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Peter Panagore
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Peter Panagore

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My poem in the Huffington Post.
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Peter Panagore

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Hot, Hot, Hot

 The couple called it "central heating" as joke, because the woodstove was in the middle of their old and rented farmhouse. They burned ten cords of hardwood a year, which, being in mountains could be said to begin in late September and last until the last snow-piles of May. Since the farmhouse only had a little insulation, the whole house tended to be breezy. This meant that the wood stove had to be run pretty hot all the time. Teaching their three-year-old that the red-glowing woodstove is dangerous proved easier than teaching her that a black woodstove could also be hot. The large, three-sided woodstove screen they bought protected her curious hands from accidentally touching the stove; except for that exploratory time where she learned her lesson, the screen stopped her from any intentional stove touching, too. Strong-minded and curious, she did not believe a black stove could be hot and said so. Using a rare moment alone, when her parents were busy with the baby, she pushed aside the screen and carefully laid her right palm on the woodstove. She learned immediately that bad experience is the best teacher.

We all know that experience is a good teacher, but there are some experiences that have agonizing consequences, and those are the ones that we best learn by listening to and heeding the warnings of those who have gone before us. Some things are better left untouched.

Let's Pray: Dear God, when we pray, "keep us from temptation,"* we also mean, keep us from poor judgment. Amen.

Here's a Thought from Will Rogers: "Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment." Sources:
*"...lead us not into temptation..." Matthew 6:13 NIV

"Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment." ~ Will Rogers

The Official Website of Will Rogers http://www.cmgww.com/historic/rogers/about/miscellaneous.html 
Brainy Quote http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/willrogers411692.html#hoQ3wDGwjIHxBmeB.99


 
  
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Patched Up
  
My mom gave me a wilderness type overcoat. It was dark green and blended in with the woods. I wore that jacket in every season and every day for fifteen years. With me in it, it climbed wilderness mountains, endured raging storms, hitchhiked two continents, camped, slept in unsavory places, hiked mountains and jungles, was ill used, abused and beloved. Five years into owning it, there was general agitation at home, given its condition, to I replace it. Instead, I mended it. 

Fixing isn't necessarily mending. Fixing might mean that the evidence of the problem disappears - as in "It's fixed as good as new." Mending maintains a record. On the torn pocket that I got climbing in the Rockies, I used pea green, tent-patching, rip-stop nylon patches. The green Velcro closings at the cuffs, torn in the Andes, were replaced with black, and stitched in place with sky blue thread. The stitching on the zipper, ripped above tree line, was mended with purple, because purple was the color I carried. Every tear, every rip, every stitch tells a story. 

Stopping to sew a torn seam seems a little quaint, but some beloved things, like relationships, are worth mending. Relationships rip and if they cannot be fixed, at least they might be mended. Sometimes mending what is broken is the only choice we have. 

Let's Pray: Dear God, give us the needle and thread, the eyes and the desire to stitch together whatever needs mending in our lives. Amen.

Today's Thought Is: A torn seam stitched and mended is often stronger than it was before.

Source:
Mark 2:21 NIV "No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made.  
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A Visit to Heaven and Hell
  
 
Anthropologist Dr. Bob Pain reports that one day he visited Heaven and Hell (Cennet and Cehennem) in Turkey. These two caves were formed when a single ceiling collapsed, and both are located near a small fishing village. The caves have been cultic places since prehistory. Ancient Greeks believed one cave (Hell or Cennet) was where the giant Typhon lived, whom Zeus trapped and imprisoned. Typhon was the father of the hellhound Kerberos who protected the entrance to this post-apocalyptic looking underworld. Hell Cave is an almost circular dark shaft and is feared by the locals.
 
The cave next door (Cehennem), with its four hundred steps to the bottom, is the cave of Heaven and resembles a green haven of peace and tranquility. The cool bottom has shrubs and trees filled with birds' nests, a fifth century church, and an underground stream of cold, fresh water. 
 
The water at a nearby Mediterranean Sea beach is strangely and significantly colder than the surrounding seawater. Some days you can see men or women standing in the sea at that beach, bending over, scooping water into their mouths and drinking. The cold water is sweet water that wells up from the bay floor, dropping the temperature and creating a fresh water pool inside the sea. This fresh water pool arises from the Cave of Heaven.

