Monday, 30 October 2017

Eastern Diocese Clergy Conference 2017: Let Go, Let Be, and Receive the Spirit in All Things



In this season of change and transition for the Church in our society, Bishop Geoff, among others, has recognised the need for our clergy and people to listen more deeply to how the Spirit is forming a new and emerging church. Two years ago he invited The Rev’d Dr. Winston Charles and the Rev’d Carole Crumley (both Episcopal priests and both directors at Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation in Washington DC) to come to the diocese and to lead a clergy conference on the practice of deepening contemplative prayer - listening for Spirit not only with our thinking minds but also, and more importantly, with our deeper spiritual hearts. The encouragement and experience of deepening contemplative prayer at that conference resonated so well amongst the clergy, the Bishop invited Winston and Carole to return to the diocese and lead another conference this October past. In addition to encouraging deepening contemplative prayer practice, this second conference was also about intentional listening from our deeper spiritual hearts as to what the Spirit is doing in the emerging church during this time of institutional transition and change. In the context and practice of contemplative prayer, the invitation in the movement and flow of the conference was: i) to let go of that in the church’s life that is no longer relevant or meaningful to our mission; ii) to recognise and name that which still has value and meaning and can be carried forward with the emerging church; and iii) the church is the Spirit’s work, not ours, so how can we listen more deeply for what Spirit is doing, to co-operate and “receive the Spirit in all things.” Whatever it is that is unfolding in the church and in our society, God is in it - “Christ is all and is in all” (Colossians 3:11). The Spirit’s call on the church, the people of God, is to listen more deeply to what Spirit is doing, to trust deeply, and to lean into the mystery of what is emerging. This is to admit that we don’t know exactly what we are doing, but that we recognise the invitation to surrender our thinking mind’s need to control and manipulate, and, through deepening contemplative prayer, to open up to our spiritual hearts - the very Mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) - and surrender to the moment by moment flow of Love’s Life amongst us and as us. I don’t know what tomorrow’s church will look like, but I am ready to Love my way into it. That much I do know.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Who Am I?

“Who am I?”
Jesus asks.
“Who are you?”
is the same question.

I am not
my aging and failing 
body.

I am not
my fearful and judging
ego.

I am not
my fragmented and dualistic
mind.

I am
who you are.
You are
who I am.

Can you imagine that?

We share
the same
Deep Mind
of Christ,
our deepest
and truest Self,

Love made flesh
in me,
in you.


21 August 2017

Thursday, 24 August 2017

The Wedding of a Fairy Princess

The wind blew,
the rain fell,
nature’s rawness
was felt,
the wildness
of creation.

For a moment
the sky opened,
the sun shone
as the fairy princess
emerged
from her forest.

Her beauty
stunned us,
as her presence
warmed us.

Her love
affected all,
raw as nature,
wild as creation.

She drew him
out of his element,
she drew us
into her heart.

They said
yes
to each other,
yes
in the storm.

Wild and alive,
like fairies
we played,
like divinity
we danced.

20 August 2017

A Fairy Marsh Wedding

The fairies danced
blessing the ground,
inviting celebration,
encouraging feast.

Assurance was given,
a daughter’s
wedding vows
would be exchanged
in this place,
on this ground,
in any weather,
through any storm.

Made sacred
with family,
made holy
by Love’s
play.

20 August 2017

Sunday, 6 August 2017

A Whale of a Tale: Kayaking in Witless Bay

Image result for humpback whale
Big water
full
of mystery.

Turbulent and unsteady
at the surface,
darkness and uncertainty
in the depths.

Launching
into uncertainty,
journeying
into the depths,

to face
fear,
to encounter
the unknown,

the humpback,
the commander
of the sea.

Magnificent
from a distance,
terrifying
up close.

The magnitude,
the power,
twice surfacing
from the depths.

Too close
for comfort,
diminishing
my vessel,
racing
my heart,
numbing
my senses

as a third
emerges
from nowhere,
unaware
of my place,

Pats
my bow
with his tail,

sits
my boat
on his back.

A whale of a tale.
He is wild.
I am free.

