Mar 31 2012

Amazing Love

If this coming week is about anything, it’s about amazing Love.

A practice that I recently read about and started doing sounds a little syrupy, but the results are quite beautiful, I promise: When you see someone, friend or stranger, think “I love you and I’m thankful for you.”

I found that an afternoon spent walking the streets of Seattle and doing this made the pink cherry blossoms more vivid and the sun more radiant. And people seemed…well…more solid, more real…since I was not so lost in my own ruminations. I found myself imagining the lives they were living and praying for them.

But in greeting people I knew, the practice made me realize how little I verbalize my love for people.  I wondered why I’m so reticent to look a friend in the eye and feel the full force of my gratitude, enough to let the words tumble out, in all their shy joy.

God spoke the Word, calling the cosmos into existence.  God spoke Love and it created a vast, pulsing home for a zillion  billion worlds. What could our Word of love create?

I remember a fellow student at St John’s, Walter Kiefer, said that we have no idea the power of love. If we would but delve deeply, we would find its capacity to heal and transform more powerful and solid than anything else that exists.

This week, as you practice silently greeting people with love and gratitude, I invite you to pick one person, allowing the Spirit to call them to mind as you read this, and let them know you are thankful for them. You may be the angel that refreshes them in their Gethsemane.

(Art: Gethsemane, Anthony Falbo)

Mar 23 2012

Friday Florilegium

I’ve been immersed in Karl Barth on prayer for the past 6 weeks, gearing up to write another dissertation chapter. Here are two tidbits:

“[There is a] tendency to omit, to leave aside as not too important, the question of what the Christian is commanded to be and to do in his personal life, and to turn instead to what he is to be and to do outside, in the church, and the world, in answer to the problems that await him there. This procedure usually avenges itself. What we are or are not in the innermost circle, what we do or fail to do there, what we do rightly or wrongly, will always be ultimately decisive for what we are and do in the outer circles. Faithfulness or unfaithfulness, seriousness or lack of seriousness in the one will sooner or later bring about the same in the others.” [And I would add, joy or joylessness.]


“God comes as the Holy One. He comes and creates righteousness, zealous for his honor as Creator and burning with love for his creature. He creates the righteousness which is the right order of the world that belongs to him.

He comes, and in creating righteousness, he abolishes the unrighteousness of people both in their relationship to him and also in their relationships to one another.

He comes and sets aside not only unrighteousness but also the lordship of the lordless powers, scattering them to the winds like the mists of the hypostatized fictions that they are, restoring to man the freedom over his abilities of which they robbed him, re-instituting him as the lord of the earth which he may and should be as the servant of God.

God comes, and with him comes that “peace on earth among men with whom he is pleased” (Lk 2:14), that is, among those who are elected, created, loved, saved, and kept by him. This peace on earth, actualized when God himself comes as King and Lord and creates and establishes it, is the kingdom of God.”

Feb 5 2012



Stars in eyes,

I follow hope

to a tiny one,

enclosed in atoms

in whose power atoms live.

The Word at heart

now wordless, but for cries,

joining beast and sheep,

skitter and feather fluffle,

soothed by tones human and angel.

Four-footed friends ’round him

whisper peace,

hardly a breath as even beauty awed

is bested by rose-bud lips

and eyes so vast,

a cosmos of stars

in their depths.



Jan 27 2012

Friday Florilegium

For this week’s Florilegium, here is a stunning time-lapse video of Yosemite’s beauty.

(Please click the pause button on Music for Dreaming to the right  before watching!)  >>>


Yosemite HD from Project Yosemite on Vimeo.

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained–What are we, that thou art mindful of us? –Ps 8:3-4

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth God’s handywork. –Ps 19:1

God telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. –Ps 147:4

Oct 2 2011

{Day 2} The Friendly Beasts


St Francis by John August Swanson

The Psalmist writes, “Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths. You save people and animals alike, O LORD.” (Psalm 36:6)

Today is World Communion Sunday. This year, it is also St Francis Day, commonly observed in Episcopal churches with the blessing of the animals.  I like to think that the whole peaceable kingdom comes to worship, at least in spirit, and that a true world communion includes our furry and feathered companions on this earth.


Nothing helps me pay attention to the present moment more than seeing little (or big) creatures at work and play. One wonderful day, I happened upon a fox cub, eager to pose and pounce for my camera while mom was off foraging.  Birds are always chirping on my balcony and even a squirrel finds her way up four storeys by scaling the wall.


Recently I discovered Sufjan Stevens version of The Friendly Beasts, a Christmas song about the animals’ gifts to Jesus. I love to think that animals worship their Creator:

(Click pause on the Music for Dreaming in the right column if you’d like to listen.)

Jesus our brother kind and good
Was humbly born in a stable of wood
And the friendly beasts around him stood
Jesus our brother kind and good

“I” said the donkey shaggy and brown
I carried his mother up hill and down
I carried him safely to Bethlehem town
“I” said the donkey shaggy and brown

And “I” said the cow all white and red
I gave him my manger for a bed
I gave him my hay for to pillow his head
“I” said the cow all white and red

“I” said the sheep with a curly horn
I have him my wool for his blanket warm
And he wore my coat on that Christmas morn
“I” said the sheep with a curly horn

“I” said the dove from the rafters high
Cooed him to sleep that he should not cry
We cooed him to sleep my love and I
“I” said the dove from the rafters high

And “I” said the camel all yellow and black
Over the desert upon my back
I brought him a gift in the wise men’s pack
“I” said the camel all yellow and black

Thus every beast remembering it well
In the stable dark was so proud to tell
Of the gifts that they gave Emmanuel
The gifts that they gave Emmanuel

Practice: As you go about your day, I invite you to pay attention to the animals that cross your path and simply watch them for a moment. How are they worshipping God? How might the Holy Spirit be speaking to you through them?

31 Days

Jul 29 2011

Friday Florilegium


I’ve listened to and sung this hymn for years, but recently, it finally took up residence in that deep space of my heart where only a few songs gain entrance.

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

This is my Father’s world, dreaming, I see His face.
I ope my eyes, and in glad surprise cry, “The Lord is in this place.”
This is my Father’s world, from the shining courts above,
The Beloved One, His Only Son,
Came—a pledge of deathless love.

This is my Father’s world, should my heart be ever sad?
The lord is King—let the heavens ring. God reigns—let the earth be glad.
This is my Father’s world. Now closer to Heaven bound,
For dear to God is the earth Christ trod.
No place but is holy ground.

This is my Father’s world. I walk a desert lone.
In a bush ablaze to my wondering gaze God makes His glory known.
This is my Father’s world, a wanderer I may roam
Whate’er my lot, it matters not,
My heart is still at home.

(Rev. Maltbie Babcock, 1901, wrote this song inspired by a place he would hike in Lockport, NY)

Friday Florilegium 1

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