Friday, December 31, 2010

"Firecracker" By Frazey Ford

My brother Bob introduced me to the music of the Canadian Group, the "Be
Good Tanyas". This cut by Frazey Ford, founder of the group I find
riveting, even more so when performed live. Here she is at Lilith Fair
this last summer.

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

December 30, 2010 - Letting Go of Old Hurts - Reflection from Henri Nouwen

As we head into the New Year, of we are carrying any old hurts forward with our New Year's Resolutions please read and keep this in mind.  I am not sure I can totally do this but I "resolve" to give it a try.  BEN

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Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Letting Go of Old Hurts

One of the hardest things in life is to let go of old hurts. We often say, or at least think: "What you did to me and my family, my ancestors, or my friends I cannot forget or forgive. ... One day you will have to pay for it." Sometimes our memories are decades, even centuries, old and keep asking for revenge.

Holding people's faults against them often creates an impenetrable wall. But listen to Paul: "For anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation: the old order is gone and a new being is there to see. It is all God's work" (2 Corinthians 5:17-18). Indeed, we cannot let go of old hurts, but God can. Paul says: "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not holding anyone's fault against them" (2 Corinthians 5:19). It is God's work, but we are God's ministers, because the God who reconciled the world to God entrusted to us "the message of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians 5:19). This message calls us to let go of old hurts in the Name of God. It is the message our world most needs to hear.

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These reflections are taken from Henri J.M. Nouwen's Bread for the Journey.

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Handling Anger - (Important in the "holiday rush")

Reprint of an earlier blog entry I posted in late 2006.   Today it bear repeating in this time of "rushing about" for the "holidays".  I know I only wrote part of it, the rest is from a source not noted.    Peace, BEN

In an earlier article I wrote about the difference between destructive and constructive anger and how Thich Nhat Hanh writes about taking care of our anger. There are three things you can do to help take care of your anger.


  • Acknowledgment - The first point of change happens with awareness. Often times we either are not aware of our anger because we are suppressing and repressing it or not aware of the warning signs before we just explode. Awareness of the warning signs that anger is present is important to begin to get in touch with. The most practical way to do this is by paying attention to our bodies. Think of a scenario that really makes your blood boil and let it stew in your mind for a bit. Then shift your attention to your body and notice what sensations are there. You may notice warmth, tightness in the chest, tension in certain muscles, teeth clenching, and pressure in the eyes. Get to know these physical feelings as they can be a great guide as to when anger is arising.


Along with knowing the warning signs, it’s important to acknowledge in our own minds when anger is here. We can even say; anger is here right now. This nonjudgmental acknowledgment is critical recognizing that there is discontent in us at the moment and it would be wise to do the next step. 


  • Care of Anger - It is well known that when we are in a state of anger or in a state of repressing our anger, we often times say or do things that we regret later. It’s not that the anger is “bad”, it’s just that often times having a dialogue when really angry isn’t as effective as cooling down and then coming back and expressing what you are feeling. How do we take care of our anger in the moment? With the recognition that the anger is there, you may choose to step away for a bit and notice this discomfort or pain inside. With awareness of it, you may even bring your attention to your breath and say “breathing in, I am aware of this anger, breathing out I calm my body.” You may also choose to take a walk, while attempting to be “tender” and embracing your anger as if it was a little child, a mini-you, who needed love inside. After some time the anger will soften and transform a bit revealing what may be underneath it. This will take some practice.


  • Awareness of others - Often times when we get angry there is someone else involved. Our reaction often is one of retaliation to get back at the other person with little awareness that this actually increases our own suffering as the conflict escalates. We don’t want to hold back or pretend we aren’t angry, but we also don’t want to retaliate as this doesn’t help. In this step, it is important to really try and put yourself in the other person’s shoes to see why they possibly reacted the way they did. This can be very difficult or near impossible if it was a serious offense of abuse. So take this step with caution and at your own pace.  Peace in yourself, can lead to peace in the relationship.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Prayer requests for a Monday

Serious matters for a serious time.  Sorry I've not had time to update these blogs but hope you'll pray or give good thoughts to these:
  • Leisa - Aid worker trapped in Haiti with the recent post-election violence and her two adopted sons that they may make it home safely.
  • Robert - Second Cancer operation in 9 months.  Happening now.  Prognosis unsure.
  • Wendy, Johanne and David - Bad cancer diagnosis.  Safety for Wendy as she drives from Chicago to CT to be with her brother and sister-in-law

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Prayers needed

Just got a text that a friend is in trouble and asked for prayers. I do not know more, except this friend rarely talks religion to me so it must be bad. They are on the road somewhere in the mountains. Please pray or send good thoughts her way.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

November 19, 2010 - Active Waiting My notes on the Daily Reflection by Henri Nouwen

This will be my first weekend as on-call Chaplain at a new hospital.  Much of Tomorrow and tomorrow night will be spent waiting - waiting for the pager to sound. This will mean someone is in deep need.  A patient facing a dark night of the soul before surgery.  Grieving family members who was losing a loved one, or the lonely who can't sleep.