In the midst of our salt-water lives, if it feels like you're living in hell, drink deep of the water of Heaven to satisfy your soul.
 
Let's Pray: Dear God, we thirst. Give us Your drink that refreshes eternally. Amen.

Today's Thought Is: God is fresh water and quenches thirst. 
 
References:
Cennet and Cehennem:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cennet_and_Cehennem
http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/go/med/kizkalesi/cennet-cehennem.html
 
John 4:10 NIV "Jesus answered her, 'If you knew the gift of God and Who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.'"
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Terrifying Beauty
  
In Raiders of the Lost Ark, there is a scene where Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood are tied back-to-back on a pillar-post situated above the Nazis. As The Ark of the Covenant was opened, Indiana Jones said to Marion, "Close your eyes. Don't look." Why? Nobody may look at God and live.* Indiana and Marion shut their eyes. Out of the Ark came God's fiery messengers who entangled those Nazis with a deadly and terrifying beauty.

Moses was allowed a glimpse of God's bottom side, and that was with God's hand shielding Moses' eyes. Moses had climbed a mountain, glimpsed God's bottom, and then carried down the Commandments and put them inside the Ark. The Ark had power to swallow armies whole. What was in the Ark? A slice of God. 
Four thousand years ago, Joshua bar Nun, poised to invade the Promised Land, controlled the Ark and forty thousand warriors on the banks of the Jordan River. The Ark could destroy the enemies of Israel, but first, God says, "Josh, here's the catch. We need to seal this deal. Before you invade, every warrior gets the ritual cut of circumcision." 

This rite of passage, this shared wound, marked Israel as a nation set apart, bound them together as an army, and once more sealed them as God's people. 

Let's Pray: Dear God, aren't we all Your creation and Your children? Who could not be if You made us all? So we humbly ask, in this age on Earth, as Your people, that You bind us as one. Amen.

Here's a Thought: One people with Your blessing. 

References: 
*Exodus 33:20
The Book of Joshua
Raiders of the Lost Ark: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raiders_of_the_Lost_Ark
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Need forty eight seconds of relaxation?
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I Ain't The Same

ESPN once reported that former heavyweight boxing champion, Mike Tyson, was bankrupt, millions in debt and homeless, and that Tyson was sleeping in shelters or on friends' couches, and taking charity from drug dealers. 

Tyson fought his way to the title in 1986, '87, '89 and '96, served time for rape, and infamously bit off part of Evander Holyfield's ear in 1997. Tyson knows he was a cantankerous, belligerent, tough-talker who, when he had money, was mean. 

Tyson says he changed, "I ain't the same person I was when I bit that guy's ear off."

One blogger didn't buy it. He believed actions speak louder than words, but maybe being homeless humbled Tyson. Since then, he has made appearances on TV, in "Hangover 2", and on Broadway, and is now a world-class boxing promoter. 

We all know people who talk big and do nothing; but people can and do change. Words aren't proof of anything, and actions speak more loudly. We've known folks who claim they have faith, but never back it up with action, and others who say they have no faith, yet live their lives by doing good works.

I'm not the one, and neither are you, to judge who's in or out of heaven -- that's God's job. One thing's for sure - like it says in the letter of James, "faith without works is dead."*

Let's Pray: Dear God, we can claim faith and personal change all we want, but unless our hearts rest in You, and our actions show it, how do we prove it? Amen.

Here's a Thought: Without works, what is faith?


