Undone

{Originally published in the Fall 2021 issue of Still Points Arts Quarterly} Beach is a teacher. Let it undo you. Let it rattle your perceptions and discipline your senses. Observation matters, the beach tells you, wake up. Beach is how the “aum” would look if it were a land form, extending in a line that [...]

Poetry: Mapping Mortality

The illusion is the rising green horizon where farmland meets sky before eye can glimpse coast, Cascade mountains bounding our valley like border walls. This home is no prairie, where you set cruise to 70 and await rainbows, uncanny wonders. Our peaks, instead, so imposing they stymie migrations: illness mortality rage—the slow progress of regress [...]

Do not Forget To Wait

{Originally published in Friends Journal, March 2021} Sprawled on handmade quilts in a grassy orchard, sharing an outdoor, physically distanced visit with my friend Karen under purple pear and transparent apple trees, I am nowhere near a desert. My Willamette Valley farm home is more Edenic than it is barren, devoid, or austere. Yet when [...]

Remember Who You Are

{Sermon delivered at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Woodburn, Oregon, 1.10.21; Lectionary text: Genesis 1:1-5 (below).} From the short few verses of Genesis 1 we read this morning, the passage or chapter goes on to poetically, vividly narrate a tale of creation that culminates in a day of rest. All along the way, we are told—as [...]

God as a Circle Dance

{Sermon delivered at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Woodburn, Oregon, 12.27.20; Lectionary text: John 1:1-18 (text below).} The Prologue of John is a fitting scripture to read just after Christmas because it encapsulates so much of what we celebrate at the holiday: God coming among us; God enfleshed; God represented in the life of this baby [...]

We Go Together

In the intriguing book Sapiens, Yuval Harari makes the case that homo sapiens dominated all other species and left behind other early-humanoids because—of all things—we were able to pass on shared sacred stories. Basically, we prevailed because we can spin a good yarn. And a good yarn builds group cohesion. Prior to the ability to build [...]

We were Made for Balance

Listening to a talk by JD Crossan, I was recently reminded that in the origin story opening the book of Genesis, Sabbath—not humanity—is creation’s mounting crescendo, creation’s pinnacle. I thought: I must remember this every day—everyday as I struggle against the capitalistic pressures, the personality pressures to push and produce in excess. Often, even as [...]

“Wade in the Water; God’s gonna Trouble the Water.”

{This essay, originally published in January 2017 right around the inauguration of Forty-Five, is among my most often read essays. It seems especially timely to re-share.} “Wade in the water. God’s gonna trouble the water.”  In the centuries-old spiritual, we’re told to wade into the healing water because God will “trouble” the water. In the [...]

I dislike online church, but that’s a good thing.

Much as I appreciate the intentions of those replacing covid-cancelled gatherings with online substitutions, I find myself unmoved by screen-time stand-ins. So many things have gone online: college courses, pub trivia nights, family reunions, dates, happy hours, book clubs, visits with grandparents, and of course, church. I honestly hope these replacements work for many people—that [...]

Fragile

{Though I wrote this essay in April 2020, it still resonates in 2021. Perhaps even more so.} In quarantine, I’m of normal mood most days; other days I tear up a lot. Part of my Plan For Wellness involves feeling my feelings. Yet some days the feelings are so knotted and complex and all-inclusive I [...]

The Other Part of the Miracle

{First appeared in Northwest Coast Magazine, Spring 2009} The Other Part of the Miracle is the red-wingeds’ return, black birds with a revel of crimson on their shoulders, a call that sags like a drawl, like the short-long-short of their flight. March has finally come. Mind you the birds perch on cattails sprung and faded, [...]

God is in the Obstacle

There is something archaeological about moving—the artifacts of past lives and forgotten experiences we unearth, the evidence of emotional layers long since covered over. When I recently moved, I came across a 4x6” piece of paper on which I’d written in large letters, “God is in the obstacle.” The words were likely written four to [...]