Monday Meditation


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Holy God,
answer to all mysteries,
restore our curiosity and wonder.
We have lost our imaginations
both individually and collectively.
Once we wrote with poetic flourish;
created abstract art
open to interpretation;
and built structures that represented
our inventive ability.
Now we approach the world
with cold, conformist,
formulaic practicality.
Need a new building?
Here’s a glass rectangle.
Producing a new movie?
Here’s another sequel.
Writing a new novel?
I hope the main character is Harry Potter.

With this forfeit of imagination
we have conceded our ability
to consider that
the universe is more than
what we can perceive.
Our senses are limited,
but our minds are not.
Why do we continue
to let our physical nature
define who we are
and of what we are capable?

We need more Einstein and Tesla,
more Marx and Heidegger,
more Musk and Jobs,
more Tubman and Sojourner Truth;
people willing to think differently
despite being told
“This will never work.”
We should insist on
more original thought
and fewer people screaming at us
to stop thinking differently,
or worse,
to stop thinking at all.

I push ever forward, my Loving, creative energy,
by imagining you as the innovative spark of the universe.
Is there proof?
No, and who cares?
I cannot define what you are
or how you work,
but I can imagine
something underlying all things.
Smaller than a boson,
yet larger than all the multiverse combined,
I imagine God.

I do not envision a petty God
who judges and rewards,
but a God whose sole interest is creation,
constant and in ways
we can only imagine,
if we would simply
once again
allow ourselves to imagine.

I am tired of a cold war worldview
where someone wins, and the rest of us lose.
Humanity obviously needs inspiration
to achieve greatness, justice, love, and peace.
From where does inspiration come,
if not from you,
our Eternal Creator and Sustainer?

Inspire us once again
to think more broadly
and demand greater of ourselves.

Encourage us to work together
to create astounding public works
that withstand time;
to reach for the stars together,
seeking out other lifeforms
who have hopefully already solved
their own economic and social issues,
so that they might also teach us
how to be one with each other,
by first realizing we are one with you,
the completeness of this
and all realities.

We pray these things
with hope for a better today,
in every name we,
the people of Earth, call you,
and in all the names
we have yet to dream for you.
Amen.

The United States is Not a Christian Nation. Thank God.

Among the many utterly unacceptable and uneducated statements I’ve heard since the disaster that is the Trump Presidency began, the most heinous is the claim that Herr Donald is somehow making America a “Christian” nation again (although I suspect that the people I hear that from are using “Christian” as a secret code word meaning “White”).

America is not, nor has it ever been, a Christian nation—well, at least not with respect to state religion. Perhaps we were a nation with genuine Christian values once upon a time, when we still warmly welcomed refugees and immigrants, believing what is etched on the Statue of Liberty; when we provided affordable, quality health care; took care of our elderly; worked hard to help the poor lift themselves out of poverty; put people to work on infrastructure projects and… well, you get the idea. Those are Christian values. Caring for the other—especially the stranger—is core to Christ’s teachings. A nation with Christian values does not build walls. It tears them down, just like Jesus did.

As a nation, we gleefully discarded our Christian values long ago, when we shackled other humans and forced them to leave their homes to be beaten into subjugation. We stopped following Jesus again recently when we started treating corporations better than the people working in them. Either way, it’s not Jesus’ teachings of self-sacrifice for the common good that Trump’s soon-to-be-brown-shirted goons are celebrating (because they are Christian in name only, after all). Rather, the ultra-right imagines Christianity as the state religion, as they believe it was in the beginning and should be for all time. ‘Murka! Sieg Heil!

The mistake the ultra-right makes, of course, is that America has never had a state religion (thank God). The founders intentionally created a secular nation. They did this for a multitude of reasons. They knew first-hand the prejudice and terror caused by state religions—that’s why they were in the colonies, after all. The founders were primarily Protestants (only two of them were Catholic), but Protestants have wildly different ideas about what it means to be Christian. To ensure no one of them could foist their brand of Christianity on the entire nation, the founders wisely separated church and state. But, there’s an even more interesting reason the founders avoided creating a single state religion: out of respect for the thousands of Muslims living here in 1776.[1]

That’s right. Even as the Constitution was being drafted, the colonies were filled with hard-working non-Christians that included Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and a very large population of Muslims. Muslims who had been forcibly brought here as slaves. Think keeping slaves is Christian? Neither did Thomas Jefferson. Nor Jesus.

