Monday, June 26, 2006

06/25/06, Sermon

I don’t know, of course, if what I’m going to say is true. And, I suspect it is way too simplistic. I don’t care. Here it comes anyway: We are here to do it the way it ought to be done. The Dali Lama, for instance, is doing it the way it ought to be done. A lot of other people are not. I started a list of all the people who are, and are not, doing it the way it ought to be done, but had to quit. It was too depressing. To think that we are here to do it the way it ought to be done, and then to think of all the people who are doing it the way it ought to be done, is quite disheartening. It will sit you down. With a box or two of wine. Which, I am sure, is not the way it ought to be done. But, I have not yet reached the place of the Dali Lama, and am not sure that I ever will. But, I am sure that is our work, mine and yours, to get up each morning and do it that day the way it ought to be done.

If I am right about this, three things flow from it. There is the idea of the ought to be. Where does that come from? We can imagine a world that is better than the world we live in. We can imagine better ways of doing things than the way things are done. And, we can serve our idea of the good, of the ought to be, at the expense of all that is currently good in the world, or in our own lives. We can sacrifice “this”—the world of our actual, tangible experience—for “that”—our idea of how things could be improved in that world.

Of all the things about us I like, I like this the best, that is, our capacity to give up “this” for “that.” Our capacity to sacrifice “this” world of normal, apparent, reality for “that” world of ideas and visions of how the world ought to be. Now, that’s something. And, we don’t just do it to improve our lot, or the lot of those we love. We do it to improve the lot of perfect strangers. Why should we care? It’s beautiful. Our lives are not investments that we make to serve our own interest, or the interest of those we love. They are gifts to the whole of humanity. We are capable of loving those in whom we have no personal stake whatsoever. We can live in the service of an idea that is greater than, more important to us than, our own personal good.

Jesus can leave his family, and sacrifice his life, doing the work of reforming the society of his day—and all societies of all days to come. The Buddha can leave everything in the effort to put everything on a new track. William Lloyd Garrison can spend his life in the work to free slaves. It happens all the time. People give themselves up to serve an idea of how things ought to be. That’s the first thing.

The second thing is, in the service of our idea of the ought to be, all we have to work with are “Yes” and “No.” We transform the world by saying “Yes” to what must be assisted, and “No” to what must be opposed. In saying that we are here to do it the way it ought to be done, I’m saying that we are here to assist what must be assisted and oppose what must be opposed. The problem, of course, is how to know which is which. Well. Don’t expect me to make it easy for you. That’s the task of life. The work of spiritual maturity, which is the work of discernment, and perception, and wisdom. There are no shortcuts in that work. You have to guess a lot, and see what happens, and, maybe, change your mind.

We don’t know where we are better off. We might think we would be better off with the sweet young thing, or the handsome hunk, in tow. Maybe not. What do we know? We thought we would be better off with the used Toyota Camry, remember? Fooling ourselves is what we do best, remember? Shooting ourselves in the foot is what we do best, remember? Illusion is everywhere, remember?

We suffer under the illusion of the ideal life. We think if we play our cards right, and read the signs right, and, perhaps, pray diligently for guidance, we can have it. The Ideal Life. I’m here to tell you it does not exist. I’m here to tell you, no matter what the scene is, you’re going to get some pictures and miss others. There is going to be something to be dissatisfied about. Something to not like. About Nirvana. You have to trust me in this, and stop thinking you are one right move away from Ideal. Ideal exists only in the land of your happy fantasies. When you get there, you’re still going to have to make the best of it. And, you’re still not going to know what to do to take full advantage of it. You’re still going to have to take your chances. It’s going to be a lot like right now. Or, to come at it another way, the life you are living is ideal from somebody’s point of view.

