A Poem

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To My “Spiritual but not Religious” Friends
(while looking at pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope)

Look at these:
Aren’t they amazing?
These are pictures of deep space,
the far reaches of the universe
and what can be seen in every dark corner
is light.

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Towering nebulae,
whirling galaxies,
clusters of stars so dense
they dazzle the eyes.

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There is an ancient text that claims:
“God is light.”

Work with me for a minute:
Imagine that it’s true,
that all the brilliant beauty in those images—
is God.
That He, or She, or It, is a luminous, swirling, benevolent
Presence
That fills the universe,
and touches every dark corner
with light.

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And then imagine that here—
on this tiny blue-green planet—
among humans who have evolved slowly
over millions of years
some humans
have been especially sensitive to that
Presence,
in love with the light,
listening for its low vibrations,
and that they have tried to put into words
what they have heard and seen,
tasted and touched.

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Imagine that other humans—
not so sensitive—
have found meaning in those words,
some sense of connection
to something they cannot name,
so that they have gathered up those words
and written them down
on tablets, scrolls, and in books.

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Suppose that’s what the Bible is,
the Quran, the Bhagavad Gita:
books full of words that bear witness
to some greater presence
by those who have heard the low hum
of the heavens, singing,
by those who have seen the light
and called it by name?

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It doesn’t mean that they got it all right—
this is testimony, not Truth—
but suppose there is a kind of truth there
for those who can hear it
and Good News (if you want to call it that):
The news that we are not alone:
That there is a luminous, swirling, benevolent
Presence
Watching over us,
Nurturing our slow growth
and stuttering evolution
over eons,

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Believing in us
Even when we can’t
Believe in ourselves,
And touching every dark corner
with light.

–Jay Green

Pictures from a Trip

I promised some pictures from my recent trip to Zion National Park.  Here are some of the better ones.

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A mountain called “The Watchman” watches over our campground

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A lovely young couple from British Columbia–Adam and Cesca–enjoy lunch on Observation Point.

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Joe admires the colored rock wall of the canyon in the Narrows

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Inside the Narrows, getting close to “Wall Street”

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Amazing colors, shapes, and textures in the canyon

Let me just add that the trip was everything it promised to be: good for the body, good for the mind, good for the heart, and good for the soul.  Joe and I questioned that occasionally, when we hiked near the edge of a 2,000-foot cliff on Angel’s Landing, when we were sloshing upstream through waist-deep water in the Narrows, when our hearts were pounding with the exertion of a climb to Observation Point, but when we got back to camp each evening, and sat down to some of Chuck’s gourmet cooking, all was well.  And when we sat by the fire later, talking and laughing late into the evening, all was even better.

God is good and his creation is a miracle. Get outside and savor it for yourself sometime.

Soon.

Marching to Zion–Again

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Some of you may remember that I tried to go to Zion National Park last year for a backpacking trip that was complicated by the shutdown of the federal government. Chuck, Joe, and I camped only one night in Zion; the next day we were kicked out.

“Sorry, fellas. The park is closed.”

“Can’t we just do some hiking while we’re here?”

“No. Sorry. The park is closed to any kind of recreational use.”

“But what if we don’t enjoy ourselves?”

It was a good try, but it didn’t work. We found ourselves driving through most of Southern Utah over the next few days, enjoying spectacular beauty and camping in places most people never get to see. We spent one night sitting by a crackling juniper-wood campfire, getting stiff necks from staring up at a sky full of brilliant stars.

But as we left Utah we promised each other that we would return, so, here we are, a little more than a year later, traveling from Virginia, and from Central and South Texas, to reconvene in Zion.

Our plans will have to be altered just a bit to accommodate Chuck’s recent basketball injury–a broken foot suffered in a pickup game with his daughter on the driveway. None of us is getting younger. But he’s offered to stay in camp and cook while Joe and I explore the remote reaches of the Park and that sounds…delicious.

My outgoing email message this week says that I’m on a wilderness retreat and that’s what this feels like in so many ways. I’ve known Chuck and Joe most of my life. I trust them completely. In the wilderness we talk through everything that’s troubling us; we listen to each other and offer whatever advice we can give; ultimately we promise to pray for each other, and that’s about the best anybody can ask for.

Except for this: we also have fun.

We tell stories and laugh out loud and slap each other on the back. For a few days each year the worries of the world fall away and we feel like kids again. It’s a good thing, and I wish everyone could have that experience. They can’t, but for the next few days Chuck and Joe and I are going to try. It won’t be easy, what with that broken foot and all, but if anybody can do it we can.

I’ll let you know how it comes out, and if I can remember to take some pictures, I will. In the meantime, keep the faith and know that somewhere in Utah my soul is singing:

I’m marching to Zion,
Beautiful, beautiful Zion,
I’m marching upward to Zion,
the beautiful city of God.