Get my new 100+ page BUZZ: The Book for Free!

“Buzz” – everybody with a message wants it.

But how do you create it?

How can you find your hive? Cross-pollinate with others? Create something sweet? In a new book I contributed to, Buzz: Blue-Collar Blogging & Publishing for Profit, we won’t sell you cheap shortcuts or a get-rich quick scheme.

Instead, we draw from our personal experience in blogging, publishing, guerrilla marketing and movement-building to show you practical steps to move you toward an honest, sustainable living from your words and your passions.

Whether you’re just getting started or looking to take your vocation to the next level, Buzz has the direct, practical game plan you need – from four bloggers and online entrepreneurs who individually serve their hives while learning how to write compelling content, earn ad and affiliate revenue, market our books, and create compelling events – online and in-person – that draw hundreds or thousands.

If you’re curious, download this free 100+ sampler from NoiseTrade Books here.

And if you want more, please join me at this summer’s Buzz Seminar, where we’ll be diving even deeper.

Your contributors:

 

Mike Morrell picBuzz - MichelleBuzz - David

Buzz Frank

How to Come to the Buzz Seminar for “Free”!

The Buzz Seminar - Logo 2The Buzz Seminar registration is in full swing, and brilliant up-and-coming authors and bloggers are registering every day from across the country. We’re proud of how affordable we’ve made registration. As we’ve said on the registration site:

The Buzz Seminar is LESS EXPENSIVE than virtually every other event that provides something similar. For example, here are four other conferences and their prices (the names have been changed intentionally):

  • The Audience Conference = $2,097 per person
  • The Dispatch Conference = $4,547 per person
  • The Aggregate Conference = $1,497 per person
  • The Formula Conference = $25,000 per person

Registration for the Buzz Seminar is only $995 per person. This includes:

  • All the teaching sessions.
  • Detailed handouts for each session that enable you to apply the training well after the “seminar glow” has worn off.
  • Complimentary breakfast on both days (for those staying at the hotel).
  • A free lunch on both days (thanks to our sponsor, Morgan James Publishing).
  • A surprise bonus gift worth $697.
  • A special discount for the hotel (only $99 per night).

So far, we’ve been happy that many of you are taking advantage of registration. However, I do have friends and colleagues – many of them ministers and nonprofit workers – who are facing honest challenges funding their Buzz Seminar training and experience 100% on their own.

If this is you, I have a creative suggestion that could enable you to fund up to the entire Buzz Seminar registration, + travel and lodging.

Are you ready?

It’s GoFundMe.com

Go Fund Me - logoIf you’ve ever been a minister or missionary, you’re likely familiar with the “support-raising” model of ministry, where you talk to a circle of friends and those impacted by your life and work to help sustain your work serving others. In an internet age, GoFundMe easily enables this the way Kickstarter and IndieGoGo help bands and inventors fund their work.

Bloomberg Business Week explains:

“GoFundMe.com allows people to create fundraising sites for their personal needs. Folks have set them up to raise money for everything from medical bills to weddings.”

Mashable reports:

“Crowdfunding was the obvious choice for Sanders. “I wouldn’t have been able to do that without GoFundMe,” he says. Setting up the actual page was, according to Sanders, “just so simple.” He says it took him around five minutes.”

And TechCrunch breaks it down:

“GoFundMe Simplifies Group Fundraising: It connects directly to a user’s PayPal account and donation pages may also be embedded on a user’s existing blog.”

Jeff BurnsMy friend Jeff Burns has decided to do just this. As a former pastor, house church planter, coach, and worker for reconciliation between Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities, Jeff is looking to leverage his unique experience as a peacemaking voice in the Southeast and Middle East to not only finish his book about the spiritual roots of Southern Christian racism, but make it a truly high-impact book that reaches readers by becoming  a bestseller. He’s created a GoFundMe campaign called Help Me Become A Bestselling Author to fund his Buzz Seminar trip and additional coaching he wants to receive, sharing it with this family, friends, social media circles and ministry supporters.

How about you? If you’re facing challenges funding your Buzz Seminar registration and trip, will you create a GoFundMe campaign to share with your family, friends, and supporters? If you do, link to it in the comments below.

For each new Buzz Seminar GoFundMe support-raising campaign you share with me in the comments, I’ll re-share this blog post to my 20,000+ social media contacts across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. 

At the Buzz, we strongly believe that a rising tide lifts all ships. We want to help each other share our powerful messages with the world. However you fund your Buzz training and experience, remember that the ‘Early Bee’ registration of $100 off ends February 20th.

Register-Today

My Embarrassing Meeting With a Publisher…

Publisher MeetingI’ll never forget it: 12 years ago, I was at my first big conference, meeting with publishers. I was in my 20s, still in college, and I lined up face-to-face meetings with editors. Marketers. Decision-makers. I had a book idea that I thought could change the world.

