Cosmic Christ Consciousness

My friend and classmate, Wayne Williams, shared this piece he wrote on reconciling the statement from John, “No one comes to the Father, except through me”, with the yearning for universal salvation and honoring all people as children of God.  I’m happy to share his work here on my blog.

Cosmic Christ Consciousness

By H. Wayne Williams


“I am the way, the truth, and the life.

No one comes to the Father, but through me.” (John 14:6)

These words have bludgeoned worthy

souls with violence to exclude.

Jesus postures only Love and mercy;

God’s eternal Wisdom ever flows to include.

The dying grandpa’s Buddhist altar

is entrusted to his Christian heir.

“Ancestor worship’s not in the Psalter!”

Invoke Wisdom, not spiritual warfare.

“The true light that illumines all

has come into the world!” (John 1:9)

Cosmic Christ redeems and rests

with Wisdom in the Father’s breast.



When absolute egotism

violates interfaith discourse,

sexism, classism, and racism

are brutal powers errantly in force!

Christians seek converts around the globe.

The Hindus view this with disdain.

Apostle Paul was no xenophobe.

Wisdom is the sacred of the profane.

“Jesus, pure servility,

suffered for all humanity!” (Phil. 2:6-7)

Cosmic Christ redeems and rests

with Wisdom in the Father’s breast.



Swear off confessional fascism!

God’s truth speaks cross-culturally.

Embrace confessional universalism!

After all, Who reconciles the stars?

As Christians we profess through Him

to know the God of all genealogy,

not our neighbor’s faith to bedim.

Enshrined theology is idolatry.

“The Logos truly lived among us.

We saw Wisdom’s graceful glory as

the one and only Father’s Son.” (John 1:14)

Cosmic Christ redeems and rests

with Wisdom in the Father’s breast.


“God don’t pick favorites; every reverent and righteous nation belongs.” (Acts 10:34).

H. Wayne Williams is an MDiv student at Earlham School of Religion. He brings his gifts of music, compassion and presence to all he meets. 

Evolving My Faith

This piece was originally published on ESR’s Blog
Learning and Leading“.

The highlight of experience of the 2012 Spirituality Gathering started when Professor Carole Spencer asked if a few of us who had taken Carrie Newcomer’s songwriting class might read Phil Gulley’s talk prior to the event and respond with a creative piece to be used in the closing. I received the talk just before getting on an airplane, where I gobbled up the whole piece, staring and circling phrases and jotting down ideas. As I read I observed reading on two leve
ls, I was reading looking for a song, highlighting phrases and themes as they emerged, and I was reading as a theologian and a human, fascinated by his approach to the topic of The Evolution of Faith.Over the next week I read through the talk a number of times, jotting down themes and images, choice phrases and turns of speech. I kept reading words that connected to places inside me that are questioning, wondering, searching and looking for articulation. Gulley’s talk is excerpted from his new book “The Evolution of Faith: How God is Creating a Better Christian Community.” He gives an overview of his theology and theory on how faith can move forward or diminish and posits the idea that in order thrive in our current spiritual environments, a continual evolution is necessary. Gulley points to the recurring theme in theological education to “teach us what others thought about God in the past… but often fails to teach us what we must know now—how we can evolve in order to thrive in our current spiritual environment” (Philip Gulley, “Evolution of Faith”, ESR Spirituality Gathering 2012).

As a current seminary student, soaking up layers of church history, history of theological thought, and the wisdom of ancient mystics, my ears caught this with a question mark. As an entrepreneurial spirit, an emergent/progressive oriented Christian and someone with a calling to church planting and new models of spiritual community, I knew I needed to engage in the questions posed. It supported themes that I have been noticing as I sift through church and spiritual histories: theology needs to be questioned, examined, prayerfully sought and applied to our current contexts. In my experience this is not necessarily a call to abandon the study of what has come before, rather a call to learn what the questions are that need to be asked. It is a call to learn from the processes our ancestors have worked through over the centuries, to look back over history not with the intention to find the authoritative answers, rather to spur on our current questions. It is a call to have the courage to open up space for theological discourse of how God is speaking in this time and context.

The call to listen and seek God’s call for each of us in this time and for the church in our current contexts is the message that kept ringing out in me each time I read through the talk. I began to hear the clues about the questions that are bubbling up and urging to be asked and signposts pointing to the practices of attentiveness and presence that are being called out to do this work. These messages rang through words like:

“What if every person received a full measure of our attention?”

