Sit in your Tear Drop Trailer and it will Teach you Everything

Abba Moses said: Sit in your cell and it will teach you everything.

Last week, on a 12-hour driving journey to visit my family, we tested a traveling “sacred schedule” out while camping with our homemade tear drop trailer.

The first day and evening went very well. We traveled about 4 hours and stopped at a lovely campground, where we played at the playground, walked through a field of alfalfa, and had hot showers. The next morning, we made a delicious breakfast and loafed around, chanted the psalms discreetly, and read our “offices”, using prayers from the Carmina Gadelica. (Our son likes to say the last words of each line in the Lord’s Prayer and he asks us to chant the Psalms if we forget.) Slowly, we packed up and pulled out of the campground late morning, with high spirits and contented hearts.

Breakfast

Breakfast

Our plan was to drive about 5 hours to a small city in Saskatchewan, where we would go and have showers at an aquatic centre, give our 2.7 year old son some exercise in the water, put our pjs on and find a place to pull over and sleep.

Enter reality. It turns out our son travels long distances much better in the mornings. We spent a good portion of that afternoon teaching him that intentional loud, shrill screaming, is best not done in the van next to his baby brother’s ears, (not to mention ours!) The deal was that we pulled over, made tea, bounced our baby and sat in our folding chairs on the side of a gravel road, while our eldest sat in the van and deliberated over saying these words: “I won’t scream anymore. Let’s keep driving.” We had a nice tea, and read out loud from the book we’re reading, and after a good while, we finally heard the magic words: “I’m sorry. I won’t scream, mama. Let’s go to Mamna and Papa’s”.

Bill Plotkin has a great book called Nature and the Human Soul, in which he speaks about soulcentric parenting. That is: finding alternatives to teaching either “entitlement” or “obedience”. Finding that “other” option is not as easy as it might sound and can be incredibly counter-intuitive in this culture. And depending on whom you’re speaking to, our “method” might be seen as either “unkind” or “spoiling”.

Prairie ghost town

Prairie ghost town

 

By the time we got to said town, with said aquatic centre, we realized it was a Friday night, and carnival night to boot. Testosterone was thick in the air with cars and trucks cruising around, looking for… love. The pool’s parking lot was exactly where the zipper ride was screaming, and there was no parking within a mile. It was getting nigh on to bedtime and in the end, it started to rain. We pushed on, and by the end of it, everyone but my husband ended up in tears in our little trailer in some parking lot in a small town,  with me trying to change diapers, nurse and put pajamas on in the dark, while Ian tried to find the batteries to our flashlight that fell out when we’d hit a bump somewhere along the journey. Not to mention the mosquitoes!!!

My friend James Finley, who I have recently recorded Sanctuary with, says, “The poverty of the practice is the richness of the practice” (on centering prayer). It is in these times of apparent poverty, we realize it is not about getting it right all the time, but about showing up, in order to see that our merit comes from somewhere that can’t be touched, no matter whether we’ve done it perfectly or not.

We have a “rule” for the road, yes. And we have a practice so our feet have traction, to operate with less impatience and with more love, yes. But in the end, we also have a practice to remind us that we don’t get to do it perfectly.

We will be leaving August 19th for 6 weeks, visiting Albuquerque, San Antonio, and Phoenix and all the way up the West Coast. I have 11 shows, 6 of which are house concerts. We’ve designed the tour so we have many days off between shows and only have to travel 3-4 hours on driving days. That being said, we knew this was not a holiday, but a journey. Now, since we’ve done our practice run, we know it is a Family Pilgrimage. We also know, this is why many folks stick to home routines and only venture out for short, well-funded, holidays. We also know, that this is a tremendous opportunity for us to experience being sustained by God as parents, as partners and as apparent servants.

We may not have a big motorhome (our tear drop trailer is the size of a double bed with a little bunk at our feet), but we have so much. Nevertheless, we will be placed in the symbolic position of being the stranger in a strange land.

Lunch

Lunch

I should have known that I couldn’t make an album like Sanctuary, without having to be put through fire of re-knowing transformation, deeper and deeper! (Shucks.) This tour, this pilgrimage, is another conscious way for us to be reminded that God does the work inside of us.  

Sanctuary – Exploring the Healing Path with James Finley and Alana Levandoski will be released on September 17th, 2016 – sign up HERE for to receive more information about this and other stuff!

