Blog

The Road To Emmaus

By Ken Woodley

The Road to Emmaus is all around us.

There is no set path. No particular interstate highway or country lane.

The Road to Emmaus just is—stretching out in every direction. 

North. South. East. And west.

We journey upon it each day, whether we realize it or not. Every paved mile that we drive is upon the Road to Emmaus. Each sidewalk step that we take is upon the Road to Emmaus. 

Left, right, left.

Through the woods.

Across a field.

Upstairs and down.

For our entire life.

Forward, or backward, day by day.

Curiously, however, we often fail to sense its presence. There are so many distractions along the way. One moment we are deep in contemplative prayer and the next minute we suddenly find ourselves in the middle of life’s often tumultuous cacophony of desperate voices and events. 

We become like the two disciples described in the Gospel of Luke, walking toward Emmaus and so busy talking about the crucifixion of Jesus and rumors of his resurrection that they fail to see that he is walking right  beside them.

The experience is not unlike walking out from a forest of wondrous peace into Times Square.

But even Times Square is part of the Road to Emmaus. 

The Road to Emmaus is everywhere—no exceptions.

And Jesus is there—no exceptions—for those who seek him.

Jesus is there, waiting for us to recognize him.

Waiting for us to recognize him in our hearts.

To recognize him in our souls.

To recognize him in each other when we walk his footsteps into the world.

Every day and every step we take hold such promise.

Every day and every step offer us the chance to make the dreams that Jesus has for us come true in this world that so desperately needs those dreams to come true.

But how?

Sometimes, we just need to pull over into a spiritual rest stop and let the tumultuous caterwauling of the world’s traffic of distractions wash over us and away.

Often, we most readily recognize the Road to Emmaus—and who journeys upon it by our side—only when we stop for a moment to look around and feel the scenery of our soul and the sunrise of our hearts burning within us.

That is when Jesus is able to “break bread” with us, even if there is not a crumb or a crust or a loaf in sight. 

Quite possibly, however, another person is by your side, walking the same steps on the Road to Emmaus. In close proximity physically, but also close in the spirit of friendship or love. So close that it is as if the two of you are one single loaf of bread. 

But it can also be a fleeting moment, paths crossing briefly in the middle of one single day.  Even a handful of minutes or seconds can  be enough, and whether you truly know each other or are strangers at a shared crossroad.

For a brief moment there is true communion.

Because the Road to Emmaus is entirely inside us.

Wrapped up in our soul.

We are the pavement and dusty windings.

We are the journey and the destination.

So, stop now and feel what might be all around you, waiting to be recognized for what it is.

And for who he is.

By Ken Woodley

The Road to Emmaus is all around us.
There is no set path. No particular interstate highway or country lane.
The Road to Emmaus just is—stretching out in every direction.
North. South. East. And west.
We journey upon it each day, whether we realize it or not. Every paved mile that we drive is upon the Road to Emmaus. Each sidewalk step that we take is upon the Road to Emmaus.
Left, right, left.
Through the woods.
Across a field.
Upstairs and down.
For our entire life.
Forward, or backward, day by day.
Curiously, however, we often fail to sense its presence. There are so many distractions along the way. One moment we are deep in contemplative prayer and the next minute we suddenly find ourselves in the middle of life’s often tumultuous cacophony of desperate voices and events.
We become like the two disciples described in the Gospel of Luke, walking toward Emmaus and so busy talking about the crucifixion of Jesus and rumors of his resurrection that they fail to see that he is walking right beside them.
The experience is not unlike walking out from a forest of wondrous peace into Times Square.
But even Times Square is part of the Road to Emmaus.
The Road to Emmaus is everywhere—no exceptions.
And Jesus is there—no exceptions—for those who seek him.
Jesus is there, waiting for us to recognize him.
Waiting for us to recognize him in our hearts.
To recognize him in our souls.
To recognize him in each other when we walk his footsteps into the world.
Every day and every step we take hold such promise.
Every day and every step offer us the chance to make the dreams that Jesus has for us come true in this world that so desperately needs those dreams to come true.
But how?
Sometimes, we just need to pull over into a spiritual rest stop and let the tumultuous caterwauling of the world’s traffic of distractions wash over us and away.
Often, we most readily recognize the Road to Emmaus—and who journeys upon it by our side—only when we stop for a moment to look around and feel the scenery of our soul and the sunrise of our hearts burning within us.
That is when Jesus is able to “break bread” with us, even if there is not a crumb or a crust or a loaf in sight.
Quite possibly, however, another person is by your side, walking the same steps on the Road to Emmaus. In close proximity physically, but also close in the spirit of friendship or love. So close that it is as if the two of you are one single loaf of bread.
But it can also be a fleeting moment, paths crossing briefly in the middle of one single day. Even a handful of minutes or seconds can be enough, and whether you truly know each other or are strangers at a shared crossroad.
For a brief moment there is true communion.
Because the Road to Emmaus is entirely inside us.
Wrapped up in our soul.
We are the pavement and dusty windings.
We are the journey and the destination.
So, stop now and feel what might be all around you, waiting to be recognized for what it is.
And for who he is.









Not Fearing Our Wounds

“Jesus himself stood among the disciples and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see.’”

—The Gospel of John

By Ken Woodley

Jesus wasn’t afraid of his wounds.

