Heading in the Right Direction

No matter where you start, you can head in the right direction.

The right direction for me today is to wake up grateful for another day of life, and the opportunities it holds to grow to be a better, more loving person. I will fail often, but I will try again.

I promise to condemn no one today; neither will I be condemned. Because today and every day, through nothing good I have done and despite all the bad I’ve done or good I’ve left undone, I am loved, forgiven, and bestowed a limitless supply of mercy and grace from my faithful Savior whom I know and love today more intimately and dearly than ever because of where He has led me, holding me up with His unseen hand. He’s been with me in the depths of shame and sorrow and the heights of joy and blessing.

I will be bold enough, courageous enough to say this to everyone. I bow my head in humility to this love that is so much stronger than anything I will ever have to face, and I’m not afraid of ever losing this love. Because that’s not possible.

And I honestly want to share it, first at home, then with the world’s family, through compassionate presence, language, action and leadership.

And it all starts with the knowledge that I am nothing without God’s love, mercy, grace and faithfulness. Nothing.

You are loved like this, as well. Everyone is. Let no one tell you otherwise.

This is my song today, and I have to sing it, because my heart is both full and empty at the same time.

Have a blessed Sunday.

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Digging Deeply

If we allow ourselves to dig deeply enough into the present, we may find treasure there. Silence, stillness and space are required, as are trust, vulnerability and surrender to the ego’s need to remain in control.

The place where the treasure lies may be dark, but it is a luminous darkness, like the God-cloud of the Hebrew Exodus. It is necessary to be confronted by the truth of the “Thou shalts, Thou shalt nots,” and thereby to see the unholiness of our apparent separation, the utter death in our wandering, in light of the holiness of God. Then, by grace, in a state of deep need, we may turn.

We must camp awhile in the desert until our resources are depleted, and our divining rods lead to the bottomless lake of love from God’s well of the True Self, the Kingdom within, the water poured into us by the merciful One with hands that look like ours, though pierced straight through.

This Jesus, with his wounded body, has bridged the gap between what we were created to be and what we have become. It is He who we find in the depth, His Face we see.

Finally face to Face, we are fully known and forgiven. Then Love begins our transformation into the person we were made to be in Christ.

Authentic personhood found in divine relationship. This is the deep and universal treasure.

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The Importance of Narrative

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou

In my opinion, we healthcare providers don’t do a good enough job supporting psychosocial/spiritual well-being (both in our patients and in ourselves).

We should strive to help people live well both in the presence and absence of disease. Appreciation for narrative is an essential element in helping to support psychosocial/spiritual, and thereby also physical well-being.

We live in a society increasingly characterized by data inundation without the framework of depth, ethics, knowledge and narrative to always make that data meaningful. Data uncoupled by knowledge of and connection to narrative is not always helpful, and can be harmful or misinterpreted. Just because data can be acquired, doesn’t mean that time and effort should be expended acquiring and presenting it.

In my opinion, efforts should be made to bring back an appreciation for and use of narrative and story and let it inform, broaden and deepen our experience.

Educational models which make use of personal, familial and cultural narrative should be developed, supported and implemented for all ages in the educational system, particularly pertaining to education in health-related disciplines.

We should stop, look each other in the eyes, and listen to one another’s stories.


Reading “Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver,” Penguin Press, 2017

My Hope and Prayer for This New Year

My hope and prayer for this new year is that God will enable me to be a light-bearer, and give me the courage, integrity and humility to authentically share the story of my spiritual journey through dark valleys and mountain clearings; paying forward in gratitude what those who have loved me have given to me, bearing witness that the end of faith really is its beginning, that in all places and at all times, the love and mercy of God can be found and must be counted on, even, and most especially in spaces within in our lives that we might call Hell; that I might never shy away from telling the truth of this great good news, or seek the comfort of sitting in safety with such knowledge that is too important to remain unshared. I say again, I know God can be depended on, even in the many faces of death, and Love is the core reality of our existence. We are embraced safely within it, whether we know it or not. This is what I want to share in the coming year. May it be so.

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Time, and the Sound of Silence

This morning, I am thankful for silence and time.

Nothing has defined silence and time for me as clearly as an opportunity some years back to visit Crater Lake National Park in southern Oregon, one of the most pristinely beautiful places we have ever been.

