The Softer Side of Judgment

Judgment is something I know well. It’s been a companion of sorts for quite some time. No actually, a long time. In the beginning, one might say. As a religious person I’m a recovering Calvinist.

Too early I learned the language of fear and the hellacious nature of God. That being said, I judged many people, but never more so than myself. Maturity, and life’s twists and turns, led me to become a theologian rather than just a heretic. I unlearned a judgmental God and found, as Luther advocated, a gracious one. But even Luther, brilliant as he was, fermented judgment and harm in all the wrong places. But that’s another story.

I learned in later years the softer side of judgment, which is discernment, a sorting, reflecting process which requires compassion and a heavy dose of humility. It’s hard to shake the early nuclei of self-judgment though: too many muscle memories still linger from the old dispensation.

Nowadays, despite the sound bites of yesteryear, I rest my judgment in kindness, and when I’m really feeling strong, compassion. Love and judgment are not incompatible if it means making right choices, doing no harm, seeking the good in others, and oneself as well.

So, I rest in discernment praying whatever muscle memories of fear and self-doubt remain they will continue to weaken over time. Until the last judgment, which I now trust is not to be feared, but embraced, knowing the softer side of love and the deeper side of joy.

Beware Rough Edges

August 18, 2022  (Written in 15 minutes in response to the prompt: “Beware Rough Edges” during a Dare to Write Seminar online with other writers

How to walk back into that history I often wished had been a dream? How to sort the sadness’s, the fears, the depressive writing, the failed poetry? All of it promised to bring insight, perhaps, even hope. 

In truth, I haven’t always been able to cull the edges that once proved too cruel for my sensitive soul. I have a dear friend whose work involves supporting gifted and sensitive people. Apparently, it is a thing, an important and necessary thing for communities to thrive. 

Someone has to be able to see beyond phony facades, or feel the depth of another’s pain. Not for “the hell of it”, but to bring truth to the sadness of others: To listen deeply and mirror back the pain, so those who are hurting can begin to feel and in feeling take a step towards healing. One step and then another. 

I say this because in discovering I am one of those sensitives, I have learned to outlive the many rough edges that once undid me. 

“Beware those rough edges!” she laughed. Fortunately, I was free enough to laugh with her then walk into the garage ready to do battle. This time, thanks to her loving care, I knew I would return lighter and freer to see tomorrow with greater appreciation of who I have been. 
“Rough edges beware…here I come!” 

Listening Deep

I first heard of Paul Lawrence Dunbar, African American, poet, novelist and playwright, this past weekend at a Leadership gathering of Interplay Leaders. Masankho Banda from Malawi read Dunbar’s poem on “Emancipation” then asked us to talk to an assigned partner about what words stood out for us.

I found myself confronted by the line “those lash-ringing days you endured.”

This is the poem “Listening” that I wrote in response:

My ancestors “listened”; no lash they heard or felt.

Now, I ask: “what would my destiny be if they had endured the lash-ringing days?

What would my wounds be like, if their burden I now bore?”

In truth, my ancestors are your ancestors;

and yours mine.

I have much to learn from the ancient ones,

those who endured such lash-ringing days.

Listen, they say,

listen again,

listen deep!

We Are Not Alone

Remembering the Loons   George’s Pond Maine   June 13, 2022

How Could I have forgotten such lovely creatures?
Their sleek lines, their silent searching for food?
All it took was one call in the night. There you are!
I’d know that call anywhere!

Compelling in a melancholic way, soothing but not subtle.

They sound the night, like stars sound the sky.
Owning the darkness, they call to one another.
Knowing not what they say, I cherish the sound,
Their elegant presence, delights the heart.
See we are not alone!

The Shy Poet

Some people spend a certain amount of every day honing their wordsmith skills. As much as Flannery O’Connor encouraged the practice of sitting for a couple of hours and seeing what shows up. I’ve never found this practice promising. Instead, I prefer a more whimsical and less regimented approach. Spur of the moment insights seem to do more for me that a daily slog. It certainly means I write less; and it doesn’t mean I hit a homerun every time!! What it means mostly is that I surprise myself with whatever comes. The writings that show up here may not be polished, but they will be true to the moment and true to who I am in the moment. So dear reader, if you find yourself here, welcome. I appreciate the company. I have been neglectful of this exercise for some time now. Hopefully, today’s effort at naming what I do, will become the gift that keeps on giving!

Afterword: Surprise, surprise! My last entry in November 2018 reflected a conversation I had at the World Parliament of Religions in Toronto in 2018. I came back from that event excited by and enthused with the fabulous diversity of thought I was exposed to in a short span of time. In December 2018, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and began a 9-month regimen of chemotherapy, bilateral surgery and radiation. Today is definitely a turning point: stay tuned.

