Earth life is slow

We are creatures of Earth; our life is part of the life of the Earth, and we draw our nourishment from it just as plants and animals do. Earth life is slow; autumn and winter are as essential to it as spring and summer, and rest is as essential as motion.

-Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness

It is winter, the days are dark, and nature does not offer up the comfort of warmth. But instead of complaining or decrying this, we can accept it as a part of the creative cycle.

Our bodies need rest. So do our minds. This time of year we can take more time for that by recognizing that everything has a time and place and season. Trust that you will progress and grow, when it is the right time. Spring brings energy, transition, a pushing outward. Winter brings quiet, inner reflection, an evening gathering with friends that is a natural response to the short days, and finally, sleep.

Let the bare trees of this season remind us that we are also needing to look at the bare facts of ourselves, the naked truth of who we are. That will be the starting point for all our love and all our work in the year to come.


Violins Not Guns

It’s hard to kill someone with a violin.

What if we had more violins and fewer guns?

The vision of Suzuki was to create a world full of beautiful hearts, nurtured by love. He believed we could save the world if we reared more children in the language of music.

People with the character and temperament of a musician seek to harmonize, not destroy. They also have a robust sense of discipline and action. They are not passive or milk toast. They’ll defend you from the inside out.

Imagine: Concealed or open carry, it doesn’t matter if it isn’t a gun. That guy in the subway with the case – what’s inside? An instrument of healing and transformation, not death and destruction. He’ll kill you with kindness.

Let’s make them an offer they can’t refuse. Violins, not guns.


Beyond Sylvan Grove :: An Open Letter To My Family Part II

At this summer’s reunion my aunt brought to life our great-grandmother in a dramatic presentation.

Her name was Julietta, and she was raised in a small town called Sylvan Grove, Kansas. Her life was touched early on by her father’s death and her mother’s illness. She was raised for a time by a local pastor.

I loved hearing about my ancestor, feeling that she was close by. But I had a mixed reaction to the presentation as a whole.

My aunt reminded us that the ONE thing Julietta wanted to pass down to us is faith in Jesus. We heard how she was looking down from heaven and wishing that we all could remain in the joy of that faith. As the representative of the family tree at its head, she wants Jesus known and proclaimed above all. She wants us to know Jesus loves us.

On the face of it, why should anyone find that troubling? The words said by Julietta through my aunt were delivered with love, and were only the expression of well-meaning care for her family. If Jesus means love, if Jesus means family, if Jesus means all that is true, right and holy for us all, then why would anyone want to disagree or go another way?

As a family, we have come a long way from Sylvan Grove.

Steeple And Cross Set Against A Blue Sky

This wooden cross on a simple steeple set against a sunny summer blue sky reminds me of visiting the small country church in Sylvan Grove as a child.

We have spread out from that idyllic place where people were fed and nurtured on the Christian faith and a simple, plain and happy existence, into a changing and diverse world not graspable by anyone in that small town. Our family has members whose experiences and beliefs no longer match up with the worldview put forth out of Sylvan Grove.

New views of the world, new systems of belief, new faiths and non-faiths have entered the family bloodstream. These other viewpoints and beliefs are, in my view, equally legitimate to the one that came from Sylvan Grove.

Sylvan Grove The trouble with these singular narratives is just that: they are singular. They don’t allow for other stories, other explanations of the world, other lenses through which to view reality. Not everyone in our family sees Jesus as the way, the truth and the life. Not everyone feels welcomed when they are told they must believe in him. Not everyone wants to base their life on his teachings. This does not make them ignorant or immoral, just human.

I don’t blame my great-grandparents for their worldview from Sylvan Grove. But I do know that as educators, they would have also wished to leave a legacy of expanding knowledge. My great-grandfather, after whom I was named — would he have wanted us to stay frozen in time, stuck in a single place, placed in a box of knowledge and not allowed out? 


The next posts will continue this open letter.

Mastery: Living the Highest You

Author Glenn Berkenkamp has written a marvelous book called Mastery: Living the Highest You. It was given to me recently as a gift.

He describes the process of receiving both the form and content of the book in a state of deep relaxation. It is a small book with only a sentence or phrase on each page, about self-mastery.

Here are some examples:

A Master loves unconditionally.

A Master allows herself to be guided by the quiet voice of her spirit.

A Master knows she is more than the habits and fears that may have governed her for years.

A Master understands there is no value in judging himself or others.

A Master acknowledges the worth and value of each moment.

Birkenkamp recommends to read the book through, to get a sense of the scope and range of the topic of mastery. Then the book may be used as a reference, guide, or devotional source.

In the next several posts I want to dwell on certain of these phrases, but I want to give due credit here to Berkenkamp and recommend that you look him up and get this book.


Midweek Devotion #2

July 15, 2015

One of the first words I remember learning in confirmation class was worship. I still have the copy of Luther’s Small Catechism, in which I wrote what the word “worship” meant: worth-ship.

These many years later I came across a definition similar to the one I was taught, but with a slightly different cast:

The bond of unity in a church is not shared belief but shared worship. Worship (worth-ship) is an act of reverence for what is regarded as of great, or supreme, worth. In the ultimate analysis this is but another way of capturing the real meaning of love. What is of real worth to us, in the full sense, we cannot help but love. Love is reverence for life.

—Philip Hewett, Canadian Unitarian minister, as found in A Chosen Faith: An Introduction to Unitarian Universalism

A Worthy Reverence

A Worthy Reverence

Take a GoodMinute:

What is of real worth to you?

What captures the essence of love for you?

To what do we owe our best worth-ship?