What every one of us shares….

“We are separated by continents
but share the same vast, beautiful, and sunlit sky.”

Some years ago, our daughter-in-law’s family shared images of a funeral outside Tehran. Held to commemorate the life of a grandmother on her father’s side, and as customary in the Middle East, the funeral procession took place outdoors. Surrounded by family and friends, several men, including our daughter-in-law’s father, carried the deceased. Wrapped in linen cloth, the body lay on a narrow platform hoisted on the shoulders of men who brought her to her final resting place.  

The palpable grief of those during the procession and subsequent burial all took place against the backdrop of a vast, blue, sunlit sky. As the funeral came to a close, our daughter-in-law’s father took the body of his mother into his arms and gently placed her in a freshly dug grave. 

Death comes to all of us. Yet the images of these past weeks from the land of Israel and Palestine are saturated with atrocity. There is death that comes after a long life, and then there is the kind of death that is senseless, depraved, and malevolent. No matter what side we may find ourselves on, can any of us justify the annihilation of children and youth? Can any one of us excuse unleashing weapons of mass destruction aimed not at military targets but at whole neighborhoods and cities?   

I ponder these questions in the face of the mayhem that continues in what is also known as the Holy Land. Located between the Mediterranean Sea and the Eastern Bank of the Jordan River, a land of significance for Jews, Christians, and Muslims for decades, it is also a land saturated by war and grief. But lest we forget, every single one of us shares the same vast, beautiful, and sunlit sky.  

Prayer: Divine Maker, when we find ourselves consumed with anger and grief but at a loss for words, compel us to lift our eyes to the hills from whence your help comes. [2] Through your grace, may we have the courage to refrain from violence, instead asking the difficult questions that persist. For just as grief comes to every single one of us, You hold us in the embrace of the same vast, beautiful, and sunlit sky. Amen

[1]  Sunset off the coast of Rhode Island, January 2021

[2] Psalm 121

Turning the Tables on Big Oil

Who would have thought that a handful of Montana youth could successfully win their day in court and against Big Oil at that? But then, every once in a while, the young Davids of this world triumph over behemoths like Goliath. Now, other states are looking to these youth and their strategy as a blueprint.  

Does this mean fossil fuel is on its way out? Hardly. The clash between conservative ideologues seeking to shield fossil fuel industries from climate action and those advocating for renewable energy to limit the amount of carbon pumped into the atmosphere continues unabated. As with Texas, oil is considered the “lifeblood” of Montana’s economy…even though the state has warmed faster than the national average, heating up to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit since 1950. [1] Nevertheless:

Montana has never denied a fossil fuel permit, whether for extraction, transportation, or burning fossil fuels. In a 2022 debate, then-candidate Ryan Zinke, now a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives, proudly said he wanted no part of the clean energy transition… During this winter’s legislative session, state lawmakers tried to ban teaching scientific theories in K-12 education. They passed new laws that blocked cities from making policies that would encourage non-fossil energy sources. [2]

What these youths did and continue to lobby for is profound, which makes it all the more imperative that the rest of us support their efforts by continuing to press onward for a healthier and greener world. It isn’t just up to the young. They can’t do it on their own, nor should they. The peril of ecological devastation falls more heavily on them while inflicting future generations.  We all have work to do. We must join hands and do all we can to save our planet and God’s beloved Creation. As it is often said, “This is the only home we’ve got.”

Prayer: In your providence, Divine Creator, instill within us the conviction that the best way to cope with climate grief is to do what we can when we can, despite the obstacles and inevitable setbacks. Teach us to stand in solidarity with our children and youth, those of this generation and the next. Grant us your vision of hope; we pray so as to be faithful till the end. We ask this in all the holy names of God. Amen.

[1] Even a 1.8% increase in temperature spells trouble for our climate: imhttps://www.climate.gov/news-features/climate-qa/global-warming-18%C2%B0-f-1%C2%B0-c-seems-small-so-why-change-global-temperature

[2] https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2023/06/inside-the-unexpectedly-wild-landmark-montana-youth-climate-trial/

[3] On this 9/11 anniversary,  we hold dear the memory of all those who lost their lives while carrying the hope for a saner and more compassionate world.   


  “I want to do my part,” she said with earnest, “but with so much unraveling taking place across the planet, I wonder if I can do anything.”