They plainly showed. 

He did not try to hide them.

He points them out to his disbelieving disciples as proof that he has risen from the dead and that he is no ghost. 

The disciples evidently believed that they were being haunted rather than visited by their risen Savior. That is why Jesus invites them to touch him, to touch his wounds, so that their haunted fears may vanish.

No, Jesus was not afraid of his wounds. 

And he invited others to touch them.

By touching his wounds, Jesus knew, his disciples would be healed of the raw anxiety that was so destructive to the life Jesus hoped they would live after his crucifixion and resurrection.

Jesus offers us a great lesson.

Like Jesus, we should not be afraid of our wounds, either.

A wound is more than a cut, bruise or scratch, and all of us are wounded in some way. Nobody goes through life wound-free. 

Some are wounded more deeply than others but there are no trivial wounds. Wounds are terribly real. For that reason it can be easy to be afraid of them, perhaps even ashamed. We want to hide them from others. Hide them from ourselves. Pretend they don’t exist.

But running from our wounds is not the path toward healing.

Instead, trying to escape leads to us feeling hunted and haunted by our wounds, just as the disciples were hunted and haunted by the wounding loss of Jesus in their lives when he was crucified. That escapist mentality makes the wound worse, not better.

No, we don’t have to parade our wounds around or make a big song and dance about them. There is no “Wound Olympics.” It’s not a competition. 

But we do need to acknowledge them, believe that we can live with them and, crucially, be open to the way God can bring healing through the loving touch of others in our lives. 

Because, so often, that is the way God reaches out to us. The way the risen Christ is able to anoint our heads with oil and restore our soul: 

By bringing someone into our life who is not afraid of our wounds and who seeks, through loving compassion, to bring us healing.

But, the healing of wounds is a double-edge plowshare. Sometimes the effect of our own wounding empowers us to be effective healers of others. Sometimes the shape of our lives fits perfectly into the wound of someone else.

Therefore, just as we must not be afraid of our own wounds, we also must not fear the wounds of others. We must not be afraid to touch their wounds with God’s loving purpose that can, if we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, have our fingerprints all over that touch of divine grace.

And, sometimes, when we reach out with that divine healing grace toward others, we find God reaching out to us through them. Our reach meets theirs and in that moment God’s love for us is made most profoundly manifest.

That is a truth worth embracing with all of our might.

“Jesus himself stood among the disciples and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see.’”

—The Gospel of John

By Ken Woodley

Jesus wasn’t afraid of his wounds.
They plainly showed.
He did not try to hide them.
He points them out to his disbelieving disciples as proof that he has risen from the dead and that he is no ghost.
The disciples evidently believed that they were being haunted rather than visited by their risen Savior. That is why Jesus invites them to touch him, to touch his wounds, so that their haunted fears may vanish.
No, Jesus was not afraid of his wounds.
And he invited others to touch them.
By touching his wounds, Jesus knew, his disciples would be healed of the raw anxiety that was so destructive to the life Jesus hoped they would live after his crucifixion and resurrection.
Jesus offers us a great lesson.
Like Jesus, we should not be afraid of our wounds, either.
A wound is more than a cut, bruise or scratch, and all of us are wounded in some way. Nobody goes through life wound-free.
Some are wounded more deeply than others but there are no trivial wounds. Wounds are terribly real. For that reason it can be easy to be afraid of them, perhaps even ashamed. We want to hide them from others. Hide them from ourselves. Pretend they don’t exist.
But running from our wounds is not the path toward healing.
Instead, trying to escape leads to us feeling hunted and haunted by our wounds, just as the disciples were hunted and haunted by the wounding loss of Jesus in their lives when he was crucified. That escapist mentality makes the wound worse, not better.
No, we don’t have to parade our wounds around or make a big song and dance about them. There is no “Wound Olympics.” It’s not a competition.
But we do need to acknowledge them, believe that we can live with them and, crucially, be open to the way God can bring healing through the loving touch of others in our lives.
Because, so often, that is the way God reaches out to us. The way the risen Christ is able to anoint our heads with oil and restore our soul:
By bringing someone into our life who is not afraid of our wounds and who seeks, through loving compassion, to bring us healing.
But, the healing of wounds is a double-edge plowshare. Sometimes the effect of our own wounding empowers us to be effective healers of others. Sometimes the shape of our lives fits perfectly into the wound of someone else.
Therefore, just as we must not be afraid of our own wounds, we also must not fear the wounds of others. We must not be afraid to touch their wounds with God’s loving purpose that can, if we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, have our fingerprints all over that touch of divine grace.
And, sometimes, when we reach out with that divine healing grace toward others, we find God reaching out to us through them. Our reach meets theirs and in that moment God’s love for us is made most profoundly manifest.
That is a truth worth embracing with all of our might.












The Dawn Of Rapture

By Ken Woodley

He is risen.

Jesus, the great gardener of souls—capable of transforming the most wintered of life’s landscapes into spring—has bloomed and blossomed out of the grave. No wonder Mary Magdalene mistook him for the gardener when she went to his tomb in the pre-dawn darkness.

Just as nature pulls spring out of winter’s hat, like a magician—so an Easter bunny is an apt symbol, after all—Jesus turned death inside out and upside down. 

