Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Radical Community

From a sermon excerpt by Jolinda Stephens, the Director of Lifespan Religious Programming at the UU Church of the Monterey Peninsula:

Radical community...[is] one based not on liking people or thinking alike but on an act of will that opens us to joining with one another. In this type of community we don't merely help people during their times of trouble, but rather join with them to support the burden with them. We join in our joys and triumphs. We join with our community even when we don't agree, even when we are angry or hurt.

That deep community is...necessary if we are to speak with a strong, clear religious voice and stand up and work for social justice as one. Just the idea that people with a diversity of beliefs can live together in community is an incredible gift we bring to the world, if we are willing to do the hard work to make that kind of community a reality.

If we want a faith community that answers the longing of our hearts what we must do is hold on to each other, even when we're angry with one another, even when the vote doesn't go our way, even when we are bored or our feelings are hurt, even when we're embarrassed by something we've done. We hang on. And then we share with each other our beliefs and the assumptions they are based on, and we talk and we dialogue and we learn... and then we act in harmony because we know each other so well.

How radical is your faith community?

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Ballad of Little Willie

little Willie started at age fifteen
bursting upon the drinking scene
he learned it fast he learned it well
and it nearly turned his life to hell

high school came and went in a flash
Saturday school and picking up trash
liquid lunch, debate and band
all the time with a drink in hand

four years by the Severn he honed his skill
learned how to quickly drink his fill
a whole week's fun on a Saturday night
he just couldn't see the depth of his plight

on a sultry night in June, feeling fine
Willie winked at her in the roller-coaster line
soon fair Lynette became his wife
and together they began their new life

he learned to fly he continued to drink
years went by and he still didn't think
that one of these days the time would come
when being a drunk would stop being fun

a night in Japanese jail was tough
but apparently he hadn't suffered enough
his marriage hung by the thinnest thread
but he still used the bottle rather than his head

Willie's third time on Ryukyu isle
Lynette had come to stay for a while
Hong Kong, Brit expats, wine and beer
left her with a belief quite clear

so in a sock drawer she left him a note
directly to his heart it smote
"I love you but not your drinking"
seemed to be what she was thinking

in that moment it struck our Willie
that drinking like he did was rather silly
when "one is too many and a thousand not enough,"
it makes life for everyone around pretty rough

in the blink of an eye Jim Beam he did pour
down the drain in the kitchen - but there was more
the beer he was drinking soon followed it down
and he watched it swirl around and around

Willie watched his old life disappear down the drain
a life often filled with suffering and pain
for fifteen long years he'd lived this curse
briefly recounted here in verse

ten years have passed and our Willie has grown
still with Lynette and the seeds they have sown
two wonderful tykes who bring them great joy
a butterfly princess and a dragon-rider boy

twenty-five years this tale has included
and now it is ready to be concluded
heed the message within it if you choose
take great care and be mindful if you drink booze!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Life is Practice

life is practice
so take care in all you do

and do one thing at a time

give your full attention to whatever you are doing
and be aware of your breath

as you practice Life

Thursday, July 13, 2006

untitled 7/13

whipped cream
a moment's inattention

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

My Least Favorite Holiday

I could do without Independence Day.

At least without the fireworks, anyway. Ever since my time in Iraq I've been sensitive to loud noises. When I first got back, I was ready to dive to the floor with every backfire or artillery fire from the nearby training ranges. Last year I was in my hometown on July 4th, and I had big plans to take my son to see the fireworks in Mountaineer Bowl. I have many fond memories of this annual event in my youth. We were taking a walk around the neighborhood that afternoon, and even the firecrackers from the local kids were too much. I apologized profusely to my son and went to bed early.

This year was better, but not by a lot. We attended a fireworks display Monday night at the home of some friends, and when the first few booms sounded, I had to go into the house. I finally got back outside and watched the show with my daughter on my lap. I jumped at the loud ones and cringed at the high-pitched ones, but made it through. By the end it didn't bother me so much - it helped to have a little girl in my lap and my wife next to me, and to be surrounded by other people.

Interesting how the mind can have a very hard time overcoming the body's deep-seated reactions.