Tomorrow starts my first shift as resident overnight chaplain in two years.  It's a new hospital.  1100 beds compared to the 450 in my previous posting.  And this is the Medical Center where I am employed in my "day job" as an IT person.

Hoping tomorrow's waiting will be full of blessing in some way for both me and for those spending their weekend in the Medical Center.

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Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Active Waiting

Waiting is essential to the spiritual life. But waiting as a disciple of Jesus is not an empty waiting. It is a waiting with a promise in our hearts that makes already present what we are waiting for. We wait during Advent for the birth of Jesus. We wait after Easter for the coming of the Spirit, and after the ascension of Jesus we wait for his coming again in glory. We are always waiting, but it is a waiting in the conviction that we have already seen God's footsteps.

Waiting for God is an active, alert - yes, joyful - waiting. As we wait we remember him for whom we are waiting, and as we remember him we create a community ready to welcome him when he comes. BEN

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These reflections are taken from Henri J.M. Nouwen's Bread for the Journey.

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Memories and passages


This weekend, I had a rare weekend at home.  Saturday morning, I went up to a friend’s house to get the VW Bus looked at but the friend had forgotten I was coming.  So, I drove home, and on the way my VW remembered why it needed to be seen to, and blew a fuel breather hose.  About half of my tank of $3.25/gallon premium gas wound up on the ground by the side of Business 80 before I could plug the leak.  But I did after 5 minutes and drove home.


Rather than being totally skunked about this, I suddenly realized I had a whole day open at home to catch up.  I repaired a few things around the house.  Late in the afternoon, I picked up my new glasses.  The blind could see!  And I could again make out small details.


Sitting at my desk, I looked at the long-ignored pile of computers I had promised to look at for my friends, (most without charge).  I noticed a 300GB external hard drive, that used to be the backup drive for my MAC PowerBook, retired in 2007.  I had photos and documents on there dating back from 2000 or so.  The drive had not worked for years.  I pried the drive mechanism out of its case and placed it on a test rig.  It spun up and I was transported back in time.


I found files from 2003 of a large gathering of friends and family.  Because of the occasion of that gathering, I’d not looked at these for several years.  I was pleased to find the photos taken with my own digital camera by my friend, Leisa, a professional photographer.  I had thought these long lost.  It was a bittersweet experience going through these photos.


There was Fr. Henry, an Episcopal Priest mentor I had know in Boston who had moved to California.  We had gone through cancer treatment at the same time in both Boston, MA and Stanford, CA.  He passed away 1 year later.  There was a blurry photo of my friend Bruce, a retired Sociology professor who passed away unexpectedly 8 weeks ago.  There were some photos of my friend Gary, who had played such a large part in my life and had suddenly passed away in 2003.


Most poignant of all were many photos of my mom and stepdad.  There were excellent shots of mom with my brother, Andy and his son, Dennis, who had flown out with him.  Most amazing of all was a photo of my Mom, my stepdad, my Dad and my stepmom sitting around a table and having a good time.  Mom and Dad had been divorced back when I was in high school and had not really spoken for 30 years or so.  Yet here they were getting along famously. Mom’s health was precarious, and five months later she, too was gone.  This gathering was the last time I spent with her before she returned home to Wales, where she passed.


3 weeks ago my friend Bruce’s widow asked me to come over to see if I could get into Brice’s MAC computer, where he had their address book.  Over the last 10 years or so, I’d often sat in Bruce’s rustic office in a shed attached to his house. This sanctum was stacked with papers, antique hand tools, piles of photos, cook books and other life souvenirs.  Bruce and his wife have two amazing homes, one in Davis, CA and one in Mendocino, CA on an old hippie commune. I’ve been to them both.  Once again I found myself on that rickety old oak chair in front of that 9-year-old iMAC, needing to channel all my IT wizard skills to bring it back to life.  As I finally got the computer to boot up, the icons of Bruce’s work came up on the screen, including the memoirs he was writing when he passed.  I sat in the chair and cried for several minutes.  Bruce’s wife cried too.  Then we went back into the house where I helped her format the invitation for the memorial next month. 


I don’t cry often like that.  Frankly, I didn’t cry anything like that when I heard my mom had passed.  I had simply taken a flashlight and walked around my end of town in the pre-dawn darkness.


This month, I am back into a Clinical Pastoral Education program to become a Hospital Chaplain.  After 2 years of training and clinical internship at another area hospital, .this time I am honored to get into the program at the University Medical Center where I work.  UCDMC’s CPE is a hard program, and it’s tough to get in.  I’m four weeks into the 20 week program.  To be honest, my time at the last hospital as a Chaplain could have ended a bit better.  I had been called to the Trauma unit on a Friday night, away from a dinner party.  I did not know I was on call that night and when I got there, generally made a hash of the visit.  Fortunately a Fire Department Chaplain who was also there saved the situation and the family of the deceased patient was none the wiser.  But I was, and the Charge Nurse definitely saw what happened and wrote me up.


