Author Archive

Don Draper, Dante and Me. The Lost Pathway.

Don Draper, Dante and Me. The Lost Pathway.

Crazy enough it was the first episode of Madmen that reminded me of the exquisite first line of Dante’s Inferno, “Midway upon the journey of our life I found myself within a forest dark, for the straightforward pathway had been lost.”

What is the way we humans have lost?

As often happens, other books I’ve been reading added texture to Dante’s thought, each pointing towards intimacy with our creator, God, as that which we’ve lost, the one who must be found.

Try George MacDonald, “it is for lack of thee that I am bad. How close, how infinitely closer yet must I come to thee… ‘How close to Thee!’ No wonder, soul, thou art glad! Oneness with Him is eternal gladness.”

Or A.W. Tozer: “We are called to an everlasting preoccupation with God.” Why did Christ come? In order that he might make worshippers out of rebels. We were created to worship. Worship is the normal employment of moral beings. Worship is a moral imperative. Worship is the missing jewel in modern evangelicalism.”

“Worship means to feel in the heart and to express in some appropriate manner what you feel.” Worship rises or falls with our concept of God.”

Finding our way back to union with God is the joy of every thoughtful creative, for whom God is of central importance.  We seek the transcendent God who is seeking us. Jesus, fully God and fully man, gives us a glimpse of what a human life looks like when listening for and doing God’s will in daily life.

How fortunate is the man and woman who can say from personal experience, “heaven came down and glory filled my soul!”


Posted in Staublog in April 23, 2013 by | 3 Comments »

ST Psalm 40:13

Be pleased to save me, LORD; come quickly, LORD, to help me.

Posted in Thoughts in March 11, 2013 by | No Comments »


How do you move from wanting things from God, to wanting God? From wanting what God provides, to realizing, as Saint Teresa of Avila says in her wonderful prayer, God Alone Suffices? Read More:


Posted in Thoughts in February 14, 2013 by | No Comments »

Once it was the blessing, Now it is the Lord.

Once it was the blessing, Now it is the Lord.
We’ve been studying the Book of Acts recently and of course, it gets into issues like speaking in tongues, a gift that is often sought by contemporary Christians, often more than other gifts.
I was so appreciative that I as a child learned an old hymn by A.B. Simpson titled Himself, in which he describes his own journey from wanting the gifts, to simply wanting Jesus.
I’ll post the lyrics here, but I also want to reference something I read in A.W. Tozer today. Tozer was very concerned that people are more interested in what they can GET from God, then interested in God Himself.  (Tozer wrote this in the 1950’s or 1960’s, and what he said then is even more relevant today in our rampant “consumer-driven” Christianity)
Here is what Tozer said, followed by Simpson’s lyrics. Taken together they make wonderful companion pieces.
A. W. Tozer .
So many professing Christians just want to get things from God. Anyone can write a book now that will sell — just give it a title like, Seventeen Ways to Get Things From God! You will have immediate sales. Or, write a book called, Fourteen Ways to Have Peace of Mind – and away they go by the ton.
Many people seem to be interested in knowing God for what they can get out of Him. They do not seem to know that God wants to give Himself. He wants to impart Himself with His gifts. Any gift that he would give us would be incomplete if it were separate from the knowledge of God Himself. . . . I feel that we must repudiate this great, modern wave of seeking God for His benefits.
1 Once it was the blessing,
Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling,
Now it is His Word;
Once His gift I wanted,
Now, the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing,
Now Himself alone.
All in all forever,
Jesus will I sing;
Everything in Jesus,
And Jesus everything.
2 Once ’twas painful trying,
Now ’tis perfect trust;
Once a half salvation,
Now the uttermost;
Once ’twas ceaseless holding,
Now He holds me fast;
Once ’twas constant drifting,
Now my anchor’s cast.
3 Once ’twas busy planning,
Now ’tis trustful prayer;
Once ’twas anxious caring,
Now He has the care;
Once ’twas what I wanted,
Now what Jesus says;
Once ’twas constant asking,
Now ’tis ceaseless praise.
4 Once it was my working,
His it hence shall be;
Once I tried to use Him,
Now He uses me;
Once the power I wanted,
Now the Mighty One;
Once for self I labored,
Now for Him alone.
5 Once I hoped in Jesus,
Now I know He’s mine;
Once my lamps were dying,
Now they brightly shine;
Once for death I waited,
Now His coming hail;
And my hopes are anchored
Safe within the veil.