  The sage nodded with understanding, “Going in with eyes wide open isn’t cynicism,” he said. “Nor is having severe misgivings about doing your part a sign of hopelessness. What if wanting to do your part despite raging wildfires, upending hurricanes, vitriolic conflicts, and violence inflicted on the most vulnerable is evidence of something more tangible…such as an awakening?”

  “Isn’t everyone awake?” she replied.  

At this, the wizened old man shook his head sadly. “No,” he said. “The awakening I speak of asks something of us. To be awake is to ‘wake up in this world instead of waiting for the next.’ [1] It is choosing to do your part, however small and insignificant that may seem at the time.”  

“But what if others resent it when I do my part?” she responded. “Giving lip service to exercising one’s conscience is one thing. But advocating for those on the margins – the poor, the indigent, the migrant, the homeless, and the welfare of our planet – can get you into trouble. Some are so angry they only see things in terms of winning and losing.”

At this, the sage smiled. “My dear child, if you get into trouble for doing what the conscionable thing to do is, what is the just, the compassionate, and the merciful thing to do, then you will be keeping company with the likes of Francis of Assisi, Harriet Tubman, and Martin Luther King, Jr.” He then added, “Their own awakening meant they had to do their part – however difficult their task and misunderstood they were in their time.” [2]

“Besides,” he added, “you won’t be alone no matter the obstacles. For you will keep company with the saints, the prophets, and the activists who have gone before you and those who stand with you now.”

Closing Prayer: Divine Maker, in the face of so much uncertainty and despair, summon me to keep company with the least of these. Teach me that by doing my part, however seemingly insignificant, I will join those who have been let in on the big divine secret.  That to exercise one’s conscience despite the cost – bestows that most paradoxical of blessings – which is to receive the coming of the Lord. [3]   We offer this in all the holy names of God. Amen. 

[1] Center for Action and Contemplation

[2] https://www.ncronline.org/news/rohr-church-needs-awakening-soul

[] Matthew 24:42 


Sentinels Amongst Us

Who would have thought that the most fragile among us are sentinels? Like a watchman posted at the ancient city gate to warn of an impending attack: bees, bats, swallows, aquatic creatures, and canaries are harbingers of disaster as well. Being more susceptible to toxins, the meme, ‘Canary in the coal mine,” refers to the practice adopted in the late 19th century. Used as sentinels to warn against dangerous contaminants, coal miners brought canaries deep into the mine shafts with them.

Like the canaries in the coal mines who perished, many species have succumbed these past decades. Be it the air we breathe, the water we drink, escalating temperatures, flooding, and loss of arable soil coupled with diminished forested lands, the number of creatures on our planet is plummeting. However, they are no longer the only ones at risk. Humans across the globe: the homeless, the impoverished, people of color, and those who labor in crippling heat, such as firefighters and first responders, have joined their ranks.  

Before the rest of us know something is amiss, others continue serving as sentinels.   These prophets and prognosticators warn the rest of us of current and impending danger despite the pushback from those who insist on business as usual. On the streets and byways, they are human harbingers attuned to impending destruction – be it to our democracy, the ever-widening gulf between the haves and have-nots, and the assault upon the planet that sustains us. Like the canary in the coal mine, to ignore them is to do so at our peril.  

Prayer: Divine Maker, thank you for those who serve as vanguards and prophets. Summon us to awaken to your voice and presence, as evidenced in the most fragile and attuned amongst us. We ask this in all the holy names of God. Amen.

[1] This blog is dedicated to a sentinel who has given her life to the service of the earth, humankind, and institutions that seek the common good.    A prophet and prognosticator, she is the canary in the coal mine for the rest of us.   

[2] “US honeybees suffer second deadliest season on record,” The Guardian, June 23, 2023.



“The Slaughter Right in Front of Us”

  A phrase attributed to Jesus states, “Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.”  While the never-ending violence comes from guns, not swords, I’ve long struggled with Jesus’ words.  Consider that those demanding or legislating the use of these weapons aren’t the ones slaughtered but the innocent: children in classrooms, young children and families in their homes, and shoppers at grocery stores and shopping malls. They are the ones sacrificed, not those responsible for their proliferation.

  Yet imagine if Jesus’ words weren’t directed solely at perpetrators but at those determined to keep it a way of life.   Those who blindly believe that the slaughter of innocents is a necessary price for freedom.   Those who vigorously dismantle any attempt to limit access to high-capacity rifles because they insist it violates personal rights.   Those whose goal is assuaging their base politically no matter the cost.

