Posted by Jay McDaniel on March 20, 2019

As a process theologian I believe in the primacy of moments. Yes, we live our lives year to year, week to week, day to day. But most deeply, I believe, we live from moment to moment.

I learned this lesson in my twenties in a very pleasant way from a Zen master for whom I was an English teacher. His name was Keido Fukushima. (I tell the story in a short essay called "Can a Christian be a Buddhist, too?") He would always say that Zen is about living in the moment and responding to the circumstance at hand in a spirit of creativity and compassion, as best we can. I saw this in the way he lived his life. He could remember the past and anticipate the future, but he was always "present" in the here and now. Often he would encourage me to forget the past and all that I'd learned, in order to see what was present before me: another person, for example, or a tree, or a sunset, or a challenge to be faced with courage.

I learned about the primacy of moments later, . . .

Posted by Jay McDaniel on March 4, 2019

What is Justice Like?

Bread. A clean sky. Active peace. A woman's voice singing somewhere. The army disbanded. The harvest abundant. The wound healed. The child wanted. The prisoner freed. The body's integrity honored. The lover returned. ... Labor equal, fair and valued. No hand raised in gesture but greeting. Secure interiors — of heart, home, and land — so firm as to make secure borders irrelevant.
— Robin Morgan

A Reflection on Justice and Its Place in the Spiritual Alphabet

The spirituality behind justice is rich and vast. It includes compassion and reverence for life and a sense of connection and hope for a better world. Those who love justice — those who seek fresh bread and a clean sky for all — already know this. If you are among them, read no further. What needs to be said has been said above. But if you have doubts about connections between spirituality and justice, you might want to read a little further.

When I first encountered the spiritual alphabet . . .

Posted by Patricia Adams Farmer on February 25, 2019

“See the world through the eyes of your inner child. The eyes that sparkle in awe and amazement as they see love, magic and mystery in the most ordinary things.”
― Henna Sohail

When I was young and impressionable and just learning about spiritual matters in my church youth group, someone offered me this acronym: Joy = Jesus, Others, Yourself. In that order. This translates (I was told) to: Jesus before others and others before yourself. I tried to embrace this thrilling hidden code of spiritual wisdom but, alas, it did not add up to joy. Instead, it weighed down my youthful spirit, separated things that should not be separated, and put me in my place: last.

Now that I am older and wiser, . . .

Posted by Patricia Adams Farmer on February 11, 2019

"How shall we live? Welcoming to all."
— Mechtild of Magdeburg,

Preaching to Birds and Squirrels

A new sculpture called "Saint Francis and the Birds" was recently celebrated among neighbors at Pilgrim Place in Claremont, California, a senior community committed to justice and peace. Commissioned by Mary Ann and Frederic Brussat, co-founders of Spirituality & Practice, this sculpture was born of art templates from the late artist Frederick Franck.

This fresh interpretation of the saint sweeps the eye upward . . .

Posted by Patricia Adams Farmer on January 18, 2019

On a soft, snowy morning I read a poem by Mary Oliver. And in the afternoon, it came to me, a notice of her death. Too soon! I thought. Too soon to lose a talent of this magnitude. My heart rocked in grief for several minutes. But then I re-read the poem from the morning called "Bazougey" (Dog Songs, 2013), about the death of a beloved dog. It begins,

Where goes he now, that dark little dog
who used to come down the road barking and shining?
He's gone now, from the world of particulars,
the singular, the visible.

So, that deepest sting: sorrow. . . .

Posted by Patricia Adams Farmer on January 8, 2019

The Adventurer of the Universe starts with the dream and reaps tragic Beauty.
— Alfred North Whitehead

I have a friend named David who can see things others can't. He has visions. I don't mean David has "second sight" or any psychic ability; rather, it's more of an artist's vision of seeing things that are not there, but that might be. With a gestalt sensibility, he can see something whole that is now in parts, broken, and crying out to be either put out of its misery or loved back into life. David is a woodworker, restorer, and artist. He mainly works with discarded and unwanted pieces of furniture, like the lonely chair left out on the curbside by someone in a rush to move, or the abandoned table at the side of the dumpster, or a battered antique trunk hoping to be discovered on the last day of an estate sale when everything is 75% off. David grabs what others pass up, or gathers odd pieces and makes something completely novel like the "Frankenstein" table as he jokingly called it: a stunning dining set created from disparate parts he found "here and there."

What a gift! To see possibility among the discarded . . .

Posted by Patricia Adams Farmer on November 26, 2018

"And that’s why it is so important today that we reaffirm our character as a nation — a people drawn from every corner of the world, every color, every religion, every background — bound by a creed as old as our founding, e pluribus unum. Out of many, we are one. For we know that our diversity — our patchwork heritage — is not a weakness; it is still, and always will be, one of our greatest strengths."
President Barack Obama, September 11, 2016

Shortly after I moved back to the United States after living abroad for five years, I began seeing bumper stickers with the motto, "In God We Trust." It seemed to hold a special significance for some of my neighbors. But why? After a little research and reorientation into my home culture, I realized that for many, this motto serves as a counterpoint — and even a rebuff — to our founding fathers' 1782 motto, e pluribus unum, "out of many, one."

If you study any coin from your pocket closely ...

Posted by Jay McDaniel on November 5, 2018

I’ve discovered a new word and I want to share it with you. It’s called midding. Here’s the definition as found in John Koenig’s Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows:

v. intr. feeling the tranquil pleasure of being near a gathering but not quite in it — hovering on the perimeter of a campfire, chatting outside a party while others dance inside, resting your head in the backseat of a car listening to your friends chatting up front — feeling blissfully invisible yet still fully included, safe in the knowledge that everyone is together and everyone is okay, with all the thrill of being there without the burden of having to be.

When I first discovered the word, I thought of my grandmother . . .

Posted by Patricia Adams Farmer on October 10, 2018

There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why?
I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?
— George Bernard Shaw

Often, the most intense forms of beauty rise from the ashes of tragedy. Such is the story of how a bombed-out church from the London Blitz ended up in my town in Missouri — restored, renewed, rehallowed. Her name is St. Mary, Aldermanbury, and she's got quite a story to tell.

The Phoenix of Fulton

St. Mary, Aldermanbury stands tall after rising from the ashes—not once, but twice in her long life

Posted by Jay McDaniel on October 1, 2018

Not a lot of my liberal friends believe in angels, but I do. I am, after all, a process theologian.

I think pop songs are angels. They fly through the air with their sonic wings, carrying their kinetic pop energy, helping people feel things that might not otherwise feel, relative to the circumstances of their lives. In this they sometimes serve as ambassadors for God, whose hope is that people will enjoy all sides of life: love and justice and silence and tenderness, but also playfulness, imagination, zest for life, connection with others, positive self-regard, dancing, and peace of mind. Pop angels are especially good at evoking the latter forms of enjoyment, although their effectiveness depends on the circumstances and dispositions of the listeners. Think about it: user-friendly angels you can dance with, alone or with others, just by turning a dial or clicking a button.

Pop song angels are relational . . .


About This Blog

Welcome to Process Musings for the spiritually curious, the creative, and the open-hearted. We, Jay McDaniel and Patricia Adams Farmer, are two bloggers from the world of process thought, inspired by the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead. This multi-faith blog features articles, essays, stories, videos, and poetry which invite you to discover fresh possibilities for wholeness, creativity, and joy. Read more.