Unanchored Boat

I laugh at my failing strength in old age,
Yet still dote on pines and crags, to wander there in solitude.
How I regret that in all these past years until today,
I’ve let things run their course like an unanchored boat.”

~ Tr. James Hargett

A couple of days ago I bought a beautiful, small book simply entitled ‘Zen Poems’. All are poems from the Zen Buddhist tradition translated from several languages into English. This morning as I looked through this little tome, I was struck with these four lines. I often find myself circled by people who speak of their age, whether young or old in years. It seems one of those barometers by which we measure all kinds of things. Strength. Intellect. Wisdom. Success. Failure. Personal appearance. To name a few. Sometimes there is laughter about the years and other times great sadness at however we allow the meter to measure this thing we call life.

The first thing about this poem that captures my imagination is the wisdom, I believe, of a life spent wandering in a wilderness that offers pines, crags and especially solitude. It might be that the poet has the ability to laugh at a waning strength in the accumulated years because they knew the gift and wisdom of solitude. I dare say, many of us reach some advanced years without ever learning the immense offering that the practice of solitude can bring to us.

The second thing about this poem is the word regret. I would venture a guess that none of us want to reach our middle or later years with too many portions of regret on our plates. It is a unique experience to, in the presence of good and trusted friends, to articulate those things we hope to never regret. Some of these are regrets of what we have done but most often they are those we have left undone. This is the source of the term ‘Bucket List’. Those regrets of what we have left undone can paralyze in ways that slash our souls and harden our hearts.

And then there is the wonderful image of that unanchored boat, a boat that has been without chart or course or what grounds it. This is the line that nags me most of all. How much of my life has been frittered away with trivial details that mean very little in the course of what is truly important? How many moments have been lost in a sea of activity that was more like a dog chasing its own tail than any purposeful practice of living? And how many days have I allowed the gift of solitude to be drowned out by the monkey mind of list upon list? Maybe these are not questions that you have asked yourself but they are those I carry firmly packed in my own baggage.

The poets words have urged me to think about how I shape the patterns of my days. And, of course, the ways in which we shape our days is the way in which we shape our lives. So here are my questions for your consideration and my own at the beginning of this spring weekend: How are you measuring your years, your age? Are you taking stock of what is really important to you? What are your regrets? What has been done or left undone that is important to you? How do you want to shape your days and your life? In what are you anchoring your boat?

Zen poetry is about being honest, about being present, about letting go, about connecting with what river runs deepest in us. May we all be open to the questions and ready to receive the wisdom of the answers.

Blessed be.


100 Blessings

I will make them and the region around my hill a blessing; and I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing.”
~Ezekiel 34:26

The past two days I have been at a reunion gathering at the seminary from which I graduated. It was a wonderful two days of seeing old friends, learning of their lives, worshiping together and attending smaller classes in rooms where we once spent some long, arduous and inspiring hours. I walked into the room where I studied Historical Theology and still had a visceral feeling of anxiety! It was a time of great joy and good memories.

One of the sampler classes I took was on spiritual pilgrimage, something near and dear to my heart. In setting the stage for her talk, the instructor spoke of how our lives are really acts of spiritual pilgrimage if we pay attention. She shared an experience she had had recently at a gathering for spiritual directors from a variety of faith traditions. She told of one of the Jewish directors talking of the invitation to those she companions to carry out a day of 100 blessings. This practice is common to their tradition and involves offering 100 blessings during a given day.

Can you imagine such a day? The thought energized me and sent me from what had actually been a dark, basement room into the rest of my day full of light and excitement for the possibility of choosing a day of 100 blessings. Which day should it be? Are there days of the week that are better than others for offering blessing? How will I keep track? Will I carry a small notebook to write down each blessing so I can account for them all at day’s end? Should I begin as soon as I wake up or wait till I walk out into the world? The questions and plans for such an endeavor are staggering!

But perhaps I am making this all too complicated. Blessing, after all, can become second nature if we are attuned to our walking in the world in ways that already recognized the Divine who walks with us in countless ways. Blessing literally means ‘the act of invoking divine protection, aid or approval.’ And just what part of Creation would we deprive of such a gift?

