What do we do with our anger and rage in lament?

If the emotion in the pit of your stomach after watching another killing of an African American man, a suicide bombing, a car-crash, stabbing, or a sniper killing is anger and rage, then it is anger and rage. Effective laments do not somehow transpose what is horrific and jarring into something mild, polite, correct, and meaningless. Anger is anger. Rage is rage. Within the world of biblical laments anger and rage are NOT grounds for ignoring the lament. Expressing these powerful emotions within prayer and the context of worshiping communities are actually a kind of spiritual practice and a major characteristic of the God of justice – who rights wrongs – as well as those who are faithful to that God.

Psalm 119:49-56

Remember your word to your servant, because you have given me hope.                      This is my comfort in my trouble, that your promise gives me life.                                   The proud have derided me cruelly, but I have not turned from your law.                  When I remember your judgments of old, O LORD, I take great comfort.                            I am filled with a burning rage, because of the wicked who forsake your law.                    Your statutes have been like songs to me wherever I have lived as a stranger.                     I remember your Name in the night, O LORD, and dwell upon your law.

Rage is hardly uncommon: in the Bible God often is greatly distressed at Israel. Usually with very good reasons associated with longstanding injustice towards those who cry out from beneath the heel of oppression. But all of this anger and rage is never one-sided. We must also acknowledge and face our own rage and anger towards God, society, and injustice. Dealing with strong emotions is advanced spiritual and communal work. We have to train for lament; and even very small practice sessions help us to develop the emotional and spiritual skills to cry out to God in distress from faith.

We learn to lament by paying deep attention to what is going on – emotionally, politically, spiritually, socially – within us and around us, and then finding strong language, sounds, gestures, and images to convey to God and each other the significance and intensity of those emotions. We do so without editing out the “unacceptable” emotions, including anger and rage. Anger and rage are glaring indications of dis-ease and or dis-stress. They can be likened to a fever that informs us that something is wrong with the body. As with a fever, their intensity and duration provide clues to the magnitude and shape of what is perhaps unidentified: the underlying cause. Neither the fever nor the anger or rage is the problem, but is a crucial indication that there is a major problem requiring attention if we are to work towards any kind of effective resolution.

This critical step of awareness does not identify the problem, and even less does it allow us to know what is to be done about it. Also, unlike a fever that pertains only to the body, anger and rage may be symptoms of something wrong with the body, or an external force affecting the body, or some combination of the two. It is not enough to simply know that we are deeply distressed; we must figure out why, and then only later on, what to do or not to do, about our distress.

Lament requires us to pay deep attention to what is going on within us and around us – emotionally, politically, spiritually, socially. Then to hand that anger and rage over to God to be acknowledged and addressed within the daring expanse of our intimate relationship with God and each other. Anger and rage are not a place to remain, but they are powerful and necessary stops on the journey towards wisdom, compassion, and acts of justice and love.


A version of this post was published in the Mission Institute Newsletter

Mission Institute Newsletter  July 28, 2016



Anger, Rage, and Lament

Posted in God at Gatherings, God in Relationships, God in Struggle and Distress, God in the Media, God on the Inside, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Ruddy Duck and the New Instagram Logo??


[Perrygin Lake State Park, May 20 – 22, 2016 near Winthrop WA]

Ruddy Duck Photo

Ruddy Duck

It is a struggle for me to figure out how it is that the Ruddy Duck and the new “Instagram Logo” exist in the same world. Or that one, I being that one, would over hear an 11 yr. old boy talking to another kid while skate boarding on the road between our camp sites at Perrygin Lake State Park. They seemed like such “normal” kids… skate boarding, playing with fire sticks around the camp fire, etc. And what do I hear them talking about….?

One Boy             “Have you seen the new Instagram logo?                  Another Boy:  “Yea… it’s awesome!”

I don’t know if they saw the Ruddy Duck, or perhaps much else of what surrounded them there in the Methow Valley.


We only happened to see this amazing creature with a blue bill, striking black and white head, and gorgeous “ruddy” back, etc. because we walked up the mile-long road that leads from the highway into the campground. There is a pond ½ way to the road, and on that pond are several Ruddy Ducks.

