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Spoiler alert: If you’re looking for declarative answers, this is not your lucky day. Because no one has them. Yes, all Christians believe in a “triune” God — one God composed of three persons: The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. But to try to make a triune God fit in a square box would be nothing but an exercise in futility. God is not so easily defined.

But let’s try. The three persons of God are God fully present in each of God’s roles: As God our Father in Heaven; as Jesus, God’s son; and as The Holy Spirit, who operates as a sort of bridge between Father and Son and between God and us. Think of it like water, which can assume three forms: ice, liquid and steam, yet remains one chemical compound, H2O. Three unique embodiments, one unified composition.

If you’re not satisfied with that explanation, I understand. It’s tricky. But therein lies the beauty of the Holy Trinity, and of Catholicism. See, us Catholics perceive the Holy Trinity (and other difficult concepts) as a mystery of the church. In other words, it’s okay to be confused. The church, in a beautifully zen move, admits that not everything can be neatly defined. Some things are not explicable. And that’s okay.

We live our lives in tension with mystery: How exactly does gravity work? How can something exist if I can’t see or touch it? How does an egg and a sperm become a human being? Nobody has all the answers, even if they very much want to. The Holy Trinity is like that.

I think one of the greatest chores of our lives is to give in to mystery, to admit that we don’t know and that not knowing is acceptable. I pray to God in all three persons, as a father who creates, loves and cares for me; as Jesus, my brother and friend, who lived a human life like mine; and as the Holy Spirit, who enlightens and empowers and transmits the grace that allows me to grapple with the great mysteries of life. Yet there is only one God. This isn’t the Pep Brothers or Donald Duck’s nephews — three guys who are always seen together. This is one indivisible God in three unique persons.

And, of course, God isn’t a guy at all. Or a gal. But that’s an entirely different mystery. Let’s save that one for another day.


Helping people can be tricky.  We see someone with a problem.  We know, just know, how to help them.  So we do.

The problem was theirs.The solution was ours.  And there are times that all is well and good.

But what if they had another solution in mind?  A better solution?  A solution that didn’t create an us with power and a them without?

When we help someone, we need to do it with love which is what makes helping people tricky. Love listens.  Love opens up to new ways of doing things.   Love doesn’t assume that there is only one way, our way.

Love, like Christ, moves among those in need, getting to know them, seeing them, speaking to them, sitting beside them.   Only then does love act.



Last Sunday we were asked to come up with a scripture to share as a Lenten devotional.  One of the suggestions was Abraham and Sarah which is the one I chose although, I must admit, I probably won’t be coming at it from the expected direction.  My verses are Genesis 18: 9-13.  Three angels have come to Abraham and Sarah to tell them that, even in their old age, they will have a child.

They said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” And he said, “There, in the tent.” 10 Then one said, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?” 13 The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? At the set time I will return to you, in due season, and Sarah shall have a son.” 15 But Sarah denied, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. He said, “Oh yes, you did laugh.”

Why this passage?  Maybe you didn’t outright laugh, but we’ve all been there.  “Thanks, God, but you’ve got to be joking. That isn’t even possible.”

Whatever the task God has put before you, the reality is that it will probably take more than one attempt.  But that’s okay.  Ours is a patient God even if we aren’t an especially patient people.



Last night at women’s Bible study we read one of my favorite Bible verses.  “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”  Hebrews 13:2.

Of course, the study felt the need to explain to us at great length that it wasn’t the angels that were unaware.  It was the people.  Before last night it never even crossed my mind that that might confuse someone.  We were often a King James household growing up but I don’t recall any confusion as to what this meant. Aid and help those who need it because you never know who it really is.

What does this have to do with shaping our world?  For me anyway, a big part of this is environmental justice.  You don’t dump either your garbage or your tailings in someone else’s yard. You make sure everyone has clean water and access to arable land or the food produced on that land.

This pretty well sums up how I vote.  Are you the candidate who cares for ALL of the people?  Then step aside because I’m voting for the other guy.

I know, I know.  We aren’t supposed to mix religion and politics.  They are both taboo topics.

Then again, that attitude doesn’t seem to have served us very well.  We need to talk and we need to go beyond talk.  We need to step up and shape the world we want to live in and we need to do it now.


What are your plans for the weekend?  Can I make a recommendation?

Don’t Tweet.  Don’t post on Facebook.  Take a few days away from social media.  We cannot make peace as long as one side is shouting at the other.  And it doesn’t really matter which side you are on.  Both groups need to listen.  It is almost impossible to make peace as long as “civil conversation” involves telling people what simple solutions they have missed and that they need to shush up and listen.

Remember, we are all children of God.  All of us.  Even the ones you disagree with.

When we were kids and we would squabble, my mom would tell us to go outside.  Sometimes she just wanted peace.  But I think she also realized that if we would spend time in the sunlight and the wind, we would reorient ourselves, our minds, and our souls.

Seriously.  Outside.

And if you don’t?  Suit yourself.  Maybe you’re more patient than I am.

I’m going out to look for God.  I’ll be back in a day or two.

Note: I’m not walking away from anyone here, but I’ve had a few too many people elsewhere ‘splaining things.  And it ain’t just man-splaining.   I am having a really hard time not counter-explaining that I do not need to have things put SIMPLY. I know counter-explaining would not be productive.  So I’m going out and looking for God.

