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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.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


I was truly grateful to have a Thanksgiving dinner-to-go with my family in my Dad's hospital room today. Dad continues to improve - he no longer has any tubes or machines hooked up to him, and although he continues to experience some discomfort he is well on his way to being “his old self” again. In the coming week, he will probably be moved to a physical therapy unit for a couple of weeks, then he should be able to go home. Many thanks for everyone who continues to hold my Dad and my family in their prayers.



Wednesday, November 26, 2008


In the dream I was given a sheet of construction paper and a pair of scissors and I was told to construct a theology in the form of a Rubik's Cube.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Catalyzed Against Dylan

I've written before about how my feline roommate Kato will not allow me to listen to music by Bob Dylan. Kato prefers jazz from the 1950's (perhaps from one of his previous nine lives as a "hep cat"), although he did express interest once in a long Grateful Dead track - but I think it was mainly the Mickey Hart drum solo he was grokking.

When I play Bob Dylan, Kato starts caterwauling until I turn it off and put on some John Coltrane, Miles Davis, or Sonny Rollins. So I am forced to listen to my Bob Dylan CD's in my car or at my office. This is one of the sacrifices I make to have a roommate who doesn't even pay his fair share of the rent. The leasing office does not accept dead chipmunks as payment.

I just found out yesterday that one of my closest friends has also started to experience this problem: His cat Snuggles will not allow him to listen to Dylan's Blood on the Tracks CD. Like Kato, Snuggles begins caterwauling until my friend turns off the offending CD. (Kato, by the way, being a Russian Blue of the highest cat nobility, would never tolerate a name like "Snuggles.")

I'm wondering if there is something going on in the morphic field of cats, "a disturbance in the Force" of felines. Maybe this anti-Dylan behavior is limited to cats in Cobb County, Georgia. Or maybe the cats have never forgiven Dylan for going electric in 1965.

If you are blessed to have a cat who allows you to serve him or her, please try this experiment: Play some Bob Dylan and see how the cat reacts. Report back to me. There may be an article in this for a scholarly journal. But it will have to wait; I have to go now. Kato needs some tuna.

"In the name of St. Julian of Norwich, you must obey me."


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Friday, November 14, 2008

Update on Dad: The Peaceful House

My father, Lloyd Grizzle, is still in the Long Term Acute Care Unit at Windy Hill Hospital in Marietta, GA. He continues to have good days when his memory seems to be returning, as well as bad days when he is disoriented and agitated. When I spent Wednesday afternoon with him (the day before yesterday), he knew who I was, and he also remembered reading the Wendell Berry novel I got him last Christmas.

But the day before that, he was asking Mother why my brothers and I had not been to see him – he did not remember any of the times we’ve spent with him during his hospitalization over the past 4 months.

Now, as of yesterday, just as he was getting over the MRSA virus, Dad has yet another hospital-acquired virus, “C. Diff” (Clostridium difficile), and today he is nauseous and disoriented. This morning when the neurologist asked him where he was, Dad didn’t know. He also told the doctor he has six children, when in fact he has three.

On Wednesday, Dad told me about a dream he’d had a few weeks ago while in the hospital, a dream of going to “a beautiful, peaceful house” and visiting with six people there, all of them dead: both of his parents, and his brother and sister who have died. He kept emphasizing how peaceful it was. He could not remember who the other two people were. He said he was the only one there who was still alive. He also said he was told that he couldn’t stay, that he had to go back. He was not able to see the person who was sending him back.

I don’t know if that was a dream, or if it was something that actually happened to Dad during the time several weeks ago when his heartbeat and breathing stopped for over a minute.

Yesterday when I was at the Cathedral Bookstore, I came across a prayer card with this quote from the French poet Paul Claudell (1868-1955): “Jesus did not come to explain away suffering or to remove it. He came to fill it with his presence.”

I find that quote a real source of strength. I also find strength and encouragement in my Dad's experience of the Peaceful House and in the fact that, for whatever reason, Dad was either sent back to us or, on some deep level, made the decision to return.

I deeply appreciate your continued prayers for my Dad and for my family. It’s truly a blessing to know that so many people, some of whom I only know on-line, are holding my Dad in their prayers and in their hearts.

Grateful Bear

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

How to be a Poet

by Wendell Berry

(to remind myself)

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have—inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your work,
doubt their judgment.

Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.

Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.


"How to be a Poet" by Wendell Berry
from Given: Poems.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Thanks Be To God

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.

We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

~ from Barack Obama's victory speech, November 5, 2008


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Monday, November 03, 2008

Lectio Divina for Election Day

He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

~ Micah 6:8, ESV

Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.

If you take away the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
If you extend your soul to the hungry
And satisfy the afflicted soul,
Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,
And your darkness shall be as the noonday.
The LORD will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
Those from among you
Shall build the old waste places;
You shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach,
The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.

~ Isaiah 58:6-12, NKJV

But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

~ Amos 5:24, ESV

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.

~ Matthew 5:9, NRSV


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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Zehnder: Emergent Worship Music

When my friend Mike Morrell posted a blog entry about Worship for an Emerging Church, I was a bit skeptical. Having been a member of an evangelical megachurch in the past (1978 to 1994), I’ve had my fill of “worship songs” that are mindlessly repetitive, shallow, or theologically offensive. And most of today’s worship music just sounds the same to me – it’s not something I’d choose to listen to (except for the David Crowder Band and some, but not all, of the artists in the Passion series).

But I got the CD Mike was blogging about – Going Up?, by Zehnder – and I was very pleasantly surprised. Twins Tom and Tim Zehnder compose, arrange, perform and record as an indie worship band based in Los Angeles. Tim plays bass and doumbek, Tom plays guitar and djembe, and together they blend their voices in a way that sometimes sounds like a male version of The Indigo Girls (and if you know me at all, you know that’s high praise). Most of the songs here are reminiscent of the better “alt.pop” artists like Sufjan Stevens or Ben Lee. The music jumps around from genre to genre – a powerful urban rap called “Justice Jam” is followed by a cello solo – but these guys are so talented, it works, producing an album with a multicultural vibe.

Zehnder’s song “I Believe” (based on Mark 9:24, “I believe; help my unbelief”) was so moving, and so honest, it brought a tear to my eye. The twins do a hauntingly beautiful version of the Appalachian hymn “What Wondrous Love Is This.” My favorite song on the album, though, is “Breathe In, Breathe Out,” which (like the best of the Emergent Christian movement) pays homage to the ancient while still being postmodern:

Shalom, salaam, namaste
Ancient the paths, we find a new way
To be one in spirit, mind and body this day

You can find out more info about Going Up?, and download a song from the album, at ztheband.com


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