Sunday, November 30, 2014

"The film Amazing Grace implies that Newton converted to evangelical Christianity and, as a result, became an abolitionist. This actually is NOT true. While both are true—eventually—the one was not caused by the other. Newton, in fact, was a slaver. His job was to sail slaves to the Americas where they were sold. Newton continued to do this well after his so-called conversion. Newton became an evangelical in 1748. He continued selling slaves until he retired from the sea in 1754 because he wanted to become an Anglican priest. Newton was quite happy to use violence against slaves and used torture to wring confessions from those he thought guilty of planning their own freedom.  A third of a century after his retirement as captain of slave ships Newton came out in support of abolitionism. So, if his conversion to evangelicalism made him an abolitionist, it took almost four decades to do so."

Moorfield Story Blog: Evangelicalism and Slavery: Historic Allies Not Enemies
(via AZSpot)

"God speaks in the great silence of the heart."

-- St. Augustine

Friday, November 28, 2014

"'Now we realize we were so wrongly taught,' said Rob Robertson, a firefighter for more than 30 years who lives in Redmond, Washington. 'It's a horrible, horrible mistake the church has made.'  The tragedy could have easily driven the Robertsons from the church. But instead of breaking with evangelicalism — as many parents in similar circumstances have done — the couple is taking a different approach, and they're inspiring other Christians with gay children to do the same. They are staying in the church and, in protesting what they see as the demonization of their sons and daughters, presenting a new challenge to Christian leaders trying to hold off growing acceptance of same-sex relationships."

Source: AP- Evangelicals with gay children speaking out against how churches treat their sons & daughters

"The grace of salvation, the grace of Christian wholeness that flowers in silence, dispels this illusion of separation.  For when the mind is brought to stillness, and all our strategies of acquisition have dropped, a deeper truth presents itself: we are and have always been one with God and we are all one in God (Jn 17:21)."

-- Martin Laird, Into the Silent Land

Thursday, November 27, 2014

"The soul feels its ardor strengthen and increase and its love become so refined in this ardor that seemingly there flow seas of loving fire within it, reaching to the heights and depths of the earthly and heavenly spheres, imbuing all with love. It seems to it that the entire universe is a sea of love in which it is engulfed, for conscious of the living point or center of love within itself, it is unable to catch sight of the boundaries of this love." -- St. John of the Cross, 16th century Catholic mystic, from The Living Flame of Love

"I saw, also, 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 also I saw the infinite love of God, and I had great openings." - George Fox, 17th century Quaker, from The Journal of George Fox

Today, and everyday, is a day to be thankful.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

"They are the earliest painted portraits that have survived; they were painted whilst the Gospels of the New Testament were being written. Why then do they strike us today as being so immediate? Why does their individuality feel like our own? Why is their look more contemporary than any look to be found in the rest of the two millennia of traditional European art which followed them? The Fayum portraits touch us, as if they had been painted last month. Why? This is the riddle.” -- John Berger, from “The Fayum Portraits”

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"It is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity."

-- Martin Luther King Jr., The Other America, 1968

"And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it." -- Luke 19:41 (KJV)

Monday, November 24, 2014

"God far exceeds all words that we can here express. In silence he is heard, in silence worshipped best." 

-- Angelus Silesius

Sunday, November 23, 2014

“Imagine that the world is a circle, that God is the center, and that the radii are the different ways human beings live. When those who wish to come closer to God walk towards the center of the circle, they come closer to one another at the same time as to God. The closer they come to God, the closer they come to one another. And the closer they come to one another, the closer they come to God.”

-- Dorotheus of Gaza, 6th century monk, (Instructions VI)

Friday, November 21, 2014

"You must descend from your head to your heart.  At present your thoughts of God are in your head.  And God Himself is as it were, outside you, and so your prayer and other spiritual exercises remain exterior.  Whilst you are still in your head, thoughts will not easily be subdued but will always be whirling about, like snow in winter or clouds of mosquitoes in the summer." 

-- St. Theophan

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hundreds of transgender people are murdered each year for being themselves. Countless more suffer harrassment, violence and ostracism.

