Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Thomas Merton's 91st Birthday

"On the last day of January 1915, under the sign of the Water Bearer, in a year of a great war, and down in the shadow of some French mountains on the borders of Spain, I came into the world." (Seven Storey Mountain- Thomas Merton)

My Favorite Thomas Merton Quote:

"The things I thought were so important - because of the effort I put into them - have turned out to be of small value. And the things I never thought about, the things I was never able either to measure or to expect, were the things that mattered." (From Firewatch, July 4, 1952)


Happy Birthday Tom from Bryan Sherwood

Merton by Alan Creech

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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Personal Psalms of Matt Tulous.

The following are personal psalms of worship written by Matt Tullos. They appear in alphabetical order by title. "Feel free to use them," he says. They are neat.
Personal Psalms

And the rain begins

gone is the light
done is the day
thunder rumbles gently
the grace of the darkness
reminding me
calling me
toward thanksgiving
and the rain begins...

Rembrandt's "Parable of the Prodigal Son"

Prodigal Son

We are beginning a study tonight of The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen. This is our Saturday Night Group that meets once every month and has done so for ten years. We began as a Saturday night Sunday School Class at First Baptist Church in Franklin, TN. then they quit having Saturday Night Sunday School and we have kept it up. We are excited about this study. This is the Prodigal Son at the Crystal Cathedral.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Thin Places

"The Irish speak of a tradition of "thin places." It is believed among us...that there are sequestered, sacred spaces on earth where, if you listen very carefully, you can hear God more clearly and feel God more closely than you thought possible. The metaphor sometimes used for these places is that of a wisp of veiling. Between us and God there seems to exist a wall that hides God and makes us feel often alone. At times, this wall is no more than an ethereal veil. Should you press your hand against it, a hand presses back, and should you whisper to it, a Voice answers." --Lonni Collins Pratt and Daniel Holman, O.S.B, from Benedict's Way

Thomas Merton's Meditation Room

This is his hermitage meditation room

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Southern Baptist International Mission Board

The latest from Wade Burleson, the man who the International Mission Board wants to throw out because he has a blog.

Tracy Early

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The New York religion journalist Tracy Early has passed away. He seems to have been a remarkable character. At his memorial service his friend Doris Dyke quoted from a letter he wrote to her:

"My own religious orientation seems to have more affinity for Tillich’s approach of living on the boundary between church and world, rather
than Barth’s explicit evangelical commitment. But somehow I’ve wound up admiring Barth as a person much more. Barth at the end of his life was visiting prisoners and preaching the Gospel to them, while Tillich was shining with the Harvard intellectuals and taking pride in not going to church. I cannot quite see how a Christian theologian can say meeting with fellow Christians for prayer and praise and celebration of communion is optional." Thanks David Williamson



My father, an enlightened spirit, believed in man.
My grandfather, a fervent Hasid, believed in God.
The one taught me to speak, the other to sing.
Both loved stories.
And when I tell mine, I hear their voices.
whispering from beyond the silenced storm,
They are what links the survivor to their memory.
(Elie Wiesel)

One of final acts of Paul’s life is a letter written to
Timothy. (2 Timothy 1:1-6)


Timothy, my dear son.
I thank God for you, as night and day I
constantly remember you in my prayers.
(Is there anyone you constantly remember in

Recalling your tears, I long to see you.
"We shared a lot of salt together," someone
once said to describe their difficult moments

The sincere faith that was in Lois, Timothy’s
Grandmother and in his mother Eunice and in

(The greatest thing we can share with our family
is our faith !!)

The most profound word of advice Paul gave
ever gave to Timothy.

"Fan into flame the gift of God.!"

1. Fire gives warmth

Fire may be the greatest invention of all times.
The Rule of Saint Benedict:
"All guests to the monastery should be
welcomed as Christ, because He will
say, "I was a stranger, and you took me in."
We should give warmth to all be persons we meet.

2. Fires attract’s attention
John Williams had a weiner roast for our SS Class.
He cut down a tree and set it on fire. It was so
hot we had to crawl on our knees to heat the hot
dog. An later, the fire department had to come to
put out the fire it grew so great.

