Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Lenten Surrender Part One

"This is the 'fast' that I want from you: break the shackles of injustice; remove the chains of slavery; stop oppression; release the prisoners." Isaiah 58:6 

The warm February weather has confused my garden - the chives, the peonies, the tulips, the daffodils - all have come up; I even found some secret crocuses blooming this rainy morning. Lent is such a time as well: sorrow and celebration; guilt and renewal; death and life; hopelessness and hope. As children, we were taught that we must surrender something...
“Shout! A full-throated shout!
    Hold nothing back—a trumpet-blast shout!
Tell my people what’s wrong with their lives,
    face my family Jacob with their sins!
They’re busy, busy, busy at worship,
    and love studying all about me.
To all appearances they’re a nation of right-living people—
    law-abiding, God-honoring.
They ask me, ‘What’s the right thing to do?’
    and love having me on their side.
But they also complain,
    ‘Why do we fast and you don’t look our way?
    Why do we humble ourselves and you don’t even notice?’"
We once had a Pastor that told us to take up something instead of putting down something - people looked at her like she was crazy. But she was right, do we really surrender anything important (to us, to humanity, to God)? Do we really do anything important, anything transforming and different, anything holy? Or is it all just a big show of public piety, self-righteousness, religiosity? 
“The bottom line on your ‘fast days’ is profit.
    You drive your employees much too hard.
You fast, but at the same time you bicker and fight.
    You fast, but you swing a mean fist.
The kind of fasting you do
    won’t get your prayers off the ground.
Do you think this is the kind of fast day I’m after:
    a day to show off humility?
To put on a pious long face
    and parade around solemnly in black?
Do you call that fasting,
    a fast day that I, God, would like?"
Are we surrendering ourselves, or just what we have to spare from our abundance? What does a voluntary fast or deprivation mean or do when so many starve and suffer involuntarily? Are we not called to surrender our lives so that we may live new lives? So that others may have better lives?
“This is the kind of fast day I’m after:
    to break the chains of injustice,
    get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
    free the oppressed,
    cancel debts.
What I’m interested in seeing you do is:
    sharing your food with the hungry,
    inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
    putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
    being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
    and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
    The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
    You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.’

“If you get rid of unfair practices,
    quit blaming victims,
    quit gossiping about other people’s sins,
If you are generous with the hungry
    and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
    your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
    I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
    firm muscles, strong bones.
You’ll be like a well-watered garden,
    a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
    rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,
    restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
    make the community livable again."
What does the Spirit of the Word of God say to me, say to my church, say to the Church, say to the nation? 

(Text from Isaiah 58:1-12, the Message; photography by tiwago)

Monday, February 27, 2017

"A Lack of Trees Brings Poverty"

"Men will become poor because they will not have a love for trees...
If you don't love trees, you don't love God."

Nikephoros of Chios

(Quote from the green Bible; photography by tiwago)

Friday, February 24, 2017

All That Is Sweet

“All that is sweet, delightful, and amiable in this world, in the serenity of the air, the fineness of seasons, the joy of light, the melody of sounds, the beauty of colors, the fragrancy of smells, the splendor of precious stones, is nothing else but Heaven breaking through the veil of this world.”
William Law; Rules for Living a Holy Life

(photography by tiwago)

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Peter's News

Peter wrote to us: 

I couldn't make this stuff up! I saw the Lord transfigured in all the Glory of God - an eyewitness to his divinity and his majesty. The mantle of the Glory of the Father was bestowed upon the Son with these anointing words: "This is My beloved Son who makes Me glad." We heard the voice ourselves coming from heaven, there upon the mountaintop. 

We carry prophetic news, real verified news. We would do well to listen to this news, this light shining in the dark of the world, waiting for the dawn to come again. But hear me well, no prophesy or scripture is subject to one's singular mental effort for interpretation. No true prophesy was ever uttered that came by invention of the human mind. Prophesy and scripture came from (and is only understood by) men and women as moved by the Spirit of God to speak and to write.

(painting of Pope Peter by Peter Paul Rubens)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

My Darkness

I wear a heavy cloak of invisible midnight;
Even on the clearest day, it shades me,
From the sun - 
The umbra of a pall;
And even though it can be seen by none,
All sense its oily presence -
An odor,
Like the stench of rotting meat -
A miasma of introverted worry;
And so,
I walk away.

I walk through the woods.
I walk through the prairie.
I walk beside still waters.
There I find the sun reflected by the finest jewels -
Bright flowers at my feet, frail and hardy all at once.
Thus the sun sneaks in, up beneath my hidden cloak.
Thus the fecund smells of Spring, 
And the soft scents of Hope,
Light a candle in the darkness!


