EVERY LINE SINGS OF HOPE. In the poem called, 'The Fountain', Denise Levertov manages in every line to sing of hope without ever mentioning the word once. Often in retreats I'll share this poem and we'll work with its' images comparing them to other poetic images in sacred texts and to the poetry of our lives. This poem is one of the first poems I memorized and comes back to me in times of darkness and despair.
‘The Fountain’ by Denise Levertov.
Don’t say, don’t say there is no water
to solace the dryness at our hearts.
I have seen
The fountain springing out of the rock wall
and you drinking there. And I too
before your eyes
found footholds and climbed
to drink the cool water.
The woman of that place, shading her eyes,
frowned as she watched-but not because
she grudged the water,
only because she was waiting
to see we drank our fill and were
Don’t say, don’t say there is no water.
That fountain is there among it’s scalloped
green and gray stones,
it is still there and always there
with it’s quiet song and strange power
to spring in us,
up and out through the rock.
-Denise Levertov



                                              COLLATERAL DAMAGE

It’s no longer just about them, you know, those nameless names that get in the way of our semi-accurate bombs and drones, or those children on the nightly news fleeing war or gunned down on our city streets.
Too bad. Sorry. What’s for lunch?
No, now, it’s about us. We are the ones. Really.
Yes, we the ones who are killed. Bombed, gunned down, droned and drowned sitting in our comfy living room chairs or standing at the kitchen counter.
When we do nothing, say nothing, think nothing, feel nothing about the vile and villainous doings in this world…
Every time that one of those nameless names is maimed or murdered and we carry on as though another atomic bomb did not just explode in our faces…
Then we die. A vital part of our precious humanity simply goes up in smoke.

But, cheer-up. It’s ok.  Keep watching. Post another selfie.  Sip a latte. Have a piece of pie. 



IN CASE YOU HADN'T NOTICED: In case you hadn't noticed there's a terrible tide surging up and tearing down those tall trees full of lovely leaves.
It's like some newly opened wound inflicted before you or I were born,
pusing fear and hatred from venomous mouths with pompous pouts.
Tell me, what are we? What have we become?
Is our nobility merely sleeping or is our noble king dead, poisoned through the endless hearing
of mindless rants without a human head?



MAY THE STRONG WINDS OF SPIRIT clear from me these lifeless leaves of fear and hatred that still cling to this magnificent tree that is True Self. May I stand before this world rooted in compassionate depths, in openness and strength, in vulnerability and love, naked, fearless, fierce and free.



ENTANGLEMENT: SPOOKY ACTION AT A DISTANCE. This was Albert Einstein's way of describing what Quantum Mechanics shows us, namely that two separated atoms continue to affect each other, faster than the speed of light, no matter what the distance of their separation. Perhaps in our prayer and meditation we can remember that our thoughts, words and actions, and even our intentions, may indeed span the known universe in unimaginable and infinite ways. And the distance that we think is there between us, may in the end , turn out to be yet another illusion. After all, we are, each one of us, a wondrous universe of whirling atoms.



THE DREAM MAY NEVER HAPPEN, the vision may never be seen, the song may never be sung... but all through this dark night, this dream, this vision, this song will be a light guiding your faltering steps to that place that, for now ,is only glimpsed in dreams, in visions and songs. 



WHEN WE ARE SHAKEN TO THE CORE...that is NOT the time to react. Rather, when our inner landscape trembles, that is the time to draw more deeply from the well of wisdom and compassion, to cup those wondrous waters with open hands and drink of peace.