And now he stands there, outside our own tomb, reaching out to place flowers on whatever cross life has nailed us to, to turn the nails into petals.

Few people live an entire life without enduring some sense of crucifixion, however momentary it may be. 

No, there are no literal nails, no actual hammers. Roman soldiers have not made a crown of thorns for our head. 

But it is not blasphemy to have a glimpse of understanding toward the horror that Jesus endured based on moments when life for us became really, really dark, very, very painful and extremely frightening. 

Jesus, the great gardener of our soul, is there now. Is here now on Easter Day. Sharing Easter Day with us. Offering a sense of resurrection right here and right now.

Jesus knows.

Jesus understands.

And that is why he stands there, outside our tomb. He has rolled the stone away. He is stepping inside. Reaching out his hand to us. 

Where we feel barren, he can sow any crop and the harvest day will come.

Where our limbs feel bare, he can bring leaves budding.

Birdsong in our silence.

Light washing our shadows away.

A sky so blue it sticks to our eyes even in the darkness, which suddenly doesn’t seem so dark anymore.

We all get wintered by life at one time or another. The seasons of life come and go, like tides, but Jesus will never fall away from our tree like dried leaves for which summer is barely a memory and spring is no more.

Love and grace are perpetual blossoms and blooms.

It is Easter Day, and we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.

It is Easter Day, and Jesus celebrates the resurrection of us all into new life in the hereafter but also in the here and now.

Not THE resurrection for all eternity.

Not yet.

But a resurrection for today and tomorrow until eternity comes.

That is the prayer we hear Jesus whispering in our heart and in our soul.

The cure we most need may have to wait for heaven, but the healing we need is here now. Jesus is reaching out his hand to lead us away from our grave and walk with us away from our tomb so that we may experience the wonder of the flowers that suddenly surround us.

Jesus, the great gardener of our souls, offers to keep the weeds from consuming the petals he promises are inside us.

And he offers another promise, too.

Easter Day is not just this Sunday. Easter Day doesn’t die at sunset. Easter Day is not buried as the dark of night returns. Easter Day lives on and on and on because every day offers us resurrected moments in the garden with Jesus.

Just when it seems the winters of our life won’t ever let us go, there are sudden daffodils in us all.

Just where God put them.


By Ken Woodley

He is risen.
Jesus, the great gardener of souls—capable of transforming the most wintered of life’s landscapes into spring—has bloomed and blossomed out of the grave. No wonder Mary Magdalene mistook him for the gardener when she went to his tomb in the pre-dawn darkness.
Just as nature pulls spring out of winter’s hat, like a magician—so an Easter bunny is an apt symbol, after all—Jesus turned death inside out and upside down.
And now he stands there, outside our own tomb, reaching out to place flowers on whatever cross life has nailed us to, to turn the nails into petals.
Few people live an entire life without enduring some sense of crucifixion, however momentary it may be.
No, there are no literal nails, no actual hammers. Roman soldiers have not made a crown of thorns for our head.
But it is not blasphemy to have a glimpse of understanding toward the horror that Jesus endured based on moments when life for us became really, really dark, very, very painful and extremely frightening.
Jesus, the great gardener of our soul, is there now. Is here now on Easter Day. Sharing Easter Day with us. Offering a sense of resurrection right here and right now.
Jesus knows.
Jesus understands.
And that is why he stands there, outside our tomb. He has rolled the stone away. He is stepping inside. Reaching out his hand to us.
Where we feel barren, he can sow any crop and the harvest day will come.
Where our limbs feel bare, he can bring leaves budding.
Birdsong in our silence.
Light washing our shadows away.
A sky so blue it sticks to our eyes even in the darkness, which suddenly doesn’t seem so dark anymore.
We all get wintered by life at one time or another. The seasons of life come and go, like tides, but Jesus will never fall away from our tree like dried leaves for which summer is barely a memory and spring is no more.
Love and grace are perpetual blossoms and blooms.
It is Easter Day, and we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.
It is Easter Day, and Jesus celebrates the resurrection of us all into new life in the hereafter but also in the here and now.
Not THE resurrection for all eternity.
Not yet.
But a resurrection for today and tomorrow until eternity comes.
That is the prayer we hear Jesus whispering in our heart and in our soul.
The cure we most need may have to wait for heaven, but the healing we need is here now. Jesus is reaching out his hand to lead us away from our grave and walk with us away from our tomb so that we may experience the wonder of the flowers that suddenly surround us.
Jesus, the great gardener of our souls, offers to keep the weeds from consuming the petals he promises are inside us.
And he offers another promise, too.
Easter Day is not just this Sunday. Easter Day doesn’t die at sunset. Easter Day is not buried as the dark of night returns. Easter Day lives on and on and on because every day offers us resurrected moments in the garden with Jesus.
Just when it seems the winters of our life won’t ever let us go, there are sudden daffodils in us all.
Just where God put them.





















Good Friday’s Hunt For Light And Love

By Ken Woodley

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness,” said the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was assassinated 47 years ago tomorrow evening. “Only light can do that. 

“Hate cannot drive out hate,” he said.  “Only love can do that.”

Light and love will rise on Sunday and, if we let it, resurrect the world from both the darkness and the hate.

But on this day 2,000 years ago, it hardly seemed possible.

