Inspired by one of my favorite spoken word artists/poets, Anis Mojgani, I wanted to begin a habit of posting end-of-the-month roundups of things I've been pondering and learning through the month.  Many of these points could be entire blog posts of their own, and perhaps will be one day, especially if you comment and tell me what I should expand upon...  Where applicable, I'll also try to post links to the articles, songs, art, and poems that got me thinking.

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Here's what I was pondering and learning in January 2016...

If you ask God for the power to let go of resentment and forgive somebody, not necessarily expecting it to happen, you might just find your prayers answered, and your mood shifted.

- Jesus is the resurrection magnet, pulling the rest of creation toward resurrection like an irresistible beacon.  Love, not death, is the eternal thing.  Love is drawing the world into its fullness, and cannot lose.  This is summarized from one of Richard Rohr's daily meditations (which you should really sign up for if you haven't yet).  It's based on the thought of scientist/theologian Teilhard de Chardin, whose books I should really read one of these days.

- Often healing comes just when you think it couldn't get any worse. This is true of spiritual healing, as well as the common cold.  :)

Cold FX is basically just really expensive ginseng.  I'm convinced it only works if you believe in it, and thanks to Danice and my brother, I think I've lost my faith.

- This year, I'd like to experiment with using the pronouns "they/them" for God.  Last year I tried using "she/her" pronouns, and I noticed it shifting my image of who God is.  Morgan Guyton's blog post got me thinking about this new experiment.  I've tried it this month, and so far I love how ambiguous the pronouns "they/them" are in terms of gender and singularity/plurality.  It reminds me that God is omnigender and exists in this mysterious state of both threeness and oneness.

- I'm starting to realize that my year-long attempt to record things I'm grateful for has actually started to shape me into a more perceptive, aware, awe-struck, grateful person.

- It is a beautiful thing to re-teach people their loveliness, like Francis did with the sow.  I preached on this topic at my church last week, addressing 1 Cor. 12:22-26: the "weaker" or "less respectable" parts of the body of Christ.  On a web search, I found this intriguing painting by Mollie Hosmer-Dillard, which I believe accompanies the gorgeous poem I read that Sunday by Galway Kinnell.

- I have had a great time getting to know one marginalized people group this year (my LGBTQ+ siblings in Christ) but I've realized how impoverished I become when I'm not also loving and being loved by local low-income folks.  So I'm grateful that the good people of The Dale are letting me hang out with them on Wednesday mornings this year.  I've only been to two Wednesday art drop-ins, but already I feel a dormant part of me coming back to life again.

- It can sometimes be challenging to reconcile our faith with new scientific discoveries, but there are two forms of spirituality that will endure and prove useful no matter what scientists discover: mystical spirituality and pragmatic spirituality.  This insight is from Science Mike near the end of a fascinating podcast from the Liturgists about the Multiverse.