I don’t want America to be a Christian nation. In my opinion, secular government is the ideal. What I would like is for the Christians in America to start acting more like Jesus and a lot less like President Trump. For that to happen, we need to remember some extremely basic ground rules:

1) Christians welcome ALL PEOPLE into their country, regardless of race, creed, or religion and without tests. REMINDER: Jesus wasn’t a Christian. He was a Jew. In Trump’s America, Jesus would be turned away at the border. Because Jesus was also a refugee—from the Middle East. [2]

2) Christians love God with all our hearts, souls, strength and mind; we love our neighbors as ourselves (Luke 10.27).

3) Christians sacrifice the needs of the few (or the One) for the needs of the many. What do we think the crucifixion story is all about, anyway?

4) Christians gladly redistribute our wealth. We never hoard for ourselves like the 1% of Americans who control 90% of all the money. Jesus’ first followers brought everything they had to the community—talent, time, gold, food—whatever they could offer, and they gave it freely to sustain the community.

5) Christians love diversity! The first followers of Christ were Jews, after all. Eventually, Gentiles joined the fold. The mix of Gentiles and Jewish followers of Jesus caused confusion in the First Century, CE synagogues. That’s when “Christians” splintered off and planted the roots of a new religion.

Early worshipping groups were exceptionally diverse. Disciples (a fancy word for students) were rich, poor, male, female, slave and free. They all worshiped, studied, and ate together. Women were in positions of leadership and financed churches. The first Christians were what we would today call socialists. They were doing exactly what Jesus had taught them. Yes, you read that correctly: Jesus was a socialist, not a capitalist and certainly not a political hard-liner.

This country has some soul-searching to do, and we who claim to be Christian must begin to reclaim the faith and remind people what it means to live like Jesus, not just pay him lip service. Most importantly, though, we need do the one, simple thing Jesus most demands of us: Be decent human beings.

Meditation: I am a disciple of Jesus. I am selfless, not self-righteous. 


[2] Deuteronomy 23.15-16 (NIV):  If a slave has taken refuge with you, do not hand them over to their master. Let them live among you wherever they like and in whatever town they choose. Do not oppress them. 

Monday Meditation

Monday Meditation
God who is our fountain of light and truth,
restock our arid hearts and souls
like the rains filling parched desert lakebeds.

Open the eyes
of those who cannot see,
or worse,
choose to ignore
the pain and suffering
of a planet in the throes
of self-inflicted wounds.

Open the hearts
of those who would deny
the most basic human dignities
to any brother or sister
subjugated to terror and slavery;
in need of medicine and doctors;
looking for shelter and a kind word.

Inherently, we understand
that we all deserve shelter, medicine, and kindness.
We know that those of us who have much
are obligated to give to those who lack.
Remind us of our obligation
to be your hands and feet in this word
by motivating us to serve each other
more compassionately
and completely.

Open the wallets of the greedy few
who hoard all the money
and refuse to share it
with even those whose backs they have broken
on their way to the top.
There are too many broken backs,
and too few open wallets.

Perhaps more than anything else, Lord,
I pray for you to enlighten people:
to return intelligence to conversation and debate,
to return honesty to the public forum,
to remove from office all those who lie and cheat,
to give those of us who love you
with all our hearts, minds, and souls
a chance to rebuild this world
in your more tolerant image.

Fill us
with unconditional acceptance for all people,
regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or skin color.
Create through us
a world where children of all races
can play together in their neighborhoods,
without fear of being gunned down by criminals
both with and without badges.

Fill us with compassion.
Remove our lust for power.
Motivate us to eliminate walls and borders,
and continue to transform humanity
into the loving, peaceful,
intellectual, artistic, creative beings
we once were
and might be once more.

In your infinite names and images,
we pray for an end to the heartbreaking madness.
Amen.

Reset

We are firmly in the grips of a Southwest Florida summer. It’s ludicrously hot, the humidity is a zillion percent, and you can count on regular rainstorms and power outages.

