God has place this wonderful creation in our hands. As U2 sings, "It's a beautiful day, don't let it slip away." We have this one life to live on this beautiful planet so enjoy these reflections on God, faith, life, and music. "After the flood all of the colors came out. It's a beautiful day."

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Mushrooms and Our Interconnected Life

         I fell down a rabbit hole this week after taking a picture of mushrooms. River and I were returning from our walk when we came upon the magnolia tree in the front of the church. I saw amazingly shaped mushrooms in the pattern of a star. So I whipped out my phone and took a picture.    
        I thought there has got to be a pastor’s note in these mushrooms. That is when the rabbit hole swallowed me. For I started researching mushrooms. Don’t, I tell you don’t, google mushrooms and spirituality or you will enter a whole underworld of psychotropic mushrooms trips.

        I don’t know what type of mushrooms these are that we have growing, but what I found fascinating is the researching being done on mycelium. Paul Stamet has written a book MYCELIUM RUNNING: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World. He describes mushrooms as the internet of the natural world. The webs that are created by the underground, unseen part of the mushroom connect plants together providing and sharing nutrients, working to decompose the dying plant matter and providing the soil for new life to grow and flourish. Stamet’s in his research has discovered how mushrooms can actually save us, for they have some astounding capabilities. They provide a nutritious, high protein food and are a powerful medicine that has antibacterial, antiviral, and anticancer properties. Mushrooms abilities to break down tough compounds led him to the discovery that these mushrooms can be used to breakdown toxins in contaminated soil and to clean up oil spills. He has discovered that mushrooms can act as natural pesticides. They do this by in some instances killing the pest but also just their placement can draw pests away from certain areas. He is working on research to use mushrooms to neutralize small pox, anthrax, nerve gas, and HIV/Aids. Mushrooms can save the world.
          So what started with me going, wow, that mushroom looks like a star, led me to find out about the amazing life and creation of a mushroom. From this marvelous creation we can learn about our place in being interconnected to those who are not like us and yet help to sustain us. There is this old growth forest in Oregon that is over 2000 acres and has an over 2000 years old fungi. This network seems invisible to the naked eye for it is woven together underground in ways that allow it to communicate and transport nutrients from one part to another. These fungi work quietly binding the plants together. But from the outside all we see is this fruit (the mushroom cap) which randomly appears here and there. We miss how these beautiful separate parts are tied together in a vast web of connection and are one organism. 
         We can a learn a lot from these mushrooms. We like to see ourselves as separate and disconnected from each other. Yet, if we take our faith serious, we are bound together in an interconnected web, the Holy Spirit, the piece of God that flows in and through us binding us to one another. If we took this connection seriously, how would this lead us to think about the people who aren’t part of our tribe, our nationality, our ethnicity, our race? Could we begin to think about the ways we are connected and need each other and not those boundaries and lines we have created that separate us?

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

How do you see yourself?

 I was on vacation the other week and I was struck by these images I saw of the self portrait of Ivan Albright in the exhibit called flesh at the Art Institute of Chicago.  I wrote this poem while looking at these paintings.
Leonid Ll,  Ivan Albright 103

Leonid Ll, Ivan Albright_111

How do you see yourself?

Does your image change based on your mood

Leonid Ll, Ivan Albright_100

how you feel
where you are 
 who you are with


Leonid Ll, Ivan Albright _090

Are there days when you feel faded
almost invisible


Leonid Ll, Ivan Albright_073

are their days that are bleak
     so dark you almost disappear

Leonid Ll,  Ivan Albright_106

days of joy
   where laughter is in your eyes
where a lightness takes you


   do you see every bulge and bump 
every crack and line
every imperfection
every sadness and pain
Willem Hemmen,
Ivan Le Lorraine ALBRIGHT (Chicago 1897 - 
Woodstock, Vermont 1983)

Leonid Ll, Ivan Albright_075

how do you see yourself?
are you anything like the you inside
is the real you so much more than what you see
how do you see yourself?

Pink, Acoustic Version Perfect

Friday, June 1, 2018

Listen As If Love Mattered

This past two years I have been thinking a lot about lies and truth, fakes news and facts. We live in a time when we are being taught to not trust and believe experts. We are being told that when you don’t like the information, because it would cause you to have to change your policy and practices, the information is false, fake, a lie. How do we discern the truth in a time when the truth is up for interpretation? I spent ten years of my life studying political philosophy, asking big questions about how we understand our world, people, and the way we relate to each other. I have read philosophers from Foucault, Derrida, Plato, Marx, Augustine, Aristotle, Descartes, Machiavelli, Mills, Kant, Hume, Locke, Sartre, Hobbes, Rousseau and these are just the ones on the top lists (excluding all the non-European and female philosophers). There are a range of answers to this question about what truth is and how we discern it. I was always a little skeptical about the answers given in the 20th century. For these postmodern answer believed that truth is relative and dependent of context. This means that when someone says I don’t believe your fact because my truth is different: there is no way to speak of universals, facts that go beyond you personal or individual tribe. While I appreciate the democratization of truth so that there is not one group whose truth is THE truth, by opening up new voices to be heard. But I miss a universal truth. It was probably why I was always partial to Plato. Plato believes there is a Good, a Truth that is discernible and can be known. But the arguments that philosophers have about truth are very different from what we are experiencing when we are throwing around the words false, fake, lies. We are using these words to discount arguments and facts we don’t like. We seem to believe we can create our own facts, our own truth. How can my truth overrule your truth?  
Parker Palmer shared this poem the other day and I think it speaks to this question about how to tell a lie.

How to Tell The Truth”
   by Paul Williams (“Nation of Lawyers”)
When you just have to talk,
try being silent.
When you feel reluctant to say anything,
make the effort
to put what you’re feeling into words.
This is a place to begin.
Pushing gently
against the current
of your own impulses
is an effective technique
for dislodging
and discovering
your truth.
How to tell the truth?
Taste it
and remember the taste in your heart.
Risk it
from the bottom of your love.
Take the risk
of telling the truth
about what you’re feeling.
Take the risk
of telling your loved one
your secrets.
It’s true
you might be misunderstood.
Look and see
if you’re willing to trust
to misunderstand each other
and go on from there.
When someone speaks to you
and you feel yourself not wanting to hear it
try letting it in.
You don’t have to agree that they’re right.
Just take the risk
of listening as if they could possibly be speaking
some truth—
and see what happens.
Listen as if.
Listen as if you can’t always tell
what the truth is.
Listen as if you might be wrong,
especially when you know you’re right.
Listen as if
you were willing to take the risk
of growing beyond
your righteousness.
Listen as if
love mattered.

The poem ends with some advice I hope to remember: "Listen as if love mattered." Can you imagine what might happen if we did?
Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
   for you are the God of my salvation;
   for you I wait all day long. Psalm 25:5

You desire truth in the inward being;
   therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. Psalm 51.6:

Listen as if love mattered.