Reflection on mountains and the environment: inspired by this week’s guest speaker.

A mountain keeps an echo deep inside itself. That’s how I hold your voice. — Rumi

We do not need to plan or devise a “world of the future”; if we take care of the world of the present, the future will have received full justice from us. A good future is implicit in the soils, forests, grasslands, marshes, deserts, mountains, rivers, lakes, and oceans that we have now, and in the good things of human culture that we have now; the only valid “futurology” available to us is to take care of those things. We have no need to contrive and dabble at “the future of the human race”; we have the same pressing need that we have always had – to love, care for, and teach our children. — Wendell Berry

Songa about mountains:

Questions to consider:

  • What is your favorite mountain to climb? Why?
  • With whom do you prefer to hike and climb? What do you offer to your companions and what do they offer to you?
  • Are mountains holy to you? Where else in the land do you find holy places?
  • Or do you think holiness resides within you? Do you carry holiness within you to the places that you experience as sacred?

On Mountains

Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you. ― David McCullough Jr.

If adventure has a final and all-embracing motive, it is surely this: we go out because it is our nature to go out, to climb mountains, and to paddle rivers, to fly to the planets and plunge into the depths of the oceans… When man ceases to do these things, he is no longer man. – Wilfrid Noyce

If you are faced with a mountain, you have several options. You can climb it and cross to the other side. You can go around it. You can dig under it. You can fly over it. You can blow it up. You can ignore it and pretend it’s not there. You can turn around and go back the way you came. Or you can stay on the mountain and make it your home.— Vera Nazarian

You are not in the mountains. The mountains are in you.  — John Muir

Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more that what we could learn from books. – John Lubbock

You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so… get on your way! — Dr. Seuss

You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen.– Rene Daumal

I want that love that moved the mountains.
I want that love that split the ocean.
I want that love that made the winds tremble.
I want that love that roared like thunder.
I want that love that will raise the dead.
I want that love that lifts us to ecstasy.
I want that love that is the silence of eternity.
— Rumi

Reflections on liberty of thought and action: themes for Independence Day weekend.

Peace is liberty in tranquility. — Marcus Tullius Cicero

Real change in the world will only come from a change of heart. — Dalai Lama

A hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people. — Maya Angelou

Every human has four endowments – self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom… The power to choose, to respond, to change. — Stephen Covey

Did I offer peace today?
Did I bring a smile to someone’s face?
Did I say words of healing?
Did I let go of my anger and resentment?
Did I forgive?
Did I love?
These are the real questions.
I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now
will bear many fruits,
here in this world and the life to come.
— Henri Nouwen


Song about freedom:

Questions to consider:

  • Whom do you know who feels that they don’t have equal access to opportunities and basic rights? Shelter? Food? Water? Education? Voting? Employment? Religion? Speech? Thought? Press and media? Love?
  • What is the difference between rights and privileges?
  • How do we balance individual freedoms and societal/constitutional freedoms?

Freedom of Action

There are two good things in life – freedom of thought and freedom of action. — W. Somerset Maugham

As individuals we can influence our own families. Our families can influence our communities and our communities can influence our nations. — Dalai Lama

Well, one works at it, certainly. Being free is as difficult and as perpetual — or rather fighting for one’s freedom, struggling towards being free, is like struggling to be a poet or a good Christian or a good jew or a good Moslem or a good Zen Buddhist. You work all day long and achieve some kind of level of success by nightfall, go to sleep and wake up in the next morning with the job still to be done. So you start all over again. — Maya Angelou

To be blessed with visions is not enough…we must live them! — High Eagle

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. — Martin Luther King Jr

Without freedom, creativity cannot flourish. The right to freedom is crucial to progress in any society; and the context is having a sense of global responsibility. — Dalai Lama

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves. — Abraham Lincoln

There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires. — Nelson Mandela

Brute force, no matter how strongly applied, can never subdue the basic human desire for freedom. — Dalai Lama