If your house is anything like mine, power outages are a major inconvenience. The TV, stereo receiver, even the fridge and microwave all click, beep and buzz their way back to life as lights flicker on and off like a scene from Poltergeist.

While I was working at home one day, there were several of these outages in a row. This got me thinking about resets. Since it was just before Pentecost, it occurred to me that in many ways, the Pentecost experience was a global reset of sorts. As I continued down this rabbit hole, I realized that video games are a terrific example of what happens to us when God resets our lives through both Ascension and Pentecost.

I grew up in the 1970s and ‘80s when video games were starting to take root in American culture. I remember my parents dropping me off at the Prien Lake Mall in Lake Charles so my friends and I could spend the afternoon at the arcade trying to beat KJN, whose initials topped everything from Pac-Man to Donkey Kong.

When the Atari 2600 console was released, you could play games in your living room instead of the mall. These games were more complex, took a longer time to complete and didn’t gobble up quarters. And there was an unexpected bonus with single player living room games: you could reset and start again. Technically, I suppose you could restart in the arcade too, every time you lost your last life (think about that metaphor for a moment), but it would cost another quarter–like paying the ferryman to cross the river Styx.

Either way, resetting a game gives us a chance to do a better job. Whatever the goal of the game—finish the race first, survive the longest, solve the most puzzles—resetting allows us to try harder, to be more focused, to accomplish the task at hand at the highest skill level possible by remembering what we did on the previous turn and learning from it (hopefully).

This sort of reset is what the Ascension story is about for us as individuals, and the Pentecost story is about for humanity in general.

Ascension is the goal of our life game: to ascend to the mind and being of Christ. Pentecost is where the Holy Spirit resets thousands of people’s lives, the way God resets our life’s purpose and walks us toward ascension. It’s what we refer to as “a call,” or “inspiration.”

At Pentecost, everyone is reset. There are no more foreign tongues. People are in a frenzy, but perhaps only because they are so much more fully alive, awakened now to a heightened state of being in the universe; a more intimate awareness of God in and through all things. They are more conscious beings, more highly spiritually developed

That’s a powerful reset. A change in consciousness. That’s as big a reset as there is. And it’s delivered through the Holy Spirit, the term our ancestors used when they had an overwhelmingly emotional experience with God.

Admittedly, that sort of awakened wholeness with God is a lofty life goal. Ascension. Even the word sounds lofty and full of itself. But, doesn’t life deserve a lofty goal? Don’t we all sense there is a deeper purpose to our lives?

We are living, breathing beings. Yes, we absolutely owe ourselves a more complicated life goal. I think living in step with, in tune with, as close to perfect alignment with God as possible is a much better goal than mere survival. I see harmonic alignment with God as Jesus’ goal. He is and teaches us how to be in complete harmony with the being of God, the will of God, Christ Consciousness, Oneness. He is aware of our perfection from, through and to God, the perfection of the universe.

Ascension shows us the goal of this life game is to be so tuned into God that God’s actions and our own are indistinguishable.

Pentecost shows us that we accomplish ascension through the  Holy Spirit (the essence of God that resets our being) that ultimately changes the entire world.

The events at the first Pentecost after Jesus’ ascension are about being reset by God so we can live ascended lives and be examples to others, inspiring them to reset as well. The Holy Spirit that overtakes the crowd and fills them with so much energy that people think they’re drunk at 9am is resetting their life’s purpose, and through them, the social, political, and economic structures of the entire world.

Now, nothing these faithful people did in their lives before coming to Pentecost and receiving the Holy Spirit has changed. If they spilled their wine on the way to the traders or overcooked the bread for Sabbath; if they cheated someone out of a few shekels or committed an unspeakable crime, those events will never be forgotten, nor should they be. However, once the Holy Spirit descends upon them, their lives going forward are reset, and their perception of everything past, present, and future changes forever.

What happens at Pentecost is similar to changing the time on a watch. We can move the hands backward or forward, but we’re not actually changing time itself. That’s impossible. What we’re doing is changing our perception of time. That’s Pentecost. It changes our perception of why we exist and our expectations about the state of the world.

The Holy Spirit possessing us is a parable about God resetting us so we can get back to the goal of the game of life: To emulate Jesus spiritually, mentally, and physically. When we veer off course, the Holy Spirit leads us back on track by changing our perception and giving us even a few, brief glimpses of the world through God’s eyes.