Istanbul, Social Grieving and Tom Petty

Being a musician, I’ve been to a lot of airports in the world. My favourites are Ataturk and Charles de Gaulle.

I called my Canadian prairie grandma from Ataturk airport in the year 2000 and told her I was in Istanbul. I told her the entrance was remarkable with its marble and gold. She couldn’t imagine it!

istanbul

Of all the countries I’ve visited, Turkey has left the most lasting impression on me. Fresh olive oil, new wine, goat cheese, layers of history and such hospitality. And the architecture!!!

I stood on the Bosphorus bridge with one foot in Europe and one in Asia. I walked where Saint Paul walked. I traveled through the mountains and sat in the ruins of roman bathtubs amidst shepherdesses watching their sheep.  

I know we can examine this strange time as the rise of anti-intellectualism (or if you follow spiral dynamics at all, perhaps the strangest clash of Blue and Green we’ve ever seen). But this week, I have been feeling like Beauty herself is under attack from all sides.  I’ve been feeling sort of… defeated, and it wasn’t until today that I was ready to “socially grieve” for Istanbul.  It seems that with social media, we are moving from one tragedy to the next, and socially grieving is becoming a full time job.  It’s like even those with the best of intentions are technologically ready for globalism, but perhaps not psychologically ready to constantly change their profile picture overlay from flag to rainbow to flag.  This might be a whole other blog – to discuss how perhaps our social grieving still doesn’t know how to release this universal suffering back into the big picture so our egos aren’t holding onto it.

In the long view, this IS all connected in a great web of suffering and a great web of life, but I also know real people with real stories are losing their lives and real groups of people are being deeply misunderstood.  I do trust that whatever is, is being transformed, but it neither the time nor the place to try and explain the atrocity away.

There are so many beautiful things to acknowledge in the world and yet we must also show our compassion to the stories of suffering.  How to do this in balance with the hope of moving out of the “stuckness” we find ourselves in may be the great puzzle of our time.  It feels like it takes an ocean of healed people to get the same kind of press as a single unhealed one.  

 In the meantime though, these events are each in their own way, tragic and deserving of love and attention.

I have a story to offer Istanbul as my gentle gesture of acknowledgement.

I recently watched Runnin’ Down a Dream, the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers documentary, and at one point Tom gets his audience to imagine if “for just one moment, everything was alright”.

It might sound like a rock ‘n’ roll pipe dream, but it reminded me of a day when I was in Istanbul 16 years ago. In Turkey every year on November 10th, the day that commemorates Ataturk’s death, there is a minute of silence in the morning. I got to witness it. A whole city of millions of people, motors turned off, standing still and silent together. I think about my own life, my marriage, my relationships, my children and ask myself if I am living minute by minute, free of the violence of accumulated resentment, stress and fear. If a whole city can do it for a minute, maybe I can gently go forward, minute by minute with the grace of God.

Istanbul, I am sorry, and you are loved.  Thank-you for showing me how for one moment, everything can be alright.

 

 

All Real Living is Meeting

In the past two weeks it took a crow attacking a robin’s nest in front of our picture window, and a massive cell tower erection in front of our beautiful sunset, for me to realize that we often really don’t grieve deeply until something is destroyed right in front of our eyes. I was confronted with my own tribal tendencies and my desensitization was shattered. John Donne says it better than I do:
 
“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”

“I Am”: how tucking my son in reveals the hope for convergence

The phrase “I am”, has held great power for me, from the narrative of the Exodus text “say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.” (Exodus 3:14) to Jesus saying “before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58).  The Greek words eigo emi “I exist” is the first person tense of the verb “to be”.   This is said to be best translated as “I Am!”

As a good Christian, I have made sure to hear these words as an affirmation that God exists and Jesus was referring to himself as God.  And while I believe that (now in many dimensions), and find it to be quite powerful, it no longer gives me the same sense of shallow certitude that it used to.  Rather, I have started to feel within me the deep sense of mystery at play in these words.

i-am

It has recently struck me that although there has been a lot of work done around “I-Amness”, or “suchness”, or “isness”, with philosophers like Ken Wilber, there are many folks not ready to hear his delivery on the matter.   And then, held particularly within the Christian tradition, this notion that this God is stating His existence – we mostly find that the dynamism of God is not implied nearly enough.

