Riffing Mark in Lent.

Mark 9:30-50*

To reify** a parable. To make it concrete and real… the greatest of the foibles. The greatest of missing the mark… to put four corners on a great circle… 199A8920-6221-4675-8E2D-F3CFB6A2DA75

Missing the mark… to see or feel or stumble or … all of that, of missing the mark. So there is the parable … the declaration to remove, tear out… break off… The permission to cut, to drown, to … it is not permission at all… it is a charge of responsibility. All with a babe held in arms… to be passed with gentle love… all around from one to another.

Waking from a dream of being locked out of many familiar places. To have all agency stripped away. To have nothing but my feet… to trudge away from the ‘new’ and ‘special’ ways of seeing… the pivot that strips away all that is familiar. 3F99E1F7-AA26-4D74-84B6-E2C4404B37ABAnd… beginning that trek… with the first step. Suddenly understanding that the path that was so clear… now well shaken and stirred… 

The ‘new’ leader is ‘taking charge’… in ways that begin again. And… that is not the path that is of my path. All the friends and partners of that time are suddenly busy in the new plan… the wonder and comfort of that which was familiar and off being a part… is suddenly locked and apart. 

A new seeing … first as fear … to see that the change is coming quickly. A storm on horizon.

That which was … is now not. The tide has shifted and the harbor… comfort and care… the boat of my heart… is carried away on the tide and tested in storms. The whole of creation is about… dancing and howling and roaring… of a storming delight… in the maelstrom… far from a known land… held in creation’s arms… passed gently from arms to arms… Even as the owners of those arms … argue among each other… still the passing is with gentle kindness… The noise of the storming argument… does not touch the warmth of being passed from tide to tide… from rising sun to rising moon… from winds of the east, the north, the south, and west…4D25AEA9-CBF4-45F3-B6B8-69F89C487D3C

The joy of ‘those times’ is no less a joy. Those joys, are of the peace which passes all understanding. The gift of invitation to be in a moment of creation. That sacred shared moment of the whole host of creators… be they one, two, three… many… or beloved communion with just one other. All joy of a harmony … called forth in moment. A friend speaks of a shooting star… the wonder of moment… attempting to hold that moment… as holding back the tide… pushing the river back up the mountain… the preservation of a great flowing stream… that is alive with wonder.

All of this… in the tossing of night into day. The shifting of tide from rushing to slack and rushing again… the foment of waves… torn by a rip… Dancing winds … that rage back and forth… amid all … the sudden understanding of a peace which passes all understanding. The moment of that quiet kiss… the gentle passing of infant… from arms to arms… the voices… are a storm. The arms are the caring of all creation. 

So it is a gift of this lenten retreat… a gift of arms. The shift of storm… and caring arms.

The whole of the host of creation. A gift of this dawning day.BD56AAE8-84DF-4E65-AE1E-4FFD0DE14D77

*(They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him. Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve,

and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.” John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink becaus

e you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward. “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched. “For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”)

** Reify:

  1. make (something abstract) more concrete or real.
    “these instincts are, in humans, reified as verbal constructs”

… And all Creation Waited.

After a moment… out into the wilderness… on a journey… while on that journey… all creation waited…6253B4D0-82ED-44DC-99D5-E573D8C123F6

Working with a friend… learning a tune. We both have played the tune many, many times alone. The lyric, the chords… the notes of the melody. Each portion of the whole – rehearsed, caressed, and beloved. The friend brings a friend. Now, suddenly, the tune is actually a collaboration of three. The Lyric, the Chords, and the Notes of the Melody… touched by three… danced by three… sung by three… it gives release to each to explore, within the frame of the score, options and opportunities… a dance of wonder. All in the proscribed frame of key, tempo, tuning, and lyric… A bit of low. A bit of high. Some middle… layers of notes… or… all in a singe note. All the while… all creation is both present and waiting.