 LONGING OR THE DOGS OF LOVE: When we enter the silence of meditation many things surface from the depths. One such depth-dweller is the presence of longing, the experience of our deepest desires which often we cannot articulate but we know are present in powerful ways. This is the stuff that breaks the heart. Sometimes we attempt to express this longing in terms of our desire for love, meaning, happiness or power. Whatever name we apply, it somehow seems to fall short of the reality we experience. Sometimes, naively, we even try to place our deepest longing on a person or thing, a career, our dream house, a community....But sooner or later we return to this ache of the heart that refuses to leave the room. The Welsh have a word -'Hiraeth', pronounced hee-reyeth. It doesn't translate well into English. It is a particular kind of yearning or homesickness that longs for the land that once was or that never was. A beautiful, painful place in the landscape of the human heart, not unlike Augustine's restless heart. I wonder... might this longing be that good guide and even more... that can lead us further along the Path to that Place we call Home? The poet Rumi has a lovely little poem called " Love Dogs". Here is my own paraphrase based on Coleman Barks translation::
" In the night, a voice cries out
' Oh God, Allah, Oh Love'
Lips grow sweet with the sound of praise-
'Oh God, Allah, Oh Love'
And then... a cynic shows up and says:
'So, I have heard you calling out.
Tell me, have you ever gotten any response?'
Silence. The one who praised stopped praying altogether
and fell into a confused sleep.
Dreams came...
Dreams of Khidr, guide of souls.
Khidr, sitting in a lush green forest asking the question:
" Why have you stopped praising?"
The answer? 'Because I have never heard anything in response.'
" Ah," said Khidr. " Do you not understand?
The Longing you express IS the return message.
The grief you cry out from draws you
closer and closer into Union.
And your pure sorrow desiring help...
your pure sorrow, this is the Secret Cup.
Listen to the moaning of a dog for its Master.
That whining is the connection.
There are Love Dogs no one knows the names of
Give your life to be one of them."

" Out of the Depths I cry to You..." -Psalm 130:1



BEING WITH WHAT IS AND BECOMING WHAT IS YET TO BE: When we sit in silent meditation we are being with what is.Thoughts. feelings and sensations come and go. We are not trying to change anything or anyone.We are seeing things more and more as they are and not as we wish them to be. And yet, in the simplicity of this moment something IS happening in us and to us and through us. We enter into a deeper acceptance, a non-judgmental spirit, a loving embrace of things as they are, including ourselves and others. That is a powerful moment. Perhaps a difficult moment and even a dangerous moment. For in this moment we ARE being transformed and are being given what is needed to become bearers of peace and transformation in this world. Through our practice, I believe that endless gifts of the heart are given and the infinite goodness of the heart.deepens with each breath. Love is unfolding. By learning to be with what is we practice the true nature of Love. By being with things as they are we are transformed, more and more, into Lovers of what is and loving Creators of what Love desires to unfold in this world.
Blessings on your meditation.



IT'S ABOUT SHOWING-UP. Welcome to day 6 of the Worldwide 30 Meditation for World Peace on Facebook.. Anyone who practices anything regularly knows that it's about showing-up. Sometimes we don't feel like it. We'd rather stay in bed or get busy doing something else. Sometimes we wonder if the practice is doing any good at all. I remember Br. Roger of the Taize Community in France. For more than 60 years, he and his community, showed up everyday, three times a day to sit and meditate, sing and pray. I remember him saying that there were many times when he did not feel like being there. He spoke of his commitment to simply be there and show-up. When we show-up in our meditative practice we attest to a reality larger than our own feelings. We offer ourselves to ourselves, to the world and to Divine Mystery. This past weekend one of the retreatants spoke of " revealing ourselves to ourselves." I like that. I believe that this revelation happens as we practice. Sometimes in spite of our feelings we are there. And sometimes it's a struggle. Frodo Baggins near the end of his journey said, " I can't do this, Sam." Sam's encouraging response might be directed to us ," There's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it's worth fighting for." The myriad of beings from east and west throughout history attest to the goodness, the beauty and the power of a practice of meditation. When we meditate, we join with them and all to come in a timeless transformative moment. And all we need do is show-up...



I want to thank Rebecca Snyder for her excellent work on the new website. Thank you, Rebecca!
Rebecca is a gifted artist and designer and a joy to work with. I heartily recommend her and her work to those who are looking for website renewal.

You can check out the new website at: www.songsofpeace.net 

Many thanks!