More info:

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"In Jesus’ parable of The Good Samaritan, we are asked this question: 'Who is my neighbor?' While this parable has challenged many types of prejudices based on race, ethnicity, gender, interfaith, and even sexual orientation, I want us to lift up another community that needs to be seen and understood as neighbor: the transgender community. ... This parable speaks particularly about compassion toward those that the most religiously self-righteous deplore and harm."

-- Rev. David Weekley, A Christian Calling For Transgender Day Of Remembrance

"Evangelicals are interesting in a lot of ways. One of the ways they’re interesting is that they claim such an unparalleled authority for the Bible but tend to be resistant to recognizing the forces that affect how the Bible is read, including personal loyalties and life experiences and emotional commitments, convictions and feelings. On the other side, there’s often a refusal to recognize that we don’t just have scriptural texts, we have traditions of interpreting those texts. We have even the selection of which texts will be important and which texts will drop to the periphery."

-- David Gushee, Nobody Is Innocent: Sexual Ethics, Suffering, and Full Inclusion for LGBT Christians

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"The sleep of the farmer in Jesus’ parable particularly fascinates me.  He has sown the seed for his crop, and he rises daily to tend it. The crop could never come to fruition without him, but his labors do not bring about the essential mystery of life. 'The seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how.'  He cannot cause or control the transformation of seed to stalk to head to full grain. 'The earth produces of itself,' and the progress of the harvest is furthered as much by his sleep as by his rising."

--Steven Bonsey, The Activist as Contemplative: Resting for Social Change

“I slept for many years on a prison floor, and the nights I got a mattress, I was happy. I survived with barely nothing. So I started giving great importance to the small things in life and to the limits of things. If I dedicate myself to having a lot of things, I will have to spend a great part of my life taking care of them. And I won’t have time left to spend it on the things I like – in my case, politics. So living light is no sacrifice for me – it’s an affirmation of freedom, of having the greatest amount of time available for what motivates me. It’s the price of my individual freedom. I’m richer this way.”

--José "Pepe" Mujica, current President of Uruguay

"My mind, through the power of truth, was in a good degree weaned from the desire of outward greatness, and I was learning to be content with real conveniences, that were not costly, so that a way of life free from much entanglement appeared best for me, though the income might be small. I had several offers of business that appeared profitable, but I did not see my way clear to accept of them, believing they would be attended with more outward care and cumber than was required of me to engage in. I saw that an humble man, with the blessing of the Lord, might live on a little, and that, where the heart was set on greatness, success in business did not satisfy the craving; but that commonly, with an increase of wealth, the desire of wealth increased. There was a care on my mind so to pass my time, that nothing might hinder me from the most steady attention to the voice of the true Shepherd."

--John Woolman, 18th century American Quaker

Monday, November 17, 2014

"We are all theologians. By that, I believe we all construct understandings of God. Even if you do not believe there is a God, you are engaging in 'God-thinking.'  Our theology ponders the heavens, but is also touches the earth in serious ways.  Theological constructs rooted in biblical interpretations that condemn homosexuality result in real-life disastrous consequences that I do not believe the loving God I see condones.  Not only is homosexuality not a sin in the eyes of God, those that claim that it is are hurting and literally killing people."

--Crescent Hill Baptist Church

Sunday, November 16, 2014

This is some of the best exposition I've ever come across on the practical application of Trinitarian theology.

Excerpt: "I’ve been a pastor long enough to know that when it comes to the Trinity, our belief that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, most of you think it’s a hustle. You think it’s some philosophical shell game that couldn’t have less to do with your everyday life. But pay attention- That’s not how Paul speaks of the Trinity here. Paul’s not interested in philosophy or abstraction. Paul’s concerned with your mindset. With your attitude. With your love."

Saturday, November 15, 2014

"John [of the Cross] taught that in contemplation God 'fires our souls in the spirit of love' and 'supernaturally instructs us in divine wisdom.'  Contemplation 'is knowledge and love together, that is, loving knowledge.'  Contemplation shares in God's own loving knowledge that purifies and transforms our human knowing and loving so that we know and love as God knows and loves.  We receive contemplation by opening ourselves to it, just as we receive sunlight into a room when we open the shutters on the windows.  The loving knowledge of God communicated to us in contemplation transforms us and unites us with God in love." -- Mary Jo Meadow

Friday, November 14, 2014

I was one of those people, mentioned in the first paragraph of this interview with Danny Cortez, who were in the room in tears when he shared his story at last year's GCN conference. At that time he assumed he would probably lose his church and pastorate, but he and his wife were willing to put everything on the line in order to obey the Holy Spirit's leading.