Then, as with a sunrise… the new song arises. On wings… 

A setting… in all creation. A gift. There is the dance of this dawning day. This Ash Wednesday… a beginning… a step on the journey of … 

With thanksgiving to morning. A song. May each be in the tune. A gift.8C459E86-40C2-4DF1-A63C-807CDD2585A4

A Prayer with the Divine…


Oh Divinity, Master of the Universe,

All creation sings together.

Across all time, across all dancing;

We come into being and grow through arc – our song of livingness,

From many heavens – comes Light, Air, Water, and Creation’s Manna

To bear us up in our Loving, our Labor, and our Living.

In this, creation’s song, please forgive our missing the mark;

7A685188-3C64-4E9E-9751-440D6B1B4840As, we forgive – those who miss the mark – with and against us.

In times of trial, walk with us;

Deliver us through evils that invite and mock.

For all creation, all power, and all glory are from the Divine;

Now and forever. Amen.

Cord & Chord or Chord & Cord


Woke this second day of may… riffing on the word cord… or chord… after the poem, find some borrowed thoughts on the words. Striking that wood cord… while racked and stacked… seems to not fit the same. Perhaps it is from raft building with binding cord… ah well, bemused in the wash of creative tide.

©Bill Bartels 05-02-2021

Cord & Chord or Chord & Cord

Binding, woven, pulling taunt,

Or three quick steps in rising tone.

Bound and tossed, Deep into…

Loosed and dancing, Circle Round.

Speaking song, Singing pitch

Pulling tight, battened down.

Then to maths the vision turns

Pulling sun to set horizon

Sea that rolls, dancing song

Lines that set, journey’s sails

Maths again, tell the path

A sun shot from the rolling deck

Song to work, lines to bind

Maths to say the path we sail

All in cord or chord or both

Dancing round, yes, dancing round

Unbound, and yet, linked in work

Using each to build upon

No longer tying, binding – bound

Tis as a tool, this twine we use

Tis as tool this song we sing

Tis as a tool these maths we work.

To pull the sun down to the sea,

Telling our path across expanse

Singing our journey

Singing in harmony

Raising voice, to set the sail

Raising cord and chord to pull the line

Woven, strong, in cord we share

Woven strong, woven indeed.


And now… the borrowed – in the folk tradition – some framing of words…

Cord: The cord is a unit of measure of dry volume used to measure firewood and pulpwood in the United States and Canada. A cord is the amount of wood that, when “racked and well stowed”, occupies a volume of 128 cubic feet. Wikipedia

Cord: thin, flexible string or rope made from several twisted strands.

Cord: an electrical cord.

Cord: a long slender flexible material usually consisting of several strands (as of thread or yarn) woven or twisted together. 2 : a slender flexible anatomical structure (as a nerve or muscle)

Cord: The vocal cords (also called vocal folds) are two bands of smooth muscle tissue found in the larynx (voice box). The vocal cords vibrate and air passes through the cords from the lungs to produce the sound of your voice.

Chord: A chord, in music, is any harmonic set of pitches/frequencies consisting of multiple notes that are heard as if sounding simultaneously. For many practical and theoretical purposes, arpeggios and broken chords, or sequences of chord tones, may also be considered as chords in the right musical context. Wikipedia

Chord: In geometry, A chord of a circle is a straight line segment whose endpoints both lie on a circular arc. The infinite line extension of a chord is a secant line, or just secant. More generally, a chord is a line segment joining two points on any curve, for instance, an ellipse. A chord that passes through a circle’s center point is the circle’s diameter. The word chord is from the Latin chorda meaning bowstring

Push … or pull?

# 06-12-2020 The Button

Will we suddenly find, that a facility … once created for a critical frame … is now mostly an unused hulk?C5D9BA41-4D3A-475B-ADEA-63D22371DBC2_1_201_a

Will we, now with a very different set of resources, find that much of what was held as critical is actually … a renewable resource?

Will we???

Perhaps it is the wrong question. In this midst of so many questions that have put the emphasis on the wrong syllable… (if you say that while doing it… it is much more fun that reading it silently.)