(photography by tiwago)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Mountain Time

Meet with Me Moses
Come to the mountaintop 
Wait for Me Moses

So Moses went up 
Up to the mountaintop

So Moses went up 
Up to the mountaintop

The Cloud covered the mountain
The Cloud covered Moses
God's Glory covered the mountain
God's Glory covered Moses
Glory consumed the mountain

So Moses went up 
Up to the mountaintop

Moses was within the Cloud
Moses was within the Glory
God surrounded Moses for forty days
Moses was within God for forty nights

(Exodus 24:12-18 told by Tiwago)

Monday, February 20, 2017

From the 1549 Book of Common Prayer

"We give you thanks, most gracious God, for the beauty of the earth and sky and sea; for the richness of mountains, plains, and rivers; for the songs of birds and the loveliness of flowers.

We praise you for these good gifts and pray that we may safe-guard them for our posterity.

Grant that we may continue to grow in our grateful enjoyment of your abundant creation, to the honor and glory of your name, now and forever."

(photography by tiwago)

Saturday, February 18, 2017

"All the creatures - not the higher creatures alone, but also the lower, according to that which the each of them has received in itself from God - each one raises its voice in testimony to that which God is, ...each one after its manner exalts God, since it has God in itself." John of the Cross

(quote from the Green Bible; photography by tiwago)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Fang for Fang

The primitive ancient ones said (my Dad was particularly fond of saying) "an eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth"; the negative reciprocity of schoolyard revenge. This is the wisdom of the world, and as a child, it made a lot of sense to me - but "the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God" (1 Corinthians 3: 19). Jesus told his followers to not resist, and then gave them a better way to resist: "If someone hits you, try to get them to hit you again." By such an act, we both gain control of the situation and expose them in a more publicly negative light. If someone is demanding, show them up with extravagant generosity.

Jesus taught them and us a vengeance of positive reciprocity! Give to all who take from you! Love all who hate you! Pray for all who curse you! The sun shines and the rain falls on good and bad alike - His grace goes where it will go. We too should shine on all. We too should let mercy fall on all.

All people love those who love them, and are kind to those who are kind to them - that is the human way. But the God-Way is a higher way. Be good regardless, and if you must take revenge, let it be the sweet revenge of goodness.

"If your enemies are hungry, give them bread to eat; and if they are thirsty, give them water to drink; for you will heap coals of fire on their heads, and the Lord will reward you." Proverbs 25:21&22

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Paul reflecting on Proverbs 25:21&22 in Romans 12:20&21.

(photography by tiwago)

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Stewards of the Earth

"Let everyone regard himself as the steward of God in all things which he possesses. Then he will neither conduct himself dissolutely, nor corrupt by abuse those things which God requires to be preserved."

                                                             John Calvin

(photography by tiwago)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Thou Shalt Not Be a Jerk!

And the Lord spoke to Moses: "Speak to My People: 'Be not jerks, just as I AM not!'"

"'Keep not all the resources of the Earth for yourself, but share them with the poor and the immigrants, just as I shared it with you.'"

"'Do not be a jerk, and stop making stuff up in My Name! Stop taking advantage of people - even your employees. Don't make fun of the disabled, or make life harder for them. You must fight for justice for all, being partial to neither the powerful nor the powerless. Do not tell lies, half-truths, or alternative facts. Do not allow others to suffer for your comfort. Do not hate people, nor take revenge against those who hate you - love each person as much as you love yourself.'"

 ~ I AM, the Lord Your God

(Text after Leviticus 19:1-2 and 9-18; photography by tiwago)

Monday, February 13, 2017

Blood of Spring

Birth of color
out of the night and the ground.

Luminous the gatherings
of bloodroot

newly risen, green leaf,
white flower

in the sun, the dark
grown absent.

Wendell Berry; April Woods: Morning

(photography by tiwago)

Saturday, February 11, 2017


"God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on the trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars."  

Martin Luther

(photography by tiwago)

Friday, February 10, 2017

All Creatures Great and Small

"If thy heart were right, then every creature would be a mirror of life and a book of holy doctrine. There is no creature so small and abject, but it reflects the goodness of God."
 ~ Thomas a Kempis

(photography by tiwago)

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Overcoming Hormones

Back in the day, it was written: "Thou shalt not murder!" Hate is murder. Anger is murder. Insults are murder. Stop it! Fix it!

Back in the day, it was written: "Thou shalt not cheat on thy spouse!" Lust is cheating. You are the Bride of Christ - lusting for anything else is cheating. What causes you to cheat? Discover it and get rid of it! Addiction? The wrong crowd? Poor role models? Drop it! Fix it!

Back in the day, it was written: "Thou shalt not leave thy spouse without just cause and due process!" Indifference is abandonment. Abuse is abandonment, is cheating, is murder. Stop it! Fix it!

