Blog

Raising The Shade In A Darkened Room

By Ken Woodley

“Jesus said to his disciples, ‘When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf.’”

—The Gospel of John

Trying to catch the Holy Spirit for even a moment would be like attempting to wrap the wind around a fork as if it were spaghetti.
No chance of that happening.
Thank God for that.
Can you imagine what might go wrong in the world if the Holy Spirit could be tracked down, domesticated and kept on a leash?
Look what happened after we split the atom.
Celtic Christians accurately described the Holy Spirit as the “Wild Goose” because it cannot be predicted and will not be tamed. It comes and goes as it pleases, plotting its own course in our lives.
Just when we think we’ll never feel it so close again, the Holy Spirit knocks on our soul’s front door.
The Holy Spirit most often comes to us in brief inspirational flashes, sudden, deep intuitive understandings. The Holy Spirit zips us a “tweet” or a “text” out of the blue.
The difference, however, is that, where so much of social media is inherently too abbreviated to be truly meaningful, the Holy Spirit’s “tweets” and “posts” are deeper than the sky.
And they invite us to go further still with the insights and understandings they provide.
It can be like someone raising the shade in a darkened room. The shade had been only slightly raised previously, letting in just a glimmer of light. Now the room—our inner self—is filled with illumination.
The Holy Spirit’s messages guide us on our spiritual journey, showing which way to turn when we arrive at a crossroads and pray for direction.
And even when we don’t pray for guidance the Holy Spirit is fully capable of picking the lock of our closed door if we refuse to answer its knocking.
This “Wild Goose” is not constrained or restricted by any flight pattern. The “Wild Goose” doesn’t join flocks of geese in the sky. Instead, it cares for each sheep and every single lamb in the Good Shepherd’s flock.
Loving and caring for you and I.
Loving all men and women all over the world unconditionally.
All men and women.
Whether we accept and share that love is up to us.
The Holy Spirit’s “voice” can make seemingly trivial and mundane things take on great meaning: a passing car with a message license plate that speaks like a direct answer to prayer. God-incidence, not coincidence.
The Holy Spirit is able to use anything and everything to communicate with us. It might be an otherwise completely inexplicable occurrence or experience.
If we are watching, if we listen.
The clearest sign that we have received and understood a message from the Holy Spirit will be a deep sense of inner peace, as if every blustering gust of wind has been calmed inside us.
None of us can fly on our own but, if we follow its “nudge,” the “Wild Goose” will give us its wings—even if just for a moment—when we need it most, and in the way we most need it: a flight to our soul’s next understanding of how much God loves us.
Just as Jesus promised.
Just as he promised us all.
A promise big enough to wrap the world in peace and love if we’d only let it.

By Ken Woodley

“Jesus said to his disciples, ‘When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf.’”

—The Gospel of John


Trying to catch the Holy Spirit for even a moment would be like attempting to wrap the wind around a fork as if it were spaghetti.
No chance of that happening.
Thank God for that.
Can you imagine what might go wrong in the world if the Holy Spirit could be tracked down, domesticated and kept on a leash?
Look what happened after we split the atom.
Celtic Christians accurately described the Holy Spirit as the “Wild Goose” because it cannot be predicted and will not be tamed. It comes and goes as it pleases, plotting its own course in our lives.
Just when we think we’ll never feel it so close again, the Holy Spirit knocks on our soul’s front door.
The Holy Spirit most often comes to us in brief inspirational flashes, sudden, deep intuitive understandings. The Holy Spirit zips us a “tweet” or a “text” out of the blue.
The difference, however, is that, where so much of social media is inherently too abbreviated to be truly meaningful, the Holy Spirit’s “tweets” and “posts” are deeper than the sky.
And they invite us to go further still with the insights and understandings they provide.
It can be like someone raising the shade in a darkened room. The shade had been only slightly raised previously, letting in just a glimmer of light. Now the room—our inner self—is filled with illumination.
The Holy Spirit’s messages guide us on our spiritual journey, showing which way to turn when we arrive at a crossroads and pray for direction.
And even when we don’t pray for guidance the Holy Spirit is fully capable of picking the lock of our closed door if we refuse to answer its knocking.
This “Wild Goose” is not constrained or restricted by any flight pattern. The “Wild Goose” doesn’t join flocks of geese in the sky. Instead, it cares for each sheep and every single lamb in the Good Shepherd’s flock.
Loving and caring for you and I.
Loving all men and women all over the world unconditionally.
All men and women.
Whether we accept and share that love is up to us.
The Holy Spirit’s “voice” can make seemingly trivial and mundane things take on great meaning: a passing car with a message license plate that speaks like a direct answer to prayer. God-incidence, not coincidence.
The Holy Spirit is able to use anything and everything to communicate with us. It might be an otherwise completely inexplicable occurrence or experience.
If we are watching, if we listen.
The clearest sign that we have received and understood a message from the Holy Spirit will be a deep sense of inner peace, as if every blustering gust of wind has been calmed inside us.
None of us can fly on our own but, if we follow its “nudge,” the “Wild Goose” will give us its wings—even if just for a moment—when we need it most, and in the way we most need it: a flight to our soul’s next understanding of how much God loves us.
Just as Jesus promised.
Just as he promised us all.
A promise big enough to wrap the world in peace and love if we’d only let it.

Looking At The World With Easter Eyes

By Ken Woodley

The 7th Sunday of Easter is coming and I am very glad for that.

After what felt like 12 straight months of Ash Wednesdays because of COVID-19, I’m not ready to let go of Easter.

And I don’t want Easter to let go of me.
Or let go of you.

Not today.
Not tomorrow.
Not next week or next month.
Not ever.

I want Easter and me to keep on hugging each other.

I want Easter and you to cling to your embrace.

I want to feel all of our fingers intertwined with Easter.

I want to keep falling in love with Easter and I want Easter to never stop falling in love with me.

I want to say “I do” to Easter and I want Easter to say “I do” to me.

I want Easter to live with me in my house, ride with me in my car, and stand in line with me at the grocery store.