So, even though I didn’t declare this a 100 blessing day and I have no systematic way of counting or collecting, I will do what needs to be done. Blessings on the eagle that flew over my path this morning as I awakened to the world. Blessings to the barista who smiled his sweet, Nordic looking smile as he handed me my coffee. Blessings on the painter who always sits at the coffee shop smelling of the same after shave my father wore. Blessings on the tiny worm(what kind were you?) that crept across my path inching its way to(please!) safety. Blessings on the runners I pass everyday and the man who walks with his arms straight out from his sides like he is about to take flight. Blessings on all the road workers in their brilliant, gaudy green jackets. May you be safe from all moving traffic. Blessings on all my co-workers who smile and laugh and work so hard on behalf of so many. Blessings on the young woman who cleans the bathrooms whose story I do not know but who often looks as if she could use a good hug. Blessings on the oak tree outside my window which is laboring to give birth to leaves. Blessings on the little boy who filled me with such joy when he told me he was pretending to be a pirate. Blessings on the little girl who struggled to remember how to spell ‘remember’ and when she did looked so pleased. Blessings, blessings, blessings.

I see now that it can take very little time to offer 100 blessings if you put your mind to it. In fact, if a person wanted to they could offer thousands of blessings in one day. Who or what in your life needs a blessing? How will you invoke divine protection or approval on those you meet? I suggest getting an early start. It could take a lifetime.

A Different View

Church architecture is a curious thing to me. It is made all the more curious as I observe people’s strong feelings and convictions as to what it ‘right’, ‘good’ and ‘appropriate’. I have been present when people suggest certain changes in a particular space only to be slammed by others who think the way the space was, nearly, ordained by God to be what it is. Many times these changes are minimal but the emotion it stirs in people is immense. Curious.

Recently I worshipped with the community at St. John’s Abbey. Worshiping in this quite modern space, made of bold concrete angles and little wood, seems to create a contrast with the monks in their simple, ancient brown robes. These devoted men who worship several times a day welcome guests to join them in the front of the sanctuary in what is called the choir. As I sat there following the liturgy of the hours, I looked at this space from their perspective. What I realized is that nearly the entire opposite wall was an enormous stained glass window. The colored glass did not portray scenes from scripture as so many do. Instead, it appeared to be a giant kaleidoscope of color, tiny cut-glass pieces that unfolded with surprise depending on the light. What struck me about this window is that only those who sat in the choir could see it! Outside the building I realized it was hardly even visible standing on the long lawn that leads to the church. This work of art was created for those who would spend their morning, noon and evening in prayer looking out, past the altar and cross, to the other wall where light danced on colored panes.

Last week I was at Westminster Presbyterian Church in downtown Minneapolis. A packed crowd filled this rounded, cave-like space to hear the Quaker author and teacher Parker Palmer. I got there late and was crunched into the end of a pew toward the front. I peered around to look for people I knew. That’s when my eyes took in the stained glass window that makes up the back wall of this sanctuary. Round and brilliant, the colors make shapes that look like a giant fan of peacock feathers. I craned my neck to take in its gold and purple, its deep blues and reds. Again, I realized only those who sat in front, those who led worship through music or word, we’re really able to see the glory of this window. Though I was turning now to see it, come worship time it would be inappropriate to be facing in the direction of this magnificent artwork.

Of course, this should not be news to me. In the sanctuary in which I am often privileged to help lead worship, the window that is visible only to the choir, liturgists and clergy is, in my opinion, the most beautiful one in the space. The window portrays women of the Bible and, depending on the time of day, floods the space with deep yellow, rich purple and a striking red all in the feminine form. Every time I am in this space I look out at these women and pray their blessing on myself and all gathered there.

I am not sure what to make of all this except that it was a realization that caught my imagination. As humans we are creatures of habit and I have often thought it would be a good idea to change up where people normally sit in a worship space. It seems a shame that those who normally find themselves in the pews wouldn’t benefit from sitting up in the choir every now and then allowing this different view to shape their experience. And what might those in leadership learn if they led from another part of the worship space? It is just a thought.

In the meantime, I invite all of you who always sit in the same place…..on the bus, at your dinner table, in your office, in your worship space if you have one….to try a different seat. Who knows? There could be a magnificent view you didn’t even know was there just waiting to be discovered.


Spring Poems

Spring has returned. The earth is like a child that knows poems.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

These words graced a one inch square space on the lovely calendar I was given as a gift. This calendar, created by the Sisters of St. Joseph, has beautiful artwork and equally beautiful sentiments for each day. I wrote these words down on the little post-it note I was carrying around with reminders of all kinds. Things to pick up. Things to do. All check-off-able actions…..except this one. It was on my list for ruminating purposes.