We knew nothing of Ruddy Ducks before, but because we happened to meet another couple there by the pond, and he of the couple knew what the Ruddy Duck is and that there were a couple of them in the pond. We had stopped at first because of the cacophony of bird noises; — a symphony was what I called it. Some of the sounds were machine-like, as if amplified electronically.  Below is a video of that sound, the call of the Yellow Headed Blackbird.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbyKevuda1E  Call of the Yellow Headed Blackbird

But I am still stunned by this juxtaposition of the experience with the birds in the pond over against the boys on the skateboards and their interest / appreciation for the new Instagram Logo. Compared to either bird, or the two marmots peering over the top of a huge rock who greeted us with a shrill whistle as we moved into the camp site #1, the logo is at best silly.

Of course, I am aware of the irony that I am only able to write this and share it with other people, or see those pictures and videos of Ruddy Ducks and Yellow Headed Blackbirds and because of some form of technology, (even if it isn’t Instagram!) So, with this admission that we need, use… are perhaps overly dependent upon technology, I am trying to figure out how these aspects of contemporary life connect, fit together, or some other possible arrangement of coexistence.

So far, not so good.  I can take in one or the other; the birds or the kids; but like some multidimensional puzzle, I don’t know how to hold them together.

Perhaps there are a few advantages to being older and no longer strong enough to do what younger people do, so as to be forced to slow down long enough to have experiences of this kind… magic moments of bird symphony, creature greetings, etc.?

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Great Soup in Honor of Fallen Giantess

Golden Soup for the Day that the Tree Fell

It wasn’t planned, the falling of the tree that is.

It just happened that I made this wonderful soup on this day that the tree fell. Still, I want the soup to be in her honor.

We noticed in the morning that this very tall tree (140′ tall) was leaning at a strange angle, toward the drive into our house. Like many of the trees here where we live on South Whidbey Island she had had some kind of tree-mid-life-crisis, demonstrated by a strange bump part of the way up her tall trunk. But, once that bump was passed, she grew very tall, and stood erect and dignified. Until today.

Like the death of a loved elder, we could see it coming. The wind was up and it was clear that with that much tilt, she could not last very long at that angle. There has been so much rain here, (a good thing) that the ground around her trunk was totally soaked. This is how many of the trees here fall — they twist in the soft earth and come crashing down.

We had called a tree cutting guy to ask him to come take a look at her; but now there is no need for that.

As I was making the soup, I looked once again out the window to see what the wind and the tree were doing. She swayed a bit, at first without falling; but then after a very short amount of swaying I could see that she was coming down. Slowly, I watched her fall, with a great thud, and a splash of water where the top hit the bit of water in our seasonal lake. Most of the branches (already dead) broke in the impact, and the top section snapped off into various pieces.

It is a very good thing that Gary bought that tractor. A chain saw alone would not have liberated us from this fallen giantess. She fell across the drive blocking it entirely. Thus… after much sawing, and moving around with the tractor, the road was clear and I was able to help pick up the remaining smaller branches, and drive across the path of the fall.

All the while, making GOLDEN SOUP:


1.5 lbs golden beets, small (1″ -2″) cooked separately, peeled and then sliced 1/4″

1 lg onion, chopped med.

2 leeks, sliced 1/4″

4 -6 T olive oil

1-2 C chopped cabbage

1/3 C grape tomatoes

1-2 large carrots, sliced

1 yellow and 1 orange pepper, sliced small

1 parsnip, peeled and sliced

1 apple, chopped (1/2 ” cube)

3 qt low sodium chicken stock

1.25 lbs chicken sausage

2 cans white beans (15 oz)

peel & juice of 1 large orange

2 bay leaves

2 tsp cumin

2-3 tsp smoked paprika

1-2 T red pepper flakes


Saute until very soft, in olive oil, onions, leeks, peppers, parsnip, apple, carrots, cabbage, tomatoes. Add the spices, orange peel, and once well done, the orange juice, & chicken stock. Let simmer on very low, or just sit.

In a separate pan, boil the beets in water until tender (18 min?); cover with cold water to chill, then peel, and slice into bit sized pieces.

In another pan, saute the chicken sausage, breaking up any large chunks.

Once all this is prepared, combine it all in one large pot. If time allows, let it sit in a refrigerator for 4 -5 hours, uncovered, and reheat just before serving.

Give thanks for this wonderful tree whose falling did not hurt any one, and whose life is hereby commemorated with this Golden Soup.

Buen provecho.



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Tomato Basil Bisque

As I have read some where a bisque is a soup that has some kind of a fish stock at its foundation. None of the recipies had that…thus I added it.  All of the [ ] are my changes to this otherwise great soup.

