Blog

When I Open My Eyes

By Ken Woodley

Many years ago, an anonymous author wrote these words: “Jesus did not come to make God’s love possible, but to make God’s love visible.”
My own experiences have taught me over and over again that those words are true.

But there are times when I need to remind myself that the light of God’s love is not a myth, nor can any words of human theological dogma and doctrine put it on a leash and lead it this way and that.
God’s love runs free.
The darkness of fear and doubt that so often fills the world with turbulent emotions, however, can make it hard for me to fully feel that love.
The darkness can make it hard for me to have faith that even one small flicker of light can feel to my soul like a sunrise of love.
Sometimes it is hard to keep genuinely and actively believing that one small twinkling of light can always lead me back to a truth that, in my life, was born in Bethlehem.
And can do so in the middle of any season and any month or week.
Because every day can be Christmas.
Just as every day can be Easter.
God’s love was always there, but, for me, it took Jesus to break through the darkness and illuminate the truth about the intimacy of that love.
My journey toward and then with Jesus brought that sense of love to me until the feeling was palpable. I was inundated by it. This morning, I experienced a renewed soul-understanding of that fact.
I’ve been going through quite a difficult time lately and the winds, rain, thunder and lightning of that “storm” had, like clouds, obscured my awareness of God’s constant love. I’ve been like a small boat on an angry sea.
Today, just after sunrise, I was overtaken by a feeling or awareness, by a calming presence that reminded me I am loved by God. Not because of any good works I may have done in the past or might do in the future. I am just loved. Unconditionally. I don’t need to hold on to it to keep it from running off. This love is always there.
And certainly not just for me.
No matter who we are, where we live, what we believe or disbelieve, this truth stands, unfaltering:
Jesus carries the light of God’s love into even the deepest, darkest caverns of our lives.
I believe Jesus hoped to change the way all of us think about everything, but especially the way we think about ourselves and God.
He strove to bring us into a personal, loving relationship with God. There are so many times he tried to make that point in the Gospels.
The kingdom of heaven was always around me. But, like so many people in the world, I just never saw it in the blinding darkness.
Until I saw it.
I never felt its reaching touch, my soul’s skin too calloused by the darkness to feel such determined gentleness.
Until I felt it.
God’s love is like an unquenchable light shining in the world—with us and for us all.
The darkness only seems unbeatable when I close my eyes in anxious fear and keep them tightly shut.
When I open them the darkness has no chance.
Because God’s love is all around me.
Just as it is all around you.
There is nothing else any of us can believe that will change that fact.

By Ken Woodley

Many years ago, an anonymous author wrote these words: “Jesus did not come to make God’s love possible, but to make God’s love visible.”
My own experiences have taught me over and over again that those words are true.

But there are times when I need to remind myself that the light of God’s love is not a myth, nor can any words of human theological dogma and doctrine put it on a leash and lead it this way and that.
God’s love runs free.
The darkness of fear and doubt that so often fills the world with turbulent emotions, however, can make it hard for me to fully feel that love.
The darkness can make it hard for me to have faith that even one small flicker of light can feel to my soul like a sunrise of love.
Sometimes it is hard to keep genuinely and actively believing that one small twinkling of light can always lead me back to a truth that, in my life, was born in Bethlehem.
And can do so in the middle of any season and any month or week.
Because every day can be Christmas.
Just as every day can be Easter.
God’s love was always there, but, for me, it took Jesus to break through the darkness and illuminate the truth about the intimacy of that love.
My journey toward and then with Jesus brought that sense of love to me until the feeling was palpable. I was inundated by it. This morning, I experienced a renewed soul-understanding of that fact.
I’ve been going through quite a difficult time lately and the winds, rain, thunder and lightning of that “storm” had, like clouds, obscured my awareness of God’s constant love. I’ve been like a small boat on an angry sea.
Today, just after sunrise, I was overtaken by a feeling or awareness, by a calming presence that reminded me I am loved by God. Not because of any good works I may have done in the past or might do in the future. I am just loved. Unconditionally. I don’t need to hold on to it to keep it from running off. This love is always there.
And certainly not just for me.
No matter who we are, where we live, what we believe or disbelieve, this truth stands, unfaltering:
Jesus carries the light of God’s love into even the deepest, darkest caverns of our lives.
I believe Jesus hoped to change the way all of us think about everything, but especially the way we think about ourselves and God.
He strove to bring us into a personal, loving relationship with God. There are so many times he tried to make that point in the Gospels.
The kingdom of heaven was always around me. But, like so many people in the world, I just never saw it in the blinding darkness.
Until I saw it.
I never felt its reaching touch, my soul’s skin too calloused by the darkness to feel such determined gentleness.
Until I felt it.
God’s love is like an unquenchable light shining in the world—with us and for us all.
The darkness only seems unbeatable when I close my eyes in anxious fear and keep them tightly shut.
When I open them the darkness has no chance.
Because God’s love is all around me.
Just as it is all around you.
There is nothing else any of us can believe that will change that fact.