5 August 2017


What a beautiful summer it was for weather wearied islanders. Many of those who live on the island portion of Newfoundland and Labrador are blessed with what I call “short term bad weather memory loss.” Apparently we had a miserable spring (which I can no longer remember), but our summer days were sunny, warm and beautiful (which I can still remember). Regardless of the weather, it is important for the health of the soul to be outside in nature, experiencing the elements and delighting in God’s creation. Being an outdoor enthusiast, kayaking is one of the activities I enjoy to do. So, in the midst of this years busy whale season, with a relative who is an experienced kayaker, we launched our kayaks from Long Beach in Witless Bay and headed to the bird sanctuary at Gull Island. Having read something about Jonah the week before, I remember saying to my partner as we paddled toward Gull Island, with humpback whales surfacing at a safe distance, “into the belly of the beast we go.” Nearing Gull Island, we were literally paddling through Puffins with their bellies so fat with capelin, they could hardly take off from the surface of the ocean. Paddling south on the lee side of the island, which was absolutely full of bird life, all of my senses were awake to the smells, sights and sounds of the wildness, power and unpredictability of God’s creation around us. Passing the south end of the island, we encountered larger swells. The kayaks handled very well, and I got a little over confident. On our return leg near Beaches Path, as we headed back to Long Beach, I suggested to my partner that we get a little closer to the humpbacks for one last look. Before we knew it, we were overwhelmed with humpback whales. With my partner on my right, two humpbacks passed on my left so close that I could have touched one with my hand. With them so close to my kayak, what I didn’t see was a third coming directly toward me. My partner saw a collision about to happen, and instinctively said “tap your boat, it doesn’t know you are there.” With that, I began tapping my paddle against the kayak and braced for a collision. At the last second, the whale’s tail turned just enough to avoid colliding with the bow of my boat, but went directly under the kayak. The force of the whale and the water under the kayak pushed it upwards. After the collision was narrowly avoided, my partner next thought I was going to be capsized. Getting wet up past the elbows as the kayak rocked back and forth, I somehow managed to stay upright. Paddling to save our lives to get out of there, I asked what just happened. The answer: “you just sat on the back of a whale!” Not quite the belly of Jonah’s whale, but the back of a humpback is more than close enough!

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Good Shepherd

Good Shepherd,
we do not even
know
that we are
trapped
in the
limitations
of the mind



until

we begin
to hear
your voice.

There is a
larger
freer
pasture to live out of.

Your voice
full of Love
invites us
into this
More.

For those who ache
with longing,
you become
the Gate,
the Way
out of
our minds
and into
your heart.

Your Love
is the Gate.
Your Love
is the Way.

6 May 2017

Monday, 1 May 2017

The Divine Dance

Valerie and I recently attended a Father Richard Rohr conference on the Trinity in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Father Richard is a Roman Catholic, modern day mystic and popular spiritual teacher whose influence reaches across denominations and faith traditions. Over the years that I have been reading his books, he has helped articulate spiritual experiences for me that I have intuitively known to be true, but haven’t yet put words to. His latest book “The Divine Dance: The Trinity and your Transformation,” is very readable and is what the conference we attended was built around. Another speaker at the conference, who is also a mystic and modern teacher of the Christian Wisdom tradition, was the The Rev’d Cynthia Bourgeault. Cynthia is an Episcopal priest, spiritual teacher and author. Two of her latest books that have been resonating with me are: “The Heart of Centering Prayer: Nondual Christianity in Theory and Practice; and “The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three: Discovering the Radical Truth at the Heart of Christianity.” What Richard can put in more popular language, Cynthia can put in current theological and scientific research language. Cynthia is simply a brilliant theologian and teacher of Christian meditation.

Being a fan of both Rohr and Bourgeault, my being drawn to the conference was to meet both of these inspirational teachers of the Christian contemplative tradition. There was a third conference speaker of which I had no real interest in. Paul Young is the author of the popular novel “The Shack.” The book was used in our parish reading group at one point, but I never did read it. Because he was going to be one of the speakers at the conference, and the movie “The Shack” was released, I thought I should at least see the movie, as it might tell me more about him and why he was invited to speak at this conference on the Trinity. 

Acknowledging yet another ego wound in having pre-judged Paul Young as a conference speaker, I am so thankful that I did watch the movie and that he was a presenter. Young calls himself a “recovering evangelical.” He comes from a Christian mission background that was fundamentalistic. He grew up with an abusive missionary father, and a god that was judging and punitive. The Shack is a story that reflects the healing of his past, and his coming to know the healing flow of the life of the Trinity.