In the Body of Christ, we embody a Christ/Christa Community!

A commentary on Christ-Christa language by Dr. June C. Goudey, August 4, 2010

Recently at the parliament of  the World’s Religion in Toronto, I had an occasion to talk about Christa language. Although I am retired from parish ministry, I still consider this to be a testimony of my current faith journey and very much a work in progress. If you should like to engage me in conversation on this language, I would welcome the opportunity to think more deeply about our common faith.
The Apostle Paul spoke of the early Christian Church as the Body of Christ – a community called out to witness to God’s resurrecting energy alive in the world following the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Anyone who is “in Christ,” Paul proclaimed, meaning anyone who lives in the spirit of Christ and by the teachings of Jesus, “is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) The Greek term for Christ, Christos, translates the Hebrew word Messiah. Christos is not Jesus’ last name but a symbol. It refers to the anointed one. Although the phrase Jesus Christ is quite common, the truer translation is Jesus the Christ; in other words Jesus the anointed one. When scholars speak of the Easter event, they acknowledge the “Jesus of history” as pre-Easter and the “Christ of faith” as post Easter. In other words, before the resurrection, there was no Christos associated with Jesus. Even though the term Christos is found in the Gospels, these are all post Easter texts, texts created by the community that experienced Jesus as resurrected. The same is true of writings attributed to Paul. The community who followed Jesus proclaimed him as the Christ. Simply put: The resurrection created Christ.

Jesus was called “the Christ” because he was deemed to be anointed by the Spirit. In his own words recorded in Luke 4: 18-19 Jesus confirms this:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

When we allow the spirit of love to lead us deeper into authentic living we experience Christic power; power that manifests itself as love. Jesus honored the ministry of women and men and so do we. We honor women and men as equal in our midst; not just as Christ but as Christa. By using Christ language for men and Christa language to designate women’s inclusion in the Body of Christ we celebrate the fullness of God’s healing Spirit in our midst. Christa language does nothing to change our understanding of the male Jesus. What it does is change our understanding of who we are as followers of Jesus. As Jesus is the light of the world, so he reminds his disciples they we too are the light of the world. As Jesus lived a life anointed by the spirit’s presence, so too he calls us to live lives anointed by the spirit’s presence.

Living by the power of Christ/Christa means we live as men and women fully open to God’s unconditional love. St Cyril of Jerusalem taught in the 4th century that in baptism, when anointed with water and the Holy Spirit, we become “Christs.” The Greek he used is plural, not possessive; thus Cyril acknowledges that every baptized human being is a Christ, a Christos, an anointed one fully capable of being an icon of generosity – a window – to God’s graciousness.
While some would argue that Christ is a universal term encompassing male and female in the one body of Christ, this argument is undercut by the Latin phrase “in persona Christi” which means, in the person of Christ. When a bishop or priest says “This is my body”, “this is my blood” during the celebration of the Eucharist in the Roman Mass, they are deemed to be acting as “Christ”. Moreover, the Roman Catholic Church has been unequivocal in teaching that only male priests can act “in persona Christi” and have consistently used this as a reason to deny women entry into the priesthood. Christ is therefore not a universal concept.
A community willing to embrace the imagery of Christ/Christa is a community where the equality of women and men thrives, where justice is served and where well-being is honored. Well-being does not mean living a pain free existence; it means living with and actively practicing the healing power of love.

When God’s healing spirit is unleashed within us, we become healing healers (rather than wounded healers), people on the move, people who say goodbye to the past and hello to the future. People who say yes to life, and let go of childhood fear. People who live with hope, not hopelessness are people who allow our imaginations to be guided by images of love, acceptance, and communal well-being. Communal well-being is present when men and women actively cultivate communities of love, communities where God still speaks words of welcome, words of forgiveness and words of healing.

Why does this matter? To be a healing healer you start with what you know – pain, fear, hopelessness – and you begin to let it go. You take a step in the direction of wellness and you seek out every opportunity to let your pain go. You breathe, “Yes”; you breathe, “Hope”; you breathe, “Resurrection”. It is my hope that as you become more fully yourself in this Christ/Christa community, you will come to fully claim your God-given potential to be fully human and fully alive in the spirit of love. That is what Jesus calls us to embody when he says, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. [They] will do even greater things than these … [John 14:12]

If you wonder where you are on the journey, ask yourself these questions. If you can answer yes to any or all of these then you are well on your way to understanding what it means to become Christs by the power of God’s Holy Spirit.

On God:
Do you believe in a power greater than yourself that loves all people unconditionally?
Do you believe this power seeks the flourishing of all life?
Do you believe this power has many names Father-Mother; Creator, Spirit?
Have you experienced the presence of this power in your life? Do you believe you are one with this power?

