Friday, December 28, 2012

The Singing of Angels

The Singing of Angels

Howard Thurman

There must be always
remaining in every life,
some place for the singing of angels.

Some place for that
which in itself
is breathless and

Old burdens become lighter
deep and ancient wounds
lose much of their old hurting.

Despite all the crassness of life,
all the hardness and
harsh discords,
life is saved by
the singing of angels.

Source: The Mood of Christmas

"Study of a Winged Figure" by John Rush

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gifts that keep on giving...

Gifts that keep on giving

You know when you unwrap them:
fruitcake is notorious. There were only
51 of them baked in 1917 by the
personal chef of Rasputin. The mad monk
ate one. That was what finally killed him

But there are many more bouncers:
bowls green and purple spotted like lepers.
Vases of inept majolica in the shape
of wheezing frogs or overweight lilies.
Sweaters sized for Notre Dame's hunchback.

Hourglasses of no use humans
can devise. Gloves to fit three-toed sloths.
Mufflers of screaming plaid acrylic.
Necklaces and pins that transform
any outfit to a thrift shop reject.

Boxes of candy so stale and sticky
the bonbons pull teeth faster than
your dentist. Weird sauces bought
at warehouse sales no one will ever
taste unless suicidal or blind.

Immortal as vampires, these gifts
circulate from birthdays to Christmas,
from weddings to anniversaries.
Even if you send them to the dump,
they resurface, bobbing up on the third

day like the corpses they call floaters.
After all living have turned to dust
and ashes, in the ruins of cities
alien archeologists will judge our
civilization by these monstrous relics.

"Gifts that keep on giving" by Marge Piercy, from The Hunger Moon. © Knopf, 2012. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
From the "Writer's Alamanac"

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Anti-Christmas Limericks: A Little Un-Christmas Cheer

Five Limericks Against Christmas

Old Fellow of Dallas

There was an old fellow of Dallas
Who was filled with atheist malice
And on Christmas Eve
He cried, "I don't believe"
To small children, which was terribly callous.

Old Dame of Westchester

There was an old dame of Westchester
A nasty Christmas molester
Who took refuse and piled it
By the Christ child
And police were called to arrest her

Old Man of Seattle

There was an old man of Seattle
Engaged in atheist battle
At a living nativity
He got so livid he
Wrestled the sheep and the cattle

Three Girls of Vermont

There were three girls of Vermont
Atheists just like their aunt
The family was famous
For no Adoramus
And avoiding the baptismal fount

Old Man of Blue Hill

There was an old man of Blue Hill
Who when church was quiet and still
At Christmas Eve mass
Liked to pass gas
Toward a candle, just for the thrill

"Five Limericks Against Christmas," by Anonymous. Reprinted with permission of the poet.
From "The Writer's Almanac"

Monday, December 17, 2012



Most of my life was spent
building a bridge out over the sea
but the sea was too wide and it didn't
go anyplace. I'm proud of the bridge
hanging in the pure sea air. Machado
came for a visit and we sat on the
end of the bridge which was his idea.
Now that I'm old the work goes slowly
but the material keeps coming as I hang
here in the air. Ever nearer death I like
it out here high above the sea bundled
up for the arctic storms of late fall,
the resounding crash and moan of the sea,
the hundred foot depth of the green troughs.
Sometimes the sea roars and howls like
the animal it is, a continent wide and alive.
What beauty in this the darkest music
which imitates the sky's thunder
over which you can hear the lightest music of human
behavior, the tender connection between men and galaxies.
So I sit on the edge, wagging my feet above
the abyss, the fatal plummet. Tonight the moon
will be in my lap. This is my job, to study
the universe from my bridge. I have the sky, the sea,
the faint green streak of Canadian forest on the far shore.

"Bridge" by Jim Harrison. Reprinted with permission of the poet.
From "The Writer's Almanac"

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Slaughter and Love: A Poem In Response to Sandy Hook

This is no time for a child to be born,
With the earth betrayed by war and hate
And a nova lighting the sky to warn
That time runs out and the sun burns late.

That was no time for a child to be born,
In a land in the crushing grip of Rome;
Honour and truth were trampled by scorn—
Yet here did the Saviour make his home.

When is the time for love to be born?
The inn is full on the planet earth,
And by greed and pride the sky is torn
Love still takes the risk of birth.