Reset. If we meditate on the idea of resetting, I think we quickly start to realize how natural resetting is. What are the seasons but nature’s reset? The cycle of birth, life, and death is a reset. Stars going supernova turning into new galaxies, planets, plant, and animals is a reset. And if we believe in eternal life, death is the ultimate reset.

What we must try to remember is that Every reset—past, present, and future; the resets we perceive and those we have yet to discover, inevitably lead us toward an ascended, more Christlike state of being, and then to a much more enlightened, awakened, loving and compassionate world.

May God make it so.

Intersect 5-24-17



Prisoners to Our Nature

There’s a terrific show on AMC called “Into The Badlands.” It takes place in a post-apocalyptic world, and although the exact date is unknown, it’s obvious from the skeletons of interstate highway overpasses and the presence of cars that the show is based sometime after our current era—or perhaps in a parallel reality. The idea of before and after seems archaic to me lately.

At any rate, guns are outlawed and territories divided into a series of fiefdoms run by Barons who control different natural resources. There’s a Baron who controls oil and gas, a Baron for river passage and transport, one who controls most of the grain supply.

It’s an interesting scenario that allows the writers to explore some surprisingly existential questions. The philosophical and at times overtly religious nature of the show has surprised me because I initially tuned in for the terrific, sweeping, panoramic cinematography and jaw-dropping martial arts sequences (some of which are exhausting to watch at nearly 10 minutes long).

There are several powerful lead characters in the show, but by far the most captivating and intriguing is Quinn, the Baron who controls the Poppy supply—and so the opiate trade. He’s ruthless and bloodthirsty, yet he speaks with a slow, calculated, genteel southern drawl that coats his evil intentions with fake empathy and understanding. He is the show’s embodiment of evil; the devil, ha-Satan.

And he is suffering from a brain tumor—a sly commentary on human nature. The tumor is a clever plot device that always reminds us Quinn has something lethal growing inside him—and that Quinn himself is lethal.

An interwoven storyline is about a female doctor who is attending to Quinn’s tumor. She’s doing so because the Baron, in a fit of madness that might or might not have been caused by the brain tumor, slaughtered the only other doctors in town–her parents.

She is a marvelous character with the best name ever: Veil.

It took me awhile to see the underlying and deeply theological themes of the show, but once I started  watching it philosophically, I realized it paralleled biblical themes of seeing the world anew, sacrifice, and our struggle to be decent humans so closely, it must have been intentional.  I mean, a character named Veil, really?

The interplay between Veil and the other characters, especially Quinn the Baron, is a brilliant plot device. When Veil is in a scene, she always reveals a deeper truth to another character. It’s not preachy. In fact, it’s extremely subtle. There’s so much action in this show and at times incredible amounts of blood, that it would be easy to write it off as just another entertaining, post-apocalyptic action series.

But that would be as big a mistake as trusting Baron Quinn.

When the Baron’s tumor causes a massive seizure, Veil convinces him to try a procedure that will poison him, but possibly cure him as well–something akin to chemotherapy, but with the primitive tools she has available (Victorian-era centrifuges, for example).

While Veil is performing the procedure—and possibly saving the life of the monster who she knows killed her family, she asks Quinn why he killed her parents.

He thinks for a moment, does this little thing where he twists the corner of his mouth and sucks some air through it with a disgusting “Tsst,” and replies with his slow, silky, mesmerizing southern drawl, “It’s just in my nature, I guess.”

As the doctor is preparing to start the chemical flow into the Baron’s bloodstream, he suddenly grabs her arm and says to her, “You could kill me right now, you know. Just turn that valve all the way. Nobody would ever know. I wouldn’t blame you. I probably deserve it.”

And Veil thinks about it. You can see her internal struggle, the clash between doctor’s moral oath to save life and daughter’s broken hearted anger boiling into lustful revenge.

But Veil can’t do it. She can’t avenge the death of her parents by murdering their murderer. After witnessing her inner turmoil, Quinn looks at her and says, “I guess we’re all just prisoners to our nature.”

And I’m like, “WHAT THE?!?!” …Pause. Holy crap!

I guess we’re all just prisoners to our nature.

