My Teacher: Thomas Merton

In 2013 the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly was held in Louisville. And so for me that UU convention became a Thomas Merton pilgrimage. I drove out to the Abbey of Gethsemani twice, once with my friend and colleague Erik Wikstrom, and once on my own. When Erik and I were there we brought flowers for Father Merton's grave.The other spot for me, and in some ways more compelling was right in downtown Louisville, where there’s a marker. As far as I know the only state sanctioned marker t … [Read more...]

thinking of our mother…

I am currently re-reading Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop. Early on the young bishop encounters a native priest who tells him the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe.And, well, it happens that in the legend, it was today, the 9th of December, one day after the traditional celebration of the Buddha's great awakening, that the peasant Juan Diego had the first of four encounters with Our Lady.She told him to go to the bishop and tell him she wanted a church built at this site. The … [Read more...]

The World Honored One Sees the Morning Star, And the World Awakens

I so love telling the story.That wonderful old story.And, so, once again...Gautama Siddhartha lived somewhere between the sixth and fourth centuries before the common era near what today is the border between India and Nepal. He had some experiences, and he taught, he preached sermons that were memorized and no doubt polished by those who transmitted them, and then polished some more. Finally, some four hundred or so years after these words were spoken, they started being written … [Read more...]

The Road is All: Remembering Willa Cather

Personally I'm not one of those folk who re-read novels. Said, as someone who the other day picked up Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop for a second read. Perhaps it should count that I first read it fifteen, possibly twenty years ago. It is one of those rare things that hangs in the memory like a faint perfume, rich with innuendo, half a dream.And then I notice that today is also Ms Cather's birthday. Just a delight. Wilella Sibert Cather was born on the 7th of December, 1873, … [Read more...]

Enter Evelyn Underhill, Who Would Point to the Moon for Western Seekers

The wonderful Evelyn Underhill was born on this day in Wolverhampton, in the West Midlands, England, in 1875.She would grow to become a novelist, poet, and most of all a renowned spoksperson for the mystical encounter. Me, I tend to be wary of those who use the word mysticism and the related as too often they are speaking of psychic phenomenon, things in the general area of reading auras or bending spoons. Of course, there are other meanings in that word, and Underhill is the great … [Read more...]

The Nature of Things: A Small Meditation on Reason and Wisdom in Religion

The Brain—is wider than the Sky— For—put them side by side— The one the other will contain With ease—and You—beside— The Brain is deeper than the sea— For—hold them—Blue to Blue— The one the other will absorb— As Sponges—Buckets—do— The Brain is just the weight of God— For—Heft them—Pound for Pound— And they will differ—if they do— As Syllable from Sound—Emily DickinsonFaustus Socinus, also known as Faust Paolo Sozzini and sometimes as Faust Socyn was born on this day in Siena, … [Read more...]

Zen Becoming Western: A Reflection on Boundless Way Zen on the Occasion of Dr James Cordova’s Dharma Transmission

These two pictures show our Boundless Way revealing its heart. The first picture is from today of forty of us marking the end of our annual Rohatsu or Bodhi Day celebration sesshin ("to touch the heart-mind," an intensive Zen meditation retreat) at the Boundless Way Temple in Worcester, Massachusetts. The temple in Worcester is the first real estate to be owned by a member community of Boundless Way Zen, the Zen project to which I give my heart and energy. Me, I think of the temple as our mother … [Read more...]

Gone Sitting

I'm off to sesshin at the Boundless Way Temple in Worcester, Massachusetts. See you all in a couple of days. In the meantime watch out for those flying bricks. Sometimes they're love notes. Sometimes they're not... … [Read more...]

Happy Birthday, Rex Stout (And, Okay, Nero Wolfe)!

I did note this last year. But, that's kind of how such things work. Today, as it turns out, is Rex Stout’s birthday and therefore, Nero Wolfe’s…Rex Todhunter Stout was born on the 1st of December, 1886. He was a writer, best known for his mysteries.I’ve read, I’m moderately confident, every one of his Nero Wolfe mysteries. Certainly all thirty-three novels, and probably all forty novellas featuring the rotund detective and his faithful assistant. Mostly I read them in the years I attende … [Read more...]

We Certainly Could Use a Lot More Like Him Today

Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born on this day in 1835.As a writer he first started using the pen name "Josh," and later "Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass," until finally settling on "Mark Twain."He said a lot of things worth hearing.Sure could use him today... … [Read more...]