I want Easter to say good morning when the sunrises and goodnight before I turn off the light and fall asleep.

I want to dream beside Easter all night long and I want Easter to dream beside me through all of the darkness.

Not just the darkness of night but all of the darkness in the world around me even after the sun rises.

And I want Easter to live with you, give hay to the cows and pick flowers in the garden with you, turn the same pages in the same books with you.

I want Easter to tell you which mask matches your dress before you walk out of the door and I want Easter to dream by your side every night through all of night’s darkness and then through all of darkness in the world that the sun cannot shine away.

The fact of the matter is, however, that the Easter season is about to end, as far as the liturgical calendar is concerned. This seventh Sunday of Easter is the last Sunday in the church’s Easter season.

But only on the liturgical calendar.

Because on my calendar I have to keep hanging on to Easter because, really, it’s my only chance of making sure the crucifixion doesn’t turn around and come back and hang on to me, turning Good Friday into Good Mondays and Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

No, none of us can go back in time and keep re-living Easter morning over and over like Bill Murray in some Holy version of the movie Groundhog’s Day.

But we can try to bring Easter morning into the present and carry Easter morning forward with us into the future.

We can try to have Easter Sundays all year long.

And Easter Mondays, Easter Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, too.

Rather than a week full of Good Fridays.

Light and love rose on Easter and we don’t have to let go of that.

Easter is the day that pulls out all the nails and removes the crown of thorns.

We don’t have to wave good-bye to that.

Darkness and hate won’t ever give up so I want to cling as long as I can to the light and love of Easter.

But I have lived with myself my whole life and I know that, in my own case, that is far easier said than done.

If Easter were a vaccine, there are some days when I’d need a booster shot every hour.

Sometimes the tiny crucifixions that come into all of our lives, past and present, get the best of me.

The world is a master at throwing its weight around and knocking us down.

Looking around the world it can be pretty easy to see all of its hammers and nails.

After all, the world has kept so many of us from sharing our own church sanctuary, temple, synagogue or mosque as a congregation together for more than a year.

So sometimes the meaning of the empty cross seems lost to me. I look at it sometimes and only think of the crucifixion. But the empty cross carries the most powerful message of all and it is not a message of crucifixion.

My wife, Kim, has rubbed off on me in many good ways and one of them is encouraging me to keep a journal, which I have been doing for over a decade now. Mostly, it’s a spiritual diary.

I was re-reading one of them recently from nearly a decade ago and found I had written down a key phrase from an Easter sermon delivered by the Rev. Glenn Busch.

Look at the world, he urged us, with Easter eyes. I wrote down just that one phrase in my journal. That one phrase is enough.

Looking at the world with Easter eyes is a discipline that I am going to try and embrace.

Looking at the cross and seeing, and feeling, resurrection instead of crucifixion.

Looking at the world, looking at every one of its nooks and crannies, and seeing and feeling resurrection, not crucifixion.

Looking at the mundane until I am able to see the miraculous.

Looking at things I’ve stopped paying attention to because they are around me every day and I take them for granted, looking at them until I see them through Easter eyes.

Looking at one fallen leaf, brown and years old, perhaps, or a leaf from this spring blown from its tree by a storm, looking at a leaf that is bent and broken on the ground, trampled underfoot, and see how that one leaf is lifted up by a sudden breeze.

See that one ordinary leaf raised up by a wind none of us can see and think to myself, Hey, that’s me. I am that leaf and God is the wind that lifts me, raises me up—raises all of us up—on Easter Sunday 365 days a year.

The calendar doesn’t matter. It never has and never could. Easter cannot be contained or limited to any one single season.

I should have realized that.

So next Sunday on the liturgical calendar is Pentecost. The Holy Spirit’s going to come. Hurray! Bring it on!

No, wait a minute, I’m wrong there, too.

The Holy Spirit’s flight has already arrived.

The Holy Spirit is in here. The Holy Spirit out there. No one day, no crucifixion large or small, can hold it in and none can hold it back.

So I want to look at all of the world’s crosses with Easter eyes and see all of them empty except for a note that reads: “I have gone on ahead, blazing a trail for all eternity, look for the signs in everything that you see.”

And the note is signed: “Jesus.”

We can see blaze marks of that trail when we look at the world with Easter eyes.

The signs are everywhere.

We can even look at litter by the side of the road with Easter eyes and understand that even that one discarded hamburger wrapper fluttering across the road allows us to do the impossible.

That piece of trash allows us to see God’s breath in the wind.

A wind that is filled with Easter.

Easter in every breeze.

Every moment of every day.

Even when the air is as still as a brick wall too high for us to climb over, Easter, with its always and ever-blooming message, has already found us.

So even on those inevitable days when I let go of Easter, despite these bold statements of mine and my best intentions, I can be absolutely certain of one thing:

Easter will never let go of me.

And for a promise like that, a simple Hallelujah just won’t do. When I was a kid, the Walt Disney movie Mary Poppins taught me a word. I’m going to use it now:

Halle—supercalifragilisticexpealliedotious—lujah!

By Ken Woodley

The 7th Sunday of Easter is coming and I am very glad for that.

After what felt like 12 straight months of Ash Wednesdays because of COVID-19, I’m not ready to let go of Easter.

And I don’t want Easter to let go of me.
Or let go of you.

Not today.
Not tomorrow.
Not next week or next month.
Not ever.

I want Easter and me to keep on hugging each other.

I want Easter and you to cling to your embrace.

I want to feel all of our fingers intertwined with Easter.

I want to keep falling in love with Easter and I want Easter to never stop falling in love with me.

I want to say “I do” to Easter and I want Easter to say “I do” to me.

I want Easter to live with me in my house, ride with me in my car, and stand in line with me at the grocery store.

I want Easter to say good morning when the sunrises and goodnight before I turn off the light and fall asleep.

I want to dream beside Easter all night long and I want Easter to dream beside me through all of the darkness.

Not just the darkness of night but all of the darkness in the world around me even after the sun rises.

And I want Easter to live with you, give hay to the cows and pick flowers in the garden with you, turn the same pages in the same books with you.

