Sunday, October 30, 2011

the evolution of the "family" home, or returning to simple, sustainable living -

As Patti and I plan our "living quarters" at the "family compound" back in Sacramento, I've been thinking about how we've become so consumptive in the western world. The family home is a primary example of this evolution toward "bigger and better" (worse in my opinion) homes. We have gone from 1K square foot easily sustainable living spaces to 5K monstrosities with separated living spaces where no one has to enounter anyone else throughout the day. There are "living rooms", "family rooms", "AV rooms" (the entertainment centers of our media submersed culture) and more.

My first home in North Dakota was about 800 square feet. We lived there with a native American family who also had a baby, our dads worked together on Garrison Dam. One "living space" that constituted kitchen, dining, living, work space . . . and also the only room with heat! :-) Then two small bedrooms (sleeping quarters) for each family. Oh, yes we did have indoor plumbing, including a bathrooom. Now, we have so many separate spaces we really can "avoid" one another if we want to. However, we are thinking of ways to be "family" and save money too. All of it also helps reduce our "carbon footprint"; energy conservation, etc.

This poor economy has everyone looking for ways to save, which is a great thing. It motivates us toward simplification and conservation, something we all should be doing anyway. I am personally excited to experience three generations under one roof, just hope we continue to "get along" and not become our own version of a bad reality TV show?! :-)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

2000 years – Context, or what the heck is going on here?

Consider if you will the “state” of Israel in the first century A.D. Palestine is under Roman rule and experiencing a time of relative peace (Pax Romana). Although “puppet king” Herod is bent on killing off his entire family, he seems willing to let the Jews live their lives in peace as long as they “behave”. The Jews for their part are awaiting the long anticipated arrival of their messiah/king who will deliver them from tyranny. This is the world Jesus (the Christ) will be born into, but this humble messiah/king will not be what the Jews are expecting. Now, think of the context of these events as one grand story or play being acted out over thousands of years, but where every event is connected to the other across time, for this is the reality of God’s plan. If we look at the first century and our 21st century, we will see some interesting and possibly disturbing parallels. But fear not, this is a creation process, not a destruction process as many view it . . . at least it is for those who seek God. Okay, bear with me and see if these parallels are also obvious to you? Since the time of exile (separation) for Israel, sectarianism has increased and solidified among the Jewish people. The sects [read denominations” here] are as much political and cultural as they are religious. The Pharisees [read “leaders” here] have become enamored with their own interpretations and legalistic hypotheticals which do not necessarily jibe with the Torah [read “Scripture” here]. Interpretation and tradition, in fact, are on par with the Law itself. Okay, fast forward to our own time, about what we are seeing now, (you PC USA folks should really be getting this.) Further, with popular support, many of these religious leaders are seeking government offices or places of high regard and authority in the sects [denominations]. (Think General Assembly here PC USA friends.) It is fairly clear that in their first century religious beliefs and practices the Jews had come a long way from Mt. Sinai (or maybe a better way to phrase that would be “have strayed a long way?”) In the same way, Christians have come (strayed) a long way from the empty tomb. Lord have mercy indeed! But the truth remains; God has taken on human flesh and moved into the neighborhood! What a mystery! What a marvelous and wonderful mystery! So, if you feel you have strayed too, look to the Good Shepherd, He’ll lead you back. Amen?

Oh, one more thing . . . “church” isn’t happening in denominations, committee meetings or often even in corporate worship settings. It’s not about big glitzy highly promoted events; it’s about intimate personal discipleship. It’s happening out there where His disciples are lovingly imitating Him, where He is “building His church.” Remember, Jesus did not come as a religious leader. He held no official position, nor was He trained (seminary) to be a priest or other cleric. He took His ministry to the cities, towns, country roads and farms and homes . . . wherever the common people might be found. And, He calls us to do the same.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Reflections from retreat – Ainaola Anam Cara “Monastery” Waiakea Uka, Mauna Loa, Hawaii:

The following are notes and reflections gathered during time of extended retreat. Much is taken directly from Scripture, or adapted from Celtic Daily Prayer with my own notes based on my family heritage of the Celtic Highlands and Islands (Scotland and Northern Ireland). Prayers of the Highland Christians and Hebridean Altars are also sources. The Watters clan [tribe], (name meaning in Gaelic: they that dwell by loch and muir; or lake, inlet and sea), lived out life for some time as farmers and fishermen under clan chiefs, later emigrating to North America to begin new lives there as both Celtic and Lakota. That story, “From Clan to Tribe”, has been documented elsewhere. No directions are offered here for either study or meditation, but I trust that those who read and reflect will enter upon on holy ground and be blessed.

During the season of falling leaves, (canwapekašnawi in Lakota), in the year of our Lord, 2011:

I have learned during solitude and silence up here, that life cannot be all retreat nor all mission. There must be a balance as Christ Jesus modeled; wherein each discipline feeds and nurtures the other. So life is a series of seasons during which God provides His own rhythms for our good and His service. Finding our rhythm and getting in step with the “dance of the Trinity” is a lifelong journey along the Narrow Road, the Good Red Road of Christ.