Pastor Danny Cortez on the aftermath of becoming LGBT affirming and being dismissed by the SBC

Thursday, November 13, 2014

“Organizations conform to historic ideals. A statement has been made. A founder has been elevated. We are the such-and-such church. We are the Wesleyan church. We’re the… and on and on and on. It could be any founder at any period of time in the centuries past. The further we get removed from that founder, the more structured, the more traditionalist we become. To the point we write great volumes of books trying to strain out every nuance of thought that man had during his lifetime. Trying to figure out everything he meant by everything he said. In that process we become rather dead. In those traditions we begin taking on the traditions of men.

Keep in mind that most of the men who founded most of the great churches that are existing today would not be in those same churches today for the very reason they left their churches in their day. If you think Martin Luther would go to a Lutheran church today, you’re out of your gourd (to use a theological term). Because they were men after God, not after traditions. They were men hearing God and moving with God and doing what they could do to actualize God in their lives. And that’s what we need today.”

- John Wimber, 1986
Would John Wimber go to a Vineyard Church?

"We must here make a clear distinction between belief and faith, because, in general practice, belief has come to mean a state of mind which is almost the opposite of faith. Belief, as I use the word here, is the insistence that the truth is what one would 'lief' or wish it to be. The believer will open his mind to the truth on the condition that it fits in with his preconceived ideas and wishes. Faith, on the other hand, is an unreserved opening of the mind to the truth, whatever it may turn out to be. Faith has no preconceptions; it is a plunge into the unknown. Belief clings, but faith lets go. In this sense of the word, faith is the essential virtue of science, and likewise of any religion that is not self-deception."

--Alan Watts

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

"Concepts create idols of God, of whom only wonder can tell us anything."

— Gregory of Nyssa

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Howard Zinn - A Veteran Remembers

A Veteran Remembers
By Howard Zinn

Let's go back to the beginning of Veterans Day. It used to be Armistice Day, because at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, World War I came to an end.

We must not forget that conflict. It revealed the essence of war, of all wars, because however "just" or "humanitarian" may be the claims, at the irreducible core of all war is the slaughter of the innocent, organized by national leaders, accompanied by lies. World War I was its epitome, as generals and politicians sent young men forward from their trenches, bayonets fixed, to gain a few miles, even a few yards, at frightful cost.

In July 1916 the British General Douglas Haig ordered 11 divisions of English soldiers to climb out of their trenches and move toward the German lines. The six German divisions opened up with their machine guns. Of the 110,000 who attacked, more than half were killed or wounded--all those bodies strewn on no man's land, the ghostly territory between the contending trenches. That scenario went on for years. In the first battle of the Marne there were a million casualties, 500,000 on each side.

The soldiers began to rebel, which is always the most heroic thing soldiers can do, for which they should be given medals. In the French Army, out of 112 divisions, 68 would have mutinies. Fifty men would be shot by firing squads.

Three of those executions became the basis for the late filmmaker Stanley Kubrick's antiwar masterpiece, Paths of Glory. In that film a pompous general castigates his soldiers for retreating and talks of "patriotism." Kirk Douglas, the lieutenant colonel who defends his men, enrages the general by quoting the famous lines of Samuel Johnson: "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."

The supposed moral justification of that war (the evil Kaiser, the Belgian babies) disintegrated quickly after it ended with sudden recognition of the 10 million dead in the mud of France and the gassed, shellshocked, and limbless veterans confronting the world.

The ugliness of that war was uncomplicated by the moral righteousness that made later wars, from World War II on, unsullied in our memory, or at least acceptable. Vietnam was the stark exception. But even there our national leaders have worked hard to smother what they call "the Vietnam syndrome." They want us to forget what we learned at the Vietnam War's end: that our leaders cannot be trusted, that modern war is inevitably a war against civilians and particularly children, that only a determined citizenry can stop the government when it embarks on mass murder.