I want Easter to tell you which mask matches your dress before you walk out of the door and I want Easter to dream by your side every night through all of night’s darkness and then through all of darkness in the world that the sun cannot shine away.

The fact of the matter is, however, that the Easter season is about to end, as far as the liturgical calendar is concerned. This seventh Sunday of Easter is the last Sunday in the church’s Easter season.

But only on the liturgical calendar.

Because on my calendar I have to keep hanging on to Easter because, really, it’s my only chance of making sure the crucifixion doesn’t turn around and come back and hang on to me, turning Good Friday into Good Mondays and Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

No, none of us can go back in time and keep re-living Easter morning over and over like Bill Murray in some Holy version of the movie Groundhog’s Day.

But we can try to bring Easter morning into the present and carry Easter morning forward with us into the future.

We can try to have Easter Sundays all year long.

And Easter Mondays, Easter Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, too.

Rather than a week full of Good Fridays.

Light and love rose on Easter and we don’t have to let go of that.

Easter is the day that pulls out all the nails and removes the crown of thorns.

We don’t have to wave good-bye to that.

Darkness and hate won’t ever give up so I want to cling as long as I can to the light and love of Easter.

But I have lived with myself my whole life and I know that, in my own case, that is far easier said than done.

If Easter were a vaccine, there are some days when I’d need a booster shot every hour.

Sometimes the tiny crucifixions that come into all of our lives, past and present, get the best of me.

The world is a master at throwing its weight around and knocking us down.

Looking around the world it can be pretty easy to see all of its hammers and nails.

After all, the world has kept so many of us from sharing our own church sanctuary, temple, synagogue or mosque as a congregation together for more than a year.

So sometimes the meaning of the empty cross seems lost to me. I look at it sometimes and only think of the crucifixion. But the empty cross carries the most powerful message of all and it is not a message of crucifixion.

My wife, Kim, has rubbed off on me in many good ways and one of them is encouraging me to keep a journal, which I have been doing for over a decade now. Mostly, it’s a spiritual diary.

I was re-reading one of them recently from nearly a decade ago and found I had written down a key phrase from an Easter sermon delivered by the Rev. Glenn Busch.

Look at the world, he urged us, with Easter eyes. I wrote down just that one phrase in my journal. That one phrase is enough.

Looking at the world with Easter eyes is a discipline that I am going to try and embrace.

Looking at the cross and seeing, and feeling, resurrection instead of crucifixion.

Looking at the world, looking at every one of its nooks and crannies, and seeing and feeling resurrection, not crucifixion.

Looking at the mundane until I am able to see the miraculous.

Looking at things I’ve stopped paying attention to because they are around me every day and I take them for granted, looking at them until I see them through Easter eyes.

Looking at one fallen leaf, brown and years old, perhaps, or a leaf from this spring blown from its tree by a storm, looking at a leaf that is bent and broken on the ground, trampled underfoot, and see how that one leaf is lifted up by a sudden breeze.

See that one ordinary leaf raised up by a wind none of us can see and think to myself, Hey, that’s me. I am that leaf and God is the wind that lifts me, raises me up—raises all of us up—on Easter Sunday 365 days a year.

The calendar doesn’t matter. It never has and never could. Easter cannot be contained or limited to any one single season.

I should have realized that.

So next Sunday on the liturgical calendar is Pentecost. The Holy Spirit’s going to come. Hurray! Bring it on!

No, wait a minute, I’m wrong there, too.

The Holy Spirit’s flight has already arrived.

The Holy Spirit is in here. The Holy Spirit out there. No one day, no crucifixion large or small, can hold it in and none can hold it back.

So I want to look at all of the world’s crosses with Easter eyes and see all of them empty except for a note that reads: “I have gone on ahead, blazing a trail for all eternity, look for the signs in everything that you see.”

And the note is signed: “Jesus.”

We can see blaze marks of that trail when we look at the world with Easter eyes.

The signs are everywhere.

We can even look at litter by the side of the road with Easter eyes and understand that even that one discarded hamburger wrapper fluttering across the road allows us to do the impossible.

That piece of trash allows us to see God’s breath in the wind.

A wind that is filled with Easter.

Easter in every breeze.

Every moment of every day.

Even when the air is as still as a brick wall too high for us to climb over, Easter, with its always and ever-blooming message, has already found us.

So even on those inevitable days when I let go of Easter, despite these bold statements of mine and my best intentions, I can be absolutely certain of one thing:

Easter will never let go of me.

And for a promise like that, a simple Hallelujah just won’t do. When I was a kid, the Walt Disney movie Mary Poppins taught me a word. I’m going to use it now:

Halle—supercalifragilisticexpealliedotious—lujah!








The Orbit Of Love Around The Sun Of Love

By Ken Woodley

“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love … I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete … This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

—The Gospel of John—

If love isn’t all I need, it sure comes close.
Food?
Without love, I’d starve.
Water?
Without love, I’d die of thirst.
Shelter?
Without love, I’d be vulnerable to every tempest.
But, yes, let’s be practical. I do need food, and water. Shelter, as well. A glass of wine never comes amiss, either, and where would I be without music and books. And did I mention tea?
But without love none of them would taste so very good and the music would fail to transport me and the words between the covers would take me nowhere.
The four-letter ‘love’ word dominates the Gospel of John as Jesus seeks to counter the obscenity of hate, indifference, intolerance, self-absorption and apathy being displayed toward the needs of others.
The kind of love that Jesus is talking about is a love that we can swallow, a love that we can breathe, a love that comes through every pore of our skin, saturates our soul and leaves us joyfully splashing in the wonder of it all.
The love that Jesus is talking about is a love that we can call home. Literally.
That’s why Jesus tells us to,“Abide in my love.”
The kind of love that Jesus is talking about is a love that keeps all of its windows and doors wide open.
Nobody is locked out. God, in fact, has removed all locks and thrown away the keys. Locks and keys that too often we human beings use to exclude others from any sense that they are truly loved and equally welcomed by God to call this love their home.
It’s the kind of love that convinced Jesus to lay down his life for us to ensure that the message and meaning of this mind-boggling love would be passed down through the ages to us all. As he said:
“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Thankfully, we can follow this teaching without being crucified.
But we do lay down our lives when we put aside our own desires and give ourselves to the needs of someone else.
It may even be someone for whom our life by their side may just be the missing ingredient in their life’s journey. The answer to a prayer. Balm for a wound.
And when we allow the orbit of our lives to intersect we may be surprised to discover that the love of God has been guiding both of us toward each other for that very purpose.
For the purpose of love.
Only by laying down our own life can we be picked up and carried, as well, by the love of someone else.
We may even be startled to discover that they somehow are the missing ingredient in our own life, the answer to a prayer, balm for a wound.
Our two orbits have become one and around the same sun.
In such shining, radiant love is God made vividly manifest. Feeding us. Quenching our deepest thirst. Sheltering us like no roof ever could. In that audacious love is our joy made complete in ways we could never expect, ways we could never envision.
The love of God carrying us both.
The love of God bearing us all.
And that really is all we truly need.

