Bill Johnson

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

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Poems

The Way it Is

The Way It Is (by Lyn Ungar) One morning you might wake up to realize that the knot in your stomach had loosened itself and slipped away, and that the pit of unfulfilled longing in your heart had gradually, and… Continue Reading →

Who You Are Not

Who You Are Not (by William Johnson) You are not your stories Your thoughts Your judgements Your condemnation Your past Your future Your present Your wrongs Your sins Your pain Your mistakes Your body Your illness You are not what… Continue Reading →

What the Living Do

What the Living Do (by Marie Howe) Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there. And the Drano won’t work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up waiting for the… Continue Reading →

My Brilliant Image

My Brilliant Image (by Hafiz) One day the sun admitted I am just a shadow. I wish I could show you The infinite incandescence That has cast my brilliant image! I wish I could show you, When you are lonely… Continue Reading →

What to Remember When Waking

What to Remember When Waking (by David Whyte) In that first hardly noticed moment in which you wake, coming back to this life from the other more secret, moveable and frighteningly honest world where everything began, there is a small… Continue Reading →

Frost

Frost (by Arthur Sze) Notice each windowpane has a different Swirling pattern of frost etched on the glass. And notice how slowly the sun melts The glaze. It is indelible: a fossil of a fern, Or a coelacanth, or a… Continue Reading →

Beannacht

Beannacht (by John O’Donohue) Sometimes all you can do is bless someone and wish them blessing.  You can’t change what they’re going through, though you wish you could.  It’ difficult to figure out how to ease their suffering or bear… Continue Reading →

Two Giant Fat People

Two Giant Fat People (by Hafiz) God and I have become Like two giant fat people Living in a tiny boat. We keep Bumping into each other And laughing. Forgive me for being so politically incorrect by sharing this poem… Continue Reading →

There Are Men Too Gentle to Live Among Wolves

There Are Men Too Gentle to Live Among Wolves (by James Kavanaugh) There are men too gentle to live among wolves Who prey upon them with IBM eyes And sell their hearts and guts for martinis at noon. There are… Continue Reading →

Release

Release (by Peter Friedrichs) I wish I were like the trees, Who let their leaves go gracefully, without regret. Or the tumbling stream that flushes silt to sea, Exchanging murkiness for blessed clarity. Or the dandelion, who bows its head… Continue Reading →

A Blessing for Traveling in the Dark

A Blessing for Traveling in the Dark (by Jan Richardson) Go slow if you can. Slower. More slowly still. Friendly dark or fearsome, this is no place to break your neck by rushing, by running, by crashing into what you… Continue Reading →

Love Dogs

Love Dogs (by Rumi) One night a man was crying, “Allah, Allah!” His lips grew sweet with the praising, until a cynic said, “So! I have heard you calling out, but have you ever gotten any response?” The man had… Continue Reading →

Don’t Be Fooled By Me

Don’t Be Fooled By Me (by Charles Finn) Don’t be fooled by me. Don’t be fooled by the face I wear for I wear a mask, a thousand masks, masks that I’m afraid to take off, and none of them… Continue Reading →

Practice Gratitude

Practice Gratitude (by Steve Garnaas-Holmes) Gratitude, the yoga of the gods, may sometimes take a little practice. Eachday, select one thing to be grateful for: a cup of water, a wispof green, sun on stone, a friend’s memory, gravity, so… Continue Reading →

Ode on Intimations of Immortality

Ode on Intimations of Immortality (by William Wordsworth) Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting; The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star, Hath had elsewhere its setting And cometh from afar; Not in entire forgetfulness, And… Continue Reading →

The World is not a Courtroom

The World is not a Courtroom (by Saadi) The world is not a courtroom, there is no judge, no jury, no plaintiff. This is a carvan, filled with eccentric beings telling wondrous stories about God. I met a woman and… Continue Reading →

What Will Matter?

What Will Matter? (by Michael Josephson) Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end. There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days. All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten will pass to… Continue Reading →

A Cushion For Your Head

A Cushion For Your Head (by Hafiz) Just sit there right now Don’t do a thing Just rest. For your separation from God, From love, Is the hardest work In this World. Let me bring you trays of food And… Continue Reading →

Gate C22

Gate C22 (by Ellen Bass) At gate C22 in the Portland airport a man in a broad-band leather hat kissed a woman arriving from Orange County. They kissed and kissed and kissed. Long after the other passengers clicked the handles… Continue Reading →

Caretake This Moment

Caretake this moment. (by Epictetus) Caretake this moment. Immerse yourself in its particulars. Respond to this person, this challenge, this deed. Quit the evasions. Stop giving yourself needless trouble. It is time to really live; to fully inhabit the situation… Continue Reading →

Advice From a Tree

Advice From a Tree (by Ilan Shamir) Dear Friend, Stand Tall and Proud Sink your roots deeply into the Earth Reflect the light of a greater source Think long term Go out on a limb Remember your place among all… Continue Reading →

Half Life

Half Life (by Stephen Levine) We walk through half our life as if it were a fever dream barely touching the ground our eyes half open our heart half closed. Not half knowing who we are we watch the ghost… 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 →

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 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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

I Thank You God for this Most Amazing Day

I thank you god for this most amazing day (by ee cummings) I thank You God for most this amazing day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is… Continue Reading →

I Have Learned So Much From God

I Have Learned So Much From God (by Hafiz) I Have Learned So much from God That I can no longer Call Myself A Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim A Buddhist, a Jew. The Truth has shared so much of… Continue Reading →

If You Knew

If You Knew (by Ellen Bass) What if you knew you’d be the last to touch someone? If you were taking tickets, for example, at the theater, tearing them, giving back the ragged stubs, you might take care to touch… Continue Reading →

Don’t Expect Applause

Don’t Expect Applause (by Ellen Bass) And yet, wouldn’t it be welcome at the end of each ordinary day? The audience could be small, the theater modest. Folding chairs in a church basement would do. …Just a short earnest burst… Continue Reading →

Tired of Speaking Sweetly

Tired of Speaking Sweetly (by Hafiz) Love wants to reach out and manhandle us, Break all our teacup talk of God. If you had the courage and Could give the Beloved His choice, some nights, He would just drag you… Continue Reading →

First Lesson

First Lesson (by Phillip Booth) Lie back daughter, let your head be tipped back in the cup of my hand. Gently, and I will hold you. Spread your arms wide, lie out on the stream and look high at the… Continue Reading →

Blessing the Dust – A Blessing for Ash Wednesday

Blessing the Dust – A Blessing for Ash Wednesday (by Jan Richardson) All those days you felt like dust, like dirt, as if all you had to do was turn your face toward the wind and be scattered to the… Continue Reading →

Love Does That

Love Does That (by Meister Eckhart) All day long a little burro labors, sometimes with heavy loads on her back and sometimes just with worries about things that bother only burros. And worries, as we know, can be more exhausting… Continue Reading →

Love

Love (by Roy Croft) I love you, Not only for what you are, But for what I am When I am with you. I love you, Not only for what You have made of yourself, But for what You are… Continue Reading →

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