I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.

I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for

may for once spring clear
without my contriving.

If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,
but this is what I need to say.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.

Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,

streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.

Rainer Maria Rilke, Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God

Happy Thanksgiving.  Thanks.  Giving.

Giving. Thanks.

I enjoy thanksgiving the most because it is not (necessarily) a religious holiday in origin; it is simply an intentional day set aside to be grateful and give thanks.

I give Thanks. Then I live my thanks by giving my life away in service and love.

So, I turn and give thanks to God for all that is and is to come.  I give thanks to God for our divine friendship; my love grows deeper for God moment by moment, day by day as I grow closer to Home.

I give thanks for all the bounty of the Earth.

I give thanks for all that surround me, for I am a better man for all these men and women; if I stand tall, I do so because I stand on the shoulders of good people.

I am thankful for the quiet, hidden prayers that have been offered; for the angels who inhabit my world; for the 55 pound divine fur ball named Juno who reminds me everyday what grace and unconditional love truly are.

I am thankful I have breath and life to say “thank You!”

I am grateful for the mosaic that is my life: joy and sadness, fullness and emptiness, sickness and healing.

I am grateful and thankful for the 200 subscribers who have humbled me by signing up and even reading one tiny word I write, may you be Blessed, may you be Blessings.  May my words, in some small way, lead you deeper into the God Who pines for you, Who loves more than my words can ever convey; Who loves you, longs for you and embraces you as the divine children you are.

I am grateful for all the people in recovery who challenge me daily and keep me clean and sober; those who remind me of God – in blue jeans, grace in t-shirts, and divine love in brutal transparency.

I am reminded of the wise Meister Eckhart quote, that I try and live out daily, sometimes feebly, sometimes fully: “If the only prayer you ever utter is ‘thank You’ that would suffice.”


Every year, around my birthday, I take stock of my life: reviewing where I am; how is my spiritual condition; am I growing closer to God and others, things like that.

I am realizing that a few things about me are being noticeably transformed – all thanks to God and those who have helped me in my recovery. I have grown from a totally rigid black and white thinker to a place where I am being led by the Spirit towards a more tolerant, compassionate experience and view of life – mine and the worlds.

In short, I have become less arrogant that my way is the right way, much less even “a” single way being the ‘right’ way.  I have come to know and see that the Spirit is like the Wind indeed – blowing wherever the skies and landscape take it.  Who am I to judge the Spirit’s leading and intention in a persons’ life?  I am learning that God can work in any way God sees fit, and can obviously do so without any input from this particular ragamuffin.

I am learning again one of the indispensable foundations of spirituality (and spiritual growth) is listening: listening to God, to our hearts, our fears, our pain, our joys, and especially to others.  Spirituality (and spiritual growth) can and do occur in solitude, but for them to flourish deeply they must grow in relation to another – in community.

And I am fast learning one steadfast truth: all community begins with listening.

It is an initial listening to a call from the Other Who then leads us to others and in listening to them we are led to ourselves, and it is vital to listen to each one clearly because at the Center they are all saying the same thing: “we are loved and we are one.”

It is in the mutuality that grows from listening that the deepest spiritual significance occurs, namely the mutuality between listening and telling: knowing someone will listen without judgment and knowing that one can tell their story and it will be heard.  That is one of the greatest powers of groups like Alcoholics Anonymous – story telling, listening, a shared struggle and a shared healing experience.

Those of us who are wrestling with spiritual dilemmas and demons, creeping and crawling ever so slowly towards awakenings, do not necessarily need answers but ‘presence’ – the permission to confront the dilemma, struggle with it out loud knowing we will be heard, and finding solace in the ‘defeat’ of terminal uniqueness (the belief that we are so different that we are alone in a chaotic, random universe).

Listening begins and deepens our spiritual experiences.  Listening affords us the space and silence needed to empty out our pain through storytelling and mutuality.   Listening is where we find not only answers but maybe more importantly the Presence Whom is the Source of all our longings.



The older I get (I just turned 48 years old at the beginning of November…yikes!), the more I truly understand that failure is a gift from God. I am also realizing that the longer I live and journey, the more I need my ‘spirituality’ to reflect and teach that truth. My historical experience has been that Religion tends to speak more to the “shame” of failure and not to its Giftedness.

The foundation of my spirituality is that I was created BY God FOR God – that everything about me and my life is about being in relationship with God. And with God not only are all things possible, all things are redeemable. It is a powerful thing to learn from failure. It is a transformative thing to learn and experience that failure is a gift and a necessary tool for our journey with (and towards) God.  Failure is the twin sister of ‘success’ much the way doubt and faith are inseparably linked.