Madeleine L’Engle’s “The Risk of Birth”
copyright 1974 Madeleine L'Engle
In this time of darkness following the senseless slaughter of the innocents in Sandy Hook (and other children whose bodies are ripped apart by war and disease and hunger around the world), I am grateful that Love still takes the risk of birth.  Let us all, especially those of us who endeavor to follow the Prince of Peace risk loving and working for peace.  Let us incarnate the almighty Love and Light of God in a world seemingly filled with hatred and darkness.  May the God of Love and Light bless us -- the broken-hearted, the down-trodden, the safe in our cozy homes -- everyone.
With love,


Thursday, December 13, 2012

SIlence and the Urban Desert

"The crowded bus, the long queue, the railway platform, the traffic jam, the neighbor's television sets, the heavy-footed people on the floor above you, the person who still keeps getting the wrong number on your phone. These are the real conditions of your desert. Do not allow yourself to be irritated. Do not try to escape. Do not postpone your prayer. Kneel down. Enter that disturbed solitude. Let your silence be spoiled by those sounds. It is the beginning of your desert."
Alessandro Pronzato  -- Meditations on the Sand

Photo by Brent

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Innocence Mission has a New CD!

A new album from Karen Peris, called Violet, is now available for purchase
as an immediate download, directly from our
as well as
iTunes,, emusic, etc.

CDs are now available - click here

"While we have been working on a new (the innocence mission) record, we've also enjoyed making recordings of a group of songs that seemed to belong together on a separate album. They were all written on piano. Some have words and are sung. I guess that's a bit redundant, unless we consider the possibility that they could have been rap songs. Well, anyway, about half the songs are sung, with piano and with beautiful guitar parts from Don. And the other half are piano, or piano and pump organ, and some other instruments. My instruments are all fairly old and NOISY, so Don gets a special award for most patient and excellent engineer. He worked so meticulously to record my old spinet and little field (pump) organ. The accordion was the funny last straw, it's started to sound like a giant bowl of rice crispies, so it is having a small rest. I'm thrilled that our children have added wonderful violin and viola parts to two of the songs. So I've had tremendous help with this record, which is called Violet, and it really has been a joy to make" .-Karen
I've ordered mine!

Thursday, December 06, 2012

then the rain came...


Woke up this morning with
a terrific urge to lie in bed all day
and read. Fought against it for a minute.

Then looked out the window at the rain.
And gave over. Put myself entirely
in the keep of this rainy morning.

Would I live my life over again?
Make the same unforgiveable mistakes?
Yes, given half a chance. Yes.

"Rain" by Raymond Carver, from The Collected Poems. © Knopf, 1996. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
From "The Writer's Almanac"

The Gift of Books

Though it's hard to believe, there are less than three weeks left until Christmas.   And, like me, you may be searching for the perfect present.  How about giving a book?  And I'm happy to help you in that regard.

From now until December 20th, if you order one of the books below directly from me, I'll throw in:
  1. a free autograph and/or personalization (that's a $0 value!)
  2. a free copy of "Mind the Light: Learning to See With Spiritual Eyes" (list price is $14.95)
  3. free shipping (my way of supporting the USPS). 
Just send me an email at to work out the money exchange details. 

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Awaken Your Senses: Exercises for Exploring the Wonder of God -- In Awaken Your Senses, co-author Beth Booram and and I invite you to engage your right brain in your faith through sensory spiritual practices that position your heart for divine encounter.  $15.

Holy Silence: The Gift of Quaker Spirituality -- For centuries, Quakers have taught that when we are silent, God grants us insights, guidance, and spiritual understanding that is different from what we might realize in our noisy, everyday lives. This book invites you to discover this and other unique gifts of the Quaker way. $15.

Sacred Compass: The Way of Spiritual Discernment -- Sacred Compass offers a fresh and deeper way of living a God-directed life by drawing on the quiet beauty of the Quaker path to show how spiritual discernment is more about sensing God’s gracious presence than it is about making the right decisions.  $14

Imagination and Spirit: A Contemporary Quaker Reader -- The influence of the Quakers have far exceeded their perennially small membership, especially in terms of the written word.  Here's a sampling that graciously introduces Quaker faith to Friends and non-Friends alike.  $19.

If you order multiple copies of the same title, there's the amazing "Holiday Multiple Copy Super Discount" available.

Other of my books (classics?), such as "Stay Tuned," "Cruisin' and Choosin'", are available in limited quantities at exhorbitant rare volume prices. 

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Remembered Light

by Clark Ashton Smith

The years are a falling of snow,
Slow, but without cessation,
On hills and mountains and flowers and worlds that were;
But snow and the crawling night in which it fell
May be washed away in one swifter hour of flame.
Thus it was that some slant of sunset
In the chasms of piled cloud--
Transient mountains that made a new horizon,
Uplifting the west to fantastic pinnacles-
Smote warm in a buried realm of the spirit,
Till the snows of forgetfulness were gone.

Clear in the vistas of memory,
The peaks of a world long unremembered,
Soared further than clouds, but fell not,
Based on hills that shook not nor melted
With that burden enormous, hardly to be believed.
Rent with stupendous chasms,
Full of an umber twilight,
I beheld that larger world.

Bright was the twilight, sharp like ethereal wine
Above, but low in the clefts it thickened,
Dull as with duskier tincture.