Piece of the Puzzle

random musings...

Nature of Humanity and the Universe

There is an Energy called Love that underlies all of existence. This Energy is not a supernatural being but a creative force that pulls us toward loving relationship and becoming our best selves both as individuals but also as a universal whole encompassing all of creation.

This Energy, fundamentally creative and relational, exploded forth into experience and eventually evolved humanity – a self-awareness.

Everything is created from this Energy or, we might say, is at least connected to it. However, human beings are aware of this connection at least at an unconscious level. It is this awareness that gives us our inherent drive to create meaning in our lives and our innate tendency toward spirituality.

Because we are aware at some level of our true nature, we know that our natural state is to be in unity or in harmony with this Energy. We are, at our best, lovingly creative and relational creatures always co-evolving toward a better whole (loosely defining “better” as more loving, happy, peaceful, compassionate, supportive, just, etc.).

However, having a consciousness of purpose, humans can misunderstand their purpose or even intentionally act against their purpose because with consciousness of purpose also comes free will. If we act at odds with the Energy of Love that is our true nature, acting out in violence and selfishness, for example, then we enter into a state of estrangement and can experience guilt and shame and further try to hide from our true selves. Our lives become marked with fear and anxiety. To find happiness, healing and wholeness, we have to reconnect ourselves to the Energy of Love.

Religion is a frame work of stories, language and ritual through which groups of people can share common ideas and experiences to help them on their journey to reconnect. Just like anything else, religions can be corrupted to act contrary to the Energy of Love.

How this affects some Christian ideas

God is not really moral or immoral, just or unjust – those are categories we created to help us think about what behaviors better align with Love (or don’t) as we try to reconnect with our true nature.

Humanity created sin and evil through exercise of our free will. They are only “in” God because we put them there. If you really want to blame God for evil, one could say that God gave us the option of free will knowing evil was the inevitable result. Or, if you don’t believe in free will, then nothing matters and of course everything is on God’s shoulders.

Sex and the body or in no way evil or sinful as long as they are not used counter to the Energy of Love. Enjoyed ethically (i.e. safely, consensually, with good communication, etc.) sex is a gift to be enjoyed. And I don’t see any reason it needs to be restricted to marriage or procreation, either. I mention communication as part of the ethics because perhaps it is the people involved that need to be defining the proper boundaries and not other people.

Jesus did not die “paying” for our sins. Jesus died trying to show us the path back to God. People killed him because he was a threat to their selfishness.

Hell is not a place but is the manifestation of our fear that we will not be able to reconnect to Love.

New book of poetry

I’ve pulled together another collection of my poems in book form… From Unraveled Dreams: A Collection of Poems

The poems in this book reflect in some way on either the state of the world or the state of the self, exploring what happens and how we respond when our dreams, our beliefs in what should be, have unraveled.

This collection is inspired by a project to let the final lines of other poets be the beginning line of a new poem. While they don’t necessarily carry on the same themes as their inspiration, in some small way those poems hopefully create a dialog, an ongoing poetic conversation. All of the 21 poems from that project are included here with other poems interspersed along the way to add to the conversation for a total of 43 poems.

If you’re interested, you can order it from Amazon.com in paperback or as a Kindle e-book.

New Years goals

So, I don’t want to do resolutions but I do have some goals that I’ve made to begin this new year.

I want to write more. I’m currently looking at putting together some poems in a new printed collection. They don’t sell but I decided it’s not about that. I just like being able to pull a book off the shelf and read my poems. It’s kind of about romanticizing books, I guess. I suppose it’s a little of a vanity thing too. So even if I’m just doing it for myself, I’m going to keep putting my poems in self-published collections. At least for now. I’m also posting my poetry at timidpoet.com. Another project will be to explore writing another book on spirituality. I have some fiction ideas as well but I’m not sure when or if I’ll get to those.

I also want to read more. I’m going to track my reading on goodreads.com where I re-set my “shelves” for a fresh start in 2023. I plan to write a short review of each book I finish this year as well. If you want to see what I’m reading visit https://www.goodreads.com/revkenarthur.

