Posted by Patricia Adams Farmer on January 18, 2019

On a soft, snowy morning I read a poem by Mary Oliver. And in the afternoon, it came to me, a notice of her death. Too soon! I thought. Too soon to lose a talent of this magnitude. My heart rocked in grief for several minutes. But then I re-read the poem from the morning called "Bazougey" (Dog Songs, 2013), about the death of a beloved dog. It begins,

Where goes he now, that dark little dog
who used to come down the road barking and shining?
He's gone now, from the world of particulars,
the singular, the visible.

So, that deepest sting: sorrow. . . .

Posted by Patricia Adams Farmer on January 8, 2019

The Adventurer of the Universe starts with the dream and reaps tragic Beauty.
— Alfred North Whitehead

I have a friend named David who can see things others can't. He has visions. I don't mean David has "second sight" or any psychic ability; rather, it's more of an artist's vision of seeing things that are not there, but that might be. With a gestalt sensibility, he can see something whole that is now in parts, broken, and crying out to be either put out of its misery or loved back into life. David is a woodworker, restorer, and artist. He mainly works with discarded and unwanted pieces of furniture, like the lonely chair left out on the curbside by someone in a rush to move, or the abandoned table at the side of the dumpster, or a battered antique trunk hoping to be discovered on the last day of an estate sale when everything is 75% off. David grabs what others pass up, or gathers odd pieces and makes something completely novel like the "Frankenstein" table as he jokingly called it: a stunning dining set created from disparate parts he found "here and there."

What a gift! To see possibility among the discarded . . .

Posted by Patricia Adams Farmer on November 26, 2018

"And that’s why it is so important today that we reaffirm our character as a nation — a people drawn from every corner of the world, every color, every religion, every background — bound by a creed as old as our founding, e pluribus unum. Out of many, we are one. For we know that our diversity — our patchwork heritage — is not a weakness; it is still, and always will be, one of our greatest strengths."
President Barak Obama, September 11, 2016

Shortly after I moved back to the United States after living abroad for five years, I began seeing bumper stickers with the motto, "In God We Trust." It seemed to hold a special significance for some of my neighbors. But why? After a little research and reorientation into my home culture, I realized that for many, this motto serves as a counterpoint — and even a rebuff — to our founding fathers' 1782 motto, e pluribus unum, "out of many, one."

If you study any coin from your pocket closely ...

Posted by Jay McDaniel on November 5, 2018

I’ve discovered a new word and I want to share it with you. It’s called midding. Here’s the definition as found in John Koenig’s Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows:

midding
v. intr. feeling the tranquil pleasure of being near a gathering but not quite in it — hovering on the perimeter of a campfire, chatting outside a party while others dance inside, resting your head in the backseat of a car listening to your friends chatting up front — feeling blissfully invisible yet still fully included, safe in the knowledge that everyone is together and everyone is okay, with all the thrill of being there without the burden of having to be.

When I first discovered the word, I thought of my grandmother . . .

Posted by Patricia Adams Farmer on October 10, 2018

There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why?
I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?
— George Bernard Shaw

Often, the most intense forms of beauty rise from the ashes of tragedy. Such is the story of how a bombed-out church from the London Blitz ended up in my town in Missouri — restored, renewed, rehallowed. Her name is St. Mary, Aldermanbury, and she's got quite a story to tell.

The Phoenix of Fulton

St. Mary, Aldermanbury stands tall after rising from the ashes—not once, but twice in her long life

Posted by Jay McDaniel on October 1, 2018

Not a lot of my liberal friends believe in angels, but I do. I am, after all, a process theologian.

I think pop songs are angels. They fly through the air with their sonic wings, carrying their kinetic pop energy, helping people feel things that might not otherwise feel, relative to the circumstances of their lives. In this they sometimes serve as ambassadors for God, whose hope is that people will enjoy all sides of life: love and justice and silence and tenderness, but also playfulness, imagination, zest for life, connection with others, positive self-regard, dancing, and peace of mind. Pop angels are especially good at evoking the latter forms of enjoyment, although their effectiveness depends on the circumstances and dispositions of the listeners. Think about it: user-friendly angels you can dance with, alone or with others, just by turning a dial or clicking a button.

Pop song angels are relational . . .

Posted by Jay McDaniel on September 7, 2018

I've been playing hide and seek with God most of my life. Sometimes I hide from God and sometimes God hides from me. I think I've discerned a pattern: Whenever I become confident that God is found in my own favorite institutions, theologies, political parties, creeds, and rituals, or even my favorite memories, I end up acting as if these various contexts somehow contain God. I put God in a box.

Then, in response, God hides from me, no longer appearing in those familiar places, but often reappearing in places where I least expect it. God appears in people whose beliefs and perspectives run counter to my own, for example. Or in forms of music I once thought trivial. Or in ideas I once rejected. Or in relationships I once thought hopeless. God seems especially prone to reappear in the form of strangers.

I’d like to pretend that the game will end sometimes, but I doubt that this end will come in my lifetime.

Posted by Patricia Adams Farmer on August 22, 2018

“Silence is like a flame, you see?”
—Marcel Marceau

As a lover of words, I wonder why I am so drawn to the wordless worlds of music and dance and art. And then, there is mime, that peculiar silent art form, perhaps brought to its highest expression in the work of Marcel Marceau. After viewing some of his mime masterpieces, such as The Cage and Youth, Maturity, and Old Age, I asked myself: Why does this master of silent storytelling move me so much?

After a little research, I discovered that Marceau's world of mime was "a flame" set against the dark backdrop of his own experience, . . .

Posted by Jay McDaniel on August 14, 2018

There are so many kinds of prayer and so many ways to pray. We can pray with words and without words. We can pray by reaching out into a vast mystery, the Deep Listening, saying "help" or "thanks" or "wow." [1] And we can pray by resting in a silence of our own hearts, without saying anything, sensing that all things are enfolded in a love beyond our understanding, yet also within each of us.

How might we name these two kinds of prayer? I will speak of them as "reaching out" prayer and "contemplative" prayer.

Posted by Patricia Adams Farmer on July 24, 2018

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.
—Audrey Hepburn

To plant a garden is to practice hope. When we dare to plant a garden — and it does take daring! — we embody the kind of hope that William Sloane Coffin called "a passion for the possible." This speaks to me of a deep, divine source of unfolding possibilities — a divine urgency for beauty and well-being on a landscape becoming more distressed by the minute. This divine passion describes a great suffering heart, a patient lover, a deep tenderness, everything needed to plant a garden.

Harnessing this hidden universe of possibility and passion, we need a patch of earth that is small and manageable and ours, a place among the particulars ...

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About This Blog

Welcome to Process Musings for the spiritually curious, the creative, and the open-hearted. We, Jay McDaniel and Patricia Adams Farmer, are two bloggers from the world of process thought, inspired by the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead. This multi-faith blog features articles, essays, stories, videos, and poetry which invite you to discover fresh possibilities for wholeness, creativity, and joy. Read more.

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