Power Outage

Dear Ones:

I am sorry to vanish for three weeks running.  I know you will understand when you read this week’s post.

Much love to all of you.

Rev. Leisa


For a month we have had electricity
only intermittently
which is a problem
when you rely on a well
with an electric pump
for water
and you can’t charge your devices
so you can’t keep up with the outside world
which seems to exist
only at a distant remove.

They have said the reason is to protect us
but if they wanted that
they would have maintained the lines
instead of paying giant bonuses
to the executives.

And even with all the outages
the lines have started fires
not in our neighborhood this time
but in the neighborhoods
of people I love
and it is tinder dry all around us
and any minute now it could all go up
in smoke.

We have our evacuation supplies packed
and the cars pointed out
not that that would help if the tunnel of trees
over our driveway
were on fire.

What is it like?
people ask.

What is it like to live with
the constant threat of fire
magnified by negligence
and not just the threat
but the actuality
when people you love
cannot charge their medical devices
and you can’t breathe
because the smoke
is so thick?

and the power company’s response is
“If you are dependent upon
medical devices that require electricity,
use your own resources
to relocate.”

What resources?
Relocate where, and how?
We are so bewildered.  And angry.

What is it like? people ask.
Fascinated by the disasters of others.

It is like this:
One part of my brain is planning
as if everything will be fine
while another is planning
which photos to take when we evacuate
and where to go
and a third
is exercising constant vigilance.
Between the demands of all three
there is no capacity
to remember details
like where I left my keys so

I have spent hours
searching for  little things
I have lost.

And it is also like this:

I am in the middle of a bad dream
in which the world is coming to an end
because the people in power
refuse to pay attention
to the evidence
right before their noses
The air is thick like molasses
and I can’t get through it
I can’t run
so I try to yell
but my voice won’t come out

You know that kind of dream?  It is like that.
Everything is on fire and I have no power.

It wasn’t always this way,
I try to say.
Yes, there has always been fire
but not on this scale.
It was never this hot
or this dry
for so long.
And the first peoples knew
how to manage fire
and they knew how to manage forests
and they didn’t
run electrical wires
right through tangles of trees
and pay each other bonuses
when the wires
started a conflagration.

I try to say these things
but no one hears
except God

And no one is listening, it seems,
even to God.


A Single Pebble

At the river, there is a pool both deep and wide.  It is ringed on three sides by boulders, willows, and alders, and on the fourth side by a sandy beach.  Dragonflies zip back and forth over the shining water; swallows and dippers busily hunt for insects; and green fish with gold sparkles on their backs investigate every new movement.  Humans shed all clothing and immerse themselves naked in the sacred waters.

The water here has dropped down from a smaller pool above, in a cascade through boulders as big as cars.  Each season the pool starts high and full, and the water is cold and fast as it emerges from the boulders.  It rushes toward the far side of the pool and bounces upstream, causing an eddy that catches debris and foam. As the season goes on, and the water gets lower and warmer, algae begins to grow on the bottom of the eddy side.  If left alone, the pool would shrink into a smelly green pond.

But the people who love this river do not leave it alone.  At the downstream edge of the pool, at its lowest point, they make a beautiful ridge of rocks that extends part way across the stream.  Water flows over it in a clear smooth silken curve.  The rate of flow is the same as before, but the pool is preserved.

Each rock is placed with love and care, precisely where it is needed. The people who love this river want not to divert it, but rather to preserve its beauty.  They pay close attention, because they know that you can change the course of an entire river by placing a single pebble in the right location.

You can change the course of an entire river by placing a single pebble in the right location.



Sunlight After Long Rain

For Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Truth-Teller and Bringer of Light

Spirit of Life, Source of all Love:

In this place the sun has come out
after months of rain
and the trees are showing off their finest jewels:
droplets sparkling in rainbow colors.

Steam rises from the ground
and from the trunks of the giant cedars
and the forest looks like Life begun anew
Creation just set in motion.