What a mind-bending thought. Notice that there’s no good or bad implied here. Both Quinn, who we see as bad, and Veil, who we see as good, are prisoners to their nature. In this show, our nature is neither good nor evil. It’s just nature. Some of us will tend toward deeds other people (and perhaps ourselves) view as evil; others will tend toward perceived good. Good or evil, though, it’s often a matter of perception—both of self and from others.

Either way, the implication is that we are born this way, and there’s no changing.

I guess we’re all just prisoners to our nature.

As soon as Quinn said that I thought about Paul and St. Augustine, and all the other early church theologians and many Christians today who would agree with the Baron—he’s the Baron of Opiates, by the way. Did I mention that? Yeah. As I said, brilliant.

We humans are prisoners to our nature, and for Paul and those who follow him, that nature is evil. Paul believed our nature is inescapable, and so Jesus became the salvation for all human beings, who because of Adam and Eve’s transgression, are forevermore cursed to walk the Earth, live a life, and die—because death is bad, according to Paul. And it’s our nature, unchangeable. God may have forgiven us for our nature, but God doesn’t change what we are.

For Paul and those who followed, human nature is so bad we can’t even behave in paradise.

Paul would say our moral struggles—the internal, eternal wrestling over right and wrong we see in both Veil and Quinn, show we are flawed. I say moral wrangling shows we are human. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being human. Especially if we’re doing the hard work of moral wrangling.

I think Paul and Augustine and all the others who think we are a fallen species miss not only the point of Jesus’ teachings, but also the meaning of the stories about him, completely.

The Jesus stories are intended to show us that we are not fallen. Rather, we are ascending.

Our nature, our inescapable essence, doesn’t imprison is. It sets us free.

I don’t think Jesus ever intended to be a scapegoat for all humanity. I believe he was perfectly in tune with the nature of the universe—pure, unadulterated, divine love, and that he wanted to teach us about our true nature.

We are all divine at heart. Imperfect, flawed, too often cruel, without question. But that is not our nature. We are a work in progress. That’s why Jesus’ story doesn’t end with his sacrifice on the cross. It ends with his ascension. I think the ending of a story is pretty important—too important to virtually ignore. It’s the part that proclaims our nature sets us free.

Our nature sets us free.

Why is it that for thousands of years, Christianity has stopped three-quarters of the way through the Jesus story? It’s like reading A Christmas Carol and stopping just after Scrooge fires Bob Cratchit. “Ah well! There’s no hope for Scrooge!” we might mistakenly believe.

Jesus’ story doesn’t end on the cross. It ends with the ascension as he “is taken into the clouds.”

In The Bible, cloud imagery signifies the presence of God. So, when Jesus “ascends” into the clouds, we should understand the author meant to imply Jesus was surrounded by the presence of God. So deeply, perhaps, that he simply ceased to be material.

Our true nature, after all, sets us free. Even from the bonds of the flesh.

We are created from love to be love, just like Jesus. We have the ability to ascend to a much higher state of being, just like Jesus. It’s our nature, in fact, and as Baron Quinn says, “I guess we’re all just prisoners to our nature.”

In my mind, that’s a very, very good thing.

Amen.

Intersect 5-22-17

Monday Meditation
Gracious God,
you who are
all the wisdom and grace
of existence,
you create through
and for
relationship.

Before we took this form,
we were in perfect relationship with you.
In this form,
we seek perfect relationship with you.
After this form expires,
as all things do,
we will once again unite
in perfect relationship with you.

When the time comes
for you to take physical form,
we are formed and transformed
until the spark of human birth
graduates us to a new sense of being
and a new sense of love for you.

From the moment of our material birth,
we form connections with our parents,
the doctors and nurses caring for us,
and all the aunts, uncles,
brothers, sisters,
dogs, cats,
and even strangers
who will soon become family.

We are carefully crafted for relationship, Holy One,
from you,
through you,
to all that exists
both seen and unseen.

We celebrate
all the people you have brought into our lives.
For every story, every lesson,
every shared laugh or tear,
we thank you for the deep,
personal connections and bonds
that transcend time and distance.