So, how do you know what to do? Some things are obvious. Some things are not. With some things there is no knowing. With some things there is only doing or not doing—there is only “Yes” or “No”—and seeing what happens, and correcting what can be corrected, and redeeming what can be redeemed, and bearing the pain of what cannot be undone, or celebrating your good fortune and great wisdom in making the right call. Maybe it works out, and maybe it doesn’t. But, how long can you sit there, afraid to move? This is the third thing. We have to decide. “Yes”? Or, “No”? What’s it going to be? Nothing changes until we move.

For too long, the church has just sat there, afraid to move. Reviewing the doctrines. Re-believing the beliefs. Afraid to move. We’re just going to have to take a chance. We have to question the legitimacy of the way things are if things are ever going to be other than they are. And, we will pay a price for doing that. The status quo does not cotton to being questioned. But, we cannot just take our place in the spot provided for us and live out our lives. That is not doing it the way it ought to be done. Yet, that’s doing it exactly the way those in charge of (and benefit from) the way things are think it ought to be done. So, who says what ought to be?

We can imagine a world that is better than the world we live in. In light of which world are we going to live? We have to ask the question. What is good? Who says so? How do we know they know what they are talking about? What can we think of that might be better?

We have to make a conscious decision to live toward one thing and away from another. In light of which world are we going to live? Will we take our place and serve the status quo, or will we question the good that those who benefit from the way things are call good? We need to think about that. And, we need to know that we will not serve the same idea of good.

The best I can imagine might well be the worst you can think of. There we are. What do we do then? Where do we go from there? It all depends, don’t you know? It all depends on the agreements that hold things together. “The end doesn’t justify the means.” How’s that for an agreement? “Don’t kill anybody, ever.” How’s that for an agreement? “Honor the opposition.” How’s that for an agreement? Agreeing upon the agreements that hold things together is essential. Jesus could say, “Love your enemies,” but if your enemies just want you dead, you’re in trouble. It would be very helpful if our enemies would agree to love us back.

Where we go with different ideas of the good depends upon our understanding and embracing the idea that we aren’t here to force our way on the world, or to compel other people to do it the way we think it should be done, or to kill those who don’t do it like we do. I say that with the full knowledge that war is the most powerful force for social and cultural change the world has ever seen. And yet, we still have war. War doesn’t change war. War leaves the basic orientation of civilization untouched. If we are going to change things at the level of the heart, we are going to have to change the way we go about changing things. We’re going to have to believe in the power of an idea to transform civilization from the inside out over time. Magically. Like yeast in the dough. Salt in the soup. Seeds in the earth.

The process of change and transformation is as magical as anything I know of. I have never changed anyone’s mind by being nice and accommodating, and suggesting, here and there, that maybe they could think differently about things. And, I have never changed anyone’s mind by being in their face and calling them stupid and asking how in the world they could tie their shoes and think like they do. I have never changed anyone’s mind, and you probably have not either. Yet, minds are changed all the time. How does it happen? It’s magic.

If we want to change the world, we have to hatch an idea, live in the service of it, and let things take their course. Over time, the revolution! But, we have to live in light of the revolution here and now, every day, for the rest of our lives. That’s the power of the kingdom of God.

Jesus could envision the kingdom of radical equality, and non-violence, and peace that surpasses understanding, and live every day in light of that eventuality as a portent of things to come—setting the stage, laying the groundwork, preparing the way for the revolution, and trusting the power of his idea to change the world over time. That’s the kind of faith that moves mountains. If you are going to believe anything, believe in the power of an idea to change the world over time—and let it change you right now. And live in light of it, so as to prepare the way for the revolution.

Monday, June 19, 2006

06/18/06, Sermon

We have to know what works, and, in order to know that, we have to know what it means to say something works. We have to know in light of what does it work. You can catch trout with dynamite or with a fly rod. Either approach works. What determines which you use?

What is The Good and how does it apply to this situation, here, now? What is being asked of us? In light of what do we respond? We live toward what? Away from what? Guided by what? We have to have some sense of what we are about, of what we are trying to do, of what is important, of what we want to happen, of what we are willing to do to have it happen, and of what the limits and restrictions are under which we operate. We have to know what works, and what the variables are that determine whether something works, or doesn’t work. We know what works in light of what is right, of what is good.

