Pilgrim Path

This blog is the work of a seeker and poet. Walking stick in hand, I head out into the world, not of the world, but in the world. My words and my friends carry me along and light the pilgrim path of spiritual journeys.

Friday, March 30, 2007


(This is an old church newsletter column I wrote about 4 years ago...)

Two friends were talking…

“It was an epiphany I tell you!” I exclaimed.

“That’s impossible! Epiphany is in January, you fool! It is Lent.

And Holy Week, Good Friday and Easter are almost here,” the
other explained.

“No, not an epiphany with a capital E…a small e. You know, one

of those ‘everyday’ epiphanies – a manifestation with a deeper
meaning,” I replied.

“Nope, not me. Never had one of those.”


It was a balmy Saturday afternoon, and as long as I was heading

over to Brighton Park anyway, I figured I would make a quick
stop at Watra. Watra is a Church Goods store. That’s where we
buy our ashes for Ash Wednesday, Palms for Palm Sunday and
a variety of other items that we use throughout the church year.
As you may know, I'm an avid reader, but although I’d been
to Watra many times before, I'd never stopped to look in the
book section. Today seemed a good day to do this.

Now the book section is on the first floor, with big picture

windows that overlook busy Archer Avenue. Because of the
unusually warm weather, there were many passersby. Just
as I came out of one aisle of books, something caught my eye
outside the store. Far to the right, I thought I saw Jesus. No,
it couldn’t be. The windows were a little dirty so I was sure I
was seeing things. Nope, wait…is he carrying a cross? Yes, He is!

There was Jesus, standing outside of Watra looking in. He

appeared to be a mid-twenties Hispanic male with long stringy
dark hair. He was wearing a wrinkled robe of shiny, royal
purple cloth. Over one shoulder he carried a four-foot cross.
And there he was, looking in the window at communion
dresses marked “50% off.”

All this happened in about the space of 10 seconds, but I

felt as if I had been taring for 10 minutes. I looked around
to see if anyone else had spotted Jesus, but everyone was
too busy shopping to notice. Just when I thought that it
must be my eyes playing a trick on me, I saw the front door
of the store open. In walked Jesus with his cross. Now
surely the other shoppers would notice Him.

To my great surprise, everyone just kept on shopping.

Oh sure, there were a few glances at Him, but just as
quickly folks went back to their tasks at hand. I was
sure that at any moment Allen Funt was going to drop
from the ceiling and tell me that I was on “Candid Camera.”

Not wanting to stand out, I gathered my purchases

together and went to the cash register. By this time,
Jesus was further back in the store, out of my sight
line. Just as the cashier was handing me my change,
I felt a presence behind me. Not wanting to be obvious,
I resisted the urge to look. But as I grabbed my bag
of goods, I did a half-turn. Sure enough, there was
Jesus, behind me in line, waiting to purchase...
a pecan brownie.

Why did I react the way I did? How would you have

reacted? Why didn’t anyone, myself included, speak
to Jesus? What if this had really been our Savior? Have
I blown my chances of getting into Heaven? And
what's the deal with the pecan brownie?

Upon further reflection, I concluded that this was

an epiphany. It was an event that occurred in order
to make a larger point in my life. It caused me to recall
the epiphany experienced by Thomas Merton.
Merton was a Cistercian monk who lived at the
Abbey of Gethsemani in Trappist, Kentucky. He was
a prolific
author on topics of religion, ethics and
spirituality, ahead of his time, who died in 1968.

One of the most famous quotations from Merton

relates to the epiphany he experienced while
walking in downtown Louisville, Kentucky:

“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut,
in the center of the shopping district, I was
suddenly overwhelmed with the realization
that I loved all these people, that they were
mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to
one another even though we were total
strangers...There is no way of telling people
that they are all walking around shining like
the sun.”

Was this man who portrayed Jesus in the store

any MORE like Jesus on the inside than any of
the other customers? Isn’t God at the core of
all of us? Perhaps this man provided all the
message I needed, without even exchanging
words. Shouldn’t I recognize the Holy within
EVERY person EVERY day? Unfortunately,
I thought of all these questions long AFTER
I had run into Jesus on busy Archer Avenue.
I wish I 'd thought of them then.

Now, I find these thoughts bring to mind the

famous prayer by Thomas Merton:

“Dear God, I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot
know for certain where it will end. Nor do I
really know myself...and the fact that I think
that I am following Your will does not mean
that I am actually doing so. But I believe this:
I believe that the desire to please You does in
fact please You. I hope I have that desire in
everything I do. I hope I never persist in
anything apart from that desire. And I know
that if I do this You will lead me by the
right road, though I may know nothing
about it at the time. Therefore I will trust
You always, for though I may be lost - and
in the shadow of death – I will not be
afraid, because I know You will never leave
me to face my troubles all alone.”