This last summer has been what is called a “Desert Experience” as I went through the Critical Incident process at that hospital while suspended from working as a volunteer chaplain for 6 weeks.  I had to look deeply into what had happened and my motivation for wanting to be involved in hospital ministry.  I eased back into chaplaincy in August, visiting people in nursing care facilities for my church.  And started remembering why I had wanted to do this in the first place.  But a piece was missing.


In the last week or so, I’ve realized what was missing from my previous Chaplain work for these last two years.  It was an emotional empathy - taking the time to feel my own feelings for my patients and friends who had passed away.  This empathy had come back at my friend’s house.  This week at Chaplain’s class a colleague had to minister to a very ill infant.  I again let tears flow as I heard about what had happened, but then felt glad one of us Chaplains could be there to make a difference. 


That evening,  I fired up Piccasa on my larger laptop to catalog the photos I had just found, I teared up once again, while looking at photos of my mom, and of my friends Bruce and Gary.


I’m not completely sure of all the ramifications of this realization.  However, I have to  think it could be the one missing piece of the puzzle, which may make this next 16 weeks of ministry training different and more blessed – for both this Chaplain and for his patients he sees.

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

A thought provoking guy... No limits!

So I was sitting home on a rainy day, thinking life sort of sucks at the moment, work is too hard, etc., then a Chaplain friend sends me this link:  which links to a bunc of youtube videos.

Nick Vujicic  was born without arms and legs, but today is a  preacher and motivational speaker who cna do everything I can do day by day -- and more.

A day changer to be sure.


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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

October 26, 2010 - The Authority of Compassio - ] Reflection from Henri Nouwen

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Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

The Authority of Compassion

The Church often wounds us deeply. People with religious authority often wound us by their words, attitudes, and demands. Precisely because our religion brings us in touch with the questions of life and death, our religious sensibilities can get hurt most easily. Ministers and priests seldom fully realize how a critical remark, a gesture of rejection, or an act of impatience can be remembered for life by those to whom it is directed.

There is such an enormous hunger for meaning in life, for comfort and consolation, for forgiveness and reconciliation, for restoration and healing, that anyone who has any authority in the Church should constantly be reminded that the best word to characterize religious authority is compassion. Let's keep looking at Jesus whose authority was expressed in compassion.

Share your thoughts on this reflection.

These reflections are taken from Henri J.M. Nouwen's Bread for the Journey.

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Purchase Reaching Out at a special price during October.

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Blood Test Bingo - Part 3 Beat the house!

I'm just back from the hospital. All 7 tests were negative!

I do not have either TB or the systemic infection which seemed so evident on Monday.

Thank you all for your prayers and good wishes!

I am blessed by God and by my good friends and family who wrote to me this week.

Onwards to Chaplaincy and CPE at UCDMC.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

Decision - Part 2

I made the decision today. Or should I say "the decision was made for me".

I took one difficult step which dealt with something that had kept me up all night.

Then a number of positive unexpected events unfolded within 90 minutes this morning.

I am now the newest member of the Clinical Pastoral Education Class at UC Davis Medical Center. I spent today in class.

And I still have my job!

God works in wondrous ways..

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

I'm in a bit of a muddle.  In early  July, an educational/vocational opportunity was offered to me. This was an opportunity I had anticipated for at least two years.  However, due to funding issues, it had been repeatedly delayed.  In July, I once again was told this program could be a possibility for this Fall.

I sent back a request to meet and talk about it as it meant major vocational change.  When I heard nothing after over a month, despite a repeated email,  I presumed the funding got cut once more and started making other plans. 

Today I received a phone call that this program was indeed happening and I needed to make a decision by Friday and start next week!  This would result in my having to work 1 day less or 4 10-hour days to keep me at the same salery and to work 1 weekend per month.  It's doable but I'd have to disappoint quite a few people I've made commitments to for the next 6-9 months.  Among them would be my Rector at my church for whom I already work the equivalent of one weekend per month.

A year ago, say even two years ago, I wanted nothing more than this opportunity.  Now that two years have passed, I am not so sure.  A bad experience as a volunteer in this area has only deepened my self-doubt that this might not be my path.

My nephew just wrote a well-thought-out post on his blog about what people wanted when they make their concerns known on line.  He basically says that people want to be listened to, not given options.  Likely this is the case here.  I already know the options -- and the ramifications for each one on my future vocation, and on my current life and work.

So keep me in your prayers and good thoughts that I am led to the right path.  I will greatly appreciate them. 



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Thursday, September 30, 2010

World Cancer Day October 1

As a Survivor, I am passing this on to all of you!  BEN


Friday is world cancer day - I'd appreciate it if you will forward this request

93% won't forward

A small request.. Just one line.