A third goal is to dive deeper into spiritual practices. That connects to the book project I’m thinking about. Maybe I’ll blog more about that as I go along.

I’m sure I will also try to keep up with my main hobbies: working on my family tree and playing more golf this summer. One problem is my list of things I want to work on is kind of long. Often that means I skip around or I just don’t do anything because I can’t decide what I want to work on first. But if I can set better priorities and stick to them it could end up being a productive year.

Want to read my poetry?

If you want to read my poetry, please visit https://timidpoet.com

I previously posted some of my early poems on this blog. I’m not going to go back and delete them from here, but any “new” poems will now be posted on the above website. I’ve been dabbling with poetry now for 6+ years. All of the poems from the first 3 years are now posted and I’ll be posting more soon.

American Crossroads

American Crossroads

For nothing now can ever come to any good,
now that justice is dead, swept from the stage
of this farce we call America, where manhood
is white and carries a gun fired in rage,

where guilt is washed away by milky tears
sucked from the teats of youthful privilege
asserting manufactured fears, met by jury’s cheers.
Once thought land of justice and freedom, now sacrilege,

without respect for life except one’s own.
Asked to bow to the vigilante in despair,
transformed into another MAGA-spewing drone,
do we dare act instead with compassion and care?

For goodness has not left if it lives in our heart.
What to this world around us do we truly wish to impart?

Note: The first line of this poem is the final line of the poem “Funeral Blues” by WH Auden.

Wrestling with Reality – new poems

I’ve made some more of my poems available in book form by independently publishing “Wrestling with Reality.” If you’re interested in ordering a copy, see the Books menu for more information and a link to order.

The Great Gaslighting

For a long time, I believed the great divide in our nation was between political conservatives and political progressives. Over the last four years, as we have watched the division grow wider, it has actually become clear that those are not the lines that divide us at all. If it were about conservative vs. progressive approaches to problems then we should be able to reasonably negotiate compromises for the good of our nation and her people. But we seem to have lost the ability to compromise. No, a battle between conservative and progressive is not what is ailing our nation.

What Are You Looking For?

We often perceive something lacking in our lives. We want something better, something more than what we’ve got. Perhaps we’re seeking a better job or a romantic interest. But what are we truly looking for? What would fulfill us? Are we seeking love? Peace? Hope? Meaning? A deeper knowledge of ourselves and of God? A sense of belonging? Community? Maybe we are looking for ways to contribute to making the world a better place. Do we even know what we want and need?

If we don’t know what we’re looking for, how do we know we’re looking in the right place? It’s a lot easier to find what we need if we know what it is. So often, we sense a lack in our lives and we try to fill it in the strangest places and in the worst ways. We buy stuff as if how many possessions we have is the answer to all of our unasked questions. Or we turn to alcohol or drugs. Or we seek power or to control other people.

In the gospel of John, Jesus notices two people following him and asks them, “What are you looking for?” and they respond by inquiring about where he lives. How strange! But one answer is that Jesus lives in the kin-dom of God. The kin-dom, however, is not a literal place but a way of life. Is that what they were looking for, a new life? The good news is that Jesus invites them to “come and see” for themselves where he lives. If we are looking for God, for love… if we feel a lack in our lives and want to be fulfilled, then we too are invited to come and see where Jesus lives…

Do we find ourselves falling into despair because of what’s happening in the world and in our country? Or are we also able to see those that are working for justice, that are making a positive difference in the world? Because that’s where Jesus lives – in those that reach out a hand to a stranger in need. Do we take time to look within ourselves? We need to interrupt our thinking heads once in a while to see and feel what is in our hearts. For there also Jesus dwells. I wonder if what we really seek is our true essence. I wonder if what we really want and need is to uncover that gleam of the Divine that lives within each of us.