TOTAL TIME: Prep: 20 min. Cook: 50 min. MAKES: 5 servings


 6 celery ribs, chopped                                                                                                                  1 large [red] onion, chopped                                                                                                       1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped                                                                                    1 C. fresh grape tomatoes                                                                                                            [1 T butter + 4 Tbs. olive oil]                                                                                                        1 large can diced tomatoes, undrained                                                                                        1 tablespoon tomato paste                                                                                                            small handful, dry basil leaves                                                                                                    1 bottle clam nectar                                                                                                                     [2-3 cloves garlic, sliced]                                                                                                          [1 T Clam broth mix]                                                                                                                  8 oz.   heavy whipping cream

Nutritional Facts

1 serving (1-1/3 cups) equals 383 calories, 36 g fat (22 g saturated fat), 122 mg cholesterol, 1,214 mg sodium, 15 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 3 g protein.


In a large saucepan, saute the celery, onion, fresh tomatoes, and red pepper in butter for 5-6 minutes [add the garlic 1/2 way through this] or until tender. Add tomatoes, and tomato paste, basil. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 40 minutes.

Remove from the heat.  Transfer half of the soup mixture to a blender. While processing, gradually add cream; process until pureed. Return to the pan; heat through (do not boil). Yield: 5 servings.

original recipe below:


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Food for A Rainy Day – White Bean, Leeks and Salmon Stew


This is not usually a food blog, but today it is.

White Bean, Leek, Mushroom and Salmon Stew is a most wonderful mid winter meal.

4 Servings


1 qt low sodium Chicken (or Veggie) Stock                                                                                3 Leeks, sliced 1/4 ” thick                                                                                                          1 shallot finally chopped                                                                                                             3 – 15 oz cans of Butter Beans (no salt added)                                                                          1 T. clam stock mix                                                                                                                   1/2 Lb. filet of salmon- cut into 1″ squares                                                                               1 T butter                                                                                                                                     4 Tbs Olive Oil                                                                                                                        Zest of 1/2 Lemon                                                                                                                     Juice of 1/4 lemon                                                                                                                       4 T Cream                                                                                                                                    8 Oz mushrooms, sliced 1/4 ” thick                                                                                       1/4 C white wine                                                                                                                        1/4 C fresh herbs (whatever is still growing at this time of year, mostly Thyme)


Heat the butter and 2 Tbs oil’ then saute the leeks, shallot ; add the herbs after about 10 min, and allow to simmer on low while you do the next steps.

Drain the canned beans, and blend one can of beans with the quart of stock in a food processor. Set aside.

Saute the mushrooms in the other 2 T of olive oil, add the wine after about 8 min. Allow to cook down until much but not all of the juice is absorbed.

Now mix together in a 6 Qt soup pan the sautéed leeks, shallots, the stock, bean mixture.

Then take about 3 C of the mixture and process it in the food processor.

Now bring everything together– leeks, stock, mushrooms, calm stock mix, and the rest of the beans. Simmer for 20 min… or even let it sit there for an hour with the stove off.

Just before serving, add the lemon zest, the lemon juice, and the salmon. Cook very gently on med heat just until the salmon is done and then mix in the cream. Heat until it is hot “enough” and then enjoy with very crusty bread and simple greens dressed with white balsamic vinegar and olive oil.




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“A Great Disillusionment”

“A great disillusionment”… A brief report from one of the book groups so far                        By Kathryn Rickert, Ph.D.

[This article pertains to a book group reading Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. We have met once, and there will be two more meetings at St. Augustine’s in the Woods, Freeland, WA. You are welcome to join us.]

“On innumerable occasions a whole Christian community has been shattered because it has lived on the basis of a wishful image. Certainly serious Christians who are put in a community for the first time will often bring with them a very definite image of what Christian communal life [Zusammenleben – living together] should be and they will anxious to realize it. But God’s grace quickly frustrates all such dreams. A great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and if we are fortunate, with ourselves, is bound to overwhelm us as surely as God desires to lead us to an understanding of genuine Christian community. … Only that community which enters into this experience of this great disillusionment with all its unpleasant and evil appearances begins to be what it should be in God’s sight, begins to grasp in faith the promise that is given to it.  The sooner this moment of disillusionment comes over the individual and the community the better for both.” (from Life Together, pp 9-10)

One of the differences between “reading (perhaps for school or work) and “spiritual reading” is that here in spiritual reading we aren’t required to get the whole idea of some book. Rather, it is more than enough to come away from a spiritual reading with something we can use– with one very good idea, something to chew on, something that feeds our souls, and calls us into the depths of life and faith that we seek.  We can always go back to that book again later on and learn even more.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together offers many such moments. The one about the “great disillusionment” is continuing to speak to me.