Jamie*and I sat at the Starbucks near the conference site as I pitched my book and showed him my samples. He was interested in its content, but even more than that he was interested in what kind of buzz I could generate, on my own, about the book if his publishing house accepted it.

“I think I could sell 50,000 copies through my efforts,” I told him, full of sincerity.

Jamie was a nice guy, but he couldn’t suppress a laugh. “Mike, if you can move 50,000 copies on your own, you don’t need me.”

And he was right. I wouldn’t have needed him or any publisher. The problem is, I had an inflated sense of what I could accomplish at the time. That day a dozen years ago, Jamie gave me some pointers on more realistically assessing what kind of impact and buzz I could generate – and I’ve been learning and practicing this quest ever since.

In the intervening years, I’ve worked with 100+ clients to turn their published books into messengers that reach their intended readerships. Sometimes these readerships number in the hundreds, or the thousands; one of my clients, using the word-of-mouth, buzz-building, relational-sharing approach I teach has sold over 18 million copies of his worldwide best-selling book.

I’ve used this same approach to help launch a startup national festival, transforming it from just an idea to 1700 attendees in its first year of existence.

Do you write books?

Do you blog?

Do you run a business that makes a living from people knowing about its existence?

If so, I think you’ll be interested in a powerful two-day training I’ve developed that will enable you to turn your passion into profit.

I’ve distilled my last 12 years of learning into The Buzz Seminar, happening this July 4-5 in Orlando.

Why my distinguished co-host puts ‘celebrity’ bloggers to shame…and why you want to learn from him.

I’m co-leading this seminar with author and blogger Frank Viola, a friend and early client that I connected with this relational-sharing approach back in 2008. Frank built slowly, meticulously documented his rise, and these days has built what I consider to be very solid credentials:

  • Frank’s blog is consistently ranked in the Top 10 in his genre by traffic and subscribers.
  • In 2013, he approached 5 million unique page views.
  • Frank earned six figures in 2013 from blog-based revenue alone.
  • Frank also writes books. Books that serve a loyal reader base with whom he consistently stays in touch with through his blog; readers who consistently help launch his books onto bestseller lists, where 5 of his 9 published books have landed.

What’s amazing to me is that Frank, while impressive in his message and output, is not a household name. He’s not a prominent CEO, a notorious politician, or an infamous mega-church preacher. He doesn’t have a television show. He has built buzz, consistently and creatively, over the past few years – using a relational-sharing approach that can be taught…and learned.

At The Buzz Seminar, we want to teach you what we know. It will be a no-frills, content-packed training – that you’ll be able to get to work on immediately in your own life and business.

Unlike other conferences out there, we’re not promising that you’ll get “rich” off of your passion and talent. What we are saying is that if you have a compelling message and can share it, and are willing to work, then you have what it takes to make a sustainable living from your craft. That’s why we’ve tag-lined The Buzz Blue Collar Blogging and Publishing for Profit.

Earlybird registration is on sale now. Register by February 20th and get $100 off.

The Buzz Seminar - Logo 2At this time, we only have room to take on the first 125 buzz-builders for this two-day training.

At this time, we only have room to take on the first 125 registrants for this two-day training. If you want to reserve your spot, register today.

Interested? Then I hope to see you this July!

*Name changed to protect the innocent! 

Vote on your Favorite Buzz Seminar Logo!

Hi all, The Buzz Seminar is less than six months away and the waiting list is filling up fast. (It’s not too late to get on it yet, though – go here to get on it.) We’ve been tweaking the logo, and I’m curious which one you prefer:

Logo A:

The Buzz Seminar - Logo 1

 

 

 

 

…or Logo ‘B’ (no pun intended!)?

The Buzz Seminar - Logo 2

 

 

 

 

 

Please vote here!

 

Take Me to the Bottom of Your Pain (Robert Augustus Masters)

Center of PainTake me to the bottom of your pain
Take me to the weave of your true name
Take me, take me to what you require
Take me to the heart of the fire
Let’s stretch to make the leap
Let’s go to where love must also weep

Take me to the bottom of your pain
Take me to the weave of your true name
Take me, take me over the rise
Take me through all your goodbyes
Let’s shine through our every disguise
Let’s go to where love has open eyes

Take me to the bottom of your pain
Take me to the weave of your true name
Take me, take me right to your core
Take me through your hidden door
Let’s throw away our every alibi
Let’s go to where love no longer lies

Take me to the bottom of your pain
Take me to the weave of your true name
Take me, take me past your past
Take me where only the sacred will last
Let’s go beyond all that binds
Let’s live where insights lose their mind
Let’s go to where love is no longer blind

