About this blog

This Blog is named after an ancient gnoseological riddle which hints hidden, disseminated, omnipresent wisdom.
I invite you to search, listen and observe with me for "the word of tree, whisper of stone, and humming together of the abyss and stars."


Arctic Ocean

Last Friday my wife Martina and I went to visit the Arctic Circle. We took a 40-mile long ferry ride to Grimsey, a tiny island off the northern coast of Iceland.
      As soon as our ship left the port, a junior steward appeared and diligently handed out paper bags to every single passenger on board. When we left the relatively calm waters of the fjord Eyjafjörđur, it became clear why. Our reasonably sized ferry was rocking up and down and from side to side. Sea water was splashing and pooling on all three open decks and spray driven by the wind was shooting above the ship from bow to stern. Soon almost all the passengers were seasick.
     For those few of us who were not sick even standing upright was demanding and getting around became a quite strenuous exercise. It was the longest three-hour ride I have ever made. And mind you, this was what local seamen call nothing more than “choppy sea”. The weather more or less normal for the end of summer (temperature in the 40s, low clouds, some drizzle, some rain with a little bit of melting sleet). Our short sail through the coastal Arctic Ocean made me acutely aware and deeply respectful of the elemental nature and almost mythic power of waters.
     These same choppy waters rewarded us with sightings of a whale, some dolphins and a number of seabirds. I could not take a single picture, I needed both my hands to keep steady. But on the island I was able to photograph (in short window between sleet showers) Atlantic Puffins just before their migration south. The very same waters can be life threatening and life giving, harming and balmy, threatening and healing.
     This Sunday in worship we will attempt to reconnect our faith with waters, a tamed but ultimately unbridled elemental force of God’s creation. This reconnecting can have a cleansing and healing power for us and our faith. Come to sing with us the Song of Waters.


Humus Spirituality

On June 21st this year I received a very special gift. It was Sunday and I preached about caterpillars and worms. A thoughtful parishioner brought me a bin full of composting earthworms (Eisenia Fetida). Ever since I have been keeping them, feeding them and observing them on our balcony. It has been for me a real and highly rewarding spiritual exercise. 
     Earthworms are amazing creatures; very quickly they turn any food leftovers (but especially fruit and vegetable scraps) into amazing dark rich humus. Our compost bin has almost no smell, we have only a few little fruit flies and only an occasional minor flair-up of mold. But all of those “unpleasantnesses” are actually parts of a natural process of soil making. Worms are amazing, but the very humus and soil making is even more amazing. It might look like a bin of dirt, but in reality it is like a small city, a small microcosm of diverse organisms living together and transforming our refuse into a life-giving substance - the soil. It is pocket-size ecology in action.
    Pope Francis in his recent encyclical letter “Laudato Si” wrote: It may well disturb us to learn of the extinction of mammals or birds, since they are more visible. But the good functioning of ecosystems also requires fungi, algae, worms, insects, reptiles and an innumerable variety of microorganisms.
     Francis is absolutely correct, well informed and oriented not only in spiritual but also ecological matters. We usually don’t pay much attention to what we call earth, ground or even dirt. But soil is not inert; it is very much alive and our lives depend on it! Without soil teeming with well-balanced life, all other life of plants and animals would be impossible. 
   Interestingly our faith tradition shares this deep appreciation of earth. These aspects of our faith have been long neglected, but our faith tradition respectfully and consistently ascribes to earth personality and even an independent agency. 
     Join us this Sunday for a celebration of earth - ground, dirt, dust, soil teaming with life. God in the Hebrew Bible and Jesus of the New Testament called her partner and collaborator in bringing forth and nurturing life.
Now imagine what industrial agriculture does to this fine-tuned equilibrium of living creatures in the soil. Blasts of industrial fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides are poisoning microorganisms. Antibiotics leaking and leaching from gigantic animal farms are exterminating the whole spectrum of soil bacteria leaving behind impoverished biodiversity and often virtual deserts. Some fields are so degraded that without artificial fertilizers they would not be able to support any crop. True soil is not inert, it teems with micro-life and our lives depend on it!


Imperialism and Lion Hunts

Shooting a lion with an arrow? Wounding him and finishing him up later in a volley of more arrows? That was a pastime of ancient nobility and kings, but especially beloved by Neo-Assyrian kings.

I saw this basrelief in the British Museum - it was discovered in ancient Nineveh. In fact, the original lion hunt relief covered an entire wall. On that wall were several dozens of lions and lionesses transfixed and killed with arrows, swords and spears. This gory display decorated a wall of the private living quarters in the north palace of King Ashurbanipal, and was by no means the only Assyrian depiction of a lion hunt.

Now imagine that all these ancient basreliefs were originally painted in vivid colors: dark red blood running from the arrow wounds, bright blood gushing from lions’ throats.

We even know that when Assyrian nobility hunted their own lions and other big game to extinction, they started to import animals in cages from subjugated lands.

Is it any surprise that these psychopathic Assyrians did not have many international friends and had one of the worst reputations among ancient empires?
    Recently we were reminded that America has its own subculture of hunters with a similar regal itch. Walter Palmer is just one among a number of those who travel the world and buy so called “canned hunts,” which means to pay large amounts of money for killing protected and endangered animals. Thankfully, public outcry (even in Minnesota!) showed that we will not tolerate such brutalization (Assyrianization) of our society.
    This Sunday we open a series of seven worship services dedicated to the environment and inspired by the Earth Bible project. The series is called Songs of Creation and this Sunday we will sing the Song of Sanctuary - discovering and restoring the sanctuary for lions and all living beings.