Meditations: ashes, sand & stones ~ lessons from the wilderness

Sense how
Even the smooth stones ache
With stories of their own
In the shuddering light of day.
― Scott Hastie

In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth. ― Rachel Carson

Individually, every grain of sand brushing against my hands represents a story, an experience, and a block for me to build upon for the next generation. ― Raquel Cepeda from Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina

I wanted to feel the blood running back into my veins, even at the cost of annihilation. I wanted to shake the stone and light out of my system … To be of night so frighteningly silent, so utterly incomprehensible and eloquent at the same time. Never more to speak or to listen or to think. ― Henry Miller from Tropic of Capricorn

All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one’s heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes. ― Cormac McCarthy from The Road

The sand doesn’t care if you’re made of flesh or stone. ― Joaquin Lowe from Bullet Catcher

These are burning times. And they call for Burning Women. Women embodied in their passion. Woman feeling in their bodies. Creative women. Courageous women. Women who have learned to run on a different power source to the world which is falling into flames around her. … she will not be dazed, confused and disorientated by the systemic changes happening around her. Centred within herself, receptive to the Earth beyond her, she knows how to cultivate from the ashes, she knows how to find the embers to fuel the new fire.

Burning Women arise.
Our time is now.
Our time has come.

― Lucy H. Pearce from Burning Woman

When surrounded by the ashes of all that I once cherished, despite my best efforts I can find no room to be thankful. But standing there amidst endless ash I must remember that although the ashes surround me, God surrounds the ashes. And once that realization settles upon me, I am what I thought I could never be … I am thankful for ashes. ― Craig Lounsbrough

Meditation: Of birds & lilies — being present today

letting go of worries
Oh soul, you worry too much.
You have seen your own strength.
You have seen your own beauty.
You have seen your golden wings.
Of anything less,
why do you worry?
You are in truth
the soul, of the soul, of the soul.”
— Jalaluddin Rumi

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength. — Corrie ten Boom from Clippings from My Notebook

Sorrow looks back, Worry looks around, Faith looks up. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Let Birds (excepts) — Linda Gregg.
Eight deer on the slope …
The night sky blue …
I will never give up longing …
Let birds, let birds.
Let leaf be passion.
Let jaw, let teeth, let tongue be
between us. Let joy.
Let entering. Let rage and calm join …
Let winter impress you. Let spring …
Let birds.

You must be completely awake in the present to enjoy the tea. Only in the awareness of the present, can your hands feel the pleasant warmth of the cup. Only in the present, can you savor the aroma, taste the sweetness, appreciate the delicacy.
If you are ruminating about the past, or worrying about the future, you will completely miss the experience of enjoying the cup of tea. You will look down at the cup, and the tea will be gone.
Life is like that. If you are not fully present, you will look around and it will be gone. You will have missed the feel, the aroma, the delicacy and beauty of life. It will seem to be speeding past you. The past is finished. Learn from it and let it go. The future is not even here yet. Plan for it, but do not waste your time worrying about it.
Worrying is worthless. When you stop ruminating about what has already happened, when you stop worrying about what might never happen, then you will be in the present moment. Then you will begin to experience joy in life. — Thich Nhat Hanh

Don’t worry if you’re making waves simply by being yourself. The moon does it all the time. – Scott Stabile

Even if you have three or four extra syllables, or even five or seven, you needn’t worry as long as it sounds right. But if even one syllable is stale in your mouth, give it all of your attention.  – Basho

Leda, After the Swan (excerpts) — Carl Phillips
Perhaps, in the exaggerated grace of his weight settling,
the wings raised, held in strike-or-embrace position
… whose feathers came away in my hands,
and the bit of world left beyond it, coming down
to the heat-crippled field,
ravens the precise color of sorrow in good light,
neither black nor blue, like fallen stitches upon it,
and the hour forever, it seemed, half-stepping its way elsewhere–
then everything, I remember, began happening more quickly.

Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends. — Maya Angelou

Jesus no longer belongs to the past but lives in the present … the everlasting “today” of God. … How often does Love have to tell us, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” Our daily problems and worries can wrap us up in ourselves, in sadness and bitterness … and that is where death is. That is not the place to look for the One who is alive! —  Pope Francis from The Church of Mercy

Simplifying Church Structure: March 4

Facilitator Rev. Doug Bixby will lead a workshop for our church. Everyone is welcome to attend.

With his permission, we’ll provide brief excerpts from his book in downloadable PDF form (and printed copies). We also have a limited number of the complete volume for use before and after the workshop (these are available for immediate pickup).

This will kick-start the elimination of redundant and unnecessary committees, revitalize the teams that have a specific reason for being in existence, and focus our work on the mission and action of the church, minimizing administrative overload and freeing up energy and resources for the “why” that really moves us and gives us joy.

Meditations on anger, forgiveness & reconciliation.