Our decent impulse, to recognize the ordeal of our veterans, has been used to obscure the fact that they died, they were crippled, for no good cause other than the power and profit of a few. Veterans Day, instead of an occasion for denouncing war, has become an occasion for bringing out the flags, the uniforms, the martial music, the patriotic speeches reeking with hypocrisy. Those who name holidays, playing on our genuine feeling for veterans, have turned a day that celebrated the end of a horror into a day to honor militarism.

As a combat veteran myself, of a "good war," against fascism, I do not want the recognition of my service to be used as a glorification of war. At the end of that war, in which 50 million died, the people of the world should have shouted "Enough!" We should have decided that from that moment on, we would renounce war--and there would be no Korean War, Vietnam War, Panama War, Grenada War, Gulf War, Balkan War.

The reason for such a decision is that war in our time--whatever "humanitarian" motives are claimed by our political leaders--is always a war against children: the child amputees created by our bombing of Yugoslavia, the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children dead as a result of our postwar sanctions. Veterans Day should be an occasion for a national vow: No more war victims on the other side; no more war veterans on our side.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

"In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is your haal

What is this haal that you inquire about? It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, 'How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?' When I ask, 'How are you?' that is really what I want to know.

I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list, nor asking how many items are in your inbox. I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Tell me. Tell me your heart is joyous, tell me your heart is aching, tell me your heart is sad, tell me your heart craves a human touch. Examine your own heart, explore your soul, and then tell me something about your heart and your soul.

Tell me you remember you are still a human being, not just a human doing. Tell me you’re more than just a machine, checking off items from your to-do list. Have that conversation, that glance, that touch. Be a healing conversation, one filled with grace and presence.

Put your hand on my arm, look me in the eye, and connect with me for one second. Tell me something about your heart, and awaken my heart. Help me remember that I too am a full and complete human being, a human being who also craves a human touch."

-- Omid Safi, The Disease of Being Busy

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Being Present

I was at home on the couch with a nasty cold/flu bug on Thursday, finding concentration too difficult to do much reading, and decided to watch a documentary film entitled The Artist is Present, about a Yugoslavian performance artist named Marina Abramovic.  Over the past forty years, Abramovic has gone from obscurity to celebrity.  The film centers upon a culminating event in her career: a three month retrospective of her work at New York's Museum of Modern Art.  The film contains some disturbing clips of her past performances--such as one where she and a man sat across from each other and took turns slapping each other in the face--and there is a fair amount of frank, non-sexual nudity.  Abramovic is a fearless and provocative and controversial artist.  I'm not a fan of performance art in the least.  However, despite my distaste for her type of artistic expression and my discomfort throughout the first two-thirds of the film, I found the last third to be utterly transcendent and beautiful and quite moving.  Here is the reason why:

In addition to the retrospective of her past work at the Museum of Modern Art, Abramovic "performed" a new piece entitled The Artist is Present (hence the title of the film) in which she sat in a chair in a large empty room at the museum.  Across from her, a few feet away, was an unoccupied chair.  The two chairs faced each other.  Museum patrons, after touring through the retrospective of her work, were permitted to come and sit across from her and stare silently at her for an extended period of time, while she stared silently back.  Some people sat for minutes, some for hours.  That's it.  It sounds ridiculous, but it was actually astonishing.  She sat still, day after day, all day long, for a total of 736 hours.  Her goal was to create a space in which she and each guest were open and vulnerable and genuine to each other--where each person felt as if the artist had been fully present to them.

When she first proposed the idea to the museum, no one--including her--knew if it would work or if it would be a disaster.  The assumption of all involved was that she would spend most of her time sitting alone and staring at an empty chair, with only the occasional bold soul coming and sitting down.  But almost immediately there were long lines of people at the exhibit waiting to sit across from her, and then lines out the door and down the street.  People were camping out on the sidewalk overnight for an opportunity to be silently present with her.  People traveled long distances.  In the course of three months over 750,000 people waited in line in hopes of sitting across from Marina Abramovic. 

The beautiful cinematography of the documentary film captures the reactions of visitors as they sat across from her.  Quite often they broke into tears, as she patiently held their gaze (a few photos can be seen at the website Marina Abramovic Made Me Cry).  Sometimes she cried also. 

