Friday, January 22, 2016


I have a good friend who has been a quilter for many years.

After sharing my reasons for this blog about Patchwork Quilt Spirituality,
I asked her to think about it and then share her thoughts.
Here is some of what she wrote:

"Every one benefits from having a quilt...

They are better than a miracle drug because
   they soothe & comfort your soul just by being.

They offer you a refuge,
   brighten your surroundings
      and send a feeling of encompassing love.

Once it is hand quilted --
   it has the ability to lift spirits,
      heal hurts and surround a person with the feeling of a warm hug.

[adapted from a personal letter from Ruth Walker, January 2016.]

By the way, yesterday, January 21st, was "National Hug Day!"
as reported in the Care 2 Healthy Living website.
According to the article, reported by Diana Vilbert:

   "Hugging gives us the warm-and-fuzzies."

The article goes on to claim that hugging stimulates the neurotransmitter oxytocin --
which promotes feelings of trust and contentment,
and helps to lower blood pressure and heart rate.

Didn't Jesus say something about a "Comforter"?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


"What matters in life
      is not
          what happens to you...

but what you remember
     and how you remember it."
               --Gabriel Garcia Marquez

                 +  +  +  +  +

"We do not see things as they are;
          We see things as we are."

                              -- TALMUD

                  +  +  +  +  +

"There are no facts, only interpretations."

                                     -- Friedrich Nietzche

                  +  +  +  +  +

"Life isn't about
                           finding yourself --

Life is about
                      creating yourself."

                                   -- George Bernard Shaw

                  +  +  +  +  +

                 is not found...
 It is given."
                         -- copied

Sunday, January 17, 2016


"Look at the stone cutter 
hammering away at his rock,
perhaps a hundred times 
without as much as a crack showing in it.

Yet at the hundred-and-first blow
it will split in two,
and I knew it was not the last blow that did it,
but all that had gone before."
                                                  --Jacob A. Riis

                             + + + + + + +

"Tell me the weight of a snowflake,"
a coal mouse asked a wild dove.
"Nothing more than nothing," was the answer.
"In that case I must tell you a marvelous story,"
the coal mouse said.
"I sat on the branch of a fir, close to its trunk,
when it began to snow...
Since I didn't have anything better to do,
I counted the snowflakes settling on the twigs and needles of my branch.
Their number was exactly 3,741,952.
When the next snowflake dropped onto the branch --
nothing more than nothing, as you say--
the branch broke off..."

The dove, since Noah's time an authority on the matter,
thought about the story for a while and finally said to herself:
"Perhaps there is only one person's voice lacking
for peace to come about in the world."

                                + + + + + + +

                                                       -- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

[Ty: "Lord, I believe; Help my unbelief!"]

Sunday, January 10, 2016


I was born on Friday, January 10, 1947.

On one of my birthdays, I received a card that said:

         'a birthday is

     the start of another
       365-day journey

     around the sun.

       enjoy the ride."

I recently realized that in turning 69,
I will have completed 70 trips around the sun!
(That is a big number!!)

Over these 70 trips, I have accumulated many clippings --
which I consider part of my patchwork quilt spirituality.
As I begin this next trip around the sun,
I want too share some of the better ones in the coming days.
Here are a few for today:

LISTEN to the song that resonates within you,
and discover where the sacred and the everyday intersect.

When there is no wind, row.
                                      --Japanese Proverb

Hope is not pretending
     that troubles don't exist...
             It is the trust
    that they will not last forever,
         that hurts will be healed
and difficulties overcome...
             It is faith
that a source of strength
    and renewal  lies within
to lead us through the dark
           to the sunshine...

[to be continued]

Thursday, December 31, 2015


2015 has been a hard year for me.

After living with my aged mother since 2010, she passed away on July1 at age 94. Her final weeks were under hospice care, and though I served in my last professional position as a spiritual care coordinator for a Virginia hospice, I had never served as a primary caregiver. The experience was quite exhausting, and I am still not ready to write about it. But I will say that, for all my experience with death and dying (as a former pastor and hospital chaplain who conducted my first funeral in 1971,) I have been overwhelmed by the mystery of it all.

