Saturday, November 26, 2016

Our earth

Our earth is beautiful. I love her how she is now, and I will love her with tears in my eyes even when her ice caps are gone, her coasts are flooded, and we’re migrating north. It seems we humans get to decide what we want to do with earth. For example, we could pump the oil out of the ground, knowing that a lot of it will spill in the water, so that lots of the animals and birds will die and more people won’t have clean water to drink. We decide. Is this worth it, just so that we can have some measure of stuff, comfort, and freedom that we can get more easily by doing this?
We all breathe the same air. We are part of the earth. In everything we do, we are participating in this decision, of what to do to her, what to do to ourselves. There is no way to not participate. Each time I buy a product made of plastic I’m participating; and I just bought plastic today — I’m guilty with everyone else. We are all in a dialogue, through our words and our actions, deciding what to do to our earth, what to do to ourself.

Today, this dialogue is most visible at Standing Rock where ten thousand people are gathered, with the support of millions more of us around the world, to say “No” to another oil pipeline. Now this is an extreme case, where the “benefit” of building the pipeline is mainly that certain companies, their investors, and the politicians paid by them will get more money/power if we build it. The rest of us might get slightly cheaper gas prices so we can melt those ice caps a little sooner. And then if the pipeline breaks, the Missouri river will turn black with oil all the way down to New Orleans. This is not new — we already did it in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 and that’s still a mess, just as one example. I will still love earth even if we do this to her as well, but we don't have to.

What we see at Standing Rock is that collectively we value the profits of companies, the wealthy, and their politicians, more than we value the health of the earth and its inhabitants. We will even use excessive violence and cruelty against our fellow humans to maximize these profits. I say “we” because our elected government is doing this and we are all supporting them in it through taxes, votes, our excessive consumption of everything that requires oil, and our silence in the face of violence. Standing Rock is the tip of an iceberg. I cannot concisely describe the violence we are doing to other people around the world for the same cause.

So, my friends, I’m asking you: be conscious of what causes you are supporting. And if, like me, you find that your actions are not in harmony with what you really love, pay attention to that, and take the time to figure out what to do about it. It won't be simple but that's okay. For me, it's changed my entire life, how I think, and what I do with my time and money. I’m willing to talk about this, without bringing blame and shame into it. It is worth it, to live a life where your actions and your heart are consciously aligned. Everything becomes even more beautiful.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Reflection, October 9, 2016

This is a short reflection I shared at FMCSF on October 9, 2016.

What does it mean to you, in your daily life, that you identify as an anabaptist christian?

I am invited to love God and neighbor, and to me that includes everything.  This loving is that field with the treasure that Jesus talked about.  To me, being an anabaptist means I know in the deepest way I can know things that it is worth selling everything to buy that field.  It means I’ve tasted a freedom so sweet that I’ll let parts of myself be burned up to get to it.  This is not a one-time thing, but a moment to moment dialogue, a never ending dance.   In every moment I am invited to step into the fire.

This invitation takes many forms for me.   It may be to let go of some thing my mind or body wants like physical luxury or praise from other people.  Or to give money rather than holding on to it.  Or to let my mind quiet down rather than feeding it with more excitement.  Or to practice appreciating the things that would annoy me, rather than being annoyed.  One of the scarier invitations for me is to live honestly with myself and with others.  I don’t just mean by avoiding technical lies, but by living undisguised, bringing my struggles and failures into the light.

While we don't have the inquisition burning us at the stake for not conforming, in our culture it is very easy to build up a safe and comfortable and independent life behind a lot of masks, simply by default.  Breaking out of that cocoon is painful.  It’s painful for me to acknowledge my struggles and fears, my daily mistakes, the really embarrassing conniving that my mind is always up to.  Or the lesser invitations that I respond to.  

But I’ve found joy and freedom beyond that pain.  It’s like dying to be born again as Christ taught.  Into a life where justification is not sought or needed.  Where I let go of judging others and myself.  Where I lay it all out on the table and sit with it, appreciate it for what it is, and laugh over it.  From that place, I think I can take anything and my heart will keep on singing.

So.  :D   I’m gonna dip my toes in this fire just a little bit by sharing some of my embarrassing escapes, addictions, and struggles.  

Often I’ll have decided the next right thing for me to do, and instead of doing it I’ll find myself getting out my computer and spending hours browsing the internet.  Or I’ll find myself eating when I know I have something better to be doing.  Or when I’m feeling down I’ll reassure myself by identifying with my accomplishments, or things I’ve created, or respect from other people for things I’ve done, rather than facing myself and remembering who I am.

And when I do fumble into the fire, there are questions I wrestle with.  What should I do with my time?  Is my job really the best thing for me to be doing?  Even at a company that makes its profit off consumerism and, by extension, exploitation of the earth?  What should I do with the money and power I’m given?  Should I live more simply than I do now?  Should I give up my comfortable living situation and try to find cheaper housing?

I’m not sure my answers to these questions are the best.  And I don’t want to defend my choices so far, or be justified. I want to hold these things loosely, and live in the light.  I do not have it figured out.  I cry out: Help me.  Show me.

Saturday, January 9, 2016


I frequently intentionally make time to see the sunset, and sometimes the sunrise too depending on the time of year and whether I expect it to be good, depending on the expected weather.

Here are a few of my favorites from 2015.  Click here to see the full album of 230 photos of 90+ sunsets/sunrises from the last year.