What do we intend? What do we mean to happen? What is our purpose? What do we hope to achieve? What is our orientation? Toward what are we living? Away from what are we living? These are the questions which, when answered, enable us to know whether something works. They also plot our position relative to the Kingdom of God.

The Kingdom of God is an orientation to The Good that runs contrary to the operating principles of the kingdoms and empires of the world. The Kingdom of God is an alternative to civilization as we know it, and represents the end, and beginning, of life. Life in the Kingdom is lived on a different basis, in light of different goals, than life in the world. It represents the radical transformation of the world. It is, simply put, a brand new world.

Nothing is willed into being in the Kingdom. Nothing is forced, pushed, pulled, compelled. In the Kingdom, things happen “in the fullness of time.” Nothing is made to happen before its time. Nothing is delayed past its time. Things happen in their own time. When the time is right, the savior comes, sometimes to us, and sometimes to life within us, and through us, into the world. In the Kingdom, the potter listens to the clay, and a pot is formed.

In the world, we are concerned about how to get to happen what we want to happen. In the Kingdom, we are concerned about listening to the clay. What needs to happen? What is trying to happen? What time is it now? What is coming to life now? What is being born now? How can we assist the coming to be of what needs to be? What is being asked of us? What is truly helpful? How can we help? In the world, we try to get ahead. In the Kingdom, we try to be of help. How to be helpful without being used is one of the problems of the Kingdom. How to see into the heart of things and know what is needed without being deceived and victimized, disillusioned and abused is one of the problems of the Kingdom. How to live in the world in ways that are true to the qualities and values, nature and character of the Kingdom of God is one of the problems of the Kingdom. Right seeing, right hearing, right living, right being—these are the problems of the Kingdom.

We begin to solve the problems of the Kingdom with time and distance. All things become clear with time and distance. We achieve the proper perspective with time and distance. We wait. We watch. We sit. We listen. We step back. We look. We walk around it. We “sleep on it.” We “put it on the back burner.” We “let it marinate.” We breathe. We allow ourselves to not know what to do.

Of course, the world intrudes. The world thrusts itself upon us, demanding action NOW! The world cannot wait. No time, no distance. That is what keeps the world in place, unchanged and unchanging. No time, no distance, and profit at any price. Those are the things that make the world, the world. And, they are the things that are contrary to the experience and expression of the Kingdom of God.

In the world, the profit motive is the primary motive. We don’t do anything unless there is something in it for us. We certainly don’t do anything for very long unless there is something in it for us. In the Kingdom, however, there is the idea of “God’s will.” There is the idea of that which has need of us beyond our need of it. There is the idea that we “find our lives,” that we live best, when we live in the service of that which is beyond us, of that which is greater than we are, of that which is more than we can “ask, or think, or imagine.”

We think doing God’s will is the way of earning the big pay off. We don’t understand that it IS the pay off. We think it is about being rewarded with prosperity and the easy life now, and the splendors of heaven when we die. If we do something good for God, God will do something good for us. If we mind our manners, and our P’s and Q’s (What’s a P and a Q, anyway?), and keep our noses clean, and to the grindstone, and go to church, and talk a lot about family values, and vote the way the Religious Right tells us to vote, then we will live happily ever after and have it ever-so made. We think doing God’s will is all caught up with clean noses and P’s and Q’s and having it ever-so made. We are so convoluted and contorted, I don’t know if we can ever be straightened out.

Joseph Campbell says “We know when we are on the beam and when we are off it.” Think of “doing God’s will” as being “on the beam.” There is nothing beyond “being on the beam,” nothing more than being “on the beam,” nothing greater than being “on the beam,” nothing better than being “on the beam.” “Being on the beam” is IT. When our lives are “on the beam,” we are in synch with ourselves, aligned with that which is deepest, truest, and best about us—and about life, generally—in the center of how things ought to be, and at-one with ourselves and with God. The spiritual quest is for that kind of alignment, synchronization, oneness.