“One of the most compelling traits of Jesus was his attentiveness.”

“For what is prayer, but our attentiveness to the Divine Presence…”

“Holy observance.”

“…root of prayer is attentiveness to the Creator and Created.”

“Faith and theology—our understanding of God—is always in process, is always changing, is always being affected and influenced by our culture.”

“…truth is never solely in the past. Truth is also ahead of us, in front of us.”

“We reach truth by evolving toward it.”

It is these threads that came together in me and through me as the words and ideas continued to flow. And it was these threads that the Spirit moved in and through to create a prayer for this day, a creative expression of the evolutionary process of faith.

“This is Our Prayer”

Music and lyrics by Anna Woofenden and H. Wayne Williams © 2012

What if every person received
all we have to offer,
our maximum attention,
and freedom unceasingly?

What if we could listen deeply
without expectations,
seeing Light in one another,
with gracious humility?

This is our prayer
for one another:
A holy heart
to hear each other.

What if Truth would grow and proceed,
questioning and doubting,
moving remnants forward,
and set the Gospel free?

What if we could just let God be
open and evolving,
above us and before us,
and in us creatively?

This is our prayer
for one another:
A holy heart to hold each other.

What if prayer was living in peace,
in love with our Creator,
observing not dividing,
that grace would be increased?

This is our prayer
for one another:
A holy heart
to heal each other.

This is our prayer
for one another:
A holy heart
of gold!

Inspired by Philip Gulley’s message: “The Evolution of Faith” Earlham School of Religion 3.3.2012


The following piece comes from a writing exercise on the five senses that I did last week in Carrie Newcomer’s “Writing Mindfully” class. 

Amazement looks like a six-year-old girl, twirling ’round, blond ringlets elongated as they spin, arms outstretched, face lifted to the heavens.

Amazement tastes like the warmth of a summer peach, melting on my tongue.

Amazement sounds like the communal breath, held, as the final note of the Hallelujah Chorus rings through the concert hall.

Amazement feels like being knocked onto the living room floor by small children, all clamoring for the first hug.

Amazement smells like nuzzling one’s nose in the neck of a newborn.

One Year In–Thank you for your support!

January 2011~Earlham School of Religion

Dear Friends and Family, Community Near and Far,
As I wrap up my first year at seminary, it is time to pause and express my gratitude and to all of you who have been along on this journey so far.

September 2011~ Richmond Church of the Brethren

What an amazing year it has been!  This year has been a time of opening, changing, growing and becoming more the person God is creating me to be.  When asked how it is to be in seminary one of my common responses is: “I love it, it is grueling, it is an incredible privilege.”  I continue to feel feel the need to jump up and down with excitement as I take classes on preaching, spirituality and peacemaking, Swedenborgian Bible, personal spiritual practice, and Old Testament. I bask in the honor and gift it is to be pursuing these topics that are energizing and intriguing and are preparing me for the next season of ministry and service.

July 2011~ Washington D.C.

I am grateful and surprised by the doors that God continues to open: opportunities to preach and lead worship, an incredible fellowship this past summer in Washington D.C., networking connections, meeting mentors and guides, and leading me to a rich and vibrant community to engage in.  It is abundantly clear I am in the right place and following God’s call. Many days I find energy and fulfillment.  Other days I grapple with exhaustion and resistance.  Most days, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is in this and I’m being held and led.

May 2011~ Fliesher Wedding

And knowing that I am being held by a large group of people across the globe makes all the difference. I feel incredibly blessed to have each of you on the team and am honored to be in community with you. Your emails, phone calls, prayers, donations, Facebook posts, texts, visits, cards, coaching and conversations are foundational in my ability to continuing following this calling and stepping out into the unknown.  I am grateful for the many ways I’ve been lifted up and provided for throughout this past year and I want to thank each one of you for being part of that.