We give special thanks today
for all those who have mothered us over the years;
for all those nurturing spirits
who bandaged our cuts and bruises when we fell,
who encouraged us in times of self-doubt,
who picked us up and dusted us off
and loved us unconditionally,
no matter how badly
or how often
we totally screwed up.
Thank you to all our moms,
who simply love us for who we are.
Just like you, our non-judgmental
Lord of Love.

For all those who teach us to love,
we praise you.
For those who inspire us to be generous, just and kind,
we thank you.
For those who nurture our relationship with you,
we rejoice.

In all our relationships
may we live the truth of your boundless love for us
by returning that limitless love
to everyone we encounter,
every moment
of every day of our lives.

We pray in the name of Jesus the Christ,
who loves us all without condition,
from before birth to beyond death.
Amen.

The Everyman Diary

For the Week of May 8, 2017

The Everyman Diary
Fragments from a diary dated to the time of the First Rip

What follows is the official English translation of one of the most significant archaeological finds in history. Now referred to as “The Everyman Diary,” the text was overlooked for years.

Discovered at a roadside antiquities tent in Machaerus (southwest of and across the Dead Sea from Bethlehem), the merchant claimed his daughter had found the diary in a small, unnamed, unexcavated, ancient village a few kilometers to the north.

The diary was ignored for decades because its provenance and authenticity could not be established until recently, when work at the unnamed town revealed it to be the home of an influential religious movement organized just after the First Rip. Like the town, this sect has no recorded name, although a remnant remains today.

This diary provides a rare glimpse into life just after the first paradigm-shifting Rip in the cosmos and the many ways people interpreted the event that changed our world forever.

JUNE 11

I’ve never really thought of myself as an interesting person. I’m pleasant enough (I hope), but my life was largely spent moving from one tedious little box to another.

Wake up, clean up in a little box;
go to work, work all day in a little box.
Come home, do chores, sleep in a little box.
Repeat forever.

As I said, tedium.

The funny-not-funny thing about the little-boxes tedious life is that when you’re living it, you don’t recognize how tediously boxy it genuinely is. You’re happy with the predictable stability of it all. Even thankful, maybe. Tedium becomes mantra becomes God.

I wish I knew how to say that in Latin. It would probably sound a lot cooler.

We should be happy with our tedious little boxes–I was. I was happy and thankful for my tedious life. I didn’t ask for everything to change, for life’s little boxes to be violently tumbled around like loose change in a clothes-dryer.

On the contrary, I loved my glorious routine. I loved every minute of it, right up until the time it was shattered forever that bitter-cold summer weekend… years ago? Has it been that long? Or has it only been that long? I forget. I miss the reliable timeline of tedium.

Ah, well, baby steps, as they say.

JULY 16


It feels good to finally write about that fateful day that changed the world. The morning it happened, the worst sound I’ve ever heard startled me awake. It was the sound of a million buzz saws angrily sparking through unrelenting steel, the entire struggle amplified by a sound system I imagined the size of Jupiter with the distortion knob turned up to infinity.

I instinctively reached to the nightstand for my headphones and, embarrassingly, immediately regretted not purchasing the noise-cancelling pair. Not that they would have helped much.

I put the headphones on anyway, ran to the window, and saw a gash in the sky that reminded me of a knife wound. On the front lawn outside my apartment people were running in little circles, hands over their ears in mostly unsuccessful attempts to block the merciless shriek of whatever was happening. I noticed my friend Jay on the front lawn. I also noticed he was wearing noise-cancelling headphones but was doubled-over in a fetal position, writhing on the ground in pain. This made me feel better and worse at the same time.

UNISON PRAYER: God who is creation, help us honor you. Work through us as we try to create a more peaceful, loving world. Give us our food for today. Forgive us for doing wrong, as we forgive others. Keep us from being tempted and protect us from evil. Amen.

SONG: God of Wonders (YouTube Link)

JULY 19


The shrieking continued, and to make matters worse, our building started to shake a little. I ran out my door and glided down the seven flights of stairs to the street in what I’m sure was record time. Hoping I could block out the shriek of what sounded like God’s tormented death, I clasped my headphones tightly against my ears, flew through the front door, and landed in a clumsy lump on the front lawn at the feet of my neighbors.

Our reunion was short-lived as our building—our home, began to crumble. The shrieking began to change, too. Now, the sound felt like someone tightening a belt around my waist—ad they were tugging hard and holding fast.