3. Fire gives guidance

One is the most powerful number in the universe: One song
Can inspire a broken heart; one word can encourage a
Doubting spirit; one sermon can save a life; one light can
brighten a darkened path.


"Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said to him,
Abba, as far as I can I say my little office, I fast a
Little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace and as far
As I can, I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?"
Then the old man stood up and stretched his hands
towards heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps
Of fire and he said to him,


You think about that !!! Become a flame.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Lake Louise

My brother Ronald has his own blog. And he has a BEAUTIFUL PICTURE OF LAKE LOUISE that he took.

Here are some more Lake Louise Pictures from a blog. Really nice.

And if you are really in the mood why not try my pictures from ALASKA?

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Thomas Merton In the Darkness

A good blog about Merton by Bryan Sherwood in his blog.

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Cathedral of the Incarnation - Nashville, TN

A Blessing for the Journey

May flowers spring up where your feet touch the earth
May the feet that walked before you bless your every step.
May the weather that's important bte the weather of your heart.
May all of your intentions find their way into the heart of God.
May your prayers be like flowers strewn for other pilgrims.
May your heart find meaning in unexpected events.
May friends who are praying for you carry you along the way.
May friends who are praying for you be carried in your heart.
May the circle of life encircle you along the way.
May the broken world ride on your shoulders.
May you carry your joy and your grief in the backpack of your soul.
May you remember all the circles of prayer throughout the world.

by Macrina Wiederkehr

From the book Walk in a Relaxed Manner by Joyce Rupp

Friday, January 20, 2006

Week over

Friday Night. Exhausted! Busy Busy week. Glad to have time to rest!

"In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths."

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Parthenon Nashville

Parthenon Nashville
Originally uploaded by brotherdan44.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Follow Up to Empathy

Just up the road from my home is a field, with two horses in it.
From a distance, each looks like every other horse. But if you stop
your car, or are walking by, you will notice something quite amazing.

Looking into the eyes of one horse will disclose that he is blind. His owner has chosen not to have him put down, but has made a good home for him. This alone is amazing.

If nearby and listening, you will hear the sound of a bell. Looking
around for the source of the sound, you will see that it comes from the smaller horse in the field. Attached to her halter is a small bell. It lets her blind friend know where she is, so he can follow her.

As you stand and watch these two friends, you'll see how she is always checking on him, and that he will listen for her bell and then slowly walk to where she is, trusting that she will not lead him astray. When she returns to the shelter of the barn each evening, she stops occasionally and looks back, making sure her friend isn't too far behind to hear the bell.

Like the owners of these two horses, God does not throw us away just because we are not perfect or because we have problems or challenges.

He watches over us and even brings others into our lives to help us when we are in need.

Sometimes we are the blind horse being guided by the little ringing
bell of those who God places in our lives. Other times we are the guide horse, helping others see.

Good friends are like this..........You don't always see them, but you know they are always there. Please listen for my bell and I'll try to remember to listen for yours.

Bro. Dan

Monday, January 16, 2006

Thoughts on Empathy

Empathy: "The projection of one’s own personality into the personality of another in order to understand the person better; ability to share in another’s emotions, thoughts, or feelings." (From Webster’s Dictionary)

It is so simply, "Are You Back?" Or a card that says, "I hope you find comfort through this hard time!" The card has been chosen with great care:

"Comfort may come in many ways – a song that reminds you of a special moment, an old photograph of a happy time, the knowledge that, in God’s arms, your loved one shares the same memories. Wishing you comfort at this difficult time."

What empathy is not is someone saying, “"ello Brother Dan, how are you?" Then actually running away so there is no time for an answer.

Empathy. I don’t know! Maybe it is just a gift that few have. Others are so involved in their own world that empathy doesn’t fit. Empathy, or showing by example we care, would just take too much time and who has that, right?