Just as when we lead with the question How and follow with Who, What, Where and When… Leading the other way around … well it creates elements of engagement and enrollment… not just the straw build of How…276D6DAC-9192-465E-9719-86153D8D1FFA_1_201_a

Just as when I use scope, scale and context in a bowl called capacity… the framing makes the answers either limited or… complete disconnection from a project.

The whole of the frame… Who, What, Where, When, and How? Scope, Scale, Context and Capacity. Alignment with foundational values and principles… Alignment in …


When a context changes, a capacity changes, a scale changes… a scope changes… is the change engaged and enrolled … or is the old framing defended … made more rigid? Is the system flexible or… made more rigid? Until that rigid frame… can no longer hold… and the whole thing collapses… Then… what button can be pushed?

Just musing on a foggy morning.

That reflection, that learning time.

Equality held in the grand sea of equity.

Great sea… great sea of equity…


On the gift of morning

To understand that there is no noise to cut through. There is only a communion and community to engage. In that frame, to understand the wonder of connection. That connection of a moment of common. Sinner and saint… A tussle of … putting down the tussle and engaging that communion of human-ness.

So, in the face of the bully, what does that look like? In the face of fear, what is the connection? In the face of the violence of attack, what is that sea of equity? This thing I mull… The push that is just a bit too much of friend or stranger, sitting in judgement of a moment… In the face of that moment what response.

I can only speak from moments of experience. To speak caution to power. To suggest frustration to one who seems to desire to cow engagement. To experience the grand drama of that power, dramatically framing the caution as threat or the frustrated leaning in and putting the sense all on … In each case, the leaning back, apologizing … Then, in this quiet moment… realizing, in hindsight, the caution and framing of frustration were clear in then and now. The issue, to understand the moment of crossing. To know that standing in the shadow of that power over or the desire to make an unworkable situation work … anymore… is not to the good of … so to say what needs to be said and own the shift. That is the ‘what’ in the face of that moment and, only for that moment. The challenge is, of course, that the moment of engaged … echos, ripples, and the the waves upon the shore … blow back into the pond, into the sea… the sea of equity.

Still, the caution of that moment, the acknowledgement of frustration, the blow of the winds of change… all of that still echoes. In the sloshing sea of equity.

Signal Path… Logic Path


A signal path is that set of connections to allow the origin to get to the receptor.

The logic path… is a set of decisions that may support this set …

The two are not the same. Yet, often, we use a planning logic path to describe a set of signal path connections…

Without understanding the rest of the story.

Emphasis … on the wrong tool for the project at hand.

So… surprise, the tool and the project are at odds. The administrators of the tool and the administrators of the project speak in languages foreign to each other and the outcome is a set of language where the project and process become expert at being for what it is against.

Rinse and repeat.

A mime walked into a bar and asked for a beer… the barkeep said… huh?

Riffing on the wind

03-30-19 Riffing on the wind.


Or… whoever is from creation, hears the words of creation…

Easy to fall into argument. That wonderful moment when two are standing and looking out on a vista… look, it is raining. Look it is snowing… and it is doing both. As we hear with our seeing, it is doing both. How to resolve? Is it to resolve, for in creation, it is doing both. In the filter of my hearing in seeing… it does one thing… and in the filter of the beloved standing next to me … it does another.

The wind, dancing, knocks over an umbrella… “I hate the wind…” The wind dancing… in the same moment, moves the boat to the front of the race… “I love the wind…” It is the same wind and the same creation. All in the same moment… how can this be?

IMG_7951The deeper dive… the longer riff… it is both and. In darkness, so much presence. In light the presence still.

Thinking of the St. Helens explosion. A grand celebration of power in creation. Wonder, fear, death and living past death. Making street lights come on in a far away place. To be a sudden change … even though, in other parts of creation, the event was a triumph of prediction. Now, years later, the mountain… stands as relic? No, stands as monument and dancing living creation… No, should… No, could…

This riffing on the wind. Celebration. A friend is given a short time to live. The voice that passes this information to me, that friend, is celebrating not his ending but the amazing moment of his living. He just wanted me to know. For, having heard from another of his ‘plight’, he wanted to cast his own perspective to the long life he has had and the wonder of this next segment of journey. Riffing on the wind.