August 2011~ Fryeburg New Church

I will continue to walk forward in this journey and I look forward to seeing how the Divine One wants to use me and what comes next. I am blessed by each of your journeys and grateful that we’re all in this life on the planet together.
With deep gratitude,
P.S. Some of you have asked for specific ways that you can support as I continue in seminary.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Send me information and opportunities that cross your eyes that you think might add to my seminary education and ministry training. Workshops, books, opportunities to preach, people to connect with, etc. (
  •  Follow my writing and blogging online and comment and repost. It is particularly useful when I get writing published on public sites, other than my personal blog, to have the articles be read and commented on by many readers. This ups the ratings and makes further invitations to write more likely.
  • Join in the fun of shopping for course books:
  • Or find a book on the ever-growing seminary student’s resource wish list:
  • Pray for the continued journey, that I will have the strength and humility to continue walking on this path. That God will open the doors and lead the way. That I can be a good vessel for God’s love and light through this work.
  • Live your life with gusto and care. It is as a large and varied community, fully showing up the best we can each day that the Divine will move and fill. I’m honored to be walking this path with each one of you.
June 2011~Watoto Children's Choir

“There is Only One Earth” Reflections on consumerism, personal choice and the global community

A friend of mine posted this words on his Facebook status this morning. I found them to be words that connect with thoughts and feelings I’ve been mulling recently, and appreciated the way he articulated them. A prophetic voice in the world of consumerism, exclusive nationalism, and economic examination.

“There is only one earth. One human race. But there are indeed many brilliant ways for us to establish peace on earth. The 1st worlds have done an amazing job establishing wealth and power over time and those lucky enough to be living near the top of the economic spectrum – isn’t it grand to eat and drink what you want when you want it! What good is it really to anyone to have just the 1st-world countries living so luxurious and powerful while less powerful countries get exploited of natural-resoruces and unimaginable-treasures? The solution to world peace is the art of sacrificing wealth and power by distributing it to those who really need it. (BTW… I’m not talking about communism or putting native-tribesmen in business suites and having them work in cubicles). How much does the 1st-world really need to consume to be happy? What the 1st world really needs is to experience poverty themselves so they realize how selfish the 1st-world’s mind-set is really being – it’s like one child with a big bowl of the worlds most tasty rice, scarfing his lonely face in the corner, staring at the wall – while six hungry children stare at his back through a glass wall – remember they are hungrier than the last time you felt hunger. Let us call the natural-resources/energy-consumption of the 1st-worlds 100% and so we realize now that we could be even happier in life with just 30% and less cash-money bling–bling. The redirection of that 70% to areas of natural-disaster and poverty would give those people living in poverty and dire-situations an alternative to unwanted lives of prostitution, crime, violence and terror. Consider the ghettos in the USA. Why are they full of prostitution, crime and violence? Because the children and schools in the ghettos are impoverished. Those children living in the USA don’t really live in the 1st world i.e. they don’t eat what they want when they want it… or drink a coffee everyday.” –Jared Alden

Prayer of Lament

Reading the Psalms can open us up to the expanse of human emotions and the depth and breadth of human expression as we call out to God.  The prayers of “lament”, of pain and suffering, asking for and receiving God’s presence are plentiful. There is something precious and vulnerable in these Psalms, as we are invited into the inner depths of the psalmists life and experience, which so often touches our own.

I’ve been reflecting on the power of lament, a place not to whine or complain about the things that are hard in life, but rather a place to name the struggles, the pain, the journey and the process.  A space to cry out to God and open ourselves healing, comfort and wholeness. I am touched when I have the honor to witness the cries of lament from those around me and find community strengthened and healing felt when we give voice to our lament together.

The following is a prayer that I wrote for class a few weeks ago and some art I created to go along with it. I offer it to you….

My prayer of color

A Prayer of Lament

One God, in many forms,
I cry out to You. 

Divine Parent, Holy Womb.
I curl up in Your presence, gently rocked to the beat of Your heart.
I am nurtured by Your tender care.
I feel Your hand supporting my neck
And Your love and healing permeating my being.

Jesus the Christ, You walk with me.
You know intimately the pain,
The suffering,
The gritty reality of human and earthly life.
I know You cry out with me,
And Your heart breaks with mine.
Knowing You’ve walked this path brings me strength,
And hope.
I know I am not alone. 

Sustaining Spirit, fill me.
Plug the cracks in my spirit with putty of assurance and belonging.
Heal the severs in my thinking with the truths of who I am in You.
Mend the torn pieces in my heart with Your inexhaustible presence and love.
Fill me with the hope and strength that is Your Divine Movement,
sweeping me into the Divine Dance. 