I believe in Liberty for all men: the space to stretch their arms and their souls, the right to breathe and the right to vote, the freedom to choose their friends, enjoy the sunshine, and ride on the railroads, uncursed by color; thinking, dreaming, working as they will in a kingdom of beauty and love. — W. E. B. Du Bois

You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom. — Malcolm X

You rarely have time for everything you want in this life, so you need to make choices. And hopefully your choices can come from a deep sense of who you are. — Fred Rodgers

Our present idea of freedom is only the freedom to do as we please: to sell ourselves for a high salary, a home in the suburbs, and idle weekends. But that is a freedom dependent upon affluence, which is in turn dependent upon the rapid consumption of exhaustible supplies. The other kind of freedom is the freedom to take care of ourselves and of each other … the freedom of community life. — Wendell Berry

… it is not enough to love the earth, though that is a crucial first step. We also have to act on its behalf. — Ken Stone

I speak not for myself but for those without voice… those who have fought for their rights… their right to live in peace, their right to be treated with dignity, their right to equality of opportunity, their right to be educated. — Malala Yousafzai

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same. — Ronald Reagan

Struggle is a never ending process. Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in every generation. — Coretta Scott King

The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the states of created beings capable of law, where there is no law, there is no freedom. — John Locke

Freedom of Thought & Speech

… surely we should at least attempt to put forward constructive ideas. One thing is for certain: given human beings’ love of truth, justice, peace, and freedom, creating a better, more compassionate world is a genuine possibility. The potential is there. — Dalai Lama

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds! — Bob Marley

The pursuit of knowing was freedom to me, the right to declare your own curiosities and follow them through all manner of books. I was made for the library, not the classroom. The classroom was a jail of other people’s interests. The library was open, unending, free. Slowly, I was discovering myself. ― Ta-Nehisi Coates 

Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech; which is the right of every man as far as by it he does not hurt or control the right of another; and this is the only check it ought to suffer and the only bounds it ought to know.  — Benjamin Franklin
Discipline, I have learned, leads to freedom, and there is meaning in freedom. — Anne Lamott

Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be. —Wayne W. Dyer

Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind. — Virginia Woolf

One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying. — Jeanne d’Arc

Nobody can bring you peace but yourself. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Success isn’t measured by money or power or social rank. Success is measured by your discipline and inner peace. — Mike Ditka

People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use. — Soren Kierkegaard

Freedom of Religion

You can’t pick and choose which types of freedom you want to defend. You must defend all of it or be against all of it. ― Scott Howard Phillips 

There is a difference between exercising religious beliefs and imposing them on others. Our Constitution fiercely protects the former and expressly prohibits the latter. ― Joseph Kennedy III 

The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right. It is unalienable, because the opinions of men, depending only on the evidence contemplated by their own minds cannot follow the dictates of other men: It is unalienable also, because what is here a right towards men, is a duty towards the Creator. It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him. ― James Madison

Religion is like a pair of shoes … Find one that fits for you, but don’t make me wear your shoes. ― George Carlin 

Ever since the Enlightenment era in the 17th and 18th Centuries—which, among other things, gave birth to the U.S. Constitution and the de facto motto E Pluribus Unum (out of the many, one)—interfaith tolerance has been sown into the fabric of Western society. The rules of one religion are not made into law for all citizens because of a simple social agreement. For you to believe what you want, you must allow me to do the same, even if we disagree. ― Gudjon Bergmann

… Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason … my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen. ― Martin Luther

Love as a revolutionary act: faith and Pride

What is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it’s curved like a road through mountains. — Tennessee Williams

Please remember, especially in these times of group-think and the right-on chorus, that no person is your friend (or kin) who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow and be perceived as fully blossomed as you were intended. – Alice Walker

You look ridiculous if you dance,
You looks ridiculous if you don’t dance,
So you might as well dance.
— Gertrude Stein

