Bill Johnson

A collection of spiritual reminders, reflections on going "beyond churchianity" and simple, Sunday sermons

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Spiritual Reminders

It all speaks to me of God – all of life, if we have eyes to see and ears to hear.

Pete the Duck

Pete the Duck. One morning there was a duck named Pete on the side of a path quacking. A professional singer walked by. Upon hearing him she said, “How nice of you to sing me a morning song, Pete.” A… Continue Reading →

From Blossoms

From Blossoms (by Li-Young Lee) From blossoms comes this brown paper bag of peaches we bought from the boy at the bend in the road where we turned toward signs painted Peaches. From laden boughs, from hands, from sweet fellowship… Continue Reading →

The Summer Day

The Summer Day (by Mary Oliver) Who made the world? Who made the swan, and the black bear? Who made the grasshopper? This grasshopper, I mean- the one who has flung herself out of the grass, the one who is… Continue Reading →

The Struggling Butterfly

The Struggling Butterfly (Attributed to Henry Miller) One day in India, a young boy walked up to a Guru or wise man, and asked what the man was looking at. The Guru responded “I am looking at a Chrysalis, and… Continue Reading →

Why Were You Not Zusya?

Why Were You Not Zusya? There is a tale of a Hassidic rabbi named Zusya. He was a timid man, a man who concealed more than he revealed. One day Zusya stood before his congregation and he said: When I… Continue Reading →

As If to Demonstrate an Eclipse

As If to Demonstrate an Eclipse (by Billy Collins) I pick an orange from a wicker basket and place it on the table to represent the sun. Then down at the other end a blue and white marble becomes the… Continue Reading →

The Ride of Life

The Ride of Life.  “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up,… Continue Reading →

Meditation: Why and How?

"Suppose you read about a pill that you could take once a day to reduce anxiety and increase your contentment. Would you take it? Suppose further that the pill has a great variety of side effects, all of them good: increased self-esteem, empathy, and trust; it even improves memory. Suppose, finally, that the pill is all natural and costs nothing. Now would you take it? The pill exists. It’s called meditation. " Jonathan Haidt

A modern day scientist in the quote above seems to give credence to the wisdom of Psalm 1 that says that when we meditate we are:

The Vacation

The Vacation (by Wendell Berry) Once there was a man who filmed his vacation. He went flying down the river in his boat with his video camera to his eye, making a moving picture of the moving river upon which… Continue Reading →

Relax

Relax (by Ellen Bass) Bad things are going to happen Your tomatoes will grow a fungus and your cat will get run over. Someone will leave the bag with the ice cream melting in the car and throw your blue… Continue Reading →

Your Breath

Your Breath. An average person takes 16 breaths a minute, 960 an hour, 23,040 a day, 8,409,600 a year. How many of those do we take for granted? Someday we’ll take our last. What an important reminder to be aware… Continue Reading →

Humor Isn’t for Everyone?!

Humor isn’t for everyone?!  “I realize that humor isn’t for everyone. It’s only for people who want to have fun, enjoy life, and feel alive.” Anne Wilson Schaef. Walking through a shop in Saugatak Michigan. My wife saw a card and… Continue Reading →

Why I Wake Early

Why I Wake Early (by Mary Oliver) Hello, sun in my face. Hello, you who make the morning and spread it over the fields and into the faces of the tulips and the nodding morning glories, and into the windows… Continue Reading →

Peony Buds

Peony Buds. “‘Peony hugging,’ I think to myself as I move from clump to clump. Each place I become more aware of the hard and heavy buds. Their weight has already begun to bend the stems toward the ground. In… Continue Reading →

Let Down Your Bucket

Let Down Your Bucket.  It seems that there was a party of sailors who were shipwrecked and drifting in the Atlantic Ocean in an open rescue boat. They’d been drifting for several days, had run out of water, and were… Continue Reading →

When Grieving the Loss of a Dog

When grieving the loss of a dog – poems and reflections to help you grieve well.  I put this together for those I know who are grieving the loss of one of their best friends.  It’s a hard truth to remember… Continue Reading →

Our True Home is in the Present Moment

Our True Home is in the Present Moment (by Thich Nhat Hanh) Our true home is in the present moment. To live in the present moment is a miracle. The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is… Continue Reading →

A Harvest of Quirkiness

A Harvest of Quirkiness (by Bruce Sanguin) Gracious God, how can creation sing your praises, except with the red wings of blackbirds flashing across blue sky, and the croak and splash of frogs playing hide-and-seek in the ponds? How can… Continue Reading →

Becoming Myself

Becoming myself.  “Now, with God’s help, I shall become myself.”  Soren Keirkegaard Perhaps we think that we have to become like someone else, or be someone else in order to be accepted or approved.  Sometimes we don’t like ourselves very… Continue Reading →

Unending Love

Unending Love (by Rabbi Rami Shapiro) We are loved by an unending love. We are embraced by arms that find us even when we are hidden from ourselves. We are touched by fingers that soothe us even when we are… Continue Reading →

The Eagle Who Thought He Was a Chicken

The Eagle Who Thought He Was a Chicken. A fable is told about an eagle who thought he was a chicken. When the eagle was very small, he fell from the safety of his nest. A chicken farmer found the… Continue Reading →

The Story of the Golden Buddha

The Story of the Golden Buddha. Many years ago in Thailand there is a temple that was called the temple of the Golden Buddha. And there was a huge statue of Golden Buddha. And word came to this village where… Continue Reading →

A Morning Offering

A Morning Offering (by John O’Donohue) I bless the night that nourished my heart To set the ghosts of longing free Into the flow and figure of dream That went to harvest from the dark Bread for the hunger no… Continue Reading →