  Writes author Clint Smith, “I want to walk past the school where my son will attend kindergarten next year and see a place that will keep him safe. But this is impossible. We live in a country …where legislation is written — and erased — by the gun lobby. Where manipulations and distortions of Second Amendment rights prevent politicians from enacting any semblance of sensible laws that would at least attempt to prevent this. Where claims about what our Founders wanted supersede the slaughter we see right in front of us. Where the cocktail of easily accessible guns and the normalizing of extremist views makes nowhere feel safe.”

  Will there ever come a time when enough is enough?   When truly good citizens will triumph over this madness and make our schools, playgrounds, and markets safe again?   When those for whom the common good is not an alien concept but the ethical framework by which society flourishes?

  Thoughts and prayers are not enough.   Nor will those who continue to prolong this carnage ever change.  We need not “live by the sword,” but as responsible citizens and people of goodwill, we can choose to do all we can to rid our nation of this carnage.

   If your representative is beholden to the gun lobby rather than your child’s safety, the power of the vote is in your hands.  If your news station turns a blind eye or even promotes the use of assault weapons, you don’t have to follow them.   And for those who speak of “constitutional rights” as justification for this slaughter, you can rest assured they lost their moral compass ages ago.

   “Hope is a human virtue,” writes Rabbi Jonathan Sacks,  “…at its ultimate is the belief that God is mindful of our aspirations; [and thus] God has given us the means to save us from ourselves; so we are not wrong to dream, wish and work for a better world.”

  May it be so.  

[1] Credit…Léon Cogniet/Musée des Beaux-Arts, via Alamy

[2] The Gospel of Matthew 26:52

[3] Clint Smith, The Atlantic, No Parent Should Have to Live Like This, May 25, 2022

[4] Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, The Dignity of Difference: How to Avoid the Clash of Civilizations (London: Continuum, 2003), 207.

Creation’s Tridiuum

“My kingdom is not of this world,” he said.
Though the Roman prefect before him
proved incapable of wielding anything save violence,
for the rest of us, a universe of possibility opened

By Jesus’ words, he leads us to consider
that his kingdom is not an ethereal cloud,
a remote outpost in the outer reaches of space,
or an unattainable place for the rest of the ordinary lot

No, the realm he spoke of is Creation itself,
a paradise born of Eden, where the command
to “till and keep” meant that the garden never
belonged to us, but God alone.

And You, mistaken for the gardener awash in the first light of morning,
Raise us to take up the mantle as intended from the beginning,
Tending each other, the lands and seas, the valleys and mountains, and all the earth’s creatures, For the Creator’s sake and not our own.

[1]  Sundown on Maundy Thursday to sundown on Easter Sunday is considered the most solemn of the liturgical year.   This three-day period is known as the Easter Triduum.

[2] John 18:36

[3] Genesis 2:15

[4] John 20:15

Love’s Endeavor

“The endeavor to genuinely love engages all our emotions.” [1]

Imagine if love’s goodness includes facing the obstacle that challenges us?     Which, of course, seems counterintuitive.  If love is genuine, it should be experienced as uplifting, inspiring, or consoling, right?  Any indication otherwise refutes it as satisfying the auspices of love.

Yet what if authentic love insists on not being limited?    What if love means engaging ALL of our emotions?    Those we gravitate to, such as a sense of belonging, intimacy, trustfulness, and tenderness, and those we do our utmost to avoid: raw, fierce,  deeply honest, and fearful emotions.

Loving this way makes a “…personal, spiritual, ethical, and moral demand on us.” [1]  An insistent love, yes, but a wholly inclusive one.  A love not separated from the truth but bound up in it.  A love that is inconvenient and even hurtful at times.   But a love that also moves us beyond sentiment and into the realm of trustful connections, authentic living, and even joy.

Prayer: On this St. Valentine’s Day, Limitless One, we give thanks that your summons to love authentically is not in opposition to living joyfully.  Instead, in your fierceness and fullness, you seek to complete us, humankind, and all Creation.  May we, as your children, incarnate your love, a love not separated from the truth but bound up in it.  We ask this in all the holy names of God. Amen.

