"Once upon a time, the ancients tell us, a disciple said to the rabbi, "God took six days to create the world and it is not perfect. How is that possible?" "Could you have done better?" the rabbi asked. "Yes, I think I could have," the disciple said. "Then what are you waiting for?" the rabbi said. "Go ahead. Start working."
A Hasidic Tale

Many years ago I came across the writings of Matthew Fox. It was in his book Original Blessing that I came to understand the concept of co-creation and it has influenced how I think about my work in the world ever since. The basic gist is this: We are all in this business of creating the world…God…me…you…all the time, it never stops.

Now this, of course, was a very different message than the one I was taught in Sunday School. That message contained a God who created the world…perfect…and we humans messed it up and that is why things are the way the are. I have to admit that there was something within me that never truly bought that message. When I read Original Blessing, my life, the church, my faith, my image of God began to find, at least for me, a deeper grounding.

If I am a co-creator with God in and of the world, that has real power. If the Holy and I are in this together, what responsibility do I have to take this work seriously? Do my part?

I’ve been thinking about this lately because I have found myself staggering toward cynicism. As I read the papers, listen to political candidates, hear speeches from church leaders, it is really easy for me to feel powerless, voiceless. What can I possibly do to end this senseless war? How can I possibly be a voice for justice in our church? What can I do to stop the destruction of this beautiful, amazing planet?

That’s when it hits me…...I am a co-creator. Little old me….with all my flaws, my insecurities, my doubts,my short-sighted-ness.  This is not a perfect world by a long shot. But it is the world in which the Creator has flung me….and you….all of us for this time in the history of Universe. And we are asked simply to do our part…..however we discern it.

I don’t know what a perfect world is. But I do have a notion of what a more-perfect world would look like. And that does not include tyranny, oppression, hunger, hopelessness, war, injustice. It would include honor for all God’s creations…that is ALL.

So, today I will fight against the cynicism that grows with powerlessness. Instead I will remember that we are in this together….you…me…and the One who breathed and loved us into being. And we are ALL counting on one another…today, tomorrow, and everyday.

"Do you want a test to know if your work in life is over? If you are alive, it isn’t."  Richard Bach

Enjoy the falling leaves this weekend………………….


"Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls."  Jeremiah 6:16

Yesterday’s Star Tribune had a lovely article on labyrinths, reporting on a workshop that is being held at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum this week. I was thrilled to see the various forms the labyrinth designer Lisa Gidlow Moriarty has taken in creating these mindful prayer patterns she has built in her yard. They were thoughtful, playful and beautiful.

We have been blessed at this church to have a labyrinth for prayer since 1994. I remember the "risk" we felt we were taking when we introduced it to the community. Yet many of us had experienced the power of this walking meditation and believed it was yet another way for people to experience the Holy. The perception of risk came from those who thought it was "new age" or "not Christian". After careful education we were able to calm their fears as we shared the labryinth’s Christian and world-wide cultural history.  Over the years we been blessed with many important worship experiences that have taken place on our canvas labyrinth which uses the same pattern that exists on the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France.

When walking the labyrinth, you stake a claim that you walk life’s path with God. That path moves in and out and twists and turns as you travel, but there is never a way to be lost, to be disconnected from the Sacred One. This is a very different way to see our walk in life. Most of the messages of our culture are that our life is a puzzle to be solved, a maze to be "figured out", that at each twist and turn there is a trick that will ‘get you’ or leave you behind. Not a very generous or gracious view of life and not a view that, at least from my experience of God, has any truth.

Each day we set out on our daily path. Will it be like the path of the maze….where mental puzzles must be solved to continue, where the construction of the path hopes for our failure? Or will it be like the labyrinth…..walking with God, toward God, surrounded by God, finding rest for our souls?