Fellowship of the Unashamed

Fellowship of the Unashamed. The author is unknown, but is believed to be a young pastor in Zimbabwe who was martyred for his faith in Jesus Christ. It was found in his study: “I’m part of the fellowship of the… Continue Reading →

Life in Reverse

Life in Reverse by George Carlin “The most unfair thing about life is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot of your time. What do you get at the end of it? A… Continue Reading →

Sonnet 29

Sonnet 29 (by Shakespeare) When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes, I all alone beweep my outcast state And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries And look upon myself and curse my fate, Wishing me like to one… Continue Reading →

The Fisherman and Businessman

The Fisherman and Businessman. A vacationing American businessman standing on the pier of a quaint coastal fishing village in southern Mexico watched as a small boat with just one young Mexican fisherman pulled into the dock. Inside the small boat… Continue Reading →

Chocolate Chip Cookies, Birch Trees and a Blue Sky

Chocolate Chip Cookies, Birch Trees and a Blue Sky. All of these have something to teach me about finding purpose in purposelessness, meaning in meaninglessness and enjoyment in the simple things of life while living in the present moment. I recently… Continue Reading →

Wild Geese

Wild Geese (by Mary Oliver) You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body… Continue Reading →

Just Laugh, Walter!

Just laugh? Why? Because, laughter is the best medicine.  Or as Prov. 17:33 says, “A Cheerful heart is good medicine.” This scene from the “Money Pit” never fails to make me laugh.  Please watch it til the very end.  Do… Continue Reading →

Laughter

Laughter (by Hafiz) What is laughter? What is laughter? It is God waking up! O it is God waking up! It is the sun poking its sweet head out From behind a cloud You have been carrying too long, Veiling… Continue Reading →

Dr. Emoto’s Water Experiment

Dr. Emoto’s Water Experiment If thoughts can do that to water, imagine what thoughts can do to us? “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if… Continue Reading →

Chain Letter of the Soul

Chain Letter of the Soul. I had the wonderful experience this past Sunday of attending my first “Friends Meeting,” – a Quaker worship service in Mpls.  It was a semi programmed meeting with an opening and closing hymn and a… Continue Reading →

For a Friend Lying in Intensive Care Waiting for Her White Blood Cells to Rejuvenate After a Bone Marrow Transplant

For a Friend Lying in Intensive Care Waiting for Her White Blood Cells to Rejuvenate After a Bone Marrow Transplant (by Barbara Crooker) The jonquils. They come back. They split the earth with their green swords, bearing cups of light…. Continue Reading →

All Shall Be Well

“All shall be well. For there is a force of love moving through the universe that holds us fast and will never let us go.” Julian of Norwich Beautiful words by a mystic from the 14th century.  In other words… Continue Reading →

Maybe

Maybe. A Chinese proverb tells the story is told of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they… Continue Reading →

Love Story

Love Story (by Wesley McNair) What was opening the door Those years ago to let our four kids One by one followed by the dog Into the backseat of the old compact car We’d parked in the driveway Next to… Continue Reading →

The Avowal

The Avowal (by Denise Levertov) As swimmers dare to lie face to the sky and water bears them, as hawks rest upon air and air sustains them, so would I learn to attain freefall, and float into Creator Spirit’s deep… Continue Reading →

My Heart is at Ease

“My heart is at ease knowing that what was meant for me will never miss me, and that what misses me was never meant for me.”  Sufi Prayer This beautiful prayer reminds me of Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord… Continue Reading →

Mindful

Mindful (by Mary Oliver) Every day I see or I hear something that more or less kills me with delight, that leaves me like a needle in the haystack of light. It is what I was born for – to… Continue Reading →

Eustace Scrubb the Dragon Meets Alsan

Eustace Scrubb the Dragon Meets Alsan (In the book, “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” by C.S. Lewis, Eustace Scrubb comes upon a dragon’s lair and in trying to take the treasure, turns into a dragon himself. He eventually is able… Continue Reading →

I’d Pick More Daisies

I’d Pick More Daisies (by Nadine Stair) If I had my life to live over, I’d dare to make more mistakes next time. I’d relax, I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I… Continue Reading →

Prime the Pump First

Prime the Pump First. There was a man who got lost in the desert. After wandering around for a long time his throat became very dry, about that time he saw a little shack in the distance. He made his… Continue Reading →

When a Dog Runs Up

When a Dog Runs Up (by Hafiz) Start seeing everything as God, but keep it a secret. Become like the man and woman who are awestruck and nourished listening to a golden nightingale sing in a beautiful foreign language while… Continue Reading →

Just Coincidence?

Just Coincidence?  “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.”  Albert Einstein The more I trust God, the more coincidences, synchronicities, serendipities and divine surprises seem to happen in my life.  Things that I never could plan or imagine or figure… Continue Reading →

Miracles

Miracles (by Walt Whitman) Why, who makes much of a miracle? As to me I know of nothing else but miracles, Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan, Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,… Continue Reading →

A Tandem Bike Ride With God

A Tandem Bike Ride With God I used to think of God as my observer, my judge, keeping track of the things I did wrong, so as to know whether I merited heaven or hell when I die. He was… Continue Reading →

Lighten Up

Lighten Up.  “Life is too important to be taken seriously.”  Oscar Wilde Change me O God, into one who doesn’t take life so seriously. Help me to become like a little child who plays, laughs and enjoys this adventure of… Continue Reading →

Be Kind to Yourself

Be Kind to Yourself?! We’re pretty good at beating ourselves up, aren’t we? What if you were the one who was most in need of your own kindness and love? What if that was the key to the mending of… Continue Reading →

Ode To Gaiety

Ode To Gaiety (by James Broughton) Go gloom Begone glum and grim Off with the drab drear and grumble It’s time its pastime to come undone and come out laughing time to wrap killjoys in wet blankets and feed them… Continue Reading →

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