Friday, June 29, 2012


The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some count slowness, but is patient towards us, not wishing for any to perish but for all to change as needed. 2 Peter 3:9

Patience is a virtue, but it is also a pain in the tail.

Moving into a new home, there is lots we want to accomplish, and yet we cannot get it done all at once. For one thing, I’ve got to work, and that means I am away from the homestead a good deal of the time. Secondly, while we have put most things where they need to go, there are many things we have to search for when we need them because they aren’t where they used to be.

For example, it has finally gotten warm here in the high country, but I will be darned if I can find all my summer clothes. I have enough to get by, but I can’t find what I want, and that could be frustrating for me, but it isn’t. I know they will turn up at some point, and if they don’t, c’est la vie – eh?

The secret to patience is no secret. It is a matter of control. As a friend of mine says, “Control what you can, and let go of the rest.”

We get a lot of wind here. One can wish the wind to stop; one can demand the wind to stop; one can throw a hairy fit until the wind does stop; but ultimately, the wind will come from where-ever it comes, and it will blow on to where-ever it is going despite our every effort to change it.

We cannot control the wind, so why get angry? What we can do is change our environment.

If the wind bothers me, I can roll up the window to my car; or I can go inside; or I can cover my face with a kerchief, turn up my collar, or clamp down on my Stetson. At the very least, I can turn my back on the wind and beep as I walk in reverse to my destination.

Control what you can, and let go of the rest.

I am told that nothing happens without God being aware of it. I do not believe God controls life and life’s events like pieces on a chessboard. But I do believe God walks beside us and, if invited, abides within us.

We do not need to pray to God “up there” for relief from what ails us, or from what bothers us. No, we pray to the One who lives within: Grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

I do not pray for patience. I have come to learn that if I pray for patience, God will send everything my way to build that virtue. Oi vei; God answers some prayers better than others, of THAT I am sure! So I do not pray for patience.

Instead, I pray for wisdom. I am satisfied doing what I need to do, cleaning up my own messes, helping others in their journey, and picking up what needs picking up.

In the times I am not busy “doing things” I discover there are many pleasures God brings my way, and those are rewards for patience I didn’t even know I had, and I find that is more than enough for me, my life, and my keister.

At least that’s how I blow in this, our valley.

Friday, June 22, 2012


This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.  – Polonius (Hamlet, Act 1)

I am reminded of the psalmist who said, “What is man, that you are mindful of him; the son of man, that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:4)

Who are we that God should care for us; why does God desire to spend time with this mortal race of ours?

It doesn’t make sense. There is no advantage for God to stoop so low, so why does he do it?

Think of what we mean by “value.”

There was a time I would pick up any coin if I saw one lying on the ground. I would do it without a moment’s hesitation. Now, however, I pause to consider whether it is worth my energy to bend down and pick it up. If it is a quarter, certainly! If it is a dime or nickel, probably. If it is a lowly penny, my instinct for survival will usually over-ride my love of money.

I don’t think God looks at us the way I look at coins, however.

For One whose home town streets are paved with gold, I’m not sure he sees any of us as being worth adding to his coin collection; and yet …

… I think God looks at each of us and says, “Oh my; I’ve found a real gem here; here’s a real keeper!”

Actually, I don’t think God looks down from above at all.

I believe God lives at ground level; God looks us each straight in the eye and perceives value imbedded deep within, because (as you may remember) we were created in the image of God – and that’s what God sees in each of us: a reflection of his presence.

What does this Imago Dei look like? Would you know it if you saw it?

The first thing I would expect to see would be compassion, by which I mean love and charity with God and neighbor. The Bible tells us that God cares, so it would make sense that what God placed in us is a capacity to care – and to care passionately.

Compassion is more than pity. With pity, we might feel badly for someone who is hurting, but pity is tinged with a sense of gladness that it is “they” who are hurting, and not “we”. Pity is paternalistic and contains a sense of separateness, whereas Compassion has a sense of togetherness in it.

With Compassion, I don’t feel sorry for you; I suffer with you. With compassion, I can’t feel right until I know you are alright; that you’re OK. And if you’re suffering, I will suffer with you – together. That’s compassion, in my mind.

Pity operates out of the ego, whereas compassion suspends the ego. Where the ego calls me to pat you on the head when things are tough, and on the shoulder when things go well, compassion sets aside the ego so that I will suffer with you in your sorrow, and dance with you in your joy. It is like that old German proverb: A sorrow shared is sorrow halved, joy shared is joy doubled.” That’s Compassion.

God is mindful of us because God is, by nature, compassionate. God suffers with us, so our sorrow is diminished, and God rejoices with us, more than doubling our delight.

It seems to follow, then, that if God is mindful of us, that perhaps we should be mindful of one another, discovering and/or recovering our kinship with one another. In doing so, we may become truer to ourselves than we have ever been before.

So for pity’s sake, let’s be compassionate in this, our world.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Family Ties

We had a wonderful day yesterday in church. We had a special guest musician, local artist Andrew Scruggs was here assisting us in our worship. He taught us a new song, and accompanied Vickey Gordon (our Minister of Music) on Cello and trumpet. The folks gathered quietly before the service and listened reverently as Andrew and Vickey provided a prelude that truly set the tone for worship. I think God was well-pleased.

Thank you Andrew, for coming. Thank you Vickey for bringing him to Trinity!

Yesterday's sermon focussed on the Gospel which, here, is read by our deacon, Brother Bede, and followed by the sermon on "Family Ties".

Fr. Keith

Sunday, June 3, 2012


We had a nice crowd at Trinity this morning. It was Trinity Sunday and I had an opportunity to take a look at John 3:1-17, where Jesus says "You must be born again (or born from above)."

