one of her stories sees a place for wheat and weeds to serve one another.  Let the wheat and weeds grow together.  When the reapers come along, they gather the wheat to bake bread.  The weeds are then gathered and made into bricks for the oven that will bake the bread.  Everyone gathers together to enjoy the fresh baked bread, thanks to the weeds that baked it.  No one is useless.  Everyone belongs.  We all need one another. And don't be labeling yourself.  We are all shining like the sun, but many of us don't know it or see it in ourselves and in one another.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

The Weaver

I learned about the weaver bird’s wisdom.  It builds its nest upside down to hang off of very thin branches.  One nest per branch.  To get to the op[ening of the nest the weaver has to come up underneath to feed the young.  Why, you ask?  Predators.  Squirrels and snakes cannot get a grip on the thin branch and are too heavy, so they simple fall to the ground.  The weaver neither fights nor flights from danger, but rather figures out how to live in some harmony with those who might otherwise do it harm for their own food desires, the weaver eggs in the nest.  What to learn?  Instead of fight or flight when we perceive danger or opposition, there might also be a chance for “flow.”  How can you flow with those around you so you can all live together given everyone’s seeming separate needs.  The weaver is not close buddies with the snake and the squirrel, but the bird has found a way to survive and live in the same community as these other animals.  Smart bird.

Friday, August 10, 2018


The Virgin Birth

If God is the Creator of all, and in Genesis God says, “It is good,” meaning all of creation.  Sex is part of God’s creation.  When God came into the world as Jesus, why would God bypass sexual intercourse, which is part of God’s good creation?  This brings me to the Virgin Birth.  Is it factual or symbolic?  If it is factual, how do the facts help you to live the teachings of Jesus?  My sense is that for many, factual is comforting, but does little to to make one a follower of Jesus.  It is also easier for many people to be told what to think rather than how to think.  Only in religion do people seem to find comfort in being told what to think.  Comfort is often about the fear of death and afterlife.  It is easier to believe the right teaching, than to live the Jesus life.  Jesus did not talk about Virgin Birth.  He did talk about the Sermon on the Mount.  I am fine with Virgin as in my Creed, but many are not.  The virgin birth is difficult for some folks to believe… here’s another way to look at it.

 I want to attempt to look at it symbolically.  Each one of us is energy from the Big Bang.  Creation is all about change, chemistry/physics change.  A super nova star comes into existence, lives and then runs out of energy to hold itself together and blows up making for a chemical reaction that goes on to make our solar system, planet earth and us. Modern science has revealed these connections.  This earth life is where our energy becomes human, bodily, personal.  I become me, the human, Terry Ryan.  

Creation is the incarnation of God, in all things, all matter and energy. All is God. Human life has been evolving for a long time before Jesus came along.  There has been a lot of unique God-bearers, full of love for centuries before Jesus.  But at some point, the Creator is going to reveal how this energy is going to come together, in a heightened fashion, a process that has not happened yet in time. It might be called, “The Fullness of Time.” This is the conception and birth of Jesus.  Call it Virginal because it is new and powerful, the most human that God can be, but not unrelated to the way humans come into existence.  It is what happens when the Creator takes on a human body like never before.   It could be a birth that points to the future since creation is evolving.  Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life and live it to the full.”  The way that Jesus lives his life and his teachings, so filled with the Divine that it is pointing to the way we can live both now and toward the future.  Jesus is the Divine, the Creator, in flesh, pointing to a near and distant future.  We have potential. He has fullness.  His humanness gives us hope we can follow.  

When we live according to Jesus’ teachings we are energized.  Our bodily chemistry has a spiritual dimension that  activates this energy and is manifested in daily life.  It is called, “Love.”  God is Love, the fulness of life.  Now why is Mary called Virgin?  It is not about having no husband or no sex.  Sex is not the focus or non-focus.  It is about the power of woman, especially in cultures where she is diminished.  She has the power to hold in her body for all those months, the quickening, or fullness of the Spirit that animates all creation.  She is not obliterated by it.  What is her power?  It is her ability to say “Yes,” to something new, “virginal” as God is bringing her into a future that she does not fully understand.  It is trust, hope, love and cooperation, all the things one needs to live the Gospel Jesus proclaimed.  It is called Grace. It will make Mary, all that Mary has the potential to be.  

So Mary is still special, still unique, and still a model of “follower” of Jesus.  She is still with the title, “Virgin” and God-Bearer, and lots of other titles,  but all this is to challenge us to allow our own bodily energy to quicken, to unleash the chemical/spiritual processes to make us all that God created us to be.  To say yes to Grace.  Be God-bearers.  Love is what will bring us along into a new future that becomes a bit more present as we live it.  Jesus’ teaching gives us the Love map.  

