Blog

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.






Giving Up Lent For Lent?

By Ken Woodley

Lent can sometimes feel like a complicated intersection on the liturgical calendar and along our spiritual journey.

Should we give something up? If so, what?

I’ve lived Lent on both sides of that aisle. There have been years when I gave something up—or tried to—and other years when I decided to take something on: reading a new and specific spiritual book every day, for example.

I was raised “old school” where you definitely gave something up, generally some beloved candy, but that hasn’t stuck. Gorging myself on chocolate after weeks of abstinence hardly seems the best way to celebrate the glory of Easter.

As I got older, and slightly—perhaps—wiser, I sometimes gave up something that maybe wasn’t so good for me anyway. But then I felt bad on Easter when I took it up again. That ain’t the way to celebrate Easter, either.

This year, I am taking something up: trying to heighten my awareness on a daily basis that I am a beloved child of God. Trying to make that be my first thought every morning and a constant companion throughout the day.

That would be a wonderful way to celebrate Easter and just keep on keeping on with that discipline for the rest of my life.

The bottom line, in my opinion, is whatever works for you. Whatever helps you on your spiritual journey. If that means giving something up, then by all means give something up. If taking something on helps you more, then take that something on.

And who says you can’t do both? Give something up and take something else on. There are no rules.

Take on two things.

You can take something on because it’s good for your health, like walking each day, and using that time for prayerful meditation.

Mix it up. Find what works best for you and your spiritual journey.

Jesus, I believe, wants us to do whatever it is that helps us feel the loving proximity of God. Every day. Not just during Lent.

Lent shouldn’t make us feel beaten down or bad about ourselves.

Make Lent work for you instead of you working for Lent.

As I have said before about our Lenten journey: let the ashes remind us of the flame.



By Ken Woodley

Lent can sometimes feel like a complicated intersection on the liturgical calendar and along our spiritual journey.
Should we give something up? If so, what?
I’ve lived Lent on both sides of that aisle. There have been years when I gave something up—or tried to—and other years when I decided to take something on: reading a new and specific spiritual book every day, for example.
I was raised “old school” where you definitely gave something up, generally some beloved candy, but that hasn’t stuck. Gorging myself on chocolate after weeks of abstinence hardly seems the best way to celebrate the glory of Easter.
As I got older, and slightly—perhaps—wiser, I sometimes gave up something that maybe wasn’t so good for me anyway. But then I felt bad on Easter when I took it up again. That ain’t the way to celebrate Easter, either.
This year, I am taking something up: trying to heighten my awareness on a daily basis that I am a beloved child of God. Trying to make that be my first thought every morning and a constant companion throughout the day.
That would be a wonderful way to celebrate Easter and just keep on keeping on with that discipline for the rest of my life.
The bottom line, in my opinion, is whatever works for you. Whatever helps you on your spiritual journey. If that means giving something up, then by all means give something up. If taking something on helps you more, then take that something on.
And who says you can’t do both? Give something up and take something else on. There are no rules.
Take on two things.
You can take something on because it’s good for your health, like walking each day, and using that time for prayerful meditation.
Mix it up. Find what works best for you and your spiritual journey.
Jesus, I believe, wants us to do whatever it is that helps us feel the loving proximity of God. Every day. Not just during Lent.
Lent shouldn’t make us feel beaten down or bad about ourselves.
Make Lent work for you instead of you working for Lent.
As I have said before about our Lenten journey: let the ashes remind us of the flame.

Heaven’s Skin

By Ken Woodley

A bird feels the silent darkness 

of a world invading love,

of a world laying siege to tenderness,

of a world seeking air supremacy over compassion,

and so the bird does the only thing it can:

fills the world with the song of one bird.

One bird outside our window,

you next to me

holding on to our holding on,

the silent darkness spreading its convoy

across the continent of all hopes

as our souls spread their wings

and follow the melody

of one bird singing, instead,

flying toward heaven’s skin,

goosebumps breaking out all over it—

we feel them all—

the beating heart of heaven hoping 

that we will share the splashing light 

now breaking like waves 

on the shoreline of the continent of all hopes,

under the wrinkled sky

above a world that spins in space

as vulnerable as a child

and filled with children of so many ages

in so many places

even more vulnerable than

the world that spins them

round and round and round

in space,

praying for the soft contours

of the everlasting light

that will spread across the edges 

of everything

and everyone

after everything 

and everyone 

lets go

of the darkness. 