One of the foundational ‘tenets’ of Alcoholics Anonymous states that the journey of sobriety is about “progress not perfection…[for] we are not saints.”  Imperfection and failure are two of the tools God uses to draw me in closer; for by embracing imperfection and failure, I am reminded of the glorious truth that I am indeed human and I remember that all of us were created in the image and likeness of God.  In my being human, nothing is drawn away from God and his relentless love, in fact, I find that if I embrace that truth, I am more so fully alive.

My failures prove only that I am not a saint, they do not take away from any goodness that God has placed within me.  I am fond of saying if there is anything in me you find good, then you can give thanks to God and my mother, but if you find anything in me that is not good, well for that I apologize.

As I look over my life I see a wreckage of pain, failure and broken hearts and trust strewn across the path.  I feel regret, and rue some of the poorer choices I have made.  But God is eternally good, forgiving and loving so that in his hands my past wreckage becomes malleable clay to be remolded into a shining example of divine love blended with my utter humanity.

And like or not, that is indeed good news.

I am but a jar of clay, cracked but valuable when surrendered fully into God’s hands.  My failures become familiar scars, gentle reminders of the power of forgiveness and choice all held by the urgent compassion of God.

Here is the point of this and what makes it a Gift is that God does not judge my failures; only I and other people do that.  God’s love is a merciful cauldron burning away the dross of my failures turning them instead into divine gifts meant for service, compassion, healing and justice.

God’s grace is greater than any failure I have ever experienced.

God’s love is greater than any human perspective, judgment, religion, or persuasion.

In truth, God embraces my failures as a vital part of me and my journey back Home, to myself, to God and to others. And if God embraces my failures, I certainly can do no less. So today, I embrace all my failures – all of me, surrendering them over to the hands of God, asking not for them to be removed but rather to be transformed into loving gifts of service, gifts from a merciful God.


People call us to get our attention, to make contact with us, to draw us closer to them. So it is with God. A call may come as a gradual dawning of God’s purpose for our lives. it can involve an accelerating sense of inner direction.  [A Call] can emerge through a gnawing feeling that we need to do a specific thing. On occasion, it can burst forth as a sudden awareness of a path that God would have us take.

Call may be emphatic and unmistakable, or it may be obscure and subtle. In whatever way call is experienced, through the centuries God has chosen to speak to us and bids us to listen.

Suzanne Farnham, Listening Hearts

“Conversion is a continuous and lifelong process. Conversions proceed layer by layer, relationship by relationship, here a little, there a little—until the whole personality, intellect, feeling and will have been recreated by God.” – John Westerhoff, The Spiritual Life

~ ~ ~

“God is continually giving us gifts; but we do not understand that they come from God, and we take them as if they were merely natural results. We take them and forget God. The habit of prayer opens the eye of the soul to be watchful for God’s love, to recognize his hand in his gifts” – Richard Meux Benson

~ ~ ~

“If I were to wish for anything I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of what can be, for the eye, which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what…is so sparkling…so fragrant…so intoxicating as possibility?”   – Soren Kierkegaard, Either/Or


may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it’s sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there’s never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile

“Gratitude prepares a space for grace to reside.”  A.A. old timer

I am a firm believer that there are two primary ways that God’s grace comes to us, there are unfathomable ways for that to occur but these are the two prime ones in my life: they are through a wound in our hearts and/or when space has been prepared.

You see I know God is in the “Grace Business” for I am a wounded sinner who has experienced divine grace more than I can even recall.  But I am learning that grace does not force itself into me, rather I must open myself up to it, empty myself of all that is ego, then and only then does grace come rushing in.

I must be intentional in preparing a space and for me that space is created through gratitude.  Gratitude is a reality that claims that God IS and therefore all is well.  Gratitude knows that all things, moments, and experiences can be and become blessings when seen through the eyes of ‘thank You.’  Gratitude understands that nothing lies outside of God and God’s will for if anything did stand outside of God’s hands then God is neither omnipotent nor omnipresent.

Gratitude understands that in truth all things are present now, that I do not need to beg God for them, and that trust and thankfulness are the keys that open us up to the blessings of grace in all things.  Gratitude is about fleshing out my “thank You” to God.  It is about knowing I am only what and who I am because of God’s grace.  And let me tell you, I need grace, daily, sometimes minute by minute because the world wants to ensnare my heart, strangling it with fear and dread.