Jesus is God’s plan for humankind in the evolving future as it is lived now uniquely in Jesus.  He is God in all the fullness of the Creator’s plan.  He can do all these miracles and teach all this wisdom, and forgive all the power hungry religious rule makers, because that is what a God-filled person can do.  We are not there yet, but we can draw a bit closer to the Jesus way by living as he lived, in love, his way of love.  
When Jesus dies, he is dead.  No pretend.  It is as the Big Bang meant creation to be, but God reveals that death is not the end of life.  Resurrection is not afterlife.  There is no after.  There is change of how energy connects, functions.  He reveals an energized future, all those electrons, photons, and so on, if you will, of Jesus, reforming as something new, but also connected to the earthly body. It is the Divine of Jesus pointing ahead. Energy is never extinct, or at least not yet.  Jesus can be recognized, talk, eat, but function in new ways, such as suddenly appearing, and then disappearing.  He is what we are all called to: “A fuller life.”   Will believing a creed do it for you, when simply told what to believe?  Maybe.  Does it energize you to live the Sermon on the Mount?  If so, then you are good to go.  

I am trying to make sense of all this for the many who have heard the creed, found it incredulous and watched how congregations and individual believers live.  Then they have walked away.  Plus they may have read a bit about science, chemistry, physics, astronomy, most of which Aristotle and Plato did not have.  God’s universe is expanding, changing, evolving.  Maybe our explanations of belief need to keep up.  Or maybe I will just burn. 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Gardener

I am puzzled as to why Christians who receive Holy Communion, make a big deal out of it, but practically ignore their neighbor sitting in the pew or chair in church.  Look at the scene in the cemetery garden where Mary Magdalen is weeping tears of love for her dead friend.  She looks up and sees what?  A gardener is what she sees.  It is the risen Jesus, but I guess he looks pretty ordinary even if he is risen.  He speaks her name with love.  Now her love connects with his love and she sees more than the ordinary gardener.  The point?  The ordinary is never ordinary.  Those Christians sitting together in their church chairs or pews are all "shining like the sun."  They are God-filled, but all the attention is on the host they just consumed.  The host is like Jesus in the garden, risen in all the fullness of God. It looks ordinary, but it is not.  It is supposed to awaken our love and insight into the beauty of one another, that we might reverence the sacredness in one another, maybe speak a word of recognition or welcome.  Alas, it is more like grocery shopping.  Everyone is individually shopping for the food of their own eternal salvation, a place in heaven.  They are doing fine individually loving their God, but they forgot that the wisdom saying was, "Love God and neighbor."

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Prepare The Soil

Before you plant a seed, you need to prepare the soil to receive the seed so it can germinate and grow.  Mediation is what we do when we are preparing the soil of our inner self.  We are opening the ground of ourselves to receive what God wants to seed in us.  We don't provide the seed.  God does.  Now if you don't believe in a god, and are into the 12 step program, the 11th step is where you prepare the soil of your inner self to receive the Power with which you have been enjoying the miracle of stopping your addictive behavior.  You are opening the soil of yourself to be of service.  But you don't know yet what kind of service will be asked or best suits you at this time.  The "seed" is planted to show you the way and give you the power to actually do service, be selfless.  If you believe in none of this, step program or God, meditation still is preparing the soil of your inner self to be the best that you can be.  How does this happen?  You might ask the same thing of the seed you planted in the ground or pot with soil all prepared.  A miracle!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

More Air Supply

As people enter the venue for the music concert, we are separate individuals, with our own issues, wounds, current concerns, and we sit down in our parade seats.  We know in our heads that we are all there for a common purpose, but we as do not feel like a community bonded in that purpose.  Then Air Supply comes on stage and performs.  As the evening moves along, we begin to sing the familiar songs along with the performers.  We begin to stand, move together to the music.  We become a community of a shared experience that fills our bodies.  Afterwards we talk about and share our experience of the evening.  Unfortunately, church worship gatherings lack most of this.  These are too often non-communal experiences of singular people, staying separate from one another, each in their individual space.  They do not sing much at all, even if they know the words.  When the people file out no one talks much about the wonderful liturgy experience that they all shared.  That is why Christmas Eve services are so special because people feel some communal sense of one another together in some bonded fashion with familiar songs they all sing together.  I have experienced great communal church worship services and they are wow moments.  But they are rare in institutional religion for me.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Air Supply

Last night I took three women to the concert given by “Air Supply” a favorite group of mine.  They are not so much a group as two Australians who have been entertaining for 44 years, with lots of my favorite hit tunes.  The ladies are Moms, and Grandmoms, and all have lots of responsibilities.  But for this concert they got to put all aside and just be girls having fun, clapping and swaying to the music.  We even had an outdoor picnic before the concert.  I not only enjoyed the concert but enjoyed seeing them have such a good time.  One of the ways that I think we can love our friends is to help them to get out of their daily routines, work and other responsibilities and just have good healthy fun.  Unfortunately, I might have scandalized these good Catholic girls with my non-priestly singing along, clapping, dancing at my seat, and swaying along with the crowd.  I got into just being a guy having fun.  Can priests do that?  If you see someone on Facebook proported to be me exhibiting wild behavior or bubbling happiness, that would be me...doing a good deed!