When I moved to Nashville, I lived with Mrs. J.O. Williams (age 86 then). She was as close to a saint as I have ever known. Each night she shared what God was doing, or had done in her life with me. At midnight she got up every night and prayed. "If you ever want me to pray for you," she said, "call me at midnight." On her desk were cards of Psalm 139 that she send out to anyone going through a difficult time. And of course her prayers went to. She set an example of caring and empathy for me.

It is so easy to say we are praying for someone when they are facing loss, or surgery, or family difficulties, but WHO FOLLOWS THROUGH? I have a feeling that our prayers don't mean much if we don’t follow through. When people ask for my prayers I put their name in a book and try desperately to follow through to see how it came out. Yes, I sometimes fail, but I try.

And that’s where empathy comes in. Maybe only a person with empathy really cares? The person with empathy really listens and hears the real need being expressed, that's why their prayers are different. They are responding to the real needs in a person's life, not the perceived needs.

Well, we are in the healing profession, aren't we. What does that mean? It means that we are meeting physical needs but what about the emotional needs. It seems that is sometimes the greatest struggle. The nurses and doctors to me that are most effective have a deeper wisdom, the ability to meet the physical, but also the ability be empathetic to someone, then the ability to see how that emotional structure fits into the needs relating to the illness.

So, all I am really saying is that an email that says, "Are you back," shows a lot of empathy. And maybe this is a time for empathy month. A time to take stock and see that we follow through, or that we check on someone we haven’t seen in a long time, and if we are asked to pray that we really pray but the follow through being the test of our prayers.

How do you rate on empathy? You think about that!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Muddled Thoughts on a Sunday

Spent all weekend resting. After two deaths in the family this week it was an appropriate time to grieve.

Watched the Colts lose. I was afraid they were not up for the big game, considering they have lost a couple and the coach's son dying.

Why do I like Desperate Housewifes and Earl and hate the Book of Daniel?

And I love the Robyn's Nest of Christy.
What beautiful photographs.

Is emergent going through a debating time? link

Are you keeping up with the latest Southern Baptist Convention Scandal? link

Friday, January 13, 2006

Not Enough Time

"On some days, no matter how fast you shovel, you simply cannot get it all shoveled in time for Vespers." (James Finley, The Contemplative Heart, p. 31)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I'm Not Through Yet

I just got word last night that my Uncle Edgar died in Rome, Georgia. This follows my Aunt Elaine whom we buried on Saturday in Jonesboro, Georgia.

As I prepare for what to say at my Uncle's funeral I realized what a lucky guy I have been through the years. I have been close to all my Aunt's and Uncles. I had 18 in all. It is down to 5 left. The years fly by. But as I was saying, I've been lucky. We have all enjoyed each others company, been close to cousins, and had many memorable years together.

For over 30 years the Phillips side would meet at Christmas time. We only stopped 3-4 years ago when health issues prohibited it. But I've been lucky because of the example set by my aunts and uncles.

Uncle Edgar, who just died, and I held a unique position in the Phillips Clan. Each year when the 20-30 of us would meet for our annual get together only Uncle Edgar and I were called on to pray. Usually he did it, but from time to time they would let me do it. I guess, he, being the patriach of the kin folks, was the official prayer and I was sort of his assistant.

The last time he was called on to pray he was suffering from dementia and began a lengthy prayer that seemed to go on endlessly. My aunt Edith, his wife, realizing the length of the prayer began saying Amen. Amen. To which he responded, "I'm not through yet."

Not a bad motto for a Christian. "I'm not through yet." So I go back to Georgia, say a few prayers, and reminisence, and then I say, "Thank you God for these wonderful aunts and uncles who have been a part of my life."


Bro. Dan and "I'm not through yet !"

Monday, January 09, 2006

Another Death

I was not ready for this. My uncle, Edgar Swint, died today. This
follows the death of my aunt, Elaine Phillips, who we buried Saturday.
Pray for us in our grief.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Book of Daniel

A better name for this show would be "LOST." This highly advertised show is a sea of travesty. If you want a minister's family without morality, this is your show.