We journeyed to the rim of the lake in May, amazed to find eight foot snow banks still guarding winter’s presence there. Walking out beneath white-capped firs to the edge of the rim, I remember the breath-stopping wonder of cobalt water a thousand feet below, distilling the skies in that deep mirror-caldera of the Cascade Mountains.

As impressive as was the scene, it was the sound of silence that had the greatest impact. I have never experienced anything like it before or since, as voluminous and endless as my mortal dreams of eternity. Such profound silence had the effect of producing silence within…of completely clearing the mind of chatter. Words, even thought seemed irreverent. One only could be awe-struck and behold.

The presence and content of such immensity effected a standstill of time. And it is as if those moments have extended through to the present, with no boundary to everything that lies ahead. In effect, any silence experienced now is part of that same silence, comes from the same space, and is of the same blue depth as Crater Lake in the solemn winter soul of that May morning. Indeed, it is the sound and space of Heaven on earth, in an endless, silent song of praise.

So today, I am thankful for silence, and time, and experience, and opportunities to draw from such depths while trekking onward through the coming days.

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Papa’s Christmas Apples

(My most-cherished Christmas memory)

I can see my father’s face clearly now, beaming with anticipation and glee as I snatched the stocking from the mantle.  For he knew that nestled in the toe lay the fattest, juiciest, reddest, shiniest Christmas apples to be found.
You see, it wasn’t my obvious delight upon beholding a new bike or GI Joe doll that thrilled Papa most.  Rather, it was the pulling out of the prized apples that gave the greatest satisfaction.
Though I never saw the search, I know it was with loving care he must have chosen the fruit, polished the skin, and placed them in their familiar spot for tiny hands to grasp on Christmas morn’.  Memories such as these fill my life with rich aromas of Christmases past.
Then came Christmas…anew.  The apples had been discovered.  The Johnny West doll set upon his horse.  The ambrosia served.  The blessing begun.
When came a knock.  Hesitant.  Hopeful.
Papa answered, and there he stood:  reddened care-worn eyes, furrowed brown brow, curly white beard, tattered cap, shredded overcoat missing buttons, shoes with half soles.  “Christmas Gift,” he muttered, in hopeful resignation.  With compassionate countenance, Papa turned to…
the apples.
Gathering up finest fruit (the Christmas apples, oranges, bananas), he filled the old man’s sack to overflowing.  If Christmas came to the old man that day,  it came in double portion to me.
Looking back through years and “spirit” eyes, I see myself in tattered clothes at Papa’s back door seeking Christmas.  The Son’s finest fruit I don’t deserve, but such I receive.
You see, Papa’s Christmas apples were polished for you and for me, and the stockings are always hung on Christmas morning.
“Salvation is created in midst of the earth.  Alleluia!”
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Watercolor art by Lester E. Potts, Jr., an artist who had Alzheimer’s disease

What Will It Be?

We come with outstretched arms, open hands.

“Christmas gift!” we exclaim, eager to be the first to receive. It seems we have done without for so long in these troubled times.

“Good people are hard to find” we said, and pulled the raise from our empty pockets. In lieu of raiding college money, we borrowed on collateral of faith. Funds flew with the winds as loved ones transitioned into long-term care facilities. Championed causes languished for lack of donations.

Relationships suffered from taxing schedules, poor communication, harbored hurts. Loved ones’ lives, it seemed, were snatched from our clutching hands. Bad news came at the doctor’s office or hospital, and we didn’t have the strength to handle it. Betrayal bruised our egos, wounded our hearts. Clouding of minds made us wander, looking for home, for things familiar; for someone to care, for someone who remembered. Faith placed squarely in ideals, institutions, even trusted comrades fell to pieces, causing us to shrink backwards into our holes.

And in those dark places of isolation, we lost hope. We couldn’t find God.

So now we come with outstretched arms, open hands, shouting “Christmas gift!” at first light.

We come in our deep need. What will it be? Money? Restored relationships? A new job? Mental, physical, emotional healing? Guidance out of the dark? Restored self-confidence? A fresh infusion of faith?

And then we feel. We smell. We squint to see. We hear its cooing. It is a Babe.

Wonder and warmth awaken the heart of us. Linen cloth enwraps our wounds. A Star lights our center, shining all around. We know who we are, whose we are, and who stands near.

And in the touching, time is stilled. Hope is stirred. Spirits sing with angels in the skies, and we dance with Papa, Mama, and the Child.

Somehow, even the animals around us know it too….

We have been healed for Christmas.

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