Dear God, I pray for a cure for cancer. Amen

All you are asked to do is keep this circulating, even if it's only to one more person.
In memory of anyone you know who has been struck down by cancer or is still living with it.

A Candle Loses Nothing by Lighting Another Candle..

Please Keep This Candle Going






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Friday, September 17, 2010

To Bless the Space Between Us - John O’Donohue

In dealing with the impending  and a recent passing of those important in my life, I am called again to this lovely Celtic poem, which offered me some comfort on the passing of a close friend in 2003 and my mom in 2004.

Despite the topic it is uplifting.  I actually heard John O’Donohue read this on an APR show called Speaking of Faith two weeks before his own untimely passing.  BEN

Go raibh maith agaibh go léir agus beannacht.


Though we need to weep your loss,
You dwell in that safe place in our hearts,
Where no storm or night or pain can reach you.

Your love was like the dawn
Brightening over our lives
Awakening beneath the dark
A further adventure of colour.

The sound of your voice
Found for us
A new music
That brightened everything.

Whatever you enfolded in your gaze
Quickened in the joy of its being;
You placed smiles like flowers
On the altar of the heart.
Your mind always sparkled
With wonder at things.

Though your days here were brief,
Your spirit was live, awake, complete.

We look towards each other no longer
From the old distance of our names;
Now you dwell inside the rhythm of breath,
As close to us as we are to ourselves.

Though we cannot see you with outward eyes,
We know our soul’s gaze is upon your face,
Smiling back at us from within everything
To which we bring our best refinement.

Let us not look for you only in memory,
Where we would grow lonely without you.
You would want us to find you in presence,
Beside us when beauty brightens,
When kindness glows
And music echoes eternal tones.

When orchids brighten the earth,
Darkest winter has turned to spring;
May this dark grief flower with hope
In every heart that loves you.

May you continue to inspire us:

To enter each day with a generous heart.
To serve the call of courage and love
Until we see your beautiful face again
In that land where there is no more separation,
Where all tears will be wiped from our mind,
And where we will never lose you again.

– John O’Donohue

from “To Bless The Space Between Us”
(entitled “Benedictus” in Europe, Ireland and the UK)

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Owain Glyndwr Day

Owain Glyndwr Day...Never Forget, Never Forgive.....Cofio Glyndwr, Cymru am Byth a Fe Godwn Ni Eto

An Independent Cymru(Wales) Grwp... wishes all its members a day to remember 16th September. & to a Future to look forward too.
Cymru am Byth.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

September 15, 2010 - Keeping It Together - Reflection by Henri Nouwen

This is especially on target today as my job for the second straight day feels like being locked in a puzzle factory.  Fr. Nouwen describes a way to get through.  "God holds us together". BEN

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Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Keeping It Together

How can we not lose our souls when everything and everybody pulls us in the most different directions? How can we "keep it together" when we are constantly torn apart?

Jesus says: "Not a hair of your head will be lost. Your perseverance will win you your lives" (Luke 21:18-19). We can only survive our world when we trust that God knows us more intimately than we know ourselves. We can only keep it together when we believe that God holds us together. We can only win our lives when we remain faithful to the truth that every little part of us, yes, every hair, is completely safe in the divine embrace of our Lord. To say it differently: When we keep living a spiritual life, we have nothing to be afraid of.

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

When worlds collide

I've prided myself on being multifaceted - a deeply spiritual man who also actively participates in and enjoys what the world has to offer. I believe on God in the Christian sense but I believe in tolerance -- inclusion of all in all parts of life.

Two things happened this summer which made me realize that I cannot go on two-tracking my way through life. One I can't talk about here. the other happened last weekend when I blundered into an event named "The Call" in downtown Sacramento.

As a worship leader in my church, I've become quite fond of rock-based praise music played by competent musicians which deep lyrics, not just the word "Jesus" repeated again and again.

Anyhow, I was downtown last Saturday night to see a friend play at a waterfront club. Of course his email to me was vague, and he had been there the previous night. And the guy now playing in the hot steamy bar that evening simply was not to my taste.

Walking the two miles or so back to my car, I hear music coming from the direction of the State Capitol. Good music. I quickly recognized it as "Praise Music". It was well played, and I walked into the free event to check it out. It was obvious that thousands had attended earlier in the day, and hundreds were still there.

Imagine my horror, when after the set a raspy-voiced Pastor-type took the stage and led the group in a "Prayer" that California would not repeal Proposition 8 and fall into the "sin of Homosexuality". I couldn't get out of there fast enough. As I trotted back to my car, I heard a prayer to "forgive those who murder the unborn, that they may not be consigned to hell". While I am unsure what to think about the abortion issue , “consignment to Hell” cannot be part of what I consider an agonizing personal choice.

Between the slice of life I'd experienced the previous weekend, and the complete cognitive dissonance of a message of love and peace interspersed with a massage of hate I realized a collision had taken place -- one that I could not ignore.