Posted in Staublog in February 14, 2013 by | 1 Comment »


God help me hear you in the sounds of silence. Let me fling open wide the door of my heart to receive you always, so you might continuously write my life’s thoughtful, rich, useful, loving poem.  Read More

Posted in Thoughts in February 12, 2013 by | No Comments »

Sounds of Silence

Sounds of Silence

Sunday we held our second contemplative service on Orcas Island. We describe it this way. With an emphasis on meditative readings, silence, reflective music and simple prayers, the service is designed to tap into the deep roots of a rich, historic, Christian mystical tradition that is often lost in today’s contemporary worship.

The Apostle Paul said that “we humans are God’s workmanship” and the Greek word for workmanship is actually poeme, from which we get our word poem. I love to think of us as God’s poems and so as part of the service I read Wendell Berry’s classic “How to be a poet.”


(to remind myself)


Make a place to sit down.

Sit down. Be quiet.

You must depend upon

affection, reading, knowledge,

skill—more of each

than you have—inspiration,

work, growing older, patience,

for patience joins time

to eternity. Any readers

who like your poems,

doubt their judgment.


Breathe with unconditional breath

the unconditioned air.

Shun electric wire.

Communicate slowly. Live

a three-dimensioned life;

stay away from screens.

Stay away from anything

that obscures the place it is in.

There are no unsacred places;

there are only sacred places

and desecrated places.


Accept what comes from silence.

Make the best you can of it.

Of the little words that come

out of the silence, like prayers

prayed back to the one who prays,

make a poem that does not disturb

the silence from which it came.]

Berry’s emphasis on silence always haunts me and as we entered a 10- minute stretch for silent prayers I sense God’s spirit speak to me. I was praying my little heart out for all that is on my heart, when I sensed I was being told to “shut up and listen to ME.”

So I stopped telling God what was on my heart and listened.

After long silence I sense another message. “Go to the Ohlman’s tomorrow, be silent and listen for me.”

Jim and Bev Ohlman’s property is 50 acres on the north shore of the island. It is a beautiful, peaceful place and on it there is a cabana overlooking the sea but set by a waterfall cascading towards the beach. There is a big stone fireplace and dry wood just waiting for a match.

I went there for a few hours yesterday and the silence and listening was rich. There is nothing I should share with you of what transpired, but I encountered God’s presence, a reminder of God’s availability.

Today I read my daily readings and two were perfect compliments to what happened with me over the past two days.

First affirming words from that old Christian Mystic A.W. Tozer.

“Retire from the world each day to some private spot, even if it be only the bedroom (for a while I retreated to the furnace room for want of a better place). Stay in the secret place till the surrounding noises begin to fade out of your heart and a sense of God’s presence envelops you. Deliberately tune out the unpleasant sounds and come out of your closet determined not to hear them. Listen for the inward Voice till you learn to recognize it. Stop trying to compete with others. Give yourself to God and then be what and who you are without regard to what others think. Reduce your interests to a few.… Learn to pray inwardly every moment. After a while you can do this even while you work. Practice candor, childlike honesty, humility. Pray for a single eye. Read less, but read more of what is important to your inner life. Never let your mind remain scattered for very long. Call home your roving thoughts. Gaze on Christ with the eyes of your soul. Practice spiritual concentration. (, p. 106)”

Then a haunting thought from Song of Songs (The Message Chapter 2: 2-6) about a lover who doesn’t open the door quickly enough when her lover knocks on the door. (Imagine God is the lover wanting time together and finding us to slow in opening the door).

[I was sound asleep, but in my dreams I was wide awake. Oh, listen! It’s the sound of my lover knocking, calling! “Let me in, dear companion, dearest friend, my dove, consummate lover! I’m soaked with the dampness of the night, drenched with dew, shivering and cold.”

“But I’m in my nightgown – do you expect me to get dressed? I’m bathed and in bed – do you want me to get dirty?”

But my lover wouldn’t take no for an answer, and the longer he knocked, the more excited I became.

I got up to open the door to my lover, sweetly ready to receive him, Desiring and expectant as I turned the door handle.

But when I opened the door he was gone. My loved one had tired of waiting and left. And I died inside – oh, I felt so bad! I ran out looking for him, But he was nowhere to be found. I called into the darkness – but no answer.]