My days are made up of very simple, ordinary (yet truly extraordinary) occurrences. I nurse my 6 week old baby.  I make time for my little boy.  I make meals and abide by a Rule of life with my family.  I am not surrounded by academics or great mystics and don’t have a lot of time for philosophical conspiring!  So, insights and moments have to come to me in the everyday happenings of life.  And these days,  my children are often my greatest teachers and revelators.

Every night when my 2 1/2 year old son gets tucked into bed, he asks me for a honey tea.  It is our tradition that he gets a honey tea when he’s going to sleep (hot water, honey and milk).  So, every night, when I tuck him into bed, he asks for his honey tea and I go out to put the kettle on.  Consistently while I am in the process of making the tea, he asks from his bed, with slight anxiety, “mama, are you going to make me my honey tea?”  And consistently I respond, “I am making it sweetheart”.  Or “I am, my baby.”

Last night, as I let my child know that the honey tea is “in the making” or “happening” or “on its way as promised”, by saying “I am making it, dear one”, the term “I Am” was not only, “I exist” or “to be”, but “I exist and I am becoming”.

Since the work of Teilhard de Chardin has deepened its way into the Christian imagination, and with the dawn of an era that can no longer ignore that the cosmos has become bigger than our small, tribal God (whom we fight for to be bigger than we’ve fenced “Him” into be), we now find ourselves standing in the paradox of a “creation-is-evolution” place.  This can feel very unmooring for people who have felt so in control of who God is.  I know, from personal experience!

The jury is still out on the matter of Christ being at the heart of evolution, (and I understand that wholeheartedly), but this little experience of saying “I am” to my son, in promise of what is to come and what is already in motion, somehow gives me great hope that all of this complexity in the world, is friction caused by a Force working in love, bringing convergence to a boil.  In other words, the honey tea is being made and we are each a unique part of it.

My husband just pointed out that in French “je suis” means “I am”, and that, whether it holds any academic water or not, is one letter off of “jesus”.  Perhaps Christ is in the letter, and in everything that is, after all.  Perhaps Jesus is our great model of “radical receptivity” as Denis Edwards said in his book Jesus and the Cosmos.  Perhaps Jesus is the great embodied metaphor for what it looks like to allow the Seer to see through us completely.  

I want to develop this whole thing further, but I thought I’d pop it in my blog as food for thought.

In the meantime, check out these two little resources and use them in a way that helps you.  For those of you interested in Teilhard’s intriguing philosophies, watch this little video with Teilhard expert, Ilia Delio.  CLICK HERE.

For those of you who don’t quite agree with this philosophy, so far as you know, but are interested in this “becoming” force that God implies to Moses and Jesus implies he fully embodies, NT Wright has a fantastic article – CLICK HERE

From his Book of Hours, Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem God Speaks perhaps says it best (as poetry tends to),

I am, you anxious one.

Don’t you sense me, ready to break
into being at your touch?
My murmurings surround you like shadowy wings.
Can’t you see me standing before you
cloaked in stillness?
Hasn’t my longing ripened in you
from the beginning
as fruit ripens on a branch?

I am the dream you are dreaming.
When you want to awaken, I am waiting.
I grow strong in the beauty you behold.
And with the silence of stars I enfold
your cities made by time.

PS- go here to listen to a sample of Rilke’s poem set to music by my friends rEvolve 

Beauty is not Denial: Why Grace and Frankie strengthen my Faith

 

Most people wouldn’t think that a self-identifying Christian would appreciate a television series about two women in their 70’s living in the aftermath of their husbands coming out to them, divorcing them, and getting married to each other.

I admit that at a certain point in my life I wouldn’t have appreciated it.

That was before I knew that life is not as predictable and controllable as many people attracted to “faith” would have it be. But perhaps those of us attracted to faith are more attracted to certainty, or being right and perhaps even to convention itself, than we are to the stuff in life that requires us to have faith.

Now, I wouldn’t let children watch the show, (my little ones are screen-free at this point anyway), but I would encourage grown ups to watch it with an open mind if they are able and ready.

