Random Thoughts

Random Thoughts

I remember my mother warning me to warm up my freezing hands with cold water not hot. I had come in from playing outside in the snow and my hands were icy-cold. I did not listen to her and used hot water instead. I was instantly sorry.

My hands felt like they were on fire! Right away I turned the tap to cold and like magic my burning frigid hands became warm.

This made me think about various Bible verses that point to God’s judgement as a refining fire.

Like …

“But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. “He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness.” Malachi 3:2-3

For our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:29

John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Luke 3:16

… among others.

What if fire in this sense is really a metaphor for Love? If a person’s heart is cold and/or hardened, perhaps Divine Love feels like flames burning off the chaff or dross as it transforms one’s heart. This perspective could certainly alter our viewpoint and experience of God’s judgment.

Frankly, I have come to believe that the only way anyone and everyone is judged is in and through the lens of Love. All life is judged worthy of Love, to be Loved as Love.

For those who are lost, could this judgement of Love feel like an unpleasant scorching sensation in their souls … much like my cold hands under the hot water?

One evening I was in Dollar Tree looking for shelf milk for my father. Since I was having difficulty locating it, I asked a clerk. A tall young man with multiple tattoos and piercings, ear lobe plugs, long dreadlocks and a pleasant countenance gave me detailed directions to my item in the next aisle over. He was so present and loving I almost hugged him.

When I found the milk, I playfully said loud enough for him to hear me “I found it. Thank you.” And he responded in kind, “Your welcome.”

A couple of days later, I had a similar experience at Xfinity where I was taking care of some business with my internet/TV account. This time the sales representative was a stunning slim-built person, again with tattoos, piercings, ear lobe plugs, and red-dyed hair swept up in curls. I told them what I needed and they amended my account quickly and efficiently. I thanked them profusely.

I have no tattoos, two pierced ear lobes for earrings I rarely wear, and long, straight brunette hair with a gray streak. On the outside, I seem to have little in common with these human beings. On the inside, both encounters, and other similar ones, have left my heart smiling. I hope their hearts were smiling too.

Twenty years have passed since the movie ‘Love Actually’ premiered; it is one of my favorites. Diane Sawyer interviewed some of the actors from the film in a recent television special. The last question she asked each of them was to fill in the blank, “love actually is ___________.”

What would you say?

United Methodist congregations all across the United States are making decisions to disaffiliate with regard to openly LGBTQ+ clergy and the denomination’s stance on same-sex marriage.

Should a congregation decide to disaffiliate, stiff financial penalties will be enacted upon them by the larger Methodist governing body. Because of this, some churches are pursuing legal recourse to protect their assets from what they deem as punitive and unfair actions in the hopes that, should they win the lawsuit, the lack of penalties will make the vote to disaffiliate appear ‘fair.’

Other congregations—those choosing to remain affiliated with the historical UMC denomination–are listening to the often, painful stories of LGBTQ+ congregants and deciding to “err on the side of love.” By choosing to embrace the disenfranchised, they are bringing healing into this hurting world.

How would you vote?

The fog was as thick as pea soup when I was coming home after dark from a Holden prayer service at church. Even though I knew turning on the high beams would not help me see better, I still tried it a few times opting to continue with low beams. I kept looking for familiar landmarks, but everything looked different. Even a large four-way stop light on a dual highway, was engulfed in misty eeriness.

Ordinarily, I would have become frightened in this type of situation … but I didn’t. As I watched the light play out on the murky gloom, I thought about the seasons of Advent and Lent. Two seasons in the Christian year where light and the absence of light have significant allegorical meaning in preparing one for the holy days of Christmas and Easter.

My views about the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus have changed dramatically over the years. By asking questions, my spiritual growth has moved from a “private notion of salvation” to my “communion with everybody else”—as Richard Rohr says—from an ‘escape plan’ to a universal Christ awareness where Christ is in everyone and everything thus making all things Holy–as characterized by Brian McLaren.

Christmas … not a birthday celebration, but God reconciling the world to Gods-self by becoming one of us. Easter … not the punishment for our sin, but Jesus demonstrating that NOTHING—not even death–can separate us from the Love of God.

In God we live and move and have our being.

Love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Love actually is … ALL that matters.

… maybe these weren’t random thoughts after all.

*My dog Polly Ann loves everybody, which is why I am using her image for this post.