The intensity of it brought me to my knees. It wasn’t just loud, it was thick. I know that’s a strange way to describe a sound, but I listen to my music loud. The sound outside was more than loud, somehow more than just sound. It was agonizing. Like, agonizing over a decision, and it seeped into my pores, eviscerating my tedious little boxes.

I heard reality’s broken hearted scream, and it sucked all the air out of me, out of the world, like it was all being neatly vacuum-packed for cosmic storage.

Another little box.

SEPTEMBER 5


About a dozen of us made it to some little, deserted, not too-destroyed anthill of a town. We’ll set up camp and start rebuilding. We don’t have a lot of strength right now, much less motivation, so starting again will take some time. And who knows when another Rip might happen? Aside from the fact that fully two-thirds of The Rip’s existence was excruciatingly painful, it also created a new reality. I don’t mean this figuratively, either, although it did do that, for many. Myself included.

But, we’re apparently living in a new physics to which some people are not anatomically or genetically suited. Our family lost dozens of loved ones, hundreds of friends, and there’s no sign the epidemics are ending anytime soon.

Why did we survive? Who knows. Nature loves adaptation. We were unknowingly adapted. Some people say God is saving us for a greater purpose. Others say God has damned us and left us to rot.

Sometimes, I just want my tedious little-boxed life back!

Most often, though, I find myself drawn to this interesting group of traveling companions, this little community in a new world. The Rip has given us cause to reexamine our priorities. We have decided to stay together and live communally. We’ll start to settle in to this new world and invite any and all who happen our way to join us.

We don’t always get along. It’s not paradise. But we’re a weird little family with lots of strange ideas, and we all agree that whether God or nature, we survived. We don’t think that makes us “better” or “saved” or anything like that.

I think the living have a superiority complex.

UNISON PRAYER: Holy and Wondrous God, fill our lives with appreciation for each breath. Make our words tender and our hearts forgiving. Give us love, give us hope, give us peace. Amen.

SONG: Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth

SEPTEMBER 6

We’ve been talking about God a lot lately and whether or not God created The Rip to reset the planet and cleanse it of evil. We’ve started to get a lot of travelers through our village, which has been great! They not only buy our produce and goods, they share news from other places. Everyone has a theory about what caused The Rip. I’ve been surprised how many of them involve God.

Well, I suppose that doesn’t surprise me. I’m surprised how many people think The Rip was the result of a vengeful God.

For example, in a reversal of “The Rapture” many Christians used to blather on at me about all the time, the self-proclaimed “New Christians” say we few, good folk were left behind while all the bad guys were eradicated either by the epidemics or the natural disasters caused by the Rip. Either way, it was all caused by God for God’s good purpose.

There are a few problems with that theory, the most obvious being that a whole lot of terrible people are still here.

I don’t know. In my tedious past I never gave God much of a passing glance. Now that all this has happened, well… I just don’t know.

SONG: Glory Doxology

SEPTEMBER 7 [at the communion table]

I wasn’t very religious before The Rip. I didn’t believe, I didn’t not-believe. I just didn’t really think about it. But now, with time to sit and think and look at stars and smell the fresh desert air and break bread and talk with my friends and just, well, just wonder about everything, I’ve started to think about God.

Maybe I’ve even felt God once or twice. Or maybe we’ve been in the desert too long. But now I[m beginning to understand light. God is light. God as light. God as love, always pulling us toward the light. We have endless discussions about whether God is leading or pulling. I suppose that’s what happens when life is no longer tedious.

I don’t think God did any of this on purpose. That’s not what light does. Light simply shines in the darkness and reveals what lies beneath. The Rip just happened. I think the key is seeing God’s light in the event and its aftermath, which I never would have said before The Rip. Maybe my change of heart proves the existence of God?

At any rate, The Rip gave us the opportunity to redefine our community for the better, and for that, I’m eternally thankful. I don’t feel tedious anymore, or boxed in. This concept we call God has expanded my mind, my heart, and sure, my soul, whatever that is, if it’s even a thing that exists physically.

Hey, I’ll always be a skeptic.