God help me hear you in the sounds of silence. Let me fling open wide the door of my heart to receive you always, so you might continuously write my life’s thoughtful, rich, useful, loving poem. 




Posted in Staublog in February 12, 2013 by | 2 Comments »


“In today’s world,” Benedict said in his announcement, “subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of St. Peter and proclaim the gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.” 021113 a surprise announcement from Pope Benedict XVI.

Posted in Thoughts in February 12, 2013 by | No Comments »

It is the last January 31, 2013 in history and what shall I do with it?

It is the last January 31, 2013 in history and what shall I do with it?

It is the last January 31, 2013 in history and what shall I do with it?

It is only one day, but what if it was the last?

I am uncharacteristically ill, recovering from a fever and lacking in energy. Laid low, I’ve had little to do but think and reflect. When you are without energy (which is truly rare for me, pass the deer antler velvet please Ray), you realize what a wondrous gift energy is, and then you ask, Have I expended mine wisely?

My friend Richard Souther, also ageing as am I, posted this from Abraham Heschel, “When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.”

How much of my life’s energy was expended in endeavors that at the time seemed important, and now in retrospect, weren’t quite so important, even forgettable?

Yet this is not a word against fervor, as a matter of fact retaining a passion for life and God must be fought for in each season of your journey.  It is an ongoing wrestle, and paradoxically the further you go with God the more aware you are of the stakes in truly making God central in your life.

The church’s first martyr Steven was stoned for his vibrant witness. What might he have been like had he lived to be 60? We’ll never know. Might he have grown more timid in the guise of balance and reasonableness? Might he have become weary of well doing? Might he have passed on the torch to youth and eased into retirement? Might he have dared to kick back and eat a peach?

To say you trust God with your life should never be uttered glibly or without careful consideration. Thomas Merton and C.S. Lewis both weighed in on the paradox of making God central in daily life and dear George MacDonald characteristically followed his heart.

 Thomas Merton I only say I trust You. My actions prove that the one I trust is myself—and that I am still afraid of You.  Take my life into Your hands, at last, and do whatever You want with it. I give myself to Your love and mean to keep on giving myself to Your love—rejecting neither the hard things nor the pleasant things You have arranged for me. It is enough for me that You have glory.  Everything You have planned is good. It is all love. The way You have laid open before me is an easy way, compared with the hard way of my own will which leads back to Egypt, and to bricks without straw.

C.S. Lewis from “A Slip of the Tongue” (The Weight of Glory). Proceed with Great Caution. I mean this sort of thing. I say my prayers, I read a book of devotion, I prepare for, or receive, the Sacrament. But while I do these things, there is, so to speak, a voice inside me that urges caution. It tells me to be careful, to keep my head, not to go too far, not to burn my boats. I come into the presence of God with a great fear lest anything should happen to me within that presence which will prove too intolerably inconvenient when I have come out again into my “ordinary” life. I don’t want to be carried away into any resolution which I shall afterwards regret. For I know I shall be feeling quite different after breakfast; I don’t want anything to happen to me at the altar which will run up too big a bill to pay then. It would be very disagreeable, for instance, to take the duty of charity (while I am at the altar) so seriously that after breakfast I had to tear up the really stunning reply I had written to an impudent correspondent yesterday and meant to post today. It would be very tiresome to commit myself to a programme of temperance which would cut off my after-breakfast cigarette (or, at best, make it cruelly alternative to a cigarette later in the morning). Even repentance of past acts will have to be paid for. By repenting, one acknowledges them as sins—therefore not to be repeated. Better leave that issue undecided. The root principle of all these precautions is the same: to guard the things temporal.

George MacDonald. The Diary of an Old Soul. Come to me, Lord: I will not speculate how, Nor think at which door I would have thee appear, Nor put off calling till my floors be swept, But cry, “Come, Lord, come any way, come now.” Doors, windows, I throw wide; my head I bow, And sit like some one who so long has slept That he knows nothing till his life draw near.

 It is the last January 31, 2013 in history and what shall I do with it?

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When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.” Abraham Joshua Heschel

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It’s been said that Hollywood films comfort the afflicted while Sundance films afflict the comfortable. Read More

Posted in Thoughts in January 25, 2013 by | No Comments »