It is easy to mock artistic endeavors of this type.  Was it art?  I don't know, but it did affect people deeply and reveal something powerful:  People crave to be seen, not just acknowledged, but really seen.

A few years ago I learned about a New Age holy man named Braco the Gazer.  I wrote at the time, "People pay $8.00 to stand in a room with a bunch of other people and have Braco stare at them for 10 minutes. He doesn't speak, he only stares. People claim to have been healed, received peace, been comforted, etc. at these 'gazing sessions.' ... It is easy to ridicule the whole thing and write Braco off as a charlatan or worse, but I'm less interested in him and more interested in the people who come to him. What draws them to want to stand in a room with others to look at him and have him look back at them? ... Maybe it isn't about Braco at all, but about the collective yearning in the hearts of the people who come to be gazed upon."
"Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity" wrote Simone Weil.  To receive someone's (even a stranger's, even an odd-ball performance artist's, even a nutty New Age healer's) undivided time and attention is such a precious and life-giving thing.  In our culture of distraction and busyness this gift is more rare and beautiful than ever.  First and foremost, it requires the expenditure of patience.  I am reminded that in the list of traits that characterize love, given in 1 Corinthians 13, Paul begins with "Love is patient..."  Patience signifies love.  Giving our patience, our time, our attention, is kenotic (self-emptying) in that it requires a letting go and giving over of our most precious commodities.

Through contemplative spiritual practices I am learning to sit silently with God: to lovingly gaze upon and be lovingly gazed upon; to engage in what Jesuit theologian Walter Burghardt described as “a long, loving look at the real.”  This has gradually awakened in me a desire to endeavor to be fully present to whomever I am with--as a gift to them, to God and to myself.  This is what I aspire to. 

A synopsis of The Artist Is Present can be viewed here:

Marina Abramovic on The Artist Is Present (2010) from Marina Abramovic Institute on Vimeo.

Friday, November 07, 2014

"I came to believe that silence in the face of majority contempt for a minority is just as immoral as direct perpetration of evil. Too often, people are silent when minorities are being victimized, because majority opinion is powerful. It is hard to cut against the grain of your entire culture, and courage is costly. ... Put simply, it finally became clear to me that I must side with those who were being treated with contempt, just as I hope I would have sided with Jews in the Nazi era and with African Americans during the civil rights years. ... I am pro-LGBT in just the same way I hope I would have been pro-Jew in 1943 and pro-African American in 1963. I stand in solidarity with those treated with contempt and discrimination. And I do so because I promised in 1978 to follow Jesus wherever he leads."

--David Gushee

Thursday, November 06, 2014


Even if I don’t see it again—nor ever feel it
I know it is—and that if once it hailed me
it ever does—
And so it is myself I want to turn in that direction
not as towards a place, but it was a tilting
within myself,
as one turns a mirror to flash the light to where
it isn’t—I was blinded like that—and swam
in what shone at me
only able to endure it by being no one and so
specifically myself I thought I’d die
from being loved like that.

--Marie Howe

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Time after time
I came to your gate with raised hands,
asking for more and yet more.

You gave and gave,
now in slow measure, now in sudden excess.
I took some, and some things I let drop;
some lay heavy on my hands;
some I made into playthings and broke them when tired;
till the wrecks and the hoard of your gifts grew immense,
hiding you,
and the ceaseless expectation wore my heart out.

Take, oh take--has now become my cry.
Shatter all from this beggar's bowl;
put out this lamp of the importunate watcher;
hold my hands, raise me
from the still-gathering heap of your gifts
into the bare infinity of your uncrowded presence.

--Rabindranath Tagore

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

"At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will.  This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God written in us, as our poverty, as our indigence, as our sonship.  It is like a pure diamond blazing with the invisible light of heaven.  It is in everybody, and if we could see it, we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely."

-- Thomas Merton

Monday, November 03, 2014

"Despite the title, he hasn’t actually changed his mind about very much at all. For the most part, his thinking hasn’t changed, but he’s expanded the circle to include millions of Christians he had previously excluded. The radical challenge his book presents to his fellow conservative white evangelicals doesn’t come from his exegetical discussions. The radical challenge this book presents, rather, comes simply from the acknowledgement that LGBT Christians exist and that they have the same dignity as children of God as any other members of the church."

