Wednesday, May 22, 2019

A Lament Psalm for Refugio Beach and Creek

A Lament Psalm for Refugio Beach and Creek

Dear God, an oil pipeline ruptured this week across Refugio Creek and Beach, near Santa Barbara.  We call it a refuge, but nothing was safe there.  Over 100,000 poison gallons spewed out, fouling stream and plants, killing birds and sea lions, imperiling sea otters and migrating whales.

“God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

This is a very present trouble in your refuge, O God.  And we need help!

(I am reposting this piece from four years ago about this oil spill because I am concerned that the president has just ordered expanded oil and gas drilling on the Central Coast.  It’s land based fracking, not ocean oil platforms as in this spill, but still dangerous and unnecessary.  See below for links to the proposal and how to write a comment to the Bureau of Land Management in the next month.)

The conquistadores and the padres gave the name “Refugio” to this creek and beach in honor of Mary, the Lady of Refuge.  Dear God, we know these men weren’t perfectly Christ-like, but they did love His mother.  In their prayers they called on Mary as Healer of the Sick, Consoler of the Sad, and Refuge for Sinners. On old land-grant maps we read “Nuestra Senora de Refugio Peccatorum.” Refugio.

Refuge for our sins.  All of us sinners seek refuge in you, O God.  We can easily name the sins of Big Oil: greed, destruction; they offend your creation.  But it is our whole culture and lifestyle that separate us from you, God

“Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
Though the mountains shake the heart of the sea.” (Psalm 46:2)

Your psalmist says we need not fear, but God, we live and breath in fear.  In our fear we worship convenience and profit.  We accept unsafe pipelines, we consume and drive, we concede power to others.

The earth, the climate is changing, O God.  Help us not to live in fear, help us to shake the world into your realm.

“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God…” (Psalm 46:4)

Your Refugio Creek is not glad today and I imagine neither are you, O God.  Rather you weep.  Many Catholics find comfort in the weeping woman they call Mother of God.  We cry with you God, over your blasphemed sanctuary, your despoiled refuge.

“Come, behold the works of the Lord….
God makes wars to cease, breaks the bow, shatters the spear….
Be still and know I am God.” (Psalm 46:8-10)

Be our refuge and strength, O God.  Keep us safe, make us strong.
On our Blue Theology youth mission trips and adult retreats here in Pacific Grove we give thanks for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, a refuge formed 25 years ago expressly to prohibit oil and gas drilling off our coast.  The Refugio Beach is just south of the Sanctuary’s borders, hence coastal oil rigs and pipelines.  I post these Wednesday ocean devotionals here and at

The Proposal:

To Comment:

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Happy Ocean Mother Day

Happy Ocean Mother Day

“Look, I brought my mother to church today,” I said last Sunday at Skyland Community Church UCC as I held up the beautiful blue bowl that Anne Swallow Gillis gave me years ago, filled with salt water and seashells. 

Being a Blue Ocean preacher I could not resist linking Mother’s Day with the ocean.  The rich dark sea is mother of us all – she birthed all life billions of years ago and continues to ferment and foment new life.  And every mammal spends nine months in the salty fertile ocean inside our mother’s womb.

This fabulous banner over the altar looks like that first wet morning breaking in the Genesis story, the Spirit “hovering over the deep and sweeping over the face of the waters.”  I think God just said, “Let there be Light, Morning has Broken! “  (I know, it looks like an angel, I haven’t spoken with the banner’s creator, but to me it’s the Holy Spirit straight from her hovering and sweeping over all that blue and now she’s bursting with the light.)

I decorated the altar with the bowl and with my four Blue Theology stoles, (click the pic to see the whole altar) and told the stories of the three dear wise talented mothers who created them– Sandy Johnson (orcas on the right and ocean diversity, second from left) whose “Woman of the Cloth” makes fabulous stoles, Patricia Wood, who gave me the sweet light silky one on the left, and Sue Lawson who made the sea star stole for me last year when I led a Blue Theology Retreat at her church in La Selva Beach.

We shared in the sermon time how our own mothers have been like the ocean, not only creative, nurturing, uplifting, but also sometimes restive, deep, even destructive.  There is power in mothering.

One theory about the origin of stoles that pastors wear (besides being like a yoke or the towel an athlete wears around their neck) is that it is like the soft cloth that a mother (or father) wears all the time on their shoulder when holding a little baby, to comfort and to absorb some “fluids.”  I call my stoles my mother clothes, and my blue ocean stoles are my most precious.

Thanks, Moms.
__________ for info on our Monterey Bay service trips and pilgrimages.  I post these ocean devotionals every Wednesday here and on Facebook.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Down and Deep

Down and Deep

Christian language seems to love UP, rising, lift up your hearts.  I want more DOWN. I love my higher power, but I want a deeper power. What's the difference, up or down?  From the sea I have learned to love the down.  From my own female body I have come to cherish the dark and deep.

Many hymns and prayers still assume we live on a flat earth.  Praise God above ye heavenly hosts.  God on high. Hosanna in the highest.  So quaint and so wrong.

God and God's creation are more deep than high.  Deep oceans of course but also deep space.  I mean deep deep deep. I don't think deep space ever ends.  If God is everywhere, then God is deep.

Take a deep breath.  Not a high breath.  In-spir-ation is deep, dark, down.

I prefer people who are deep, wise, profound (literally, deep) to people who are high, and mighty.  Wisdom looks down, not up.

My new fav book is "Blue Planet, Blue God," a study of the ocean in the Bible, by two Cambridge UK profs, Bible and oceanography. They reminded me that creation stories are not just in Genesis but in Job: “Have you entered into the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep?  Have you seen the gates of deep darkness?” God asks Job.  In September I will go the UK for a conference led by these two.  I think they are my soul mates, loving all things wet and deep, as God does.

"They tried to bury us - they didn't know we were seeds." The ocean and my deep dark body teach me that we are seeds, God waits and ferments, foments in the dark.  Growth is hidden.  Yes, we need light but no growth happens without dark depth.

"Lift up your hearts" - "Let your living heart beat deep within you."
"As Christ rose" - "As Christ dove deep."
"Light and life to all he brings, risen with healing his wings"- "Depth and dark with all Christ brings, deep dark healing in his fins.”

“Wellspring of the joy of living, ocean depth of happy rest.


Our Blue Theology Mission Station celebrates all things deep and dark as we walk by the Monterey Bay and learn how to preserve Gods’ deep creation.  Youth service trips and adult pilgrimages.  I post these ocean devotionals every Wednesday here and at