We get there by slowing down, paying attention, being mindful, being aware, being awake, being alert, listening, looking, watching, seeing, hearing, feeling, sensing, intuiting, and knowing on the level of the heart. It’s like this: We know where we belong and where we have no business being. But, it’s also like this: Fooling ourselves is what we do best. And: Shooting ourselves in the foot is what we do best. And, Talking ourselves into—or allowing ourselves to be talked into—what is not in our best interest is what we do best. There you are. That’s what keeps me in business. That’s the spiritual quandary. We know where we belong and we have eyes for where we have no business being.

That’s the story of the Garden of Eden. And the flip side of that same story is the Garden of Gethsemane. Now, one of the bad, really bad, things about the Bible and the way it has been handed to us is that we think the Garden of Eden is about us, and that the Garden of Gethsemane is about Jesus. We sin in the Garden of Eden, and Jesus erases our sin in the Garden of Gethsemane, and on Golgotha (which is the logical extension of Gethsemane). That is so wrong. Eden and Gethsemane are both about us. We are Adam and Eve, and we are Jesus. One minute we are saying “Yes” to the wrong thing, and the next minute, we are saying “No” to it. We are not all bad. John Calvin was wrong about us.

I know that is hard for you to take, but just look at it logically. If Calvin was right, and we are all wrong (Totally Depraved, you know) then, how could he possibly be right? Surely, you see the conundrum. If he’s right about us being all, completely, totally wrong, then he’s wrong. If we are Totally Depraved, not only can we not do what is right, but we cannot even know what is right. Of course, if you buy this, you can never sing Amazing Grace again, at least, not in good conscience, because you most surely are not a “wretch.” We have some wretched tendencies on occasion, but we also do some thoroughly wonderful things that wretches would never consider.

We stand in Eden in one minute, with eyes for what we have no business having. And, we kneel in Gethsemane in the next minute, and sacrifice everything for the sake of the truly good. “We know when we are on the beam, and we know when we are off it.”

Now, there is no permanent fix for our condition. We live between Eden and Gethsemane. Get used to it. We are on the beam one minute, and off the beam the next. That’s the way it is. But, doing God’s will is not a strategy for prosperity now and heaven when we die. That’s a calculated ploy for accruing the advantages. It’s having an eye out for what’s in it for us. It’s the Garden of Eden all over again.

Doing God’s will is listening to the clay and bringing to life what is trying to come to life—assisting with the birth of what is struggling to be born. And, there is no recipe for that. There are no rules to follow for that. We cannot make that happen. We are not in command of the beam. Sometimes we are on it, and sometimes we are off of it, and we aren’t conscious of doing anything different. Sometimes we sit with the clay and listen, and hear, and create with the clay more than we could ever manage on our own. And, sometimes, we sit with the clay and nothing happens. Sometimes, Eden, sometimes, Gethsemane.

But, Gethsemane is the place to be. We are looking for the beam. When we are off, we have to know we are off, and watch, and wait, and look, and listen. We have to keep showing up with the clay, sitting and listening, even if we aren’t hearing anything. Being with the clay, being present, being open, being ready is essential.

God’s will is the beam, the path with our name on it, and it opens before us in the strangest times and places and ways. It comes down to attitude and orientation, to having eyes that see, and ears that hear, and hearts that understand. It comes down to being present with what is present with us. It comes down to listening to the clay, and offering what is needed to the moment of our living. That’s the miracle, the wonder, and the joy. And, we flow into it and out of it all our lives long.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

06/11/06, Sermon

If you think Christianity means anything other than “Justice Now!”, you have to re-read the Bible. Slowly, this time. Paying particular attention to the Sermon on the Mount; and to the inconsistencies, contradictions, and incompatibilities which disappear when understood as evidence of the move away from “Justice Now!” to a more practical approach to life in the world.
For instance, there is the proclamation that Jesus has broken down the dividing walls and made us all one, so that there are no longer slaves and free, male and female, Jews and Gentiles (and, by extension, gay and straight), but “Christ is all, and in all.” That is as bold a declaration of equality as you’ll ever read. But then, the retractions. “Slaves, obey your masters!” “Wives, obey your husbands!” “Submit to the governing authorities!” And, the usual way of living closes off the radical cry for “Justice Now!”, and we begin to think of Christianity as being about “heaven when we die.”

