Those nine. You know, the lepers in Luke’s Gospel who didn’t seem to come back to give thanks to Jesus, after he cured them… or was it the fact-of-faith that rid them of the ravages of sin we all, sooner or later, succumb to? Perhaps Jesus, in his own unique way, simply reminded them of the Source of true healing. It would seem, at first glance, that only one, a foreigner at that, returned immediately to profess gratitude for wellness, the return of wholeness. What if – just what if – after visiting the priests, as told, what if they were afraid? Fearing that if they returned to Jesus, to offer thanks, that he might change his mind, tell them, “Sorry kids, the deals off.” Think about it; as humans we really struggle trusting that facts truly are facts; so much changes all the time. Or possibly, they simply forgot, as in great excitement we human beings are often bound to do. By the time they thought about it Jesus had moved along to other lands, busy attending those in need there.

So maybe we could be a little more understanding and forgiving of those nine. For, honestly now, how many times have we as “faithful followers” of the Christ read the parables, the sermon on the mount, the words and gifts of God’s glorious grace, all written and given for every one of us, and forgotten to pause (for only a mere moment) and say, “Thank you.”? Are we any less guilty, clean, whole or healed? Give thanks continually the Bible advises. Perhaps that is precisely what the story illuminates. A reminder that, no matter what, no matter who, God loves to be remembered; and quite possibly it may just be in the simple act of remembering that we all find salvation, like the thief on the cross at Jesus side whose only request was that he be remembered. If memory serves, I believe that Jesus promised him, “paradise today”.

Let’s take at least one learning from this story of Jesus showing compassion. Let’s pray for the remembrance of giving thanks to God for the beautiful blessings of healing and wholeness and forgiveness, given in all of it’s amazing ways and forms. Remembering, as often as we can, to be thankful… for life. Amen.

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Beyond Words

I texted my Grandfather today. He died in 1969. I was seven. Five decades since I last spoke to him. He has not yet responded. I will keep waiting. Everyone said that he was extremely dependable, reliable beyond words.

I just wanted to talk to him. Hear what he has to say. Ask him a few questions; about the past, his present, our future; about history, his story, world war one (he was there), farming and working and living without electricity. How to live quiet, live slow and gentle, and live right. I’ve been told it was a simple time, lived simply, by people like my Grandfather, who understood the great value of simplicity. I’m still waiting, still longing… still… no answer yet.

How silly of me, you might think, but, is it really? I mean, I of course, don’t expect him to text me back! That’d be insanity… wouldn’t it? He probably doesn’t even know how to text… well, no matter. You see, I texted my phone number to him; I know his generation would never text, but, they did have phones back then you know. Yeah, it’s probably craziness… I know, but, forgive me, I just had to try. To send an eternal message of love out there, into space (even cyber-space). Who knows the way the Cosmos communicate? A message bouncing amongst the stars just might slide into heaven at the sneaky speed of light. It’s not insane to ponder the possibility of the past meeting the future in the present. No, it is not.

I guess I’ll just have to wait, for Grandpa to call me, then I will ask him, he will know, he always understood so much. I miss him… wait… what’s that noise? An old telephone, packed away in a box in the closet, one of those ancient jobs with a cord, the very one my folks used to have mounted on the wall at the old farm house, is ringing. Ringing disconnected! Yet, truly ringing. Who could it be? I believe I better answer it… this could be a very important call for me. And even if no one is there, on the other end, the ringing itself is an answer; hope, beyond words.

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Revelation in Vivaldi – Concerto in D Major, RV 93: II Largo

With what flowing fate do the winds of time ever blow, and what man, caught therein, without name, can find his place, his meaning, and his soul – God knows, we ask (and pray) the spirit guide us through, to where we yet know not. If Nemo be our name today, then in the “tomorrow” of Christ’s Revelation we shall receive our stone, and find upon it our true name, forever more. (Rev. 2:17)

A strange and terrible weight lies upon each human soul, that being the unknowing of who, truly, we are, all the days we toil and travel upon the earth in which we so temporarily reside. A cruel fate, a purposeful plan, or just the way it is? Who can say, and even if some could prophesy, would we ever here and now understand the encrypted message anyway? Vivaldi tried, with the language of music, the only true translation of the voice of God. My soul hears, my mind boggles. Perhaps only the souls who search diligently the sounds of their own heart, and the God-given hearts of others, ever get a glimpse of the One in whom we all share the image and song of.