A Year Of Ash Wednesdays

By Ken Woodley

So this is Ash Wednesday?

Again.

It sometimes feels that the world has had 12 months of Ash Wednesdays, to go along with Ash Mondays and Tuesdays that preceded Ash Thursdays and Fridays, that came just before Ash Saturdays and, sadly, Ash Sundays, as well.
I’m not going to miss having ashes rubbed into my forehead tonight because the past year has covered me with its ashes from head to toe.
Instead, I want those ashes washed from the entirety of my body.
But even if it were possible to wash them all away, they’d only come right back because there are ashes everywhere.
The ashes have touched everyone and everything in some way over the past 12 months.
The pandemic has seemed to take all of the biggest and brightest colors in the world and break them into little pieces.
Broken pieces for the broken days and broken weeks and months in a broken year.
Indeed, there have been times when it felt like the relentless and remorseless ashes were the alpha and the omega. That in the beginning there were ashes, only ashes, and that ashes covered the day, that ashes smothered the sun, turning the day into night.
But that is not the truth.
That would be a lie.
We will not fall prey to that deception.
We will pray and rise in truth.
For there is, as always, one among us whom we cannot see but we can surely feel.
Right here. And now.

So let the ashes remind us of the flame.

Because the Lord is our shepherd, we shall not be in want.
But let us not lie down in green pastures alone,
nor sit in solitude beside the still waters,
because the valley of the shadow of death
is filled with countless souls who need to feel
the comfort of his rod and staff,
who need to eat from the table
and feel their head anointed with oil,
their cup overflowing,
and that they, too, have goodness and love
dogging their every footstep
on the way to the house of the Lord.

So let our ashes help remind them of the flame.
For surely one day the wolf will lie with the lamb,
And the leopard shall lie down with the goat,
The calf and lion and the yearling together.

And may the wolves and the lambs,
the leopards and the goats,
the calves and the lions and the yearlings
begin their journey toward one another,
not just out in the world,
but deep within us,
because that is how the kingdom of heaven
begins to enter the world.
And oh how the world needs that.

So let the ashes remind us of the flame.

Because COVID-19 has not been alone in dumping ashes across our landscape here in America. Even when hope about effective vaccines began to blossom as 2020 was coming to a close, the flowers of our democracy were trampled.
The results of the presidential election were questioned and then attacked by those who sought to overturn the will of the American people. The horror movie we’d all been living since last March took on even more apocalyptic dimensions with mob violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 that threatened the very foundations of this nation.
The scenes, and what they meant, were truly frightening. It was a domestic 9-11. I heard words spoken and saw misdeeds done that I never could have imagined taking place in this country. COVID-19 wasn’t the only virus stalking our land.
But there are other words calling us to other deeds and the voice of Jesus in the The Beatitudes has never rung with deeper resonance.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons and daughters of God.
May the wings of those angels have our hearts and minds,
may they have our arms and legs
on our Lenten journey, and on every journey.

And may the ashes remind us of the flame because, while there are vaccines for COVID-19, there is no vaccination against the dark side of human nature.
Yes, the pandemic did seem to take all of the world’s biggest brightest colors and break them into little pieces, and subsequent political events broke them even more.
But that gives all of us the chance to turn them into stained glass windows so that the sun may shine through us all into a world too filled with darkness.
So let the ashes remind us of the flame.
And may we all flicker brightly as a light for all the world.
As Jesus hoped we would.

By Ken Woodley


So this is Ash Wednesday?

Again.