Darkness seemed to have driven out all of the light. 

Hatred seemed to have swallowed love in its entirety.

Easter is all about the triumph of light over darkness.

The victory of love over hate.

Light that is inside us, Jesus teaches.

The love within us all, is what he said.

And for that, they nailed him to a cross.

Sometimes we have to resurrect that light and love within us on a daily basis. At other times, when the world’s gravity doesn’t feel so heavy to us, both seem to rise up on their own and never set.

Life is tidal.

There is a rise and fall.

High tide never lasts forever. Low tide, too, ebbs away into waves that splash first around our ankles and then invite us deeper.

Deeper into the light.

Deeper into the love.

Head over heels in light.

Heels over head in love.

Good Friday seemed destined to be an endless reminder that darkness and hate can drive their nails in forever.

What is about to happen, however, shows us that light and love can shine from our deepest, darkest wounds into the world, freeing someone locked in their own darkness right beside us.

Even, sometimes, freeing the very reflection we see in our own mirrors, illuminating the path from which we have stumbled into a crown of thorns on our own Good Friday.

Easter is not a one-man show.

No pantomime act.

And thank God for that.

By remaining true to his faith, his message, ministry and calling, despite the hammer blows that drove the nails deeper and deeper, Jesus set loose the spirit and power of God’s love and light in a way that turned the balance.

Darkness and hate became the hunted.

Not hunted, however, with weapons.

Or, in fact, yes, hunted with the very best of weapons.

Hunted only by light.

Hunted simply by love.

Hunted to turn darkness into light.

Hunted to transform hatred into love.

How terribly and temptingly easy it would have been for Jesus, on Good Friday or at any point in the days and hours and minutes leading up to his agonizing death, to deny the truth that God had filled him with up to the brim, filling him so full that there would be—and is—enough for everyone to drink from that endless well.

A holy communion of light and love.

Living with the light and living with the love is not meant to be a spectator sport, however.

We’re meant to get in the game ourselves.

God wants us to run with the light as far as we can.

To carry love to the utmost limit of our ability.

Into the world around us.

Down that block. Around a corner. To the other side of a table. Across the room.

And sometimes, to do that, we have to get down from our own crosses, first.

Get down and feel a ripple within us from a resurrection that is both 2,000 years old and constantly alive among us.

This day and the two that follow—72 hours that forever changed the world—remind us that we can.

The decision, and oftentimes it can seem we must make that decision on a daily basis, is ours.

The love and the light are waiting.

Even on Good Friday.

Perhaps especially on Good Friday.

The one Jesus endured. And our own.

God put the love and the light there inside each of us.

But they are not for us, alone, to keep only to ourselves.

We are meant to share them both with each other.

Utterly and completely.

Just as we are meant to accept, with reckless abandon, 

the complete and utter love that God feels for each of us.

When we do, there is no Good Friday on earth 

that can keep us nailed to the cross.

By Ken Woodley


“Darkness cannot drive out darkness,” said the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was assassinated 47 years ago tomorrow evening. “Only light can do that.

“Hate cannot drive out hate,” he said. “Only love can do that.”

Light and love will rise on Sunday and, if we let it, resurrect the world from both the darkness and the hate.

But on this day 2,000 years ago, it hardly seemed possible.
Darkness seemed to have driven out all of the light.
Hatred seemed to have swallowed love in its entirety.

Easter is all about the triumph of light over darkness.
The victory of love over hate.
Light that is inside us, Jesus teaches.
The love within us all, is what he said.

And for that, they nailed him to a cross.

Sometimes we have to resurrect that light and love within us on a daily basis. At other times, when the world’s gravity doesn’t feel so heavy to us, both seem to rise up on their own and never set.

Life is tidal.
There is a rise and fall.
High tide never lasts forever. Low tide, too, ebbs away into waves that splash first around our ankles and then invite us deeper.

Deeper into the light.
Deeper into the love.
Head over heels in light.
Heels over head in love.

Good Friday seemed destined to be an endless reminder that darkness and hate can drive their nails in forever.

What is about to happen, however, shows us that light and love can shine from our deepest, darkest wounds into the world, freeing someone locked in their own darkness right beside us.

Even, sometimes, freeing the very reflection we see in our own mirrors, illuminating the path from which we have stumbled into a crown of thorns on our own Good Friday.

Easter is not a one-man show.
No pantomime act.
And thank God for that.

By remaining true to his faith, his message, ministry and calling, despite the hammer blows that drove the nails deeper and deeper, Jesus set loose the spirit and power of God’s love and light in a way that turned the balance.

Darkness and hate became the hunted.
Not hunted, however, with weapons.

Or, in fact, yes, hunted with the very best of weapons.

Hunted only by light.
Hunted simply by love.
Hunted to turn darkness into light.
Hunted to transform hatred into love.

How terribly and temptingly easy it would have been for Jesus, on Good Friday or at any point in the days and hours and minutes leading up to his agonizing death, to deny the truth that God had filled him with up to the brim, filling him so full that there would be—and is—enough for everyone to drink from that endless well.

A holy communion of light and love.

Living with the light and living with the love is not meant to be a spectator sport, however.
We’re meant to get in the game ourselves.