- Robert Augustus Masters

from: Meeting the Dragon: Ending Our Suffering By Entering Our Pain

Meeting the Dragon

Morrell Editing Services! In the 2014 Christian Writers’ Market Guide

Straight from the pages of the Christian Writers’ Market Guide comes our 2014 entry. A lot of people know that I conduct word-of-mouth publicity campaigns, but not as many know that my roots are in freelance editing services. My wife, Jasmin, and I oversee a team of top-notch editors ready to take your manuscript to the next level. Most of them have graduate education in English. We edit in ABA and CBA markets, fiction and non; self help to theology; Emergent and Missional to Pentecostal/charismatic and everything in between. If you’d like an estimate for editing your manuscript, drop Jasmin an email or leave a comment below. We’re here for your text support. :)

A basic overview of our fees is below:

EDITORIAL SERVICES/MIKE & JASMIN MORRELL,

Raleigh NC. E-mail: jasminis [at] gmail [dot] com. GE/LC/B/NL/SP/WS. Edits: A/SS/F/N/NB/BP/QL/JN/PB/BS/GB/E/D. Has edited for Christian publishers and mainstream curriculum publishers. Developmental editing: $.03/word; copy editing $.02/word. Requires 50% of fee upfront. Light requested revisions are included in original fee.

The Holy Water

Holy WaterNo one lives outside the walls of this sacred place, existence.
The holy water, I need it upon my eyes: it is you, dear, you – each form.

 

 

 

What mother would lose her infant – and we are that to God,
never lost from His gaze are we? Every cry of the heart
is attended by light’s own arms.

You cannot wander anywhere that will not aid you.
Anything you can touch – God brought it into
the classroom of your mind.

Differences exist, but not in the city of love.
Thus my vows and yours, I know they are the same.

I have just peeled the skin from the potato
and you are still contemplating its worth,
sweetheart; indeed there are wonderful nutrients in all,
for God made everything.

You joined our community at birth.
With your Father being who He is, what do the
world’s scales know of your precious value.
The priest and the prostitute – they weigh the same before the Son’s
immaculate being,
but who can bear that truth and freedom,
so a wise man adulterated the
scriptures;
every wise man knows this.

My soul’s face has revealed its beauty to me;
why was it shy so long, didn’t it know how this made me suffer
and weep?

A different game He plays with His close ones.
God tells us truths you would not believe,
for most everyone needs to limit His compassion; concepts of
right and wrong preserve the golden seed
until one of God’s friends comes along and tends your body
like a divine bride.

The Holy sent out a surveyor to find the limits of its compassion
and being.
God knows a divine frustration whenever He acts like that,
for the Infinite has
no walls.

Why not tease Him about this?Rabia
Why not accept the freedom of what it means
for our Lord to see us
as Himself.

So magnificently sovereign is our Lover; never say,
‘On the other side of this river a different King rules.’
For how could that be true – for nothing can oppose Infinite strength.

No one lives outside the walls of this sacred place, existence.

The holy water my soul’s brow needs is unity.
Love opened my eye and I was cleansed
by the purity of each
form.

Attention Authors & Bloggers: Spend 2 Days with Me + a Bestselling Author this July at the BUZZ SEMINAR – We Spill All Our Secrets!

Save the Date: July 4-5th in Orlando, Florida.

Through my work with many gifted authors via Speakeasy, two of the most frequently asked questions I get are:

1) How do I get people to read my blog – and actually make money blogging?

and

2) I’m a new author and I want to know how I can find the readers I know are out there. In fact, I’d love to hit a best-seller list while I’m at it. What separates the word-of-mouth phenoms from the hundreds of thousands of forgotten books published each year?

buzz_seminar_headerBecause I’ve worked to help launch best-selling books like Paul Young’s The Shack, Francis Chan’s Crazy Love, and Brian McLaren’s A New Kind of Christianity, I’ve learned a thing or two about what makes the difference between ubiquity and anonymity. My experience using movement-building social media strategies to help grow events, including one I grew from just an idea to 1700 attendees in its first year can be used to grow your readership as an author.

So I decided to co-create a seminar to show you just how to do this – while earning a steady living as a full-time blogger, if you’d like.  I wanted to help create a seminar that helps you create Buzz – around your passion, your message, and your writing. And so, The Buzz Seminar was born.

I always say that relationships are my greatest source of wealth; to truly make this seminar be all that it can be, I turned to my long-time friend Frank Viola to co-lead The Buzz. Frank is an amazing teacher with a wealth of experience;  he’s mastered earning income through blogging, and five of his books have hit four different best-seller lists.

Frank has distilled all of his knowledge into priceless, practical strategies to help bloggers and authors become successful at their craft. And he’ll be sharing it all in the upcoming Buzz Seminar.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let me be clear on what this 2-day seminar is and isn’t:

1) The Buzz Seminar is not a faith-based event, nor is it ministry. It’s a business event that’s designed to train any blogger and any author, regardless of their faith orientation (or lack thereof).

2) The Buzz Seminar is not a casual event. It’s a highly intensive training; think of it as an immediately-practicable certification program in the skills of branding and community-creation. The Buzz Seminar provides tools, resources, skills, and expert knowledge on how to use a trade (blogging and writing) that earns real income.