Closer to Fine (excerpt) — Indigo Girls
I’m tryin’ to tell you somethin’ ’bout my life
Maybe give me insight between black and white
And the best thing you’ve ever done for me
Is to help me take my life less seriously
It’s only life after all, yeahWell darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable
And lightness has a call that’s hard to hear
I wrap my fear around me like a blanket
I sailed my ship of safety ’til I sank it
I’m crawling on your shores
… I went to the doctor, I went to the mountainsI looked to the children, I drank from the fountains
We go to the doctor, we go to the mountains
We look to the children, we drink from the fountain
Yeah, we go to the Bible, we go through the work out
We read up on revival, we stand up for the lookout
There’s more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine
The closer I am to fine
The closer I am to fine, yeah 


Some songs to celebrate Pride Month:

Questions to consider:

  • Who has helped you understand LGBTQ experience on a more personal level? Who has humanized this social justice issue for you, if it wasn’t already a human experience with which you are familiar or connected?
  • What view or belief are you glad to have overcome or changed? What learning has helped you the most? What learning do you still need or want to do?
  • What does it mean that all people are created in the image and likeness of God?

Love as a Revolutionary Act: Love of Self, Love for Others, The Right to Love Whom You Choose

Burst down those closet doors once and for all, and stand up, and start to fight. — Harvey Milk

Love, in the New Testament, is not something you feel; it is something you do … Love seeks the well-being of others and is embodied in concrete efforts in their behalf. — Francis Taylor Gench

The beauty of standing up for your rights is others see you standing and stand up as well. — Cassandra Duffy

You never completely have your rights, one person, until you all have your rights. — Marsha P. Johnson

All of us who are openly gay are living and writing the history of our movement. We are no more — and no less — heroic than the suffragists and abolitionists of the 19th century; and the labor organizers, Freedom Riders, Stonewall demonstrators, and environmentalists of the 20th century. — Tammy Baldwin

This community has fought and continues to fight a war of acceptance, a war of tolerance and the most relentless bravery. You are the definition of courage, do you know that? — Lady Gaga

I believe that telling our stories, first to ourselves and then to one another and the world, is a revolutionary act. — Janet Mock

Being born gay, black and female is not a revolutionary act. Being proud to be a gay, black female is. — Lena Waithe

Our society needs to recognize the unstoppable momentum toward unequivocal civil equality for every gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender citizen of this country. — Zachary Quinto

Who would give a law to lovers? Love is unto itself a higher law. — Boethius

Every single courageous act of coming out chips away at the curse of homophobia. Most importantly it’s destroyed within yourself, and that one act creates the potential for its destruction where it exists in friends, family and society. — Anthony Venn-Brown

Surviving and Thriving

We are powerful because we have survived. — Audre Lorde

Every gay and lesbian person who has been lucky enough to survive the turmoil of growing up is a survivor. Survivors always have an obligation to those who will face the same challenges. — Bob Paris

I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore. I want to march for tolerance, acceptance, and understanding. I want to take a stand and say, “Me, too.’“ — Jason Collins

I want to make sure that any young person or anyone really who is looking up to me—who sees a glimpse of who I am as a person—that they see no shame, that they see pride, and that I’m truly unabashed about the person that I am. — Samira Wiley

It is better to live one day on this planet being true to yourself than an entire lifetime which is a lie. —Anthony Venn-Brown

Beauty in Diversity

We should indeed keep calm in the face of difference, and live our lives in a state of inclusion and wonder at the diversity of humanity. — George Takei

What I preach is: People fall in love with people, not gender, not looks, not whatever. What I’m in love with exists on almost a spiritual level. — Miley Cyrus

It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences. — Audre Lord

When all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free. — Former U.S. President, Barack Obama

I was not ladylike, nor was I manly. I was something else altogether. There were so many different ways to be beautiful. — Michael Cunningham

True hospitality is marked by an open response to the dignity of each and every person. Henri Nouwen has described it as receiving the stranger on his own terms, and asserts that it can be offered only by those who ‘have found the center of their lives in their own hearts.’ — Kathleen Norris

Beyond Fear & Shame: Embracing & Celebrating 

Openness may not completely disarm prejudice, but it’s a good place to start. — Jason Collins