It sometimes feels that the world has had 12 months of Ash Wednesdays, to go along with Ash Mondays and Tuesdays that preceded Ash Thursdays and Fridays, that came just before Ash Saturdays and, sadly, Ash Sundays, as well.
I’m not going to miss having ashes rubbed into my forehead tonight because the past year has covered me with its ashes from head to toe.
Instead, I want those ashes washed from the entirety of my body.
But even if it were possible to wash them all away, they’d only come right back because there are ashes everywhere.
The ashes have touched everyone and everything in some way over the past 12 months.
The pandemic has seemed to take all of the biggest and brightest colors in the world and break them into little pieces.
Broken pieces for the broken days and broken weeks and months in a broken year.
Indeed, there have been times when it felt like the relentless and remorseless ashes were the alpha and the omega. That in the beginning there were ashes, only ashes, and that ashes covered the day, that ashes smothered the sun, turning the day into night.
But that is not the truth.
That would be a lie.
We will not fall prey to that deception.
We will pray and rise in truth.
For there is, as always, one among us whom we cannot see but we can surely feel.
Right here. And now.

So let the ashes remind us of the flame.

Because the Lord is our shepherd, we shall not be in want.
But let us not lie down in green pastures alone,
nor sit in solitude beside the still waters,
because the valley of the shadow of death
is filled with countless souls who need to feel
the comfort of his rod and staff,
who need to eat from the table
and feel their head anointed with oil,
their cup overflowing,
and that they, too, have goodness and love
dogging their every footstep
on the way to the house of the Lord.

So let our ashes help remind them of the flame.

For surely one day the wolf will lie with the lamb,
And the leopard shall lie down with the goat,
The calf and lion and the yearling together.

And may the wolves and the lambs,
the leopards and the goats,
the calves and the lions and the yearlings
begin their journey toward one another,
not just out in the world,
but deep within us,
because that is how the kingdom of heaven
begins to enter the world.
And oh how the world needs that.

So let the ashes remind us of the flame.

Because COVID-19 has not been alone in dumping ashes across our landscape here in America. Even when hope about effective vaccines began to blossom as 2020 was coming to a close, the flowers of our democracy were trampled.
The results of the presidential election were questioned and then attacked by those who sought to overturn the will of the American people. The horror movie we’d all been living since last March took on even more apocalyptic dimensions with mob violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 that threatened the very foundations of this nation.
The scenes, and what they meant, were truly frightening. It was a domestic 9-11. I heard words spoken and saw misdeeds done that I never could have imagined taking place in this country. COVID-19 wasn’t the only virus stalking our land.
But there are other words calling us to other deeds and the voice of Jesus in the The Beatitudes has never rung with deeper resonance.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons and daughters of God.
May the wings of those angels have our hearts and minds,
may they have our arms and legs
on our Lenten journey, and on every journey.

And may the ashes remind us of the flame because, while there are vaccines for COVID-19, there is no vaccination against the dark side of human nature.
Yes, the pandemic did seem to take all of the world’s biggest brightest colors and break them into little pieces, and subsequent political events broke them even more.
But that gives all of us the chance to turn them into stained glass windows so that the sun may shine through us all into a world too filled with darkness.
So let the ashes remind us of the flame.
And may we all flicker brightly as a light for all the world.
As Jesus hoped we would.





Sometimes Always

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

By Ken Woodley

Sometimes,

when the moon seems skillfully slung

to skip across the rushing clouds,

I wonder whose wrist and fingers

give this crescent light its motion

and if the heart behind the hand knows I’m watching,

wading toward the deep end of the sky,

up to my neck now

and wanting to swim

in communion

with the reflection of the sun

along the surface of the lunar song

being sung across the skin of heaven.

Sometimes,

the light splashes

and I feel its current all around,

lifting me for a moment so brief

that it seems unreal,

as if it were only a fantasy of my own desperate yearning.

Sometimes, I feel the heart behind the hand

send me skipping, too, across the clouds

in the wake of the singing moon.

And then my wondering turns to wonder,

turning sometimes into

always

until the shouting, weeping, tumbling world sweeps always aside

and I find myself

looking up into the night-time sky

when the moon seems skillfully slung

to skip across the rushing clouds,

wondering whose wrist and fingers

give this crescent light its motion

and if the heart behind the hand knows I’m watching.

And that is where I find you

finding me

again.

Always.


“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

By Ken Woodley

Sometimes,

when the moon seems skillfully slung

to skip across the rushing clouds,

I wonder whose wrist and fingers

give this crescent light its motion

and if the heart behind the hand knows I’m watching,

wading toward the deep end of the sky,

up to my neck now

and wanting to swim

in communion

with the reflection of the sun

along the surface of the lunar song

being sung across the skin of heaven.