We have been told that Christianity is about “Heaven when you die!” Jesus came, we are told, to save us from our sins, by dying in our behalf, and appeasing an angry, vengeful God, whose righteousness requires justice, which means that we will have to be punished for our evil, disobedient ways, if we don’t confess our sinful nature, “prone to evil and wont to do good,” you know, repent, and believe that Jesus was God who died on the cross and was raised from the dead so that we might be convinced of the whole story, forgiven, and saved from everlasting torment at the hands of Satan and the demons in hell, and be delivered to the heavenly regions and eternal life in glory beyond imagining. The whole thing is about getting us to heaven. There is nothing in any of this about Jesus dying because he dared to break down dividing walls and live out the declaration: “Justice Now!”.

John Dominic Crossan says heaven and the bodily resurrection of the dead were invented 167 years before Jesus was born by Macabean martyrs who were being tortured and massacred by Greeks for being Jews. It was the first religious pogrom in history, or anywhere else, for that matter. People were being killed because of their faith. Up until then, it was thought that bad things happened to people who deserved it and that they were being punished by God for having abandoned their faith. Now, unquestionably good and worthy people were suffering and dying because of their faith. The facts could not be squared with the belief in a good, loving, God of justice. So, a shift in faith happened. Something new came onto the scene. In the 4th Book of Macabees, you have a martyr saying, “God will give me this body back!” God will make this up to us! Because God is just, there will be recompense. There will be compensation. There will be an afterlife and a resurrection of the martyrs, and of course, punishment for all those who caused the righteous misery.

The resurrection of Jesus, who died an undeserving death at the hands of the enemies of the Jews, was hailed by the apostles as the first sign of the general resurrection of the deserving dead. The graves at Jerusalem were emptied, remember, and Jesus was to return “soon” to herald the general resurrection and the full inauguration of the Kingdom of God for both the living and the dead. And, because that was going to happen “soon,” it was incumbent upon believers to begin living now in ways that modeled the justice and love of God—so as to “speed up the time” and be seen as “going to meet” the one who was coming by “preparing the way of the Lord,” and being ready when he arrived. “Justice Now!” was the hallmark of those who believed Jesus had been raised from the dead and was going to return soon to institute the Kingdom of God on the earth in this present world, in this present life.

Because living justly is the hardest thing to do over time, the emphasis shifted from “Justice Now!” to “Heaven When We Die!” as the first generation of believers was replaced by their successors. The impetus for believing shifted from participating now in the divine justice of God in preparation for that which was about to burst forth, to a theology of believing in the ultimate victory of God over the long haul. “God will save us eventually if we believe now,” is quite different from saying, “God is coming tomorrow, so make ready today.” The shift was a practical way of dealing with the unending delay of the return of Jesus. It saved us from the work of maintaining the momentum of justice over time, and allowed us to concentrate on seeking the advantage for ourselves and those we loved, while making gestures of compassion—food baskets at Thanksgiving, for instance—to the poor and underprivileged.

We are not going to take a vow of poverty and follow Mother Theresa into the slums of Calcutta. How just can we be and still enjoy our lives? What are the implications justice has for the way we live our lives? How can we do justice without threatening our life style? How just can we be and still pay the bills? We answer the questions for ourselves. We have to set our own limits, draw our own lines, and decide where we want to begin, and what we want to do, and how to go about doing it. There are no particular procedures or structures for “doing justice.” No established process for achieving “Justice Now.” There is only picking a place to begin working and plugging away.