Perhaps the full answer to what are we looking for is uncovered through the journey. This journey to “come and see” is best taken in community. If you’re looking for people to walk with you and don’t have a spiritual community, you are always welcome at Phoenix Community Church no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey (as we are wont to say in the United Church of Christ). If we seek the kin-dom of God, if we seek a life of hope and peace, a path of justice, then come and see where Jesus dwells. On the path revealed by Jesus we experience the kin-dom of God and open ourselves to the transformation and healing that uncovers our true essence, that lets our lights shine, filling the world with hope and love.


This reflection was inspired by the sermon, “What Are You Looking For?” from Sunday, January 19, 2020, and published in my church newsletter on January 31, 2020. Audio recordings of most sermons can be found at https://phoenixchurch.org/home/phx-sermons/.

Liturgy for Epiphany 2A

Call to Worship (inspired by Psalm 40:1-11)

One: Happy are those who do not turn to false idols but put their trust in God.
Many: Let us put our trust in God!
One: God hears our cries and lifts us from our despair.
Many: God hears us and helps us, asking nothing in return.
One: O God, do not withhold your mercy from us.
Many: God’s steadfast love and faithfulness will keep us safe forever.
One: God’s wondrous deeds are beyond compare!
Many: We come together to sing God’s praises to the world!
One: Let us share the glad news of God’s salvation with joy.
Many: Let us delight in God’s desires for us.

Invocation (inspired by 1 Corinthians 1:3-6, Isaiah 49:6)

Holy One,
Call out to us this day and fill us with your grace and peace.
Enrich us with your Spirit that we may be strengthened
in our service to you. Guide us on your path
that we may be the light of your salvation to the world.

God is with us

Although some of us might have already taken down our trees, manger scenes, and other decorations, it is still officially the Christmas season. In the church calendar we celebrate Christmas until Epiphany begins on January 6, which is also still about recognizing the light that has come. Sometimes we need these many reminders of God’s presence born into our lives.

What does it mean when we celebrate this child Jesus who was born so long ago? Historically, there isn’t much we really know with certainty about Jesus’ birth. We have the four biblical gospels, but Mark and John don’t even talk about Jesus’ birth and Matthew and Luke differ on the details. And, of course, these accounts of Jesus’ birth, as well as those of his life, death, and resurrection, aren’t really written to give us historical details, but to tell us deeper truths of who Jesus was and is.

Matthew tells the story of an angel visiting Joseph. The angel tells Joseph that there is something special about the baby that Mary is carrying and the angel gives the baby two names: Jesus, which means “one who saves,” and Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” Both names are important statements about who Jesus is, but perhaps “God is with us” better captures the spirit of Christmas.

Christians understand God as having taking human form in a small baby. A baby is vulnerable. A baby needs help. A baby does not represent a vengeful God who comes to crush our enemies. God doesn’t come to us as a violent God, but as a child, vulnerable as we are vulnerable, to be received and loved, not feared. John 3:16 says that God so loved the world that God gave us Jesus. Despite the connection often made between this famous bible verse and Jesus’ death, John 3:16 doesn’t actually talk about his death and resurrection. It says only that Jesus is a gift of love. Jesus is the incarnation of God’s love. Jesus as “God with Us” is also “Love with us.” When we get to wishing people would put Christ back into Christmas perhaps we’re really saying let us put love back into Christmas. I’m ok with that because the world needs a lot more love.

Christmas is ultimately not about Mary being a virgin, or the wise people traveling from a far away land, or angels appearing to shepherds. All of these are wonderful stories which are told to convey to us the truth that God is with us. Our Christmas celebrations invite us to stop and look for “God with us,” to notice the Christ-presence in our own time, to notice where and when Love is born into the world. Take a moment today to look for signs of love within you and around you: a kind word, someone helping a stranger, a special unexpected gift, an act of charity and compassion, sunshine peaking through winter clouds, the companionship of a pet… where do you see Christ in the world? Where do you see love in the world? Stop and look. Stop and listen. For God is with us.


This reflection was published in my church newsletter on January 3, 2020 and inspired by the sermon, “God is with Us,” from Sunday, December 22, 2019. Audio recordings of most of my sermons can be found at https://phoenixchurch.org/home/phx-sermons/.

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