God wants us to run with the light as far as we can.
To carry love to the utmost limit of our ability.
Into the world around us.

Down that block. Around a corner. To the other side of a table. Across the room.
And sometimes, to do that, we have to get down from our own crosses, first.
Get down and feel a ripple within us from a resurrection that is both 2,000 years old and constantly alive among us.

This day and the two that follow—72 hours that forever changed the world—remind us that we can.

The decision, and oftentimes it can seem we must make that decision on a daily basis, is ours.

The love and the light are waiting.
Even on Good Friday.

Perhaps especially on Good Friday.

The one Jesus endured. And our own.

God put the love and the light there inside each of us.

But they are not for us, alone, to keep only to ourselves.

We are meant to share them both with each other.

Utterly and completely.

Just as we are meant to accept, with reckless abandon,
the complete and utter love that God feels for each of us.

When we do, there is no Good Friday on earth
that can keep us nailed to the cross.

Maundy Thursday

By Ken Woodley

Here we are, gathered in this upstairs room somewhere in the secret heart of Jerusalem on Maundy Thursday. 

The Garden of Gesthemane is not far away. Neither are those coming to arrest Jesus as he prays for some other way. Any other way. 

We can almost hear their footsteps. So can Jesus but he does not run away. Jesus does not leave us even though he knows what those footsteps mean, even though he knows where those footsteps are going to take him.

The darkness is coming. It is falling all around us, and yet Jesus does not abandon us to the darkness of the world.

Instead of running away to save his own life, Jesus gets up from the table. We watch as he takes off his outer robe and then ties a towel around himself, the footsteps growing closer in the closing darkness.

Jesus pours water in a basin. We see it there. And then Jesus begins to wash our feet.

We feel the touch of his hands upon the dusty soles of our own footsteps that brought us to this upstairs room to be with him tonight. But, more than that, we feel the touch of his heart upon the soul that is deep within us.

And footsteps that are not ours grow ever closer as the darkness of the night grows ever deeper.

When we are not looking, Judas will slip out through that door, down the steps and around the corner to make certain those footsteps find their way to the garden where Jesus is going to pray that the hammered nails and the crucifixion cross will not be necessary.

But just a word before Judas leaves. Just a word before we follow Jesus into the garden, directly into the path of the footsteps hammering their way with nailed certainty. 

Jesus has just one more thing to say to us in this upstairs room. One last word. And so it must be of utmost importance. The one thought Jesus wants to leave behind in our hearts, yeast for our souls, communion words for all those that will follow us, in later years, into this upstairs room with Jesus on Maundy Thursday.

“I give you a new commandment,” Jesus tells us, as Judas gets closer and closer to the door. “To love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this, everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Judas never understood and leaves for a rendezvous in the garden, a rendezvous with the footsteps in the darkness.

We can almost see Judas shaking his head in bitter disappointment. “Love,” he says. “No true messiah would leave us with nothing more than love.”

Oh, and how Judas was so very wrong.

The Holy Palms Of Sun Days

By Ken Woodley

What earthly good is it for humanity to wave the palms of a tree on Sunday if we ball our own palms up into fists on Monday?

Let’s drop the palm leaves now and offer our own open palms to one another.

The promise of just that sort of resurrection moment calls out to us as we wait, like some kind of Lazarus, in the “tomb” of our fists.

Jesus is coming.  Jesus is on the way. The blooms of spring are real.

But are we going to believe in the garden and have the faith of a gardener?

Look into the distance and see dust rising from the road, punctuating his approach on foot.

Jesus doesn’t covet the hosannah palms of kingship. He’s reaching for the palms of our fragile humanity, instead. For our wrinkles and the no-two-alike whorls on our fingers.

His footsteps have a heartbeat of loving purpose that have nothing to do with him and everything to do with us.

We don’t have to strain to hear the voice of our own soul crying out. “Lord, the light you want me to shine is flickering into fists of darkness.”

There are moments in all of our lifetimes when we feel “entombed” by everything in the world that makes us ball up our palms into fists. A world that can produce the horrors being committed against the people of Ukraine.

I hear your soul crying out, too.

We look at each other.

You and me together in this “tomb” of fists.

Our eyes meet.

Our hearts know the answer.

Jesus is here now. And with Jesus it is never too late.

“Where have you laid them?” Jesus asks, wondering where he will find us, you and me together in this “tomb.”

Jesus is deeply moved. He weeps. The tears roll down his cheeks. 

Now he stands there, just outside our “tomb.” 

There are so many “tombs” scattered like cloud shadows fisting their way across the world and the exit often feels sealed by a heavy stone we cannot move.

But the voice of Jesus in our heart is never as far away as we think it is.

“Remove the stone,” we hear him say. 

If we act in faith, we don’t just see the stone of our “tomb” being removed—we feel it. The lifting of the weight that was so ponderous, the burden we could not bear, the mountain-high stone that held us prisoner in this grave of hopeless fists.

Jesus now calls to us. “Come out,” he cries.

We move into the light of his presence, the light of his love, and feel our own light rekindling as our fists begin unclenching. 

We are, in that moment, resurrected. You and me. Freed from this “tomb” and able to rise back into the fulness of our lives, hope renewed, our own light growing brighter in the world as our fists open into palms.

In the quiet of our souls we hear him speaking these words:

“Leave now.

