Practicing alone usually means we don't practice at all

weekly message Sep 04, 2020

Hafiz writes,

A hunting party
Sometimes has a greater chance
Of flushing love and God
Out into the open
Than a warrior
All Alone

There is a distorted understanding of the spiritual journey that says we have to walk it all by ourselves. It says that meditation and prayer are solitary practices and that you are solely responsible for your journey into God. And there is a certain appeal to this vision. It plays to our heroic fantasies of the warrior willing to scale the mountain and fight the dragon. It is a test of the individual. But what is this dragon the spiritual warrior is allegedly fighting?

The dragon is the belief that we are separate. The dragon is the delusion of our minds that says we are not an interrelated, interpenetrated Being. The warrior is fighting through the delusion so they might come to understand that they are part of a unified whole.

They are fighting against the isolation of the self. Which makes this fantasy of the lone warrior so curious. If you truly want to...

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We Need More Chaplains

weekly message Aug 26, 2020

About 10 years ago I was on a clergy retreat in the middle of the woods in New Hampshire. And I was sitting by the fire with a mentor who had been guiding me for over 10 years at that point. He lived the type of life I aspired to and I took every opportunity I could to listen to him. But at one point, he turned to me with a very troubled look on his face, tears were actually welling up in his eyes. He was so concerned about the changing climate, the rising numbers of refugees, the racism and the fracturing civil society. And he said, “We need more chaplains. What are you doing to create more chaplains.” I was really struck by this idea, I mean, I am still talking about it 10 years later. But at the time I was also overwhelmed by the scope of what he was asking. And I was living within this paradigm of certifications and diplomas. Chaplain was a professional position in my mind and I couldn’t see how I could ever help create a world of chaplains.

But over the years,...

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When the Government is the Abuser

weekly message Aug 11, 2020

A few days ago, President Trump's new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy fired all of the top managers of the USPS in what is being called the Friday Night Massacre. DeJoy’s appointment was loudly criticized as part of a scheme to undermine the Postal Service as an institution. He has no prior experience with the USPS, except as a rival. DeJoy owns perhaps as much as $75 million in assets that are direct competitors with the Post Office, such as UPS. His appointment is viewed by many as a hit job. That is, he was hired to dismantle the USPS, not to make it stronger. The decision to gut the Postal Service of its leadership not only leaves it ineffective against private companies, it is also an attempt to sabotage this election, perhaps the most important election of our lifetimes, by making it incapable of dealing with the influx of absentee ballots people will cast this year due to COVID.

But DeJoy is only one in a long line of politicians who have been elected or appointed over...

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Aligning the Inner and Outer Landscapes

weekly message Aug 05, 2020

Several years ago, I read an account of a psychological test performed on Israeli soldiers. Three platoons were marched into the desert. The first platoon set out with no instruction and marched for 20 miles not knowing when it would end or what the point of the exercise was. The second platoon was told they were going to march for 10 miles but once they had completed that first 10 were told they then had to then march a second 10 miles. The third platoon was told from the very beginning they were going to march 20 miles in the desert and were updated along the way about their progress. These were all soldiers of equal physical ability and stamina, but the effects of the uncertainty had a powerful and potent impact on their well-being. The third platoon, the one that knew how far they were marching from the very beginning and saw that promise kept were tired, as we all might be, but otherwise fine. The second platoon, the one that knew the distance for each leg, but had the initial...

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I've been having a hard time sleeping recently

weekly message Jul 29, 2020

I've been having a hard time sleeping recently. In part, because it's been so hot and I don't sleep well in the heat. But I also think that the stress of the ongoing pandemic, our chaotic political situation, and a growing sense of isolation from the people I care about have all been wearing on me. It is a slow gnaw that is particularly dangerous because it's hard to see it happening. Most of my days look just like the one before it and look like the one that's coming. And, for the most part, my life is okay. From a day-to-day perspective, it would be hard to pinpoint where the problem is, but I've been having a hard time sleeping. So I know something is up. 

I share this with you to let you know that you're not alone if this is something that you've been going through also. I have a number of friends who seem to be wrestling with a nameless inquietude. I suppose we could point a finger at the military actions in Portland, or perhaps the ending of federal assistance...

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