I invite you all to share a meal with our community now. You don’t need to declare anything, you don’t need to join our group of hopeful peaceniks. Please, just come and break bread with us as a show of unity in love of God and neighbor; break bread with us as a symbol of a new start and the beginning of a new reality, which begins with every single one of us gathered here today.

COMMUNION PRAYER: God of love and light, reveal yourself in this meal. Fill us with your spirit, wisdom, and holiness. Make us holy: wholly yours, holy human. Amen.

[communion]

SONG: Go Light Your World

SEPTEMBER 16

Do I believe in God now? Maybe. Sort of, I suppose. I sure do think about God a lot now.

Is thinking believing?

Because when I think about God, it’s a rabbit hole. I mean, what if God can cause something like The Rip but without intention? How does that work? Can something like The Rip just happen naturally? What does that say about God and nature? Is God an active universal force for love? As my friends and I are fond of asking lately, is God the light that reveals truth in the darkness, coldly, without attachment? Or is God so in love as to become beloved objects, that out of love God must occasionally make very tough decisions. Like whether to rip reality in two, I suppose.

I’ve decided that religion is making a choice between two contradictory ideas. Faith is being able to hold them in tension.

SEPTEMBER 19

The Rip chopped up the electromagnetic spectrum, leaving gaping empty spaces of literally dead air where there was once useable frequency. I miss Smooth Jazz 101.7.

There are some funky, funky places around where poles are reversed and gravity is weak. In fact, my group has become hypervigilant about “gravitational sinkholes,” near-zero gravity points sort of like cosmic quicksand. You can’t see them, and if you get stuck in one you’ll just float there, spinning in circles until someone comes along to nudge you out. They’re not particularly dangerous, unless you got stuck in one for a couple months, I suppose. That’s why we wander around looking for stuck souls to gently nudge out of their cosmic quicksand.

As I said, freaky.

OCTOBER 8

Some clever souls have begun to rebuild a communications network, and with that important piece of technology restored, we can once more receive all manner of rumor, innuendo, fear-mongering and hucksterism. I presumed a different world implied a better one.

At least my new faith gives me hope. And, truthfully, my new life is much more fulfilling, more interesting, less restrained than before The Rip. I feel alive. Renewed.

While there are some networks chartered to help people find their way to safe havens like ours in this strange new reality, most of the airwaves are crammed with shadow-government conspiracy theorists; end-times prophets asking for money to build a spaceship (as if); and reruns of Gomer Pyle, USMC. No, I do not know why. But in a completely unreliable world, having that one reliable thing, whether it’s Gomer Pyle, USMC or Godthat’s something, isn’t it?

UNISON PRAYER: Holy God, forgive my judgmental nature and make me instead into your natural force of love. Help me remember that everyone is born of your creative energy, and make me always treat others with the love and adoration I have for you.

DECEMBER 13

I’ll probably never answer my logical questions about God. But my crazy, maybe even foolish side just knows everything’s headed toward love and light. I just know it. And I’m tired of being terrified all the time. I went from tedious to terrified. It’s time for my life to be defined by a new letter of the alphabet.

Faith in something greater, even if I have no idea what the hell that something greater is, gives me hope for a new world, and energizes me to carry that hope to everyone I meet.

SONG: Carrier

Intersect 4-10-17

Monday Meditation
God of endless grace,
thank you.
Thank you
for one more chance
to get things right.

One more chance
to tell you “I love you”
and hear you whisper,
“I love you, too.”

One more chance
to seek forgiveness
from people I’ve wronged,
and from myself
because sometimes,
the worst bully I’ve ever encountered
is me.

Thank you for one more chance
to defeat the bullies in my mind,
and in our world,
merely by recognizing
and becoming
the love we need.

I call you Holy
and thank you
for one more chance
to fully surrender my life
to you.

Thank you for one more chance,
one more day,
one more week,
one more month,
one more year,
one more life,
one more resurrection.

Thank you for making me new,
over and over
and over again.

Thank you for the gift of patience
as I learn to follow
in the footsteps of our teacher,
Jesus, the anointed one,
who shows us your intimate, everlasting love.

In the name of love
and the manner of Jesus
I will practice giving
and receiving
grace,
mercy
compassion,
forgiveness
and hope.

And with every day
of this new life,
I will thank you, Lord.
Thank you
for one more chance
to get things right.

Amen.