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“Until I discover the God in which I believe, I will never understand another thing about my own life. If my God is harsh judge, I will live in unquenchable guilt. If my God is Holy Nothingness, I will live a life of cosmic loneliness. If my God is taunt and bully, I will live my life impaled on the pin of a grinning giant. If my God is life and hope, I will live my life in fullness overflowing forever.” – Author and Benedictine sister Joan Chittister

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“We are afraid of religion because it interprets rather than just observes. Religion does not confirm that there are hungry people in the world; it interprets the hungry to be our brethren whom we allow to starve.” – Dorothee Sölle, translated by David L. Scheidt, The Inward Road and the Way Back

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Pondering

I like to ponder. That’s how the idea for “Thoughts From the Porch” came about. I have a daily routine in which pondering plays a big role. I have my coffee on the porch most mornings. I even sat out there during the famous Texas ice storm of 2021. It was warmer out there than it was my house with no power. It may be the first time I’ve left my insulated overalls on all day since I moved back to Texas…

I enjoy the quiet time, the birds singing, watching the dawn break over my neighbor’s roof, and pondering.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines ponder as:

                “Transitive verb

                1: to weigh in the mind: APPRAISE

                // pondered their chance of success

                2: to think about: to reflect on

                // pondered the events of the day

                Intransitive verb

                To think or consider especially quietly, soberly, and deeply”

Sometimes I ponder the squirrels running about our front yard, nervously watching for our cat as they hide their nuts for the coming winter. Other times I ponder how much I wish I had my pellet rifle for the one that keeps finding new ways into my attic…

Pondering and meditation are similar, but different – to me at least. Religion and recovery stress the value of meditation, but quite frankly, I suck at it. Meditation seems like too much work. Pondering flows more naturally. One of my favorite verses is found in the Gospel of Luke. He has recounted the birth of Jesus and says in 2:19, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered about them in her heart” (emphasis mine).

I get it. Hold what I treasure close. Pondering is a natural consequence. It just is…

Sometimes I ponder the important things in life – my wife, my family, my faith. Other times it’s often the inane. Both are beautiful. Both are necessary.

I am thankful for my friends who allow me to ponder and write about those things here. I don’t always stop to tell you how much I appreciate you all. It’s not that I have anything terribly important to say. It’s that you allow me to share what is – “quietly, soberly, and deeply” – even when it may only make sense to me. You provide me the space to toss into the world my thoughts and do so without judgement. Sometimes I just need to see things in black and white, but mostly I need to hear myself say them. Thank you for that opportunity.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
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“We can never know the ecstasy of true hope without attending to the tragic realities of the poor and forgotten.”

– Rev. William J. Barber II, The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of a New Justice Movement (2016)

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“Life is a sacred circle. When we gather in a circle, the praying has already begun. When we gather in a circle, we communicate with each other and with Great Mystery, even without a word being spoken.” – Randy Woodley, Becoming Rooted: One Hundred Days of Reconnecting with Sacred Earth (Broadleaf Books: 2022), 63–64. Book available on January 4, 2022. Used with permission.

Once again I let a holiday go by without stopping to honor our Indigenous Peoples. I was delighted to find this meditation from Fr. Rohr and the above quote. I encourage you all to read the full story at https://cac.org/sacred-circles-2021-10-13/.

I couldn’t help but think of one of my favorite Harry Chapin songs “Circle”