Sunday, April 23, 2006


In India they catch monkeys by cutting a small hole in a gourd which is anchored to a tree or to the ground. The hole is just big enough for a monkey’s hand to slip through, and there is some food inside. No monkey can resist reaching in and grabbing the food, and of course when it does its clenched fist is too big to pull back through the hole again. So there the monkey is, stubbornly holding onto the food that isn’t doing it a bit of good, until someone comes along and puts the monkey in a sack. All the while it could have gotten free just by letting go.

Oh, poor monkey. Allow me to anthropomorphize, just a little. I imagine that the monkey is so proud of himself, having found a luscious fruit that nobody else knows about. “It’s mine, all mine,” the Silas Marner in him proclaims. We would hope that if a tiger or some other hungry predator came along, he’d let go and sail by leaps and bounds into the thin, high branches of a tall tree. But would he be quick enough? Or would greed hold him to the spot for that split second too long?

Am I that monkey? Am I consistently – or even occasionally -- grabbing and holding onto things or people or habits or thoughts that are holding me down and keeping me from moving on? What am I holding onto that keeps me from taking the next step on my path? What danger am I courting by holding on so fiercely? What will it take to enable me to let go?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

THE HAGAR QUESTION, from Genesis 16:7

“The angel of the Lord found Hagar by a spring of water in the wilderness, running away from Sarai [she of Abraham & Sarah]. And he asked her, ‘Where have you come from and where are you going?’”

In this story in Genesis 16, Hagar is in terrified flight from Sarai’s anger and jealousy. But this story has much food for thought for many of life’s journeys.

It always makes sense to get our bearings for the journey. We start with the past, which has impelled us on our way, “Where have you come from?” That includes both the place and your past experience, how life has touched you and shaped you.

Then we look ahead to where we're going, preparing with what we'll need to have along, planning how to travel, what routes to take, and where we'll need to stop, perhaps to hide. Or we meander along, smelling the roses or sniffing the fire hydrants.

Every journey is different. They can all get us to where we're going. Or not, if we wander off on another path. Where are you fleeing in terror, where are you traveling according to your plan, and where are you meandering? How goes your journey?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006



1 package Crescent Rolls
a little soft margerine or softened butter
a little brown sugar
a hefty handful of raisins

Lay out triangles of dough one at a time, brushing each one lightly with margarine/butter, sprinkling the whole surface with brown sugar, arranging 8 or 10 raisins on the triangle, then rolling it up and sealing the edges together the best you can. Bake about 11 minutes or so. The “Nuggets” will be lumpy and bumpy, and the “bugs” (raisins) will try to escape out the ends. Pretty good when you’re out of something sweet.

May every day bring a tiny blessing of sweetness. That's all we need.

Monday, April 10, 2006


O glorious feline in the mirror,
Thou art above all others fair,
so grand and of a beauty
forever rare.
Thy whiskers stretch as wide
as all the world I have seen.
Thine eyes glow with a life and light,
beyond any flame that ever has been.
Gorgeous thou art, beyond compare.
How I worship thee and would come close.
But where is there?
~ for Tiger, 31 August 2003

Saturday, April 08, 2006


Saturday, April 01, 2006


No, don’t look around to see if I’m talking to somebody else. I mean you. And me. And him and her and us and them. We’re all theologians, every one of us. We always have been.

Theology is the study of God and religion. Although only a few of us go off to a formal seminary for schooling, we all live in a seminary of sorts. We live in a world made by the Creator, with people and animals designed by the Creator, and if we have any powers of observation we have noticed the rhythm, balance and order that is all around us. We’ve sensed the goodness of the earth, the grace and skills of animals, the intelligence and abilities of humans, the beauty of how it all fits together. And we’ve also taken notice of the risks. Anyway, whether we call it that or not, we all have a personal theology: a set of conclusions about that which is bigger than we are, based on personal experience – an empirical theology.

Empirical theology is inherently flawed. Your experience and my experience and everybody else’s experience is different, so our theologies will be different, limited by our own location, society and time. But don’t feel bad. All theologies have the same limitations. All theologies are flawed. All theologies seek the truth, and all of them find some of the truth, and no one theology finds all of the truth. Now, that’s a relief. It’s not required that we be completely right, just that we live gently in our world and pay attention.

It helps if we pay attention – not only to our surroundings but to each other. It helps if we share our theologies. And refine our theologies, broaden them and sharpen them and aim a bit deeper with them. And combine our theologies, finding the common ground that brings people together. By nature, theologies are flexible, malleable, elastic, pliable, supple; not – as some folks insist – set in stone. If theology had a theme song, I bet it would be “Getting to know you. Getting to know all about you.”

Theology is a verb, Theology is a process. Theology is a moving picture. Theology is a living entity, as much alive as we are. To try to nail it down (like a butterfly on a tack board) is to kill it, making further growth impossible. So the best thing to do is to treat theology like a boat: hop in, set your sail, take hold of the tiller and see where it takes you. May your journey be interesting and fun!

Bon voyage, Theologian!