"All of the larger-than-life questions about our presence here on earth and what gifts we have to offer are spiritual questions. To seek answers to these questions is to seek a sacred path.As we find our meaning and purpose we also realize that some invisible form of guidance has been leading us. We may not be able to recognize this in the moment, but in looking back over our lives we see the footprints of an invisible being that has guided us, challenged us, and carried us through times of crisis."Dr. Lauren Artress

Your Life

"I find that I have painted my life-things happening in my life-without knowing it." Georgia O’Keefe

I ran across this quote by Georgia O’Keefe the other day. Many are anticipating an exhibit of her work that opens in the Twin Cities next week. Those beautiful bold images of flowers…..painted in such close range…it seems the viewer could walk right into the blossom. The rich colors of the Southwest, her stark black crosses that jump off the canvas at you. "I find that I have painted my life…" No matter our occupation, our work, what we create on a daily basis, isn’t this one of our greatest hopes? That what we spend our minutes, hours, weeks, years, doing what will reflect the truth of our life, our living.

Yesterday I was looking for a book I had read long ago about the stages of faith development articulated by James Fowler. In the introduction, Fowler writes about his profound experience of being brought to a stand still by a list of questions he had written and planned to use in a workshop.Driving along a road near Asheville, North Carolina, Fowler had to pull over and take stock of how he would answer the questions he was so cavalierly posing to others….how he was "painting his life". Here are a few of the questions:

"What are you spending and being spent for? What commands and receives your best time, your best energy? What causes, dreams, goals, or institutions are you pouring out your life for? As you live your life, what power or powers do you fear or dread? What power or powers do you rely on and trust? To what or whom are you committed in life? In death? With whom and what group do you share your most sacred and private hopes for your life and for the lives of those you love? What are those most sacred hopes, those most compelling goals and purposes in your life?"

Very deep and important questions, especially for a Wednesday.But I offer them to you as I wrestle with them myself. Hidden in the answers are the colors….bold reds, gentle yellows, challenging purples, shining whites, vesper blues, rich blacks…..waiting for the artist in each of us.


The fields in our neighborhood and along the roads are showing a brilliant red these days.The color is not coming from the taller trees but the sumac bushes that have grown wild, planted there by the generosity of birds. During the summer months you don’t notice the bushes so much but as the season begins to turn, their brilliance is breathtaking.

The sumac bush has clumps of red berries which provide a wonderful contrast in summer to their deep green leaves. As you walk through the fields of Minnesota, the plant is common, as is its dangerous cousin, poison-ivy. Over the weekend when I noticed the plethora of buses along Hwy. 110, I was reminded of a very significant memory which included sumac.

While directing a children’s camp one summer at Koinonia, our church’s retreat center near Annandale, the children were working with a fabric artist, learning how to take the gifts of nature and create dyes for yarn and cloth. The theme of the camp was Bibletimes 29 A.D. and our goal was to experience some of the crafts, foods, games, and work habits of the early Christians. The fabric artist walked through the woods pointing out different plants that, when boiled, created dyes for otherwise bland clothing.

She pointed out the sumac, its deep scarlet berries, and harvested some for our first century duds. Placing the brilliant berries in the pot that boiled over the fire, many of the children dreamed of the great red togas they would be wearing later. But as the berries began to boil, the water turned not red, but a rich, beautiful gold.

As I saw the sumac yesterday, I thought about all the times when our expectation of what something-or someone- has to offer turns out to be completely different. That summer our expectation was that because the berries of the sumac were red, our dye would be red. But the sumac held a surprise……gold. How often our expectations allow us only to see the surface of what a colleague, a challenge, a child holds deep within. We see red….they carry gold….waiting to be warmed enough to offer their inner depth.

Just knowing that the world holds such hidden promise should keep us on our toes, with eyes wide open, watching for the next surprise. What will it be?

