I wrote this piece several years ago and was reminded of it yesterday during a baptism and so I offer it now.

“And wh20140223_160540_1en Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Child, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’”

After all those years as the preacher’s kid or the preacher, I can’t quite shake the habit of Sunday morning services. These days I often attend an odd spiritual community that meets in a rehabbed downtown storefront. We sit in folding chairs arranged in concentric circles around a delicately carved sculpture of the earth hanging from the ceiling. The band plays pop, folk, and reggae standards in their own jazzy style.

A renegade and now defrocked Methodist minister, who also happens to be a jazz musician, started this community (which is not a church and does not worship, but celebrates, and not in a sanctuary but in the celebration center, and has no sermons, though the minister stands and talks for 20 minutes every week … you get the idea). Jubilee, as it is named, likes to call itself interfaith because we can point to a handful of Buddhists and Jews and Pagans among the membership and plenty of folks who don’t like the idea of going to church, much less a Christian church. Nonetheless, it is a church with a Christian minister who routinely performs more or less Christian baptisms.

Which routinely make me cry. Continue Reading →

In the Beginning … Darkness

It’s December 23 and we in the Northern Hemisphere have now endured the longest night of the year and emerged on the other side, anticipating a little more light each day. And, oh, how we need the light. It’s true every year. There is no year when violence and poverty and fear disappear. Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of light during a period of revolt against those who had defiled and profaned the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Christmas emerged under the Roman occupation of Judea and the forced taxation of the poor to fund their oppressors. And this year, the longest night of the year follows an uprising against the deep-seated racism that has shaped this nation and continues to devalue black lives.

GaneshaWanting to honor the Solstice, I spent the afternoon doing Yoga Nidra, a practice of deep meditation.  Continue Reading →

Eyes and Sight and Vision and Such

Not to go all woo-woo on my new readers right away, but I do love me some good metaphorical thinking. So when I went to the eye doctor this week because an injury did not seem to be healing and I discovered that I have acquired a condition known as Corneal Erosion, I wondered what this might mean for me in the realm of symbol.

I wondered, that is, after I went into a brief panic about encroaching blindness and, perhaps more importantly, the realization that my month of not wearing my contacts or eye make-up would need to continue into the indefinite future. Life-long disability I would handle with grace and aplomb, I felt sure, but walking around with a squinty little swollen red eye for the rest of my life? I crumbled into a vain heap on my bed at the thought. “I used to be cute,” I cried into my pillow. Continue Reading →

Present Moment

Waking up this morning, I smile.Knotted tree
Twenty-four brand new hours are before me.
I vow to live fully in each moment
And to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh’s Present Moment, Wonderful Moment

As I began this blog, a beloved Buddhist teacher appeared to be lying in that tender place between life and death. Thich Nhat Hanh became a Buddhist monk in Vietnam when he was still a teen. When war came to Vietnam, monks and nuns were confronted with the question of whether to stay meditating in the monasteries or to help those around them suffering under the bombings and turmoil of war. Thich Nhat Hanh chose to do both, and in doing so founded the Engaged Buddhism movement.

I didn’t learn about his peace activism or his mindfulness teaching until I was in my 30s, a Presbyterian minister living in Rochester, NY. The first book I read was his little book of “Mindfulness Verses for Daily Living” quoted above. Simple and beautiful, a few of the verses slipped easily into my own spiritual vocabulary. “Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile.” Years later, I would use this verse each time I led a meditation day or retreat. Continue Reading →