Sources:
ESPN.com news services, Monday, June 28, 2004, http://sports.espn.go.com/sports/boxing/news/story?id=1831076

Sportsblog.com

List of heavyweight boxing champions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_heavyweight_boxing_champions

*James 2:14-26 NIV
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What's Old is New

Alongside a river on one side and a grassy road on the other side, and close by a tree cathedral, stand two slate headstones centuries old. This old gravesite is now nature's garden, lightly touched by human hands. To walk there, immersed in mountain air, seeing fiery maples and goldenrod, is to feel the circle of life, the start, middle, finish, and the beginning again. Ashes to ashes, dust-to-dust, dust to soil, soil to root, root to life, and leaves to fall again, to decay and repeat. Centuries ago, when these slate stones were set to mark these spots, burial was simple, and it was common for people to be buried from their own homes. Bodies of loved ones were tenderly washed, then laid gently inside a simple pine box or wrapped inside a shroud, and placed as is, lovingly, deeply into the ground. There were no concrete crypts and no preservatives added - ashes to ashes. And now, once more, green funerals, such as these - chemical-free and crypt-less - are on the rise, and are spreading nationwide. There are wildflower fields and pine forest gardens that now serve as cemeteries. 

We may ignore our ends and make no plans, pretending it cannot be so, and tell no one our final desires. So here I am today to lend you courage to say what needs be said for those who see the approaching end.

Let's Pray: Dear God, dying is a part of life, and death is falling into Your Love and Light. Carry us Home. Amen.

Here's a Thought: "For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."*


Sources:
"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust" is a phrase in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer burial service, 1662, http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/ashes-to-ashes.html
Genesis 3:19 KJV "For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."*

Green Burials Reflect Shift To Care For The Body, Soul And Earth, Religion News Service, By Lauren Markoe, 01/26/2014, 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/26/green-burials-_n_4654586.html


For more information contact The Green Burial Council http://www.greenburialcouncil.org/   
 
  
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Each story is written and told by Reverend Peter Baldwin Panagore. His stories are mostly true tales, written and told as they happened, and are gathered through experience, observation, reading, listening, and note taking. All pertinent sources and scripture references are cited in the footnotes.
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Apocalypse Wow
  
 
Do you remember all the chatter about the year 2012 and how the world was supposed to end? It had to do to with a misreading of the Mayan Long Calendar. It was supposed to come with a comet, an asteroid, a planet hitting earth, because of an alignment of earth and the sun with the supposed galactic plane, a magnetic pole shift, or solar flares from extra sunspots. Several cultures, including the Mayan and the Hopi, have this year especially identified in their calendars. Plus, that comet, asteroid or planet that some call Nibiru was supposedly talked about by the Sumerians and Nostradamus. Reverend Harold Camping predicted the rapture for 1995, and then for May 2011, and then October 2011. Hal Lindsey predicted catastrophe for 1998, and then reset his end clock for 2007. Jerry Jack Van Impe predicted 2001. Jerry Falwell believes it will be soon, and has believed thusly for a decade. The more recent "being wrong list" is long: Pat Robertson, Elizabeth Clare Prophet, Jim Jones and Sun Young Moon, to name a few. There have been 200 false predictions in recorded history about the Apocalyptic Eschatology. Apocalypse means a "lifting of the veil" or a "revelation". Eschatologyis the study of the end times. Apocalyptic eschatology is the supposed disclosure to privileged persons something hidden from the rest of us. Why do some insist we live in the end times? Foolishness? Ignorance? Power? Or is it because fear sells, fear binds, and fear fills the pews?
 
Let's Pray: Dear God, let Your reign among us be about love, not false fear. Amen.
 
Here's a Thought: Fear not.*
 
References:
2012 Mayan Calendar Phenomenon
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_phenomenon
Christian eschatology
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_eschatology
List of dates predicted for apocalyptic events
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dates_predicted_for_apocalyptic_events  
*It is reported that "Fear not" appears at least 365 times in the Bible. To list each reference would be cumbersome.
 
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More Than We Seem
  
Okey Dokey - Day six of creation - God says, "Let us create humankind in our image." I like that - humankind, not human mean, not human ugly, not human cranky, or sour, or unjust, just kind, just humankind. Two humans, a boy and a girl, same image, two sexes, one God, one image inside both humans; a shared inner image; a Divine inner image. 

This girl, this boy - what're their names? If you answered Adam and Eve, if you're thinking fig leaves, sorry, you're wrong. It's a trick question. The first two humans in the first creation story in the Bible don't have names. Nothing and nobody gets a name in this story. Not even God has a name. God never, ever gets a name, not then, not now. In this story God is called Elohim. Elohim is a plural descriptive noun, not a name. It means strong, divine, supernatural, awesome - that's our image-maker.