I wondered at Rilke’s meaning of ‘a child who knows poems’. How does a child know poems in a different way than one who is older? And then I remembered the slow learning of lines from poems when I was a child. Growing up in a small community influenced by their Welsh roots, the memorization of poetry had a high value. There were even competitions within the school systems for poetry and music. The younger children, of course, had shorter poems to memorize while the older classes learned much longer, more complex verse. Each line repeated over and over until it stuck.

By the time we got to the presentation of these poems, most of us were polished, hopefully not speaking too quickly in our fear or excitement so as to lose the intent and flow of the poet. As we practiced our poems at home, we unfolded each line to our parents, like a little gift that was to be rolled out slowly with the finale our sigh of relief at the last word. We waited to see the joy and pride spread cross their faces.

Spring is like that, isn’t it? Those of us who have gardens are seeing this slow unfolding each day of yet another line of the poem. Tiny sprouts eek up and say ‘green’. Tulip and daffodil stems are now speaking a myriad of colors waving in the breeze. The crab apple trees and cherry bushes have opened their mouths to sing ‘pink, pink, pink!’ As I look out the window right now a lilac bush is slowly resonating a pure purple. And I won’t even try to give voice to the pansies.

If all this unfolding, all these words of earth were to come at the same time it would be too gaudy, too Vegas-like. I somehow believe we would turn our eyes from such a bold show of color, of spectacle. It would be too much and we would think this proliferation of growth and possibility to be arrogant.

But when these acts of spring are parceled out to us like a child offering a painstakingly memorized selection of a few, sweet words, the earth invites us into its own humility. It allows us to be present to the rhythm of the seasons that are pure gift, a rhythm that has its own wisdom planted by the Great Gardener. This gift allows us to be reminded that we, too, need not hurry whatever is being born in us. We need only wait, listen and be present to the single shoot, the bold blossom, the perfect poem that is making its way toward the light that calls it forth.

Like a poem and like spring, this growth comes in its own sweet time. Those around are waiting and watching to see it break through, to hear its voice and to nod their affirmation.

Now. Let us begin.



Be careful of whom you let speak for you or work on your behalf. As well meaning as a person may be, no one is you. No one else knows the words inscribed on the walls of your heart.”

This was my horoscope for Friday, April 13th. I have not written for some time about my horoscope but this one reached right off the page and grabbed me by the neck. I quickly tore it out of the paper and put it in my book bag where I could keep an eye on it, and it on me. It seemed an important admonition, one I needed to keep close, lest I forget its warning, its wisdom.

Reading these words reminded me of something we often said to our children when they left the house. I am not sure how it began or how young they were when we began saying these words to them. As they were heading out the door, when what we wanted to say was “Don’t do anything dangerous….or stupid.”, what we said instead was “Remember who you are.” Implicit in those four words was the deep hope that in the face of whatever pressures existed outside them, there were stronger ones etched on the walls of their hearts. These cave drawings pointed to the unconditional love we hoped we and others had dished out, the confidence we had in their intellect and their spirit, the deep trust we held onto that they would, in the face of uncertain odds, be true to their soul. Depending on their ages and the happenings of the days before, we said these words with varying degrees of confidence and large heaps of faith.

“No one knows the words inscribed on the walls of your heart.” Recently our Seattle Son had an interview for which we all hoped he would do well. At some point as parent, you begin to realize that you no longer have a good sense of what your child’s skills really are. Once they begin college, and maybe even before, you know they are learning skills and arts that are informing them in ways that are foreign to you. This is a good thing. They are creating their life…..what you birthed them to do. Whether or not he has the skills for this particular position is, for the most part, unknown to me. So in wishing him luck on this endeavor, I found myself reaching for words that get at the core. “Remember who you are.”, I heard myself say.

For each of us, if we have lived a reflective life, one that allows us to know and claim the words inscribed on the walls of our heart, we will be able to handle whatever happens in most life situations. If we know well the words written on that place that breeds passion and its sibling, compassion, we will never find ourselves being untrue to our nature, untrue to the movement of the Spirit within us. We will speak with assurance and clarity for ourselves and work on our own behalf. We will remember not only who we are but whose we are.

What are the words written on the walls of your heart? Today might be a good day to celebrate them. Write them down. Shout them out an open window. Dance them in the privacy of your home or for the whole world to see. Cherish them. No one else has your heart or your words.

And isn’t that a wonderful thing?