I still am a Christian; I am still feeling a deep personal connection to the Christ. I still like praise music. But the group at "The Call" and other Evangelical Christians I've visited in the last two years make me realize that this may not be not my road to walk. I question whether a message of hate and exclusion should be ANY Christian's road to walk.

And the joy and happiness I feel with my friends outside organized religion -- isn't that also fellowship in the truest sense?

I was so pleased the following morning to be part of the Litturgical completely inclusive service at my little church where "all are welcome at Christ's table". And I am so glad to be able to understand, study and quote from Rumi, Buddha, Monastic and many other schools of thought.

I pay a high price for this realization. For the last several years i felt "called to the Ministry" in my church. But many who fostered that Call for me were those who later left our denomination over the inclusion of women and LGBT people in the complete life of the Church. People who were more in line, it turns out, with what I heard on the Capitol Mall that weekend. I cannot walk down that path. Not ever.

I may not ever be more than a Lay Minister in my church. But that is OK if that if what s meant for me to do. However, I firmly believe that hatred and exclusion is not a part of my spirituality. And this is backed up in the teachings of Jesus, the Buddha and many others.

If I have to make a choice, it is a choice that allows me full fellowship with my friends from outside the church and those who worship Jesus inclusively. I love my other friends I still love their music, but as for the notion that LGBT and mothers who have abortions are "Consigned to Hell", I can not go down that road. Not a single step!

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Monday, August 23, 2010

August 23, 2010 - The Quality of Life] Reflections by Henri Nouwen

Since my successful fight against cancer 10 years ago, I've taken this advice very much to heart. 

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Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

The Quality of Life

It is very hard to accept an early death. When friends die who are seventy, eighty, or ninety years old, we may be in deep grief and miss them very much, but we are grateful that they had long lives. But when a teenager, a young adult, or a person at the height of his or her career dies, we feel a protest rising from our hearts: "Why? Why so soon? Why so young? It is unfair."

But far more important than our quantity of years is the quality of our lives. Jesus died young. St. Francis died young. St. Thérèse of Lisieux died young, Martin Luther King, Jr., died young. We do not know how long we will live, but this not knowing calls us to live every day, every week, every year of our lives to its fullest potential.

Share your thoughts on this reflection. These reflections are taken from Henri J.M. Nouwen's Bread for the Journey.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

August 19, 2010 - Meeting God in the Poor - Thoughts from Henri Nouwen

I was the person Fr. Nouwen describes.  It took the complete loss of health, wealth, home and companionship to jump start my spirituality and refocus my perspective.. 

Now, like Job, much has been restored to me.  But now, I never will forget that time of trial-- when I work as a Chaplain, or repair a computer to donate to a needy kid, or work in a large event at Church.

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Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Meeting God in the Poor

When we are not afraid to confess our own poverty, we will be able to be with other people in theirs. The Christ who lives in our own poverty recognises the Christ who lives in other people's. Just as we are inclined to ignore our own poverty, we are inclined to ignore others'. We prefer not to see people who are destitute, we do not like to look at people who are deformed or disabled, we avoid talking about people's pains and sorrows, we stay away from brokenness, helplessness, and neediness.

By this avoidance we might lose touch with the people through whom God is manifested to us. But when we have discovered God in our own poverty, we will lose our fear of the poor and go to them to meet God.

Share your thoughts on this reflection. These reflections are taken from Henri J.M. Nouwen's Bread for the Journey.

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Friday, August 13, 2010

St Mary's Elk Grove CA Giant Rummage Sale - a 20-year tradition!

St. Nary's Episcopal Church Elk Grove is having a massive Rummage Sale today and tomorrow at the church - 9085 Calvine Rd., Sacramento, CA 95829. 

Closing soon for today, open tomorrow at 7:30-8:00 AM! 

Come one come all!  I'll be there!

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Emergency Prayer Request -

I'm hesitant about blasting this out, but I feel it's urgent.

My neighbors close friend Ed went to the ER for what he thought was kidney stones over the weekend. Growths were apparently found on his liver. He is undergoing biopsy tomorrow or Thursday. Unless this is a problem with the scan, he was told "it did not look good". Please pray for Ed and keep him in your thoughts over the next few days. He's a nice guy and was just getting ready to retire. This is wrong.


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Monday, July 26, 2010

Overcoming Our Mood Swings Time;ly advice from Henri Nouwen....

My friends may simply ask me "Ya Think?" knowing me well.  Still how you start your day can determine how it goes.   Lady GaGa or something quiet.  You pick it....

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Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Overcoming Our Mood Swings

Are we condemned to be passive victims of our moods? Must we simply say: "I feel great today" or "I feel awful today," and require others to live with our moods?