Sometimes,

the light splashes

and I feel its current all around,

lifting me for a moment so brief

that it seems unreal,

as if it were only a fantasy of my own desperate yearning.

Sometimes, I feel the heart behind the hand

send me skipping, too, across the clouds

in the wake of the singing moon.

And then my wondering turns to wonder,

turning sometimes into

always

until the shouting, weeping, tumbling world sweeps always aside

and I find myself

looking up into the night-time sky

when the moon seems skillfully slung

to skip across the rushing clouds,

wondering whose wrist and fingers

give this crescent light its motion

and if the heart behind the hand knows I’m watching.

And that is where I find you

finding me

again.

Always.








Every Day Has Become The Day I Need You Most

By Ken Woodley

“In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went to a deserted place, and there he prayed.”

—the Gospel of Mark

I remember being a child in Nazareth,
sitting on the flat roof of our house under a night sky
so filled with stars
that I thought the darkness would turn itself inside out.

But there is more darkness in the world than is found in the night sky
and I prayed that one day, no matter what,
the light would turn all of that other darkness inside out.

That is still my prayer, God.
Oh, God, how that is still my prayer.

But I also prayed that the light would somehow turn me inside out, too.
And then one day it did.
The light of your love turned me upside down and inside out.
Astonishing me.
Sometimes, the memory almost feels like the day it really happened.
Especially when I need you most.
Oh, Lord, every day has begun to feel like the day when I need you most.

So here I am in this deserted place,
again,
under the star-pricked sky,
again,
feeling almost like a child in school,
again,
who has precisely followed his teacher’s instructions:
Make an imaginary night sky,
again,
by poking small holes in dark construction paper
to let the flashlight shine through from behind
like midnight constellations.
Again.

Almost.
Only almost.
Because I am the child
who chose to tear away all of the dark paper
and let in every beam of light, instead,
trying to forever shine your love onto the scars of others
and into the places that still hurt.

I know that I have tried that with my own scars.

I am so often left weary but warily exhilarated
at the luminous possibilities of it all,
brushing the hammers and the nails aside
—even though they always return—
and living the life you dreamed I would,
feeling the corner of your smile widening inside me,

and a joy deeper than rumbling laughter
reflected in the moonlight sailing on the waves below,
taking me across the sea.

By Ken Woodley

“In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went to a deserted place, and there he prayed.”

—the Gospel of Mark

I remember being a child in Nazareth,
sitting on the flat roof of our house under a night sky
so filled with stars
that I thought the darkness would turn itself inside out.

But there is more darkness in the world than is found in the night sky
and I prayed that one day, no matter what,
the light would turn all of that other darkness inside out.

That is still my prayer, God.
Oh, God, how that is still my prayer.

But I also prayed that the light would somehow turn me inside out, too.
And then one day it did.
The light of your love turned me upside down and inside out.
Astonishing me.
Sometimes, the memory almost feels like the day it really happened.
Especially when I need you most.
Oh, Lord, every day has begun to feel like the day when I need you most.

So here I am in this deserted place,
again,
under the star-pricked sky,
again,
feeling almost like a child in school,
again,
who has precisely followed his teacher’s instructions:
Make an imaginary night sky,
again,
by poking small holes in dark construction paper
to let the flashlight shine through from behind
like midnight constellations.
Again.

Almost.
Only almost.
Because I am the child
who chose to tear away all of the dark paper
and let in every beam of light, instead,
trying to forever shine your love onto the scars of others
and into the places that still hurt.

I know that I have tried that with my own scars.

I am so often left weary but warily exhilarated
at the luminous possibilities of it all,
brushing the hammers and the nails aside
—even though they always return—
and living the life you dreamed I would,
feeling the corner of your smile widening inside me,

and a joy deeper than rumbling laughter
reflected in the moonlight sailing on the waves below,
taking me across the sea.






