To be afraid is to behave as if the truth were not true. — Bayard Rustin

We deserve to experience love fully, equally, without shame, and without compromise. —Ellen Page

I’ve never been interested in being invisible and erased. — Laverne Cox

I learned compassion from being discriminated against. Everything bad that’s ever happened to me has taught me compassion. — Ellen DeGeneres

I’ve been embraced by a new community. That’s what happens when you’re finally honest about who you are; you find others like you. — Chaz Bono

I am a strong, black, lesbian woman. Every single time I say it, I feel so much better. — Brittney Griner

We have to do it because we can no longer stay invisible. We have to be visible. We should not be ashamed of who we are. — Sylvia Rivera

I’m living by example by continuing on with my career and having a full, rich life, and I am incidentally gay. — Portia de Rossi

All young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential. — Harvey Milk

I’m a young, bisexual woman, and I’ve spent a large part of my life trying to validate myself — to my friends, to my family, to myself — trying to prove that who I love and how I feel is not a phase. — Halsey

You have to go the way your blood beats. If you don’t live the only life you have, you won’t live some other life, you won’t live any life at all. — James Baldwin

I am always amazed how powerful that three letter word ‘gay’ can be. Many of us rejected it and wouldn’t even let the word come out of our mouth because of all the negative connotations attached to it…sin…. promiscuity….a ‘lifestyle’ etc etc. We would definitely never ever use it to label ourselves. We didn’t want to own it. When we break free and we use the word with empowerment, ownership and pride…..then we have moved from a world of denial to finally being real. — Anthony Venn-Brown 
 

Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself. — Harvey Fierstein

I think being gay is a blessing, and it’s something I am thankful for every single day. — Anderson Cooper

Learn More: Stonewall as Milestone

When we look back at the Stonewall uprising and activism that grew out of that moment, even the most basic progress seemed like it would take a revolution to achieve. So we had one. And that’s how we’ve made such enormous progress over the last 50 years. Today, we should remain inspired by the courage of the story of Stonewall. — Tammy Baldwin

Stonewall represented, absolutely, the first time that the LGBT community successfully fought back and forged an organized movement and community. — Mark Segal

Faith and Pride

There is God. And then there is the church. The less we conflate the two, the better. The church may reject God’s children, but God never does. To my queer siblings, I’m so sorry. You are glorious. — Nadia Bolz-Weber

The Lord is my Shepherd and he knows I’m gay. — Troy Perry

“God is love,” Christians remind one another. This means that Christians experience love as something alive and living and personal and true. This Love that is God and God that is Love is the creating and healing power within life. This Love that is God is kind and patient and humble and free–never trying to control nor manipulate. Every human being has experienced and knows this capital “L” Love that Christians call God. Christians believe that to receive and share this reality of Love, this God within who live and move and have our being, is the meaning and purpose of life. Why would we stop anyone from experiencing and expressing love? Or to put it another way, why would we stop gay, lesbian, bisexual, straight, transgendered–anyone from experiencing, celebrating, and expressing God? — Mark Yaconelli

You can safely assume you have created God in your own image when God hates all the same people you do. — Anne Lamott

Sexuality and gender identity elicit so many strong feelings and even irrational opinions because they touch upon something foundational. If you don’t recognize the sacred at this deep level of identity and desire, I don’t know if you will be able to see it anywhere else. When Christians label LGBTQIA individuals as ‘other,’ sinful, or ‘disordered,’” we hurt these precious people and the larger community, and we actually limit ourselves. Fear of difference creates a very constricted, exclusive, and small religion and life, the very opposite of what God invites us into … Even as we acknowledge the sacredness of gender and sex, we also need to realize that there’s something deeper than our gender, anatomy, or physical passion: our ontological self, who we are forever in Christ. You are beyond the metaphor of male and female; you are a child of the Resurrection, a creature of Eternal Life. As Paul courageously puts it, ‘There is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus’ (Galatians 3:28). Those who have already begun to experience their divine union will usually find it very easy to be compassionate toward all ‘Two Spirit’ people because they know they share the same ontological, essential self that is ‘hidden with Christ in God’ (Colossians 3:3). Richard Rohr