Around a campfire, around a mountain, around the sky, around the universe, the smoke of mankind’s burning endeavors, dreams and longings rise forever as the breath of an endless prayer, engulfing all of existence, all eternity, in it’s inestimable quest for it’s true Name, the one in which, beyond the bonds of time, is the same as the yet unknown name of God, and God alone… and… God with us, always.

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Soul Upheaval

“Nobody really knows the way, that is the myth of convention.” – Terry Tempest Williams from “RED – PASSION AND PATIENCE IN THE DESERT” 2001

  • We are shards. Broken off from a larger rock, and like the amazing formations one finds amongst nature, especially in the American west, fractures have been formed throughout us all by the tension of being torn apart, and away from our original Rock.
  • All of life is in a continuous upheaval of deep desire to be wrought back into perfect unison with the whole. Through this natural roiling of living souls, like stones turned slowly upward by the earth, we are exposed to the harsher of the world’s elements, leaving us all so vulnerable, exposed for the mere, lacking pieces that we are. In the passion of living offered to us daily, we are broken apart, and thereby given the blessing of change. It is ours (little stones though we be) to simply accept, to receive, to move upon. We go daily, broken and thirsting, through the desert of life. In the midst of all the upheavals the Rock breaks through, mysteriously, a crack is formed, a spring shoots forth cool, clear water unto us. The Rock speaks : “Drink, be renewed, fear not.” A cairn is left at the fissure, pointing the way ahead… This is the lesson of Nature; drought, storm, change, all come, but fear not the upheavals, for just as surely, the change and hope of Goodness follows, always.
  • The Rock does not forget, nor abandon. So, perhaps the pain we here and now feel is the upheaval that makes us stones move, rolling us back as it were, to where we can be rejoined, together, forever with the Rock.
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What Is “Born Again”?

“A life that was not, now is.” – Wendell Berry

Ponder that,  the above quote. Birth, life created. Life absent becoming life present; every new day, life building upon life. A new time, a new day, a new year, a new era. Born again, an awakening, each morning a new sunrise speaking : “Surprise ! – Look at what I have done !”

It matters not the number of magnificent moments a soul sees, for they all are new, and lovely to behold, and be held by. The feeling of fresh, the eternal elation of awareness, the endless arrival of aliveness, what a wonderment ! This never-ending notion of new upon new is what “born-again’ is. Every day, every sunrise, even every breath, becomes original in a realization of being, moment by moment, continually, born anew.

Once upon a time, we were born; physicality like the Big Bang, once. Daily, we are born, spiritually, like the sunrise. Birth, re-birth. Born; and then, again and again and again… Life was, and yet, was not quite. Now is, and is and is and is… The “is-ness” is the journey, the journey is the on-going birth, not quite yet complete, but always happening, always progressing, along the way, taking us to the final and full birth of life. This rebirth journey, like a good book, has been given a meaningful title : Resurrection, sub-title : All Things Being Made New.

This new year, this new day, we are indeed “born-again”. Look upon the sun arising, every morning, see the Mystery of rebirth, hear the Word daily say : “Surprise ! – Look what I’ve done !”

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Ash Wednesday and Trust

“There is a strange beauty in death when we look at it through the light of resurrection.” – Rev. Jodi L. Baron

Ash Wednesday illuminates all of the little pictures that are in a slow transformation of blending and becoming part of the one big picture of life eternal. God lives in our souls like a quiet prayer, and Ash Wednesday gives cause for us to listen, noticing the beauty and wonder of the All in all, even death.

Ash Wednesday brings God near. Moving from the remote wilderness of somewhere way out there, into the head and heart of each child of God. How is it that mere ashes can accomplish such as that? Perhaps because we, just as our biblically original version (Adam and Eve), come from the dust and ashes of our original home Eden, God’s own good creation, on earth. It is a relational revelation.

Ash Wednesday rises above most other worship services because it is God, God’s self, speaking straight at us. Weekly the scriptures come to us by hearing, but the very Presence of God in Ash Wednesday is put upon us, and into us, by touch directly. Ash Wednesday speaks of death, the Eucharist speaks of life eternal; the only way between them is the Cross of Christ unto resurrection. Paradoxically the Bible teaches us direct contact with God as we now are brings death for humans, and direct contact with the risen Christ brings change unto eternal life for all humanity. In Ash Wednesday God shows us our limitations. In Christ God takes all limitations away, including death.