A Place to Begin

In this century and in any century,
Our deepest hope, our most tender prayer,
Is that we learn to listen.
May we listen to one another in openness and mercy.
May we listen to plants and animals in wonder and respect.
May we listen to our own hearts in love and forgiveness.
May we listen to God in quietness and awe.
And in this listening,
Which is boundless in its beauty,
May we find the wisdom to cooperate
With a healing spirit, a divine spirit,
Who beckons us into peace and community and creativity.
We do not ask for a perfect world.
But we do ask for a better world.
We ask for deep listening.

~Jay McDanie

On Sunday we began our worship with this poem. It is one I come back to now and again and I am sure I have shared it in this space before. But like most good poems or prayers, it bears repeating.

Now that we have celebrated Easter, the scriptures for worship take us into the Book of Acts. These accounts of the early community which kept Jesus’ life and teachings alive is a perfect model for our church’s year long theme of Practicing Beloved Community. The stories told within this book depict all the highs and lows of what it means to be committed to being connected to other people in significant ways. There are examples of fabulous relationships and horribly broken ones. There are glimpses of people behaving in grace-filled ways and equally contemptuous ways. In other words, it paints an accurate picture of humans being humans.

As we began the unfolding of these scriptures, it seemed a good thing to start with listening. As I observe the world, it seems to me this act is one of our biggest challenges. In the culture in which we live, listening is often seen as a lesser attribute to action, to doing, to movement of any kind. Listening requires presence, presence to another, presence to oneself. In the fast paced, product oriented society in which most of us move, a listening presence is often seen as a fault rather than one of the greatest of gifts. Even in the church, sometimes especially in the church, we are woefully at a loss in the listening department.

The practice of being a deep listener is an art. Once a month I am blessed to sit in a room with one other person who listens to my life in a way no other does. My spiritual director hears with nonjudgmental ears and very few words in response all my ramblings about my walk on this faith path. She settles herself in a comfortable chair and listens, really listens, to the questions, the regrets, the obsessions and the joys of my heart. To walk into that room knowing that I will have the gift of presence of this one person for nearly sixty minutes is a true honor. It is something I pray for everyone.
This act of deep listening is one gift we can so easily offer another. It is, I believe, the first step in healing so much of what we think divides us. It is a step we can take for our children, our communities, for ourselves. In our listening we will not create a perfect world but it will be a better world.

May you find someone today to whom you can offer the gift of presence and deep listening. And may you find yourself telling your own story to someone who offers their undivided attention.

Blessed be.

River Wisdom

A few days ago I spent time listening to an interview Krista Tippett did with John O’Donohue, the poet, philosopher and wise one, in what must have been the year before he suddenly died. It was wonderful to again hear his lilting Irish brogue as he read the poetry that never ceases to leave me speechless. It was also so healing to hear his deep, often bawdy, laugh. This interview was an uncut version of what had appeared on her radio show, ‘On Being’. The recording itself was nearly 90 minutes of banter, rich conversation, poetry and wisdom woven together with laughter.

At one point of the interview Tippett had posed a question that dealt with balance and psychological health in our culture. I don’t remember the exact nature of the question. But in traditional Irish style, O’Donohue answered with a lovely story. He told of a woman who came to him for counsel. She felt out of balance, ungrounded, out-of-sorts, even lost. She told him of her feelings and state of being. She also told him she did not want to go to a therapist. He recounted his listening, being present to her pain and longings, and his respect for what she did and did not want to do to overcome this condition.

Then he gave her a prescription that could not be filled at a local pharmacy. “Here’s what I want you to do. Every morning I want you to go someplace where you can watch the sun rise. Stay there and be present to the coming of the day. At night, go to some place where you can watch the sun set. Stay there and notice the day’s ending. Do this for one month and then come back and talk to me.” While he never tells completely what happened to this woman in her observing, he does say that what ailed her had passed and that, at the end of the month, she felt healed.

Now I am not so naive as to think this prescription would help all those who feel disconnected from their world, disconnected from their souls. But hearing this did reaffirm for me the need, I believe,all humans have to find connection with the Earth and the movements of this vast Universe of which we are a minute part. The experience of the eternal movements over which we have no part, over which we have no hand in their being, is a humbling and freeing realization. Paying attention to the sun rising and setting, being witness to the new, spring leaves as they unfold from the bud, keeping watch over the tulip and daffodil bulbs pushing their way out of the soil, puts our lives and our living in perspective and has the power to heal us.

