Pathways Profane

Last night was the Connect Group of which I am a part. It is what I used to call a Home Community, but in a Presbyterian way. It was the “Tending the Garden of the Soul” chapter and I was asked to host and lead.

So, we met here:


It is a good gazebo in the community garden where there is plot after plot going on. All I had to do was move some chairs around. We met in this garden, you know, because it is a metaphor for the other garden and it aligns really well with the chapter title.

The title and its chapter are from Sacred Pathways, the book that our HC oops CG is using as a guide:


It is not at all a bad book* as it describes and provides recommendations for the nine pathways the author has identified:


There is little correlation with the nine enneagrams which seem to be in vogue again and again, and in Christian circles too. Their resurgence reminds me of The Gnostic Gospels (and others) which someone “discovers” ever so often and touts as faith-changing or life-altering or somesuch. Get me right, there is much to be gained by a study of both, but they are neither new, nor especially radical.

[This was just on the radio as I walked in after going out:


The night went very well, both from my perspective** and from the comments throughout and afterward.

We discussed nephesh, what it was that the human became when YHWH breathed into it the breath of life. The human became a soul. Clean and free that soul was, and ours are as well, I said, but we do not always feel that, do we? We cannot muck it up, but yucky we feel and think sometimes. Anyway, the death happened, the blood flowed, and hallelujah we are free.

Oh, now it’s playtime. I stressed the importance of adult play; more than playfulness, play “lights up” parts of the brain that may be un-accessed any other way.

So, we played Mr. Potato Soul. The idea was to forage in the garden (and use some colored markers) to find items to fashion our own veggie souls and then to explain our thinking. The thoughts shared were delightfully and yikes! pretty revealing and personal. I like it, that a potato can make us play like that, share like that.

Here is mine:


There is little meaning in the actual appendages, as I told them, but there is purpose in all of it, especially the “fig leaf”. God can take, does take casual or even random choices that we make and makes them beautiful. He has redeemed us fully and completely, I was telling them. And—I had already told them cuz God tells us—like the inside of the potato, our souls are pearly white. If you are a russet haha.

Maybe what we are feeling is actually our hearts, I said and we discussed. Yeah, that is what gets tugged someone said and “it gets me right here” someone else said, plunging a carrot dagger into his heart. Uh huh, and thank God that the Greek actually says to ” love God from all your heart and with all your soul, mind, and strength . . .”.  That is really good news because my heart is all covered in WaughPaper.

THEN, we talked about that other thing, our gut (tuchach) which is our inner-most being and how we are now learning that our heads and our guts are in constant dialogue (drink your kombucha!) and often function as one thing. That is more good news, actually, because if you feel a malaise headwise, take a deep breath and let it spread also into your gut, thereby gaining more real estate so that it dissipates. The converse is true as well, but not as easy.

Well, we ate and did some other things and then it was time to finish up and the comments were good and then we discussed what next? I sensed, by what I heard, that opportunities like last night, for me, at a Presbyterian church, are going to have to be self-made (horrible), or brought by the hand of God (holy), but mostly we are gonna be studying Presbyterian orthodoxy.  Uhhhh, don’t think so. I am just a fool preaching one foolish idea that is three: life/death/life.**

*Here are two really good books:

I picked up the Sanford book at Powell’s a good while ago, a few weeks into the glory days of sorta teaching/mostly allowing folks to learn the Gospel of John at another church. Sanford is a priest and Jungian and his book is rich, rich with insights into one of my favorite books. It is a memory of the future.

For the record, before and during John there was Ephesians. In no way did I teach that book. Ephesians just happened, all of it by consensus, and lives will never be the same. God did it, not I.

Under the Sanford book was the blue Brown book, an amazing compendium (how does it all fit in a single volume?). Hmmm there is a card in it and it’s . . . oh, I remember this:


That was a long time ago, probably back in . . . yep, 1999 when I was Youth and Family pastor at a church that would not dare call me pastor or preacher, but minister was okay, and the church was splitting apart in a nasty way. It stunk to high heaven, just putrid like a rotten potato.


It had nothing to do with me—I was told by the elders and it was true—but as a consequence I was not actually welcome at the local youth minister meetings.

But Dallas, Texas was happy to fellowship.

God’s church is like that, wherever and any time. It does not always look sacred, and profane is just a word.

What’s next?

**But, I am no Presbyterian.

What a gorgeous carrot! © 2019 Timothy Waugh