the people along the sand all turn and look one way;
they turn their back on the land, they look at the sea all day.

as long as it takes to pass a ship keeps raising its hull;
the wetter ground like glass reflects a standing gull.

the land may vary more, but wherever the truth may be -
the water comes ashore and people look at the sea.

they cannot look out far, they cannot see in deep -
but when was that ever a bar for any watch they keep.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I have always struggled with faith.

I have never really known what faith is. Is it trust? Is it belief? Is it action taken on the basis of belief alone (like the bible says, "faith without works is dead")? Is it the product of reason?

The bible teaches that salvation comes by faith alone. It also teaches that faith is a gift of God. If that is true, then does that mean that only God chooses who will be saved and who will be damned, and He gives faith only to those He chooses?

I have wrestled with questions like this for years. I have never been comfortable with faith, or understood exactly what it was, or how it works. Jesus said that if a man had faith the size of a mustard seed, he could tell a mountain to be taken up and cast into the sea. Many times, I have tried to summon that very small seed of faith and get something done...something far more important than moving a mountain. Things like the healing of cancer, or the end of conflict. It never happened, which of course made me worry that I could never have enough faith to be saved...if I did not have enough faith to move a mountain!

For the past several years, I have tried to replace faith with reason. The problem is, as I examine my life through meditation and contemplation...I find I am using faith almost every moment of every day. I least I think I am.

Is faith trust? If so, then I am trusting of things I can't verify by reason all the time. Or maybe I am trusting things that happen consistently because I do them over and over and always get the same result. Things like turning on a light switch, or driving in the right lane, or moving through an intersection when the light is green.

So, faith. I can't live with it, and can't live without it. I don't know what it is, I don't know how it works.

I guess that is exactly what faith means.

I think I am going to contemplate love for a bit.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


I do not believe in the God presented in the Bible. However, I also do not claim that He cannot or does not exist. My understanding of God - obviously - is not relevant to anyone but me, and certainly not to the existence of said Deity.

The God of the Bible never really appealed to me, even as a practicing Christian and pastor. In these years of my life, I find myself drawn to a more deity-less spirituality that is akin to Buddhism. I acknowledge mystery and otherness. I do not know if that mystery is personal, or material, or energy, or consciousness. It is just mystery. But it is worth exploring to me, because it helps me make sense of my world and my life. Exploring otherness helps me to live in the current...and that is a good thing. I think I was born a mystic, because even as a small child I was enchanted by mystery and attracted to a notion of God that was, well, mystical.

I do find connection to some aspects of the biblical God - or the religion that the bible gives shape to. I am attracted to the notions of Incarnation and Grace. Incarnation - god fully enters humanity as a human, and uses his power to make himself powerless as a god. Wow. What an amazing concept. And Grace - that our experience of and relationship to God is not dependent on our performance of religious actions or compliance to religious doctrine. Any person can experience and relate to God (as an Other, if he is) because God has chosen it to be that way.

Hinduism, taoism, buddhism all appeal to me spiritually. They inform my ideas of God somewhat - hinduism the idea that god may be an amalgam of all the forces and powers of reality, everything from weather to nature to human nature. There are nine billion names of god in hinduism - nine billion being a symbolic number to indicate that there are mulitiple understandings and faces of God for every human who has been, is or will be. Taosim, the idea that there are patterns in nature, in the cosmos that reveal the divine essence, that give meaning to what we are, and as we pay attention to those we can understand our place in the cosmos. Buddhism - well, there is a lot there - but primarily that divinity is within us, that we are sacred, and that impermanence and emptiness are the underlying realities of the cosmos.

But I also embrace other spiritual paths - shamanism, and its deep sacred connectedness to nature. And altered states. New age mysticism, for its challenging populist spirituality. Quantum mysticism, which defines spirituality as a scientific value that we just have not figured out yet.

A songwriter that serves as my spiritual guru wrote these words..."god's too big to put in a book, but nothing's too big to fit in my heart." well said - god is ineffable. There are not words that can describe god...god is beyond anything humanity can construct...especially a book and a religion. but the human heart is another thing - god can fit in the human heart, because the human heart can become (and already is) god-shaped and god-sized.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


For the past several months, the concept of Namaste has been startling my soul like a lightning bolt out of the blue.

Namaste (see previous post) simply means respect. It is a core universal power that I desperately want and need more in my life. It is what I want to be remembered by. I have so far to go in learning how to give it, receive it, live it.

Today, I had a "ah-ha" moment. I saw a bumper sticker on a car - "God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve." Like seeing through hydrogen, I understood why I have had such a hard time forgiving the Christian religion. I realized that modern, evangelical organized Christian religion does not teach respect. It teaches arrogance, exclusivism, elitism. In the 20th century, that brand of Christianity promoted intolerance of women, intolerance of blacks, intolerance of gays, and intolerance of anything not white and American. As a result, the world turned against our country and millions in this country turned their backs against the religion.

A simple example: the whole position of the church against gay marriage. Why would anyone who lives in respect CARE about the sexual activity of another person? Only an agressive fundamentalism that does not respect but only cares about who is right and who is wrong could be against a commited relationship of any kind.

Respect means recognizing the divine imprint and image on every soul. Christians, for the most part, recognize something different - the sinfulness of every soul. I used to buy into that - and saw myself and everyone else as fundamentally wrong. As a result of Namaste, I have come to see that every person (except for sociopaths) is fundamentally right in one way - we each desire to be loved, and to give love. And THAT is the divine imprint on every soul - and that is the heart of Namaste.

But the church comes along and says "NO - you can't love THAT way...", or "you can't do this" or "if you believe this way or that way you are going to earn the wrath of God and go to hell."

I reject that. I would much rather live my life saying - "I see the imprint of God on you, and I see the reflection of God's glory in your eye, hear it in your voice...and I RESPECT YOU."

Here is a what happens when you RESPECT.