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Here’s why:

There was a point in my life where I would feel insanely frustrated if I felt I couldn’t predict outcomes, especially if I risked being vulnerable with someone. In the process, I tried to be “moral”. I tried to be “good”. I even tried to impose “morality” and “goodness” onto others. I was one of those people.

What I’ve since discovered is that often right when the truth of what we fear is staring us in the face, instead of facing it, we can often repetitively agonize over longing for a “mom and pop” world. We put ourselves in the false and dangerous loop of really believing that “other times” were truly better. Thinking, “just give me that old time religion” and that will stop the world from going to hell in a hand basket. (I also wonder which “old time religion” that song is referring to? Third century? 11th? 50 years ago?)

Often the delusion that other eras were more golden or more moral, is a condition we impose on ourselves to set catharsis and nostalgia as city walls to guard us from what we fear.

All the while our grandparents were remaining committed to their marriages, or children were better behaved, or churches were better attended, marital rape was not considered a crime (until in some states, 1993), sexual abuse of children went mostly unreported and this was yes, happening in church communities too.

The person suffering from nostalgia for more “upright” times, might think there are more gay people today than at other times, but perhaps it is more true to say there are more gay people actually seen as people in our neighbourhoods and in our world, because, thank God, being gay is no longer punishable by death or imprisonment (at least in our culture).

We find in the hit tv series starring Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, an unlikely friendship between country club, Type A, control freak (Grace) and hippy, still holding to her counter cultural principals (Frankie).  Grace trusts that convention and hard work will protect her, and Frankie ever loves, and trusts that she is loved as equally back.

What we see in each of these women after the shock of finding out their husbands have been cheating on them, with each other for 20 years, is a series of unfolding facades being shed, one episode after the other. It is a process of healing that is anything but pretty. Sort of like life.

I believe that beauty will save the world but I also believe that being in denial is never beautiful. This is where we reach a paradox about living our lives.

I am the first person to line up to watch Anne of Green Gables, but I am now also willing to accept that Lucy Maud Montgomery died of suicide.

With Grace and Frankie, we see their suffering transform into acceptance and friendship. It isn’t a pat and perfect story. But show me anyone being pat and perfect when the façade of their life falls around them and there is no hiding or covering up available as an option.

I see in their children, particularly the daughters of Grace, people who perhaps knew their parent’s marriage was not what it appeared to be. One of them takes the workaholic cynic, don’t come near my heart route, the other marries perhaps a similar man as her father, in the sense that he doesn’t necessarily love her dearly and buries himself in his work.

With Grace, as her conventions fail her, we begin to see underneath this very put together woman, a real person with flaws and fears, who awakens to her sexuality perhaps for the first time.

With Frankie, we see someone struggling with how to live with her heart on her sleeve and trust anyone again.   We see her codependence with Sol (her ex-husband) diminish, as she strengthens and gains more courage to just keep letting her heart be what it is, and perhaps even for the first time.

In both women, we get to walk the journey toward accepting what is, no matter how much we wish it could be different at first. We get to see them begin to allow for their unmooring to be an unlikely touchstone… or for their suffering to become a place of peace and new beginnings.

The makers of the show aren’t afraid to shed light on confusion or what can often lie beneath the pretence of a thing. These ladies get down right effed up about their lives. But perhaps their lives were effed up all along, underneath it all. Only it took their husband’s storylines and betrayal to dredge it up to the surface.

I am not saying the show is for everybody. It has verbal content that may offend some, even beyond the storyline. But as for me, it has shown me two characters I can understand, empathize with, and somehow feel I have been.

There was a time I was betrayed, and things were revealed to not be what they were. I have been confused beyond comprehension. I have suffered by having to face “what is” and accept that I have no control over outcomes. And through it all, something eventually began to shine out of me, and out of the circumstance itself, that resembled Great Love.  

Christ is revealed in the cracks.

Honestly, any time I begin to fall back into the bogus safety zone of thinking I am beyond the confusion, or any time I start judging someone because they seem “screwed up” (which I’m sure has been used to describe me at times), I come back around to what I know to be true. Faith isn’t about certainty or certitude or defending something to be true.

Faith is what shows up when your proverbial undies are at your ankles exactly at that moment when you thought you had the world fooled that you’re in control… that you have the answer… that you’re above dysfunction.

Faith is what shows up when your heart is breaking and you feel so vulnerable and out of control, but you know you must walk the long miles ahead to rid yourself of codependent patterns and own your own life.