“what the heart hears”
Speak my name
Meet me here
I am not your enemy
I am your teacher
I may even be your friend
Let us tell our truth together, you and I
My name is anger: I say you have been wronged
My name is shame: my story is your hidden pain
My name is fear: my story is vulnerability
My name is resentment: I say things should have been different
My name is grief
My name is depression
My name is heartache
I have many names
And many lessons
I am not your enemy
I am your teacher
(excerpt from chapter: ‘naming the hurt’ from The Book of Forgiving by Desmond and Mpho Tutu,
see also: www.humanjourney.com)


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. — Henry Nouwen


Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. — Buddha


Love implies anger. The man who is angered by nothing cares about nothing. — Edward Abbey


“We cannot overcome anger and hatred simply by suppressing them.  We need to actively cultivate the antidotes to hatred: patience and tolerance … When we are engaged in the practice of patience and tolerance, in reality, what is happening is you are engaged in a combat with hatred and anger.” — Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Daiai Lama from The Art of Happiness


“Actuarial File” (excerpts) by Jean Valentine
Orange peels, burned letters, the car lights shining on the grass,
everything goes somewhere—and everything we do—nothing
ever disappears. But changes …
“Everything that happens, happens once and for all. Is this true?
If so, what then?”
Yes. Your story; all of your hope; what you do, breaks. Changes.
“If so, what then?” Nothing disappears. And you do last …
Come stay here, at my place, a while.—Someday we will be able
to say, I did this thing; I did that other thing; I was that woman.
Someday, we will be able to take it in, that violence, hold it in our
hands … And the ones who come after us, maybe they can
understand us; forgive us; as we do forgive our parents, our
grandparents, moving so distantly through their lives … their
silences … And the ones we were with maybe our friendship can change, can mend …
Come stay here. Things change …
“If there is to be reconciliation, first there must be truth.”
— Timothy Tyson from Blood Done Sign My Name


“Whether victim or perpetrator, part of being human is rolling up our sleeves and taking an active part in repairing harm.” – Katy Hutchison & Ryan Aldridge from TheForgivenessProject.com


“Truth can be told in an instant, forgiveness can be offered spontaneously, but reconciliation is the work of lifetimes and generations.” — Krista Tippett from Speaking of Faith


The poet dreams of the mountain by Mary Oliver
Sometimes I grow weary of the days, with all their fits and starts.
I want to climb some old gray mountains, slowly, taking
The rest of my lifetime to do it, resting often, sleeping
Under the pines or, above them, on the unclothed rocks.
I want to see how many stars are still in the sky
That we have smothered for years now, a century at least.
I want to look back at everything, forgiving it all,
And peaceful, knowing the last thing there is to know.
All that urgency! Not what the earth is about!
How silent the trees, their poetry being of themselves only.
I want to take slow steps, and think appropriate thoughts.
In ten thousand years, maybe, a piece of the mountain will fall.

Meditations on Superbowl, salt & light

Wide Receiver (excerpt) by Mark Halliday
… so come on, star boy, fling a Hail Mary
with a dream-coached combination of muscle and faith
and I will gauge the arc and I will not be stupidly frantic
and I will time my jump and—I’m just going to say
in the cool gloaming of this weirdly long game
it is not impossible that I will make the catch.
Love Like Salt by Lisel Mueller
It lies in our hands in crystals
too intricate to decipher
It goes into the skillet
without being given a second thought
It spills on the floor so fine
we step all over it
We carry a pinch behind each eyeball
It breaks out on our foreheads
We store it inside our bodies
in secret wineskins
At supper, we pass it around the table
talking of holidays and the sea.


Oh, these vast, calm, measureless mountain days, days in whose light everything seems equally divine, opening a thousand windows to show us God. — John Muir


So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing. — T.S. Eliot


Dear sisters and brothers, we realize the importance of light when we see darkness. — Malala Yousafzai


It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. — Eleanor Roosevelt


When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself. — Tecumseh


“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” — Pema Chödrön, The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times


Salt (excerpt) by David Harsent
They weighed the human soul — twenty-one grams — a tremor
on the air becoming trance, becoming nimbus. No. It is a deadweight,
a plummet, drawing down to its harbor beside the heart. It is Breath
and Word, they said. No. It is pig-iron and salt. …


The Salt Stronger (excerpts) by Fred Marchant
I have seen the legislators
on their way, the jacketless men
in mid-winter who will cast
their votes like stones …
wherein I am writing to my friend in Baghdad,
he a “witness for peace,”
a poet who for years has wondered
what good poetry is or has been or does.
I compose today’s answer from here,
saying, I think of poetry
as a salt dug from a foreign mine
that arrives like a miracle …
as pellets to break underfoot
and melt the dangerous plated ice
and cling to the acknowledged lawmakers,
to stay with them in their dreams …