Riffing on the wind, a house renewed. Sacred and failed systems… now renewed. The wonder of reaching for a spigot and … behold… water comes forth. Behold, the drain, drains. Riffing on the wind.

The crop is harvested. The most recent oranges hang … ready to pick. The grasses,IMG_7947 released from long hibernation by the long winter rains… all riffing on the wind. This wind that is change. Daily, moment by moment; riffing on the dancing of the wind.

From all creation we each come. In the wonder of a lenten meditation… riffing on the wind. There is now, this moment, a shift, a change… for the wind is singing… even in the speaking of … the singing of … to riffing in…

Dancing on and with all creation. For, in that dance, there is the work of being in creation. In gratitude… in all creation. Seeing in and hearing and breathing in… all creation.


… The Swirl of the Deep Dive


03-27-19 Data and … the swirl of the deep dive.

Lent 22

“… but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.”

  • John 8:12-20 –

This makes me think of tea parties. That amazing set of moments when one of the kids invites me to sit and share ‘tea’… We have little cups and saucers. It used to be my own kids… now it is the children of the Godmother or even a child at the office who has a few moments to sit for tea. … this phrase of arrest because an hour is not come… Arrest is an amazing thing. A heart in arrest. A fall in arrest. An idea in arrest. To see it in a moment of … not yet come.IMG_7880

As a life arc… that moment when the rising comes to a point of arrest and a fall to earth begins. Or, at the deepest arc of a dive… and then the arrest of the decent and the rising back to surface.

In the midst of rise or dive… we arc and get to that arrest point… and as we arc, we arc to path… as is set before … as our arrest hour is not come.

In this time of reflection, the dark which is not dark and the light which is coming into darkness… it is an arc. The cycle of arc. The darkest before the dawn. Not arrested for the hour is not come.

So what is the hour? To be in communion with this moment. The arc of this moment. For … that sharing is the light of all creation. And in that light, even in this dark… that light shines forth so deeply. The deep light of care, of linkage, of connection. In this tapping… the light of connection.

There is a swirl of data and granularity in the air this day. That data, gathering slowly over the past year. The activities now described in that data… It has been with some anguish that, as the delver into the pool of this granularity and data swirl… I admit to worry that the pool will not fill… now, that tap, turned full, has filled the pool. And, in the deep waters of information… a new arc of engagement begins. The filling has come to arrest. The dive is now begun. The darkness before dawn is now the warm pool of wonder.IMG_7910

What is the hour? The hour that is here. Awaiting an hour that… has not come; invites missing the hour that is the tea party. And, in the moment of a tea party… may we raise our cups in toast. Toast to the light in darkness. For that hour is come. And come again and again.

Comfort In…



03-20-19 Comfort in…

Lent 15

“… saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?” John 5:1-18

It is comforting to have the dogs wake up and start asking to go out at a certain time. It doesn’t matter that they were keeping me safe from some ‘heard’ thing … just three hours ago. The wagging and smiles… the wonder at seeing, as if for the first time, yet again, what is out there in the world… the excitement of ‘come and see.’


It is comforting to wake and walk out the door to get the papers. That short walk from front door, out the gate and to stoop down to pick them up. In the walk, to take the pulse of the morning. To breathe in that air of the new day. Checking the tank for water. Having a conversation with the dogs… security. A new moment.

It is comforting to breathe in and breathe out. It is comforting to see the clouds in the sky and to hear the harvest all around. It is comforting to be wakened in the night with security … saying that they need to go and see… later… saying that they are ready to come in.

In this comfort is also the still small voice. That voice of wellness in each breath. The answer is yes. For the question is … the comfort in… Do you want to be made well? In gladness and deep lenten preparation, yes.


There is comfort in the question. There is comfort in the reflection. There is comfort in the conviction… the invitation to conviction. And the renewal in breathing in creation. All of a moment. All of a morning. All of each morning. In humbling seeing. The laugh at the wonder of the joke. And in that … comfort in all of this wonder. Comfort in…