3) The Buzz Seminar is not inexpensive. Like going to school for a trade, the Buzz Seminar is an investment for your career and your future. Unlike so many seminars for platform-builders, we aren’t promising that you will get rich off of your blog or book. But we are telling you that it’s very possible to earn consistent, livable income if a.) You have a compelling message to share, and b.) You put the principles we teach into practice. For that reason, we’re calling this a seminar for “blue-collar” bloggers and authors – ordinary people who are willing to do what it takes to earn a living from their passion.

4) While this event isn’t inexpensive, it is less expensive than any other seminar or workshop covering similar topics. We’ve investigated them all; those other seminars and workshops charge anywhere from $2,000 to $25,000 per person! The Buzz Seminar is less expensive, yet the content is equally (or more) valuable.

Who this seminar is not for:

  • Casual bloggers who blog as a hobby.
  • Best-selling authors who already have an enormous platform (Neil Gaiman, Seth Godin, and Anne Rice need not apply! But call me…).
  • Those who are unwilling to make a financial investment to learn how to earn income.
  • Those uninterested in earning money by blogging or writing books.

You won’t want to miss this seminar if . . .

  • You are frustrated that very few people read your blog posts.
  • You already have a decent readership, but you want to take your blog to the next level.
  • You want to earn income by blogging.
  • You want to know how to publish a book – and publish well.
  • You want to know how to get people to notice and read your book.
  • You want to learn how to build an audience that regularly reads your work.
  • You want to know how to hit at least one best-seller list with your book.
  • You want to network with other bloggers and authors and learn from them.

If this describes you and you are interested in attending this event in July, click the Get on the Waiting List button here and sign up for the waiting list:

buzz-button-dark-green
Note: There is only room for 125 people to register for The Buzz this year, so get on the list as soon as possible.

You will be notified by email with the details. But until then, save the date and watch your Inbox!

When Times Are Tough – Breathe

breathe_by_sibayakHave you been having the day from hell? The week? The month? The year?

I feel you. I’ve been there.

And.

I believe that G-D is right here with you;

I believe that what is growing is nothing less than the seed of G-D inside you, waiting to be birthed.

G-D, transcending and including everything.

G-D, creating you, breathing you, living in you and AS you.

Loving you with unconditional presence and immediate affection.

Calling you by name;

Inviting you to witness the surprise of your own unfolding.

G-D, Who, when you’re feeling crazy and wanting to crawl out of your own skin, is as close to you as your own breath.

An Invitation to Breathe

deep-breathartIn my main staying-sane practice, centering prayer, my breathing creates a sanctuary - awareness of my breath connects me to awareness of G-D, life, the universe, and everything (with apologies to the late, atheistic Douglas Adams).

This breathing-awareness “tunes my heart to sing Thy praise” – re-keying me in (apologies in advance for the pun) I AMbic pantameter.

Unconditional presence. Just as I AM-ness, without one plea.

Opening the eyes of my heart, I imagine myself participating in the uncreated life of the Godhead, dancing in the joy of G-D-as-community, the shared life of the Trinity. Sometimes (perhaps all-to-seldom) this literally sets me moving and dancing. Most often, I experience it in stillness and relative silence while sitting – relaxed yet alert. The center of the Wheel does not move.

You’ve been traveling at a frenetic pace, n’est–ce pas? Both outward and inward.

I wonder if you could slow down…right now…and breathe. 

Of course you’re already breathing. And I don’t even mean to suggest that you should change one thing about your breathing…about the quality of your breath. Only that you expand your awareness of your breath.

Your are breathing…right now.

Notice.

You, dear reader, are Breath Itself, breathing through the soft animal of your body.

G-D having an ‘You’ experience.

Breathe and enjoy the simple feeling of being!

YHWH

soularizeiconIt was 2007; I was in the Bahamas. Ostensibly working. Helping run a ‘learning party,’ SoularizeRough, I know. It was the first time I’d spent time with a teacher whom I’ve come to greatly respect, Richard Rohr.

We’d had just over 100 people out at Soularize that year – not the largest of crowds. Even this number was winnowed down, to 35 or so, for a little after-learning-party retreat we were throwing at a supporter’s massive house. Richard was our retreat-master.

In addition to teaching us the Enneagram and typing many of us himself, he told us a story from a science and spirituality conference he’d attended (this one I think).

There was a presenter there who was a Rabbi and a physicist. This gentleman simply and confidently asserted that the divine name I AM – more specifically, YHWH – mirrors the sound of breathing.

Richard modeled for us what the Rabbi apparently modeled for him – breathing loudly, slowly:

YHHHH (on the in-breath)Breathe B

WHHH (on the out-breath)

 

YHHH

WHHH.

 

The first sound a baby breathes in this life – YHWH.

The last sound a person breathes on their way out – YHWH.

 

G-D’s name, on humanity’s lips from cradle to grave.

Ruah, holy breath, breathing in and through each beloved child of G-D from start to finish.

Breathing in us, as us.

