If you’re not already getting The Merry Mystic, I’d like to convince you to sign up.
I wish I could offer you a really compelling freebie here—you know, one of those life-changing how-to offers: how to attract wealth, how to get into heaven, how to lose ten pounds overnight. But, alas, I can’t promise that The Merry Mystic will change your life. What will happen when you sign up is that you’ll receive a short video with some of my best work every week. There’s music and story; there’s food for thought, for prayer, and for laughter. If you’re a progressive spiritual seeker, whether or not you’re a Christian like me, I think you’ll find these worth your while.
The Merry Mystic is free, and it always will be. It comes with a password to my Free Stuff area, which includes lots of my free sheet music and other resources. You can unsubscribe any time you like. I hope you’ll give it a try by entering your email address in the form on this page.
If you need more convincing, read some of The Merry Mystic‘s recent posts below. And best blessings on your journey, wherever it takes you.
It’s been a long time since The Merry Mystic brought you any outright preaching or teaching. Usually, I prefer something more casual, like music or humor. But I just couldn’t help myself this week. (I had a former career as a professor of computer science, so every now and then, I just have to bust out with a PowerPoint.)
My subject comes from an open-ended question I received this week: what is faith all about? My answer is from my own Christian perspective, of course. But I’d love to hear what you think about that question too, so please scroll down when you’ve seen the video and leave a response.
Reverend Cheryl Burke is a regional leader in my denomination. She has a good thought to share here about silence—I think you might enjoy listening to her. (Silence is something that churches in the United Church of Christ tend not to be very good at; usually, if there’s more than a few seconds of silence in the Sunday service, people start looking around nervously, wondering who dropped the ball!)
It’s fall here in Michigan. I’ve harvested a few acorn squash, and we have a few pumpkins coming on, but our garden is my wife’s project, and she plants mostly for the birds and insects. The birds and bees and butterflies—and squirrels, and deer!—have been busy harvesting. It reminds me of how gardening can be a ministry, and a form of prayer. I wrote a hymn about it: “Dear God, In Your Garden.”
Best blessings on your gardening, cooking, woodworking, knitting—and all your other ministries.
P.S. You can find scores for “Dear God, In Your Garden” in our Free Stuff area. And you can read a lot more about it in Chapter 5 of my book, The Inn of God’s Forgiveness.
Last week’s episode of The Merry Mystic—my rant—was the most popular ever. Still, it didn’t exactly take the internet by storm. So here, as promised, is my cat video.
Thanks for all the great responses and shares last week. It helps me more than you know. Best blessings!
I’m usually a peaceful guy. But there are some things that get under my skin, and being told I’m a heretic, or I’m not really a Christian, is one of them—especially when the person telling me that is an atheist. You might want to send the kids out to play while you watch this one.
Leave a comment and rant on, or rant back, if you like. (And do share this post. You know what happens next week if you don’t!)
The woods were my first church. The first time I remember being aware of the great Song of God, I was in the woods. The first time I remember feeling my part in the connectedness of all living things, I was sitting in a tree. (These days, I hear that Song and feel that connectedness in other places too—sometimes even in a church of stone!)
I wrote this song, “Treesong,” for my last album, As a Deer Longs. The instruments and male vocals are mine; the female vocals are Kelly Autrey-Webber, my true love; the images are from a walk in the woods of New Hampshire.
(I’m sorry the images aren’t sharper — they’re just stills culled from handheld video, shot as I walked. But I think they’re beautiful, even as they are.)
I recorded this merry, mystical missive in the early morning on top of West Rattlesnake Mountain in New Hampshire. It’s a place to which I often return. I remember visiting it as a boy—I’m pretty sure my father carried me part of the way up. I also remember carrying my own son up to the top—he’s more likely to be able to carry me now. It’s a place that always reminds me strongly of the Celtic Christian emphasis on the presence of God in the natural world.
Don’t worry: I’ve neither seen nor heard of any rattlesnakes on Rattlesnake Mountain. In any case, on that morning, I think they’d have been rattling in time with God’s great song.
This week I’m on vacation in Holderness, New Hampshire, USA. I thought about taking a break from The Merry Mystic while I’m traveling, but I couldn’t resist the chance to share one of my favorite places on earth with you. This is Squam Lake, where I learned to swim when I was a boy. It is a thin place for me—a place where the veil between the physical world and the spirit world seems especially thin. Or is it just me?
What are the thin places in your life?
I wrote this song for a man I met back in my seminary days. He told me he was Vietnam veteran. I told him I was a seminary student. He told me he didn’t believe in God—and he told me why. I wrote this song to honor his story.
I think about him often, and when I think about him, all I have are questions. I never saw him again; what became of him? I don’t know that I was any help to him in our conversation; what might I have done differently? Why is there destructive suffering in this world—not the kind that strengthens people, like a refining fire, but the kind that grinds people down beyond their ability to resist? How can we help build a more peaceful world, a world where military men and women are not asked to do things that make them feel that “all the lights are dimmer since the war?” And what better theology could we teach our children—what understanding of God that won’t buckle under the heavy burdens life may require them to carry?
As always, I value your thoughts on these matters.