In Thy Packing and Thy Unpacking…

 

In thy packing, and thy unpacking,
God is there.

In thy sorting, and thy disposing,
God is there.

In the questioning and the waiting,
God is there.

Despite aching muscles, tender hearts, hurtful words, and self-doubts,
God is there.

Though I struggle, wonder, and rest in the uncertainty,
God is there.

When I am hurt, tired, frustrated, or just plain DONE…
God is there.

Book Review: Naming the Unnameable

Naming the Unnameable
89 Wonderful and Useful Names for God
…Including the Unnameable God
by Matthew Fox

namingtheunnameable

I was intrigued by this book because of its stated post-modern approach to reflection on the Divine. As someone who works in an interfaith setting, there are few resources with scholarship and attention to the faith traditions beyond Christianity. This small volume is packed with images and spirituality to enrich your meditation and reflection times.

Matthew Fox is a historian, scholar, and founder of the University of Creation Spirituality in Oakland, California. His past works are numerous and much-loved. This book draws from mystics that will be familiar to many, including Meister Eckhart and Hildegard of Bingen. But it also engages the wisdom of Rumi, and the classics such as Thomas Aquinas, plus a wide spectrum of wisdom literature across many religious traditions.

Fox includes 89 Names of God, but goes beyond the Hebrew and Christian texts for reference. There are theologians, scientists, artists, and mystics included in the Naming. The entries invite new visions, new impressions, new challenges to close-held images of the Divine. After each section, there are blank pages, for, as the author notes, there are infinite ways to name God, and perhaps one would want to pen one’s own addendum!

The book is divided into three parts:
Part 1: Cataphatic Divinity: 80 Names for God
Part 2: Apophatic Divinity: God without a Name
Part 3: Practices to deepen meditation.

I found each entry having something to draw in my mind to reflection. But in particular, I was intrigued by entry #29: “God is Greening Power.” The images and referenced words of Dylan Thomas and Hildegard of Bingen spoke powerfully to me of the Divine creativity and inspiration. I will likely return to this page (and others!) for deeper reflection.

In Part 3, there are suggestions for reflecting further on the 89 Names. They invite creative, deep, personal meditation. My intention is to engage further with these during Lent.

This is a small volume, but one worth adding to your personal library. I commend it to you.


Naming the Unnameable: 89 Wonderful and Useful names for God …Including the Unnameable God. By Matthew Fox. Pawcatuck, CT: Homebound Publications, 2018. Paperback: 197 pages. ISBN-13: 9781947003941.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided this book without cost from the publisher and was not required to give a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Book Review: A Gracious Heresy

A Gracious Heresy: The Queer Calling of an Unlikely Prophet, by Connie L Tuttle.

unnamed-4

Any of us who have ever argued with the Divine over a persistent, unyielding Call to ministry will see ourselves in Connie Tuttle’s story. She honestly shares the journey from discovery to living out her Call. Only one problem: as a lesbian, every time she reached a milestone, she had to fight the same battles for understanding and full inclusion.

A lesser person would have quit, or turned her back on God. Connie took on the full frontal assault of her identity and her love for God. She dealt with the society-imposed shaming of her sexual identity. From the co-ed who wouldn’t ride in an elevator with her, to the fellow seminarian who informed her she was going to hell for being a lesbian, Connie walked the road with faithfulness and determination.

Tuttle’s writing is honest, thoughtful, provocative and real. Her words are from her heart, one that fully trusts, hopes and believes in the Call of God. On more than one occasion, as she faced opposition, she had to decide: was her faith one that followed rules and sought to be pious? Or was she someone who had a call to justice, and sought to be righteous? Over and over, she chose: “I want to be righteous!” Integrity and authenticity shaped her responses.

Her journey encompasses many of the hurdles familiar to seminarians and clergy: getting through seminary, facing ordination boards and faculty committees, finding a summer internship, and coping with the self-learning (and tears) in CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education.) She grappled with how her identity would be and could be a part of her pastoral formation. Oh, and yes, as a single mom, balanced, home, classes, and parenting.

While Presbyterians (PCUSA) now affirm and ordain women and individuals of all gender identities, at the time when she graduated, it was not even a remote possibility. Even so, as Tuttle continues to love and care for the people God has called her to as a pastor, she reminds us all to tell our stories.

And Connie’s story, full of love and grace, is one you should read. One day, I look forward meeting her, because I suspect we will enjoy many laughs and share the heartaches of our ongoing journeys, compelled to serve the Divine.


A Gracious Heresy: The Queer Calling of an Unlikely Prophet, by Connie L. Tuttle. Eugene, OR: Resource Publications, 2018. Paperback: 195 pages. ISBN-13: 9781532655722.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided this book without cost from the publisher and was not required to give a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

A New Heart Song

cropped-2014-08-04-19-35-07.jpg

I have frequently referred to songs that speak to my Spirit as “heart songs.” Today I heard a new one and wanted to commend it to you.

Josh Garrels’ song May You Find a Light is gentle, encouraging, and speaks to the real need we all have to find fellow travelers on this road. It makes all the difference when we hit a rough patch. I believe that there is a Divine answer to this longing. Sometimes it’s a gentle whisper, but we have to stop long enough to hear it.