  [1]  Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, an author and activist, Rev. Lewis is the Senior Minister for Public Theology and Transformation at Middle Church in NYC



“You don’t have to prove anything…”

“‘You don’t have to
prove anything,’ my mother said.
‘Just be ready
for what God sends.'”
William Stafford, his final poem, written on the morning of his death

William Stafford came from a highly literate family, even though his determinative years emerged during the depression.  Nor did he have the advantage of growing up and attending schools in the same setting.  Instead, his father moved his family from town to town in search of work.  To help out, young William worked as an electrician’s apprentice, delivered newspapers, worked in sugar beet fields, and raised vegetables.    Perhaps, despite being frequently uprooted, the tasks of everyday work, along with reading and paying attention even to the ordinary, proved to be formative.

“You don’t have to prove anything,” his mother had once told him.  “Just be ready for what God sends.”   Written on the morning of his death, these words reflect a man for whom attentiveness and readiness were an indelible hallmark of his writing.    Be it a grassy riverbank, the rustle of leaves on a sturdy oak, the brilliance of stars in the night sky, inflections of speech, or musing on the wisdom of Native Americans, his parents, and other writers, his was a life that “followed that golden thread” to where it would lead him.   His legacy as a writer, a poet, and a conscientious objector, was forged through being ready for what God might send.

Prayer: Divine Maker, In the face of the unraveling of our planet and, at times, our lives, remind us that we don’t have to prove anything.    Instead, teach us to be attentive and ready for what you might send, for this is where your Message of consolation, encouragement, and strength is made real.  Resting in the assurance of your boundless love, we pray this in all the holy names of God. Amen.



God is always needing to be born…


“We are all meant to be mothers of God. What good is it to me if this eternal birth of the Divine Son takes place unceasingly but not within myself? And what good is it to me if Mary is full of grace, but I am not also full of grace? What good is it to me for the Creator to give birth to his Son if I do not also give birth to him in my time and culture?” Meister Eckhart

Eckhart was ahead of his time. So it shouldn’t surprise us that his preaching and teaching in 13th/14th century Germany was considered, at best, scandalous.   Considered a heretic by the church hierarchy, the suggestion that the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God, having been born in the person of Jesus, still needed to be delivered elsewhere was shocking. Deemed unorthodox and, thereby, dangerous, Eckhart was summoned to be brought before the Inquisition.

But what if God needs to be born time and time again…and by each of us no less? What if, as scandalous as this may sound, “we are all meant to be mothers of God?” If this is so, the implications are nothing less than profound! Imagine if the practice of genuine forgiveness – is nothing less than birthing the grace of God? Imagine if making honest amends for whatever wrong we’ve done can usher in the holy? What if helping an elder cross a busy intersection, giving a weary store cashier a warm smile, or protecting a section of forest from further development, can birth God?

Prayer: Divine Maker, In the wake of so much sorrow and isolation, you summon us to be nothing less than mothers of God. We give thanks that your summons is not in opposition to a life of freedom, joy, and peace…but attests to the luminescent reality that the Kingdom of God dwells within. We pray this in all the holy names of God. Amen.






The Blessing of the Longest Night

This is the night when you can trust,
that any direction you go,
you will be walking toward the dawn.  [2]

Can we trust that the direction we’re headed will get us there?   How about those times when we were certain that the path was the right one…only to discover that we’ve lost our way?     What of those times when we’re unsure what lies beyond the bend?

But to the ancients, Winter Solistice signified that despite missteps and misfortune, something altogether mysterious was afoot.   From the neolithic structures in England and Ireland, the worship of the gods Apollo and Saturn by the ancient Greeks and Romans, observances by the Native Americans, and the ancient Persian festival of Shab-e Yalda, this union of awareness emerges and takes hold.   Even when Christianity emerged onto the world scene, ancient winter solstice celebrations became incorporated into Christmas.

What, then, is the Blessing of the Longest Night?    Though the world’s peoples are separated by geography and culture; language and religion; ethnicity, national identity, and borders; the longest night ushers in a shared human experience.   A shared experience marked by a sense of wonder and celebration.    Despite all that divides us as the human family,   for the briefest moments, we become one.   A union and blessing that walks us and all creation toward a new dawn and a new beginning.

[1] Image by SASCHA SCHUERMANN Credit: AFP/Getty Images

[1] An excerpt from Jan L. Richardson’s poem, Blessing for the Longest Night.