 I want to be a wisdom holder in my old age, but what does that look like?  Being in control?  Pretending that things are not as they are?  Or, as James Finley says, “it isn’t that the master is no longer confused, but they are no longer confused by their confusion”.  I can see Grace and Frankie moving in the direction of not being confused by their confusion, and that is to me, the way suffering can be turned into beauty.

If beauty is going to save the world, like many of my friends think it is (and I do too!), it will have to do it in a way that incorporates the great labour pain agony of accepting what is, and transforming through it, or it is not beauty.  Beauty is not denial.  Or as Bono says, “grace makes beauty out of ugly things”. 

New baby and celebrating Pentecost

mamaolifrancis

Two weeks ago today, I water-birthed a baby boy into the world.  His name is Francis and he is lovely and sweet.  My 2 and 1/2 year old boy has become a big brother over night so there’s lots of adjusting going on here in our little household.

Francis was due May 12th and I partially wondered if he’d be a Pentecost baby.  Then I got thinking… I believe all babies are pentecost babies.  In the sense that they are so obviously incarnate and arriving from the Source of love and life.

I am quickly writing this before I try to steal a nap while my boys are sleeping so I will mention that I have a celebration sale on for my album Behold, I Make all Things New.  I see this album as a Pentecost album and so for the feast of Pentecost and on into Ordinary Time (which decidedly isn’t ordinary at all!) I am offering my album again for 10 CDs for $99.  I also have the option of getting 5 CDs and 5 songbooks for $99.  

Click HERE to celebrate with me by purchasing this Christ Narrative.  And click HERE to get the songbook/CD deal.

Breathing with the Enemy- looking at God’s world as already whole

 

This is a letter I sent out this morning to the folks who have been taking the course that takes you deeper into my album Behold, I Make all Things New.

Good Morning,

Some of you are nearing the very end of this course and I hope you’ve had a chance to walk more deeply with my album!

This is another Waterboys tune and I must mention again that Mike Scott does not affiliate with the Christian tradition.  Therefore I will comfortably veer a bit from one of the great Christian teachers today to Martin Buber, the great Jewish philosopher and author of the famous “I and Thou”.

Martin Buber

Martin Buber

 

I was reading this morning from this wonderful book and was struck by something, I think is rather profound.

“The prenatal life of the child is a pure natural association, a flowing toward each other, a bodily reciprocity; and the life horizon of the developing being appears uniquely inscribed, and yet also not inscribed, in that of the being that carries it; for the womb in which it dwells is not solely that of the human mother.  This association is so cosmic that it seems like the imperfect deciphering of a primeval inscription when we are told in the language of the Jewish myth that in his mother’s womb man knows the universe and forgets it at birth.  And as the secret image of a wish, this association remains to us.  But this longing ought not to be taken for a craving to go back, as those suppose who consider the spirit, which they confound with their own intellect, a parasite of nature.  For the spirit is nature’s blossom, albeit exposed to many diseases.  What this longing aims for is the cosmic association of the being that has burst into spirit with its very true You.

Every developing human child rests, like all developing beings in the womb of the great mother – the undifferentiated, not yet formed primal world.  From this it detaches itself to enter a personal life, and it is only in the dark hours when we slip out of this again (as happens even to the healthy, night after night) that we are close to her again.”  

He goes on to say more famously that it is “in encounter that nature experiences its formhood.”

I was struck however by the image of how we all of us, sleep at night.  (Or at least try to!)  I was able to parallel this thought with this song.  And here’s why:

In the questionnaire I have you consider someone you perhaps dislike as receiving the breath, and have you secretly sing this song on their behalf (which is really on your behalf because it is really about changing your negative feelings toward them).  

Now imagine this person that you dislike or a tyrant from history, sleeping at night.  Imagine them drifting off from their control, their power, their need to bully, and simply breathing in the Presence of who they have returned to as they have slipped out of conscious awareness into sleep.

Really, it is remarkable!  I have never before this morning pictured someone I feared or disliked, simply sleeping.  

Think of gang leaders, militia leaders and political tyrants resting their heads on a pillow, perhaps a bit curled up and just breathing in and out.  That same breath that gives them life is giving everything else life.  