John 16:33
33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

St. Columba’s final words to his fellow religious seem an appropriate beginning, as well as end, to these reflections: “I give to you, my children, these final words: Be at peace with one another, bound together by mutual and unfeigned love. If you do this, according to the example of the ancient fathers, God, who gives strength to the righteous, will bless you; and I, abiding with Him, shall intercede for you. Not only will God provide all things needed for this present life, but He shall prepare for you blessings of eternity.”

I recall during prayer the struggles of our former church family, and these words of Columba seem apt knowledge and reflection for them.

1 Chronicles 16:8-11
8 Give thanks to the LORD and proclaim his greatness.
Let the whole world know what he has done.
9 Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.
Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.
10 Exult in his holy name;
rejoice, you who worship the LORD.
11 Search for the LORD and for his strength;
continually seek him.

A common aspect of monastic communities, especially the Celtic which combined work in the community with retreat into solitude, is the daily offices or rhythms: “When labor in the fields was finished they returned to the monastery and spent the whole of the day until the evening in reading, writing or praying. When evening came, and the stroke of the bell sounded, whether only the tip of a letter or even half the form of the same letter was written, they rose quickly and left what they were doing. In silence, without empty talk or chatter, they went into the church. When they had finished chanting the psalm, with voice and heart in complete harmony, they humbled themselves on bended knees until the appearance of the stars in the heavens brought the day to a close.”

May we be one Lord God as You are ONE; Father, Son & Holy Spirit. Amen.

Isaiah 53:3-7 – counting the cost

3 He was despised and rejected—
a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care.
4 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
it was our sorrows[a] that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for his own sins!
5 But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the LORD laid on him
the sins of us all.
7 He was oppressed and treated harshly,
yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
he did not open his mouth.

“It was custom that anyone who yearned for this manner of saintly life and asked to join the monastic community first remained for ten days at the door of the monastery, as if rejected and also silenced by words of abuse. If he put his patience to good use and stood there until the tenth day, he might be admitted and first put to serve under the elder who had charge of the gate. After he had toiled there for a long time, and many conflicts with in his soul had been reconciled, he was finally judged fit to enter the brethren’s society.”

My brethren, be joyful, keep your faith and belief, and perform the small things which you have learned from me and have seen in me, those which God will make great in His providence. Amen.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2
A Time for Everything
1 For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
2 A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.

John 4:23
23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.
“Recognizing time as a reality made holy by a loving God, the Celtic saints valued the daily, the routine, the ordinary. They believed God is found not only at the end of time when the reign of God finally comes, but now, where the reign is already being lived by God’s faithful people. Theirs was a spirituality characterized by gratitude, and in our stories we find them worshipping God in their daily work and very ordinary chores.” Sellner, Wisdom of the Celtic Saints

Labor and rest, work and ease, the busy hand, and then the skilled thought: this blending of opposites is the secret of the joy of living.
Whether I be in retreat, or about Your work, keep within me a stillness deeper and sweeter than a forest’s in mid of winter.

Ezekiel 33:30-32
30 “Son of man, your people talk about you in their houses and whisper about you at the doors. They say to each other, ‘Come on, let’s go hear the prophet tell us what the LORD is saying!’ 31 So my people come pretending to be sincere and sit before you. They listen to your words, but they have no intention of doing what you say. Their mouths are full of lustful words, and their hearts seek only after money. 32 You are very entertaining to them, like someone who sings love songs with a beautiful voice or plays fine music on an instrument. They hear what you say, but they don’t act on it!"

Mattew 25:35-40
5 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,[a] you were doing it to me!’

How wretched we are, given up to sleep and laziness so that we never see the glory of those who watch with Christ unceasingly! What miraculous things I have seen after so short a vigil here!
Deliver me from self-trustfulness. In the frequent days in which I must do battle with my self as foe, arm me with a constant trust in Thee.
I am calmed because I know You love me. Because You love me, nothing can move me from my peace. Because You love me, I am as one to whom all good has come.
Lord, You love us to stand in Your sight upright and with such a gentleness in us that some other will yearn to win its power.

John 17:25-26
25 “O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. 26 I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.”


An open question re: seminary -

Does the intellectual pursuit at seminary better prepare one for apprenticeship to Jesus?

Further, is that what Jesus had in mind when He said, "Go and make disciples."?

If so, or if not, why do seminaries exist? Are they just professional clergy prep for the denominations?