Ready made with a homosexual son--isn't it interesting that every family on television now has to have one child as a homosexual--, a dope selling daughter, another son a lecturous teenager, a pill popping priest, a mother who drinks too much, an adulterous bishop or two, and a fake Jesus thrown in. Wow !

It makes Desperate Housewives look like a kindergarden show. If you want it all its here. But ethics, morality, what in heavens name is that?

Friday, January 06, 2006


Thoughts on Grief

I have always called grief “the great trickster!” The reason I say that is that often times its forms surprise us, causing us to hurt in one way and inappropriately moving that hurt toward something else or someone else.

For instance, my Aunt Elaine just died. She lived in Jonesboro, Georgia. Tomorrow I will be a pallbearer at her funeral. Her loss brings back many memories. She fell five years ago on ice and has been in a wheelchair since. She had four sons and a husband. The son that was taking care of her, Mark, had a heart attack 2 years ago and died. His brother Blake began taking care of her. A little over a year ago, in a tragic accident, Blake was driving his lawnmower near the road and was hit by a truck and killed. So, this funeral is not only about Aunt Elaine’s death, but also about Mark and Blake and the losses of life our family has felt.

Yes, with grief comes losses. Losses we can’t explain. Feelings that surface that we don’t understand. I have recently seen the Nardia Chronicles and enjoyed them immensely. But, in watching them, I can’t help but think of C.S. Lewis, the writer of them.

Late in his life C.S. Lewis married Joy Grisham, a divorcee. Three years later she died of cancer. You may remember the story, it was the theme of the movie Shadowlands. After her death, during the grieving process, Lewis wrote “A Grief Observed.” It is the best book I have ever read on grief. I still recommend it as the primary resource for anyone grieving.

Well, what has that got to do with us? Remember I said “grief is a trickster.” By that I mean that grief is not just about someone dying, grief is also about the child who leaves home for good, the divorce, the moving from one city to another, the friend at work who retires or leaves for other reasons, the loss of a job, the face you don’t see everyday anymore who was a part of your life, the Doctor telling you that you have cancer, the new boss replacing the one now gone that you loved. It is also about the victories and defeats in our lives. Not everyone is number 1.

So Dan, what are you really saying? I am saying this, “don’t minimize the hurt going on around you. Grief may be coming out in unexpected ways with those we work with and even with ourselves. Our grief may be over something else than we think.”

Grief above all requires patience. It is a waiting game. It takes days, or months, or years, to get over. Be kind to yourself in your grief and most importantly be kind to others in their grief. It is not something to laugh over and leave, it is LIFE !! And we are part of the healing. You think about that!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

New Year's Prayer

A New Year’s Prayer

O Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the winds and whose breath gives life to all the world, hear me, I come before you, one of your many children.

I am weak and small. I need your strength and wisdom. Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunrise. Make my ears sharp so I may hear your voice in the song of the birds. Make me wise so that I may learn the things you have taught my people, the lessons you have hidden under every rock and leaf.

I seek strength, not to be superior to others, but to be able to fight my greatest enemy--------myself.

Make me ever ready to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes, so when life fades, like the fading sunset, my spirit will come to you without shame.

Old Native-American Prayer

Sunday, January 01, 2006

January 1, 2006

Scripture for the year: Micah 6:6-8, Isaiah 61

What does the Lord require of you? "To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

"Still night. Warm and rainy. This year I have to get back to right order, and really make my meditation etc. what they ought to be. Actually my prayer life has not been bad but not good either."

(LEARNING TO LOVE THE JOURNALS OF THOMAS MERTON Volume Six 1966-1967, page 181. Merton wrote this on January 1, 1967.)

What is one thing I need to get back to this year? (Wayne Burns)

Subject: More Time for Silent Prayer

What is the one thing that I might work on this year? More time for silence in the presence of God. Perhaps getting up a little earlier might be a help. Other things crowd in and lessen the time for prayer.Today,I began with a solitary walk in the predawn light. Part of me wants to chant praise and another part says' Be still.' Over and over, I heard "Lord, one day in Thy courts is better than thousands elsewhere." Happy New Year in His grace. (Don Brennan)