Sunday, August 5, 2018


Many young women, though not all,  come into addiction recovery programs with their baggage of loneliness.  It is of course not a unique feeling to them.  We all have it to some extent now or again.  These young women are beautiful, talented, and aching in the heart.  What is rare for many of them is a relationship with someone to whom they are attracted without sex, drugs and alcohol.  As they recover from the drug/alcohol, they still have a talent deficit in relationships with someone to whom they are attracted.  If they go out with someone and have fun together, enjoy each other's company, their recovering mind says, "Oh, we are dating.  We will make love."  Loneliness, undiagnosed, tends to lead them to jumping into things too soon.  You might say, "Sex is no big deal."  That is the problem.  Sex ought to be a big deal.  As a "no deal" it will not help with loneliness.  We all need to learn to be in company with people we love, enjoy, to whom we are attracted, without taking our clothes off or think "we are dating" as some prelude to something else.  In time, and with some spiritual practice, we can all discover that some of our best friendships come with our clothes on.  It is a good way to recover from loneliness.

Saturday, August 4, 2018


I hear people in addiction recovery programs say they use the "tools" of the program so that they do not drink.  I see a growth progression in this that could benefit us all.  For instance, a person uses step ten to make an apology to someone for a wrong.  The addict does this "so that I don't drink."  At this point, it is to stay away from their addiction.  In time, they will progress to where they do things, use their tools of recovery, to become better persons.  They make an apology because they are trying to grow up in every phase of their life.  They are beginning to love themselves.  Earlier, they might have done a good deed because they are tired of being miserable. It is about survival not love of self.  With time, they begin to love themselves enough to believe they have enough goodness in them to be a good person, to develop the virtuous life.  Finally, they will begin to love others such that they will apologize for something because they sense a bonding, a love, a connection of the heart with the other person.  Loneliness begins to fall away.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Personal Salvation

Why do Christians make their religion one of personal salvation?  “Are you saved?”  “Do you believe?”  I thought that religion was supposed to be a program of action in the here and now.  We are not supposed to simply put up with this world, or be all about self on a daily basis, the success train of personal happiness.  It seems to me that religion is Love.  It is an action path, which is more than worship and following rules to get browny points for the afterlife.  What is “after” anyway?  Or “before” for that matter.  There is life, some of it as part of this earth in flesh and blood.  I have always been and will always be, but my earth time is to practice the program of love, self-less love. Love all the creation around me, not just people.  Love the earth.  I am part of it. This life is earthtime.  So if you are having one of those “I am not enough and no one will ever love me” days, recycle, pick op trash, call someone who has disappeared from life’s center stage. Will anyone say thank you? Me. Thank you.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Sign Of The Cross

Catholics are taught early on to make the sign of the cross.  There are various ways of doing it, but the idea is that we want to have an attitude of “becoming less.”  Less of what?  Less of a person who wants to be “more” as in more power, control, security, center of attention, popular, beautiful, rich, things we don’t need, to name a few.  The wisdom saying, “Lose your life to find your life,” would begin to make sense here.  The whole ageing process, getting old, is one of “less.”  We are losing a lot as we age.  But maybe we become wisdom figures and get more comfortable with “being the real me.”  We prioritize better when we are not so much into “more.”  We take up less space so that others may have some more needed space.  We downsize when we are older.  For the younger person, they spend more time, money and energy on becoming “noticed,” or popular, with accessories.  Disappearing from being the center of attention is really the contemplative way.  I have found it so in the monastery. Have all my friends forgotten me?

Wednesday, August 1, 2018


If you decide to approach someone you don’t like, to say, “I am sorry,” or “I apologize,” a way to make the best of it is to go with the attitude of helpfulness and forgiveness toward this person who you find disagreeable.  Will it make them change?  Not your job.  You are going to this person so that you will change for the better.  For recovery people you can find this in the eighth and ninth step of the twelve step program.  There is something about wanting to be helpful, or at least offering to be helpful to another person that does me good.  For one thing, it gets me out of myself.  Most of us know that when having a bad patch of time, we feel better when we do something helpful for another person or group.  Whining just makes a bad time continue as a bad time.  I try to be sufficiently helpless so that when a friend is having a stressful day at work, they can do something nice for me and we both feel better.  If there are no helpless people around you how will can ever be of service?  Oops!  I might be a little into self.  Better go do something good for someone.