Reflections on laughter as holy practice: themes from Luke and ministry of Christ

I commend mirth. — Ecclesiastes 8:15

A smile is a curve that sets everything straight. — Phyllis Diller

A child’s laugh should be
the butterfly wing,
the ripple-maker,
for all the world.
There are many children crying —
we hear them echoing
from news media.
It is time to pray
the change of the world
in children’s laughter.
— Maren Tirabasi


Questions to consider:

  • Do you have favorite comics/comedians who are able to act in a prophetic way, stating uncomfortable truths, by using humor? What issues do they address?
  • Have you ever experienced or used ‘gallows humor’ as a form of coping in tough times?
  • In whose company do you relax enough to laugh? With whom do you let down your guard?
  • When was the last time you belly laughed?

Songs about laughter:

Holy Humor

Satire, or any sort of humor for that matter, is tough to do right.  … using humor as a prophetic, yet disarming, method for sharing with vulnerability, challenging the powerful, and tearing down idols. We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses on this — from the prophets, to Chaucer, to Swift.  Jesus too was a brilliant humorist, with a penchant for hyperbole—planks in the eye, camels through the eyes of needles, straining gnats and swallowing camels. (I love that God seems to find camels especially comical.) — Rachel Held Evans

It is cheerful to God when you rejoice or laugh from the bottom of your heart. — Martin Luther King Jr

I developed a sense of humor to protect myself from abuse and jeering. I learned to roll with the punches. There’s nothing like humor to help you do that. There’s a line in Plan B that “laughter is carbonated holiness.” Always my salvation was laughter–laughing with friends, with girlfriends, laughing in the dark. The name of my first book was Hard Laughter, about trying to keep one’s sense of humor and one’s head above water in extreme crisis, which at that time was my father’s brain cancer. So I’m not sure how much humor the hardship has given me. But it turned out that when hardships came, the sense of humor of my friends, and of my own, saved the day.— Anne Lamott

The Bible is funny. But it’s not a gag type of funny like Lucille Ball. The humor we experience in the Bible is more of a meeting of the tragic and the absurd. It’s a can’t-stop-laughing-at-a-funeral-because-the-honest-weight-of-our-mortality-is-too-much type of funny. It’s the slightly self-effacing type of funny we get to when we’re willing to see how absurd we are. The Bible offers us an “ouch” type of funny, an honest funny. — Nadia Bolz-Weber

If Christ laughed a great deal, as the evidence shows, and if he is what he claimed to be, we cannot avoid the logical conclusion that there is laughter and gaiety in the heart of God. [and] There are numerous passages … which are practically incomprehensible when regarded as sober prose, but which are luminous once we become liberated from the gratuitous assumption that Christ never joked. … Once we realize that Christ was not always engaged in pious talk, we have made an enormous step on the road to understanding —Elton Trueblood

A master storyteller would never forsake humor as a means to reach an audience. Jesus, who spent much of his ministry breaking down barriers between people, knew that humor does exactly this. Humor disarms and unites; it sets people at ease and leaves them receptive to the speaker’s message. — Father Tim

The opposite is also true, of course: if Jesus wept, surely he laughed. — Jennifer Johnson

Having mentioned the problems in the Middle East, he turned to me and said, “And what is this about chosenness?”  I answered that Jews believed God chose them for a particular purpose, but it does not mean we are the only ones chosen; different peoples can be chosen for different things. He laughed, and said yes, it is true, Tibetans think they are chosen as well. It seems strange to say that a religious figure’s authority is dependent on his laugh. There is far more, but nonetheless His Holiness’ laugh is striking. Having met my share of religious leaders, I don’t think any of them is as un-self-conscious and as devoid of a sense of self-importance. Every now and then, if feeling particularly mischievous, he will stick his tongue out to emphasize the ludicrousness of it all. It reminded me of a comment by G.K. Chesterton, that angels can fly because they take themselves lightly. — David Wolpe (about the Dalai Lama)

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. — His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

