An encouraging word

For the first 30 years of my life I identified myself as “Roman Catholic.” I continue to claim my Roman Catholic roots. I have a great love and respect for the Roman Catholic Church. But I am happily being prodded along by the Holy Spirit in The Episcopal Church. With 1.2 billion members, the Roman Catholic presence in our world is significant. The Pope as leader of this church is a powerful voice on the world stage.

To hear today what he said about Vatican II, the Holy Spirit, stubbornness, and the courage to go forward is therefore, ‘an encouraging word’ to me. Some excerpts from his homily yesterday (4/16/2013):

“the Holy Spirit upsets us because it moves us, it makes us walk, it pushes the Church forward.” He said that we wish “to calm down the Holy Spirit, we want to tame it and this is wrong.” Pope Francis said “that’s because the Holy Spirit is the strength of God, it’s what gives us the strength to go forward” but many find this upsetting and prefer the comfort of the familiar.

Nowadays, he went on, “everybody seems happy about the presence of the Holy Spirit but it’s not really the case and there is still that temptation to resist it.” The Pope said one example of this resistance was the Second Vatican council which he called “a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit.” But 50 years later, “have we done everything the Holy Spirit was asking us to do during the Council,” he asked. The answer is “No,” said Pope Francis. “We celebrate this anniversary, we put up a monument but we don’t want it to upset us. We don’t want to change and what’s more there are those who wish to turn the clock back.” This, he went on, “is called stubbornness and wanting to tame the Holy Spirit.”

View the post on Vatican Radio

He concluded “by urging those present not to resist the pull of the Holy Spirit. ‘Submit to the Holy Spirit,’ he said, ‘which comes from within us and makes go forward along the path of holiness.’”

Very encouraging words to me. What does it sound like to you?


Remembering Dietrich Bonhoeffer

This day (April 9) the Episcopal Church remembers Lutheran Pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Much has been written and more will still be written. His own words continue to inspire me and so many others:

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.

A search will reveal just how much of his writing is on the internet. May the words you hear change the things you do: for the common good and the glory of God.

7/27/12 – Garden & Compost

Beauty and hope in unlikely places

Pine cones on the forest floor

Until my illness I delighted in hiking and camping in the Eastern Sierras, especially in the John Muir Wilderness area. From previous trips I have lots of memories and lots of photos. Friends have continued to send photos (of past and present trips), too. In looking through photos this one caught my eye yesterday.

At +10,000 feet the cones and needles decompose slowly in the few months they are not covered with snow. There is a textural beauty in this mix on the forest floor. With sunlight angling in it is even more beautiful with shadows and light. The moment captured here is a reminder to hope. This isn’t the typical travel picture with snow capped peaks or dramatic vistas that make a person say “Wow,” but it is part of the spiritual wonder that calls me still to come into the wilderness—and a treasured image of my travels there.

With its different kind of beauty it makes me pause to see beauty in the most unlikely places and to be thankful. “Look closely,” is what I hear the Spirit saying. Even with its slow decomposition, the needles and cones provide necessary nutrients for the trees, food for mice and squirrels and birds, and an excellent environment for the bugs and other living creatures helping with the decomposition. There is so much life and hope in this which appears “dead.”

To make the time to slow down and look, to stop and listen is a wonderful discipline and a luxury we all have. To have the leadership of men and women like those who staff Camp Stevens in Julian, CA, who make trips into the wilderness a possibility, is a great gift to me and to the communities they serve.

I urge you to get outside, (you don’t have to hike and camp the John Muir Wilderness), walk in the heat (or cool) of the day, walk in your yard, walk down the street, walk in a nearby park, walk the beach (if you’re close to one), but, slow down and really look, stop and listen—let nature share her gifts with you. Beauty and hope can be found in the most unlikely places.

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Image: Daniel Rondeau near Black Lake in the Eastern Sierras

7/24/12 – Garden & Compost

For one person, spirituality and faith, means "being connected" to all of creationAre you in the 18-35 year old demographic? Do you know anyone in that demographic? Then, this is for you. Waking Youth is a new blog for young and old, alike. We are in this together …

About Waking Youth

Who evolves spiritually? Is it up to old, wise men in caves, preachers in mega churches, or the best-selling new age authors? All of the world’s religions are converging on our shores for the first time: Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, and more. Maybe, just maybe, it’s the young people who are waking up? In this culture, people’s spiritual lives tend to be either very public or very private and rarely do they share the inner, guiding parts of life. So, here are stories of seeking, confusion and discovery as experienced by us. You know, the ones plugged into smartphones and meeting friends for drinks. Listen as we open our hearts. See for yourself. Are we lost to the well entertained and superficial, or is there a secret life of deeper longing and curiosity that may just help save us all? If you are a young adult (18-35 years old) interested in sharing your spiritual story of discovery, send an email to

Finding Sanctuary in the Wilds of Creation by Nathan Troutman Blumenshne is one of the posts on this new blog. it is a story of what faith, Christian Faith in this case, is beginning to feel like in the 21st century. Nathan’s is a faith nurtured in a very expansive cathedral as you will discover.

If you are 18-35 please consider making your own contribution to the Waking Youth blog. If you know someone in this age range, someone whose spirituality continues to inform your own spiritual life, please encourage that person to write. Again, “we are in this together ….”

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Image: From the blog post Finding Sanctuary In The Wilds Of Creation by Nathan Troutman Blumenshine

7/22/12 – Garden & Compost

Our Peace

… in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near ….

Ephesians 2:13-17

That is the wisdom of the Apostle written in the 1st century CE. Here is a more recent expression of this truth posted on Facebook by Forward Day by Day on July 21, 2012:

Rather than arguing about who should be included or excluded, let us remember that drinking from one cup and sharing one loaf calls us to unity. Jesus Christ intends us to be one body in him. We are invited to eat and drink at his table with each other, as the brothers and sisters we are.

A group of kids looking right at you


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Image: From the internet, source not recorded

7/19/12 – Garden & Compost

From another Word for the Day

An image of the Greater Crimson Glider

Photo by Jkadavoor via Wikimedia Commons

If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things in nature have a message you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.

—Eleanora Duse (1858–1924)
Word for the Day 7/19/12

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7/18/12 – Garden & Compost

A favorite prayer from one who continues to teach me how to pray

Joan Chittister was one of nearly a hundred prominent men and women from every religious tradition and region to share a favorite prayer and reflect on its meaning for the recently published “A World of Prayer.”

Prayer for Dialogue with Greater Religions

I bow to the one who signs the cross.
I bow to the one who sits with the Buddha.
I bow to the one who wails at the wall.
I bow to the OM flowing in the Ganges.
I bow to the one who faces Mecca,
whose forehead touches holy ground.
I bow to dervishes whirling in mystical wind.
I bow to the north,
to the south,
to the east,
to the west.
I bow to the God within each heart.
I bow to epiphany,
to God’s face revealed.
I bow. I bow. I bow.

–Mary Lou Kownacki

“I chose this prayer because it points us all to the awareness that it is an enlightening excursion, this wandering into the spiritual insights of other whole cultures, other whole institutions of the spiritual life, and other whole traditions of holy ones.”

From “Ideas in Passing” by Joan Chittister, an email dated 16 Jul 2012.

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