**Dedicated to KEV and JN.

All Means All

All Means All

I woke up this morning thinking of the men, women and children living and dying in the drought-stricken areas of Kenya

The latest IPC report (July to September 2022) on the drought situation in Kenya indicates that; in the ten ASAL (Arid and Semi-Arid Land) counties, where AHN members work, more than 40% of the population is facing high levels of food insecurity compared to 24% in all ASAL counties of Kenya and this figure is projected to increase to 47.5% in the period October to December 2022 and will continue to worsen over time.

… then, while walking Polly, my mind wandered to those managing to survive through the catastrophic devastation in war-torn Ukraine

Millions of children are in need of humanitarian assistance as they continue to suffer the deadly consequences of a brutal war not of their making. The war has sparked displacement on a scale and speed not seen since World War II – with far-reaching impact across the region and beyond. By November 1, 2022, more than 7.7 million individual refugees from Ukraine had been recorded across Europe, while millions more people had been internally displaced in Ukraine.

… and a little later, before I left to volunteer at Meals on Wheels, my heart ached for the LGBTQ+ community in Colorado Springs.

Sadly, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and / or queer (LGBTQ+) people face higher risk of becoming victims of gun violence.

I do not feel as detached from these events and other similar tragic occurrences as I once did. Generally speaking, I have in the past felt the sorrow of global, national and local disasters over the years, but now these cataclysmic happenings are much closer at heart and felt with an incarnate intensity in my spirit.

I am not sure what the difference is; perhaps it is because I am in that decade of life where the deaths of people my age start appearing more frequently in the obituaries.

According to World Bank statistics, my current life expectancy is 77.28 years. If that is the case, I have a very short 14 years left—if that–to make a difference in whatever way, shape or form that may be. I find myself hoping that I have demonstrated more love and given more joy than pain and sorrow.

Those sorts of scales matter not to the Divine, I know. Grace and Love look only through the lens of Grace and Love, yet I still wonder.

I met a really beautiful human being at the grocery store one morning. Their deep resonate voice suggested they were male, but their mannerisms and other qualities suggested they were female—which is why I am using the non-binary pro-nouns ‘they’ and ‘their.’ I really do not know their gender and I really do not care. All I know is that during our short interaction, I was deeply affected by their kind and gentle soul which is really all that matters.

Before his death, James Lipton hosted a show on Bravo called ‘The Actor’s Studio’ where he interviewed famous actors of stage, screen and TV.

At the end of the interview, he would ask each actor a series of questions inspired by the show ‘Bouillon de Culture’ hosted by Bernard Pivot. Among the ten questions were: What is your favorite/least favorite word; what sound or noise do you love/hate; what turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? And the one for which I always had a definitive answer: What turns you off?

Man’s inhumanity to man … our lack of empathy to one another is indefensible—how can we continue to treat each other so cruelly?

My mother was a great admirer of Eleanor Roosevelt.

Eleanor Roosevelt was THE driving force behind The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 (General Assembly resolution 217 A) as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected and it has been translated into over 500 languages. The UDHR is widely recognized as having inspired, and paved the way for, the adoption of more than seventy human rights treaties, applied today on a permanent basis at global and regional levels (all containing references to it in their preambles).

Have you ever read it? If not, you should! Personally, I believe it to be a more sacred and holy document than the Constitution of the United States simply because it undertakes to include and unify ALL of humanity! Not just Americans and certainly not just MAGA Evangelical believers.

Article 1 states …

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

… and it only gets better from there!

All human beings … not some, not a few … not just whites, not just far-right radicals, not just cisgendered heterosexuals, not just males … ALL human beings.


ALL means ALL!

This lack of awareness of our global personhood as a “normal” part of life is where all of our problems, calamities, misfortunes, devastations begin … and can end.

I am not suggesting we do not find ways to solve our problems by enacting laws and regulations. Neither am I suggesting that offenders go free. I am saying that those “fixes” are only temporary.

But how do we get to an awakened knowledge of our interdependence?

By unraveling deeply held beliefs, by pulling at the threads of our conditioning, by untangling our theology, by seeing our lies, by dissolving our illusions, by disarming our egos … the result?

