land of rest

Land of Rest is a blog of Peter Jenks. Poems, quotes and photos are by Peter Jenks (unless otherwise noted or I miss noting an older post's photo) and are copyrighted, you are free to use these if you acknowledge their source.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

how do we communicate

It is interesting to me to watch how the magazines are getting thinner and thinner. Newspapers are becoming obsolete, the local papers do not have reporters per se anymore, we send our stories to them with a picture for them to print. Maybe they will have one or two people writing things. But the days when a local paper had a number of people doing various sections are gone. More and more local organizations, like the church, are publishing their own newsletters and blogs are becoming a way to write and share thoughts.
The occupation of editor is fast disappearing, which is very tragic for most writers. We need you!
Facebook, Twitter and text messaging has replaced the Post Office. Occasionally I get a letter, mostly just cards. I do know someone who writes notes and cards that seems almost archaic in that her handwriting is so beautiful and her thoughts well structured and nicely put together. I savor her notes.
We have lost so much, yet is it that we have lost these things or simply forgetting to bring them along with us in our journey to the next place?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

a confession

Lord God of all mercy, you came to make the path straight;
Yet we have complicated our lives,
and assumed responsibility for those things
for which you did not want us to be responsible.
You came to clear away mountains so we might come to you more easily;
And still we have made mountains again out of molehills,
and put our possessions and habits in the way of your path.
You have offered your forgiveness again and again;
And we have turned it aside and held grudges, anger, and judgment
upon ourselves and others.
During the days ahead, open our eyes to your unrelenting forgiveness,
and to the self destructive ways which we can be reluctant to release.
We are yours, O Lord, have mercy upon us. Amen.

Friday, January 20, 2012


Oftentimes I hear or speak of people by what they have done,
or where they come from, or maybe what they look like - but perhaps we might know each other better not from our looks or where we stood or what we have left behind but rather those with whom we have been in relationship.

We are defined by our relationships:
the people we love, and the people we hate;
the people we forgive and the people we ignore;
those things we eat and those things that revolt us;
those things we cherish and our trash;
the animals we tame and the creatures we fear;
the life that leaves us in awe;
and that which we cause to be extinct without any concern;
how we let go and what we hold onto;
how we become one and how we keep separate;
who we serve and who we expect to serve us;
who is our God and who is our devil and who is our neighbor;
we are defined by our relationships.

Certain Thoughts

"Whenever people are certain they understand our peculiar situation here on this planet, it is because they have accepted a religious Faith or a secular Ideology (Ideologies are the modern form of Faiths) and just stopped thinking." - Robert Anton Wilson (as found on the website

This quote reflects the reason why I oftentimes find faith and religious depth to be greatly lacking. Feeling that we understand God, life and what we are all about; or feeling so certain about our knowledge and experience that we peddle it as truth and divine is dangerous. Certainty does not make us one with God. In fact certainty shields me more often than not from the grace and humor of God. To be in love, to be alive, to be engaged, to grow, and be surprised by the endless compassion of the divine is what I long for within my soul; and that can never be found in certainty.
Certainty is when I stop walking with God in order to tell others that I once met God; so that I might impress someone with my experience. Uncertainty is continuing to walk with God, to fall in love with those I meet, and to discover who they are and be surprised by their blessings.

This is especially evident when local or national politics enters the realm of the church, and I get very nervous. It is such a dangerous and slippery slope that can quickly slide a congregation or an individual away from facing one’s own issues, and instead be so certain about someone else’s need. It is impossible to separate faith from our political sphere, the act of voting or involving oneself in efforts to make our civic life better is deeply rooted in our beliefs. And though it is dangerous, it is still necessary. This is why humility and uncertainty are so crucial to being actually faithful and open to God.

It seems that politics has also been sidetracked by the misuse of religion. What should be a platform for compromise and collaboration, has instead become a pulpit for intransigence. The expectations for politicians to make a hard line stand on issues of sexuality, when life begins, the needs of the poor, and environmental concerns in order to be supported by various religious groups is misguided. Rather than seeking endorsements, politicians perhaps could seek the questions from the religious communities that might help guide them in the process of discovering new routes and possibilities to solving our problems.

Rather than claiming the answer or the “right way” and expecting politicians to follow, we in the religious community should be insisting on raising the questions. Making a statement of faith and morality define our civic discussion is like making one’s scientific hypothesis define one’s observations. Our observations and discussions should help us see more clearly our morality and our faith. Questions of integrity can and should be raised by scientific and faith communities. As an example, rather than siding with oppressed minorities to change someone else, perhaps we should be asking the question why we are the one’s in the majority and they are not. When the prophetic role of questioner is supplanted by an insistence on being right, we avoid changing ourselves in efforts to change others. In expressing our knowledge and certainty, we lack the ability to learn anything more, and prove that we are not growing in anyway with our God.