For some reason this puts the world in perspective for me this morning.  As we face the tremors of changing tides, every breath is our Beloved’s and, as James Finley puts it in the new album Sanctuary, “fear has no foundation”.

Breathing with you today!

Listen to Every Breath is Yours below and get Behold, I Make all Things New HERE.  Consider going deeper with the album by walking through the course HERE

The Feast of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The feast of Dietrich Bonhoeffer is coming up on April 9th and below is a sample chapter I wrote for my friend Steve Bell’s Pilgrim Year App.  Pilgrim Year is an app that follows the Christian calendar and acknowledges feast and holy days with written word, poetry, visual art and music.  

The Feast of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran pastor from Germany known for his beliefs in pacifism and also for his opposition to the Nazi Party and Hitler. During a rigged church election in 1932, many of the church positions of influence were given to Nazi-supported church men. As the Nazi propaganda continued, the complacency of the German church also continued, and Bonhoeffer was conscious enough to see and acknowledge the truth of what was happening.

From our vantage point, we might think the terrible reality of what was happening in Nazi Germany would have been obvious. But for Bonhoeffer, his heart broke as he watched many of his church comrades turn a blind eye and tow the Nazi line.

Ever since I learned the interesting fact that Gandhi read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) every morning, I have gained a new perspective of Jesus’ words. This text has compelled and moved me in ways that give me no alternative but to use it in the way Gandhi did, as a filter through which to view and critique our own dominant cultural narrative. This too, compelled and intrigued Bonhoeffer. His famous book The Cost of Discipleship is based on the Sermon on the Mount, and Gandhi was also a tremendous influence on him.

Bonhoeffer seems destined to be one of those people who found themselves in a time and place where their philosophy must be tried in reality. There were opportunities in his life when he could have chosen to leave the responsibility he felt toward his church and the people his church was persecuting, namely the elderly, the Jews, and those with physical or mental disabilities.

At one point, Bonhoeffer had the opportunity to live and learn with Mahatma Gandhi. Instead, he was compelled to begin an underground seminary in Germany, a very risky alternative but one that Gandhi would have respected.

Something very important to keep in mind is how the dominant theology and cultural norm of the German church at this time was seen as gospel truth by many good Christian people. Bonhoeffer’s help in forming an underground seminary and church was countercultural, courageous, and would have been considered rebellious and heretical by many upstanding Christians.

In his letter from a Birmingham jail, dated April 16th, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.” It was “illegal” to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany.” As young blacks courageously sat in segregated areas designated for whites, the law and the cultural Christian norm was not on their side. Accused of breaking the law, as though the law itself was the gospel, these courageous young people continued placing themselves in danger because they knew in their hearts what was right.

bonhoefferbonhoeffer

“It seems that the path of Christ is often a misunderstood path.”

Right before the war was about to begin, after helping to form the underground seminary, Bonhoeffer was given the opportunity to teach at Union Theological Seminary in America. At this pivotal time, he was trying to navigate how to avoid swearing allegiance to Hitler, being a pacifist and deeply opposed to the Nazi party. Very quickly, he realized that staying in America would be taking the easy way out of the situation. Instead, he decided his calling was to walk the path of Christ back in Germany, saying “I cannot make that choice from security.”

Bonhoeffer’s return to Germany was met with required reporting to Nazi authorities and a ban from public speaking. He joined the military intelligence agency Abwher that was actually an anti-Hitler resistance group. His international contacts were seen as an asset, so the organization was able to protect him from being drafted into the German army.

After much work in undercover resistance, including aiding the escape of many Jews into Switzerland, Bonhoeffer was arrested just a year and a half before WWII would end. During his imprisonment the discovery of documents and diaries uncovered a plot by the Abwher to assassinate Hitler. Hitler ordered all associates with the organization to be executed.

Three weeks before the end of the war and a few weeks before Hitler hung himself, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was led naked into a courtyard and executed by hanging. Although not properly documented, this hanging was implemented by executioners renowned for torture, and therefore many historians believe that his execution was very painful and would have lasted many hours.

Regardless of more recent arguments on how to interpret the theology of Bonhoeffer, it is quite clear how he lived and from where he drew his strength to do so. Bonhoeffer’s belief that God’s kingdom and the physical world are not separate spheres but are united through Christ’s incarnation, helped him to act out his belief in the imitation of Christ. The fact that he left the comfort of free and peaceful places where he could comfortably dialogue about God, and instead willingly returned into danger shows us that he truly desired to embody the Sermon on the Mount in his particular, terrible circumstance.