God gives boy and girl passion for each other, saying make babies, populate the planet, take care of the planet, it's the only one you're getting. Everything you need is here. On day seven, Elohim takes a day off. How long is God's workday? Eight hours, sixteen hours, twenty-four hours, or twenty-four million hours?

Why do both stories of creation, side by side in Genesis, tell radically different versions? Can two stories tell a Truth?

Let's Pray: Dear God, Who am I? Why am I here? What am I made of? Who are we and why are we here? Can we again become wholly human-kind? Amen.

Today's Thought Is: Your Divine image is me.

Reference: Genesis 1:26-2:3
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Boom
  
It's the kind of lesson that should be learned the first time, and sometimes isn't.
 
This sailboat crew wasn't the best. In their first season racing, they were consistent at the finish line - last. In their second season, they captured a couple of second and fourth place finishes. That season an inexperienced sailor joined the race crew. Still the crew did pretty well. 
 
Many things can go wrong on a sailboat, and on a smaller boat, bad things can happen quicker than you can say, "man overboard". Nobody fell overboard, but getting wet is preferable to getting "boomed". After a race and sailing toward home, quite suddenly the wind shifted and the mainsail* switched sides on its own. When that happens, it's fast danger. It's called jibing** and is usually done under control. In either case - emergency or controlled - the captain shouts "jibe ho!!" which means - everybody duck quickly. The new guy didn't duck. The aluminum tube at the bottom of the sail boomed the new guy hard on his head, knocking him end over teakettle. Other than an egg lump decorating his forehead and a raging headache, he was ok enough, poor fellow. He'll not forget to duck again. Me? It took twice, or thrice maybe, getting boomed, to figure out it's best to duck.
 
Let's Pray: Dear God, some lessons You teach us hurt; some are hard, and some are hard to learn; some are all three. Help us not be hardheaded about learning. Help us learn the first time. Amen. 
 
Here's a Thought: Why must some lessons be learned over and over?
 
Definitions:
*Mainsail: A mainsail is a sail located behind the main mast of a sailing vessel. See illustration at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mainsail
**Jibing: 1.swing across boat: to make a fore-and-aft-sail swing across from one side of the boat to the other when sailing with the wind behind, or to swing across in this way. http://www.bing.com/search?q=jibing+definition&qs=AS&form=QBRE&pq=jibing+definition&sc=3-17&sp=1&sk=
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Peter Panagore

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Loving Kindness Heals
  
Kicked and slapped by her breeder, a skittish standard poodle learned to fear men's hands and feet. Her breeder sold her to a dog handler who owned forty purebred show dogs. After paying thousands for the poodle, he was distressed to discover her fears, so he took her out of his kennel and into his home. A year later, he realized that her emotional damage prevented her from having the necessary grit for a show dog. The handler decided to give her away, without papers, through an organization called Poodle Rescue.* Poodle Rescue found a home for the dog. The poodle immediately loved the mother, the daughter and the son, and immediately distrusted and avoided the husband. Although he never struck her, the poodle behaved as if he had. The dog crouched, crawled, snapped, barked, growled and ran from the man. It was so bad that every time the man came anywhere near her, she'd mark her spot from fear. It took nearly three years of love and kindness, walks and snacks, for the poodle to trust the man, and eventually to even love him.

If a dog can be damaged by abuse, imagine the damage done to a child by abuse. If dog can be loved to a semblance of emotional health, can a child?

Let's Pray: Dear God, we pray for Your children who suffer parental slaps and kicks, fierce words, threats, indifference, unresponsiveness, insults, foul language and coldness. We pray that Your loving kindness heals them. Amen.

God's love, shared through you and me, heals wounded souls.

*Note: http://poodlerescuenewengland.org/ 
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Education
  • Yale Divinity School
    Systematic Theology and the History Mysticism, 1983 - 1986
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst
    English Literature, 1977 - 1982
  • Montana State University - Bozeman
    National Exchange Student, 1979 - 1980
  • St. John's High School
    1973 - 1977
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