This lavish and radical welcome, this nourishing, sustaining meal IS the Christian church in its essence . How to live this feast of Divine Love even more deeply so that those ( and there are many ) who feel excluded and unwelcome may enjoy this good food and drink alongside those of us who feel satisfied and content in our communities of the like-minded? I post this today on Holy Thursday because I was out walking and met a man who is very poor and homeless and when I invited him to accompany me to attend a lovely church community that I feel right at home in, he said: " I'm not REALLY welcome there ." It got me thinking/feeling... And I remembered hearing these words from others over the years. My question: Why? Why is this so? Can I see things from the perspective of one who does feel excluded ? Can I gain new insight and another perspective? Can we move beyond our contentment with where we are now and ask the hard questions of radical welcome? Can we imagine a longer, broader, new and different Table ? Or do we remain satisfied?


WHY?    This is the question that Jesus cried out in his agony upon the cross. This is the question that captures my attention today. For years I have kept that question at a distance as a theological query seeing it as Jesus' ultimate question or better, quest in his personal relationship with his Abba, the Divine One. " Father, why have you abandoned me?"  But now, I'm troubled. I'm disturbed by the recurring thought that I am missing something more essential to the living of my life - the broader ethical implications that only now my imagination brings to my fearful mind. This question , 'Why? , is for me the ultimate question of my existence. Why am I? Why you?  Why this world? Why suffering? Why death? As I've reflected more and more on this in seminary, university, on the streets, reading the philosophers and theologians over many years, it  becomes clear to me that there is no satisfying answer but the question, that gnawing question, remains urgent. Why? Is it possible that the asking of the question itself is a kind of answer, a deeply human response to what is. When I cry out ,' Why?' I am throwing myself into this world of suffering with passion and the ever present possibility of passionate and compassionate engagement. When we listen, when we hear Jesus crying out from the cross, is it possible that Jesus' question ignites a theological and existential fire in our midst?  When we bring together another shocking cry of the Rabbi with this question a different light is shed. Jesus once said, " Whatever you do to the least of these you do to me."  When I attempt to make the connection I begin to see the world differently. I hear Syria crying out in their abandonment, "Why?" I hear the Palestinian people crying out from their refugee camps for more than sixty years, " Why?"  I hear men , women and children crying out from the rubble and shattered structures, " Why?" I hear those who live in poverty in the inner cities, in rural America continuing to lament their schools and the violence on their streets with this one word, " Why?" I hear the millions around the world struggling to find enough scraps of food to merely survive crying out, " Why? Why? Why?

Now here's the kicker: I hear Jesus crying out through all these human beings, crying out not to God but to us. Christ, can you not leave us alone? We are doing all we can! What do you want from us?  The ultimate question of why is aimed right at me and right at you. It is a serious disturbance of the peace.  And remember, this is a question with no satisfying answer so it will not go away. It is not intended to be answered. It is intended to be felt like an earthquake in the heart. And when we're able to ask it we ask it with passion and compassion over and over and over again.  The question of why is meant to propel us deeper into the darkness of suffering, ours and the world's. This kind of question asks us until we cry out with Jesus, " Why?"  This unanswerable 'Why?' is our constant companion and will lead us, if we desire, and sometimes in spite of our desires, deeper into the awkwardness of relationship, deeper into the struggle for justice, and deeper into the paradox and the mystery of our lives.  Ultimately it's about transformation -ours and the world. And along the way there is the danger and risk of change. And along the way there is also the delight of asking questions that unearth truth and joyful discovery. And it all begins with, " Why?"



Long Island, Boston, Buffalo, West Virginia, Memphis, Cookeville, Brunswick,Takoma Park, Fairfax, Washington, D.C...Churches, Coffee Shops, Seminaries, Homes.Sidewalks...For the past six weeks it has been a whirlwind of visiting people in faith communities large and small, receiving the warmest of hospitality, deepening and extending friendship,sharing the new music from the CD called CELTIC KIRTAN: HEARTBEAT OF THE BELOVED. It has been a sacred journey of being with people, spirits, animals, listening to stories, rivers, trains, sharing songs and chants, concerts, workshops, liturgies, drumming, poetry and prose, good food, great conversation, laughter and tears and becoming more and more engaged in the work. And what is the work? What is really happening in the midst of it all?