I have to empty myself out and make some space for grace and the space I need to empty out is where the ego resides, for my ego takes up a great deal of space.  But empty I must if there is to be any room for grace.  I am called to be like Mary, who in order to be so full of grace, had to be emptied of herself…as in when she said “be it done to me according to Your Will.”

I am rarely in the head space for grace, but when I shift into gratitude, I am always in the heart space for grace to come and come it does: in ways unexpected, messily, tenderly, forthrightly, surprisingly, but always, always does God’s grace faithfully come.

“It is good and right that our own understanding of God and God’s purposes should change and develop.” Geoffrey Tristram, Anglican monk

“[All] life is engulfed in God and God can reach out to us anywhere at any level.” – Evelyn Underhill

I firmly believe that God appears to us as we see God; if we see God as Love then so God appears. If we see God as angry, so too will God appear. If all I see is an angry God in Scriptures, then so shall God be. If I see God as Love, then too shall God be. In truth, each of us holds the power of perception over how God comes to us. Maybe all that needs to happen is the slight transformation of how we see God in order to become more open to real grace and to grow closer to God as God Is (and not as I see God).


Retired Bishop John Shelby Spong said that “imagining God as a “being” with primarily anthropomorphic constructs is an immature way of imagining God.” I could not agree more. The late theologian Paul Tillich nailed it on the head when he spoke of God not as “a being,” but rather as the “Ground of all Being.”


My spiritual task is to “discover the Infinite in the finite.”   My passion, my hunger and my search in life is for oneness with a God Who is Real and Present.


As I watch and study Christians from all walks of life and from every construct (Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox) I am coming to believe that the greatest enemy of (our) faith in God is not doubt, but certainty. By its very nature, certainty blocks the child-like nature needed to see and experience God unfettered, without constraint.  ‘Certainty’ assumes a perspective that can become myopically idolatrous – the belief that my beliefs are the Truth (rather than my experience of truth) and that there is no need or room for the evolution of beliefs.

Our Scriptures are thousands of years old, our creeds are more than 1500 years old and our liturgies are about 500 years old and our Christian faith has evolved almost nil. Every single facet and paradigm of human existence has evolved and changed in some capacity or another in that time period: science; technology; medicine; politics; education; economies; philosophies. But NOT so much in the Christian faith.

I wonder why that is.


In the early years of Christianity, the common hallmarks of those who believed in and followed Jesus included: their care and love of each other; their love of their enemies; caring for the poor, the widows and orphans; sharing of resources with each other; not serving in the military; burying not only their own dead but the dead of the ‘pagans’ as well.

You can study the manuscripts of non-Christian historians and writers and even they wrote of this as a “marvel to behold.”

Now if I run that by what Christians are known for today: almost violent and all consuming in their being against abortion; hating gays, lesbians and all who are different; cutting social welfare programs and healthcare; hating all Muslims; protecting the 2nd Amendment at all costs; anti-immigration nationalism; and a stark aloofness towards climate change and protecting and preserving God’s creation.

As the song says: “things that make you go, ‘hmmmm.’”


God may be never changing, but I must…change. I must allow God to ‘evolve’ me with a revolution of the heart – a revolution of radical love that alters my own agenda, placing it at the service of loving neighbor, showing mercy, doing justice, and practicing kindness regardless of my religion or denomination or political slant.

In the end, I pray for God to evolve me into someone who, well, imitates God.

Greg Levoy has some Wise Words on seeking, finding, and doing out Callings:

There is such a thing as thinking too much about a calling, which is like leaving a hot iron too long in one place while you’re trying to smooth the wrinkles out of your shirt. Not only can studying it to death—turning it inside out like an old sock rather than, to some degree, simply exposing yourself before it—make it bony with refusal, but it can also be a pretty good way of avoiding the call altogether. We can analyze every facet of it. We can probe every consequence of following it, not following it, procrastinating in following it, jumping on it right away, or trading it in for another. We can ponder whether it’s really ours or whether we’re appropriating someone else’s, whether the time is now or later, whether it’s being murmured to us by God or not-God.

We can hold off and then beat ourselves up for not taking action, or we can take action and beat ourselves up for not being more patient. We can scare the backbone out of ourselves by contemplating the enormity of the call and the modest talents we bring to bear on it. We can break ourselves against the rock of debate. We can spend so much time, in other words, dithering with definitions and exactitudes, possibilities and probabilities, that we do little more than chase our own tails and eventually collapse into bed too exhausted to do anything at all.

Gregg Levoy, Callings




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