He has shown thee, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God? Micah 6:8

Friday, January 13, 2012

rainy day/snowy day reflection january 13 2012

So much change seems to be impending upon so much of life these days. From the structures of our civic institutions like government, religion, education, health care to the way in which we eat and communicate there seems to be deep change and unease because of this impending transformation. Often I hear the comparison of our time to the time when the printing press changed society hundreds of years ago. Now it is computers and technology that is changing things.
On one level I try to brace myself for the change and try to adapt, on the other level I find myself seeing the dangers of the changes and what might be unintended consequences. But I also know that what I think or wish to happen will actually make that great of a change in the outcome. Like complaining about the national government, what I think really doesn’t effect the actions or outcomes of national politics.
What I can control or have some sense of engagement is the way I respond and how I let it effect me. There is a storm of energy trying to make me accept the new ways, technology and ideas and there is a landslide behind me washing the ground beneath me towards the way things were, or how I envisioned them to be in the past. These are not my only two options, no matter what I might feel. There is also the deep rooted present experience that exists now, and is the platform for my response. Perhaps this platform, or the people with whom I address these concerns are my base of transformation. It is not in the future or the past, but in the ever blown present moment that I hold to truth and love. My experience of the mysteries of God, the holiness of life and the coming of grace is not found in what I once knew or what is coming barreling down on me, but rather with whom I hold onto in the midst of the storm. A situational morality that might make something work for the future good by compromising myself now only continues to compromise myself in the future. It is only the integrity of now, that I can connect to the eternal. It is not found in what feels good, not what feels right, but on the deep rooted and timeless branch of connection to the larger life beyond my limits. The seed for hope is not found to the left or to the right, above or below; rather it is where we are, as we are the seed and the soil.
The change I am seeking is to lead me back to what I have always longed for, what I have always known and to what has been my source all along. The tradition I hold onto is not in the past or the ways I have done things or the way things were but in the integrity and faithfulness to what has always been inspiring me and holding me.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

making decisions

They called off school today, before any snow was falling. There were weather reports of impending snow then snow and rain which they felt would be a dangerous scenario for the buses and others traveling. Making decisions for others oftentimes makes us more cautious, it is when we are making decisions for ourselves that we tend to be more reckless, it is just a quick trip or this will just take a minute. Though when we make decisions with only ourselves in mind we forget that if anything happens to us, it effects profoundly those others we would have most certainly wished to have used more caution.

Monday, January 9, 2012

morning reflection, 1/09/12

It is hard for me to lose at games, or arguments. When I do there is a part of me that wants to get back and try again until I figure out a way to win, or to present myself in such a way as to do better. I also have to consciously find strength and a stillness that lets me realize that I need to pay attention to the other person and their strength, value and the importance of their moment of victory or the point that they are making. Sometimes this struggle causes me to not want to compete at all, unless I am rather certain that I can win. There are times when I find myself in such situations unexpectedly or because of circumstances and I find myself responding quickly with an overwhelming offensive reaction so as to knock out any sense of conflict at all. There is a growth and maturity that comes from a healthy acceptance of competition and of the value of those who challenge us.
Recently I found myself discovering a new twist to this dimension of my life and the challenge to grow and mature with regards to this area of my life. While joking with my wife she began an attempt to tickle me. As one who is very ticklish, I quickly responded by grabbing her hands and not letting go of her, so that she could not tickle me. There was not even going to be the chance of such an experience. It was all simple a fun and games time, yet I suddenly had a reaction stronger than the playfulness and was in a reactionary defensive mode. She had absolutely no desire to hurt me, simply responding with a playful give and take. I was suddenly aware of my need to be able to give but not receive.
If I cannot lose graciously, then I cannot win graciously. If I cannot receive than I cannot give. If I have to always be in control, than perhaps I really have no control at all. The walls of my defensiveness rejected any possibility of vulnerability. And once I shut down an openness to being vulnerable I stop the journey to a deeper intimacy.
I still do not like to be tickled, I still do not like to lose. But allowing for a moments laughter and someone’s power over me, or someone’s better ability or luck in a game opens me up to even being in a game or relationship with someone else.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Jan 2, 2012

There have been times when I have wanted to be bishop or at a large or prestigious church, or other times when I have longed to be recognized or felt considered on the larger stage of the church. It is always an ego need that sparks these feelings. There are times when I think I could do better, or perhaps have gifts that are important for the time. And there are times when living in a small town in a rural out of the way place feels forgotten, or left behind; especially as I watch others move on to larger venues. As I am preparing to finish up a score of years here in Thomaston I am aware of the great changes that have taken place in my life, the small and seemingly insignificant events that in fact have been pivotal to me and my faith. And even more so, as I look at the new calendar year ahead and start planning what I think needs to happen, I am reminded that it is more important to simply be open to how the Lord and his love are going to be manifest, than to be planning to make things happen. And in these thoughts am even more aware of the greatness, far an above any idle fantasy I may have, that is found in this simple place where I am, a place where God is waiting for me. Glorious
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