… a very different and collectively shared human journey where systems that once seemed necessary in the beliefs of separation would naturally disassemble and we could truly begin to see and realize what has always been true …

… all means all …



and only you …
are the
Truth of my existence, the
Beauty of my being, the
Joy of my soul.

and only you …
see the
depth of me.

You and only you,
love me

Question Everything

Question Everything

Dear Grandchildren,

I have pondered for a while now about the one thing that I could possibly tell you as your grandparent that would have the most abiding and valuable effect on your life.

Here it is: question everything!

Listen up … I am not promoting the intentional rejection of authority or rebelliousness just for the sake of it! Rather I am encouraging you to use your God-given curiosity to explore, examine and analyze your own intellectual, spiritual, and emotional growth.

Question why you believe what you believe about politics, about religion, about spirituality, about God, about authority, about institutions—and do not let anyone make you feel bad about doing so!

Jesus said it this way:  Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye. shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

In other words, it is perfectly acceptable for life and beliefs about life to be messy. This messiness is not a reflection of who you are or to whom you belong; therefore, lean into the mess.

Better yet, let the mess pass through you. This way of being often feels unsettling at first—that’s to be expected in your metamorphosis. As you deconstruct and evolve, you will eventually grow accustomed to the process and it will become second nature to you.

Somewhere along the way, though, someone is bound to tell you to simply have faith or “you’ll just have to take it–whatever ‘it’ is–in faith.” I am not certain that is true at all, mostly because it makes faith sound so passive.

I have been walking with Jesus for 50+ years as of this writing, and I am still asking questions.

For example, what does “for God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” really mean?  Is it simply an “escape plan” or could it be something more?  And if so, what?

I am still making choices; fine tuning my beliefs. I am still letting the mess pass through me. Surprisingly, the more I learn, the less I know. Sound ridiculous? Yes, but THAT is what faith is—a paradox–to know without “knowing,” to be without doing. Paradox is anything but passive.

As we learn to question our own beliefs, we also begin to realize it is possible to CHOOSE what we believe even when we are uncertain.

Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when he said, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” Just prior to saying this, one of the twelve apostles, Thomas—often called Doubting Thomas—said, “unless I see the holes in his (Jesus) hands and feet, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe (that Jesus had risen from the dead).”

I can just hear Jesus telling Thomas, “Right on, man! As soon as you are sure about something, question it some more because faith is admitting that you do not know and therein lies the path of Freedom and Oneness.”

The Christian faith calls that freedom and oneness atonement or at-one-ment; as Richard Rohr says our “union with God and all things.”

Some folks may tell you that your grandmother is wrong, that she is off her rocker.

All I can tell you from my own experience is that in ‘not knowing,’ I experience God’s presence more deeply and more genuinely, than at any time in the past when I was absolutely certain about what I ‘knew’ to be my beliefs.

Certainty can breed contempt. Dualistic thinking is seemingly fixed and therefore cannot lead one into transformation. Paul in the book of Romans says “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Ask questions, be your own person with your own ideas and do not let anyone–especially “religious” people–make you feel guilty about it!!

It is in the Not Knowing or Unknowing that you will know Love and Peace and Forgiveness and Truth and Beauty, because that is who you are—as Christ is, so are you!

There is much more that could be expressed here, fine tuning to what I have written that could be done but I think it best if I leave you wondering.

I love you all so very much and I hope that I am alive when you read this so we can talk about it in person. If not, I will still be around.


God Loves You Like That

God Loves You Like That

“What, then, was Jesus doing in his life and in his death?  The answer must be that in his life and in his death Jesus was demonstrating to men the eternal, unchangeable, unconqurerable love of God.  He was demonstrating to men that God is the Father who loves undefeatably and whose one desire is that the lost son should come home.  

When Jesus entered the world, when he healed the sick, comforted the sad, fed the hungry, forgave his enemies, he was saying to men:  ‘God loves you like that.’  When he died upon the cross he was saying: ’Nothing that men can ever do to God will stop God loving them.  There is no limit to the love of God.  There is no end beyond which that love will not go.  God loves you like that.’  

That is why nothing less than death on the Cross would do.  If Jesus had refused or escaped the Cross, if he had not died, it would mean that there was some point in suffering and sorrow at which the love of God stopped, that there was some point beyond which forgiveness was impossible.  But the Cross is God saying in Jesus: ’There is no limit to which my love will not go and no sin which my love cannot forgive.’”

William Barclay, The Mind of Jesus