Learning · Listening · Reflecting

More difficult topics

Reading about Black Theology of Liberation as developed by James H. Cone:

The Cross and the Lynching Tree, James H. Cone, 2011.

A Black Theology of Liberation, James H. Cone, 1990.

Black Theology & Black Power, James H. Cone, 1969.

Go Tell it on the Mountain, James Baldwin, 1953.

Strange Fruit: The Cross and the Lynching Tree (video of James Cone lecturing at Harvard Divinity School)

James Cone: The Cross and the Lynching Tree, 2012 General Conference of the United Methodist Church (video)

Religion & Violence: James Cone Interview (video)

Bill Moyers Journal: James Cone (video)


https://www.christiancentury.org/article/first-person/what-i-learned-student-james-cones (there are links on this to other articles)

Billie Holiday singing “Strange Fruit” (video)

Hope to have thoughts as I read, listen, reflect and learn more.



The Practice of Listening

To connect to ourselves, each other and the Spirit, sometimes we need someone to take time, to pay attention, to listen…to really listen. We don’t need someone to solve our problems or issues, but to understand, even to feel, our situation with us. And to support us. We need someone who cares about us, who affirms us, who takes us as we are, and who will be with us.

With this listening resource, we can hope to loosen the tight structures of our lives and realize that perhaps there are gaps where something different, something unexpected could happen. We can play with thoughts and ideas as we have not been able to before. We can even begin to listen to ourselves.

We aren’t sick, but we are human and sometimes we need someone to be with us as we talk through what’s on our mind. Through the process of Intensive Listening, by both speaker and listener, awareness of unformulated ideas or thoughts held too rigidly come to the fore.

The Speaker, the Listener and the Focus form a Triangle of Attention during an exchange.  The Focus is whatever the Speaker wants to talk about; it may be a past experience, a relationship, a feeling, a situation.  The Speaker draws the attention of the Listener to the Focus so that both try to see, to hear the same things.  The Listener asks questions to clarify, so that the Focus becomes clearer.  By objectifying the Focus and describing it to another, the Speaker can begin to understand it better.


Lectionary reading on All Saint’s Day

“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
–Luke 6:27-31


Have I told you…

…about my work with those in need, those on the fringes of society, those who are my neighbors? No? Well, stay tuned, because I’m going to be writing more.

In the meantime, you can check out the web site of the two projects I’m most involved with…Boulder Outreach for Homeless Overflow (BOHO) and Medical Respite Boulder.

There is much to tell…about the work, about my call, about my questions, about the love…it’s a way to listen AND a way to draw attention to life.


“Go to the Limits…

…of Your Longing”
by Rainer Maria Rilke; translation by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

—Rilke’s Book of Hours, I, 59

Click here to hear Joanna Macy’s reading.

Listening · Words

Listening to the power of listening

As I continue to read Jim Wallis’ Faith Works, I draw your attention to the second section which includes these three chapters:
Do the Work and You’ll Find the Spirit
Recognize the Three Faces of Poverty
Listen to Those Closest to the Problem

The third chapter of this section really affected me. It ended with this:
“It’s difficult to get many different groups working together, but the principle of partnership is this–everybody does their share, and everyone does what they do best. Nobody gets to sit on the sidelines, and everyone brings some answers and some resources. It can work…Always the key is listening to those closest to the problem.” (emphasis mine)

Listening–deeply and purposefully–can be transformative to the speaker, the listener and the situation. Why don’t we engage in this powerful experience more often?

Listening · Words

Listening to what I read

On my reading agenda now is Faith Works: How to Live Your Beliefs and Ignite Positive Social Change by Jim Wallis.

The first three chapters, which he has organized as lessons, have me hooked:
Trust Your Questions
Get out of the House More Often
Use Your Gift

If we started with these three lessons, what might happen?

I am trying to live these…how about you?

(I hope to post more as I progress through the book!)

Listening · Other sites

raising awareness

gravatar-3cmx3cm-v5I recently launched a new resource called 2dollardifference to raise awareness about hunger and poverty.

http://2dollardifference.wordpress.com encourages people to experience in a meaningful, albeit partial, way the situation of half of the population of the world: eating for $2 a day.

“Simple but not easy,” participants eat for $2 a day for one week, then give the difference between their reduced food costs and what they usually spend on food (i.e., groceries, coffees, snacks, meals at restaurants) to an organization dedicated to the eradication of hunger.

A host of materials at http://2dollardifference.wordpress.com support the experience-reflect-act process, including a list of relevant books, a special prayer, a sheet of intentions, costs of single servings of various foods, food diary, etc. The site also offers the “chat post” where folks who eat for $2 a day can share online their experiences and reflections. A few organizations that focus on the alleviation of hunger and poverty are listed as possible targets for donations, but participants can donate to any organization they choose.

2dollardifference is designed for individuals or groups and can be done anytime. To learn more, please visit the web site at http://2dollardifference.wordpress.com.

Feel free to let others know!

(There is also a facebook page here, if you would like to join.)


Fair weather friend?

“Scrrrrritchhhhh….sssscrrrraaape…,” were the sounds that roused me from my slumber in the wee hours of the morning. Could that be someone clearing the driveways of snow? Snow? Was it supposed to snow? I had heard something on the radio about possible flurries, but enough to scrape?

I pulled myself back deeper under the covers with the schedule for the day loosened and running wildly in my head. I wanted to go to the 7 a.m. Eucharist this morning; then I was to meet a friend for coffee; then another friend for lunch; and tonight I have a class. “IT CAN’T SNOW!”

But sure enough when the alarm finally sounded and I rousted myself free of those warm blankets, I peeped out to see the ground covered with white. And it was still coming down.

No one had asked me whether it was a good time to snow. I didn’t have a choice; it was here.

During the middle of the last snow, I sat in the tire dealer’s store having studded tires put on the car, a purchase that prepares us for the necessary trips out into white weather but doesn’t increase our desire to interact with it. So I could go ahead with all my plans; though never having been a boy scout (or girl scout either for that matter), I am prepared.

Still I hesitated. I thought of the mess on the roads, of the drivers being uncertain of the pavement conditions go faster, of all those who did not get their vehicle prepared. Should I go anyway?

I decided no; I would not go out for the first two events; why risk it? It is a safe choice. And later in the day I could reassess the others.

Hoping to feel resolute and confident, I realize that instead I have guilt and wimpiness. But I also feel this is right. Or is it simply one viable option among several?

Sitting to reflect on this mishmash of emotions elicited from such a commonplace event, I realize that this small decision is like so many larger ones: Trying to take every facet into consideration, realizing that it is not just how I feel about my choice but how it is seen by others, being safe because the risk is difficult to determine, seeing both sides while attempting to block out all but one clear answer…

I look over and see my furry companion unbothered by any of these mental gymnastics, eyes at half-mast, paws tucked under his luxuriant coat. He’s doesn’t worry about such things; for him choices are easy. I consider the warm spot I left in the bed and wonder what would happen if I tried to rekindle that comfortable dozy feeling I had before the scritch of the snowplow, but know that the day has moved on. Escape rarely works and I have much I want to do, it is just different from what I had planned. I reach over and scratch under that delicate chin to hear the purr that escapes.  I am thankful to live with one who doesn’t second-guess.