(Now, is this debatable up and down the line? Of course it is. I don’t know if make that sound when I breathe, or what it would ‘prove’ in any case. But this isn’t a theorem, it’s a poem. It’s an open invitation to experience Divine ubiquity everywhere. And as such, I find it beautiful and moving to consider.)

NOOMA/Pneuma/Ruah/Breath

Richard Rohr is by far not the only person pondering the connections between breath and divinity. To name just one more among many Rob Bell – who’s a big fan of Richard Rohr – ended up making a NOOMA video around this idea called ‘Breathe.’

Rob says – and this is a long quote, but I like how he puts it -

“With all that all of us have going on every day, who actually thinks about their breathing?

Do you ever think about your breath?

Have you ever thought about your breath from a spiritual perspective?

Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Exodus 3:5-6 (NIV)

Moses has been walking this land for 40 years. I mean, it isn’t as if the ground all of a sudden became holy. The ground didn’t just change. It’s that Moses becomes aware of it.

Which raises the question for us, ‘Are we standing on holy ground, all the time?’

Passing burning bushes on the left and the right, and because we’re moving too fast and we’re distracted, we miss them.

What do you believe it means to be “standing on holy ground”?

Are we standing on holy ground, all of the time, but are not aware of it?

Moses says to God, ‘What is your name?’

And God responds, ‘Moses, you tell them the LORD sent you.’

Now this name, LORD, if you’re reading it in an English translation of the Bible, the name is spelled capital L, capital O, capital R, capital D.

The name appears in the Bible over 6,000 times.

But it wasn’t originally written in the English language, it was written in the Hebrew language.

And in Hebrew the name is essentially four letters.

We would say Y, H, V, H. But in Hebrew, the letters are pronounced: ‘Yod, Heh, Vav, Heh.’

Have you ever thought about God’s name?

Have you ever thought about God’s name being anything different than just a name?

YHWHvayomer od elohim elmoshe ko tomar elbenei yisrael YHVH elohei avoteikhem elohei avraham elohei yitskhak velohei yaakov shelakhani aleikhem zeshemi leolam veze zikhri ledor dor

(Transliterated Hebrew)

God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers — the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob — has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:15 (TNIV)

Some pronounce the name ‘Yahweh’ or ‘Yahveh,’ although in many traditions the name isn’t even pronounced, because it’s considered so sacred, so mysterious, so holy. In fact, the ancient rabbis believed that these letters actually functioned kind of as vowels in the Hebrew language. They believed that they were kind of breathing sounds and that ultimately the name is simply unpronounceable because the letters together are essentially the sound of breathing. Yod, Heh, Vav, Heh.

Is the name of God the sound of breathing?

If the name of God is the sound of breathing, how does that change the way you view yourself as a living being?

How does it change the way you view others?

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. Genesis 2:7 (NKJV)

There’s this paradox at the heart of what it means to be a human being.

We’re fragile and vulnerable, we come from the dust.

And yet at the same time we’ve been breathed into by the creator of the universe.

And this divine breath is in every single human being.

In what ways do you feel fragile and vulnerable?

Are there ways in which you feel sacred and divine?

Do you think it’s possible to feel both ways at the same time?

In the Bible, the word for ‘breath’ is the same word as the word for ‘spirit.’

In the Hebrew language it’s the word ‘ruah,’ in the Greek language, it’s the word ‘pneuma.’

One Scripture says that when God takes away the ‘ruah,’ the breath of all living creatures, then they die and return to dust. But when God sends the ‘ruah,’ the Spirit, they are created.

Breath, Spirit, same word.

If the words for ‘breath’ and ‘spirit’ are the same in biblical context, does that affect your view of yourself and others?

When you let God in, when you breathe, what happens is you become aware of all the things you need to leave behind, everything you need to let go of.

If you were to be totally honest about what’s going on inside of you, is there anything you need right now to breathe out?

What do you have that you need to let go of – what do you need to breathe out?

What can you do in your life to make sure you don’t miss that you’re “standing on holy ground”?

One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:6 (NASB)

You are a sacred creation of God. The divine breath is flowing through you, and it’s flowing through the person next to you and it’s flowing through the person next to them.

You are on holy ground. There is a holiness to the people around us and how you treat them.

Jesus said that whatever you do for them, you’ve done for him.

Do you believe God is inherently in every single person?

If so, when we treat someone disrespectfully, does it mean we’re really treating God disrespectfully?

And if we do things with love and care for others, are we inherently doing it for God?

May you come to see that God is here right now with us all of the time.

May you come to see that the ground you are standing on is holy.

And as you slow down, may you become aware that it is in ‘Yod,’ ‘Heh,’ ‘Vav,’ ‘Heh’ – that we live and we move and we breathe.”

Thanks, Rob.

One.

nondualWhen I bring the gift of awareness to my breath, feeling Ruah breathing in me and as me, I find that I feel her embrace. And then – sometimes, in this space of YHWH – the sense of me and Ruah being two distinct entities or ideas or instantiations of Being utterly evaporates – replaced by oneness. Replaced by bliss.

