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During childhood we developed an internal Loyal Soldier (largely from our parents’ early warnings) whose mission was to keep us safe. Our Loyal Soldier created and deployed whatever strategies were necessary to assure our social, psychological, and physical survival.

The voices of the Loyal Soldier are pre-rational, immediate, deep, constant, and unconscious, and they feel like absolute right and wrong. They become for us the very voice of God (resulting in our distorted, punitive images of God). These voices determine what we value and what we disvalue. They are usually shame- or guilt-based and very good for social order and control, which are first-half-of-life concerns.

There is a deeper voice of God, which you must learn to hear and obey in the second half of life. It will sound like the voice of risk, of trust, of surrender, of soul, of common sense, of destiny, of love, of an intimate stranger, of your deepest self. You need to discriminate the voices of the Loyal Soldier from the voice of the Holy Spirit. God never leads by guilt or shame! The deeper faith journey begins when you start to listen to and follow God’s inner voice, and not just shame-based early conditioning. God leads by loving the soul at ever-deeper levels, not by shaming at superficial levels.

from The Spirituality of Imperfection

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Here is the poster. While I adore the one with everyone's name, I think that given the social media age, we need to go with the more unified image. Also, names do tend to shift as festival time approaches so this lets me get this out now! Here's what I'd love to have happen. Please share this from your own FB pages. And please send it to friends. What I think we can do: create a "swarm" of gold Asheville Wordfest posters. I had thought of making it happen all at once, but that's a bit too much. But a swarm of goodness can accumulate. Please also tweet the website: if you are tweet-savvy.  Please also post clips from the schedule, so people can see this is a festival of ideas and creative energy and stories and humanity. Thank you so very, very much! Swarm away!

One of the arguments we often use for not writing is this:   “I have nothing original to say.  Whatever I might say, someone else has already said it, and better than I will ever be able to.”  This, however, is not a good argument for not writing.  Each human person is unique and original, and nobody has lived what we have lived.  Furthermore, what we have lived, we have lived not just for ourselves but for others as well.  Writing can be a very creative and invigorating way to make our lives available to ourselves and to others.

We have to trust that our stories deserve to be told.  We may discover that the better we tell our stories the better we will want to live them.
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Note:  A wise professor of mine once said, “Life is too important to begin with analysis; we must start with the stories.”  He is right.

My forthcoming book is a part of my story.

Buy Facing a Lonely West.

CvrLonelyWest_1w web copy

Writing is not just jotting down ideas.  Often we say:  “I don’t know what to write.  I have no thoughts worth writing down.”  But much good writing emerges from the process of writing itself.  As we simply sit down in front of a sheet of paper and start to express in words what is on our minds or in our hearts, new ideas emerge, ideas that can surprise us and lead us to inner places we hardly knew were there.

One of the most satisfying aspects of writing is that it can open in us deep wells of hidden treasures that are beautiful for us as well as for others to see.
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Writing to Save the Day

Writing can be a true spiritual discipline. Writing can help us to concentrate, to get in touch with the deeper stirrings of our hearts, to clarify our minds, to process confusing emotions, to reflect on our experiences, to give artistic expression to what we are living, and to store significant events in our memories. Writing can also be good for others who might read what we write.

Quite often a difficult, painful, or frustrating day can be “redeemed” by writing about it. By writing we can claim what we have lived and thus integrate it more fully into our journeys. Then writing can become lifesaving for us and sometimes for others too.

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When we live our lives as missions, we become aware that there is a home from where we are sent and to where we have to return.  We start thinking about ourselves as people who are in a faraway country to bring a message or work on a project, but only for a certain amount of time.  When the message has been delivered and the project is finished, we want to return home to give an account of our mission and to rest from our labours.

One of the most important spiritual disciplines is to develop the knowledge that the years of our lives are years “on a mission.”

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Rays of Hope: A Prayer By Henri Nouwen

Dear Lord, risen Lord, light of the world, to you be all praise and glory! This day, so full of your presence, your joy, your peace, is indeed your day.

I just returned from a walk through the dark woods. It was cool and windy, but everything spoke of you. Everything: the clouds, the trees, the wet grass, the valley with its distant lights, the sound of the wind. They all spoke of your resurrection; they all made me aware that everything is indeed good. In you all is created good, and by you all creation is renewed and brought to an even greater glory than it possessed at its beginning.

As I walked through the dark woods at the end of this day, full of intimate joy, I heard you call Mary Magdalene by her name and heard how you called from the shore of the lake to your friends to throw out their nets. I also saw you entering the closed room where your disciples were gathered in fear. I saw you appearing on the mountain and at the outskirts of the village. How intimate these events really are. They are like special favors to dear friends. They were not done to impress or overwhelm anyone, but simply to show that your love is stronger than death.

O Lord, I know now that it is in silence, in a quiet moment, in a forgotten corner that you will meet me, call me by name and speak to me a word of peace. It is in my stillest hour that you become the risen Lord to me.

Dear Lord, I am so grateful for all you have given me this past week. Stay with me in the days to come. Bless all who suffer in this world and bring peace to your people, whom you loved so much that you gave your life for them. Amen.

He is not here.

He is risen.

The Way of the Cross by Richard Rohr

Following Jesus is a vocation to share the fate of God for the life of the world. Jesus invited people to “follow” him in bearing the mystery of human death and resurrection.

Those who agree to carry and love what God loves, which is both the good and the bad of human history, and to pay the price for its reconciliation within themselves—these are the followers of Jesus—the leaven, the salt, the remnant, the mustard seed that God can use to transform the world. The cross is the dramatic image of what it takes to be such a usable one for God.

These few are the critical mass that keeps the world from its path toward greed, violence, and self-destruction. God is calling everyone and everything to God’s self (Gen. 8:16-17, Eph. 1:9-10, Col. 1:15-20, Acts 3:21, 1 Tim. 2:4, John 3:17). But God still needs some instruments and images who are willing to be “conformed to the pattern of his death” and transformed into the power of his resurrection (Phil. 3:10). They illuminate the path because they allow themselves to be used.

Jesus crucified and resurrected is the whole pattern revealed, named, effected, and promised for our own lives. The Jesus story is the universe story.The Cosmic Christ is no threat to anything but separateness, illusion, domination, and the imperial ego. In that sense, Jesus, the Christ, is the ultimate threat, but first of all to Christians themselves. Only then will they have any universal and salvific message for the rest of the earth.

from Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Power

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 File:Marco palmezzano, crocifissione degli Uffizi.jpg

Ode To a Passionflower

O, passionflower,
growing in Mary’s Garden—

your lavender flowers prophetic in unction:
your tendrils showing forth Christ’s scourging,

the three top stigma the nails,
the five lower anthers the wounds,

the radial filaments the crown of thorns
placed on the head of one called “King of the Jews.”

O, teach us, teach us, little reminder—
for red stains are His blood, shed,

the style to mock, to offer Him vinegar:
your fragrant spices to anoint,

and like the dogwood,
your taller neighbor

with each flower Calvary’s cross,
your blossoms focus on the sadness:

for, while gladly we walk in the garden,
the joy of heaven is yet a dream.

from Facing a Lonely West (May 2014) – now available in advance order from Main Street Rag

April 2014