A different communion

I was at St. Meinrad Archabbey monastery on Sunday, September 11th, 2016.

I knew that I was not officially allowed to take communion there, because I’m not Catholic.  Jesus made no such rules or limitations, but that does not seem to bother them. Perhaps the monks understand the hurtful nature of this made-up rule.  Or perhaps they think that those of us who are not Catholic are in the dark, and not deserving of this sacrament.

I’d already checked out of my room and was wandering around the grounds by this point.  I wasn’t sure when Mass would end, but I wanted to be in there afterwards to smell the incense.  I walked up to the side door and saw that it was still going on.

There is no way to sneak into that place.  The doors are very creaky and loud.  I couldn’t slip in and stand at the back and just listen.  They were at the main point, where the priest was facing the altar and saying the words that (they think) blesses the bread and wine.

God blesses it, and blesses us.  People don’t do that.  They can’t.

I sat outside, near the Mercy door.  There are windows there.  Perhaps one of the many priests there saw me, outside, sitting, listening to their ritual.

These rules of who is in and who is out are man-made.  They are not from God.

So I left, and found my own communion.  I went to the kitchen and made tea and toast.  The tea was herbal – and to my surprise, red.


The toast was from bread the monks had made there, with their own hands.  I added peanut butter, and honey, and raisins, and cinnamon.


I chose to say the blessings in Hebrew, and enjoy my quiet moment with God.


The outside room

I found this unusual “room” at a nearby hospital. I’ve gone there for years because I have a doctor who has his office there. Once a year I go in, always in November. I’ve come to look forward to going at that time because of the “ghosts of leaves” that decorate the sidewalks. It is the wonderful and amazing combination of falling leaves and autumn rain that makes this temporary magic.





I usually do very little exploring in that building because I have to get back to work quickly. This time I had quite a bit of time to spare so I went to look around. I’m glad I’ve started asking for more time off when I schedule doctor’s visits so I’m not rushed. That certainly helps my overall health.

I looked down from the window in the hallway on the sixth floor where the office is. I saw trees – and not in a place I would expect. They were surrounded by the rest of the building. It was a tiny enclosed courtyard. I had to go find it.

I went downstairs to the entrance lobby and looked around. The courtyard I was looking for was behind a little café that sold coffee and melted sandwiches. There were plenty of windows around it. It was perfectly visible from the entrance that I’d come in for years. Somehow I’d never set my eyes to look that way, or at that distance. Just goes to show there are plenty of treasures that are around if you have your eyes open. I’d only been looking for one thing (my doctor’s office) and missed this. The café looked interesting too. It might be a nice place to come on a non-doctor’s-visit kind of day and enjoy lunch.

I’ve long thought I should go here on my day off and write, or maybe even sketch the people who are waiting for their lab results in the lobby. There are a lot of padded benches here and a lot of light. I’m not sure why I haven’t done this yet. There is free parking and this isn’t far from my home. Perhaps I’m concerned someone will challenge me because I’m not here for an official reason. They might think it is odd that I’m just hanging out. This is another thing I’m working on – trying to not worry so much about breaking rules that aren’t rules. Sometimes I make more limits than I should.

I went towards the door that let out onto the patio. I pulled on the door – it opened. Good. Then my concern was that the door might not allow re-entry. I checked it and it seemed like it would be fine. I then looked to see how far away the café was – it was close enough I could bang on the windows to get their attention.

And then I went out. And I saw this.


A tiny little park enclosed in a building. With benches.


It is open to the sky.


There are birdhouses and birdfeeders here. I saw two bags of birdfeed against a wall. Someone tends this little place.



Is it outside, or inside, or both? Is it a room?

When I came back out I asked at the café if that door was always open. The lady said she thought it was, and commented that almost nobody went out there. She thought they should put a table out there and I discouraged that idea. More clutter. It would make it more artificial out there. It would upset the balance of man-made and natural. I think it is good the way it is. The little lights are a bit disturbing, but they might be really nice at night.

Then I got their hours and took pictures of the menu, as a further enticement to make a date with myself to go out here.


Here are more “ghosts of leaves” from an earlier visit.



Here are some from Thursday, 10-20-16, in Old Hickory.


Letter and envelope

There are those people who are simply the carriers of tradition but yet they don’t hold the heart of it. They are more interested in the rules and the rituals rather than the spirit.

They are the envelope,
but not the letter.
They are the vase,
but not the flower.
There the cup,
but not the wine.

These things need containers to hold them, certainly. How much of the awakening right now is because tradition has kept things going all along, held it in trust for us? It is as if our ancestors have saved up money for us all these thousands of years and now we are finally able to buy what they were saving for. Not only do we finally have enough saved up but finally what we need to buy is available. This is a time of ripening, of fruition, of opening.

The tradition bearers are confused when the younger generation has started to fill the tradition with heart and meaning. They think the tradition is more important – that it must be kept. They are afraid something will be lost in translation and that the unbroken (they think) chain of transmission will fall apart and the efforts of many generations will be in vain.

It is as if a family kept a house up for many years, cleaning it, repairing it, painting it exactly the same way it had been painted thousands of years ago. They have used the same materials that their ancestors used. But nobody lived there. It was a house, but not a home. Then a new generation comes in and says now is the time for people to live here, and the old generation balks. They are afraid the tenants will damage the house – not understanding the house was maintained for this very purpose.

The same thing is happening with faith traditions right now.

Handwashing. (The tradition of the elders)

Some Pharisees and other Jewish leaders traveled from Jerusalem to question Jesus. They asked “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders? They don’t practice the ritual of ceremonially washing their hands before they eat.”

