Tuesday, May 9, 2017


I saw a recent news segment that focused on how we handle social interactions.

It was noted that usually, conversations with a stranger begin with the question:
          "What do you do for a living?"  (or "How do you make a living?")

Again, the norm seems to focus on jobs or career -- and really tell us little or nothing about who the person really is.  What if the question asked:

          "How are you spending you life?"  (or "What gives meaning to your life?")

It seems to me that what we do to "make a living" and how we decide to "make a life" can involve quite different issues.

The deeper question ultimately becomes "WHO AM I?"

Some years ago, I was in a workshop with the "free-lance" philosopher Sam Keen.
He asked us to partner with someone in the group we did not know and introduce ourselves by making 5 "I AM" statements. After we finished this exchange, he then told us to now describe to our partner how we are not those 5 statements!

In my experience, we all struggle with the question, "WHO AM I?" and probably never reach a final answer. Even the great Apostle Paul could only answer with a paradox:

      I know that in me...dwelleth no good thing;
for to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not. (18)
     For the good that I would, I do not;
but the evil which I would not, that I do. (19)
                                                                               {Book of Romans, chapter 7 KJV}

Clearly, I need more patches on my spirituality quilt.

Saturday, April 8, 2017


     Some where in our early childhood, most of us were asked, "What are you going to be when you grow up?"

     I don't remember my earliest answers, but eventually I decided I wanted to be a medical doctor. That decision carried me through high school and into college until I acknowledged my aversion to chemistry and the physical sciences. Nonetheless, my desire to help people eventually led me to seminary and an early career as a minister. It was back then that I first developed a sermon entitled:


My main thesis was the insight that this question confuses the meaning of WHAT with WHO, and BEING with DOING. I believed then, and still do, that the pivotal question for our life is:


     During my childhood back in the 1950's when Dwight Eisenhower was President, the best answer to the question you could give  was to say that you wanted to be President of the United States. But years later in my  ministry, after the downfall of President Nixon and other revelations about earlier presidents, I  was able to observe that doing the job of president was not the same as being a person of good character and high moral values. So the emphasis of my sermon was to ask:  What kind of a person do you want to be? What are the values that you choose to live by?

     I also pointed out that we never finish growing up!

     Now, at age 70, I realize the truth of that statement more than ever. No matter whether we are still working, unemployed, retired, married or single by choice, divorce or death, LIFE keeps happening and we continue to adjust and change. Some of my friends have sought second careers or retired; lost a spouse through death or divorce; and coping with the "empty nest" and/or "downsizing."

     Throughout all these life change events, as we process these transitions, we discover that we, ourselves, continue to change; and the reality is that we never finish "growing up" --until we die.

     Consequently, I believe that the question "Who do you want to be when you grow up?" remains central to our becoming and growing spirituality. As Sue Monk Kidd has written: " our earlier lives aren't wrong, they are just pre-construction, that's all. Our lives are meant to unfold, to evolve, and that's good...It's a process that doesn't really end."



Friday, November 25, 2016


We spent the month of October finishing our plans and then moving back to Vermont -- and I am still recovering from relocation stress. Not that I am complaining, as we arrived in Bennington to find the fall colors at their peak, and just had our first beautiful snowfall! Vermont is, indeed, awesome!!

Nevertheless, our self-move was exhausting, and I am still in recovery mode. Seeking some inspiration this morning, I was reviewing Rami Shapiro's Q&A column in the current  issue of Spirituality and Health magazine (2016 Nov-Dec) and was taken with his encouragement:

          "Befriend fellow seekers, questioners, and spiritual creatives
who are devoted to truth seeking without falling into the trap of truth owning;

          who play with ritual and are committed to innovation;

          who share the values of justice, compassion, peace, and the honoring of all beings;

          and who actively work for the welfare of person and planet."

I find myself being re-energized as I re-read this.
Thank you Rami!


Sunday, September 4, 2016


"Love" jumped out at me this morning on both TV and in my e-mail:

3 Rules of Spirituality

* Embrace love

* Know that all is love

* Be the love that you are

          -- by Debra Engle
[see Maria's (Shriver) Sunday Paper, 9/4/16]

          ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"You can't write love off or put it on hold.
It stays with you until death.
And I don't know it doesn't continue."