Yes, I have my own thoughts, but I'm curious what others think, especially seminarians and graduates.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

humanity vs. Humanity

So much preoccupation with politics and agendas of the world. So much distraction from what really matters to our true Humanity as opposed to that lower form we so often exist in. Whether LGBTQ extremism, Christian Right, or other media-fueled nonsense, we become mired in useless activity and dialog. What if we could rise above this lowly state, and even for a moment experience the "knowledge" that we are meant for something higher. What if our sexuality, politics, materialism and more could be shed for that higher life we were created for?! Lord have mercy, we are a pathetic lot! We argue as if we have the absolute truth in our own little brains . . . and He would laugh if it all weren't so sad. Only the Spirit can reveal the truth, and we'd better be very careful what we do with that truth. It was never meant to be used as a weapon or to enslave others. No, it was meant to free them and us. That's why it says "speak the truth in love" . . . and not speak your truth and condemn. Yes, I know, we are called in this Humanity to "judge", but only as to truth and/or sin, and not another's heart, only the Creator Himself has that authority, and it is rightly His and His alone.

So, what do we do? Well, discourse is good, the Apostle Paul loved and used it often leading into teaching moments. But when the point is reached where friendly, respectful discourse is replaced by shallow argument and finger-pointing accusations . . . that is the point where "shaking the dust out of your clothes and off your shoes" becomes the best recourse to failed discourse. In my simple terms; walk away, ponder and pray, preserve what little love and grace you have left for another day.

Anything more only gives the evil dweeb a "foothold", and he just loves to weasel his way into those places. Best to recognize him and his slimy little minions and put them in their place with haste, in Jesus Name of course! ;-)

And that will end this latest Moose rant, posted here at the monastery at Ainaola Anam Cara.

Grace & Peace, and always only by grace on my part.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Thinking about my daughter and son-in-law, and so many others I meet along the "road". If they don't like the church, no amount of invitation (pressure) will get them there. So, how to introduce them to Jesus? "Go" . . . where they are, speak their "language", live in their world.

Bring church into our home, (imagine that, church in a house). ;-) Play some spiritual music, something from their world that creates a space or place for thought and discourse. Then just "talk story", like Jesus did. Keep it simple, friendly, seasoned with love and grace.

Start with Him, Jesus, you're gonna end up with Him too since the whole Bible is His story. Explain the gospels and His teachings, as He did with his first disciples. (Not heavy theology, not OT study, just simple stories a fisherman could understand.) Move to Paul; his story and letters . . . always imitating Christ. Converts will eventually desire deeper, further study and pursue it on their own.

Always be in prayer; for yourself AND those you meet with. Ask the Father to send His Spirit to give the word and lessons. Intentionally surrender self and BE in Christ - for as Paul said, your true self is hidden there, in Him. Trust God to use you as you submit to Him.

Lastly, make sure you are in a discipling relationship for yourself too, and maintain your own church connections. God will honor your efforts.

While I wrote this thinking about my own family, it is easily applicable to our lives out in the world too. It works in coffee shops, diners & dives. Just be open to opportunities, don't force it, just let God work.

Yes, I do this. It never seems to look the same each time, owing to different people and places I guess, and it is a work in progress, a process that is dynamic, just gotta keep goin with the flow.

Amen? Amen.

Searching for what?

The big island of Hawaii is certainly all that people and travel publications say about it, and more. It IS a paradise of sorts, at least physically; climate, scenery, etc. But paradise should also have something to do with how we feel, a spiritual aspect? And to be truthful I have met some "locals" who seem to understand what they have here. They are content in relationships, family, with little need for material possessions.

I have also met many "transplanted" folk, mostly haole, as the locals call them (and me), but not in a derogatory sense. However, the haoles all seem restless to me? They don't have the same calm demeanor, the aloha, of the locals? I've chatted with many, asking about their "journey" and such. They all seem to be either escaping from something (often literally) or searching for something which continues to elude them?

Interestingly, more than a few have left the deserts of Sedona for these rainforests. I guess the harmonic convergence petered out or they got tired of peyote?! ;-). Here they can trade in peyote for pot, and still have a cloudy mind in their seeking. Then also, there are the wealthy who come and build multi-million dollar homes in double gated enclaves, missing so much that is Hawaii.

I admit I love it here, but family and home are in Sacramento. And, if I've learned anything while living here, it's the ultimate importance of relationships, of deep, vulnerable, authentic, caring, loving relationships.

Sadly, many of the "aliens" here tend to intentionally isolate themselves, physically and socially from the people here, the kamaaina who could really help them. So, while I do love it here, I sense a sadness that seems so out of place here, especially in the tension of the haoles and of course most of the tourists too.

I believe I know what, or rather Who is missing from these lost lives. The Creator of this place, and all of them too. But, I don't force religion on my "friends", just smile and listen, and trust the Lord will reveal Himself as He chooses. Oh, they do know where I'm at on this journey, and often remark about the message in the tattoos they see. Even asking what 3:16 and 2 4:7 mean. Yea, I know, a little sneaky evangelism on my part. ;-)

So I spread His love, His aloha, as best I know how. I get to disciple a couple young men here too, praise God. One a gifted artist and writer who is searching, and another who is a wYLdlife leader here, and who stayed with us on the mainland when he came to camp as a HS student.

It's still a weird season for me here Lord, but I'm just trying to obey and learn what You have for me in this time.

Hmm, started with a question, ended with a prayer . . . actually, I guess it's all prayer?