We can all take comfort from this prayer. We

are not perfect here on earth. Though
imperfect, God so loved us that an offspring
was sent in human form. Imperfect humans
persecuted and crucified this gift from God.
But, the gift of forgiveness endures because o
f this death. And through forgiveness, the
gift of God’s love is apparent. The key is in
understanding that it is available for the asking.
God knows when we seek the Creator’s love.
One need only be open to it. Perhaps that is what
Merton knew when he wrote of God as
"mercy within mercy within mercy."

During this Holy Season, and always, take the

time to see God in one another.


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Thursday, March 29, 2007


Ancient fires still burn brightly
in the night and in the souls
of those who listen closely
for the sound of stories told

by ancestors who spoke few words
but who with fingertips blood red
carved old truths on granite walls
to proclaim their holy thrones.

Give me now a simple table
in a corner so I can work
undisturbed, bent over paper
while transcribing angels’ whispers.

Blackest ink flows swiftly on
this rough grey canvas spilling
words to songs which go unsung
in this world of agony.

May sirens always call to those
who long to touch the hearts of all
by telling truths, exceeding grasps,
uncommon dreams of common men.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007


It’s time to be still,
to let the Word wash over me
for changes are in store
and the time of preparation is at end.
There’s a knock at the door
and so I stand here holding the key,
feeling the sharp ridges along the edge
scraping against the whorls of my flesh.

I know well who has arrived.
I’ve been expecting him for awhile,
and now I know that nothing
can remain the same.
Neither as tall nor as old as I’d have thought.
But then again my eyes are older, too.
For a man of words,
I’m struck by the silence
and the way we speak by looking
deeply in each other’s eyes.
He asks me to write
and as I do I find him in between
every word, every letter.

Long days of disaffection
have been wiped from my soul
as I start anew, walking the path he sets for me.
Sending me back into this world
with a charge from his heart,
I seek only to do his will,
bringing light and bread along
to guide and feed me
and so to finally set my soul free.


Friday, March 23, 2007

The drought is over...


I awakened with first light
and getting up
and facing east,
I was startled by the slash of red
at the horizon.
I felt the day had started wounded
and spotting it first,
I was responsible
for its healing.
I tried singing to the sun
but the wound gaped open wider.
Next I tried to cleanse the cut
by rinsing it with water,
only to discover the hose was too short.
But then, reaching up
and praising its Creation,
the sky healed because I’d noticed.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Dust and ashes choke our tongue
in the wasteland of depression.
Holy Spirit, come,
walk with us tomorrow
through all gloom and grieving
to the paths of resurrection.

Take us by the hand and lead us,
lead us through the desert sands,
bring us living water,
Holy Spirit, come.

- Brian Wren, 1989.

Divine Mystery, speak to me,
as I kneel to touch the floor
and kiss these icons in the dark,
a darkness that speaks to me
as it always has.
Here is where I pray best,
in memories of old, dark, gothic churches.
Now I sit in a corner unnoticed,
leaning forward in the pew
with hands folded and
head resting on my hands as I pray.
Divine Mystery take me
to that place that feeds my soul
and quenches my thirst.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Once a year in a sweaty cantina
at dusk in old town Santa Fe,
two brothers meet to share a drink
while spilling blood and tears on the floor.
A sacred dialogue where words
take on deeper meaning.
I carefully choose what I intend to say,
but then realize it’s not important
as so much that’s understood isn’t even spoken.
An extended prayer in holy time,
serenity fills my space.
My senses fully engaged
I feel the Godseed within me stirring,
germinating, nurtured by like calling to like.
Later, I realize that all that's gone before
has been shrouded by a veil -
not of mystery, but rather, hidden truth.
A sacred dialogue - awakening
deep brotherhood

And I wipe my sweaty face dry.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007


(with thanks to my brother in Christ, John, for the prompting...)

And the envelope please…

The winner of the award for person least likely to be quoted in my ‘blog: Val Kilmer . The quotation: “But I think once you find out what you really want, it's important to live where you pray the best, where you're the healthiest.”

Matthew 6: 6: "But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”

And finally, from Frederick Buechner: "Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention. They are not only telling you something about the secret of who you are, but more often than not God is speaking to you through them of the mystery of where you have come from and is summoning you to where, if your soul is to be saved, you should go next."


I don't think I'm prepared to put words to these thoughts yet, but in the interim, here are some pictures of places that make my heart sing:

So tell me....where do YOU pray best?

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Friday, March 02, 2007


Lord, lift me up,
for Thomas is in town.
I doubt he’ll stay for long,
but on this day of little coping,
with the din of dishes clattering,
feet shuffling, tripping on thick air,
I shut my eyes and hope
for tears; they fail
and so I crunch
my eyelids,
for the tears
I feel

Lord, I’m tired of playacting
like everything is
“Fine, and how are you?”
I haven’t got the strength
to let my friends feel
like they’re helping
when they want to poke

Lord, lift me up,
just when I think I’ll cave in,
you return to remind me
that my journey’s just begun.
And the road that lies before me
may be rutted and forsaken
but your Light will shine
and show me
your sweet Grace
upon my way.

Lord, guide me to the bus station
to send Thomas on his way
for his journey

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