By Ken Woodley

A bird feels the silent darkness
of a world invading love,
of a world laying siege to tenderness,
of a world seeking air supremacy over compassion,
and so the bird does the only thing it can:
fills the world with the song of one bird.
One bird outside our window,
you next me
holding on to our holding on,
the silent darkness spreading its convoy
across the continent of all hopes
as our souls spread their wings
and follow the melody
of one bird singing, instead,
flying toward heaven’s skin,
goosebumps breaking out all over it—
we feel them all—
the beating heart of heaven hoping
that we will share the splashing light
now breaking like waves
on the shoreline of the continent of all hopes,
under the wrinkled sky
above a world that spins in space
as vulnerable as a child
and filled with children of so many ages
in so many places
even more vulnerable than
the world that spins them
round and round and round
in space,
praying for the soft contours
of the everlasting light
that will spread across the edges
of everything
and everyone
after everything
and everyone
lets go
of the darkness.



In The World Today

By Ken Woodley

What a transcendent moment for Peter, James and John.

And, my God, doesn’t  the world need to follow them today.

Jesus leads them up a high mountain, the Gospel of Matthew tells us, and is suddenly transfigured, right before their eyes. His face shines like the sun and his clothes are a dazzling white. Then Moses and Elijah appear and the apostles next hear the voice of God. Clearly, something extraordinary was happening. 

And doesn’t the world need to feel that today.

Though they are unlikely to replicate the experience of Peter, James and John, transcendent moments also await us upon our own “holy mountain”—the places where we feel most connected to God’s holy spirit and the presence of Jesus Christ. Where we experience a spiritual understanding or revelation, an answer to prayer.

And doesn’t the world need all of that today.

Nurturing and cultivating these moments is essential. Peter, James and John had to follow Jesus up the mountain. We do, too. By regularly and consistently setting aside time for God—quieting ourselves with prayerful meditation—we offer an invitation that, we will come to realize, has already been accepted.

No matter what else is going on in the world today.

Don’t assume that God is distant. Expect God to be beside you. Talk to God—silently or aloud. Write God a note or a letter and slip it into your Bible. Read it to God every morning or evening. Pray about those words during the day. When that letter has been answered, if something is else troubling you, write God another one.

So many millions of letters need to be written today.

The Holy Spirit will deliver an answer. We’ll sense God or Jesus telling us something. We can feel a nudge in our soul or, as Peter describes it, “the morning star” rising in our hearts: the peace that passes all understanding.

Oh, Lord, how we need that peace in the world today.

No, it is not always the answer that we expect or, perhaps, even want. But there are bends in the road around which only God knows what is waiting. God is with us on the way to that bend in the road, and God will remain with us afterwards after that bend has become the next straight stretch of our lives. Jesus will too.

So, let’s go climb our “holy mountain” with Jesus and see what we find there, discover what happens. Right now. Right where we are. We don’t need to go anywhere because the “holy mountain” most worth climbing is the one deep inside us, that special place in our soul where we are revealed as our deepest selves.

There, with Christ, we are transfigured.

So much climbing needs to be done in the world today, deep down inside the world’s deepest self.

No, our face may not shine like the sun, and our clothes won’t become dazzlingly white, but we will feel the voice of God telling us that we, too, are beloved. And that love transfigures our inner landscape, transforms the topography of our soul. 

Love that changes our small, tiny, vital corner of the world today.

The feeling that we have heard God’s answering voice, and the spirit of Jesus, may only last a second, but the echoes go on and on and they are worth holding on to like a strong and sturdy hiking stick.

Our own transfiguration is a journey that sometimes feels so long.

Walk on.

Persevere.

You are not alone.

Your prayer is being answered.

Even in the world today.