There is nothing in this world
like the feeling of sunlight on our faces
just when we thought it would never come
and darkness and gloom
would prevail forever.

Yet the sunlight does always return.

There are parts of our lives
in which we have little power
and this is good
for it keeps us humble.
We cannot make the sun come and go
on our preferred schedule.

But there are other parts
where we do have power
and if we want the sun to come out
we have to work for it.

Help us know the difference
and do the work.

Help us shine the bright light of truth
through the obscuring clouds of lies
so we can bask in its warmth.

Help us set Creation in motion anew.

Blessed be.  Amen.

Spring Cleaning

I was longing for spring
but it was not forthcoming
so I went to sit by the river
and found that, as always,
the winter storms
have changed it.  The bank
on the other side is gone
and the river has a new course.
The granite boulders are sparkling clean.

When last I was there
at the end of fall
the air was still filled with smoke
and there was very little water.

The boulders were slippery and orange
and stank of algae
that had grown and died
and the rocks on the bottom
were covered with mucky green.

Drought and fire in the autumn
were followed by winter storms and flood
and now we may be close to the other side,
to the time when flowering trees bloom
and the poppies raise their orange heads
on the bright green hillsides—
but not quite yet.

For now, what we have are
granite boulders scoured clean
by powerful water that rose high
and scrubbed out all the muck.

For now, what we have
is a river whose course was changed
by powerful water that rose high
and washed away resistance.

O let us be that storm that comes

Let us be that water
that rises high

Let us be that water
that has such power

that power
that power
that power

Let us be that power
that scrubs away filth
and washes away resistance
and leaves behind only clean stones

only clean stones

and the knowledge
that flowers
will be blooming soon.

The Organizing Technique of Snow

One snowflake, when it falls,
is insubstantial.  It melts
the moment it touches the ground.

It is beautiful as it falls,
a unique structure
of crystalline water
so perfect that when we
magnify it to see
we nearly swoon
from sheer amazement.

And yet, by itself,
a snowflake melts
the moment it touches the ground.

Only if many snowflakes fall
and cool the earth
melting themselves in the process
can one snowflake
remain intact.

And then the next one,
and the next,
and the next,
until soon there are so many
that trees are bowed to the ground
and cars are crashing on the highway
and power lines are falling down
and humans must slow down
or die.

This is not the fault of the snow,
let us be clear.
It is just being itself.
We are the ones
who must accept reality
and change.

And if we do—
if we slow down,
and learn to pay attention—
snow offers itself to us for our joy.

O the beauty of it in the quiet wood,
and on the mountain slope,
and falling like feathers from the sky!
The joy of sliding fast downhill
with people we love all around us!

One snowflake, alone,
is insubstantial.  It melts
the moment it touches the ground.
Massed together,
snow has weight, and power,
and brings all of our hurrying to a halt—
and then spins us around
until we are breathless,
and our faces are turned toward joy.

Let us take a lesson from the snow.

This Great Throng of Life

Spirit of Life, source and ground of our being:

The days come early and stay late now
their colors blue and green,
their fragrance rose and peony and jasmine.
The evenings are long with golden light
slanting through leaves and across fields.
The fluting call of a thrush
descends from high in the trees
and at night the frogs and the crickets
sing of love.

The beauty is so great
it near stops our hearts
and yet at the very same time
little children are being torn from their parents
teens are being shot in their schools
unarmed protestors are being massacred
and sea levels continue to rise.
The list goes on and on.

Spirit of Life, Love that holds all,
we need you now.
It is long past time for us
to pour out into the streets
and do what needs to be done.

And yet we are afraid.
You call us and call us
and we are afraid.

Help us remember Moses.

When G*d called him to lead his people
out of slavery
Moses was afraid
and said he couldn’t do it.
“I don’t speak well,” he said.
“I don’t know how to lead.”
G*d did not say
“Go do it by yourself!”
G*d said
“Then take your brother Aaron.”

Help us remember this
when we hear you calling
and we are afraid:
we do not have to do it alone.

