Note: For quite a long time this was the text on my home page. I wanted to preserve it so I’ve made it its own page.
Welcome. When I started this website in 2009 my goals for it were somewhat obscure. I needed to write more, but in a way that risked having readers. I wanted to explore new modalities for self-expression, communication and publication. A blog seemed a reasonable start.
Over time, a few major themes emerged. All the content on this site returns, in one way or another, to writing and spirituality.
WRITING IS HEALTH
I believe that writing is health. When I first started to write in my early teens I knew – without quite articulating it as such – that the craft was salvational for me. It is a practice, like yoga or meditation, a means of self-expression by which we uproot identity and map out the inner landscape. Yet for all this, writing is also communication. That is, even when undertaken in deepest privacy, it nods in the direction of the larger community. You are never alone when you write.
Writing, then, is about faith, before faith is corrupted by ideology or theology. It is the leap out over the abyss, trusting that some clarity will result, that somebody will hear us and respond. We write in order to be lifted and learn that the writing itself lifts us. When no light illuminates the next step, writing becomes the step. And by it, the next step becomes possible.
LOVE’S PRESENCE IS OUR NATURAL INHERITANCE
I believe in and aspire to what the poet Jack Gilbert once called “a natural, serious joy.”
We are not meant to be unhappy. Life is not a brief flicker of light between two darknesses where we struggle and suffer and sacrifice. Our spiritual search is not supposed to be in vain.
There is another way.
We are perfect children of God – created perfect and unchanging in that perfection. Like rocks and treas and weasels and turkey vultures, there is nothing that we need to do – no mood to change, no dreams to dream, no gurus to bow before. We don’t need bigger houses, sexier bodies, fatter bank accounts. We simply need to be reminded of our identity. Given a shred of willingness, a hint of readiness, God will change our minds about literally everything.
More than that, because we are created like him, we are ourselves creators – endlessly and lovingly creating anew. These are not just words. They can be your experience.
Throughout my life – in Catholic churches, Buddhist zendos, church basements with bad coffee – I have always returned to Jesus. A few years ago, I opened a book called A Course in Miracles and my life has not been the same since. That text and its accompanying workbook has reordered my perception, brought me to conscious contact with Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and connected me to the Now in a real and vital way. My gratitude is immense.
WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH MY LIFE?
That question haunted me for years. It drove me to law school, to politics, to business, to journalism, to poetry and music, to graduate school, to marriage, to teaching. It guided my choice of friends and reading. It regulated – or tried to regulate – my external faith practice.
One day I learned that the question – like all the big questions – who am I? What am going to do with my life? – was at root fear. I was scared. And although my fear assumed the form of a series of questions – what work to do, where to live, how to pray, who to love – it was in reality a single problem. I was separated from God. Each question was the same one wearing a different mask: was I willing to end that separation?
When I answered in the affirmative, the fear went away.
We need to evolve as spiritual beings. Think on this for a moment: Jesus did not leave behind any written texts. His followers didn’t either until almost a century after his death. The “church” in those days was an experience – not a building or an organization or a system. Why? What happened?
There’s an old Zen story. A young monk asks his teacher to show him the moon. His teacher points to the sky where the moon floats, big and white and round beside a slip of cloud.
The student looks at the teacher’s gnarled finger and breathes, “oh, the moon is so beautiful.”
Jesus was the finger. To what did he point?
THE PROMISE OF DISCIPLESHIP
We are called to be disciples of that to which Jesus pointed – which is to say that we are called to be servants of Love. It’s not easy but it is simple. It has to do with letting go, undoing. All we really need is that “little willingness” that Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford discovered when they began channeling and transcribing A Course in Miracles. God will do the rest.
There is no such thing as a spiritual journey. There is no path and you have no function. God is and you need to let go of what obscures that, which is everything – everything – that you presently hold dear and close. This is the major problem with all organized religions and spiritual traditions – the promise there’s a way, a sacrament, a secret handshake. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to deny that, to stand apart from it.
How, then, do we find our way?
Do you know the story about the early disciples? They are working on their boats and fishing nets. Ordinary day, regular stuff. Then Jesus walks by and says “come with me.” He doesn’t tell them what they’re going to do. He doesn’t make any promises – good or bad. And they drop everything and go. Think about that – that faith, that zeal. It’s not just a metaphor. Could you do that? Would you?
Compare the disciples to the man who wants to follow Jesus but has a few things to do first, like bury his parents. Or the merchant who balks at selling everything he owns, giving it all away. No half measures, no compromises! There will always be some task or errand that we think must be taken care of before we follow Jesus. There will always be some external thing – a relationship, a job, an heirloom, a pet – that beckons. Intellectual discord, doubt, conflict – we will always be able to indulge these exercises.
All of them stand between who we are – servants of Love – and the Source of that Love.
CREATIVE FREEDOM IS SPIRITUAL FREEDOM
I hear Jesus most clearly when I write. Robert Bly said the thing about writing is it moves us in the direction of being better parents, siblings, lovers and neighbors. It’s true. Your authentic self – your Divine Identity – is at work in language, ever present behind the veils the world and your ego throw before it. Let it come out. Don’t worry if you’re any good. That’s the wrong question. The only question is are you writing?
I know it takes courage. You aren’t just creating a poem or a short story, a novel or memoir essay. You are creating Love, teasing from your essential identity the narrative strains that connect you to God. And, because they connect you, they will connect others too. If you feel driven to write, then you have to write. Nothing less than the universe depends on it.
The spiritual life and the writing life are not separate. Both engage, both demand the presence of the spirit. Writing well – writing consciously – requires the capacity to be alert and receptive. We have to consider the form that we are choosing. We have to look closely at each word. We have to be willing to make changes, to scrap projects altogether. We have to ask why this narrative voice and not another. Creative freedom is spiritual freedom.
IT’S THE WRITING. IT’S ALWAYS THE WRITING.
Part of my objective is to collect and make available some helpful resources. Part is simply to write. I practice one draft writing here. If you are a writer – even if you are the only one who knows that – and if you love God, however dimly and uncertainly – then you belong here, if only to remind me that I’m not scribbling in vain. There are no accidents in salvation. Talk to me, drop me a line. So long as we think we’re apart, we’re in it together. I’m here.