Although it is very hard to control our moods, we can gradually overcome them by living a well-disciplined spiritual life. This can prevent us from acting out of our moods. We might not "feel" like getting up in the morning because we "feel" that life is not worth living, that nobody loves us, and that our work is boring. But if we get up anyhow, to spend some time reading the Gospels, praying the Psalms, and thanking God for a new day, our moods may lose their power over us.

Share your thoughts on this reflection. These reflections are taken from Henri J.M. Nouwen's Bread for the Journey.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

[Fwd: July 23, 2010 - What We Feel Is Not Who We Are] Meditation By Henri Nouwen

With this weeks, this seems extremely appropriate!  BEN

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Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

What We Feel Is Not Who We Are

Our emotional lives move up and down constantly. Sometimes we experience great mood swings: from excitement to depression, from joy to sorrow, from inner harmony to inner chaos. A little event, a word from someone, a disappointment in work, many things can trigger such mood swings. Mostly we have little control over these changes. It seems that they happen to us rather than being created by us.

Thus it is important to know that our emotional life is not the same as our spiritual life. Our spiritual life is the life of the Spirit of God within us. As we feel our emotions shift we must connect our spirits with the Spirit of God and remind ourselves that what we feel is not who we are. We are and remain, whatever our moods, God's beloved children.

Share your thoughts on this reflection. These reflections are taken from Henri J.M. Nouwen's Bread for the Journey.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Friday, July 16, 2010

An amazing song - Paula Cole and Peter Gabriel - Don't Give up

Paula's back!  Her amazing voice brings new depth to this song!

Don't give up!  I didn't!

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

How Time Heals A thought from Henri Nouwen

Yesterday I was plunked back into a dark time in my life. I was being interviewed for a research study by Stanford University about the long term effects of surviving a Bone Marrow Transplant, such as I received almost a decade ago.

I had no idea of the old wounds this interview would dredge up, but I also saw how many of these were healed -- not by forgetting them but by working through them truthfully.

All in all it was a good experience and it will help others facing this aggressive cancer treatment protocol.

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Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

How Time Heals

"Time heals," people often say. This is not true when it means that we will eventually forget the wounds inflicted on us and be able to live on as if nothing happened. That is not really healing; it is simply ignoring reality. But when the expression "time heals" means that faithfulness in a difficult relationship can lead us to a deeper understanding of the ways we have hurt each other, then there is much truth in it. "Time heals" implies not passively waiting but actively working with our pain and trusting in the possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Share your thoughts on this reflection. These reflections are taken from Henri J.M. Nouwen's Bread for the Journey.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Words from the heart - Wednesday's Meditation from Henri Nouwen

This morning's email brought an unwelcome but not unexpected surprise.  The message, from one whom I think of as a friend, informed me of an administrative decision at a place where I volunteer.  Not unexpectedly it impacts me negatively.  One good thing about being home ill is that you get to process such emotional brickbats without providing either worry or entertainment to your co-workers.

I talked about it with a close friend and then stretched out on the couch for what turned intro a 3-hour medication fueled nap.  My thoughts were roiling.   I know that there are "steps of grief" etc., but not now!  I hadn't the time. 

Since my return from the Midwest a week ago, I've been processing a number of new ideas which came to me during the times of prayerful silence and joyful time with family.  I had made some initial plans, but this decision (and one other)  impact these plans one way or the other, and I could go no further without therm.

I looked at this morning's  email a second time.  The tone was dismissive, and it seemed somewhat accusatory.  I was so disappointed but I also know I should not take it personally right now.  I had asked for a sign, one was provided.  As the old story goes, I was trapped on the roof in a flood, and God sent me a helicopter.  Should I stay on the roof as the waters rise, waiting for a better "message"?

Imagine my delight when, in going back to my email, I went through the week's Nouwen mailings and found this:

"Words That Come From the Heart

Words that do not become flesh in us remain "just words." They have no power to affect our lives. If someone says, "I love you," without any deep emotion, the words do more harm than good. But if these same words are spoken from the heart, they can create new life.

It is important that we keep in touch with the source of our words. Our great temptation is to become "pleasers," people who say the right words to please others but whose words have no roots in their interior lives. We have to keep making sure our words are rooted in our hearts. The best way to do that is in prayerful silence."

I realized that in my initial responses to this matter, I had simply been saying to this other person what I thought he wanted to hear -- to be a "pleaser".  Most protege's wish to please a mentor.  My attempts to do so in my earlier responses to this matter had only made things worse.

Now I have the time for prayerful silence.  I'm home from work until at least Sunday, and daytime TV is awful.  I guess I FINALLY have the time to pray!

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Memories of a happy time chicago 1988-91

Those who know me know that my time in "Chicagoland" from 1988 to 1991 was one of the more difficult times of my life. My first marriage of 15 years ended while I lived here, and my life took off in an entirely different direction. Not a bad one but surely different. I now live in California.

Still there is much I miss about the area known as Chicagoland. The Great Lakes, the rolling prairies, little towns with "pig roasts" and other uh-interesting cuisine (Prairie Oysters?!!) and most of all the excellent bike paths.