Just Imagine

By Ken Woodley

Imagine how it must have felt to have been healed by Jesus.
In person and face-to-face.
To feel his words.
His hands.
His love.
It may, at least at first, felt somewhat disconcerting. After years of infirmity, you are suddenly cast away from that which hounded you for so long. Perhaps it felt a little like this:
Suddenly all of the dissonance is gone.
But I cannot hear a thing.
Nothing at all.
Without the dissonance there isn’t a single solitary sound.
Nothing … but … this … other … thing.
This other thing that is not dissonance.
How can that be?
The dissonance said that it was here forever and then, just like that, it was gone.
I stumbled and fell, unbalanced without the dissonance, deafened by this new sensation of a world no longer shouting at me.
No dissonance to guide me.
No hope of escape from this new …
This new what?!?!?
The sky seems to fall.
Seems to kneel and touch my face.
Reaching out as far as it can to caress my cheek.
As if heaven, itself, is brushing my face with its lips.
Redeeming me, healing me, with a kiss.
Why would heaven ever want to kiss me, of all people?
The dissonance said that heaven never would.
Why would heaven ever care?
The dissonance swore that heaven never would.
And what did heaven do with all of the dissonance that used to fill my ears with its chaos?
The dissonance swore that it was the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
So help me God.
So … help me what?
Why would God ever care?
The dissonance screamed that God never would.
Why would God ever want to brush my face with a kiss of even the smallest caring show of affection?
The dissonance promised that God never would.
But maybe—just perhaps—the dissonance wasn’t telling the truth. Not the whole truth. Nor any of the truth.
Because there it is.
Again and again and again.
A sudden harmony.
A harmony that wraps me up so entirely and so wonderfully that it makes me feel as if I were the only thing that it ever wanted.
A harmony that sings for me with such wondrous melodies that I am deafened.
So deafened that this time I hear everything that the dissonance was trying to cover up with its noise.
All of my senses listen.
I hear everything that I see within the light inside your eyes.
I hear everything that I feel in your healing touch upon my skin.
And all that is in the ember warmth of your voice speaking words that I never thought I’d hear.

Now, imagine hearing those words today.


By Ken Woodley

Imagine how it must have felt to have been healed by Jesus.
In person and face-to-face.
To feel his words.
His hands.
His love.
It may, at least at first, felt somewhat disconcerting. After years of infirmity, you are suddenly cast away from that which hounded you for so long. Perhaps it felt a little like this:
Suddenly all of the dissonance is gone.
But I cannot hear a thing.
Nothing at all.
Without the dissonance there isn’t a single solitary sound.
Nothing … but … this … other … thing.
This other thing that is not dissonance.
How can that be?
The dissonance said that it was here forever and then, just like that, it was gone.
I stumbled and fell, unbalanced without the dissonance, deafened by this new sensation of a world no longer shouting at me.
No dissonance to guide me.
No hope of escape from this new …
This new what?!?!?
The sky seems to fall.
Seems to kneel and touch my face.
Reaching out as far as it can to caress my cheek.
As if heaven, itself, is brushing my face with its lips.
Redeeming me, healing me, with a kiss.
Why would heaven ever want to kiss me, of all people?
The dissonance said that heaven never would.
Why would heaven ever care?
The dissonance swore that heaven never would.
And what did heaven do with all of the dissonance that used to fill my ears with its chaos?
The dissonance swore that it was the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
So help me God.
So … help me what?
Why would God ever care?
The dissonance screamed that God never would.
Why would God ever want to brush my face with a kiss of even the smallest caring show of affection?
The dissonance promised that God never would.
But maybe—just perhaps—the dissonance wasn’t telling the truth. Not the whole truth. Nor any of the truth.
Because there it is.
Again and again and again.
A sudden harmony.
A harmony that wraps me up so entirely and so wonderfully that it makes me feel as if I were the only thing that it ever wanted.
A harmony that sings for me with such wondrous melodies that I am deafened.
So deafened that this time I hear everything that the dissonance was trying to cover up with its noise.
All of my senses listen.
I hear everything that I see within the light inside your eyes.
I hear everything that I feel in your healing touch upon my skin.
And all that is in the ember warmth of your voice speaking words that I never thought I’d hear.

Now, imagine hearing those words today.