Laughter Is the Best Medicine (excerpt – full article) — Lawrence Robinson, Melinda Smith, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D.
  Physical Benefits:

  • Boosts immunity
  • Lowers stress hormones
  • Decreases pain
  • Relaxes your muscles
  • Prevents heart disease

Mental Health Benefits:

  • Adds joy and zest to life
  • Eases anxiety and tension
  • Relieves stress
  • Improves mood
  • Strengthens resilience

Social Benefits:

  • Strengthens relationships
  • Attracts others to us
  • Enhances teamwork
  • Helps defuse conflict
  • Promotes group bonding

On Laughter

A smile starts on the lips, a grin spreads to the eyes, a chuckle comes from the belly; but a good laugh bursts forth from the soul, overflows, and bubbles all around. — Carolyn Birmingham

And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh. — Friedrich Nietzsche

God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh. — Voltaire

He deserves Paradise who makes his companions laugh. — Qu’ran

The moment of awakening may be marked by an outbursts of laughter, but this is not the laughter of someone who has won the lottery or some kind of victory. It is the laughter of one who, after searching for something for a long time, suddenly finds it in the pocket of his coat. — Thich Nhat Hanh

I have always felt that laughter in the face of reality is probably the finest sound there is and will last until the day when the game is called on account of darkness. In this world, a good time to laugh is any time you can. — Linda Ellerbee

Laughter connects you with people. It’s almost impossible to maintain any kind of distance or any sense of social hierarchy when you’re just howling with laughter. Laughter is a force for democracy. — John Cleese

Reflections on fathers, father-figures and male role models for Father’s Day Weekend

I remember a very important lesson that my father gave me when I was twelve or thirteen. He said, “You know, today I welded a perfect seam and I signed my name to it.” And I said, “But, Daddy, no one’s going to see it!” And he said, “Yeah, but I know it’s there.” So … I did good work. — Toni Morrison

This Father’s Day I want to recognize the kind, patient, sensitive, and caring men who serve as father figures and role models in our children’s lives. They are uncles, teachers, caregivers, cooks, drivers, security guards, and coaches. They are there every day in every way. They gently guide our children through their days, offering advice and wisdom – giving our children a model of what and how they can grow up to be … — Maggie Doyne, BlinkNow

My mother and father were always pushing me away from secondhand answers—even the answers they themselves believed. I don’t know that I have ever found any satisfactory answers of my own. But every time I ask it, the question is refined. That is the best of what the old heads meant when they spoke of being “politically conscious”—as much a series of actions as a state of being, a constant questioning, questioning as ritual, questioning as exploration rather than the search for certainty. ― Ta-Nehisi Coates

For a New Father (excerpt) — John O’Donohue
As the shimmer of dawn transforms the night
Into a blush of color futured with delight,
The eyes of your … child awaken in you
A brightness that surprises your life …
… You feel the full force of a father’s desire
To protect and shelter.
… May your heart rest in the grace of the gift
And you sense how you have been called
Inside the dream of this new destiny.
May you be gentle and loving, clear and sure.
May you trust in the unseen providence
That has chosen you all to be a family.
May you stand sure on your ground
And know that every grace you need
Will unfold before you
Like all the mornings of your life.


Songs about or from fathers:


Questions to consider:

  • If your image of God comes from a parent, what does that experience of love offer as your relationship with God? Stern and disciplinarian, intimate and affectionate, constant and close, faraway and not present, instructive and patient, quick and restless … how do you know God as met through your connection to your primary relationships: parents or caregivers in your earliest years?
  • Does calling God “the Father” help you to connect to Holy Love or is it a barrier? If so, why? What language would help connect you to Godself?
  • For whom have you been a role model or mentor, an influencer and changemaker?
  • Who has been a father figure or role model in your life?

The Longing and the Love (excerpt) — Brian Lundin

We long for the perfect protection of a father,
for strong arms that encircle us,
hold us tight to a broad chest, a beating heart.
Arms that toss us into the air,
screaming with laughter and a little fear,
even though we know those arms will always catch us.