Jesus asked them “Why do you follow your tradition and break God’s commandments? You have made God’s commandments invalid so that you could preserve your tradition. For example, Moses said “Honor your father and mother,” and “Whoever speaks against his parents must be put to death”. But instead you say that people should give their gifts to the Temple instead of helping out their needy parents. You make it impossible for people to do anything for their parents. You have done away with God’s word by your man-made traditions. And you do many other things like this.”

“The prophet Isaiah spoke correctly about you hypocrites when he said ‘These people draw near to Me with what they say, but their hearts are far from Me. In vain they worship Me because they teach the rules of men as if they are My commandments.’”

MT 15:1-9, MK 7:1-13

Hammer, screwdriver, and love.

Say you were given a set of instructions to build a house. All the pieces are cut out, all you and your crew have to do is assemble them. The architect thinks that you were provided hammers and some nails. But when you get to the job site, instead of hammers you have screwdrivers. You can’t possibly follow the instructions to build a house with screwdrivers. It just doesn’t work. It isn’t designed for that.

But you try anyway, because it is what you have and you have a job to do. Then the architect calls you up and asks you if you are finished yet. You say no, and he gets really mad. You didn’t know that you were supposed to have hammers. You think that screwdrivers are what you are supposed to use, because it is what you were provided.

You are way behind on the project and the architect is really upset. Somebody figured out how to use a screwdriver to dig out a hole in the wood and then put a nail in the hole, and tap it in with the other end of the screwdriver. It isn’t very good, but it is something. You’ve managed to put together a corner of the house this way.

After a few more phone calls and getting more and more upset and confused, the architect finally comes to the job site and he notices you don’t have the right tools. He sees what you have and how hard you’ve been trying with what you were provided, and he understands. He works alongside you for a bit, using the tool that you were given. He doesn’t have a way to get you any hammers, so he changes the plans and he makes them a lot easier.

God is the architect and we are the workers. Our human bodies are the screwdrivers.

We can’t possibly follow all of God’s instructions with the tool we were given. God had no way of knowing how frail and hungry these bodies are. They cause us to fear, so we don’t try anything difficult. They cause us to crave, so we do things we know we shouldn’t. Our senses are very limited, so our perceptions aren’t that great.

But then God the architect comes down to the worksite (Earth) to see us and work with us.

And God gets it. We can’t do what is expected of us. We can’t follow the plans the way they are written with the tools we were given. The only way God would know that was to see things from our perspective, in our limited, frail, needy bodies.

We aren’t off the hook, but the rules got modified. They were boiled down to the essentials. Instead of “eat this, don’t eat this” and “wash your hands this way” and “say this prayer at this time” and six-hundred-plus other rules, we got two.

Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself.

Which really is only one rule. Love.

We can build anything with that rule.

We can build houses for the homeless. We can build schools to teach people how to read and take care of themselves. We can build hospitals so people can get well. We can build farms so we can grow healthy food. We can build gyms so we can exercise and get strong.


And you don’t even need a hammer or a screwdriver to use it.

Library rules are for everybody.

Yes, that sign applies to you. Yes, that rule is for you. You aren’t above it.

Don’t park in a no parking zone, even if it is for “just a minute.”

Don’t use your cell phone in the library. In fact, don’t use it in
any business. They don’t want to hear what you are going to do this weekend or what you did last night, and with who.

The overdue fees apply to you, the same as everybody else. Really. I know it is hard to believe. You aren’t special. Well, you are special, just like everybody else.

Asking for special favors or an exemption is really rude. It draws negative attention.

You may think it can’t hurt to ask, but it can. It can make people resent you.

It says that you think you are special, that you are above the rules.

Recently there was a patron who bought some earrings from me, so she had my card. My card has my email address and my personal phone number on it. She turned some books in late and wanted me to “take care of it” She said I should do it “because we are friends.”

Now, I don’t know what her definition of “friend” means, but if all the interaction we have had is over some jewelry, we aren’t friends. If we’ve never hung out or been over to each other’s house, we aren’t friends. We don’t even exchange Christmas cards.

If she had a legitimate reason for wanting the fines waived I would have done it, and not because we are “friends”. You know, something big that would have prevented her from returning or renewing her books on time – like she was in the hospital. Or a car crash. Something unavoidable. But just couldn’t be bothered to bring them back on time, no. That isn’t a valid reason for waiving fines.

Not only did she call me, she emailed me about this. I said I couldn’t do it and gave her the customer service number for the main library. If they want to do it, fine. As for me, I think it sets a bad precedent. Do whatever you want and have no repercussions. Get someone else to clean up your mess. Don’t be accountable for your actions.

That isn’t the mark of an adult.

Now, while the library doesn’t actually keep any of the money it makes
from fines, that isn’t the point. If we are going to waive fines for everybody who asks us to, then what is the point of having fines? What is the point of having due dates then? People can keep a book out for as long as they want and anybody else who wants it can just wait until they bother to bring it back.

Rules are good, and rules are for a reason.

People don’t like rules when they stop them from doing whatever they want.

Yes, you have to have your library card or your ID to check out. It doesn’t matter that you have been in every week since the library opened. It ensures that we are in the correct account. Rules keep us safe. The same person who gripes that he can’t just tell you his name instead of showing his card will raise holy hell if something, or worse, a hundred somethings, are checked out on his account that he didn’t check out.

That is why we have rules, and why we apply them equally to everybody. Otherwise, we are being discriminating, and that is illegal.

Losing my job is not worth coddling people.