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.


Love · Reflecting


by Czesław Miłosz

Love means to learn to look at yourself
The way one looks at distant things
For you are only one thing among many.
And whoever sees that way heals his heart,
Without knowing it, from various ills.
A bird and a tree say to him: Friend.

Then he wants to use himself and things
So that they stand in the glow of ripeness.
It doesn’t matter whether he knows what he serves:
Who serves best doesn’t always understand.

As read here except color highlights added by me.

Parker Palmer reflected on these words with respect to the meaning of life here.

Love · Reflecting

Wild Geese, a poem by Mary Oliver


You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile, the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

Over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

With a perspective on welcoming the different parts of yourself by Patty de Llosa here.

Reflecting · Words


As read here:

The Angels and the Furies
by May Sarton


Have you not wounded yourself
And battered those you love
By sudden motions of evil,
Black rage in the blood
When the soul, premier danseur,
Springs toward a murderous fall?
The furies possess you.


Have you not surprised yourself
Sometimes by sudden motions
Or intimations of goodness,
When the soul, premier danseur,
Perfectly poised,
Could shower blessings
With a graceful turn of the head?
The angels are there.


The angels, the furies
Are never far away
While we dance, we dance,
Trying to keep a balance
To be perfectly human
(Not perfect, never perfect,
Never an end to growth and peril),
Able to bless and forgive
This is what is asked of us.


It is light that matters,
The light of understanding.
Who has ever reached it
Who has not met the furies again and again?
Who has reached it without
Those sudden acts of grace?

Reflecting · Seeing


Fire has been devastating this summer, and it’s only July 1. But even before the conflagration in Colorado over the past weeks, I came across this item while on a walk. It lay in the street next the sidewalk. My curiosity is piqued: what could possibly have led to this? If you have any thoughts, please let me know. Frankly, I shudder to think…






I’m really liking Sara Miles

“In the verse, Moses foreshadowed Jesus with an unusual emphasis on experienced grace rather than codified religious law. “Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away,” he told his people. “It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?’ No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.” — Sara Miles on Deuteronomy in Take This Bread

“…it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.” It’s that close. Amen.



One week ago yesterday I drove out to Louisville to visit a friend and her family. It was a beautiful day and I noticed a group of horses frolicking in the meadow along the road. They didn’t have a care in the world, tossing their heads, punching one another with their noses, kicking their heels up in the strengthening sunshine.

I relayed my observation when I arrived, telling my friend what I had seen en route. She closed her eyes as I spoke and I could tell from her face that she could see the romping creatures as well. She seemed to feel the grass, the wind, the sunshine. She could hear the neighs and whinnies of the roan, the black and the pinto. She smiled.

I sat quietly for a while waiting for her to return from the pasture, and soon she opened her eyes and smiled at me. The conversation moved on and we reminisced about the potluck we had worked to prepare together–she cooked a wonderful ham and I made green beans. It had been Easter then too; we’d used chocolate eggs as the table centerpiece. Was that one year ago or two? After a little figuring we remembered that we had done it two years in a row. It was almost a tradition.

Almost, but not quite. We hadn’t been able to share the joy of cooking for others this year; this year my friend was in hospice. This year she ate ham that her daughter cooked and brought to her.

She drifted a bit as she thought about when she had last eaten. I rose to leave, sensing that she needed to rest. But as I stood looking down at her realizing that I wouldn’t see her again–at least not in this world–I was overcome by a strong urge to touch her. I felt that I wanted to connect. So I reached out and patted her feet through the covers. It wasn’t enough. The feeling was strong in me that I should do more, so I asked if I could rub her feet. “Of course,” she said, “that would be nice.” “May I pull up the blankets?” “Yes, do.”

So I lifted the beautiful red quilt tied with the prayers of the entire congregation and sewn by the ladies of the church, and found her feet. Small and warm with beautiful pink nails, her feel were smooth with oil. I rubbed her heels, the bottoms of her toes, her soles, her ankles. And through my touch I felt energy, energy that left me and went to her. She was relaxed and seemed to enjoy the experience. Then, I felt that I was done; she had what she needed.

I have had that experience before when I sat as companion to a friend who died. It was as if through touch, I gave energy that was needed for him to make the transition. It was what I wanted to give; what I had to give.

And here I was again, called to give my energy, this time to Rebecca. I covered her feet back up and tucked the blankets in loosely. I hugged her, kissed her, and told her I loved her. She hugged me back with surprising strength and thanked me for coming. But it was I who was grateful for the time shared.

That visit was a week ago yesterday. Two days later she died. Last night at dusk I joined in the celebration of her life with a church filled with her family and friends. She would have loved that time–the music, the service, the gathering.

I am thankful that we could talk of horses and ham on that glorious afternoon–and that we could touch. There’s no doubt in my mind that the energy that flowed between us was love.


Happy birthday, Granny

I have so many memories of my maternal grandmother. I used to spend a lot of time with her–cooking, playing cards, watching television, just talking. She and my grandfather lived on a farm, our closest neighbors at over a mile away.

We went trout fishing together. We shopped at junk stores. She took me with her to home demonstration meetings and to her woman’s club. She taught me to play bridge and canasta.

Her crooked index finger would scrape the spoon of cookie dough clean as a whistle. She introduced me to pimento cheese spread onto graham crackers. She could cook a meal for 20 as easy as for 2.

She smoked like a chimney and had a jolly, slightly naughty cackling laugh. Nearsighted and hard of hearing in her left ear, she could pull weeds and pick blackberries to beat the band.

She read books and went to Sunday school. She cooked the Festival dinner at church every fall and let me make the toast for the dressing. She read the Beatitudes to me; she especially liked “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” and she loved babies.

She sent me postcards from their winter trips to Florida and wrote to me when I went to camp and off to college. She recovered from two horrible accidents and had the softest waddlish neck imaginable.

Today she would have been 111. I think of her, so often, my sweet Granny, and when I do it is with love.


Today’s message

I subscribe to a daily message from Mike Dooley. Here is what I found waiting for me this morning:

“…To give beyond reason, to care beyond hope, to love without limit; to reach, stretch, and dream, in spite of your fears. These are the hallmarks of divinity – traits of the immortal – your badges of honor. May you wear them with a pride as great as the immeasurable pride we feel for you.

Your light has illuminated darkened paths, your gaze has lifted broken spirits, and already your life has changed the course of history.

This is the time of year we celebrate you.

Bowing before Greatness,
The Universe”

It touched me. And now I want to turn and give this message to you…because it is a season of celebrating others.