I’ll never forget when I first encountered the idea – it was right there in the Bible. It was in the late 1990s, at Harvester, the Presbyterian church where I sort’ve led worship. I was sitting in the back of their then-tiny upstairs sanctuary, waiting for the worship team to show up I think, when I read John 17 straight through for the first time. Here’s Jesus praying this crazy mystical prayer that would surely be deemed heretical (at least by my fellow PCA-ers) if it Jesus wasn’t recounted as praying it, to his originating Abba: 

That they may be one even as We are…even as You are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us…as You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world…so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them. 

 “Just as” –  oneness. No separation.

It’s all summed up in what this breath-name (YHWH) is most commonly translated as: “I AM.” It’s an inherently subversive name, because in speaking it, you can’t help but declare something about yourself even as you’re naming G-D.

I AM.

(I am?)

(Why, yes!)

Being G-D gets a bad rap in conventional Western religion, does it not?

And I get it.

Besides any dogma or beliefs one way or another, it can be dangerously narcissistic to equate the ‘small self’ ego with G-D; voices like Stuart Davis and Marc Gafni do superb jobs showing the pitfalls of this mis-identification from Buddhist and Jewish vantage points, respectively. But both agree with the most sublime mystics, poets, and sages that there is an element of our selves that transcends fragmented, grasping ego – this true Self is the One and Only in all the universe. 

And further, it delights this Self to incarnate in our myriad forms – to be G-D having a uniquely ‘You’ experience! And G-D having a ‘Me’ experience.

For me as a student of the Way, I recognize this Advent season as one celebrating the Mystery of the Incarnation – G-D’s re-entry and re-affirmation of the world of matter and meaning, of flesh and blood and spit and sinew – of the incalculable pain and glory of human existence as we’re graced by the kiss of Ruah.

As The 14th-century German mystic Meister Eckhart provocatively asked,

What is the good if Mary gave birth to the Son of God 2000 years ago, if I do not give birth to God today? We are all Mothers of God, for God is always needing to be born.

As the first-century Apostle Paul would put it, Christ is the firstborn of many sisters and brothers.

As the 19th century priest and poet Gerard Manley Hopkins told it, Christ plays in ten thousand places.

And as I put it once upon a time, Christ’s incarnation is ubiquitous – his love, promiscuous.

DervishIt’s fitting that in this season, when we celebrate “the true Light that gives light to everyone…coming into the world,” that we honor the common grace given to the spiritual adepts of the monotheistic lineages – Hasids and Kabbalists (Jews), contemplatives and Hesychasts (Christians), and Sufi Dervishes (Muslims) – each have a means of cooperating with grace for the purifying of ego (as in a refiner’s fire), so that True Self and Unique Self might be real-ized, so that our identification with I AM comes from a healthy, vital, and life-giving space. And it all begins with re-membrance of G-D (DaveningEucharistZikhr), and attention to the breath.

Freedom Songs

I invite you now (don’t just bookmark this – why not right now?) to practice this remembrance and breathing –

first toward G-D,

                               then yourself,

                                                           then in the space where G-D and Self are joined in union.

The first ‘song of remembrance’ I offer for your consideration is a bit CCM-ish in sound (as its composer acknowledges), but I find the lyrics inspired:

The Sound of Our Breathing – Jason Gray

 

Everybody draws their very first breath with Your name upon their lips
Every one of us is born of dust but come alive with heaven’s kiss

The name of God is the sound of our breathing
Hallelujahs rise on the wings of our hearts beating

Breathe in, breathe out, speak it aloud Oh oh, oh oh
The glory surrounds, this is the sound Oh oh, oh oh

Moses bare foot at the burning bush wants to know who spoke to him
The answer is unspeakable like the rush of a gentle wind

The name of God is the sound of our breathing
Hallelujahs rise on the wings of our hearts beating

Breathe in, breathe out, speak it aloud Oh oh, oh oh
The glory surrounds, this is the sound Oh oh, oh oh

In him we live and move and have our being
We speak the name as long as we are breathing

So breathe in
Breathe out…

Doubters and deceivers, skeptics and believers we speak it just the same
From birth to death, every single breath is whispering Your name

(for the full story behind the song, and some other related reflections on YHWH/breath from its author, check this out.)

I AM THAT I AM – Ben Lee

This one is sparse on lyrics, big on feel – let it wash over you.

And finally – as usual - Joseph Arthur nails it:

I AM – Joseph Arthur

You live in a darkness
Made out of your fear
Looking to the future
Never are you here

You are not a person
Nor are what you see
Beyond this world you live in
Beyond your memory

To find out what you really are
You must wake up from this long night

Repeat the words I Am
Repeat the words I Am
Repeat the words I Am
Repeat the words I Am

Your world is in danger
But your world isn’t real
You see what is imagined
Dreaming what you feel

To find out what you really are
You must wake up from this long night

Repeat the words I Am
Repeat the words I Am
Repeat the words I Am
Repeat the words I Am

I Am, I Am, I Am

You are beyond the sun and the stars
You are the ever present light.