“Disillusionment” is not exactly the kind of thing that we expect to come across in a community of faith. It sounds more like something we are fleeing from in the world “outside” the church.  Yet, as Bonhoeffer wisely recognizes– learning to live into, through and then coming out of disillusionment is precisely what we must experience, if we want to be part of an authentic Christian community.

As with our Baptismal vows, this dealing with disillusionment is not something we do by ourselves, alone, or apart from each other. And most certainly, our response here must include some version of, “I will, with God’s help.”  and, “Come, Holy Spirit.”

I doubt that anyone needs to seek or set out to face disillusionment; it seems to come to all of us eventually. The important thing might be not to resist it, but rather to attend carefully, prayerfully to each other as we make our way through it. Not fleeing when the going gets rough is what we are called to learn here. It is perhaps related to that part of the Rule of St. Benedict about stability.  If God has not yet given up on us, then let us seek to do the same for and with each other.

The group reading this book met for the first time on Jan 6th, and will meet two more times, once from 1:30 – 3:30 pm in the Fireside Room on Jan. 26th to read Chapters 2 -3, The Day Together, & The Day Alone. On Feb 3rd the final gathering will take on Chapters 4 -5, Service, and Confession and the Lord’s Prayer. (Same time and place)  Please join us.

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A Sermon I’d want to hear on the 1st Sunday of Christmas 2015

I do not come to worship on the first Sunday of the 12 days of Christmas because I am struggling with the challenges of the Christian faith; I come because for a least a little while, the Christian faith is bringing something of value and substance to my life. This Advent has been rich with light giving reflection, a wonderful calendar, and projects that brought us together in community with creativity, beauty, and substance.

I know very well that many around me, (people I know and love) are struggling. And I respect and honor and pray for that struggle.

Yet, I did not come this day to struggle. I came to rejoice, and to dwell within and savor the “light of God’s incarnate word” mentioned in the Collect.

An “incarnate Word” is surely a strange combination — a  holy word in flesh, something to be eaten or touched rather than spoken, heard, or read. And this word is not only enfleshed, it gives off light. Light is what I and a lot of people I know need.  Light in the darkness. My/ our own darkness, the darkness of the world’s fear, violence, greed, and lack of care. Light in flesh that we can touch and eat. Flesh and touch that give us light and feed us.

O, those clothes. The outfit mentioned in the prophet Isaiah, “garments of salvation, a robe of righteousness! What is the color of salvation? What does the fabric feel like? How is the garment cut? sewn? This is some God of a dresser, for these clothes are linked to bringing forth new shoots from the earth, righteousness, and praise springing up before all nations. Perhaps some kind of holy gardening clothing that transforms the wearers into tillers of peace who work within the soil of praise.

Now those are things I and this sad world can use.  All nations! Even to suggest such a thing sounds outrageous. Absurd. So, let’s suggest. Let us be absurd. And then let’s remain with that image for a while, and see where it leads us.

Clothes with the qualities of salvation, righteousness, and eliciting praise from everyone. (No, this does not happen in the fashion world. No, it does not. Still, let’s imagine such clothes and see what unfolds.) Yes, these may be “mere” images. Yes, these are what we hope for but do not yet have. That Word, one with Light, Praise, and those clothes are something we can use.

Use to do what?  Use to do what the Psalm 147 hints at; rebuild what has been torn down, to gather up the exiles / migrants / refuges, to heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds. Yes, we live in a world where more energy is being spent on turning back refugees. Still, let us imagine.

Not that this is something we would do alone; it is God’s work and I / we will collaborate with God such as I am / we are able. (Even when my collaboration is rather small. Even very small.)

For, although I am not as strong as I was. Even though I cannot do all that I did, I still have this measure of freedom to serve as an heir of the Holy One. (Galations  4:4-7) . And that service is marked by this brightness of enfleshed Light, Light within the everyday, Light among us, living Light. For “From this fullness we have all received grace upon grace.” (John 1) And we have seen this. We have seen this in our community, across the world, in each other, in the Creation, and even within ourselves. Amen.

Merry Christmas, on the Third Day.





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