          -- Jerry Lewis
[in an interview by Tracy Smith on CBS' Sunday Morning, 9/4/16]          

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


"No one is right all the time...
and no one is wrong all the time."
                      -- Steve McQueen as Josh Randall in Wanted: Dead or Alive

          ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"God is the experience of looking at a tree and saying  'Ah...!"
                      -- Joseph Campbell

          ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"What is a man if the doesn't have a spirit?
     And what is a man's spirit if it cannot connect with the master of life?
          I won't back down from my faith and from that power that keeps me alive."

                     -- Johnny Cash
[from the documentary Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison: The Making of a Masterpiece, 2008]

          ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"Believe and your belief will actually create the fact."

                     -- William James

          ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"The past is not dead:
                                      it's not even past."

                     -- Wm Faulkner

Saturday, June 11, 2016


I have been collecting quotes for sometime that point to the fact that each of us need to develop our own, one-of-a-kind spirituality. Some of the best follow:

"Asking important questions is far more important than answering them, and of course no one can ask your questions for you, far less answer them."

[from Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi in his book, Jewish With Feeling, (c) 2005]

                                                            ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"Only you can decide for you. That doesn't mean that you don't listen to others input or advice, but it's really up to oneself after all, isn't it?"

[from Lama Surya Das in his book Make Me One with Everything  (c)2015]

                                                           ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"Quakers may have been the most faithful to the wisdom of Jesus. Believing that everyone has the ability to experience the love and leadership of God and that no ecclesiastical authority has to mediate or direct that experience..."

[from Robin R. Myers in Saving Jesus from the Church (c) 2009]

                                                          ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

After reading William James book, The Varieties of Religious Experience, the great basketball coach Phil Jackson realized "that mystical experience didn't have to be a big production...and he experienced a quiet feeling of inner peace...(he) no longer felt compelled to run from my (Pentecostal) past or cling to it out of fear. I could take from it what worked for me and let the rest go. I could also explore other traditions more fully without feeling as if I was committing a major sacrilege against God and family."

[from Phil Jackson in his autobiography, Sacred Hoops. This is one of the best descriptions of how a person develops their own patchworkquilt spirituality.]

                                                          ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"The ultimate authority of my life is not the Bible;
it is not confined between the covers of a book.
It is not something written by men and frozen in time.
It is not from a source outside myself.
My ultimate authority is the divine voice in my own soul.  Period.

[from Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd]

                                                          ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And finally, a description of what it feels like to live with your own version of a patchwork quilt spirituality from How to Pray When You're Pissed at God by Ian Punnett (c) 2013:

"I carry my faith and my desire to understand the mysteries of life with me everywhere I go...
Like anybody, I struggle and succeed in equal spurts.
Mine is a tattered faith...
I wear my faith like an old corduroy jacket that has patches on the elbows and scars all over it from my haphazard mending...
I often use my faith as a blanket when I'm lounging under a tree...
My faith-jacket has coffee stains, is hopelessly wrinkled...
Even so, after all these years it keeps me warm and protected.

                                                           ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And so the process of developing a patchwork quilt spirituality continues...

Friday, June 10, 2016


I need to share some gems from my readings earlier today:


[from a sermon by Nancy Petty at Pullen Memorial Church on May 29, 2016, entitled:
"A Contest of the Gods" (I Kings 18): ]

"Prayer is our most inner and outer longing, desires, hopes and hurts reaching out to that something that is within us and beyond us for understanding and comfort and peace."

{Ty thought: so my patchwork quilt spirituality is a prayer...}


"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves...
Live the questions now."
                                                            -- Rainer Maria Rilke

                                                            MISSING GOD

[from a post by "Melody" of her poem "Missing God"on Tarrin Nicole McDonald's website mysoulcoaching.com:]

                                         I don't remember
                                         Her voice
                                         but sometimes
                                         in the mountains
                                         I think I hear
                                         an echo
                                         of the flute
                                         She played.