"Wheels Turning Inward" is a is a rich collection of over fifty poems, following a poet’s mythic and spiritual journey that crosses easily onto the paths of many contemplative traditions. The artwork at the top of this page, is one image found in the Gordon Moore Memorial stain glass window at Trinity Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, by the artist Kim Clark Renteria. The image of these three circles, is emblematic of both the Trinity and the title for this new collection of poetry now available from Friesen Press.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Grounded in Perfection (Tathata - Suchness)

such as it is
all of creation in which we dwell,
everything, is perfect in this single moment,

in exactly what this moment offers us now,
grounded in the infinite light and mercy of God.

whose compassion
lives in
our hearts
where we rest
in an embrace that transforms
all thought and image,

into a sacrament of stillness
and silence.

in which
we may perfectly mirror

created as we are
as an image of God.

in which
we may perfectly mirror

God who is Love,
who is Holy,
who is Spirit,
who is Truth,
who is Known,
who is Worshipped.

who is Incarnate
as Christ
as the Word
made flesh

who "Redeems Us"
through love
by calling
our name

whose most gentle
rains upon all

"Fear Not"

Ron Starbuck
Copyright 2009

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine" Isaiah 43

"Tathata as a central concept of Mahayana Buddhism, expresses the appreciation of reality within a unique moment. As no moment is exactly the same, each one can be savored for what occurs at that precise time."

This poem was inspired by the teachings of Geshe Michael Roache and Lama Christie McNally; the writtings of Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki and Thomas Merton; the writtings and teachings of the Rev. Dr. Cynthia Bourgeault, Dom Thomas Keating, Dom John Main, and Dom Laurence Freeman; the theologians Paul F. Knitter, Marcus Borg, Paul Tillich, and many others. The poem touches on practicing meditation as a sacramental act, which is something Buddhists have been doing for over 2500 years, and Christians since the time of Christ and the early days of the Desert Fathers and Mothers.

Answering God’s call to hoilness (wholeness) through a sacramental practice of meditation is one way to experience the “Reign of God” in the present moment. Sacraments are an “outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace” whereby the Spirit of God becomes present to us; sacraments are a means of grace and a vehicle for the Holy Spirit to enter into our lives. Dom Thomas Keating has often said, “that intimacy with God requires not effort, but simple consent.”

Here are some suggested books to learn more about these peactices and the intefaith dialog between Eastern and Western spiritual traditions:

The Tibetan Book of Meditation by Lama Christie McNally

Without Buddha I Could Not be a Christian by Paul F. Knitter

The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind--A New Perspective on Christ and His Message by Cynthia Bourgeault

Jesus: The Teacher Within by Laurence Freeman

The Good Heart: A Buddhist Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus by Dalai Lama, Robert Kiely, Geshe Thupten Jinpa, and Laurence Freeman

Transforming Suffering: Reflections on Finding Peace in Troubled Times by His Holiness the Dalai Lamma, His Holiness Pope John Paul II, Thomas Keating, Joseph Goldstein, Thubten Chodro

The Heart of the World: An Introduction to Contemplative Christianity by Thomas Keating

 The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton

The Wisdom of the Desert: Sayings from the Desert Fathers of the Fourth Century (Shambhala Library) by Thomas Merton

The Eastern Path to Heaven by Geshe Michael Roach and Christie McNally

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Confessions of a Cowboy Christian and Practicing Buddhist

Beyond miles and miles of Sonoran and Chihuahuan desert
Criss-crossing the Southwest and Northern Mexico,
Where local folks know how to stand “tall in the saddle” as they say
Across a landscape that seems to go nigh on to forever
Even beyond the Boundlessness of you, O’ God,
Here imaginations may touch the beauty of all creation
And horizons meet the very edge of eternity.

Here you may see from Terlingua to Tuscon,
Marfa to Manhattan, Edna to El Paso
Across vistas of high desert plains,
Mountains, valleys, arroyos,
Streams and rivers merging together.
Where fingers of saguaro cactus
Point upwards in prayer,
While honey and velvet mesquite,
White-thorn acacia,
Althorn, ocotillo, lechugilla,
Agave and creosote bush
Bow with grace when touch by the breath of God
Traveling on windblown currents.

O Lord, let such a landscape echo back through each of us,
Expanding our sight, to become a vision
That comes to see heaven reflected
Through your divine made eyes.

May such a vision arise in us each
As it did for Christ and the Buddha
To echo, again and again
As we view heaven
Through divine made eyes.

Ansel Adams - El Capitan 1947. This is the majestic El Capitan (Spanish for "The Chief"), and to the right of it (behind it) is the highest mountain in Texas, Guadalupe Peak.

Ron Starbuck
Copyright 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Jesus Prayer Flag

this morning, quite early
in fact,
an hour or so after dawn
while walking to my office

i saw a parking garage attendant
in the courthouse district
of downtown Houston
waiving a red-orange

traffic flag
back and forth
back and forth
with the word
written there

there he was
waving Jesus around
for all the world to see
he was waving Jesus
like a
Tibetan Buddhist prayer flag
flying in the wind

stirring up the Holy Spirit

he was waving Jesus as a message
as a hope
as a charity
as a blessing
as a reminder
in remembrance
so that we might
wake up and

remember too

if you listen

along with me
you can hear
the voices
of the homeless

the poor
the imprisoned on parole
the weary
like voices from heaven
as they too pass

saying ...