By Ken Woodley

“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love … I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete … This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

—The Gospel of John—

If love isn’t all I need, it sure comes close.
Food?
Without love, I’d starve.
Water?
Without love, I’d die of thirst.
Shelter?
Without love, I’d be vulnerable to every tempest.
But, yes, let’s be practical. I do need food, and water. Shelter, as well. A glass of wine never comes amiss, either, and where would I be without music and books. And did I mention tea?
But without love none of them would taste so very good and the music would fail to transport me and the words between the covers would take me nowhere.
The four-letter ‘love’ word dominates the Gospel of John as Jesus seeks to counter the obscenity of hate, indifference, intolerance, self-absorption and apathy being displayed toward the needs of others.
The kind of love that Jesus is talking about is a love that we can swallow, a love that we can breathe, a love that comes through every pore of our skin, saturates our soul and leaves us joyfully splashing in the wonder of it all.
The love that Jesus is talking about is a love that we can call home. Literally.
That’s why Jesus tells us to,“Abide in my love.”
The kind of love that Jesus is talking about is a love that keeps all of its windows and doors wide open.
Nobody is locked out. God, in fact, has removed all locks and thrown away the keys. Locks and keys that too often we human beings use to exclude others from any sense that they are truly loved and equally welcomed by God to call this love their home.
It’s the kind of love that convinced Jesus to lay down his life for us to ensure that the message and meaning of this mind-boggling love would be passed down through the ages to us all. As he said:
“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Thankfully, we can follow this teaching without being crucified.
But we do lay down our lives when we put aside our own desires and give ourselves to the needs of someone else.
It may even be someone for whom our life by their side may just be the missing ingredient in their life’s journey. The answer to a prayer. Balm for a wound.
And when we allow the orbit of our lives to intersect we may be surprised to discover that the love of God has been guiding both of us toward each other for that very purpose.
For the purpose of love.
Only by laying down our own life can we be picked up and carried, as well, by the love of someone else.
We may even be startled to discover that they somehow are the missing ingredient in our own life, the answer to a prayer, balm for a wound.
Our two orbits have become one and around the same sun.
In such shining, radiant love is God made vividly manifest. Feeding us. Quenching our deepest thirst. Sheltering us like no roof ever could. In that audacious love is our joy made complete in ways we could never expect, ways we could never envision.
The love of God carrying us both.
The love of God bearing us all.
And that really is all we truly need.




The Good Shepherd

“Jesus said, ‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.’”

—The Gospel of John

By Ken Woodley
We are lost.
Doomed.
Wolves are everywhere.
Before us and behind us.
To the left and the right of us.
Above and below.
There is no place where there are not wolves.
And they are ravenous.
They howl like a terrible storm.
Our power lines are down.
Trees tumble.
Limbs are broken.
The sky looks and sounds as if it is being torn to shreds.
Our green pastures are scorched.
The still waters have tidal waves.
And the wolves want more.
They want all of us.
Every bit of us.
We thought we were brave enough, smart enough, faithful enough.
What fools we were to wander off on our own.
The wolves begin taunting us.
‘Where,’ they ask, ‘is your good shepherd now? Ha! Nailed to a cross. Crucified. Dead and buried.’
We open our mouths to reply and that is when we hear your voice.
“I am their shepherd,” you say to the wolves. “Now and forever.”
And we are found. We are saved.
Goodness and mercy surround us.
You are before us and behind us.
To the left and to the right of us.
Above and below.
There is no place where you are not with us.
We feel weightless as you revive our souls, anointing our heads with oil. The howling is silenced and the sky is made whole.
The wolves vanish like shadows at noon.
With you by our side that is all they ever could be.
Shadows.
And nothing more.
We pass through them with you, Jesus, into the undying light of love.

“Jesus said, ‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.’”

—The Gospel of John


By Ken Woodley
We are lost.
Doomed.
Wolves are everywhere.
Before us and behind us.
To the left and the right of us.
Above and below.
There is no place where there are not wolves.
And they are ravenous.
They howl like a terrible storm.
Our power lines are down.
Trees tumble.
Limbs are broken.
The sky looks and sounds as if it is being torn to shreds.
Our green pastures are scorched.
The still waters have tidal waves.
And the wolves want more.
They want all of us.
Every bit of us.
We thought we were brave enough, smart enough, faithful enough.
What fools we were to wander off on our own.
The wolves begin taunting us.
‘Where,’ they ask, ‘is your good shepherd now? Ha! Nailed to a cross. Crucified. Dead and buried.’
We open our mouths to reply and that is when we hear your voice.
“I am their shepherd,” you say to the wolves. “Now and forever.”
And we are found. We are saved.
Goodness and mercy surround us.
You are before us and behind us.
To the left and to the right of us.
Above and below.
There is no place where you are not with us.
We feel weightless as you revive our souls, anointing our heads with oil. The howling is silenced and the sky is made whole.
The wolves vanish like shadows at noon.
With you by our side that is all they ever could be.
Shadows.
And nothing more.
We pass through them with you, Jesus, into the undying light of love.

