With ashes on our most visible face, like Cain, we carry the mark of death upon us, finding no matter how far from Eden we go, we cannot leave it behind … and really, why would we want to; after all , ashes on the forehead remind us of the destiny of our bodies, remind us of Whose we are, give us cause to ponder the true value of everything. Ashes on the forehead slowly sink into the brain, the thoughts, the soul. In a mysterious way they even cleanse us; year after year, ashes are put upon us like dirt shoveled into a grave, sealing the place, the fate of each and every one who lies there; all of us, patiently trustingly (for where else could we go Lord?) awaiting … resurrection day, the day God himself washes away the mark, the ashes, and speaks the words we’ve so long waited to hear : Welcome back home.

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A Flash of Imagination

Soon, upon returning from the West…I know, I must go again.
How, in this world, does anyone really know anything for certain though?
When for the first time in months you can actually breathe, you know.
If you don’t you’re just plain dead.
I looked in the rearview mirror, saw a sad face, adjusted it as best I could, and found the Rocky Mountains fading away behind me, moving in the opposite direction. Funny thing is, just at the moment they completely disappeared into the sunset, I swear upon Wyatt Earp’s memory I saw the great “green-flash”. That flash burnt a brand upon the soul, and entered the bloodstream, flowed through mind, lungs, heart, the entirety of my human body. It came to stay. Everywhere, always.

Behold, though the mountains, covered like a blanket in the infinite magic of rocks, trees, flora and fauna, and though the desert, dwelling in it’s own deep unfathomable mystery of dry longing, visionary vistas and wild waywardness, even though these pass away into the abyss of forgotten memories, strangled upon the alter of hopelessness, never shall the heart falter in it’s great mystical, divine love for that place where, like no other known, it finds (and even in a way “knows”) the One who created it all.

Is this a story based on truth, or only a fairytale fantasy? The lines blur. It’s never one or the other. We live with our feet in a world of routine called “reality”, and our hearts in a world of hope called “paradise” … and we, mere feeble folks, get completely lost on the liminal space in between. Is “good” really good? Is “bad” truly, or completely, bad after all? You might as well inquire: Is Jesse James (the outlaw) a sinner or a saint? For surely the answer is: YES, of course he is , both , aren’t we all?

Life is real. Ah, but, so my friend is Paradise. God’s kingdom come. And we, mere mortals afloat upon the ever moving waters of life, flow with and in it, going God knows where. That is the trust. Trust is what keeps us from drowning. Lose trust, and the buoyancy of living ceases; and there is where one is at risk of sinking like a rock under the weight of loss of imagination. For imagination is the thing we need most to breathe life into our souls. So go to wherever it is, do whatever it is, be whomever it is that opens the eyes of your heart to see the great, unmistakable “flash” of imagination. Go. Do. Be. And above all, trust it. You will still pass through this life as both sinner and saint, but … your imagination will fill your soul so buoyantly with the divine air of love and adventure that through the “heaviest” times you shall remain afloat along the river of life; going to, not only where God knows, but to where God desires.

“The universe has many wonders – and God is ALL.” – John Coltrane from: “Psalm”

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Book review of “Ordinary” by Michael Horton

There is a real beauty so seldom found in these days of endless, mindless chatter. It is a book of simple brevity. Alvsd

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A Salutary Settlement (Cowboy and the Woman)

The old saloon’s door opened with a gasp, as if put upon by a tornado. Swirls of dusty air, glittering in sunbeams from the outside world, seemed to be announcing the arrival of something special. In strolled a bow-legged cowboy. His hat pulled down low just barely above eyes squinting to survey the shadowy inside of this dark place. In cold, silent unison the few souls seated at the bar sat their drinks down , and turned  to take a look at what just walked in.

The old gray haired cowboy walked slowly past the gawkers, never allowing them the honor of his attention. They returned to their drinks. His hard gaze was directed unflinchingly toward the woman sitting alone at a corner table. She never looked up. some folded papers lay near her on the table. The cowboy pulled out a chair next to her and sat down. The bartender without a word came over and sat a glass down in front of Cowboy. He was no stranger to the area.

The woman raised her head very slowly, as if to do so was mandatory not desired. Or perhaps, a simple human instinctual reaction when one is trying desperately to postpone the inevitable. Her eyes, red around the edges, stared into his. Hers wet, his dry like the desert he loved, and now lived in. When she looked into his eyes, deep and distant, she could almost see that desert he had such love for and that she never understood.

The bartender asked if she’d like another iced tea. Shaking her head no, she questioned Cowboy in a soft far-off voice, “So, how have you been?”