-- from Fred Clark's review of David Gushee’s book, Changing Our Mind

Sunday, November 02, 2014

"Faith, as we see in the Hebrew Scriptures and Jesus’ usage of the same, is much closer to our words 'trust' or 'confidence' than it is about believing doctrines to be true (which demands almost no ego surrender or real change of the small self). We have wasted too many centuries now defending such an intellectual notion of Biblical faith. Real faith people are, quite simply, usable for larger purposes because they live in and listen to a much Larger Self."

- Richard Rohr

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Love was the first motion...

I was sharing with a friend this morning about one of the most (of many) profound experiences I have had during my time in seminary.  It was the day I got to walk around downtown Portland, Oregon with Ken Loyd.  Ken is a hipster in his 60's with punk rock hair, pointy shoes and flames tattooed up his forearms.  He is also extremely humble and down-to-earth.  He spends his time hanging out among folks who live on the streets in downtown Portland.  He has helped plant a few churches which are specifically for homeless people (he hates the term "homeless"--preferring descriptors such as "friends without homes" or "people who live outdoors").  The most recent church plant he has been involved in, as far as I know, is called The Underground Portland--and is designed around providing safe community for young people who live on the streets. 

As I walked around Portland with Ken and he told me about his ministry, I was struck by how many street-people knew him and how utterly non-judgmental he was towards his friends without homes.  He would ask what they need--A little cash? A pair of clean socks? A pack of smokes?--and freely gave in a way that was not in any sense condescending or had strings attached.  The point was to appreciate the person and extend love in a way that preserves their dignity.  Ken confided that, like me, he is an extreme introvert and, even after all these years, has to reassure himself "you can do this" when approaching a stranger.  This surprised me because I detected nothing but ease in the way he interacted with folks--some of whom (as is sometimes the case on the streets) were a bit intimidating.  Ken says that what he has to offer those he engages (besides practicalities) is simply "my commonality with others in my broken humanity."

On the website for The Underground Portland, Ken says of himself and those who minister alongside him, "We are the guests in downtown Portland. We are the students in downtown Portland. We are the children in downtown Portland needing to learn and to be taught. We are the ignorant ones. So we ask, 'Can we be you? Will you teach us?'”

This reminds me a lot of John Woolman, an  18th century American Quaker whose journal is considered a classic of early American literature (I try to read it about once a year).  Woolman lived in what is now New Jersey and was one of the very first anti-slavery activists in America.  He also deeply respected Native Americans (at a time when there was much animosity between European-Americans and Native Americans).  Woolman decided to travel westward into Indian territory because he had "...for many years felt love in my heart towards the natives of this land who dwell far back in the wilderness, whose ancestors were formerly the owners and possessors of the land where we dwell..."  In his journal he writes, "Love was the first motion,  and thence a concern arose to spend some time with the Indians, that I might feel and understand their life and the spirit they live in, if haply I might receive some instruction from them, or they might be in any degree helped forward by my following the leadings of truth among them..."

That humble, teachable spirit that I see in Woolman and Loyd, which perceives the value and dignity of every person, is what I aspire to.  I very often fall far short of it, but I tell myself, "you can do this."

"[W]hen these full-grown, fully vital mystics try to tell us about the life they have achieved, it is always an intensely active life that they describe. They say...that they 'go up and down the ladder of contemplation.' They stretch up towards the Point, the unique Reality to which all the intricate and many-coloured lines of life flow, and in which they are merged; and rush out towards those various lives in a passion of active love and service. This double activity, this swinging between rest and work--this alone, they say, is truly the life of man; because this alone represents on human levels something of that inexhaustibly rich yet simple life, 'ever active yet ever at rest,' which they find in God. ... Therefore contemplation, even at its highest, dearest, and most intimate, is not to be for you an end in itself. It shall only be truly yours when it impels you to action: when the double movement of the Transcendent Love, drawing inwards to unity and fruition, and rushing out again to creative acts, is realised in you. You are to be a living, ardent tool with which the Supreme Artist works: one of the instruments of His self-manifestation, the perpetual process by which His Reality is brought into concrete expression." 

-- Evelyn Underhill, Practical Mysticism