By Ken Woodley

What a transcendent moment for Peter, James and John.
And, my God, doesn’t the world need to follow them today.
Jesus leads them up a high mountain, the Gospel of Matthew tells us, and is suddenly transfigured, right before their eyes. His face shines like the sun and his clothes are a dazzling white. Then Moses and Elijah appear and the apostles next hear the voice of God. Clearly, something extraordinary was happening.
And doesn’t the world need to feel that today.
Though they are unlikely to replicate the experience of Peter, James and John, transcendent moments also await us upon our own “holy mountain”—the places where we feel most connected to God’s holy spirit and the presence of Jesus Christ. Where we experience a spiritual understanding or revelation, an answer to prayer.
And doesn’t the world need all of that today.
Nurturing and cultivating these moments is essential. Peter, James and John had to follow Jesus up the mountain. We do, too. By regularly and consistently setting aside time for God—quieting ourselves with prayerful meditation—we offer an invitation that, we will come to realize, has already been accepted.
No matter what else is going on in the world today.
Don’t assume that God is distant. Expect God to be beside you. Talk to God—silently or aloud. Write God a note or a letter and slip it into your Bible. Read it to God every morning or evening. Pray about those words during the day. When that letter has been answered, if something is else troubling you, write God another one.
So many millions of letters need to be written today.
The Holy Spirit will deliver an answer. We’ll sense God or Jesus telling us something. We can feel a nudge in our soul or, as Peter describes it, “the morning star” rising in our hearts: the peace that passes all understanding.
Oh, Lord, how we need that peace in the world today.
No, it is not always the answer that we expect or, perhaps, even want. But there are bends in the road around which only God knows what is waiting. God is with us on the way to that bend in the road, and God will remain with us afterwards after that bend has become the next straight stretch of our lives. Jesus will too.
So, let’s go climb our “holy mountain” with Jesus and see what we find there, discover what happens. Right now. Right where we are. We don’t need to go anywhere because the “holy mountain” most worth climbing is the one deep inside us, that special place in our soul where we are revealed as our deepest selves.
There, with Christ, we are transfigured.
So much climbing needs to be done in the world today, deep down inside the world’s deepest self.
No, our face may not shine like the sun, and our clothes won’t become dazzlingly white, but we will feel the voice of God telling us that we, too, are beloved. And that love transfigures our inner landscape, transforms the topography of our soul.
Love that changes our small, tiny, vital corner of the world today.
The feeling that we have heard God’s answering voice, and the spirit of Jesus, may only last a second, but the echoes go on and on and they are worth holding on to like a strong and sturdy hiking stick.
Our own transfiguration is a journey that sometimes feels so long.
Walk on.
Persevere.
You are not alone.
Your prayer is being answered.
Even in the world today.










The Single Ray Of Light

By Ken Woodley

A single ray of light

flickers its way through a small, thin crack

in the asphalt sky

where darkness paved over heaven,

a ray of light so small and seemingly insignificant—

like a blade of grass

rising through a fissure

in the city’s sidewalk maze—

that the darkness ignores it entirely,

disregards the flickering twinkle

that has come to find us,

to answer our prayer,

here

where we have been walking and stumbling 

and rising

and falling 

and rising again

through seasons of ourselves 

that lost all of their leaves

and then budded all over again,

spiritual springs

following every winter of our soul.

We stand on the tips of our toes.

We jump up and down,

arms upraised,

trying to touch

even the shadows of this single ray of light,

if only for the heartbeat of a moment,

because that would be enough

to reach the other side

of everything that tells us 

there is no other side of anything.

Suddenly, the single ray of light

takes this darkness by surprise,

blooming

into a garden of rainbows,

shimmering hues that look like the music of wind chimes,

and then

—somehow, some way—

we blossom, too,

like bouquets pulled from a magician’s hat,

astonished

that all of these colors are part of us,

embracing us,

loving us all

as the darkness opens its eyes

too late to pave over the small, thin crack

that has now widened into an eternity

where darkness is only the handful of hours,

and then just the small, thin moment,

right before dawn.