Back in the day, it was written: "Thou shalt not lie!" Posing is a lie. Gossip is a lie. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Stop it! Fix it!

Back in the day, it was written: "Thou shalt not speak thy Lord's name in vain!" Judging for Him lessens His name. Putting Him in your box lessens His name. Swearing on His name lessens it. Stop it! Fix it!

(from Matthew 5:21-37; photography by tiwago)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

God's Farm

I can't speak
To you spiritually,
Because you are
Too worldly -
Like babies.

Here's your baba,
You're not ready
For solid food -

Still puppies
Squabbling over a teat,
Shoving for position -
Your plump bellies
Always starving.

Some of you say:
"I go to this mega-church!"
Some of you say:
"I follow that televangelist!"
Aren't you being worldly?
Who are those preachers?
Who are these pastors?
Servants who helped you believe;
But only God brought BELIEF.

Some of us plant seeds,
Others nurture seedlings,
Others feed and tend them;
But only God brings growth!
The tillers,
The sowers,
Share a purpose
(Work together)
Towards a harvest.

Servants yoked:
You their field;
You their barn.

(a reading of 1 Corinthians 3:1-9 and photography by Tiwago)

Friday, February 3, 2017

Jesus taught his disciples what the Sermon on the Beatitudes meant.

He told them that they were the "salt of the Earth". Many of them were fishermen and used salt to preserve their catch. They knew salt. Salt from the Dead Sea, from distant trade, from local mining. They knew salt was a necessity to animals and to humans - hot desert sun, sweat, dehydration, depletion. Salt and water; Salt and Living Water. But, if salt loses its properties, it is less than worthless. They were salty.

They were light. You can't hide city lights. You don't light a wick and burn fuel only to keep the lantern shuttered. Light is to be seen. Light is to see by. Be the Light that others need. Let them see your goodness in the light of day so they may know God he told them.

He reminded them that he didn't come to eliminate the Law, but to refine it: love God; love others. Whoever ignores this, who ever causes others to ignore this, will be seen as lowly, but those who remember it and do it shall be lifted high.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Climate Change

"Christ wears 'two shoes' in the world: Scripture and nature. Both are necessary to understand the Lord, and at no stage can creation be seen as a separation of things from God."
~ John Scotus Eriugena

I have no magic words to convince people - if the weight of data, and the preponderance of scientific understanding and declamation have no impact, what then of my inadequate oratory? I can only testify as to my concerns.

Like many Americans, I come from farmers. How will climate instability affect our ability to feed and sustain our growing population? I was once an archaeologist, and have seen the evidence of population collapse when the land's carrying capacity was surpassed. I not long ago retired as a civil servant, planner, and environmentalist. How will our environment change when plant communities and ecosystems can not move or adapt as quickly as the climate morphs? How will we react to being exposed to new pathogens? How will we address water shortages and resource wars?

I have heard some say that they do not "believe" in climate change, as if it were an act of faith rather than observation. Well then:

"If one bets that God does exist, and he does, you win 'everything', to lose - you lose nothing. Should one bet that God does not exist - and win, you win nothing, but to lose? You lose 'everything'". Blaise Pascal

Wouldn't this common sense logic also apply to Climate Change "faith"?

(photography by tiwago)

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Now Is Not The Time For Silence!

Now is not the time to be silent.
Sound the alarm!
Reveal to the people and to their politicians,
Their sins against humanity -
Their sins against their Lord.

On and on they say they know God,
As if their nation was still righteous,
As if they really followed their Father -
They seek wrathful judgment (on others).
They say they are themselves perfect;
Ever so holy, and without any faults?
They ask why they bother being good,
If there's no present benefit for them?
Witness, they serve their own interest!
Testify,  they abuse their employees!

Really! They are only religious so that,
They can then look down upon others,
And fight over which religion is best;
Such vain self-righteous religion,
Won't force God to listen to them!

The holiness he seeks is humility:
To bend, to serve, to suffer beside;
To break the residual chains of slavery;
To release the people from imposed poverty;
To support and to defend the oppressed;
To break the anchor-chains of injustice;
To break bread with the bread-less;
To give homes to the homeless;
To clothe the naked -
To be available.

Then their country will be a beacon on the hill!
Then a national healing and restoration will begin!
Then their good name shall precede them again!
Then God'll have their back.
Then he will hear them again.
Then he will be there for them.
If, they/you/we break the chains of hatred;
If, they/you/we stop pointing dirty fingers;
If, they/you/we stop making fun of each other;
If they/you/we sacrifice comfort for the needy -
Then the nation shall again be a light in a world of darkness;
Then the country shall again live in the Light;
Then the people shall once more be strengthened;
Then the people shall be blessed to be a blessing;
Then their ruined landscapes shall be restored -
When we together build bridges instead of fences.

(poetry and photography by tiwago)