No Insurrection Can Topple This Truth

By Ken Woodley

“Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”

—The Gospel of Mark

Four-fifths of our world is covered in water.
Eighty percent of the planet Earth.
The currents and tides touch every continent.
Water that washes over countless soles.
If I were to touch the last gasp of even the smallest wave at Virginia Beach I would be sharing that vast expanse of water with someone doing the same thing on the shores of Nigeria.
The wave wouldn’t care about the color of our skin.
Or where the beach was.
Neither does God.
No insurrection can topple that truth.
Oh, if we could only become more like those waves.
And see what God sees in all of us.
Just reaching out toward every soul.
Toward all accents and every pigment.
When I look down into the smallest stream at my reflection my face is mirrored by water that will one day join the great oceans and seas that cover the earth.
Water that will mirror the face of every man, woman or child who looks for their own reflection beneath a sky that knows nothing of race or ethnicity.
The Holy Spirit of God doesn’t fill our sails to narrow our journey.
The Holy Spirit fills our sails to broaden the reach of our heart.
The reach of the love for which Jesus gave his life; the truth that Jesus died for: God is love and God loves us all.
On every beach.
On any shore.
Every square inch of earth.
There is something we’d be wise to understand:
If we are good enough for God—and God’s love declares that we are—then we are good enough.
Period.
For anyone and everyone.
Period.
And so is everyone else.
There is no lie that could possibly erase that truth, though liars desperately try to cover the entire earth with their sea of falsehoods.
That must mean that we are good enough—we must be good enough—for each other.
Period.
Or … that’s the way it should be.
Unfortunately, we are separated from each other on this planet by more than water.
We are separated from each other by ourselves, and that can sometimes be the widest chasm of all to overcome.
Especially when we allow others to further divide and push us even farther apart.
Jesus knew what he was doing when he asked us to follow him and become fishers of people.
There are nearly 30,000 species of fish in the world.
We could never catch them all, no matter how hard we try.
But there is only one human race.
If only we would see part of our own reflection in every face.

By Ken Woodley

“Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”

—The Gospel of Mark

Four-fifths of our world is covered in water.
Eighty percent of the planet Earth.
The currents and tides touch every continent.
Water that washes over countless soles.
If I were to touch the last gasp of even the smallest wave at Virginia Beach I would be sharing that vast expanse of water with someone doing the same thing on the shores of Nigeria.
The wave wouldn’t care about the color of our skin.
Or where the beach was.
Neither does God.
No insurrection can topple that truth.
Oh, if we could only become more like those waves.
And see what God sees in all of us.
Just reaching out toward every soul.
Toward all accents and every pigment.
When I look down into the smallest stream at my reflection my face is mirrored by water that will one day join the great oceans and seas that cover the earth.
Water that will mirror the face of every man, woman or child who looks for their own reflection beneath a sky that knows nothing of race or ethnicity.
The Holy Spirit of God doesn’t fill our sails to narrow our journey.
The Holy Spirit fills our sails to broaden the reach of our heart.
The reach of the love for which Jesus gave his life; the truth that Jesus died for: God is love and God loves us all.
On every beach.
On any shore.
Every square inch of earth.
There is something we’d be wise to understand:
If we are good enough for God—and God’s love declares that we are—then we are good enough.
Period.
For anyone and everyone.
Period.
And so is everyone else.
There is no lie that could possibly erase that truth, though liars desperately try to cover the entire earth with their sea of falsehoods.
That must mean that we are good enough—we must be good enough—for each other.
Period.
Or … that’s the way it should be.
Unfortunately, we are separated from each other on this planet by more than water.
We are separated from each other by ourselves, and that can sometimes be the widest chasm of all to overcome.
Especially when we allow others to further divide and push us even farther apart.
Jesus knew what he was doing when he asked us to follow him and become fishers of people.
There are nearly 30,000 species of fish in the world.
We could never catch them all, no matter how hard we try.
But there is only one human race.
If only we would see part of our own reflection in every face.