And then there is the issue of parenting our son, who continues to struggle with the confusing aspects of his autism spectrum disorder. This process continues to be an emotional rollercoaster with its own kind of fatigue. [Someday I hope to write about our experiences with the "autism spectrum" but I am not yet prepared to do that either.]

Suffice it to say that my understanding of my own faith and spirituality has had its ups and downs.

But enough of my excuses for being so absent from my blog this year.

As I say goodbye to 2015, I want to re-commit myself to the potential of this blog and the potential of "patchwork quilt spirituality!"

Just this New Year's Eve morning, I was checking out Rami Shapiro's column (always fascinating) on the Spirituality and Health website. From there I saw a link to a Q&A interview with Thomas More (from Spiritualty & Health, Jan-Feb 2014)) about his 'new' book: A Religion of One's Own.   I am very eager to read this book, as I was thrilled to read his following quote:

"I think we need a new, deeper and more personally relevant religion that includes a strong spiritual component, one that draws from the traditions but is suited to the individual." 

It is my intent to use this blog in 2016 to provide resources and encouragement to empower individuals to choose what works for them and develop their own unique spirituality--that is, a PATCHWORK QUILT SPIRITUALITY.

Happy New Year to us all!

Sunday, May 31, 2015


Did anyone not notice that David Letterman has quit?

The king of late night's celebration of his retirement seemed to go on for weeks, although the extent of his fame, success and influence probably deserved as much.

However, near the end of  Letterman's final show, I was touched when he recognized his wife and son sitting in the audience. And then, with great affection, he said to them:

   "Thank you for being my family...nothing else really matters."

What does really matter?
It is an existential question that no one can answer for us -- we must answer for our self.

Thursday, May 28, 2015


A retired journalist, A. C. Snow, writes a commentary column which appears every Sunday in The News and Observer. This past Sunday (May 24, 2015) he wrote :

   At the beach on Sunday morning, my wife drove up to the nearby...Methodist Church.
   I remained at the condo to watch the ocean, one of God's greatest sermons delivered during his six-day work week...
   Upon returning from church, my wife said...a member of the congregation said that he had gotten up that morning feeling dispirited and sad. But when he arrived at church, a friend presented him with a pie, and he already felt cheered by the thoughtful gesture.
   I started to ask her what kind of pie but hesitated, anticipating her frequent answer  to such trivia questions, "I don't know. But why does it matter?"

                                             WHY DOES IT MATTER?

I believe that is a question that should be asked regarding many religious arguments.

A good example is the subject of baptism.

Most conservative Baptist congregations practice and require what is known as "believer's baptism" by immersion.;  consequently they do not recognize baptism by sprinkling or pouring, much less infant baptism. This has generated centuries of religious arguments, and is doing so again as a Baptist minister has recently performed an infant baptism in his church.

The tragedy to me is that this is such a controversy.

Raised in a fundamentalist Baptist church, and baptized by immersion in 1961, I long ago came to the conclusion that the mode of baptism does not matter to G-d. [Though it can matter to us in very important ways, I don't believe that it matters to G-d whether or not we are even baptized in the first place.]

When I was a Chaplain resident at Virginia Baptist Hospital, I performed a number of infant baptisms; in most cases, a relative newborn that was not going to live, and in one case, a dead baby.
I never felt I was doing anything that affected G-d's care for that new life, but I felt I was sharing G-d's love for that tragic new life, and helping to provide comfort and support to the parents.

I will never forget getting called into the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit one Saturday afternoon.
With no hope for survival, the parents and staff had decided to remove life support from their newborn premie, but the parents requested  baptism be done first. As I performed the rite, I can still recall the site of tears in the eyes of everyone present, including the staff nurses and attending physician. Afterward, I felt that I had been an instrument of grace in the midst of one of life's most tragic circumstances--which mattered to me, and to all those who were present. But did the fact that this baby was baptized before death  matter to G-d? I can't believe that it did. But it mattered to the parents, and that was enough for me.

How can I support my position?

Jesus said, "Man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath was made for man."
I believe the same is true for baptism.