Have you ever wondered what Jesus was talking about? Nicodemus seemed confused, so we took some time to explore the meaning behind that very familiar passage.

You can find it here:


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Trinity's Raccoon

I was getting ready to go home - jumped in my truck - when I caught a movement out the corner of my eye. I saw something climbing a tree, like a large squirrel, but looked again and saw it was a young raccoon.

I think I had startled it when I started the truck up.

Anyway, I got out my phone and began to record about a minute of this youngster's dash for freedom and safety. Naturally, I held the phone in it's vertical and upright position, so it recorded (and played) kiddy-whompus.

The good news it that when I uploaded it to Daily Motion, the site turned it upright, so you can enjoy it the way I saw it. Ain't technology grand?

You can find it here:

It is just a minute in length.

Have a great day and a blessed weekend, y'all.

An Elusive Truth Continues

Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?  Who may live on your holy mountain? The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart; whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbor, and casts no slur on others … Psalm 15:1-3

Is there an absolute truth?

I believe so, but I also believe it is beyond us to ever know positively what the absolute truth of a matter actually is. As St. Paul puts it, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

Integrity demands we be as honest with one another as we can, but we also know the truth will be bent or skewed by many things. We shade the truth by the words we use (I borrowed the car, vs. I stole the car); or the way we say something (softly, especially if we want something in return). We hide parts of the truth when we are fearful, when we’re not sure the other person is prepared to hear what we have to say, or when we’re not sure we are prepared to deal with the fall-out that will result from what we have to say.

What’s important to me is not that we have access to the unvarnished truth, as if there is such a thing. Likewise, I don’t think we should go through life assuming that everything is relative, so we can do whatever we like and rationalize that bad behavior isn’t so bad because there are worse things one can always do. Instead, I think it is best to approach life with integrity and humility, and leave the unvarnished truth to God (who is the Way, Truth, and Life).

Humility requires us to recognize that, as human beings, we are frail and fallible; we make mistakes; and sometimes our best intentions wreak the greatest havoc. Humility also requires us to realize we were created in the image of God, and as such, we can strive to do everything necessary to do things right, and to make things right when we have failed or fallen. As others have said, humility is being “right sized” – we are neither God, nor are we junk.

Integrity speaks to our capacity to be honest with ourselves and with others. It is to take full ownership of what we think and feel, and to accept that our life is what it is, and our experiences help shape who we are.

Our chief purpose in life is to be true to ourselves (To thine own self be true – Polonius), honest with everyone with whom we interact (Dare to be honest and fear no labor – Robert Burns), and upright with God (What does the Lord require, but for you to be just, merciful, and to walk humbly with him – Micah).

Sometimes we are so busy watching what others are doing we fail to see where we are failing. As a Rabbi once put it (I paraphrase), we “see the speck in our brother’s eye, but miss the log in our own.”

Perhaps it is time to start asking God how each of us might be a better person. If we are honest with God about our desire to improve, I’ve no doubt that would be a job God would be willing to tackle; and if any of us improves, the world will be just that much better.

At least that’s what I think in this, our world.

An Elusive Truth

If you want the truth to go round the world you must hire an express train to pull it; but if you want a lie to go round the world it will fly; it is as light as a feather, and a breath will carry it. C.H. Spurgeon

A reader wrote me the other day complaining the local paper will not print the truth. She was writing in response to my column on Gossip. I’m glad she wrote, for truth is very important. I don’t know of any religion where truth isn’t given priority. That begs the question, of course: What is truth?

Some truth is easy to figure out. 2 + 2 = 4 is a true statement (using base-ten arithmetic). You can use pencil and paper, an abacus, a calculator, or apples and oranges, and the results will always be the same: Two plus two equals four.

Many times, though, it is harder to pin down what is true. Let me give you a silly example. I can look outside and tell you it is partly cloudy as I write this. A person sitting next to me can say it is partly sunny. Who is telling the truth?

At this point you, the reader, will have several options. You can side with me because you know my powers of observation are impeccably accurate. You can side with my neighbor because you know you can’t trust anyone who writes for the paper. You can discount the issue entirely because it simply doesn’t matter to you whether it is partly cloudy or partly sunny – you are reading this well after the fact.

Or you can avoid making a judgment because you haven’t got all the facts in hand. You don’t know what I consider “partly cloudy” or what my neighbor considers “partly sunny.” You don’t have a view of the sky I am looking at (and it is changing as I am writing). Absent corroborating testimony and evidence, you are wise to abstain from reaching a judgment in the matter; after all, there is no shame in not knowing, and there is a certain kindness offered to both parties when you exercise the grace of ignorance.

We would like to think there is an objective truth – at least with regards to matters more important than the weather – but life is generally far too messy for that.

We see things, and we trust what we see (unless we’re watching a magic show), and yet we also know witnesses are notoriously inaccurate in their recollections and reports. They are affected by internal factors, such as the pumping of adrenaline in the face of stressful events; they’re affected by external factors, such as lighting, and their location in relation to the event they’re witnessing; and they can be affected by a whole host of other factors, such as their relationships with the other parties, or by what they have to gain or lose by giving their testimony.

In the face of all of this, can one ever know the unvarnished truth about anything?

The short answer is “no”. We can judge the evidence, reach conclusions, and make decisions to the best of our abilities, but we should recognize that only God knows the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth – about anything and everything. The rest of us, not being God, will always fall short. We just need to be humble enough to appreciate that even when we think we know the truth, we could be wrong.

At least that’s what I think in this, our partly cloudy (partly sunny) world.