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious."  Albert Einstein


"First you need only look:
Notice and honor the radiance of
Everything about you…..
Play in this universe. Tend
All these shining things around you:
The smallest plant, the creatures and
objects in your care.
Be gentle and nurture. Listen……
As we experience and accept

All that we really are………
We grow in care."      
        Anne Hillman

I write this from a favorite coffee shop that overlooks the backwaters of the Mississippi River. I come here when I need to sit on "my perch" as I refer to it….a tall chair at the back window which houses several bird feeders. If I sit still enough, and am not dressed in clothing that is too bright, I can remain observant less than a foot away from the birds as they feed their tiny bodies. Already this morning the chickadees and gold finches have been busily eating. Over the time I have come to this chair I have seen countless birds, observed them in the trees below and at very close proximity. It is a form of meditation for me, hugging a warm cup of coffee with my hands, sitting as still as I possibly can, and looking eye to eye(that’s how it seems) with these beautiful,fragile, vulnerable, creatures.

Sitting this close, I can observe the ones who’ve ‘done battle‘ in some way…their feathers are missing in places. I think of those people I know who have a similar look. Life has not treated them kindly. (A nut hatch has just arrived.) I can also see closely those who are the ‘thrivers‘….those who manage to escape any of life’s hard knocks with the fullness of their feathers intact. I think also of those humans I know who seem to live a charmed life, no ruffled feathers for them. This morning I send my blessing to all of these.

Yesterday I sat with a group of friends viewing a DVD by the cosmologist Brian Swimme. Its title was
The Power of the Universe. It was a fascinating lecture about the interconnectedness of the Universe, our place as humans in it, and the message of what it means to live at this time in the history of our planet. It was dense material but I walked away from it all with a sense of hope, a sense of potential, a sense that, indeed, we are living at a unique and important time.(Crows keep watch from the tree tops.) We are being called to be caregivers of this amazing home in very significant ways that will have an impact on the future for not only our children and grandchildren but for all the species,both plant and animal, that share in our living.

Somehow watching these tiny winged ones confirms this….. we are inextricably connected with one another in this Sacred Web. (A flock of geese just made their way down river.) So today I will take a step in what I hope is the right direction. I take this moment to honor the radiance out this window….the birds, the river, the tree, the humans who share this comfy, coffee house.And so first, may my steps…may yours…be gentle and nurturing and may we grow in care, honoring the creation and the Creator by our living.

So much, so very much, depends on it.


"Breathe on me breath of God, fill me with life anew, that I may love what thou dost love, and do what thou wouldst do. " Edwin Hatch 1878

Yesterday I spent my day getting through the lists….to-do……….to-pay……..
to-email…to-find…. to-wash…to-buy.  So many ‘to’s"! I admit I did make some headway in it all but I did not finish. It seems these days, I never finish all that needs to be done, should be done, could be done. Do you ever feel like that?

I guess the reality in some people’s lives is that there will always be more to do than is possible. I am also aware of all those who long for something, anything, to do…meaningful work that will not only fulfill their deepest longings but also pay their bills. It is a curious world. Those with too much to do, those with too little.

But yesterday, late in the afternoon, I decided that it was time for me to stop, to say "enough!". It was clear that I would never really accomplish everything, my mind was no longer behaving in a creative way, and I simply needed to take a "breather." What was not finished would have to wait till tomorrow. I needed to take a walk, get outside in the beautiful sunshine, clear my mind, connect with my own breath.

"When we breath, we do not stop inhaling because we have taken in all the oxygen we will ever need, but because we have all the oxygen we need for this breath. Then we exhale, release carbon dioxide, and make room for more oxygen." writes Wayne Mueller. "Sabbath, like the breath, allows us to imagine we have done enough work for this day."

I didn’t consciously think about the break I took as Sabbath. But as I look back on the moment when I said "Enough!" that was what I was doing. I was declaring with my body, with my breath, that for now, it was enough to simply be, to simply breathe, to allow the Breath of God to blow over me.