Jesus Gave Her Another Word

By Ken Woodley
The young girl heard The Voice Of The World shouting, “Can anything good come out of this child?”
The Voice was talking about her and its tone seemed to answer the question.
No, The Voice Of The World quite clearly felt, nothing good could ever come out of that child. And The Voice Of The World made certain that the child heard the answer.
But the child wasn’t the only one listening.
Jesus heard, too.
And Jesus wept.
Tears flowed for this child and for all of the children of God—no matter how old they were—who’d heard The Voice Of The World so often question, challenge and demean their child of God selves.
Demean them because of the color of their skin.
Threaten them with a pandemic.
Challenge them with lies.
Tear them down and apart with abuse.
Question them with callous indifference.
Swallow them with disease.
And enslave them with poverty.
Before abolishing their very existence with death.
The Voice Of The World shouted so loud that even the waves in the sea seemed to retreat, abandoning the beach where children once played behind, turning it into a desert.
But the tears of Jesus were like rain.
And Jesus lifted the child.
Jesus lifted the child and told her something else.
Raised the child up.
Jesus gave her another word that The Voice Of The World had tried so hard to erase.
Resurrected the child with four simple letters that Jesus carefully arranged:
L…
O…
V…
E…
Love? the child wondered.
Really?” the child asked.
Me?” the child pleaded.
“Come and see,” Jesus answered.
And so the child, carried in the loving heart of Christ, followed.
Followed despite all of the odds that the world said were stacked against every child of God.
Followed despite all of the statistics of probability the world declared would defeat all children of God.
Followed.
Miraculously.
Because Jesus carried her.
Because Jesus carries you.
Because Jesus carries all of the children of God to the truth of God’s love for them all.
And we are all children of God.
No matter what the World says with its hammers and nails.
No matter what the World tries so desperately to make the children of God believe.
A child risen.
The child in us all.
The child that God wants us all to be and believe to be our truest self.
Just who we are and just as we are.
Loved.
And nothing but loved.



By Ken Woodley
The young girl heard The Voice Of The World shouting, “Can anything good come out of this child?”
The Voice was talking about her and its tone seemed to answer the question.
No, The Voice Of The World quite clearly felt, nothing good could ever come out of that child. And The Voice Of The World made certain that the child heard the answer.
But the child wasn’t the only one listening.
Jesus heard, too.
And Jesus wept.
Tears flowed for this child and for all of the children of God—no matter how old they were—who’d heard The Voice Of The World so often question, challenge and demean their child of God selves.
Demean them because of the color of their skin.
Threaten them with a pandemic.
Challenge them with lies.
Tear them down and apart with abuse.
Question them with callous indifference.
Swallow them with disease.
And enslave them with poverty.
Before abolishing their very existence with death.
The Voice Of The World shouted so loud that even the waves in the sea seemed to retreat, abandoning the beach where children once played behind, turning it into a desert.
But the tears of Jesus were like rain.
And Jesus lifted the child.
Jesus lifted the child and told her something else.
Raised the child up.
Jesus gave her another word that The Voice Of The World had tried so hard to erase.
Resurrected the child with four simple letters that Jesus carefully arranged:
L…
O…
V…
E…
Love? the child wondered.
Really?” the child asked.
Me?” the child pleaded.
“Come and see,” Jesus answered.
And so the child, carried in the loving heart of Christ, followed.
Followed despite all of the odds that the world said were stacked against every child of God.
Followed despite all of the statistics of probability the world declared would defeat all children of God.
Followed.
Miraculously.
Because Jesus carried her.
Because Jesus carries you.
Because Jesus carries all of the children of God to the truth of God’s love for them all.
And we are all children of God.
No matter what the World says with its hammers and nails.
No matter what the World tries so desperately to make the children of God believe.
A child risen.
The child in us all.
The child that God wants us all to be and believe to be our truest self.
Just who we are and just as we are.
Loved.
And nothing but loved.

The Ascension Of Kong

By Ken Woodley

When I rose
I fell,
falling heavily
through stained glass windows
until they became
the sides of city skyscrapers
and I climbed
manmade stories,
knocking down planes
with upraised arms
until I found you at the top,
telling me that God is Love,
and I turned to see
the shadow
of my former self
lying on the street
below.

By Ken Woodley

When I rose
I fell,
falling heavily
through stained glass windows
until they became
the sides of city skyscrapers
and I climbed
manmade stories,
knocking down planes
with upraised arms
until I found you at the top,
telling me that God is Love,
and I turned to see
the shadow
of my former self
lying on the street
below.

In Any Direction We Might Choose In 2021

By Ken Woodley

The alarm sounds early on this winter’s morning that is still as dark as night.

Sunrise is nearly two hours away and it’s so cold beyond this windowpane that even the world’s shivers are frozen solid.

A small lamp on my desk near the windowsill shows how busy the cold has been while I slept. The storm window is filled with jagged, deliriously crooked strokes of ice that point in every direction.

Were the design on the windowpane a compass, and were I to follow its directions, I fear that I’d be lost.

Hopelessly and forever lost.

On a morning this cold and this dark, I feel a little lost anyway.

But a new day is coming.