As long as a brother and my dad live in that part of the world, I try to get back there once or twice a year. I start another such trip in a week.

This website shows recent pictures of some of my favorite rides!

Maybe this time I'll try to rent a bike!

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Monks making money: A business beyond prayer -

As I sit here wondering how I am going to move $3.75 around to pay $5 of debts again this month, I do think about things like this. But I wonder -- do they take oblates with cats?

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My cat is plotting to kils me....

Strong PAssword Syntax per NIST

Please follow this example as much as possible to reduce your chances of being hacked.

Strong Password Information
The syntax of a strong password will follow these guidelines:

A strong password must be at least eight (8) characters long and contain at least:
    One upper case letter (A, B, C,..).
    One lower case letter (a, b, c,..).
    One numeric digit (0 through 9).
    One special character (!, @, #, $, %, etc.)

A strong password cannot contain:
    More than 3 consecutive characters of the user's ID.
    Any English language word of more than 3 characters. The sequence "bar" in a password would be accepted, but the sequence 'barn' would be rejected.
    Repeating sequences of more than 2 characters. The password 'Tz$3zxczxc8' would be rejected, because although it meets the previous criteria, it contains the 3 letter repeating sequence 'zxczxc'.
    A palindrome. It cannot be the same backwards as it is forwards - like 'T$8zz8$T'


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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hasidic wisdom

On a very disappointing day, i was please to see this sent to me by a friend.  a (non-church-related) i belong has just disappointed me once again.  This helped a bit:

May 12

The community of the living is the carriage of the Lord.

 – Hasidic proverb

Where there is so little love that “the carriage of the Lord,” our essential unity, is torn asunder, we must love more. The less love there is around us, the more we need to love to make up the lack.

A man once came to Rabbi Israel, the Ba’al Shem Tov, and said, “My son is estranged from God; what shall I do?” The rabbi replied simply, “Love him more.”

Love him more. Make his happiness more important than your own. This was my grandmother’s approach to every problem, and I know of no more effective or artistic or satisfying way to realize the unity of life in the world today. It is an approach to life in which everything blossoms, everything comes to fruition. Where there is love, everything follows. To love is to know, is to act; all other paths to Self-realization are united in the way of love.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

The amazing "Shovelman"!

I saw this guy play at the Davis, Ca Whole Earth Festival yesterday. The wind was howling, the rain was dumping and under a patched old tent Isaac the "Shovelman" held forth. See how he got his name! BEN

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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Rest in Peace, Pete Goodman

This morning, I received a call that my friend and union mentor, Pete Goodman had passed away in Los Angles overnight. He was 90.

I last saw Pete in February. He had traveled to a meeting in Davis, and other than using a cane seemed his usual boisterous and knowledgeable self.

Over the last 10 years, Pete's advice and encouragement were invaluable in my work as a leader of a sometimes troubled union Local. His advice to me and to several of the others in leadership were instrumental in our turning things around 4 years ago.

Over the years I got to listen to Pete's stories about his early days in organized labor. His parents were members of the IWW Industrial Workers of the World union also known in the 1920's and 30's as Wobblies.

Pete was one of those started my own union as well as serving on the initial organizing committees of a couple of more. He wads an unabashed socialist, dating form his childhood in a Communist commune in New York State. Yet he understood decisions made by management and the profit motives of large organizations as few did. Over the years, when I was asked to represent union members who had gotten themselves in trouble at work, Pete was the first person I emailed or called.

4 years ago, I asked Pete and Bob Dawson another founder of our union,, also deceased this year, if they would be interviewed as part of a living history. In 2008, both were interviewed by the Labor Institute in Berkeley. I hope we can see a compendium of their thoughts.

Rest in peace, Pete. You've worked long and hard. In my mind's eye, I see you figuring out how to "straighten out" the angels in heaven!

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Friday, April 30, 2010

Speaking to Atheism

As a Christian believer, I've recently been troubled by my Progressive friends who are now avowing themselves as "atheists" - no belief in God. Some of these people are well-regarded academics - with international reputations. "Father Jake" an Episcopal blogger has been wrestling with this question as well. He has much more Theological "horsepower" than I. Reading today's journal entriy I found it quite helpful:

Red here:

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Oh! to live in Arizona!!!!!

Technical support Grumbles

Buy a GREAT BIG 4 TB external hard drive unit for work. the Biostats unit has a massive dataset to work work.   The reseller says that:
  • Works with Windows XP - no problem
  • Can be set up as 4 -1TB drives.
$1000 unit arrives.  Does not work on my Windows XP.  I contact LaCie.  find out to my chagrin  that:
  • No way this works with Windows XP except the rarely used 64-bit version.
  • Even if I set it up on a Windows 7 64-bit machine, with 1 TB partitions, it STILL won't work on XP!
Before spending the remnant of this wasted day on the phone with Bangalore working out a return, I am frantically setting up a PC as Windows 7 X64.

