Getting Married

Yesterday afternoon I walked the young couple through their wedding rehearsal. I swear when the wedding is done this evening I really will be on sabbatical. Now I’m at a point in my life where I only do weddings for members of the congregation, and their close relatives, or people I know and love, and their close relatives. This was a situation where everything came together, connections to the congregation and long time relationships with the family outside of church life. And it was only a w … [Read more...]

We Set Goals

We set goals that we think will guide us through the course of life. But we forget that our goals are not so much conscious choices as they are aggregates of our innate disposition, our particular conditioning, and ever-changing life circumstances. To think that we can will our destiny is a false prop, the vanity of needing to see ourselves as the agent of change.Ezra Bayda with Josh Bartok Saying Yes to Life (Even the Hard Parts)(Boston, Wisdom Publications, 2005: p. 79) … [Read more...]

Talking About Food

Talking about food won't make you full,Babbling of clothes won't keep out the cold.A bowl of rice is what fills the belly;It takes a suit of clothing to make you warm.And yet, without stopping to consider this,You complain that Buddha is hard to find.Turn your mind within! There she is!Why look for her abroad?(slightly adapted from) Burton Watson, translatorCold Mountain: 100 Poems by the T'ang poet Han-shan(New York, Columbia University Press, 1970: p, 88) … [Read more...]

The Sabbatical Begins

Wow.It’s hard to believe that starting today I have none of my ongoing responsibilities as minister of a largish and dynamic religious community. And for five months!What a gift.I fear I seem quite capable of keeping busy. Perhaps too busy...I have a couple of writing projects to finish up this month. I’m doing a review for Buddhadharma of the new biography of Ruth Fuller Sasaki, one of Western Zen’s true pioneers. And I need to finish an anthology on the koan Mu for Wisdom Publications. Both pro … [Read more...]

Death Trumps

The initial impetus for starting this blog was my being given a sabbatical by the congregation I serve. Starting this past 1st of September I have five months for reflection, study and writing. I’m framing this sabbatical with two major activities. First, I’ve been offered a position as minister-in-residence at Meadville Lombard, the Unitarian Universalist seminary in Chicago. Specifically, I’m the “John Lester Young Fellow,” the second to be so named. The grand title apparently means I get an ap … [Read more...]

Spirituality is Difficult

Spirituality is difficult for us to touch because it flows to and from the invisible, fromlove and the mystery of death. It comes out of the "meltdown" that we know as love and compassion and the surrender that we know as death. It flows from the ground of our relationship, not only between human beings, but also between all beings, including mountains and rivers. It is often born from suffering, and it evokes within us compassion, which allows us to see through the eyes of innumerable … [Read more...]


When Moses met God on the mountainthe first thing the Divine spoke ofwas shoes. How are we to interpret this?Where do you find God whenyou have no mountains? Some say juststand in the lowlands and call,but you must be willing to takewhichever god might answer."Whoever would save his lifewill lose it," said the prophet,who was harsh, but never cold.Once, driving across the steaminglake, something beckoned, but Iwas too impressed by the possibleto follow. Sometimes, in thelow light it haunts me. … [Read more...]

There Were Two Elders

There were two elders living together in a cell, and they had never had so much as one quarrel with one another. One therefore said to the other: Come on, let us have at least one quarrel, like other men. The other said: I don't know how to start a quarrel. The first said: I will take this brick and place it here between us. Then I will say: It is mine. After that you will say: It is mine. This is what leads to a dispute and a fight. So then they placed the brick between them, one said: It is … [Read more...]

For/From Lew

Lew Welch jut turned up one day,live as you and me. "Damn, Lew" I said,"you didn't shoot yourself after all.""Yes I did" he said,and even then I felt the tingling down my back."Yes you did, too" I said -- "I can feel it now.""Yeah" he said,"There's a basic fear between your world andmine. I don't know why.What I came to say was,teach the children about the cycle.The life cycles. All the other cycles.That's what it's all about, and it's all forgot."Gary Snyder Axe Handles(San Francisco, North … [Read more...]