From the moment we gasp our first breath of air,
we long for the perfect father.
We long for a father who sacrifices,
who lays down his time to play games,
read our favorite book one more time,
or take a long walk and listen.
Who reaches into his pocket and pulls out a dollar for ice cream.
Who reaches deeper to provide a good home, good food, and good gifts.
We long for a father who always protects,
always cheers, and always sacrifices.

Some of us are blessed to find
bits and pieces of these longings met in human form,
Like sun through stained glass—a brilliant picture,
illuminated by our Father who satisfies these longings.

We thank God for fathers who protect,
who encourage with strong words, and strong convictions,
fathers willing to sacrifice, striving to love.

But some of us are grieving.
Grieving the loss of a good father, or the lack of one.
Some never knew their father’s arms,
and some bear scars, on skin and soul,
dealt from a father’s swinging arms.
At some point, all of us are left longing.
Lacking.

No human father can perfectly satisfy.
Look up and know your Father in Heaven gave you these longings,
and only He can … fulfill them …

We celebrate our fathers on earth, and our Father in heaven.
We give thanks for the longing, and give thanks for the love.

Fathers as Role Models & Influencers

She did not stand alone, but what stood behind her, the most potent moral force in her life, was the love of her father. — Harper Lee

Lately all my friends are worried they’re turning into their fathers. I’m worried I’m not. — Dan Zevin

It’s only when you grow up and step back from him—or leave him for your own home—it’s only then that you can measure his greatness and fully appreciate it. — Margaret Truman

I’ve said it before, but it’s absolutely true: My mother gave me my drive, but my father gave me my dreams. Thanks to him, I could see a future. — Liza Minnelli

My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: He believed in me. — Jim Volvano

A father carries pictures where his money used to be. — Steve Martin

Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad, and that’s why I call you dad, because you are so special to me. — Wade Boggs

I love my father as the stars—he’s a bright shining example and a happy twinkling in my heart. — Terri Guillemets

A daughter needs a dad to be the standard against which she will judge all men. — Gregory Lang

Extraordinariness of Daily Acts: Just Showing Up
 
My father didn’t tell me how to live. He lived and let me watch him do it. — Clarence Budington Kelland
 
Dads are most ordinary men turned by love into heroes, adventurers, story-tellers … and singers of song. — Pam Brown
 
A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society. — Billy Graham
 
I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by the little scraps of wisdom. — Umberto Eco
 
When you’re young, you think your dad is Superman. Then you grow up, and you realize he’s just a regular guy who wears a cape. — Dave Attell
 
Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance. — Ruth Renkel

On Loving Our Children

Baby, I paint the sky blue
My greatest creation was you.
— Jay-Z

In my career, there’s many things I’ve won and many things I’ve achieved, but for me, my greatest achievement is my children and my family. — David Beckham

When my father didn’t have my hand, he had my back. — Linda Poindexter

Any fool can have a child. That doesn’t make you a father. It’s the courage to raise a child that makes you a father. — Barack Obama

Prayer — Maya Angelou

Father, Mother, God,
Thank you for your presence during the hard and mean days.
For then we have you to lean upon.
Thank you for your presence during the bright and sunny days,
for then we can share that which we have with those who have less.
And thank you for your presence during the Holy Days, for then we are able
to celebrate you and our families and our friends.
For those who have no voice, we ask you to speak.
For those who feel unworthy, we ask you to pour your love out in waterfalls of tenderness.
For those who live in pain, we ask you to bathe them in the river of your healing.
For those who are lonely, we ask you to keep them company.
For those who are depressed, we ask you to shower upon them the light of hope.
Dear Creator, You, the borderless sea of substance, we ask you to give to all the world that which we need most—Peace.