Jesus Didn’t Run From His Wounds And Neither Should We

“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 allowed 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.
True, Jesus is resurrected by the time he shows the disciples his wounds. These particular wounds are no longer something for him to fear. But, crucially, Jesus didn’t run away and hide from those wounds before they were inflicted upon him. Even though he knew they were coming.
So the example resonates, if anything, even more deeply.
Each of us is 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.
Personal experience has taught me this truth.
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.
And I thank God personal experience has taught me that, too.

“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 allowed 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.
True, Jesus is resurrected by the time he shows the disciples his wounds. These particular wounds are no longer something for him to fear. But, crucially, Jesus didn’t run away and hide from those wounds before they were inflicted upon him. Even though he knew they were coming.
So the example resonates, if anything, even more deeply.
Each of us is 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.
Personal experience has taught me this truth.
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.
And I thank God personal experience has taught me that, too.




When We Are Locked Inside Our Upstairs Room

“Peace be with you. As the father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

                                                                               —-The Gospel of John

By Ken Woodley

Who hasn’t blown out a great gulp of air on a cold winter’s day and seen their breath hanging there in front of them like an early morning mist?
But it can happen during Eastertide, too. “On this day three years ago,” Kim told me early this morning, reading from one of her journals, “it was 26 degrees when the sun rose.”
A day when the blooming petals of April were coated in frost.
Breathing, of course, keeps us alive, but our breath does other things, too.
Ironically—or, perhaps, tellingly—we can use our breath to both kindle and extinguish a flame. After putting another log on a barely burning fire, we blow on glowing embers, hoping to re-ignite the flames. But we also use our breath to blow out candles.
Breathing also fuels our voices, and what we say in this world travels much farther than our frozen breath. So we should be careful about what words we set loose into the lives of others.
The most amazing thing we can do with our breath, however, is to save someone’s life through mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
And, in a way, that is what Jesus is shown to be doing in the verse above from the Gospel of John.
The disciples, minus Thomas, are cowering behind locked doors after the crucifixion of Jesus.
Frightened out of their minds. Scared out of their wits. Trembling in terror at any sudden noise that might mean the authorities were coming to arrest them and put them to death.
The breath of Jesus provides them with the gift of the Holy Spirit and releases them from the grasp of deepest anxiety. The breath of Jesus kindles the embers of his disciples into flames to bring light into the darkness of the world.
The breath of Jesus empowers them to boldly go where they have never gone before: out into the world around them without the comfort of Jesus by their side to spread the Gospel far and wide. As far and as wide as to us today. So, Jesus saved the lives of his disciples, then and now.
Clearly, Jesus would have won any contest my childhood friends and I had over whose breath could travel farthest on a winter’s morning. The breath of Christ has been like the wind, blowing across the entire face of the Earth, thanks to those who do not keep the gift of the Holy Spirit for themselves but share it, through word and deed.
His breath is with us today, gently kindling us with God’s love, empowering us to carry the message of that amazing grace out into the world through what we say and what we do.
The daily challenge is to ask ourselves before every decision: will this breath of mine kindle a flame or blow one out?
If we share the breath that Jesus has given us then we are breathing life into the world for more than just ourselves.
And the light of love will shine more brightly.
Especially for those who have been dragged by life into a moment of fear that there is no more light of love at all.
Just as Jesus so lovingly did for his disciples way back then.
And now.
Because sometimes it is us huddled in some “upstairs room” where we feel distant from Jesus, when the “hammers and nails” in our lives seem to have won.
When all of the flashing signs say “Crucifixion” and hopes for resurrection away from our troubles seem paved over.
When ancient pains of sorrow and anguish resurface and speak in the present tense.
At times like that, we will not see the breath of Christ by our side but if we put one foot in front of the other and leave that locked room we will surely feel it.

“Peace be with you. As the father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

—The Gospel of John

By Ken Woodley

Who hasn’t blown out a great gulp of air on a cold winter’s day and seen their breath hanging there in front of them like an early morning mist?
But it can happen during Eastertide, too. “On this day three years ago,” my wife, Kim, told me early this morning, reading from one of her journals, “it was 26 degrees when the sun rose.”
A day when the blooming petals of April were coated in frost.
Breathing, of course, keeps us alive, but our breath does other things, too.
Ironically—or, perhaps, tellingly—we can use our breath to both kindle and extinguish a flame. After putting another log on a barely burning fire, we blow on glowing embers, hoping to re-ignite the flames. But we also use our breath to blow out candles.
Breathing also fuels our voices, and what we say in this world travels much farther than our frozen breath. So we should be careful about what words we set loose into the lives of others.
The most amazing thing we can do with our breath, however, is to save someone’s life through mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
And, in a way, that is what Jesus is shown to be doing in the verse above from the Gospel of John.
The disciples, minus Thomas, are cowering behind locked doors after the crucifixion of Jesus.
Frightened out of their minds. Scared out of their wits. Trembling in terror at any sudden noise that might mean the authorities were coming to arrest them and put them to death.
The breath of Jesus provides them with the gift of the Holy Spirit and releases them from the grasp of deepest anxiety. The breath of Jesus kindles the embers of his disciples into flames to bring light into the darkness of the world.
The breath of Jesus empowers them to boldly go where they have never gone before: out into the world around them without the comfort of Jesus by their side to spread the Gospel far and wide. As far and as wide as to us today. So, Jesus saved the lives of his disciples, then and now.
Clearly, Jesus would have won any contest my childhood friends and I had over whose breath could travel farthest on a winter’s morning. The breath of Christ has been like the wind, blowing across the entire face of the Earth, thanks to those who do not keep the gift of the Holy Spirit for themselves but share it, through word and deed.
His breath is with us today, gently kindling us with God’s love, empowering us to carry the message of that amazing grace out into the world through what we say and what we do.
The daily challenge is to ask ourselves before every decision: will this breath of mine kindle a flame or blow one out?
If we share the breath that Jesus has given us then we are breathing life into the world for more than just ourselves.
And the light of love will shine more brightly.
Especially for those who have been dragged by life into a moment of fear that there is no more light of love at all.
Just as Jesus so lovingly did for his disciples way back then.
And now.
Because sometimes it is us huddled in some “upstairs room” where we feel distant from Jesus, when the “hammers and nails” in our lives seem to have won.
When all of the flashing signs say “Crucifixion” and hopes for resurrection away from our troubles seem paved over.
When ancient pains of sorrow and anguish resurface and speak in the present tense.
At times like that, we will not see the breath of Christ by our side but if we put one foot in front of the other and leave that locked room we will surely feel it.