On Jesus
Are you open to believing that Jesus is divine and that you are too?
Do you believe Jesus’ life teachings can heal your life?
Have you experienced the power of love in action and has it changed your life through forgiveness and reconciliation?

“spirit” and me      

My love is for “spirit’ who knows me

and hears my voice

when I cry out.

When the grip of fear and anxieties

take hold,

When I come to grief and sorrow,

I call on “spirit”

and find relief.

Rest, O my soul, relax.

“spirit” is with you.

She has given your life meaning,

soothed your sufferings,

and guided your feet.


Walk in “spirit’s” presence

in the land of the living.

Even when you feel very low.

Even when trust is hard.

Call on “spirit”…

Fulfill your promise…

Be grateful…

Lighten up…




Rewrite of Communion Hymn:Let Us Break Bread

Let us break bread together all our lives;
Let us break bread together all our lives;
When we lift up our arms and we face the rising sun,
May God bless us one and all.

Let us share the cup together all our lives;
Let us share the cup together all our lives;
When we lift up our arms and we face the rising sun
May God bless us one and all.

Let us praise God together all our lives;
Let us praise God together all our lives;
When we lift up our arms and we face the rising sun,
May God bless us one and all.

(Adapted by June C. Goudey July, 2017)

“Come Alive”*

Two Words, three syllables,

Simple to say… hard to do!

“Work at it,” the preacher said, “do what you love,

Pay attention!

Attend to deep matter,

to what moves you,

body, mind, spirit all,

Tears and laughter,

song and story,

weave their magic

shifting edges,

opening crevices

where Spirit speaks

Pay attention, do what you love

Come alive!

Do it now!


April 25, 2010

Inspired by this quote:

*“Do what you love. Come Alive!”

Howard Thurman

Sermon Tidbits 2004-2005

The Power of Truth  February 2004, Second Corinthians 3:12-4:2 Woodland Hills CA

The power of truth is seductive—our own truths can be seductive too; but I would rather have a world that welcomes variations on a theme, even the theme of Jesus’ death and its meaning for our lives than live in a world where someone else’s truth seeks to conquer mine.

Closer Than the Eye Can See Matthew 17:1-9; 2 Peter 1:16-21 February 6, 2005, Pasadena CA

In life, as in our relationship with Spirit, there are things closer than the eye can see.

Life is full of contradictions, particularly in the spaces that are closer to us than the eye can see, but see that as a gift not a burden.  Each of us has the capacity to be an eyewitness to majesty, but none of us can corral that majesty for our own purposes.

Fear Not! Learn to live in those spaces that are closer than the eye can see. Then you  will know the power of belovedness as surely as Jesus did.

If you are looking for a place to start, to put flesh on your God and purpose in your step than look no further than this Communion table, for there is more to this experience than the eye can see.  Trust me, have no fear, come a little closer.  It’s never too late to be surprised by God!

In Praise of an Unknown God Acts 17: 22-29 May 1, 2005 Simi Valley, CA

Grace, the extravagant and extraordinary gift of God’s amazing love, seeks to greaten us into the fullness of the divinity in our humanity.  I believe in my bones that God and humanity are one and that God calls us to live out, what Roger Hazelton once called, “a more than human humanness”; to let the “beyond within us,” as the Quakers would say, become visible in our daily discourse and endeavors.

To be a person of faith is to be a person of focus.  When we keep our focus on the life of God that lives in all of us compassion thrives, difference is honored, and tolerance is practiced to the benefit of all creation.

Jesus said ask and it shall be given, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be open—he called us to an active faith, a searching faith, a feeling after faith, and a faith willing to admit that God is still speaking.

  One God, One Life Genesis 1:1-2:3-May 22, 2005 Simi Valley, CA

God calls each of us through the person of Jesus to re-flect on the consequences of our thinking, as persons and as church.  If you believe there is one God and one life you will never be alone, because you will know the goodness of God is at the heart of who you are. Praise God for that!

Wisdom As Foundation Matthew 7:21-29 May 29, 2005 Simi Valley, CA

There is a difference between judgment and punishment.  God judges us daily not to harm us but to guide us into well-being. To let us know there are consequences to our acts. Whether we pay attention to the wisdom of God within our embodied selves is another matter—it’s called freedom of choice.  Punishment as a form of God’s love is never God’s first or last act. Punishment is not a mark of God’s tough love it’s a distortion of God’s true compassion. God’s first and only act is love!

The Healing Table Matthew 9:9-13   June 5, 2005 Simi Valley, CA

Jesus gathered people around a table, not a cross, into an atmosphere of welcome not condemnation, and into a force field of acceptance, love, and joy.

God’s love is for the world, not for the church.  Any church that forgets this is missing the point.