Wish me luck!

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[Fwd: April 27, 2010 - Writing to Save the Day - Henri Nouwen (or Why I blog!)

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Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

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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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Prayer request follow-up

A week ago I asked for prayers for an infant named Jude who was in the ICU for breathing problems. I am happy to report that he continues to improve and as of this morning was in a regular hospital room and hopefully home soon.

Many thanks for the good thoughts. I know his parents appreciate it.


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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Prayers needed

On this day of Christian Resurrection special prayers are needed for a little boy from our church.

His name is Jude and he is in serious condition in the Pediatric ICU at a Sacramento hospital. He is not able to breathe on his own since early this morning. Please pray for him, please send good thoughts, in short send any type of positive energy towards this boy. He is not even a year old and his parents are good friends of mine. When you read this please take a moment to prayer for Jude. I believe that prayer ad positive energy helps, especially in these cases.



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Friday, April 2, 2010

The Dignity to Give and Receive - Thoughts from Henri Nouwen

This Easter, with much of the world in need, these words are especially pertinent.  Haiti, for example, where Rea DOl, headmaster of the SOPUDEP School in Pétion-Ville, Haiti and since the earthquake, unofficial "Mayor" of the area maintains dignity with the charity needed to keep her area viable.  There is a system of barter and order in place so that what relief comes in is distributed fairly.  In Pétion-Ville, those who receive also give, by supporting the injured and orphans there.

This Easter, whether our jobs are cut by furlough or layoff, or whether we are still lucky enough to be fully employed, let s look for ways to receive and to give, to bring peace in our lives and in our world.

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Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

The Dignity to Give and Receive

"Nobody is so poor that he/she has nothing to give, and nobody is so rich that he/she has nothing to receive." These words by Pope John-Paul II, offer a powerful direction for all who want to work for peace. No peace is thinkable as long as the world remains divided into two groups: those who give and those who receive. Real human dignity is found in giving as well as receiving. This is true not only for individuals but for nations, cultures, and religious communities as well.

A true vision of peace sees a continuous mutuality between giving and receiving. Let's never give anything without asking ourselves what we are receiving from those to whom we give, and let's never receive anything without asking what we have to give to those from whom we receive.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

St. Francis Prayer sung by Sarah McLachlan

A truly cool rendition of the St. Francis Prayer sung by Sarah McLachlan

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Monday, March 22, 2010

The Pastor’s Ass

The Pastor’s Ass


The Pastor’s Ass

The Pastor entered his donkey in a race and it won.

The Pastor was so pleased with the donkey that he entered it in the race again and it won again.

The local paper read:


The Bishop was so upset with this kind of publicity that he ordered the Pastor not to enter the donkey in another race.

The next day the local paper headline read:


This was too much for the Bishop so he ordered the Pastor to get rid of the donkey.

The Pastor decided to give it to a Nun in a nearby convent.

The local paper, hearing of the news, posted the following headline the next day:


The Bishop fainted.

He informed the Nun that she would have to get rid of the donkey so she sold it to a farmer for $10.

The next day the paper read:


This was too much for the Bishop so he ordered the Nun to b uy back
the donkey and lead it to the plains where it could run wild.

The next day the headlines read:


The Bishop was buried the next day.

The moral of the story is . . . being concerned about public opinion
can bring you much grief and misery . . even shorten your life.

So be yourself and enjoy life.

Stop worrying about everyone else’s ass and you’ll be a lot happier
and live longer!

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

March 11, 2010 - Listening as Spiritual Hospitality - Henri Nouwen

This is what a Chaplain must do!  BEN

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Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Listening as Spiritual Hospitality

To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements, or declarations. True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept.

Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a chance to respond. Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings. The beauty of listening is that, those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking their words more seriously and discovering their own true selves. Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully, and even to dare to be silent with you.

-- Ben Timmons Organizational and Technology Consulting 3858 65th Street Sacramento, Ca 95820 (916) 599-3838 (Cell and Pager) (916) 457-2295 (Voicemail and Land Line)

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

March 10, 2010 - Our Unique Call from Henri Nouwen

This makes some sense to me.  Helping a small group of people in Haiti or even in Sacramento can help in the long run.  Even these little efforts can be seen as the work of God.

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Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Our Unique Call

So many terrible things happen every day that we start wondering whether the few things we do ourselves make any sense. When people are starving only a few thousand miles away, when wars are raging close to our borders, when countless people in our own cities have no homes to live in, our own activities look futile. Such considerations, however, can paralyse us and depress us.

Here the word call becomes important. We are not called to save the world, solve all problems, and help all people. But we each have our own unique call, in our families, in our work, in our world. We have to keep asking God to help us see clearly what our call is and to give us the strength to live out that call with trust. Then we will discover that our faithfulness to a small task is the most healing response to the illnesses of our time.

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