All Kinds of Fathers: Honoring the Men in Our Lives

There are many different types of Dads. Father figures come in all shapes and sizes, and being a parent can sometimes lie with a less-traditional role-model. — MensLineAustralia

It is not flesh and blood, but the heart which makes us fathers and sons. — Johann Friedrich Von Schiller

But a role model in the flesh provides more than inspiration; his or her very existence is confirmation of possibilities one may have every reason to doubt, saying, yes, someone like me can do this. — Sonia Sotomayor

You can honor the day by acknowledging someone who made a difference in your life … — James Van Praagh

Role models set goals for you and try to make you as good as they are. Role models are important. — Kasey Zacharias 

My role model didn’t tell me, he showed me. — Unattributed

By being a living role model of what you want to receive from others, you create more of what you want in your life. — Eric Allenbaugh

Be the flame of fate, that torch of truth to guide our young people toward a better future for themselves and for this country. — Michelle Obama 

We tend to become like those we admire. — Thomas Monson

Children need role models rather than critics. — Joseph Joubert

A role model can teach you to love and respect yourself. — Tionne Watkins

To change bad habits we must study the habits of successful role models. — Jack Canfield 

As a leader, it’s a major responsibility on your shoulders to practice the behavior you want others to follow. —Himanshu Bhatia

God / Holy Love as Parent & Creator

… he’s a parent who loves both his children more than anyone can measure. And that’s when counting breaks down. When you love so much there is no scale adequate to calculate your devotion. The elder son, he counts, and you can hear his ill-fated … But the … father – doesn’t. Can’t. Love like this, you see, cannot be measured, tracked, or managed. Which his why I think the cross is not a means of payment but rather shows us just how far our prodigal God will go to tell us of God’s immeasurable love. Period. — David Lose

Right from the moment of our birth, we are under the care and kindness of our parents, and then later on in our life when we are oppressed by sickness and become old, we are again dependent on the kindness of others. Since at the beginning and end of our lives we are so dependent on other’s kindness, how can it be in the middle that we would neglect kindness towards others? — Dalai Lama

The child asks of the Father whom he knows. Thus, the essence of Christian prayer is not general adoration, but definite, concrete petition. The right way to approach God is to stretch out our hands and ask of One who we know has the heart of a Father. ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Her (Mary’s) Son first had to be the Child of the Father in order then to become man and be capable of taking up on his shoulders the burden of a guilty world. ― Hans Urs von Balthasar

My father always used to say, “Don’t raise your voice. Improve your argument.” — Desmond Tutu

There is something gratuitous about creation, an unnecessary abundance of beauty, and through its blossoms and pleasures we can revel in the sheer largesse of the Father. ― Michael Reeves

God attaches no strings to His love. None. His love for us does not depend on our loveliness. It goes one way. As far as our sin may extend, the grace of our Father extends further. ― Tullian Tchividjian

Most of us were taught that God would love us if and when we change. In fact, God loves you so that you can change. What empowers change, what makes you desirous of change is the experience of love. It is that inherent experience of love that becomes the engine of change. ― Richard Rohr

I am always struck when I reread the parable of the merciful Father. … The Father, with patience, love, hope and mercy, had never for a second stopped thinking about [his wayward son], and as soon as he sees him still far off, he runs out to meet him and embraces him with tenderness, the tenderness of God, without a word of reproach. … God is always waiting for us, He never grows tired. Jesus shows us this merciful patience of God so that we can regain confidence and hope — always!” — Pope Francis

Committing myself to the task of becoming fully human is saving my life now… to become fully human is something extra, a conscious choice that not everyone makes. Based on my limited wisdom and experience, there is more than one way to do this. If I were a Buddhist, I might do it by taking the bodhisattva vow, and if I were a Jew, I might do it by following Torah. Because I am a Christian, I do it by imitating Christ, although i will be the first to admit that I want to stop about a day short of following him all the way. In Luke’s gospel, there comes a point when he turns around and says to the large crowd of those trailing after him, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple” (14:26). Make of that what you will, but I think it was his way of telling them to go home. He did not need people to go to Jerusalem to die with him. He needed people to go back where they came from and live the kinds of lives that he had risked his own life to show them: lives of resisting the powers of death, of standing up for the little and the least, of turning cheeks and washing feet, of praying for enemies and loving the unlovable. ― Barbara Brown Taylor

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