Yesterday I spent some time watching the Mississippi River flow. It was holy work. I watched the still freezing waters move downstream toward the Gulf picking up little bits of debris and then casting them off as unacceptable, throwing plastic bottles and sticks up on the rocks for humans to pick up as they clean up the river rocks and beaches. Other heavier and more weighty objects got carried along for the ride. Who knows if they will make it all the way till the river pours itself into the sea? Barges filled with sand(from where?) were being pushed upstream by a tiny tugboat. I wondered at the life of those whose life’s work is to travel the river. What must they see in the course of a season? What wisdom do they carry within? Ducks floated along looking peaceful and content to be held in the current. A few people held fishing poles with lines extended into the river. I somehow thought they,like me, were really only there to allow the river’s wisdom to wash over them with little care as to whether they caught anything or not.

No one had given me a prescription to go to the river. I simply followed an inward call to ground myself in the wisdom of what I have no power to generate. This river immortalized in story and song is a gift of glacier and God. I was reminded of the poem by Langston Hughes that begins: ” I’ve known rivers. I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins. My soul has grown deep like the rivers.”

Yesterday, watching the muddy waters of the Mississippi, I prayed my soul would indeed grow as deep.


Good job!

Kind words are short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
~Mother Teresa

At some point of last week I walked into our neighborhood coffee shop for a cup of coffee to go. In the busy-ness leading up to Holy Week and Easter, I had not had any of my leisurely, more contemplative sit-and-stare times in this establishment. I was again on the run but was happy to find myself in this spot that has come to be a homing place for many in our community. Like many coffee shops, there is always a trivia question printed in colored chalk on a blackboard hanging just above the ordering station.

That day’s question went something like: ‘These words: ” We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” introduces what U.S. document? As Paul, the barista was making my usual cup of half-caf with room for cream, I answered the question. Without missing a beat, he answered with the words ‘Good job!’ at my correct answer. He reached under the counter to hand me my prize, a chocolate mint patty, which I turned down. “Oh, just having the correct answer is prize enough for you, huh?”, he said with a smile filling his face.

He was only partially right. Now, I know that Paul is a father of young children, two sweet little people I have observed when they have been in the shop. I am sure he says ‘good job’ to them countless times a day. I can sense this is his nature. Good job….when they finish their milk. Good job….when they pick up their toys. Good job…when they share with their sibling. Good job….when they remember to say thank you to an adult or even better to another child. Good job….when they bounce a ball and catch it.Good job….when they fulfill any of the number of acts we assign to ‘growing up’. For these two children, good job is something they hear over and over in a day as a sign that they are being watched and loved unconditionally, that they are known and doing things that make their parents proud.

But as adults we don’t hear ‘good job’ so much. It is taken for granted that we will do our work, that we will pick up after ourselves, that we will share and say thank you, that we will continue to do the acts of being grown up without the need for anyone to offer us affirmation. All I know is that morning after answering a question known my most fifth graders, I left that coffee shop feeling better than when I walked in. I made a note of how good it felt to have my answer and in turn my life affirmed by another. For him it was second nature but those two words altered my day. I wanted to go around paying attention. Paying attention to the many ways I might find to offer the same words to another.

When was the last time you said ‘good job’ to someone? When was the last time you said it to a stranger? A child? Your partner? Your friend? We know that each day has highs and lows for which we can plan and prepare and still others that sneak up on us and catch us off guard. Many can wound us and send us into the rest of the hours of the day with invisible hurts that are open and throbbing. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see ourselves as the healers we are? Healers who are ready to be present, to listen, to notice, to affirm.

It really can be as simple as two little words: Good job!


Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark……
~John 20:1-18<

Easter Sunday found me nothing short of verklempt. This word which means ‘filled to overflowing with emotion’ is the only way I can describe my experience. If there is a word that means completely surprised and verklempt that would be the truest description.

It happened at our Sunrise service held in the large, glass walled entrance to the church. It was a glorious morning. The sun was already shining…we are not the purists that need to hold their sunrise service when the sun is actually rising. 7:00 a.m. is early enough! The sun was shining, it was chilly outside but warm inside with the sun’s rays and the warmth of people gathering as they wore not only their Easter clothes but their Easter faces. Lent was over. Bring out the smiles, seemed to be the feeling in the room. As we joined our voices in song, the music surrounding us and lifting our voices even higher, made it truly felt like a celebration of a new day, a new time, a new hope.