Repeat the words I Am
Repeat the words I Am
Repeat the words I Am
Repeat the words I Am

I Am, I Am, I Am

Selah.

‘All Will Be Well’ – Polyanna Platitude or Responsible Mystical Theodicy?

I tend not to blog about large-scale disasters. It isn’t that I don’t care, but rather that there’s usually an excess of ‘care’ in the blogosphere around such times (in the form of words, words, words), and really, what else is there to say? I had nothing to say about the earthquake in Haiti besides this…until now.
Shaun King is an intriguing cat. He started this multi-ethnic Courageous Church in Atlanta about a year ago; is a student at Candler Divinity School at Emory…right after the Haiti earthquake he blasted to his social network, essentially “Let’s go to Haiti! Right now! Don’t wait for someone else…go!”
I had mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, this seems like sage advice:

How Not To Help With Haiti: Don’t go to Haiti. It’s close to the US, it’s a disaster area, and we all want to help. However, it’s dangerous right now and they don’t need “extra hands”. The people who are currently useful are people with training in medicine and emergency response. If all you can contribute is unskilled labor, stay home. There is no shortage of unskilled labor in Haiti, and Haitians will be a lot more committed than you are to the rebuilding process. If you are a nurse or physician, especially with experience in trauma, and you want to volunteer, email Partners in Health – volunteer@pih.org – and offer your services. Or submit your details to International Medical Corps. They’ll take you if they can use you. Do not go to Haiti on your own, even if you are doctor. You’ll just add to the confusion, and you’ll be a burden to whoever ends up taking responsibility for your safety.

On the other hand, someone whom Shaun encouraged to go did, and he Tweeted this:

Setting out my SoapBox. About to step on it for a few tweets. 1st my opinions then quotes from leaders on the ground in Haiti -

ALL OF THE EXPERTS ARE DEAD WRONG…When the earthquake 1st hit, thousands of you immediately wanted to go and help BE the solution, be the hands & feet of God… But you were told by the experts NOT TO COME. You were told to wait until some magical time when things were much better…
The experts were wrong. Some probably meant well because they didn’t want you to get hurt or be in the way, but let me tell you what is missing in Haiti -passionate, hard-working, unskilled, loving, non-experts. They are in SHORT SUPPLY. I mean RARE.

Consequently, the MAJORITY of supplies are sitting unused & the teams of unskilled non-experts I am advising are regularly…9 days later, regularly the first people to have ever visited orphanages and disaster sites. They ALL tell me that we should have IGNORED the experts.

Let me tell you a story that will kill you: The caretaker of the Notre Dame orphanage told @SpenceNix She heard dozens of dying babies trapped in the rubble scream & cry for 5 whole days before they all died. 55 babies died. Nobody ever came….

One more tweet from me then I want to type you a quote from our team on the ground…It is NOT TOO LATE. If you feel CALLED to go to Haiti GO. GO! GOOOO! It is tough work, but GO! I will help you. Next tweets are direct from our teams on the ground:

“The growing feeling here in Haiti is that the BIG ORGS & government don’t really care. It’s like they are here b/c the world is focused here. If they care, little passion is ever displayed. Seems like a job or obligation. Even my sponsoring organization [name of large Christian org] pretty much just set up a tent, gave us a vest and stickers and said go. No support. No passion. No questions. Large amounts of supplies are just sitting in boxes everywhere. I have seen them there for days while hurting people & doctors need them. This has opened my eyes wider to the wastefulness of large charities and benefit of small, nimble, passionate groups..”

“I have been in Haiti for 6 days and I still have not seen one large Red Cross presence. I honestly think social media has saved more lives since the earthquake than all but 3-4 great organizations here now. Passion. Relationships. Technology has changed the game. We saved so many lives today and it was just us doing it bro.” <<<End of quote.

Shaun King: Thanks for listening.

No doubt the debate can still go on – properly-trained specialists vs. American can-do. But if you’re like me, the debate ended, was wholly sidetracked, by the story of those dying babies. The horror – the insanity. The sense of helplessness. I imagine – no, I know – that those who work in ‘care’ vocations (nurses, prison reform advocates, friends to the homeless) know this far more than me.

One such friend of mine mused, wisely yet perhaps despairingly,

Fragility and morality huh? Isn’t that part of our daily experience?

Indeed. And sometimes, we give and give and give – like poured-out drink offerings – and the gaping maw of humanity displays its thirst anew, unquenchable in every moment. When will the suffering end? Am I deluded to think that there’s meaning here?