A Love That Can’t Be Crucified

By Ken Woodley

I remember us gathered in that upstairs room somewhere in the secret heart of Jerusalem on Maundy Thursday.
The Garden of Gesthemane wasn’t far away. Neither were those coming to arrest Jesus as he prayed for some other way. Any other way.
We could almost hear the footsteps coming, like a pandemic making its way headline by headline, day be day, getting closer. Jesus knew they were coming but he did not run away. Jesus did not leave us even though he knew what those footsteps meant, even though he knew where those footsteps were going to take him.
The darkness was coming. It was falling all around us, and yet Jesus did not abandon us to the darkness of the world.
Jesus had one more thing to say to us in that upstairs room. One last word. And so it must have been of utmost importance to him. The one thought Jesus wanted to leave behind in our hearts, yeast for our souls, communion words for all those who will follow us, in later years, into “upstairs rooms” around the world with Jesus on Maundy Thursday.
“I give you a new commandment,” Jesus told us. “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.”
Love?
Remember how disappointed Judas was by those four letters. Nobody’s going to kill the Roman oppressors with love, Judas whispered as he headed out of the door to collect his 30 pieces of silver.
But Judas never understood. This was no ordinary love. This wasn’t the everyday “luv ya” that people tossed about instead of saying “see ya.” This love couldn’t be abbreviated for Tweets and other social media.
Jesus didn’t say “luv ya” because God’s love isn’t a “luv ya” love.

The love of which Jesus spoke, and speaks, isn’t emotional affection that can be washed away by rains of disagreement or blown off course by the winds of disappointment.
Jesus didn’t die on the cross for “luv ya.”
Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead by “luv ya.”
And for sure Easter isn’t a “luv ya” day.
This is a love that cannot be crucified.
A love that Judas cannot betray.
A love that cannot be arrested.
A love that cannot be sentenced to die.
A love that cannot be whipped and beaten.
A love that no crown of thorns can touch.
A love that no hammer can nail to a cross.
This is a love that transports us and transforms our lives because it is LOVE.
The thing itself. The LOVE that lives and breathes, that blossoms in every unfolding flower within our heart, if we let it, because it was planted there by God, who is LOVE.
Remember, when we saw them nail Jesus to that cross, standing off in the distance, in company with our fear, we were terrified that the darkening of that day would soon fill the world to overflowing.
Never, ever, we feared, would we ever truly see the light of such love again.
But it suddenly dawned on me today that in actual fact the sun is constantly rising, every minute of every day. As our world spins, the sun is seen to rise above the dark horizon from a endless points of successive geographic perspectives.
That is what this LOVE is like.
My trouble is that sometimes I turn away from the rising and face the other direction, staring into all of my “setting skies” and feel my heart fill with tears as I cry because the sun seems to be constantly waving goodbye and leaving me in darkness.
Nor, I am quite certain, am I the only one.
That is how we all felt that afternoon on the slopes of Golgotha.
I think every time Jesus spoke of love Judas felt the sun set again and again and again.
Judas never understood LOVE.
The rest of us are eternally blessed by the LOVE that rose on Easter morning.
And every morning.
Every morning everywhere.

By Ken Woodley

I remember us gathered in that upstairs room somewhere in the secret heart of Jerusalem on Maundy Thursday.
The Garden of Gesthemane wasn’t far away. Neither were those coming to arrest Jesus as he prayed for some other way. Any other way.
We could almost hear the footsteps coming, like a pandemic making its way headline by headline, day be day, getting closer. Jesus knew they were coming but he did not run away. Jesus did not leave us even though he knew what those footsteps meant, even though he knew where those footsteps were going to take him.
The darkness was coming. It was falling all around us, and yet Jesus did not abandon us to the darkness of the world.
Jesus had one more thing to say to us in that upstairs room. One last word. And so it must have been of utmost importance to him. The one thought Jesus wanted to leave behind in our hearts, yeast for our souls, communion words for all those who will follow us, in later years, into “upstairs rooms” around the world with Jesus on Maundy Thursday.
“I give you a new commandment,” Jesus told us. “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.”
Love?
Remember how disappointed Judas was by those four letters. Nobody’s going to kill the Roman oppressors with love, Judas whispered as he headed out of the door to collect his 30 pieces of silver.
But Judas never understood. This was no ordinary love. This wasn’t the everyday “luv ya” that people tossed about instead of saying “see ya.” This love couldn’t be abbreviated for Tweets and other social media.
Jesus didn’t say “luv ya” because God’s love isn’t a “luv ya” love.

The love of which Jesus spoke, and speaks, isn’t emotional affection that can be washed away by rains of disagreement or blown off course by the winds of disappointment.
Jesus didn’t die on the cross for “luv ya.”
Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead by “luv ya.”
And for sure Easter isn’t a “luv ya” day.
This is a love that cannot be crucified.
A love that Judas cannot betray.
A love that cannot be arrested.
A love that cannot be sentenced to die.
A love that cannot be whipped and beaten.
A love that no crown of thorns can touch.
A love that no hammer can nail to a cross.
This is a love that transports us and transforms our lives because it is LOVE.
The thing itself. The LOVE that lives and breathes, that blossoms in every unfolding flower within our heart, if we let it, because it was planted there by God, who is LOVE.
Remember, when we saw them nail Jesus to that cross, standing off in the distance, in company with our fear, we were terrified that the darkening of that day would soon fill the world to overflowing.
Never, ever, we feared, would we ever truly see the light of such love again.
But it suddenly dawned on me today that in actual fact the sun is constantly rising, every minute of every day. As our world spins, the sun is seen to rise above the dark horizon from a endless points of successive geographic perspectives.
That is what this LOVE is like.
My trouble is that sometimes I turn away from the rising and face the other direction, staring into all of my “setting skies” and feel my heart fill with tears as I cry because the sun seems to be constantly waving goodbye and leaving me in darkness.
Nor, I am quite certain, am I the only one.
That is how we all felt that afternoon on the slopes of Golgotha.
I think every time Jesus spoke of love Judas felt the sun set again and again and again.
Judas never understood LOVE.
The rest of us are eternally blessed by the LOVE that rose on Easter morning.
And every morning.
Every morning everywhere.