“It’s time to go.”

Jesus is right.

We clasp his hand.

Palm to palm.

We journey onward.

Out from Earth’s tomb of fists and toward heaven’s promise of open palms.

Jesus will soon turn back toward Jerusalem and the destiny awaiting him, but not before making certain we understand:

The eternal kingdom of heaven is inside us now.

Right there in the palm of our hand.

In mine.

In yours.

In every palm in every corner of the world.

If we’d only just open them toward one another, and leave our fists behind, making every day a palm Sun Day to shine the fists of darkness away.

By Ken Woodley
What earthly good is it for humanity to wave the palms of a tree on Sunday if we ball our own palms up into fists on Monday?
Let’s drop the palm leaves now and offer our own open palms to one another.
The promise of just that sort of resurrection moment calls out to us as we wait, like some kind of Lazarus, in the “tomb” of our fists.
Jesus is coming. Jesus is on the way. The blooms of spring are real.
But are we going to believe in the garden and have the faith of a gardener?
Look into the distance and see dust rising from the road, punctuating his approach on foot.
Jesus doesn’t covet the hosannah palms of kingship. He’s reaching for the palms of our fragile humanity, instead. For our wrinkles and the no-two-alike whorls on our fingers.
His footsteps have a heartbeat of loving purpose that have nothing to do with him and everything to do with us.
We don’t have to strain to hear the voice of our own soul crying out. “Lord, the light you want me to shine is flickering into fists of darkness.”
There are moments in all of our lifetimes when we feel “entombed” by everything in the world that makes us ball up our palms into fists. A world that can produce the horrors being committed against the people of Ukraine.
I hear your soul crying out, too.
We look at each other.
You and me together in this “tomb” of fists.
Our eyes meet.
Our hearts know the answer.
Jesus is here now. And with Jesus it is never too late.
“Where have you laid them?” Jesus asks, wondering where he will find us, you and me together in this “tomb.”
Jesus is deeply moved. He weeps. The tears roll down his cheeks.
Now he stands there, just outside our “tomb.”
There are so many “tombs” scattered like cloud shadows fisting their way across the world and the exit often feels sealed by a heavy stone we cannot move.
But the voice of Jesus in our heart is never as far away as we think it is.
“Remove the stone,” we hear him say.
If we act in faith, we don’t just see the stone of our “tomb” being removed—we feel it. The lifting of the weight that was so ponderous, the burden we could not bear, the mountain-high stone that held us prisoner in this grave of hopeless fists.
Jesus now calls to us. “Come out,” he cries.
We move into the light of his presence, the light of his love, and feel our own light rekindling as our fists begin unclenching.
We are, in that moment, resurrected. You and me. Freed from this “tomb” and able to rise back into the fulness of our lives, hope renewed, our own light growing brighter in the world as our fists open into palms.
In the quiet of our souls we hear him speaking these words:
“Leave now.
“It’s time to go.”
Jesus is right.
We clasp his hand.
Palm to palm.
We journey onward.
Out from Earth’s tomb of fists and toward heaven’s promise of open palms.
Jesus will soon turn back toward Jerusalem and the destiny awaiting him, but not before making certain we understand:
The eternal kingdom of heaven is inside us now.
Right there in the palm of our hand.
In mine.
In yours.
In every palm in every corner of the world.
If we’d only just open them toward one another, and leave our fists behind, making every day a palm Sun Day to shine the fists of darkness away.









Saving ‘Peace’ And ‘Love’

By Ken Woodley

Two of the most important and powerful words in the English language have been wounded. 

Left bleeding by the side of the road.

Beaten down by cynicism.

Overpowered by our unswerving belief in the power of their antonyms.

We have no doubt that hate and war can destroy the world.

But we have no similar faith that peace and love can save us.

They must be reclaimed in every language on Earth.

We must re-take their true power in this world and embrace their genuine potential within us. 

Cynicism too often erases our awareness of their presence in the world. If I were to tell you, to tell anyone, about the power of hate and the power of war or violence, nobody would chuckle and shake their head.

Not a soul would doubt me. 

Evidence of their destructive power surrounds us. It is in headlines dug like armed trenches around us all. 

Why, then, shake our heads and doubt the power of peace and love? It is, after all, a law of physics, woven into the very fabric of the universe and ourselves: 

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. 

For hate, therefore, there must be love. 

For war there must be peace. 

We must not regard “peace” and “love” as hippie-speak pie-in-the-sky. 

They are absolutely real. 

We doubt them at our own peril. 

Because only we can prevent their appearance, with power, in this world. 

We must, therefore, reclaim and launch their light into the darkness. 

And we can.

Anyone who has unclenched a physical or mental fist knows the truth of this.

So, let’s do so now.

Even if it’s just you and me letting go of whatever encourages us to clench, rather than open, our soul.

Yes, our doing so is just a drop in the world’s bucket.

But we’ve got to start somewhere if that bucket is ever going to overflow with peace and with love.

