I have been sitting here today reflecting on the last seven years. It has been a crazy and amazing journey. So many different people have come through our doors. Some have journeyed with us for years, some for a few months, and some just came and left. Each in their own left a mark on me and this ministry. To all of you who have been a part of our journey and evolution, thank you!
I remember when I first started talking to someone about this vision and she said just start it and they will come. What has fascinated me most the last seven years is the messages and emails from people around the world. I was not expecting that my writing would resonate with people from just about every continent in the world. It has allowed me to build relationships with people from places such as the Czech Republic, Liberia, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, India, Jamaica, Russia, and Ireland. There is something about knowing that there is a language that resonates with people globally. There is a blessing in knowing that people can come together and feel the presence of the Ultimate. It is a different kind of unity then I have been thinking about all month. Read More
Years ago, when I was in seminary, one of my professors Rev. Dr. Gail Ricciuti, challenged me to think about God as an artist. I fell in love with that idea, partly because it reminded me of one of my favorite children’s books by Martha Hickman called And God Created Squash. She tells the Creation story with a God who has an awesome sense of adventure, play and creativity talking to himself in the Garden of Eden about all that he wants to create. He envisions things and creates them by calling them into being. One inspiration leads to another. For example, God falls in love with the word squash. "I like that name . . . I think I'll use it again. Acorn squash. Butternut squash. Even zucchini squash. I might have a game and call it squash. Or put my hand on something and press down hard and call that squash." This creative process continues until God ends by fashioning some company for himself--something, "well, more like me."
This whole idea of God as an artist was the inspiration for one of my first sermons, called Divine by Design. Here I argued we are Divine by Design because we were designed by the Divine. If we had a label that we wore, some sort of trademark, it would say Divine Design. Read More
The other day, I was sent a story about an interaction between a homeless man and a manager at a Chik-fil-a. The homeless man had come in asking for remnants and anything they might be throwing away. Instead the manager offered to pray with him and then gave him a full meal. It is in these acts of radical hospitality that we practice unity. Whether this story is true or not is not important. What is important is the lesson it teaches about how to practice unity. When we honor the dignity in others and treat them with respect, then we work together in unity to promote love and kindness in the world
The world is full of people like this. The other day as I was in my mart cart waiting to check out at the grocery store, a young boy offered to help take all the groceries out of my cart. While I did not need the help, I could see that this was something he wanted to do and so I graciously accepted. What I learned was this this was a practice his parents were teaching him. Each day he is to do something kind for someone. When he does he gets a kindness sticker on his calendar. When he has a full calendar, his parents do something for him. His mom told me that one month, his act of kindness was to tell his parents they did not need to reward him for being kind. They did anyway. He has learned to work in unity with others to help achieve little goals. Read More
A few years ago, I read a book called The Buddha Walks Into a Bar by Lordo Rinzler. One of the things he offered a practice which helps me to practice unity in my own life. He suggested that when someone is getting on your nerves, that you remember a time when you were like that. Marc Rosen offered a similar lesson in his book Thanksfor Being a Pain. When I practice remembering that I too have been a pain then it allows me to stand in unity and remember they are being just like me.
When someone is irritating me, I say to myself they are being irritating just like me. I think, “This person is irritating, just like me.” It then makes me remember and stand in unity with all those who have ever been irritating. When I judge someone, albeit a compliment or a criticism, I add just like me to the thought. When I think someone is loving and supportive, I think to myself. “This person is loving and generous, just like me.” Doing so reminds me to practice being in unity with all of myself as well as with others. Read More
Recently, I read this story by Richard W. Chilson, in a book called Yeshua of Nazareth: Spiritual Master. Chilson wrote
"I remember an embarrassing incident that brought to mind that the 'enemy' is my brother. I was driving home on the freeway and as I approached my exit a car dawdled in front of me. Too late to pass him; I was stuck following: as usual I was in a hurry. That driver inspired in me a whole slew of invectives. Spewing epithets I pulled up alongside at the stoplight by the exit. I looked over only to discover a dear friend. Instantly the situation changed although I had not done anything public to express my rage, I felt ashamed and guilty. How could I think these things about him? I had seen him as an obstacle, not a brother. It is the same with the other no matter the situation, from the person ahead of us in line, to our age-old enemy. Whoever it is, they have the same concerns, fears, gifts, and shortcomings we all do. Just another human being trying to do their best, a fellow sufferer of life, a brother or sister at heart, at least in the heart of God." Read More
Those of you who know me personally know that I should have stock in some tissue company because it takes so little to bring tears to my eyes. While there have been days in my life I have cried because I was angry and days I have cried because I was sad, the past year and a half or so, I have most cried for two reasons. One is when my body has been in pain, which fortunately has not been very often. The other, is that my cup is overflowing with experiencing the Creator’s love. One of the situations which always leaves me feeling humbled is when I am blessed with the experience of grace in community.
It is that kind of moment like January 1, 2000. It seemed like that day everyone was in love with each other. Read More