The Palms Of Us All

By Ken Woodley

On Palm Sunday, Christians around the world celebrate the apparently triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.
Many who saw or heard of the procession firsthand thought, “Ah, at last, the Messiah has come to gather his army and topple the Romans with swords instead of plowshares. Finally, Jesus will render unto Caesar a thrust of sharp metal.”
How wrong they were.
A week later, Jesus would be nailed to a cross, cruelly executed after being betrayed, abandoned, mocked and tortured.
This year, Palm Sunday will be celebrated in various way across our COVID-19 world. Some churches are open. Some are closed. Others have restrictions on seating. Many people will celebrate through a virtual service on line or via YouTube.
And then we will all go back to our own devices.
Back to our cell phones and social media.
Back to our TV remote controls and microwave settings.
Back to those things—and I know them all too well—that distract us from continuing on behind Jesus.
That prevent us from following the resurrected Christ, who stands beckoning us on to follow around the next bend into places we never imagined and things we never thought possible.
Good things that the world so desperately needs.
Things that only we can do.
Light that only we can shine.
Things that will be left undone if we do not do them.
Small, beautiful things.
Mustard seeds that only we can plant.
Because everyone has a sword with his or her name on it in this world.
A sword that can only become a plowshare for the planting of a mustard seed if it feels the transformational grip of our fingerprints upon it.
In reality, Palm Sunday has nothing to do with the palm fronds and crosses waved in the air.
Instead, it has everything to do with the palms of our hands.
With every tick of the clock all of us hold the fate of the world’s next few moments in the palm of our hands.
And so the fate of the world literally depends on us.
At least, that part of the world that we call home.
Will we give our palms to Jesus or will we make a fist?
And, if we do give Jesus our palms, what about our fingers and our toes?
Jesus needs them all.
Jesus needs our arms and our legs.
Needs all of us in our entirety.
Oh, and how much Jesus longs for our heart and soul.
But, no, not for himself.
Jesus was never about himself.
It was always about us.
It is still always all about us.
How far are we willing to take God’s great love for everyone on Earth?
Jesus took that love as far as his fingers and toes, and his heart and soul, would let him.
Now it’s our turn.

By Ken Woodley

On Palm Sunday, Christians around the world celebrate the apparently triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.
Many who saw or heard of the procession firsthand thought, “Ah, at last, the Messiah has come to gather his army and topple the Romans with swords instead of plowshares. Finally, Jesus will render unto Caesar a thrust of sharp metal.”
How wrong they were.
A week later, Jesus would be nailed to a cross, cruelly executed after being betrayed, abandoned, mocked and tortured.
This year, Palm Sunday will be celebrated in various way across our COVID-19 world. Some churches are open. Some are closed. Others have restrictions on seating. Many people will celebrate through a virtual service on line or via YouTube.
And then we will all go back to our own devices.
Back to our cell phones and social media.
Back to our TV remote controls and microwave settings.
Back to those things—and I know them all too well—that distract us from continuing on behind Jesus.
That prevent us from following the resurrected Christ, who stands beckoning us on to follow around the next bend into places we never imagined and things we never thought possible.
Good things that the world so desperately needs.
Things that only we can do.
Light that only we can shine.
Things that will be left undone if we do not do them.
Small, beautiful things.
Mustard seeds that only we can plant.
Because everyone has a sword with his or her name on it in this world.
A sword that can only become a plowshare for the planting of a mustard seed if it feels the transformational grip of our fingerprints upon it.
In reality, Palm Sunday has nothing to do with the palm fronds and crosses waved in the air.
Instead, it has everything to do with the palms of our hands.
With every tick of the clock all of us hold the fate of the world’s next few moments in the palm of our hands.
And so the fate of the world literally depends on us.
At least, that part of the world that we call home.
Will we give our palms to Jesus or will we make a fist?
And, if we do give Jesus our palms, what about our fingers and our toes?
Jesus needs them all.
Jesus needs our arms and our legs.
Needs all of us in our entirety.
Oh, and how much Jesus longs for our heart and soul.
But, no, not for himself.
Jesus was never about himself.
It was always about us.
It is still always all about us.
How far are we willing to take God’s great love for everyone on Earth?
Jesus took that love as far as his fingers and toes, and his heart and soul, would let him.
Now it’s our turn.