Mueller continues:"When we stop, we see that the world continues without us;sweet humility and gentle mindfulness bequeath the grace to stop, and see that it is good, there is no need to keep pushing. When we stop, with no chores or agendas, we let our eyes rest, our bodies heal, our activities languish, and taste the fruits of our labor."

So, today my prayer for you is that you create some Sabbath moments for yourself. Perhaps it is time to say "Enough!" and to take some time to ‘languish’.….just saying the word can make us feel better. Turn off the computer, power down the phone, put on your walking shoes, and head out. The world is waiting for you!

"Breathe on me Breath of God, till I am wholly thine, till all this earthly part of me glows with thy fire divine."


The woman was on her knees in the wet grass, camera poised a few inches away from a few newly fallen leaves. Their red and orange was brilliant against the summer’s green and she knelt to preserve the memory of their colors.  I only saw her for a moment as I turned a corner on my way to the office. I really wanted to stop the car and join her, kneeling to honor the ending of one season and the arrival of still another. But I was running late and a car was rushing up behind me and so I kept on, propelled by speed and the urgency of the clock.Inside me however, I knew she was doing the more noble thing…trying to capture the beauty of a fallen leaf…a beauty that lasts so briefly.

One of my favorite memories of childhood was collecting leaves, mostly maple or oak, and placing them between pieces of waxed paper. I would arrange them in different configurations, matching and contrasting colors… bright yellow, burnt orange, fiery red. Then, with my mother’s help, I would gently iron the two pieces of paper together. It was primitive laminating! Then we would hang the paper in the windows, creating a sense of forever falling leaves.

Somehow when I did this I hoped to capture the beauty of the fall colors and hold them forever. But of course,as the sun shone through the window the leaves still turned brown, dying not on the ground but between the pieces of paper. It is their nature, one that cannot be captured but gratefully appreciated. The miraculous cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth could not be contained. It was an important lesson to learn and one each of us, I believe, continues learning with the arrival and departure of seasons. It is a lesson that keeps us humble and,if we allow ourselves, filled with gratitude.

The autumn season has only begun here in Minnesota. There is much time to observe, honor and be present to in the change that is happening around us. But can we capture the beauty and hold it forever? Probably not. But we can kneel down and gives thanks. We can marvel at the ability of unseen forces to take green and turn it into red,yellow,gold, orange. And perhaps, that is our real work.

"The angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal,flowing from the throne of God through the middle of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life….and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations."  Revelation 22:1-2


There they were…thirty or forty geese, slowly walking in their ambling way, pecking at the ground, holding a sort of  meditative space…..on an airport runway. This is the runway I see every morning as I drive on Hwy. 62. It was an ironic sight. Just as a huge Northwest plane came over my car on its way to landing, the geese rose en mass into the air and out of harms way. But for just a moment there was the mirror image of flight….geese to plane…plane to geese.

Surely it was out of this vision of flight that the Wright brothers and their likes began to dream of human flight. We are fascinated by flight…being able to take off from our attachment to Earth and to float on the air around us. Most super heroes and heroines have the gift of flight…that ability to rise above whatever is happening and to fly away, to float gently on the invisible, to save whatever needs to be saved.

One of my favorite parts of the stories of King Arthur is when Merlin is teaching the young Arthur about what it means to be a leader, a king. Merlin, with his magical abilities, turns Arthur into an eagle and sends him off to view the world. When Arthur returns, Merlin asks him what he noticed, what he had learned by being able to fly. Arthur simply says, "there are no boundaries." He goes on to describe how in flying over the land he realized how all the fences, the gates, the walls we erect are really artificial…that when viewed from flight the Earth is all one, unified.

I am not sure that we have learned this lesson very well. Our sense of unity on this planet gets pulled in countless directions each day. We continue to build barriers, both real and invisible, in an effort to divide, to create some false sense of safety, to keep those "unlike" us out, to keep those most like us, within.