What will it be? Affordable health care and a livable wage? Gay couples having the same rights and benefits and privileges as straight couples? Child care for the working poor? An end to war? Greening the environment? Issues and needs are everywhere. We only have to decide what we are going to do, and how much we are going to do, and where we are going to draw the line, and take a break and go take photographs, or read a book, or take a stroll through a meadow to the crest of a hill.

The decision between inner and outer, between personal and social, between how much for me and how much for you and how much for everyone else, is the fundamental decision. Where do we draw the line? When do we re-draw it? The question takes us to the essence of what makes us human. It is the spiritual struggle. And, reminds us of the duality at the heart of oneness: Yin/Yang; Darkness/Light; Good/Not-Good, at the core of being. We are not so much one way or the other as we are all ways at once. It takes some getting used to. But, it is not about achieving personal purity so much as it is about integrating the opposites within, and establishing appropriate boundaries, and maintaining appropriate relationships among all of the voices vying for our attention.

To come at it another way: We exercise considerable influence, but very little control. Yet, we should not let that stop us from controlling what can be controlled. We could live a healthier life-style. We could stop smoking; start walking regularly; eat less sugar and less processed flour. We could slow down. I do not know of a spiritual discipline that recommends speeding up, doing more, trying harder, working longer. Spiritual practice has to do with less, not more. It’s about emptying the tea cup, about not-knowing, not-doing.

If we controlled what we can control, we could “do justice” in various times and ways and places. We could be good company. We could become the right kind of people. We could see what is to be seen; hear what is to be heard; and do what needs to be done, or find someone with the skill and expertise to do what needs to be done.

We do not control everything, but there is much that we do control. There is no point in not doing what we can to make life better than it is. Of course, I have a theory as to why we don’t. I call it “The Weight of the Past and Future.” We are always remembering what has happened to us, or “looking down the road” and imagining what will happen to us, and eating another gallon of ice cream. The weight of the past and the future is too much for us to bear without ice cream. Or beer. Or whiskey. Or prescription pain killers. We cannot carry The Weight of the Past and Future. We shrivel, begin to shake, and curl into a fetal position. It’s what we get for looking.

We have no business giving up because of the past or peering into the future, and thinking we know how hopeless, pointless, useless, unpleasant and burdensome it is going to be. Anyone with our past; anyone looking into that future would have to wonder, “Why try?”, and go for the ice cream (etc.). So, don’t look. Do not think beyond what’s for dinner. The long view will give you the grim perturbations. And, you will be no fun to be around. Keep it local, within reach, today. Don’t look beyond today.

That’s what “One day at a time,” means. Control what you can control today. Live healthily today. Be a genuinely decent human being today. Be good company today. Treat yourself to some simple pleasure today. How slowly can you live today—being attentive, mindful, aware; looking, seeing, listening, hearing? Do not wonder what good is it doing, or ask what it is achieving, or what difference it is making. Live today with today only in mind. Do not carry The Weight of the Past and Future, today. And, don’t do it again tomorrow. Do what can be done with today and tomorrow, every day, and let the future unfold as it will.

This is called “doing your work and letting things take their course.” Our work is to control what we do control, to influence for the good what we can influence for the good, and then stand back, and let things take their course. That’s it. That is all that is asked of us. No one can do more. In order to do it, we have to free ourselves of The Weight of the Past and Future, and step into each day with today only in mind—doing justice where we can and being good company as we are able. And doing it again tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


“It” is all there is. Striking the right relationship with “it,” is what it’s all about. “It” varies from person to person, and with individuals, over time. “It” might be NASCAR or bowling for some, and Neapolitan ice cream for others. The trick is to enjoy “it,” embrace “it,” love “it,” spend time with “it,” without losing ourselves in “it,” or being absorbed by “it.” We can eat too much chocolate and play too much golf.

How much is enough? How much is too much? Where do you draw the line? It’s hard to know about some lines until they have been crossed. But, at some point, we have to say, “That’s it for ‘it’ for a while.”