The New Season Inside Our Own Skin

By Ken Woodley

Daylight Saving Time.
What a luminous trio of words.
And how simple it all was last weekend. Child’s play. We simply moved our clocks ahead. Sixty minutes. That’s all it took. And our digital devices performed that small task automatically, requiring no effort on our part at all.
Not even COVID-19 could stop the charge of this “light brigade.”
But what about our hearts and minds? What of our souls?
If we don’t move them further ahead into the light of God’s love then an hour of extra sunshine every day isn’t really going to change the world very much.
I imagine that when Jesus welcomed those who were regarded by society as sinners or unworthy—“the others”—they felt the return of an altogether different Daylight Saving Time.
Such people were kept in a kind of perpetual winter by the Pharisees and scribes of the world, kept in the utter darkness of disregard and the bitter cold of callous condemnation.
His companionship must have felt like acceptance and love suddenly blooming in the world around them, despite the marble hearts of others that seemed to be perpetually set to “Standard Time.”
Jesus wanted them to live their lives in the year-round Daylight Saving Time of God’s love and grace.
Standard Time is all too human. Standard Time is holding on to hurts and pain, to sins and grievances despite the fact that a turn of our heart would put us perpetually in a place far removed from the sleeting snowstorm of hurts and faults held onto. Including our own.
We can most truly come to life in God’s Daylight Saving Time.
Human Standard Time is just not worth synchronizing the clock of our lives to or the beat of our heart.
We all have a choice and this time of year emphasizes it in a dramatic and compelling way.
We can come to life.
Become a new creation.
Blossom and bloom.
Or hold onto darkness and winter within our hearts and minds, down in our soul.
Outside our windows and walls the ground is almost trembling with nature’s answer to the call of Daylight Saving Time.
A wondrous rash of flowers, of bird song, and sunlight, green leaves and lawns are on their way. Daffodils are already opening their petals. Forsythia buds are bursting.
The earth is going to keep tilting toward the light. Nothing can stop it.
We know our clocks are all set and synchronized with the path of the sun.
But what about all the deepest places in our often-wounded hearts?
None of us invented our skin or the chaotically challenging world through which we journey inside that skin. All we can ask of ourselves, and ask of others, is that we try to live in the world and inside our own skin the very best that we can.
Experience has taught me that from time to time it’s desperately important to forgive others, and also ourselves, for being human.
We are all human in every meaning of that word but if we are good enough for Jesus and for God, who created us, then we must be good enough for ourselves and each other.
We cannot be more than what we are, but what we are can be more than enough.
As difficult as it is to believe sometimes, all of us are the light of the world.
Jesus said so.
Let’s make absolutely certain, then, that we have sprung ahead not simply on our clocks but within our heart and mind, within our soul, as well.
Let’s strive to shine that light as indiscriminately and as brightly as we can.
The season is certainly changing all around us, re-shaping the landscape.
But a far more important season is waiting to change deep inside our own skin.
And it can transform the world.

By Ken Woodley

Daylight Saving Time.
What a luminous trio of words.
And how simple it all was last weekend. Child’s play. We simply moved our clocks ahead. Sixty minutes. That’s all it took. And our digital devices performed that small task automatically, requiring no effort on our part at all.
Not even COVID-19 could stop the charge of this “light brigade.”
But what about our hearts and minds? What of our souls?
If we don’t move them further ahead into the light of God’s love then an hour of extra sunshine every day isn’t really going to change the world very much.
I imagine that when Jesus welcomed those who were regarded by society as sinners or unworthy—“the others”—they felt the return of an altogether different Daylight Saving Time.
Such people were kept in a kind of perpetual winter by the Pharisees and scribes of the world, kept in the utter darkness of disregard and the bitter cold of callous condemnation.
His companionship must have felt like acceptance and love suddenly blooming in the world around them, despite the marble hearts of others that seemed to be perpetually set to “Standard Time.”
Jesus wanted them to live their lives in the year-round Daylight Saving Time of God’s love and grace.
Standard Time is all too human. Standard Time is holding on to hurts and pain, to sins and grievances despite the fact that a turn of our heart would put us perpetually in a place far removed from the sleeting snowstorm of hurts and faults held onto. Including our own.
We can most truly come to life in God’s Daylight Saving Time.
Human Standard Time is just not worth synchronizing the clock of our lives to or the beat of our heart.
We all have a choice and this time of year emphasizes it in a dramatic and compelling way.
We can come to life.
Become a new creation.
Blossom and bloom.
Or hold onto darkness and winter within our hearts and minds, down in our soul.
Outside our windows and walls the ground is almost trembling with nature’s answer to the call of Daylight Saving Time.
A wondrous rash of flowers, of bird song, and sunlight, green leaves and lawns are on their way. Daffodils are already opening their petals. Forsythia buds are bursting.
The earth is going to keep tilting toward the light. Nothing can stop it.
We know our clocks are all set and synchronized with the path of the sun.
But what about all the deepest places in our often-wounded hearts?
None of us invented our skin or the chaotically challenging world through which we journey inside that skin. All we can ask of ourselves, and ask of others, is that we try to live in the world and inside our own skin the very best that we can.
Experience has taught me that from time to time it’s desperately important to forgive others, and also ourselves, for being human.
We are all human in every meaning of that word but if we are good enough for Jesus and for God, who created us, then we must be good enough for ourselves and each other.
We cannot be more than what we are, but what we are can be more than enough.
As difficult as it is to believe sometimes, all of us are the light of the world.
Jesus said so.
Let’s make absolutely certain, then, that we have sprung ahead not simply on our clocks but within our heart and mind, within our soul, as well.
Let’s strive to shine that light as indiscriminately and as brightly as we can.
The season is certainly changing all around us, re-shaping the landscape.
But a far more important season is waiting to change deep inside our own skin.
And it can transform the world.

Himalayan Morning

‘Knock, and the door shall be opened.’
—Jesus

By Ken Woodley

Wisps of steam rise
from a morning cup of tea
like a secret
coded message from
far away beyond the foothills
as I sit waiting in the shrouding darkness
for the risen light,
praying that a new day will dawn
bright enough
for me to finally see it
and believe.

Deciphering the translation
of this ticking moment,
wisps of my desperate spirit follow
because they want no other choice,
rising through my earthly clouds
like Everest dreamers
touching the bottom
of the sky,
but no longer
as if they were doubting disciples
fingering the wounds of heaven
to see if they are real.

Atop this summit
I plant my flag.

Your peaks are all around me now
pointing toward the sun.


‘Knock, and the door shall be opened.’
—Jesus
By Ken Woodley

Wisps of steam rise
from a morning cup of tea
like a secret
coded message from
far away beyond the foothills
as I sit waiting in the shrouding darkness
for the risen light,
praying that a new day will dawn
bright enough
for me to finally see it
and believe.

Deciphering the translation
of this ticking moment,
wisps of my desperate spirit follow
because they want no other choice,
rising through my earthly clouds
like Everest dreamers
touching the bottom
of the sky,
but no longer
as if they were doubting disciples
fingering the wounds of heaven
to see if they are real.

Atop this summit
I plant my flag.

Your peaks are all around me now
pointing toward the sun.