When it came time to read the scripture lesson for the day, I moved into the center of the people and began to read words I have read more times than I can remember. Indeed, they are words that I have also heard read more times than I care to remember. I began to once again tell the story of Mary Magdalene heading to the tomb where Jesus had been laid. The words were equally familiar to the majority of those who listened. Because it was Easter and early in the morning, people weren’t as glazed over as they sometimes can be when a familiar text comes their way. People genuinely seemed to be engaged in the story. It was, after all, the story they came to hear.

Right smack in the middle of the telling, after finding the tomb empty, come these words spoken of Mary Magdalene’s encounter with two angels: ‘They said to her ” Woman, why are you weeping?” And she answers: “They have taken away my Lord and I don’t know where they have laid him.”

That’s when it happened. I felt this familiar churning deep in my stomach, the place where emotion gets buried and comes to meet you when you least expect it. It was coming to meet me in the middle of a worship service! Reading scripture! Gathering myself together I finished the reading and turned the next part of the service over to my calmer, more clear headed colleague to bring the message of the morning. As I sat down, I made myself be present to the rest of the service and placed reflection on what had happened to me for a later time. After the service a couple of those who know me well commented on the emotion they saw me experience. Where had it come from, we wondered?

Yesterday as I took some time to rest up after a full and powerful weekend, I thought back to the reading of that familiar story. I could have spent time dissecting the reasons for the emotion that came from deep inside a familiar story, from deep inside my body. Perhaps I was associating the story with our dear one whose funeral I had conducted the day before. Perhaps my emotions had been stirred up by the song sung directly before the scripture:” All my favorite people are broken….believe me….my heart should know.Perhaps I had some fatigue within me that I had not given proper attention to. Perhaps, my mind thought, I was connecting with all the many ways we continue to look for resurrection without having the eyes to see it or encounter it.

But instead of settling on any of these possibilities, I convinced myself to be content with allowing the experience to be what it was. An encounter with an ancient story that still has the power to be living Word.

It seemed enough and maybe even the point.


The Last Supper

They are assembled, astonished and disturbed
round him, who like a sage resolved his fate,
and now leaves those to whom he most belonged,
leaving and passing by them like a stranger.
The loneliness of old comes over him
which helped mature him for his deepest acts;
now will he once again walk through the olive grove,
and those who love him still will flee before his sight.

To this last supper he has summoned them,
and (like a shot that scatters birds from trees)
their hands draw back from reaching for the loaves
upon his word: they fly across to him;
they flutter, frightened, round the supper table
searching for an escape. But he is present
everywhere like an all-pervading twilight-hour.”

~Rainer Maria Rilke

A few weeks ago I was killing some time in Barnes & Noble in the Mall of America. I was rambling through the poetry section and opened a book by the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke and saw this poem about the Last Supper. It was new to me and I found it challenging for the ways in which he spoke not only for a time for for all time. It seems he wrote it after seeing Da Vinci’s The Last Supper. I am always fascinated when one art meets another. Poet and painter forming a relationship of arts. The ways in which Rilke used words to give even greater depth to the already rich and profound images of Da Vinci grabs my heart.

Reading this poem again on this Good Friday, I am reminded of a play I saw a few weeks ago. It was called ‘Kingdom Undone’ and was a new telling of the passion of Jesus. The actor who played Jesus was remarkable, not creating a one dimensional, saccharine character as so often is the case, but a compelling and multi-layered personality full of compassion, humor and frustration. Frustration that led him to say several times throughout the play: “You just don’t get it.” He said it to his disciples Peter and James, to his mother Mary, to Mary Magdalene, to Herod and to Judas. All these characters kept trying to put Jesus in a box that was too small for his message, a box that included them but did not have room for the ‘other’.

As I have been preparing for this evening’s service and the Easter celebration which is to come, I have been reflecting on how we still don’t get it. For all the ways in which we try to follow in the Way of Jesus, we fall woefully short. The saddest thing to me is that we often do this in the name of religion, a religion we claim to be about this one whose living shows us the face of God. We don’t get it when we continue to exclude people because of belief or different beliefs. We don’t get it when we see ourselves as holding the exclusive way of being people of God. We don’t get it when we turn our backs on the needy, the hungry, the homeless, the lost and the outcast. We don’t get it when we allow the laws of our churches to be more important in how we are church together than allowing the unconditional love and example of Jesus to guide way.

So here is my prayer for this Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday: May we know in our very bones the gift of what it means to be children of the Christian household. May we once again look to the ways of Jesus to guide our way. May we understand the costs this might mean and embrace them. May we walk boldly into a new day, a new way, a new time.

May we practice resurrection.