By Ken Woodley

A single ray of light
flickers its way through a small, thin crack
in the asphalt sky
where darkness paved over heaven,
a ray of light so small and seemingly insignificant—
like a blade of grass
rising through a fissure
in the city’s sidewalk maze—
that the darkness ignores it entirely,
disregards the flickering twinkle
that has come to find us,
to answer our prayer,
here
where we have been walking and stumbling
and rising
and falling
and rising again
through seasons of ourselves
that lost all of their leaves
and then budded all over again,
spiritual springs
following every winter of our soul.
We stand on the tips of our toes.
We jump up and down,
arms upraised,
trying to touch
even the shadows of this single ray of light,
if only for the heartbeat of a moment,
because that would be enough
to reach the other side
of everything that tells us
there is no other side of anything.
Suddenly, the single ray of light
takes this darkness by surprise,
blooming
into a garden of rainbows,
shimmering hues that look like the music of wind chimes,
and then
—somehow, some way—
we blossom, too,
like bouquets pulled from a magician’s hat,
astonished
that all of these colors are part of us,
embracing us,
loving us all
as the darkness opens its eyes
too late to pave over the small, thin crack
that has now widened into an eternity
where darkness is only the handful of hours,
and then just the small, thin moment,
right before dawn.

‘What Do You Want Me To Do For You?’

By Ken Woodley

The walls of Jericho came tumbling down.

But what about our own, and those around us?

Walls of doubt.

Walls of fear.

Of anxiety.

Of pain, rejection, sadness, or longing for love.

Walls of misunderstanding.

Each of us knows what effect they can have on our lives, keeping us from feeling the full measure of God’s love and grace in the world—not the walls—around us.

Everyone’s walls are unique, individual, like a fingerprint.

Not every wall is the same height, or thickness, or strength.

But all of us know the way walls feel in our lives.

There is, however, something else that we know, too.

Jesus is in the walled darkness of our anxieties and pain with us.

Jesus is standing with us in the midst of everything we are facing.

In a quiet voice deep within our souls, Jesus is asking you and me, today, right now, “What do you want me to do for you?”

That question is so very full of love because we know that Jesus will take our answer into his heart and respond to us with unconditional love and compassion. Respond in ways that are sometimes not so obvious at first but become prayerfully and powerfully revealed in God’s time.

And when our walls come tumbling down that isn’t the end of the story. There is more to come because we can all become like Joshua in this world, sounding the refrain of God’s love and grace voiced through us, shining from us into a world where wounded people sit in dark silence waiting, surrounded by their own walls.

Maybe we don’t go shouting or blasting the trumpet but there are so many ways to sound that refrain in words and deeds that quietly offer love, peace, understanding.

There is no wall that anyone can build around us, or that we can build around ourselves, strong enough to keep out Christ’s simple question to each of one of us:

What do you want me to do for you?

Those nine words add up to infinity because there are no limits on the answer that Jesus will provide.

If you want to catch one single leaf rushing down from the sky in a windstorm, it can be done.

And from that leaf a forest might grow.

And in that forest might be shade and peace for all.

Sweet shade and peace that no season can change, because there are no seasons, when it comes to God’s love.

The harvest of amazing grace waits constantly for our hearts to see that the walls can come tumbling down and free us to go wherever Christ leads us.

The bricks and mortar are crumbling even now.

By Ken Woodley
The walls of Jericho came tumbling down.
But what about our own, and those around us?
Walls of doubt.
Walls of fear.
Of anxiety.
Of pain, rejection, sadness, or longing for love.
Walls of misunderstanding.
Each of us knows what effect they can have on our lives, keeping us from feeling the full measure of God’s love and grace in the world—not the walls—around us.
Everyone’s walls are unique, individual, like a fingerprint.
Not every wall is the same height, or thickness, or strength.
But all of us know the way walls feel in our lives.
There is, however, something else that we know, too.
Jesus is in the walled darkness of our anxieties and pain with us.
Jesus is standing with us in the midst of everything we are facing.
In a quiet voice deep within our souls, Jesus is asking you and me, today, right now, “What do you want me to do for you?”
That question is so very full of love because we know that Jesus will take our answer into his heart and respond to us with unconditional love and compassion. Respond in ways that are sometimes not so obvious at first but become prayerfully and powerfully revealed in God’s time.
And when our walls come tumbling down that isn’t the end of the story. There is more to come because we can all become like Joshua in this world, sounding the refrain of God’s love and grace voiced through us, shining from us into a world where wounded people sit in dark silence waiting, surrounded by their own walls.
Maybe we don’t go shouting or blasting the trumpet but there are so many ways to sound that refrain in words and deeds that quietly offer love, peace, understanding.
There is no wall that anyone can build around us, or that we can build around ourselves, strong enough to keep out Christ’s simple question to each of one of us:
What do you want me to do for you?
Those nine words add up to infinity because there are no limits on the answer that Jesus will provide.
If you want to catch one single leaf rushing down from the sky in a windstorm, it can be done.
And from that leaf a forest might grow.
And in that forest might be shade and peace for all.
Sweet shade and peace that no season can change, because there are no seasons, when it comes to God’s love.
The harvest of amazing grace waits constantly for our hearts to see that the walls can come tumbling down and free us to go wherever Christ leads us.
The bricks and mortar are crumbling even now.