Rohr spoke about popular and understandable Trinitarian theology. Bourgeault spoke more to the intellect in current theological and scientific research and conversations about the Trinity. Young spoke to the emotions and the healing truth of entering more deeply into the flow of the life of the Trinity. Each of the speakers brought different and diverse perspectives to the same Trinitarian truth that is in the DNA of the cosmos, and is also our deepest identity, made in the loving, relational image of God. Jesus calls us to follow him into this eternal truth. 

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Easter Mary

You are
here
and you are
not here.

You are
with me
and you are
not with me.

Your loving face
has opened to me
your loving face
in every face.

I can no longer
remember
your form
yet I
remember
your presence.

Love's companioning Presence
not with me,

as me
as you.

19 April 2017

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

A Newfoundland Spring Bird

Welcomed singer,
music
to snow tired souls.

Ushering out
winter,
inviting in
spring,
your song
brings with it
a new day
full of promise
for a new creation.

Unseen forces
have carried you
across the dark
and uncertain ocean,

landing you
on this oft forsaken
island,

like Noah's dove,
Spirit's gift
of hope.


12 April 2017

The Inner Shack

Inherited pain
in every human
consciousness,

passed on,
fathers to sons,
mothers to daughters.

Blinded
to joy
by an unhealed past,
by an unhealed present,

to the interior
Shack
Papa invites us

to face
our demons,
the roots
of our pain.

On this path
of descent,
only freely
embarked,
we are
never alone
nor outside
the flow

of Papa's
encouraging Love,
of Jesus'
human Wisdom,
of Spirit's
renewing Guidance,
of our
dance with Life.

Learning
to trust,
opening
to letting go,
consenting
to Unknowing,

we are
reconciled
with our past,
re-connected
to our present,
washed clean
of our hurt,
forgiving
all that God forgives,

a new creation
of love
rises
out of the Shack,
born
of the Trinity,
sent
into the world.

25 March 2017

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Alzheimers and Spirituality

I was recently visiting in the Alzheimers ward in one of our long term care facilities. It can be painful to be with those whom you know and love, who can no longer use their minds reasonably. My wife’s mother suffered with debilitating Alzheimers for 10 years before passing away. My own mother, still living, suffers with short term memory loss. This is sad yet real as all the organs of our body deteriorate with age and a plethora of other causes.

So many of us in our western society limit the identity of our human lives by our capacity to “think.” That is to say, we limit the experience of our lives to self consciousness alone. What happens when my brain becomes ill? What happens when my self consciousness loses its capacity to reason and understand? Am I somehow less human? Less worthy of love? In other words, is our human capacity to connect, to be in communion with, to love limited to the “thinking” mind alone?

Spiritual practice is about learning how to navigate all the various levels of the mind, and to connect with and live out of our deeper Self, our deeper Unitive Mind, which is much more than our dualistic self consciousness. We are more than what we can think! Thanks be to God.

So when I am on the Alzheimer ward, or with my mother who can’t remember what she just said, our capacity to be in loving communion is not limited to her deteriorating brain. There is something much deeper going on between us (in fact, there is something much deeper going on between you, me and all of creation).

In order to discover this deeper Unitive Mind, deeper loving communion, we have to learn the “work of silence.” Maggie Ross, in her book “Silence: A User’s Guide,” says that “Humans have lost their relationship with the original silence from which, and within which, we evolved; silence that is essential to language, insight, poetry, and music. This loss of communion has gradually eroded our humanity, for what makes us human is not language, tool use, artifice, or self consciousness - current research is showing us that many animals have these gifts as well - but rather the ability of the human mind to come full circle and forget itself in silence.” Silence is the deep and universal love language of God resonating in every soul, and indeed in all of creation. Spiritual practice is about learning to die to our surface and passing selves, and to open up to the flow of our deep silent Love. Spiritual practice is about learning to see this silent Love in the face of every other - regardless of their minds working right or not. We are more than our thinking minds. So, we need to learn to die before we die in order to live. As Lent approaches, it is another invitation to enter into the wilderness, enter into the Silence, with Jesus who shows us how to die to self and rise to newness of Life and Love.