There has to be integration, balance, wholeness. We know what addiction does to us. We cannot live in the extremes, no matter how pleasant it may be to ignore the “Not It,” and devote ourselves exclusively to “It.” Moths seem to love the flame, but it can consume them.

We also have to catch ourselves in the act of thinking that there must be something in “it” beyond “it” for us—that if we love tennis, we should be on the circuit, or if we love to sing, we should be on the charts. We ruin the experience of “it” in thinking there should be some payoff to “it” beyond the joy of “it.” We lose “it” trying to soak “it” for more than the simple pleasure of “it.” If we think being a writer is more important than writing, for instance, we have been “blinded by the lights,” and have lost the point.

So. That’s it. Be alert to “it,” aware of “it,” sensitive to “it.” Spend time with “it.” Do “it.” Love “it.” Delight in “it.” Without becoming obsessive, compulsive, addicted—and, without trying to ride “it” to glory, stardom, wealth, and beyond. If you get that down, you’ll have it made.


After a while, you have enough photos of sunrise at Schwabacher Landing (in the Grand Tetons). At that point, you go somewhere else for sunrise, or you become very particular, waiting, watching for THE sunrise at Schwabacher Landing. You become a connoisseur of sunrises, grizzled, rumpled, leaning toward iconoclasm and curmudgeonhood. You say things like, “Ah, you think this is a good sunrise—you should have seen the one in May of ’86. Now THAT was a sunrise!” But, you keep looking for one to top that one.

You could do it like that, or you could decide that “that one” was good enough, and move on to something else, say, large flowered trillium in the Smokies, or lobster boats in the fog in Maine. At some point, you move on. Or die. When you get THE sunrise at Schwabacher Landing, you move on. Or, you keep going back to confirm the fact that you did, indeed, get THE sunrise, perhaps in May of ’86, and, die. If you understand dying as a form of moving on, at some point you move on.

If that happens before you die, what happens to make it happen? How do you come to the realization that “enough is enough”? When do you know when to say “when”? We don’t know. But, we know. One more sunrise at Schwabacher Landing isn’t going to be much different from any of the other sunrises at Schwabacher Landing—not different enough to make a difference, anyway. We can sleep in, or search out a sunrise somewhere else. We move on.

To what? We’ll see. What we move on to is as difficult to know beforehand as when to move on. We know when we have enough photos of sunrise at Schwabacher Landing. We’ll know where to go next when we know it. In the meantime, we wait, and watch. It’s what we do best, or better be.

The whole enterprise (photography, and life, and spiritual development, and all the other enterprises there are) comes down to waiting and watching. To take a photo, we wait, and watch, even as we walk into, and around in, and through, and back to a scene. In a scene, we wait and watch for something to catch our eye, for the light to be right, for the wind to quit blowing… Always, the waiting, the watching.

There has to be a place where thinking stops, and planning stops, and knowing what to do when, where, and how stops, and you wait, and watch, trusting that you will know “it” when you see “it,” and not worrying about it if you don’t. Where do you stop and the creative process start? You place a glob of clay on the wheel and, what? Command the clay to become a specific pot—the pot you have in mind? Or, listen to the clay to see what kind of pot—or pitcher, or bowl, or whoknowswhat—it wants to be? Who is in charge? If you have to be in charge, you will not be creative.

Flash back to God. Creation. Master and Commander of the Universe. Immutable, Unchangeable, Non-negotiable, Eternal and Irrevocable Plan for the Unfolding of Time from Before Time. Do you see how wrong that is? That is NOT how to do it, even if you are God. Waiting and watching—THAT is how to do it, even if you are God.

What is after Schwabacher Landing? What will the clay become? We wait, and watch. The creative power of God is waiting and watching and acting in “the fullness of time,” when the time is right, to do what needs to be done here and now, then and there, only to wait and watch some more. When you get that down, you’ll have it made.