Oh, to be like the geese, to fly over the land and see not barriers but beauty, not walls but wonder. Perhaps our fascination with flight is not just about being able to get someplace faster, to places far away. Perhaps someplace deep inside of us, we also long to be able to have the perspective that allows us to see past the artificial boundaries to what is true……unity.

"I know all the birds of the air, and all that moves in the field is mine. Those who bring thanksgiving honor me, to those who go the right way, I will show the wholeness of God."  Psalm 50


"Sleep my child and peace attend thee, all through the night. Guardian angels God will send thee, all through the night.Soft the drowsy hours are creeping, hill and vale in slumber sleeping,
                              I my loving vigil keeping, all through the night." 

These traditional words to this Welsh lullaby are going through my head today…because sleep did not come easily to me last night. Today, I am walking around in a fog, looking longingly at each soft chair I pass, counting the minutes until I can sit down and take a nap. Have you ever had a day like that?

I know that this state is not unusual to many people but it is to me. Some people are "good eaters". I am a "good sleeper." I once fell asleep -with intention-at a college basketball game. I have always been able to say "I’m just going to nap for 10 minutes"…and I do. So, not being able to sleep is out of the norm for me.  My heart goes out to people who deal with this on a regular basis.

Last night as I was staring blankly at the television screen, I held the remote, weapon-like, in my weary hand. How can there be so many channels and nothing I want to watch? I tried surfing the internet….again, a completely fruitless activity, especially in the middle of the night.  And so I lay there and thought and prayed and hoped for sleep to come. And of course, eventually it did, if a little too late.

And so today, I walk in the world with less than aware eyes, hoping that I do not miss anything of importance, that I drive safely, that tonight finds me warm and cozy and asleep…….all through the night.  Perhaps a sweet angelic voice will sing:

"O’er thy spirit gently stealing,visions of delight revealing. Breathes a pure and holy feeling ,all through the night."


"There really are only two ways to live: you can live as if there are no miracles or you can live as if everything is a miracle." Albert Einstein

This morning while listening to the quirky radio show I listen to nearly every morning, the play list included two songs that were about Albert Einstein. I was laughing in the car thinking about how much fun it must have been to have written a song about this wild-haired genius, the challenge of finding words that rhyme with "relativity", the flights of fancy that went into deciding to create music about this seemingly odd, but brilliant little man.

It is a beautiful, crisp, morning and the autumn light is shining on dew covered lawns, on leaves beginning to change to their fall wardrobe while people walking outside have a red glow to their frigid faces. Listening to the music I was reminded of this Einstein quote. This person who spent his life in scientific circles, those places where I would assume the word "miracle" was not regularly used, had the audacity to say such a thing……and someone remembered and preserved it. That is a miracle in and of itself..

Believing in miracles really is a choice. Miracle….an event or action that apparently contradicts known scientific laws and is hence thought to be due to supernatural causes, especially to an act of God…thus says Webster.  Yet, Einstein in his world of proof and reason spoke of miracles.

I could use a miracle these days…how about you? The harshness of the world seems palpable these days. But then again perhaps what I really need do is open my eyes, and my heart, to the miracles that are present…everywhere. Try those leaves that are changing into their autumn garb…how does that really work and why is it so beautiful? Those birds collecting themselves together in tour groups heading to warmer climes….amazing. The lone sunflower in my garden that has the vanity to produce five huge blossoms….marvelous. The small, frail hands I held yesterday…the love they have shown to the world…unbelievable. The circle of friends that gathered around one another last night and shared the triumphs and trials of life….unspeakable grace. So many miracles….so little time to see them all.

Perhaps the genius who could have used a good hair stylist had it right….miracle or not…it is up to us. How will you choose?

I hope this weekend finds you bathed in miracles……enjoy!

"When he entered the house, the blind ones came to him; and Jesus said to them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ and they said "Yes, Lord." Then he touched their eyes and said, "According to your faith let it be done to you." And their eyes were opened.  Matthew 9:28-29