Archive | July 2018

Infinite ocean of light and love

“I saw that there was an ocean of darkness and death, but an infinite ocean of light and love, which flowed over the ocean of darkness. In that, I also saw the infinite love of God, and I had great openings.” ~  George Fox (1647)

main ocean

When I was a Unitarian Universalist parishioner and then a pastor,  my churches were closed  for the summer. Now that I am a pastor in an ecumenical church that is open 24 seven, never mind in the summer, it is not quite so easy to slip away for a breath of fresh ocean air. Thankfully I am encouraged to leave the pulpit and the church office for a couple of weeks, a few times a year. And not only am I graced with vacation time, Dorrie and I have generous siblings who invite us to come away for a while and be quiet by the sea. Next year I will be on a much-anticipated sabbatical leave.  I am grateful;  to God, to the church, and to our families for these times and places of sabbath. They restore my soul.

They restore my soul in good times and in hard times too. My soul, like the souls of most people I know, is sorely in need of restoration. As George Fox, the English Quaker from days gone by said, he “saw that there was an ocean of darkness and death.”  Fox lived in a time where Quakers and other people were persecuted mightily for their faith and actions. The ocean of darkness followed some of them across the literal ocean where they arrived in what is now the United States of America. Then and now, so many people try to escape one form of persecution or terror or deprivation or another and run to another place in the world. Sometimes the ocean of darkness and death follows them.

Fox does not leave us there. He lifts our eyes to “an infinite ocean of light and love.” That infinite ocean of light and love is not far away but is flowing right over the ocean of darkness and death. If that is not powerful enough, there is something more. A possibility. A hope. Another way entirely. “In that [ocean of light and love] I also saw the infinite love of God. And I had great openings.”

Today I am praying about the oceans that surround us; the literal oceans, and the deserts too, that people are crossing over to get to a better life. On July 4 of this year I got to witness a large group of those people becoming citizens of these United States. I know that many of them had been seeking safety and this new life for years.  I know that an infinite number have not yet reached that shore and some are being sent back.

I am also thinking about the darkness of the soul that is creeping over many people I love – trying mightily to convince us that this is now the way of the world – this is it – this hatred and incivility – these lies and deceptions – this despair and discouragement.

George Fox had visions; not of grandeur, for the Society of Friends, at least as I understand, is closer to simplicity than grandeur. Fox was steeped in a vision of infinity. The immeasurable and mostly unknowable,  powerful ocean of Divine love and light.

This is what I call upon today – something more. More love. More light. More hope. Openings, not closures. Openings through our suffering and our fears, through the indoctrination of our times, through our human condition, to the infinite.

We must speak our visions and stand by them. Even when our visions get clouded and we wonder if there is any hope at all. We are called to look back. Pay attention to now.  Look to the future. The infinite ocean of light and love has always been here and there is no pushing it back. It calls us home.





glisten squared

I come to the lake

to swim a solitary

day ending prayer.

Met by something bright

heart wrenchingly beautiful –

water glistening.

Stones piled one on one –

children’s cairn – a rock mountain

built new every day.


refusing to box it up



all of the towels

are packed in the boat – ready

to fold back homeward


and yet.. island breeze

sunlight saved up for dark nights

and salt  – all refuse

solar light

to box up the tides

the empty swinging hammocks


clouds reflecting clouds


made do

This morning, in celebration of cooling rain after such a long hot spell, I sit and watch the rain cascade off the roof. I am thankful for clean gutters and torrents of rain, while all the while thinking of grandchildren camping and woodpeckers hiding out and the homeless people I know seeking shelter. There is never a simple moment. And yet…I simply watch and wonder what will come next and marvel about who came before.

The church loaned me a huge desk. Way too big for my church study but just right for the Victorian parsonage, so like the one that I grew up in.


I sit at the desk and pay bills this morning to the tune of the rain on the roof and I remember my Dad sitting at his desk in that old house. His desk lived at the top of the stairs – a study of sorts in the hallway. All the rooms taken up by kids’ beds. Dad made do with the hall and we got to see him sitting there. Doing what needed doing. Meticulous, responsible, timely, paying out more than taking in some times. He must have labored hard on how to keep it all going. The bills. The house. The family. The life.

Years later, he and mom sold that house. How sorry we were to see it go and how even sorrier we were to see the state that it descended to over the next many years. I hope that the family who bought it found there at least some moments of peace and order and love midst the struggle that every person and every family wades through.

In the new house, the little ranch (“Sorry, no room for kids to come back home” they said) Dad found another spot for another desk and once again made it his place. This one sat before a great picture window and if, in his dutiful sorting out of this and that, he took the time to look out, he could see the little paradise that he and Mom made for themselves. Thinking back to that little house I am glad that the two of them got a reprieve of sorts before what came next.

What came next will come next for me too. No need for a desk. A whole other unimaginable view. Gratitude links me to them. Memory. Love. A desk. A rainy day in which there really is nothing that needs doing except for this.


into the night

chair in the dark

All around New England we are shriveling up in a heat wave. Record temperatures day after day and no real rain in sight.  The lovely lake that I frequently sneak off to for a mid afternoon swim is practically hot to the touch for more than a foot or two down from the surface. Not cooling. Not soothing. Sends me running back  home to a cold bath and the pretense of fans blowing heat around the house.

That is until the dusk turns to dark. When I can no longer see the hummingbird feeder that I so happily put on our window in hopes of a hoard of visitors (and they did come for days until now when their sweet water must be as hot as the lake) and the night creeps in, I creep out again with our dog. Walking the streets. Looking for a breeze. Hearing what sounds like cries of distress; the frogs in the pond up the hill. Relentless in the night, they call each other. What are they saying?

Light breaks through windows and out to the street. I hear music, murmuring, babies crying, restless people like me walking about. The sickly sweet smell of the locust vies with the passing skunk. I am in company with creatures that would not be caught dead in the light of day.

Cooler? Not so much.  Yet I cannot spend another moment in the stuffy house. Out we go, dog and I, down the ramp, out to town. While the psalmist claims that waiting for the morning is the preferred spiritual choice, I wait for the night. God, who neither slumbers nor sleeps, is a good companion. Off we go, dog and God and I. Into the night.