He gave a crooked smile and replied, ” Good. How ’bout you?”

The woman dropped her gaze upon the table, then searchingly raised it to look around the room as if wanting to be certain no one who could call her a liar was listening. She turned her eyes directly to his, “Fine.” Then with even more hesitation asked, ” Have you got another… a… ah…a woman I mean?”

Cowboy considered the question for a moment; all the painful brokenness of life’s losses blended with every divine desire he’d ever been given a glimpse of. The question pressed in on him like nothing he had ever known before. Not even the divorce from her years before. It cut through him with a poignant heart piercing accuracy that seemed to severe all the evil from all the good that so equally resided within him. With a tersely tense human passion seldom shown he answered, ” In my entire life I’ve had but one true mistress, and she is, and forever shall be, the great American West. My love for her is endless, boundless and pure as the air flowing over her beautiful mountains and deep into her secret canyons. It is as mysterious and powerful as her heart and soul. It’s a love so real that only the passionate God who must have placed it inside of me could ever understand. There simply isn’t room enough in my heart for any other.”

With these few words the woman came as close as she ever would, ever could, to comprehending the complexities of Cowboy’s crazy heart; and it was enough. This is why she came to him, one final time. She craved the necessity of closure in her heart as surely as he craved the necessity of freedom in his spirit. Now she knew for certain, she understood. The relief of release for them both was complete, and even pure.

Outside the burning sun was hanging low in the unfettered Western sky. It’s omniscient rays, like beautiful warm arms awaiting, stretched from one end of the west to the other.



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Notion of Time

St. Augustine stated that the past and future are illusory. What he was talking about is time. In the human concept of time one cannot be in the past, nor the future, only in the present, which of course instantly becomes the past and previously was the future. Yet, what of eternity? For is it not true that eternity in some sense contains time? Therefore, should we not consider the effects, possibilities and purpose (if there be one) for these two realms, both of which are amazingly important, and oft times captivating, for human beings?

To do so we must pause to ponder what is time that we regard it so in our lives and our world, and furthermore what is eternity that we consider it the ultimate cumulation of all time? Is there something or someone that rightly brings together time and eternity into one cohesive whole?

In the gospel of John we hear Jesus, the Christ, echo ancient words into the present, “before Abraham was, I am.”.  Fusing the past, even prior to the past, with the present into an endless future he illuminates the presence of God in and beyond time.  This revelational vision lends insight into the fact that time and eternity though seperate are in relation to each other through God, time is a part of Eternity, though not it’s fulfillment.

All of our moments occur in time, yet they can not give us a full understanding of Eternity by virtue of the fact that they are limited to the time in which they come and go. However, when pondered they can help to shine light upon the great desire within us, realized or not, that longs for endless living. Is it possible that the purpose of time then with it’s limitations and ultimate ending is to cause us to seek Eternity?

This notion of ime and the natural desire for time without end is profoundly part of what it is to be human. Realizing that our days are indeed numbered, and yet at the same time acknowledging the deep yearning set within us for Eternity, we can do no less than sincerely consider both the brevity and the enormity of life. Is life, in time, a great paradox? An insatiable yearning to know it’s meaning, yet having to accept the truth that we can never fully understand/comprehend it all here and now?  Augustine, a mere man, sought such understanding with a genuine wonder and amazement, but was finally faced with the reality that some questions have no answers. Time, just as mankind, is here and then gone like a vapor upon the Wind. Eternity, just as God, is always here, always moving, like the spirit of the Wind that carries away and consumes the vapors of man. Eternity is the clockwork of God, not man, and the ageless answers to the questions of the ages for mankind concerning the notion of time here and now are only truly to be found in Eternity. For in Eternity the only time that is is the present, always, at all times.

– I realize these thoughts have not really answered anything. They’ve only engaged, for the moment, more mystery. Of what we are able here and now to fathom, that is precisely the point. All the mystery of time and Eternity is meant, I believe, to cause us to search and grope for something close at hand, yet far beyond and longer lasting than us and our brief moments. Something at the same time before and after, never beginning and never ending, something no clock, calendar nor plan of man can ever manage or measure.

So, how do we do this properly? With an earnest trust that what is behind and beyond Eternity is also the Master of time. Therefore, take time to ponder Eternity now and then, always remembering that in the final analysis we can do no more than simply wait faithfully on the Lord. Because the answer of all that Eternity encompasses shall only be revealed in God’s own good time.



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