The Light That Sails Through His Voice

By Ken Woodley

If the Roman Empire had written the Sermon on the Mount, it might have sounded like this:

“Blessed are the rich in spirit, for they will get even richer.

“Blessed are those with no feelings, for they shall hurt everyone without caring.

“Blessed are the strong, for they shall take everything on earth.

The human race continues to produce people who have not only thought and spoken such words, in their own way, but acted them out, too. They cause great wounds, and time can’t come close to healing them all. 

For some, “The Golden Rule” is: “Gold rules.” Or power. Or anything they believe will let them lord themselves over everyone else. 

Beware of those who live by this code:

“Punch the other cheek, too.”

“Do unto others. Again and again and again.”

Jesus tells us, in today’s Gospel lesson, that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Those were astonishingly revolutionary things to say in a world in which only the very wealthy and those in power thought of themselves in such terms. The poor, struggling and downtrodden people listening to Jesus would have been just as amazed to think of themselves in that way as we are today. 

The world, of course, tries to smother the light of Jesus’ words. Tiberius was emperor of Rome in Jesus’ day. One imagines the emperor’s alternative advice to his cronies and legions:

“You are the salt of the earth. Corner the market on pepper.”

“You are the light of the world. Turn it off.”

When the world shouts that all is darkness, let us cup a hand to an ear so that we don’t miss a word that is being said on the mountainside by the Sea of Galilee. 

Come, let us get a little closer to the spirit of what Jesus is saying. 

Let us stand together and be poor in spirit when that is our honest feeling. 

Let us mourn when we must. 

Let us be meek, and hunger and thirst for righteousness. 

We will strive for mercy and seek pureness of heart. 

We will try to be peacemakers and season the earth with our “salt” and keep our light shining. 

No, it won’t always be easy but it will always be worth it.

We won’t ever stop trying to be the best version of ourselves.

No matter what the world, or anyone in it, might shout at us.

Because the Jesus said we could.

By Ken Woodley

If the Roman Empire had written the Sermon on the Mount, it might have sounded like this:

“Blessed are the rich in spirit, for they will get even richer.
“Blessed are those with no feelings, for they shall hurt everyone without caring.
“Blessed are the strong, for they shall take everything on earth.

The human race continues to produce people who have not only thought and spoken such words, in their own way, but acted them out, too. They cause great wounds, and time can’t come close to healing them all.
For some, “The Golden Rule” is: “Gold rules.” Or power. Or anything they believe will let them lord themselves over everyone else.
Beware of those who live by this code:

“Punch the other cheek, too.”
“Do unto others. Again and again and again.”

Jesus tells us, in today’s Gospel lesson, that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Those were astonishingly revolutionary things to say in a world in which only the very wealthy and those in power thought of themselves in such terms. The poor, struggling and downtrodden people listening to Jesus would have been just as amazed to think of themselves in that way as we are today.
The world, of course, tries to smother the light of Jesus’ words. Tiberius was emperor of Rome in Jesus’ day. One imagines the emperor’s alternative advice to his cronies and legions:

“You are the salt of the earth. Corner the market on pepper.”
“You are the light of the world. Turn it off.”

When the world shouts that all is darkness, let us cup a hand to an ear so that we don’t miss a word that is being said on the mountainside by the Sea of Galilee.
Come, let us get a little closer to the spirit of what Jesus is saying.
Let us stand together and be poor in spirit when that is our honest feeling.
Let us mourn when we must.
Let us be meek, and hunger and thirst for righteousness.
We will strive for mercy and seek pureness of heart.
We will try to be peacemakers and season the earth with our “salt” and keep our light shining.
No, it won’t always be easy but it will always be worth it.
We won’t ever stop trying to be the best version of ourselves.
No matter what the world, or anyone in it, might shout at us.
Because the Jesus said we could.