You are with us
and so are all the beings
of this beautiful earth:
the blue skies and the green trees
the fragrant flowers and the birds
the crickets and the frogs
the children with their shining eyes
and our many friends and companions.

In this great throng of life
we are never alone
and we have more than enough power
to be the change we seek.
Help us rise up.

It is time.

Blessed be.

Let Us Take It Back

At my house
the wind whispers in the pines
rustles through the oaks and cedars
and sets the chimes gently ringing.

A zebra swallowtail floats over raspberry plants.

A blue and black striped dragonfly
darts above the clover
where a thousand bees hum.

A pale blue damselfly lands
on a bright orange marigold.

A tiny California newt
no bigger than my pinky finger
makes its slow little way
among the stones.

A million insects whiz by
in a million different directions
hummingbirds sip from the feeders
and ravens fly overhead
their wings iridescent in the sun.

Frogs and crickets sing their longing for mates
lizards and squirrels madly chase their own kind
hawks shriek and jays argue;
all is green, green, green
against sky of blue, blue, blue.

Down by the river
the air is full of the fragrance of
California buckeye blossoms
and spice bush flowers
and a billion billion green leaves
each a different shape and size
each a factory, photosynthesizing
each one growing toward the light.

The songs of robins, grosbeaks,
tanagers, and towhees
echo through the trees
over the sound of the river
swollen with snowmelt
roaring down the canyon
and the smaller trickle of the streams
flowing down to the river.

At the sides of the trail
green mosses ferns and grasses
are adorned with wildflowers
of every color:
larkspur and yarrow
paintbrush and monkeyflower
Ithuriel’s spear and blue-eyed grass.

This world is so beautiful
that I almost can’t stand it
but somehow I find I can
and I weep
for those who do not even see it.

I weep for their terrible loss
of which they are not aware
because their hearts are so tiny
or so burned or so poisoned or so closed
and I weep for the power we have given them
to destroy all that is sacred and beautiful.

let us take it back.
That is all we must do to save this world.
Let us take
our power

Prayer for the Power of Words

Spirit of Life, source of all change:

Help us understand how great is our power.

We have the power to speak love into being,
to speak sharing and caring and joy.

We also have the power to speak hate into being,
to speak fear and loathing and violence.

May we accept our power.
May we take responsibility
for what we speak, and how.

May we ever speak with love.
May we ever speak with love for life.

May we speak the world we dream of into being.

Blessed be.

What Winter Requires

Spirit of Life,
Great force of love that moves through all beings:

True winter has at last descended.
Its deep cold and scouring winds
purify our hearts
as they pare away all that is not essential.

Winter requires of us that we move slowly
and pay attention.

In the woods the profound silence
lets us feel our breath
the beating of our heart
whether our belly is full or empty
whether our body is warm or cold
whether we love or do not love.

Only the essentials.

Winter also teaches us about beauty and power.

In the deep cold we can see each single snowflake,
heaped with others.
Each is different from all the rest, and beautiful–
and yet how beautiful they are together,
and how powerful.

Let us keep these gifts close to our hearts:
Deep awareness of what is essential.
Deep knowing of the beauty of each
and the beauty and power of all.

Blessed be.

Channels of Love

Spirit of life, Great Immensity of Love
that holds all:

This life can be so hard.
There is so much pain,
so much suffering
everywhere we look.

How can we stand it?
How can we manage?

Perhaps by being here, together.
By breathing together.
Perhaps by singing together.
By taking action, together.
Perhaps together we can find our power.

Spirit of Life, when we feel small and helpless
Help us know the great power that is ours
if only we will open ourselves to it

Help us open our hearts and our minds–
help us open our whole beings!–
to the suffering that is here,
so we can meet it with love.

May we be such enormous vessels of love
such enormous channels for love
that neither hatred nor cruelty
can survive in our presence.

May we walk on this earth beaming with love
shining with love
bringing love into every situation we meet.

May we know our shared life
as one opportunity to love after another.

Spirit of life, source of all love:
We thank you for this life that we live.

Blessed be.