It is to You O Divine One, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last, the One God of heaven and earth, that I cry…

Heal me and make me whole.



The Woodcarver by Chuang Tzu

This story was shared in our Spiritual Formation class on Thursday as part of a group process of meditation and reflection. It struck me and led to useful and powerful contemplation and insight about the things in me I need to name and let go of in order to let the Divine open up doors in front of me. I share it here in case it might speak to you. 

Khing, the master carver, made a bell stand
Of precious wood. When it was finished,
All who saw it were astounded. They said it must be
The work of spirits.
The Prince of Lu said to the master carver:
“What is your secret?”

Khing replied: “I am only a workman:
I have no secret. There is only this:
When I began to think about the work you commanded
I guarded my spirit, did not expend it
On trifles, that were not to the point.
I fasted in order to set
My heart at rest.
After three days fasting,
I had forgotten gain and success.
After five days
I had forgotten praise or criticism.
After seven days
I had forgotten my body
With all its limbs.

“By this time all thought of your Highness
And of the court had faded away.
All that might distract me from the work
Had vanished.
I was collected in the single thought
Of the bell stand.

“Then I went to the forest
To see the trees in their own natural state.
When the right tree appeared before my eyes,
The bell stand also appeared in it, clearly, beyond doubt.
All I had to do was to put forth my hand
and begin.

“If I had not met this particular tree
There would have been
No bell stand at all.

“What happened?
My own collected thought
Encountered the hidden potential in the wood;
From this live encounter came the work
Which you ascribe to the spirits.”

– Chuang Tzu
from The Way of Chuang Tzu by Thomas Merton

Independence. Dependence. Interdependence.

I was brought up in a world where being independent was highly esteemed. As an American. As a radical homeschooler. As a Woofenden. As an oldest. As an Anna. Independence was prized, and had a profound and primarily positive impact upon molding me into who I am today.  Most days I have boldly forged ahead in life, moving across the country and putting myself through college, engaging in dream jobs that hadn’t existed prior to me taking them, traveled across the oceans, purchased a home at age 23, jumping off the cliff of secure job into the unknown world of seminary. I lead a self-sufficient and independent life.

Then there’s dependence. Certainly I was deeply dependent on my parents growing up: they fed me, clothed me, educated me, nurtured me, provided safe space for me to explore and grow. Even as a strong-willed teen-ager who thought she could do it on her own, I was provided for and cared for. Dependent. And that was a gift. I was depended upon as well, as a big sister to six, a leader in the youth group, and a part of the household. As an adult, I’ve learned dependence in other ways, from friends and employers, relationships, institutions and organizations. Some in ways that served, other times noticing that I had become depended on others for my sense of self and worth.  When I went through a serious illness, I learned the deep humility and gift of dependence.  I was taken in and cared for, fed, driven and gently nurtured back to health by friends, family and community. I learned that one could be loved and cared for while being unable to give anything in return. I learned the beauty of dependence.

As I move through life, the push and pull of dependence and independence continue to refine me.  I continue to learn how to be vulnerable with others, learning to ask for and receive help as well as give it freely. I’m growing in trust in the ebb and flow in human relationship. Finding the place of respect and appreciation for friends and their opinions, without relinquishing my sense of self to those around me.  We walk the tightrope, when to lean, when to stand tall, the time to break down walls, and the awareness to not become enmeshed.

I think this might be part of learning interdependence.

(A number of other blog posts are coming to mind here. How these ways of being dependent, independent and interdependent might manifest in our society, religion, politics, international relations, the world as a whole. But those are musings for another day; just one more paragraph before I go.)

Gotta talk about God for a moment. Am I dependent on God? Yes: for every life’s breath, every green tree, every compassionate gesture.  All of it.  Am I independent from God? Yes, I believe in someway I am.  It is this independence that gives me freedom, (or at least a sense of it). I feel free to choose to act and think and be. Independent in the idea that God is God and I am not. Being the human in the dance of Divinity and humanity. And yet, it is hard for me to state with any strength that I am independent from God, though on paper there’s something to it.  Maybe this third word is the one to use. Am I interdependent with God? Is interdependence, the ebb and flow, the giving and receiving, the reciprocity and mutual connection, the essence of Divinity itself?

I don’t have all the answers. But, then again, neither do all the experts. What do you think?