Category Religion

Grabbing Grace and Giving It a Shake

(A brief reflection presented at this morning’s service at my Unitarian Universalist church on the month’s theme of “Grace At the End.”)
It was my great privilege to accompany two people to their deaths from Lou Gehrig’s disease in my years as a Hospice volunteer. Their temperaments and response to their disease couldn’t have been more different.

Diane approached it with a kind of equanimity and a retained sparkle in her eyes, which were about the only body parts she could move anymore as the disease robbed her of all other bodily function in the surpassingly cruel way that it does.

Mike fought it all the way, refusing to go gently into that night, sticking up for himself to God and vigorously dissenting from the fate that would spiral him down to death at not even 40 years old, father to two young children.

The two of them put me in mind of that book title: “Grit and Grace.” Mike the grittie...

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Best of Times, Worst of Times…and the Time Between

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

So wrote the English novelist Charles Dickens in the opening sentence of A Tale of Two Cities in 1859. This was 70 years after the French Revolution he was alluding to and two years before our own Civil War began here in the U.S.

You grammar geeks will be dazzled to know the sentence went on fo...

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The Impersonality of Dreams: Going Underground With James Hillman

We go about our day lives, keeping them seamless as possible with day planners, work to-do lists, business appointments and friend meetups. We change clothes as various settings require, put sequential streams of thought together in presentations and emails, pay bills, stop to pick up groceries, get home to run down the day’s highlights with a spouse or friend.

We know who we are and what we are about in this life.

And then night comes, and…

I am being tricked and then pursued and captured in the deep dark woods by sly, evil people, stumbling and tripping, being threatened with physical and sexual violence and betrayal and hateful stares and mean, spiteful words.

This was just one fragment of several dreams endured over a matter of weeks recently by a dear friend whose life, in general terms, is going quite swimmingly...

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The Conundrum of God As “Father”

The names of God—the idea of the infinite reflected in a nearly infinite number of images and words— was the subject of the day in my church this morning. Following are some remarks delivered there by yours truly.

***

I’ve been mulling the 99 or the 9 billion or however many names of God there might be. But I find myself coming back to what has historically been the most prominent of those names: Father. The male of the species.

The mystics might speak of the alpha and omega, the unmoved mover and the fathomless void, but in everyday parlance among the masses of humanity throughout history God has mostly been: a man.

At his best, a benevolent all-embracing father figure. At his worst: a raging avenger constantly threatening to lay waste to his creation.

This line of thought has been dogging me in the wake of about 9 billion recent news articles...

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After the Fires: Searching for Meaning, Practicing Prayer

So we have arrived at “full containment” of the fires ravaging Northern California over the past two weeks. Keeping a close eye on the “containment” percentage has been but one of the obsessions affecting the local population through these days. Or at least those of us who had not lost our homes and were casting nervous eyes on the local hillsides to gauge the chances of it still happening.

Living not far from the oak and fir forests of Annadel State Park as I do, I used to look up at the nearby hills periodically and think that a fire would surely sweep through there someday. But I was just as sure that it would never jump down here to the flatlands, thick with residential neighborhoods, roads and schools.

It’s one thing for a fire to sweep up and across open canyons and ridges where only the wildlife and adjacent hillside homeowners need flee...

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