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Blog of the Grateful Bear

ramblings of a freelance panentheist {"all things are in God, and God is in all things"} . . . musings on Emergent spirituality, powerlifting, LGBTQueer issues, contemplative prayer, mysticism, cats, music, healing, and more. I like my coffee and my existentialism dark-roasted.

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Location: Marietta, Georgia, United States

I'm an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor), in private practice in Marietta, Georgia. My writings on queer spirituality have been published in Whosoever and several other magazines. I live in a house-in-the-woods (Bear's Hermitage) in Marietta with Leonidas (Lenny) and Guy, Mighty Warrior Cats, and way too many books.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ash Wednesday

Early morning, Ash Wednesday. Battling the cobwebs of sleep as I drove in the pouring rain to the 7 AM service at St. James. Smiling when the service, held in the 1878-era chapel next to the railroad tracks, was briefly interrupted by the noisy passing of a train. Kneeling at the altar rail as the priest rubbed ashes on my forehead and said, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

When the priest made the sign of the cross, with ashes, on my forehead, I found his words, this reminder of my mortality, not morbid, but comforting. I am dust. I am earth. I came from the stuff of the earth and to the earth I shall one day return. I am made of the same elements as my fellow human beings, my fellow non-human beings, my fellow trees and sunflowers and stars. I am connected to the Whole. I am earth, and fire, and water, and air, and spirit.

As I received the Eucharist, the sign of the cross newly imprinted on my forehead, I could feel my spirit remembering its connectedness to God, its sacred origin. The opening words of the Ash Wednesday prayer, “Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made,” reminded me that the feelings of self-hate I sometimes feel, those moments of self-denigration when I forget my origin in the Divine Beloved – those moments do not come from God. God hates nothing God has made.

As children of God we all have what the Quakers call “the divine spark” within us. We are all connected to God. We are all connected to God's creation. We are all connected to each other.


More about Ash Wednesday on the web:

Leaving the Land of the Dead: A Lenten Reflection by Marcus Borg

A Celtic Lent, by the Rev. Roger Hull
(the Celtic Rose Cross above is from this webpage)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Power of Blessing

At the recent conference I attended on St. Simon’s Island, Marcus Borg talked about a spiritual practice he had picked up from his fellow presenter, Barbara Brown Taylor. It’s a very simple practice. As you go through the day, silently bless every person you see: just say “Bless you,” silently to yourself, directed at one particular person at a time.

Sounds easy, almost simplistic, but I’ve found it to be a very moving and profound practice, the few times I’ve tried it recently. The people at the coffeehouse and at your place of work, the people you see walking across the street, the people you see as you conduct your everyday business – just offer each person a blessing in silence. “Bless you.” It’s amazing how calming this is in traffic!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Pan’s Labyrinth: Another View

My friend Jon Zuck has posted a very different take on the movie Pan’s Labyrinth at his blog, The Wild Things of God (the entry is dated February 12th). I respect Jon’s opinion, even though, in this case, it differs greatly from my own.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

An Ancient Gnostic Faith

Among the casualties of the Iraq war is a little-known religious faith called Mandaeanism that has survived for two millennia and whose adherents hold John the Baptist as their great teacher. Mandaens describe themselves as “the last existing Gnostic group.”

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Astrolabe & Astral Cat

Top: Me, standing by my astrological sign (Capricorn) on the astrolabe in Troupe Square, Savannah, Georgia. The large astrolabe is supported on the back of several turtles, as is the Earth.

Bottom: Kato, wearing his jaunty red bandana, preparing to do astral travel while sleeping on the sofa.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

St. Brigid's Day

Today is the feast day of St. Brigid, who is often listed as the patron saint of Ireland (along with Patrick), poets, dairymaids, blacksmiths, healers, cattle, fugitives, midwives, and new-born babies. A short biography of St. Brigid can be found on the Brigid's Place website.

The Icon of St. Brigid of Ireland above is from Bridge Building Icons.

A prayer for today from The St. Helena Breviary ~

Everliving God, we rejoice today in the witness of your servant Brigid of Kildare, who served as courageous leader and mentor, faithfully shepherding both men and women in her monastery and guiding them into holiness of life: Inspire us with life and light, and give us perseverance to serve you in our own day. This we ask in the name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.