Come, Lord Jesus
Come, Lord Jesus

Come, Lord Jesus

uttering his name without pause
as a prayer, as a song, as a thought

in the back of my mind I can hear them singing

"Jesus loves me this I know,

so the Bible tells me so" ...

i'm sure it is a prayer
a cry from heaven even,
it must be
for i hear the voices too,

the voices of angels
appearing and arising
as unexpected messengers
as strangers


i think i see Jesus smiling,

i'm sure i do,
in the smiles on their faces

as i pass by looking, seeing
but staying quiet all the same
not a whisper crossing my lips
not even a small hello

but certainly a smile, and a hint of some
blessing unasked for
grace given freely
freely accepted

a witness to
God's compassion
at work
in the world
the Kingdom

of God
coming closer

and closer
each day

Ron Starbuck

Copyright 2009

The Harris County Courts District is at the northeastern edge of downtown Houston, Texas, quite close to Minute Maid Park. Within the district are several social services organizations, various county agencies and courts, the Harris County Jail, as well as Christ Church Cathedral (Episcopal), and Annunciation Catholic Church. The district includes a diversity of people. It is quite common to encounter the homeless, the hungry, and even the sick; or county prisoners dressed in orange stripped suits working outside the jail for the day; various professionals involved in the courts or county administration; and the public at large going to and from an Astros baseball game. Harris County, Texas, is the third most populous county in the United States; which makes it larger than half the states in the Union and many countries throughout the world.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

God's Longing

It isn’t known when it began,
God’s longing,
Certainly no one mortal knows.
The angels might know,
But for most, it is still a heavenly secret,
A mystery of mysteries
Long hidden.

Some would say that it was always there
Has always been there
From the first instant,
Long before the big bang,
Leading up to the first
Thought that caused
Creation to explode suddenly
Out of the emptiness and nothingness
Of all reality, which is still expanding,
Still growing
Still arising within us each.

Many would say, and I would be one,
That God’s longing is eternal.
It is a deep longing, a true longing,
A longing that lingers slowly
And perfectly
Stretching out far past our own imaginations,
However far back or forward we are able to imagine.
It is almost as if God suddenly awoke
And being alone,
In knowing loneliness from the beginning
Sighed deeply, sighed so deeply
In that loneliness,
That in breathing out
Some portion of God’s breath left
His body and being
To seed all creation.

Perhaps it was then, in that moment
When the breath of God first moved
Across the waters of earth
Or moved through the depths of
Nothingness giving birth to creation.
Or gave breath to both Adam and Eve,
And then to all humanity.

Sometimes a thought crosses my mind
A single thought born out of my own breath
As I breathe in deeply during meditation
And out once again quietly and stilly.

Sometimes it comes to me then, in a split second
That this was when God’s Holy Spirit first appeared
And continues to appear throughout all history.
I even imagine that in some secret way
My own loneliness and longing are helping to give birth
To God’s Holy Spirit
And the compassionate loving-kindness
That follows God’s gift to all humankind.
I know this much, that God’s longing for us runs so deep
And so true
That He gave up His only begotten Son, even unto death
So that we might come to know Him and He us.
And that by this miracle of love
God’s Holy Spirit comes to dwell and rest in us.

Ron Starbuck
Copyright 2008

On the Third Morning - John 20: 1-18 & Luke 24:1-12

On the third morning
The women came first,
Somehow knowing in their wisdom
As women often do!
Anxious with sorrow,
Walking in the stillness of night
Just Before dawn
And the movement of day.
They came,
Looking for their Lord.
Where they found the stone turned,
Rolled from His tomb.
Their Lord’s body gone,
Taken away!

Two disciples came later, to learn
That this was more than an “idle tale,”
Of women, unbelieved.
When entering the tomb, they too saw
The linens that once wrapped His body,
Lying where he was laid. Then
Returned home in amazement,
Not recalling the scriptures
Or the words of Jesus,
Even the one whom he most loved.

While Mary stayed, weeping outside, to
See angels sitting in the tomb
Where once her Lord’s body lay.
Jesus speaks, calling Mary by name after asking;
“Woman, why do you weep?
Whom do you seek?
The living are not
Among the dead.”
She sees him now, Rabbouni, her teacher,
Moving to embrace him, at last knowing his face and voice.
He says; “Hold me not, for I must ascend to my Father.
Go, and tell my brothers, what you have seen and heard.”

He has Risen, He has Risen!
He has risen from the places of the dead and dying,
He has risen from the solitude of the tomb.
He has Risen, to his Father and our Father.
He has Risen, to his God and our God.
Hallelujah, Christ is Risen!

Let us rise as well, above the noises and distractions of life
to understand that God calls us too to death and resurrection.
Calling us to die immeasurable times;
To die daily in ourselves.

Let there be a death to our egos and selfishness,
A death to our poverty of spirit and faithlessness,
A death to doubt, hopelessness, and sorrow,
A death to grief where grief can no longer be borne,
A death to intolerance and “the wish to kill,”
A death to violence and war, and fearful hearts,
A death to abused and unloved hearts.
Let there be a death to it all!
Let the illusion and suffering of life be washed away
by the Passion of Christ, creating in us the mind of Christ!
So that we me may join with Him
In many Resurrections,
Let there be Resurrections upon Resurrections
One after another and another,
Let there be Resurrections without end.

R.P. Starbuck
Copyright 2007