Even though today I am in a pretty centered and peaceful place, I resonated with the words. Maybe you will, too.

And may we all find a Light when we need it most. And may we each BE that Light for someone else.


Produced by: Josh Garrels & Isaac Wardell
Album: The Light Came Down

[Verse 1]
Lost and weary traveler
Searching for the way to go
Stranger, heavy-hearted
Longing for someone to know

[Chorus]
May you find a Light
May you find a Light
May you find a Light to guide you home

[Verse 2]
There are weary travelers
Searching everywhere you go
Strangers who are searching
Longing deeply to be known

[Chorus]
May you find a Light
May you find a Light
May you find a Light to guide you home

2019 – the Year of “Growth”


Oh my…

My Star Word* for 2019 is “growth” and I don’t know whether to be excited or terrified.

The last year has been a difficult one. I don’t want to give the specific reasons air time right now, so forgive the vagueness of this post.

I know that I did the right thing by showing up and standing up for the right reasons, but the “nasty-grams” I got because of doing that really hurt. Learning to walk with integrity, and not cave from pressure and criticism was tough. I’m limping, and learning to forgive… but God’s faithfulness has carried me through.

I asked my beloved spouse what he thought my Star Word would mean. (I confess, it was in a little bit of a whiny way!) He said, “Maybe this is the year that you consolidate from all of the growth from last year.”

I think I’ll go with that. But time will tell!

*What’s a “Star Word”? Read more here!

If you still want a star word, make a comment, email me, send me a text, or catch me on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Instagram. I’d be glad to draw one for you. There’s plenty left. Oh, and if you’re curious, they aren’t “churchy” words. They are everyday words offered for anyone who wants to meditate on a word for the year. That’s it!

It’s Star Words time!

The Three Wise Men - Matthew 2:1-12
Artist: Jesus Mafa from Cameroon.
No. Not Star Wars time. (I see you out there.)

Star Words is a concept I first learned about from Marci Glass, one of the RevGalBlogPals. She credits Reformed Worship for the seed idea.

The concept is simple: One selects (or is given) a word for the purpose of reflection and meditation for the New Year. It is based off of the story of the Magi coming to see the Christ Child. In most Christian communities, this story is part of Epiphany celebration (or the twelfth day of Christmas.) However, I think it can be part of one’s spiritual practice, regardless of your personal spirituality or religion (or lack thereof.)

Here is the text as found in Matthew 2:1-12 (CEB).

1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the territory of Judea during the rule of King Herod, magi came from the east to Jerusalem. 2 They asked, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We’ve seen his star in the east, and we’ve come to honor him.”

3 When King Herod heard this, he was troubled, and everyone in Jerusalem was troubled with him. 4 He gathered all the chief priests and the legal experts and asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They said, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what the prophet wrote:

6 “You, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
by no means are you least among the rulers of Judah,
because from you will come one who governs,
who will shepherd my people Israel.”*

7 Then Herod secretly called for the magi and found out from them the time when the star had first appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search carefully for the child. When you’ve found him, report to me so that I too may go and honor him.” 9 When they heard the king, they went; and look, the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stood over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy. 11 They entered the house and saw the child with Mary his mother. Falling to their knees, they honored him. Then they opened their treasure chests and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 Because they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back to their own country by another route.

* Matthew 2:6 Mic 5:2; 2 Sam 5:2

In choosing/giving a star word, there is an opportunity for reflection and even re-direction. After all, the Magi thought a new King would be born in a palace. Instead, the scholars in Herod’s court told them to go to Bethlehem. They also listened to the warnings of the Divine (even through dreams!) to not return and tell Herod where the Child was living with his family. How might the Divine give you re-direction or insight with your Star Word?

The gifts of the Magi were costly. Their intentions were pure. What would a poor workman and his wife do with all of these treasures? Perhaps initially, to pay their way to Egypt as refugees, and then later, to re-establish the family in Nazareth. What gift will you receive from learning about yourself and your Star Word?

I invite you to receive your own Star Word!

bagofwordsI’ll pick one at random from my bag of stars. It will be yours to contemplate in the New Year. You might not like the word you get… but eventually, there will be some sort of spiritual insight or affirmation from it. As I like to tell people, “the word chooses YOU!” Every year I have engaged in this practice, I have learned something about myself and have been encouraged in my personal spiritual practice. You can read about my reflections on my 2018 Star Word here!

To get your own star word:

  • leave me a comment (and I’ll reply with your word)
  • message me or respond to my posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Tumblr
  • just ask when you see me!

Here’s to the journey of wonder, contemplation and Light!


The Magi
by Godfrey Rust

Will you study these signs
as carefully
as you study the prices
in the Christmas catalogues?

Will you seek out the manger
as diligently
as you search for the right scarf
or this year’s toy?

Will you examine
your heart’s pilgrimage
and be sure towards what stable
it carries its precious gifts?

Will you be a wise fool
to find and follow
the strange star of truth
in a sky full of glittering lies?

© Godfrey Rust, godfrey@wordsout.co.uk. Used by permission.