By Ken Woodley
Two of the most important and powerful words in the English language have been wounded.
Left bleeding by the side of the road.
Beaten down by cynicism.
Overpowered by our unswerving belief in the power of their antonyms.
We have no doubt that hate and war can destroy the world.
But we have no similar faith that peace and love can save us.
They must be reclaimed in every language on Earth.
We must re-take their true power in this world and embrace their genuine potential within us.
Cynicism too often erases our awareness of their presence in the world. If I were to tell you, to tell anyone, about about the power of hate and the power of war or violence, nobody would chuckle and shake their head.
Not a soul would doubt me.
Evidence of their destructive power surrounds us. It is in headlines dug like armed trenches around us all.
Why, then, shake our heads and doubt the power of peace and love? It is, after all, a law of physics, woven into the very fabric of the universe and ourselves:
For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
For hate, therefore, there must be love.
For war there must be peace.
We must not regard “peace” and “love” as hippie-speak pie-in-the-sky.
They are absolutely real.
We doubt them at our own peril.
Because only we can prevent their appearance, with power, in this world.
We must, therefore, reclaim and launch their light into the darkness.
And we can.
Anyone who has unclenched a physical or mental fist knows the truth of this.
So, let’s do so now.
Even if it’s just you and me letting go of whatever encourages us to clench, rather than open, our soul.
Yes, our doing so is just a drop in the world’s bucket.
But we’ve got to start somewhere if that bucket is ever going to overflow with peace and with love.

Becoming Blind To Miracles

By Ken Woodley

From blindness to sight in the blink of an eye.

A flash of light.

A world of darkness dissolving into a kaleidoscope of colors.

Previously, the entire world had been in our imagination, fed only by what our sense of touch told us about how things might look.

Sighted people can close their eyes and touch a lamp or a chair or another human being and understand their appearance—but only because they have the memory of them in our minds. Someone blind from birth would have nothing at all to go on. 

So imagine how the man felt in the Gospel of John after receiving his sight from Jesus. My imagination can’t come close to appreciating the man’s astonishing experience. 

Jesus had been walking down a road when he saw the man and declared “I am the light of the world.” Then Jesus spat on the ground and made mud with his saliva. He spread the mud on the man’s unseeing eyes and told him to go wash in the pool of Siloam.

Ironically, this man is able to see but many of those around him suddenly suffer from a different kind of blindness. The man who was once blind can see them but they cannot see him.

“The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, ‘Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?’” the Gospel of John tells us. “Some were saying, ‘It is he.’ Others were saying, ‘No, but it is someone like him.’”

The once-blind man insists, “I am the man” but some people simply refuse to believe him.

There is an old saying that applies to these doubters: No one is as a blind as those who refuse to see.

Jesus has worked a miracle but some people simply refuse to see it.

That got me thinking about life and my own experiences in this world. It struck me with sudden forcefulness that we, too, are sometimes blind to a miracle that Jesus or God has worked in our own lives.

And what struck me most forcefully was the realization that this blindness doesn’t always come from disbelief. Most of the time, in fact, this form of blindness comes from the fact that we have become too familiar with a miracle. We have lived with it for so long that it no longer strikes us as miraculous. We take it for granted. 

I imagine that within a handful of years, the man in the Gospel of John also came to take his sight for granted. Not intentionally. He wasn’t ungrateful for the miracle that Jesus had worked in his life. 

Through the years, every day he woke up and saw he sun rise made that new dawn seem gradually less and less miraculous. Every color emerging from the darkness of night was so familiar to him. 

The same thing can happen when Jesus leads us through and out of one of life’s deep, wounding pains. It seems miraculous at first but in time we take the gentle scar for granted. Or, worse, we grump about the scar, forgetting how the wound, itself, felt.

Every now and then it’s a good idea to close our eyes and remind ourselves of a miracle worked in our own lives. Then, keeping our eyes shut, give thoughtful, meditative thanks for that miracle. We might imagine Jesus by our side. We might hear him spit on the ground, and then sense him kneeling beside us, making mud with his saliva. 

We might feel his touch upon our closed eyes, the mud warmed by his caring hands.

Then, when we next open our eyes—with Jesus as the light of our world—we might see the miracles in our life more clearly.

And they include the reflection in your mirror.

