How Important is the Poem

Simone Weil writes in her spiritual autobiography Waiting for God : I discovered the poem called “love” by George Herbert. I learned it by heart. Often at the culminating point of a violent headache I make myself say it over concentrating all my attention upon it and clinging with all my soul to the tenderness it enshrines. I used to think I was merely reciting it as a beautiful poem, but without my knowing it the recitation had the virtue of a prayer. It was during one of these recitations that, as I told you, Christ himself came down and took possession of me.


George Herbert

Love bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
    Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
    From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
    If I lacked anything.

A guest, I answered, worthy to be here.
    Love said, “You shall be he.”
I the unkind, ungrateful?  Ah, my dear,
    I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
    “Who made the eyes but I?”

Truth Lord, but I have marred them; let my shame
    Go where it doth deserve.
“And know you not,” says Love, “who bore the blame?”
    My dear, then I will serve.
“You must sit down,” says Love, “and taste my meat.”
    So I did sit and eat.

Source: George Herbert and the Seventeenth-Century Religious Poets  (W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1978)

Pentecost and Allergic Reactions

John 3:8

The wind blows where it will and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.


There is a lot of talk in Christianity of the spirit being like the wind. The wind blowing from many directions, claiming to be “Christian” wind, seems to carry a lot of allergens for folks today. And writing explicitly Christian stuff in the public sphere has reminded me of this lately.

My personal audience, for starters. I have a lot of friends on Facebook who are not Christian or religious and might either describe themselves outright as atheists, agnostics or perhaps identify with the rising group of “nones,” those who answer “none” when asked about their religious affiliation on various questionnaires (which does not mean they believe in nothing–often quite the opposite–they just don’t find a form that fits). Despite the fact that my connection to Christianity just might discomfort some, my nice friends seem not to have unfriended me en masse. I’m sure many must just skip over my overly religious or Christian posts, which is fine.

But as I changed my background picture yesterday to an image of the apostles with tongues of flame over their heads, I wondered, what do people think this is about? What do they think I think this is about? And really, it is a very good question to revisit regularly.

It is Pentecost Sunday, and I have already preached this morning to my beloved congregation, my proverbial choir, about the Holy Spirit and the task each individual human being has to engage with spirit and bring the spirit alive on the earth, each in our own way and revelation. I think of this as a universal message; to me, Christianity is not an exclusive club but the antithesis: an impulse set into the world by the one-time incarnation of the divine friend of humanity, the Son of God, who made himself to be the Son of Humanity so that each one of us would have the ability to find God stirring in our own centers, and through this find a way to a new wholeness and revelation for the world. Indeed for all of creation (see Paul’s letter to the Romans 8:18-23)!

We have a big job. Get free. Really free. Like, Nina Simone “I wish I knew how it would feel to be free” kind of free. Only in freedom is love with a big L possible. Only in freedom do we begin to understand the mystery of this incredible palette of human beings spread across the world, every single one of us a unique creation.

This is what Christianity means to me, and it does not exclude any other path, religious or not, that any one individual might choose, unless that path prevents other people from being free.

I too am allergic to religious words that ride the winds, which do not seem to be in harmony with my own constitution, which portray Christianity as anything but revolutionarily inclusive. I decided a long time ago not to waste my energy fighting against those particulates or trying to block out the wind altogether, but rather to find what strengthens my own immune system, the center of my being where I can know the truth for myself, and the center out of which I can meet the dynamic, beautiful, changing world with discernment and love.

Free Booklets from Floris Books!

Who doesn’t love free stuff? Especially when that free stuff is a real treasure? Our press in England has made a bunch of our classic introductory literature accessible online for free in PDF format! Titles include:

The Christian Community: An  Introduction, by Louise Madsen

The Eucharist, by Rudolf Frieling

The Essence of Christianity, by Rudolf Frieling

Priests Today: A New Understanding of the Task, by Ann Christine Klemm

The Gospel Readings in the Cycle of the Year, by Hans-Werner Schroeder 

Rituals Around Death, by John Baum

The Sacrament of Baptism, by Jens-Peter Linde

The Sacrament of Consultation: the Path into Communion, by Tom Ravetz

Here is the link! Enjoy reading!

Free Christian Community PDFs

What the angels will ask

The angels, when I return to their lofty realms, are going to want a full report:
What was it like that Monday morning when you awoke to summer sun and birdsong?
You and the cat in the backyard with the breezes and songs caressing your skin and ears and eyes with delight? As you struggled to learn how to really see the birds, each in their own wondrous design, color and wings, chirps, calls and songs? Lukewarm cup of coffee, apple blossoms, and light? The river hustling along, the leaves breaking through and clothing the earth in green? Tell us everything… Our longing is to know the earth as you have known, complete. Leave nothing out, your life is our dream!