A New Year is on the way.

The 12 months that have been 2020 are going, going, gone.

The year 2021 feels, maybe, like it could be, just might be, coming to the rescue.

But there have been blessings this year and I refuse to allow COVID-19 to erase them. I count them, instead, determined to carry these blessings forward with me into the new year:

I have heard my wife say “I love you,” held my two-year-old granddaughter while she slept and played in her imagination, splashing in “sun puddles,” after she awoke, heard a black-billed cuckoo sing in the summer woods by a stream…

…Savored the aroma of spicy chicken cooking in the kitchen, basked in the warmth of my 13-year-old dog in my lap, finished writing a novel that had called to me for years…

…Saw the full moon shining brightly among the pastel pinks and blues of dawn-painted clouds and remembered that the sun has risen every day, listened to Patrick Stewart read Shakespeare’s sonnets, found out a second granddaughter will be born next month and began dreaming about her imagination…

…Saw Monarch butterflies in November, cheered as genuine good guy, Clayton Kershaw, won the World Series at last, read new books, re-read the wondrous P. G. Wodehouse—again…

…Sang “Silent Night” wearing a mask, saw mountains suddenly arise in the distance, heard the call of Canada Geese when there were none in sight, shared some words about God and Jesus and felt ripples of peace, spent time with all of you wherever you are, so many blessings…on and on and on…

Out beyond this pane, where I cannot see, I know that the maples and oaks are bare in the darkness, their limbs and branches holding tightly to the secret of spring as if their lives—as if the existence of everyone—depended on it.

I remember last night, standing out in the cold, filling my lungs with its freezing and then filling the darkness with my warm, rising, ghosting breath.

I remember the night before and the night before that.

I remember all of the nights put together as if they were all one long, never-ending night.

I remember the stars making the night sky look like it was breaking out in a rash of ice and I wondered if one day I would fall through the ice into the sky.

Or beyond the sky.

I sit here by the window now, looking at the stained glass cross that is hanging from the window latch; its green and orange, its yellow, blue and purple declaring everything that moments of darkness cannot hide from my soul, even if I cannot see everything with my eyes.

And I know one thing for certain: when the sun rises, the light of this new day will shine toward me, into the frost and through the cross, in the straightest possible line.

With that truth deep in my heart, I am able to decipher the message in the frost that has been painted across my windowpane like the blooms of winter and pointing the clear way forward, despite its zig-zagging pattern:

Any and every direction I might choose is filled with God’s love, in all of my sorrow and all of my joy.

And in all of yours.

A 2020 Vision For Christmas Eve

By Ken Woodley

’Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring…Well, maybe a mouse.

Some stockings were hung. Others were not. Some wondered if Christmas would find every spot.

The pandemic still spread its worrying concern, challenging us to find lessons to learn.

To treasure the moments that all of us share. To help and to heal. To reach out with care.

We were thinking of family and thinking of friends, praying that COVID would soon come to an end.

When up on the hillside there arose such a noise: angels and shepherds all singing of joys.

A child has been born, they sang with a smile, and we were determined to walk every mile.

Away toward that manger, through rain, sleet and snow, as if there were no place that we’d rather go.

We were six feet apart and all wore our mask. We were ready for whatever our savior might ask.

The moon hung like an ornament high up in the sky, but a star shone far brighter and seemed so nearby.

The lion was ready to lay with the lamb, if we’d just believe in God’s holy plan.

Closer we came to the manger scene now, immune to our fears in some way and some how.

There wasn’t a wise man, no, nowhere in sight, just ordinary folks feeling love’s holy might.

There was no barn and no stable, no building at all, but the child still within us did answer the call.

The babe in the manger would find shelter here, in our hearts, in our souls whenever we care

For others who hurt, for others in pain, and give of ourselves, with nothing to gain.

Turning our cheek when the anguish is ours so a field full of thorns can blossoms with flowers.

No room at the inn but room inside us who give birth to a message we know we can trust.

In the love Jesus promised God has for us all, whether we stand, stumble or fall.

For black and white and red and brown, for all the colors in between. We are pigments of God’s imagination, of God’s great love dream.

No virus can touch it. No, none can come close. This love is a spirit, no Halloween ghost.

This great truth will cover the Earth, a gift we unwrap through this sacred birth.

Away in that manger, no crib for a bed, but born every day in our footsteps, instead.