May we, like Bonhoeffer, live life in such a way that we are conscious of the dominant cultural norms that do not align with Jesus’ teaching and life, that openly or inadvertently serve power and money, and crush those who have neither.

Listen to my song As the Father Sent Me below and get your copy of Behold, I Make all Things New HERE

lyrics:

As the father sent me, so I send you

 

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In all Verdant Greening, in All Creatures and in You

Last year, someone dear to me was diagnosed with cancer and was told he would need to undergo chemotherapy and radiation in order to treat it. I go for daily walks with my family and prior to this diagnosis, I had unconsciously become numb to my surroundings. What was happening in simply ten square feet in my very own yard was not something I was at all aware of (and still am only marginally!)

I am someone for whom a Calling has arrived and implied simply that I must devote my artistic efforts to furthering conscious realization of incarnation. My album Behold, I Make all Things New is a Christ Narrative that starts in the big picture of origins and the cosmos, then enters into Jesus of Nazareth and eventually into the consciousness of “everyman”. Sanctuary, the album on healing I am currently working on with James Finley, is about the incarnate wound.

When this Calling arrived, it had been a long time coming through absorbing the thoughts, revelations and visions of voices that have gone before us, that saw Christ in all things. 

To say “Christ in all things” is no trite, glib statement to make. It can be misconstrued and cause more defensiveness than anything else. But to say it and believe it causes one’s view to widen and to see God expressing creativity very holistically, everywhere. Even the worst pain, is being incarnated and transformed.

Naturally, when God is no longer simply “the man upstairs” and holistic expression begins to be unveiled, a person tends to think the healing solution to our sicknesses and our pain, must be inside and all around us.

This is not a story of natural healing. It is not a story of miraculous, instantaneous disappearance of disease. Modern medicine played a big role in the positive outcome, but the point is, that it got me widening my view of what was growing, and expressing God, all around me.

Our household is essentially on its way to being chemical-free. I make our dish soap, our laundry soap and our cleaners and we use very natural cleansers for ourselves. Now that spring is on its way, I have brought out my herbology book and am excitedly and curiously looking at, touching and smelling the buds on the trees when we go for walks.

I get ecstatic about digging, collecting and roasting dandelion root for “coffee”. I make pain rubs with what is growing naturally in our own yard.

The combination of the cancer diagnosis of a loved one and really “getting” that Christ is in all things, has caused if nothing else, a deeper sense of wonder for the mystery of the Word throughout creation.

quotememe1012th century Christian mystic Hildegard of Bingen wrote a book called “Physica”,
which was a book on health and healing. It was and is to this day respected as a holistic interpretation of medicine and wellness. I completely comprehend why she expressed her visions of Christ through painting, music and natural healing. When we begin to contemplate that this whole universe is sacred and any and all suffering is being permeated and transformed by this same sacred Something, we cannot help but begin to see this everywhere

I’m not saying I’ll never get sick. I’m not saying I’ll never need modern medicine. This is not a treatise to be either/or about certain medical practices. My point is that I do believe our limited awareness of the sacred in this world directly contributes to lack luster living, and quite possibly is part of the cause of many illnesses. What if the way we live truly numbs out the very obvious fact that we were built to continually awaken to wonder?  

They say if a bee stings you, there is often something growing nearby to alleviate the swelling. Or if you react to poison ivy, there is a solution growing nearby. One article I read had a woman contemplating why so much stinging nettle began growing near her house right around the time she began developing acute arthritis (she claimed to be cured by swatting the arthritic area with nettle).

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I do find it interesting that in many articles I’ve read, dandelion root is said to be “nature’s chemotherapy”, which perhaps is or is not true. But wouldn’t it be just like us, culturally, to be cutting out, spraying (with cancer-causing agents) and getting rid of the very thing that is growing around us because it “senses” we as an overstressed, overworked, chemical-induced society need it?

Call me a flake if you want to. But I will continue to wonder. And my hunch is, even if I have to end up an old hag with shelves full of tinctures, I will continue to look for Christ in the “verdant greening”, in “all creatures” and in you.

May it be so.