In November, 2014, I left parish ministry and, over the next several months, created Shenandoah Spirituality, a new, personal ministry focused on spirituality, healing, and wholeness. In this space, I’ll be posting writings that might have been used in a sermon or a newsletter column–but with a far wider range of topics. New entires will be posted at least once a week.
Myths may speak a Truth with a capital “T” even when it alleges facts that are demonstrably false. Rational people sometimes have trouble with this. We’re the kind of people who would show up to a rally in front of the Capitol and shout, “What do we want?” and respond “Evidence-based solutions!” “When do we want it?” “After peer review!”
That last part is important. The best myths are the ones that have undergone a different kind of peer review. Enduring myths have been retold generation after generation. If no one found any meaning in them, they would never have been passed on. When reading some myths, the question is not whether it is true but, rather, why did people tell this story and why have they kept telling it?Those who dismiss a story that can’t possibly be factually true deprive themselves of something that can be spiritually enriching. Continue reading
Humans have been struggling with the limits of love since humans came into being. Today, I am focusing on the articulation of this idea most well-known in our culture, which is the verse from the book of Matthew in which Jesus is asked, “Which is the most important commandment?” and answers:
“’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matt. 22:37-40
Arguably, the Beatles reduced these verses even further, succinctly asserting, “All you need is love.” As much as I enjoy the Beatles, I respectfully disagree. My thesis this morning is that love also requires justice and that there is a difference between the two words. Continue reading
Any message about apologies deals with the lesser moments in our lives when we have succumbed to our own shortcomings, and I make no pretense that I am above such things. Fortunately, my faith in the inherent worth and dignity of every human being assures me that I am worthy of being loved even when I make mistakes. My faith also assures me that I can be better and that I am capable of growing in my capacity both to overcome my shortcomings and to seek forgiveness when I am unable to do so. Continue reading
Whatever the ultimate reality is, it was what it was before we invented words to describe it. Thus, all our words more accurately describe our experience of that reality rather than the precise meaning or essential attributes of that reality. The Tao Te Ching confronts this dilemma in its very first verse: “the tao of life that we often talk about is beyond the power of words and labels to define or enclose…when it all began, there were no words or labels, these things were created out of the union of preception and perception . . ..” Continue reading
The poet Rumi has written,
“Your life has been a mad gamble.
Make it more so.
You have lost now a hundred times running.
Roll the dice a hundred and one.”
(“A Hundred and One,” Rumi Bridges to The Soul)
Confronting fear requires taking risks, and by any definition, a risk is a gamble. There is no assurance of the outcome, yet we must continue to take risks if ever we are to confront and overcome our deepest fears. Continue reading
I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking of what is being called “the reckoning”—the increased recognition of the scope of sexual assault in our culture and the increased accountability we are seeing for persons engaging in those behaviors. As part of my consideration, I’ve reviewed an older sermon of mine titled, “Benevolent Sexism”. Here are some thoughts taken from that sermon that I think are especially relevant to today’s debate. Continue reading
In addition to celebrating the holidays with family, I’ll be taking a couple of weeks off to rest and recover from school during the winter break. My blog will return on January 14. Best wishes to all my readers. See you next year!
This year, I completed a transition from ministry to education that began almost three years ago, when I chose to leave a settled ministry under difficult circumstances with no job in hand and a very uncertain future. There have been ups and downs, but it has been mostly a good year. Continue reading
Last in a series.
There’s an old story in the Islamic Sufi tradition about an imam who was searching for a ring he had lost. The imam was standing under a lamp in a barn looking through a pile of hay when a friend asked him if he remembered where he was when he lost it. “I was standing next to that pile of manure over there,” he said. “So why aren’t you looking over there in that pile of manure,” the friend asked. “Because the light is so much better over here,” he replied. Continue reading