January 3, 2021

OCEANS FLOWING IN YOUR BODY A Communion Hymn James Ishmael Ford Perhaps you’ve noticed. It’s all falling apart. *** The Republic has been shredded. The Empire is quickly overtaken. (You might want to brush up on your Mandarin.) *** Of course, we know this. No center holds forever. The sages sing: everything changes. Icecaps recede. Seas rise. We know the planet doesn’t really need us. And somewhere along the way we all will be a lost mountain’s dream. *** The… Read more

January 3, 2021

    WHAT ROUGH BEAST The Zen Priest Reflects on the New Year, And Makes Some Resolutions James Ishmael Ford The year 2020, of lamentable memory, is now gone. Happy New Year, 2021! And. New Years are traditionally times to take stock and maybe make some resolutions. In that spirit, I have been considering this moment. Of course, thinking about all those memes on social media, most all pretty much cursing this past year, what is most obvious is how… Read more

December 26, 2020

        LIVING IN THIS FLOATIING WORLD A Meditation on the Zen Koan, Zhaozhou’s Bowl   James Ishmael Ford 26 December 2020 Empty Moon Zen   The other day Jan & I were at Sunland Produce, our favorite greengrocer here in the greater Los Angeles area. When we were done, as we wheeled our cart out of the store, I noticed someone huddled in the space immediately to my right, between the store and the rack of grocery… Read more

December 25, 2020

  WHO SHALL WE BE? A Meditation on Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol James Ishmael Ford Christmas Day, 2020 First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles   Today I find myself thinking of Charles Dickens and particularly his Christmas Carol. Some of my friends actually read the original story, a few even aloud, annually. Others watch one of the many film versions. Me, I’m particularly fond of the Alastair Sim version from 1951. Even the worst of them, the ones that… Read more

December 24, 2020

  One of my favorite Christmas reflections is that poem by Unitarian minister Sophia Lyon Fahs. For so the children come And so they have been coming. Always in the same way they come born of the seed of man and woman. No angels herald their beginnings. No prophets predict their future courses. No wisemen see a star to show where to find the babe that will save humankind. Yet each night a child is born is a holy night,… Read more

December 19, 2020

    Recalling some of those spiritual leaders who died this past year. Many were figures in that great American spiritual struggle we call the Civil Rights Movement. Their ranks thinning every year. Their work, however, sacrifices and blood, continuing to birth a better world. Others a Buddhist monk, a rabbi and translator, one of the last of the Beat poets, herself closely associated with Buddhism, and a wonderful debunker of fake psychics and related. The world was enriched by… Read more

December 13, 2020

    This Saturday I had the enormous privilege of being one of the two featured speakers at the ordination of Lisa Garcia-Sampson. Excuse me, the Reverend Lisa Garcia-Sampson. Lisa is currently the Executive Director of the Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry in North Carolina. I’ve known Reverend Lisa for many years, ever since she wandered in the First Unitarian Church of Providence while working her first job out of college. Among my last tasks as minister at Providence was presiding… Read more

December 11, 2020

        I set my current book project aside for a week. And then today, going back to the introductory section I was letting marinade, I saw how, once again, I was repeating an old habit. Perhaps all theology is autobiography, but one should be careful about over indulgence. And so I cut it from the manuscript. Now, not wanting to be wasteful, and okay, also I rather liked it, so I share it here. We all begin… Read more

December 10, 2020

    This year Hanukkah begins tonight. An interesting holiday. One the rabbis quite correctly have always felt more than ambivalent about, but also one people just love. So the rabbis worked it. And the story of a fundamentalist uprising and their pyrrhic victory is turned into a meditation on light and faith. Good things… And as I thought about this one thing led to another, and, well… A psychic once declared I had been a rabbi in a very… Read more

December 8, 2020

  A Rohatsu Meditation James Ishmael Ford Zen priest Tom Hawkins once wrote about his pilgrimage to Buddhist India. It’s been a while now. But one passage particularly caught me. And even though it’s been some years, it comes to mind every now and again. Especially today, Rohatsu, the date we mark out to recall the Buddha’s awakening. Tom wrote: We have arrived in Bodghaya. Thousands of other pilgrims, us, and then two thousand Tibetan monastics for a special gathering…. Read more

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