Lately I’ve been meditating on the words of Julian of Norwich, a 30-year-old woman who lived during a time of unparalleled plague and persecution. She is famous for her ‘Showings of Divine Love‘ and her mystical encounters with Jesus. This excerpt summarizes her central insight well:

HUMAN SUFFERING

For Julian, Christ is both the symbol of human suffering and the sign of divine triumph over suffering. The meaning Julian derives from her first visitation is not that humans are destined to suffer (though we are), but more important that we have been given a sign through the Passion of Christ that we will ultimately triumph over the frailties of the flesh:

For [God] does not despise what he has made, nor does he disdain to serve us in the simplest natural functions of our body, for love of the soul which he created in his own likeness. For as the body is clad in the cloth, and the flesh in the skin, and the bones in the flesh, and the heart in the trunk, so are we, soul and body, clad and enclosed in the goodness of God. Yes, and more closely, for all these vanish and waste away; the goodness of God is always complete, and closer to us, beyond any comparison. (186)

But the philosophical problem still remains. If, as Julian insists, God resides in us and is “present in all things” (197), how can this goodness share divine space with the presence of evil? Julian states the difficulty of the case with characteristic directness:

Our Lord God . . . is at the center of everything, and he does everything. And I was certain that he does no sin; and here I was certain that sin is no deed, for in all this sin was not shown to me . . . . For a man regards some deeds as well done and some as evil, and our Lord does not regard them so, for everything which exists in nature is of God’s creation, so that everything which is done has the property of being God’s doing. (197-198).

Julian seems to imply here the heterodox view that sin has no reality whatsoever, the acts we label “evil” being merely products of our faulty perception. But a still, small voice within Julian is troubled by this explanation, this act of abolishing sin by linguistic fiat. Inspired both by humility and by curiosity, she presents an argument for the reality of sin from the human perspective:

It seemed to me that if there had been no sin, we should all have been pure and as like our Lord as he created us. And so in my folly before this time I often wondered why, through the great prescient wisdom of God, the beginning of sin was not prevented. For then it seemed to me that all would have been well. (224)

The answer she receives to this childlike query is enigmatic but reassuring: “Sin is necessary, but all will be well, and all will be well, and every kind of thing will be well” (225).

Julian, however, is not quite ready to let go her persistent questioning. After contemplating this reassurance, she again asks “with very great fear: Ah, good Lord, how could all things be well, because of the great harm which has come through sin to your creatures?” (227) Again she receives a measure of condolence: “You will see yourself that every kind of thing will be well . . . . Accept it now in faith and trust, and in the very end you will see truly, in fullness of joy” (232).

There’s more in this analysis, but here’s what this means to me.  In the past few years I’ve  either been involved with or been close to those involved with human trafficking eradication, ‘people who live outside’ (as my friend Hugh more humanely refers to ‘the homeless’) and the global ‘persecuted church.’ Even more recently, I’ve focused my professional energies and graduate studies to the gargantuan hydra that is our contemporary system of growing, preparing, delivering and eating food. All the greed, systemic evil, seemingly random and senseless acts of barbarism and tragedy can be tough to deal with, to say the least. Stories like the 55 babies dying in Haiti within earshot of people just too busy to do anything about it can be enough to knock the winds out of the sails of Mother Teresa, never mind the rest of us. For those of us who engage this kind of stuff on a regular basis, it can be despairing. We’re supposed to be the healers, the encouragers; where do we go when we need healing or encouraging? To our peer networks – the NGOs or churches or intentional communities that we serve and live with? As most readers of my blog likely know first-hand, they can be some of the most messed-up people in existence…they’re as bad off as you, if not worse! To God? The same God who, it is rumored, stands idly by and allows all these things to happen? Sometimes its easier to be an atheist in aid and social work – that’s one less unsolvable dilemma on your plate (“Why does a good God allow so much misery and suffering?”).

But yet…in the midst of the composted messiness of God, our communities, and ourselves, I’m discovering a deeper equilibrium in the universe, a deep sanity and ‘okay-ness’ that dances on the edge of communicability and wordlessness. It’s not unlike Julian’s divine communication -

All will be well, and all will be well, and every kind of thing will be well. You will see yourself that every kind of thing will be well…Accept it now in faith and trust, and in the very end you will see truly, in fullness of joy.

It’s as though energy is neither created nor destroyed; nothing is ever truly lost – not a tear, not a laugh or bullet wound or orgasm…it’s all saved and cherished. It’s not that good and evil are illusions, but rather that they’re not the final word on what living is about – there is a deeper life that transcends and includes them both – tapping into this Life here and now (and not merely relegating it to the sweet by and by) is the key to our being healers today, what Burke and Taylor call ‘mystical responsibility.’ But – and this is crucial – the superstructure of the kosmos is Grace; heaven and earth to not rest squarely on our own backs and sweat equity. It all depends on us, yet none of it does. Everything is both at the doorposts of our hearts, and beyond our grasp like gripping a fistful of sand. We can relax – we have infinite momentum behind us. It is accomplished. All will be well.

Originally posted on February 2, 2010.