By Ken Woodley

From blindness to sight in the blink of an eye.
A flash of light.
A world of darkness dissolving into a kaleidoscope of colors.
Previously, the entire world had been in our imagination, fed only by what our sense of touch told us about how things might look.
Sighted people can close their eyes and touch a lamp or a chair or another human being and understand their appearance—but only because they have the memory of them in our minds. Someone blind from birth would have nothing at all to go on.
So imagine how the man felt in the Gospel of John after receiving his sight from Jesus. My imagination can’t come close to appreciating the man’s astonishing experience.
Jesus had been walking down a road when he saw the man and declared “I am the light of the world.” Then Jesus spat on the ground and made mud with his saliva. He spread the mud on the man’s unseeing eyes and told him to go wash in the pool of Siloam.
Ironically, this man is able to see but many of those around him suddenly suffer from a different kind of blindness. The man who was once blind can see them but they cannot see him.
“The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, ‘Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?’” the Gospel of John tells us. “Some were saying, ‘It is he.’ Others were saying, ‘No, but it is someone like him.’”
The once-blind man insists, “I am the man” but some people simply refuse to believe him.
There is an old saying that applies to these doubters: No one is as a blind as those who refuse to see.
Jesus has worked a miracle but some people simply refuse to see it.
That got me thinking about life and my own experiences in this world. It struck me with sudden forcefulness that we, too, are sometimes blind to a miracle that Jesus or God has worked in our own lives.
And what struck me most forcefully was the realization that this blindness doesn’t always come from disbelief. Most of the time, in fact, this form of blindness comes from the fact that we have become too familiar with a miracle. We have lived with it for so long that it no longer strikes us as miraculous. We take it for granted.
I imagine that within a handful of years, the man in the Gospel of John also came to take his sight for granted. Not intentionally. He wasn’t ungrateful for the miracle that Jesus had worked in his life.
Through the years, every day he woke up and saw he sun rise made that new dawn seem gradually less and less miraculous. Every color emerging from the darkness of night was so familiar to him.
The same thing can happen when Jesus leads us through and out of one of life’s deep, wounding pains. It seems miraculous at first but in time we take the gentle scar for granted. Or, worse, we grump about the scar, forgetting how the wound, itself, felt.
Every now and then it’s a good idea to close our eyes and remind ourselves of a miracle worked in our own lives. Then, keeping our eyes shut, give thoughtful, meditative thanks for that miracle. We might imagine Jesus by our side. We might hear him spit on the ground, and then sense him kneeling beside us, making mud with his saliva.
We might feel his touch upon our closed eyes, the mud warmed by his caring hands.
Then, when we next open our eyes—with Jesus as the light of our world—we might see the miracles in our life more clearly.
And they include the reflection in your mirror.













March Madness

By Ken Woodley

I hold the door to the world’s wilderness in the palm of my hand because my smartphone makes this third planet from the sun seem more of a wilderness every day. 

A vastness where love and compassion have been utterly consumed.

Where only March madness remains and has nothing at all to do with brackets and Cinderella stories.

As a pandemic seems to be receding, the threat of nuclear weapons appears over the horizon, with Russia pushing the world toward the brink of a wilderness we can’t even imagine.

Every time I push “unsubscribe” the news updates come more furiously  through my “in” box.

“Hope” sometimes seems like the cruelest four-letter word in the world because it feels ever-present but never real.

And if Earth’s trembling landscape isn’t enough, we all have our own private wildernesses and wilderness moments, too.

The wildernesses most of us face in our lifetime are those occasions that make us feel lost and alone. Whether it’s the loss of a job, an illness, the death of a loved one…or a difficult memory, life is full of wilderness moments that turn our lives into a tangled maze.

The world’s chaos only makes it worse.

I know God has promised to make “a way through the wilderness” but, honestly, there are times—like this morning—when my heart and soul cry out: “How? How can you possibly make a way through all of this wilderness?”

And this morning I felt God’s answer: “All of this wilderness is not yours. Do not be pulled into every corner of wilderness in the world. Trust me to guide you lovingly through your own wilderness. Let that be enough today.”

And then I felt a moment of peace. A moment that grew into another moment, and another and another. Dominos of peaceful moments falling into each other, creating a pathway forward.

No, it’s not always going to be straightforward, but the pathway will always be one I share with God if I embrace the promise of God’s loving presence.

“Don’t let every wilderness in the world surround you,” I feel God telling me.

But I know that doesn’t mean I should ignore everyone else crying out from their own wilderness, or leave Ukraine and the world out of my daily prayers.

On the contrary, it is only by walking on with God through my own wilderness that I have any chance of helping anyone else lost in their own moment of desolation.

By Ken Woodley
I hold the door to the world’s wilderness in the palm of my hand because my smartphone makes this third planet from the sun seem more of a wilderness every day.
A vastness where love and compassion have been utterly consumed.
Where only March madness remains and has nothing at all to do with brackets and Cinderella stories.
As a pandemic seems to be receding, the threat of nuclear weapons appears over the horizon, with Russia pushing the world toward the brink of a wilderness we can’t even imagine.
Every time I push “unsubscribe” the news updates come more furiously through my “in” box.
“Hope” sometimes seems like the cruelest four-letter word in the world because it feels ever-present but never real.
And if Earth’s trembling landscape isn’t enough, we all have our own private wildernesses and wilderness moments, too.
The wildernesses most of us face in our lifetime are those occasions that make us feel lost and alone. Whether it’s the loss of a job, an illness, the death of a loved one…or a difficult memory, life is full of wilderness moments that turn our lives into a tangled maze.
The world’s chaos only makes it worse.
I know God has promised to make “a way through the wilderness” but, honestly, there are times—like this morning—when my heart and soul cry out: “How? How can you possibly make a way through all of this wilderness?”
And this morning I felt God’s answer: “All of this wilderness is not yours. Do not be pulled into every corner of wilderness in the world. Trust me to guide you lovingly through your own wilderness. Let that be enough today.”
And then I felt a moment of peace. A moment that grew into another moment, and another and another. Dominos of peaceful moments falling into each other, creating a pathway forward.
No, it’s not always going to be straightforward, but the pathway will always be one I share with God if I embrace the promise of God’s loving presence.
“Don’t let every wilderness in the world surround you,” I feel God telling me.
But I know that doesn’t mean I should ignore everyone else crying out from their own wilderness, or leave Ukraine and the world out of my daily prayers.
On the contrary, it is only by walking on with God through my own wilderness that I have any chance of helping anyone else lost in their own places of desolation.