I consider the Dark Night of the Soul by St John of the Cross one of the classics of world spirituality. It is a map of the journey to true wisdom similar in style to the Sufi master Rumi and in content resonant with the Zen classic the Ten Oxherding Pictures. Or, so it seems to me.Here’s the poem at the center of it all sung by Loreena McKennitt.Here’s the complete text of the poem.Stanzas Of The Soul 1. One… Read more

Those who know me I do two things with books.The first thing, and perhaps sadly, is I mine ’em. That’s one of the main things I do for a living, to a large degree. I take spiritual books and I dig through them looking for little bits of gold I can pull out, polish a bit, and put in my own writings, sermons, essays, books, whatever. The need is endless. Fortunately, so is the source. I’m like a perpetual graduate… Read more

My goodness the season is upon us! Here we are with the Winter now officially come. The Buddhist celebration of the season Bodhi Day is well behind us, as is this year’s Hanukkah. Now we’re in the midst of neo-pagan observances, and soon it will be Christmas, which in large part is a continuation of those pagan celebrations.I love the synthesis of so many holy days into this holiday season, if more than a little chagrined at the commercialization of… Read more

Philocrites has just provided a selection of links to reviews of Philip Gura’s new book American Transcendentalism: A History. For the ease of both of my readers, here is what he had to say.The reviews of Philip Gura’s American Transcendentalism: A History are starting to pile up. I’ve already called attention to the disappointing Boston Globe review and the much more engaged New York Sun review. Here are a few more: [Column], Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World 12.16.07: “An… Read more

You say I am repeatingSomething I have said before. I shall say it again.Shall I say it again? In order to arrive there,To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not, You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.In order to arrive at what you do not know You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.In order to possess what you do not possess You must go by the way… Read more

The Reverend Dr William Sinkford is President of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Read more

Mary Ashton Rice Livermore, journalist, Universalist, abolitionist and suffragist was born on this day in 1820. A native Bostonian, as a young woman Mary worked as a governess in Virginia. The horrors of slavery shook her deeply. She returned to Massachusetts to take charge of a private school. There she met and married Daniel Livermore, a Universalist minister. Soon after their marriage they relocated to Chicago. An active supporter of Abraham Lincoln’s bit for the presidency, Mary would remain a… Read more

I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old. I am of the nature to have ill heath. There is no way to escape having ill health. I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death. All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature of change. There is no way to escape being separated from them. My deeds are my closest companions…. Read more

Well, we made it.Our wise (if sardonic) head usher observed this could be taken as a test to see how many members of the congregation are crazy. Almost thirty people ended up showing up at Sunday worship. You may draw your own conclusions…At the heart of the service Catherine Senghas, our intern minister, reflected on the nature of Solstice. She made several points. One that particularly stuck in my mind was how while we often think of solstice as a… Read more

My goodness, the snow is falling, and falling, and falling…We’ve sent an email notice out to the congregation that the Religious Education program is canceled, although if people decide to sled in, the DRE & her assistant will provide an ad hoc program. Our intern minister has sworn she will be here to preach her second sermon – if to an empty house. Not a bad initiation into the vagaries of the ministerial life, I think. Our music director, coming… Read more

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