TTFN (ta ta for now)




“You cannot live for yourselves alone. You depend on the rest of the world and the rest of the world depends on you.”  That’s how Eleanor Roosevelt expressed it.  To me it seems like her take on “no man is an island.”

But I think this is something we tend to forget.  Some of us forget about those around us because we are focused on our health issues, earning enough to feed our children, or keep a roof over our heads.

Others forget because we are working toward a degree, a promotion or a bigger house.

Then there’s that time you lose yourself in social media.

Every now and again, stop what you’re doing and look around.  Check on those around you.  Look.  Listen.  Ask questions.

Recently, a friend of my niece contacted me to ask about getting a story published.  We messaged back and forth for several weeks.  She’s probably still processing all of the information I gave her.

Then she sent me a school fund-raiser.  I know the district is struggling for money but really?  I have my own kid, my own concerns.  And I really wasn’t certain my niece wasn’t also taking part in the fundraiser.  So I asked her.  She’s not but we got to talking about her friend.  Her friend who lives with an older sister because her mother just died.

It is so easy to cut ourselves off from others.  We can always come up with reasons not to help.  But sometimes, we need to do as Christ did, and look for a reason to help the Centurion who was bold enough to ask, the woman who pursued him through the crowd.

Every now and again, alter your focus.  See what you can see.


I have to admit – I’m a bit notorious around church for avoiding meetings.  And that can be a problem because there are two things that Presbyterians are really enthusiastic about as a denomination.  Potlucks and meetings.

But I actually enjoy going to meetings of the committees from various churches in our area.  We discuss what has worked, what hasn’t worked very well at all, and share a variety of resources.

In many ways, we are very different people.  There are wealthy urbanites, suburban retirees and a handful of us that are self-employed.  We have ministers, gardeners, and one writer (me!).  But we all care deeply about this Earth and when we get together, you can definitely feel the presence of God in the room.

Some people minister from the pulpit. Some of us work on encouraging our congregations to recycle and switch to more efficient lighting.  Why? Because it is true.  For us to be healthy, this Earth must also be healthy.


“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” So begins the gospel of John…and the deepest roots of my spiritual connection to God. I have always loved words, loved what they could do with sound and meaning, loved them in their inadequacy and perfection. As a child, I was teased for my advanced vocabulary. “But that’s the right word for it,” I would think. “I could use a more common word, but it isn’t right.” From the beginning I knew that God was in both language and silence, that as flawed as words could be, they were a link to God — a beautiful and fragile link.

In The Little Prince, the fox tells our titular hero that when you tame something, it becomes yours forever. The same is true of naming things. That’s why I respond so warmly to John’s gospel-opener: God is, in my mind, the first named thing. In a world of small-w words, God is The Word.

Our words for God change and persist; they speak of power and authority. But God is also in the tiniest places, the humblest nest of the lowliest sparrow. God is in all words, from thunder to shame, eternity to crumb. Maybe that’s a compelling enough reason to use our words judiciously.

On the other hand, why not celebrate words? Why not lavish them luxuriously, paint a thick coat of them all over everything, dress up a tawdry world with silvery syllables? Isn’t that what poets and musicians do? Yeah! Don’t paint the town red; paint it God.

That’s what we try to do on this blog, at least in my eyes. We invoke God through God-as-Word. We praise God. We cry out to God. We participate in Godliness and ask our readers to do the same.

That’s a pretty sweet gig, from where I’m sitting.

Have you ever noticed how one negative post on Facebook or a negative comment on a blog post is followed by a flurry of such activity?  Negative attracts negative.  It almost seems to spread like a virus.

In truth, I think that part of the problem is what we see.  When we see something bad, we think about it.  “Oh, I wish people weren’t so . . . negative/hateful/stupid.”  Then we observe more of the same.

I recently saw a psychologist speak and he discussed how when someone goes to med school, they rather obviously study a series of ailments.  But they also tend to get so wrapped up in that ailment that they see it everywhere including in themselves.  He encouraged his listeners to spend sometime focusing each day on things that went well, on what they accomplished, and on what made them happy.  Think about what is positive, he contended, and you would see more of it.

Personally, I think God has observed this in us.  That’s why he tells us to avoid bad situations and bad people and focus on the good.  On what is excellent and praiseworthy.

Why not give it a try for a few days?  At the end of each day, or the beginning of a new day, write down something that you really liked in the last 24 hours.  It may be a bit of a struggle at first, but if you try it I suspect you are going to start seeing more positive things and people in the world around you.

Dwell on these things.


When I saw this quote, I immediately recalled one of the year-long Bible studies I did in our church’s women’s circle.  The topic for the 2016-2017 was Who Is Jesus? The cover image was a photomosaic.  This is a compilation of photos used as mosaic tiles.  In this case, photos of the natural world, combined to create an image of Christ.

Look on it too closely and you see only each animal or plant – the bear, the owl, the fern.  And while these things are fascinating in themselves, pull back and you see Christ.

You, me, that annoying dog barking next door?  We are all parts of the Creation.  Pull back, look at the whole, and see what you can see.


Have a Mary Little Christmas

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