Preachers of Love

revival

September 30th is a big day in American Universalist history.Elhanan Winchester was born in Brookline, MA (apparently in those days Brookline was called Muddy River Village...) on this day in 1751. And, John Murray was born in Alton, Hampshire (not New Hampshire) in England on this day in 1741.Murray is a particular favorite of mine for many reasons, but not the least of which is his delightful telling of when he was a calvinist Methodist going with a delegation to reprimand and reclaim … [Read more...]

A Feast for the Archangels

Michael

Today is Michaelmas, or my preferred name the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael, or the shorter version the Feast of the Archangels.I think one of the great gifts to Western religions from Zoroastrianism was the idea of angels. Where they got it, I don't know with any certainty, but on first blush it does sort of look like an adaptation of local deities for monotheistic religions.Wherever they come from, the idea of spiritual beings that muck about between heaven and … [Read more...]

TELLING STORIES: A Yom Kippur Meditation

yom kippur

TELLING STORIES A Yom Kippur Meditation28 September 2014James Ishmael FordFirst Unitarian Church Providence, Rhode IslandTextWe have seen Yitzhak Perlman Who walks the stage with braces on both legs, On two crutches. He takes his seat, unhinges the clasps of his legs, Tucking one leg back, extending the other, Laying down his crutches, placing the violin under his chin. On one occasion one of his violin strings broke. The audience grew silent but the violinist didn’t … [Read more...]

A Meditation on Breathing as Meditation (It’s a Zen Thing)

child blowing planet bubbles

Last night I had quite the dream. I was suffocating, and I wasn't. The thrust of the dream was that I was suffocating. I could feel the air shutting off. And, at the same time, I was aware I was breathing. I'd dived into some liminal space between sleep and waking, where the dream was driven by the reality of my pneumonia, but another part, a "waking" part knew that I really was breathing, if not optimally...Makes one appreciate taking a deep breath. Even if, as at the moment, it hurts a … [Read more...]

Leonard Cohen Tells us How to Meditate

leonard cohen

Actually, Lenard Cohen tells us how to live.The quote comes thanks to Zen teacher Brad Warner writing in response to something Sam Harris, who is many things, some delightful, but not a Zen teacher said about the relative merits of Zen meditation and Dzogchen. So, thanks, Brad, for pointing us to Zen priest Leonard Cohen's advice.“Sometimes when you no longer see yourself as the hero of your own drama, expecting victory after victory and you understand deeply that this is not paradise. S … [Read more...]

The Complete Consort: Thinking of T. S. Eliot

NPG P869(12); T.S. Eliot by Cecil Beaton

…I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.East Corker IIIThomas Stearns Eliot was born on this day in 1888.He was an important influence on my early spiritual t … [Read more...]

Uncle Shelby Bursts Onto the Stage

Shel Silverstein

Sheldon Allan Silverstein, sometimes known as Uncle Shelby, but probably best known as Shel Silverstein was born on this day in 1930. A man of many talents, but it looks like his lasting legacy is going to come from his children's books. Always a bit of a surprise to me, as I first encountered him sneaking looks at my father's Playboys while looking for other things. I was completely taken with his surreal cartoons. A person of many parts... … [Read more...]

THIS DEWDROP WORLD A Meditation on the Coming Ecological Catastrophe & the Only Way Through

child blowing planet bubbles

THIS DEWDROP WORLD A Meditation on the Coming Ecological Catastrophe & the Only Way ThroughJames Ishmael Ford21 September 2014First Unitarian Church Providence, Rhode IslandTextThis dewdrop world Is a dewdrop world And yet, and yet.Kobayashi IssaI’ve been thinking a lot about identity of late.In particular I find myself thinking about my recent visit with some thirty or so UU ministerial colleagues at a district clergy gathering. A handful of those present w … [Read more...]

Kyogen Carlson: A Brief Remembering of a Zen Master

gutenberg

I was shocked to learn that Kyogen Carlson suffered a massive heart attack and died today.Kyogen was, I wrote “is” at first, and had to correct myself, one of the senior Zen teachers in North America, respected and loved across the continent. And my friend. My history of Zen in the West, “Zen Master Who?” contains the bare outline of his life.“Gary Alan Carlson was born in Los Angeles on October 8, 1948. His parents met in the Yukon during military service. His father later worked in the … [Read more...]

Ordinary Heroism: A Call to the Spiritual Life

ikkyu

I was driving down the highway. While the radio was on to my favorite local NPR station, to be honest I wasn’t really listening. Then I caught a fragment of a sentence, from a Boston doctor who was observing there were more docs on one floor of his hospital, I didn’t catch where, than in the entire country of Liberia. By the time I focused in on the story it was pretty much over. The only other part I caught was that he was going to Liberia to help with the Ebola crisis, and preparing, he and his … [Read more...]


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