A record and a picture and a wiener dog, swear to God.

On Bonnie Raitt’s album “Souls Alike,” she sings a song called Trinkets.  It’s a strange little number about being a kid and loving a record by Louis Armstrong, a picture by Vincent van Gogh, and her wiener dog.

I think Bonnie Raitt would get along great with Cynthia Bourgeault, at least the way I read things. Bourgeault clearly names love—full-bodied, heart-stopping love—as the centre of Christianity, Christian contemplative practice, and Christian social activism.  She argues that for Christians the goal isn’t detachment from an illusionary world, but passionate love for this particular reality in which we live.  (And yes, this is not the only reality!) Love alone has the capacity to draw us out of our little self and make an empty space in the centre that can be filled with the Infinite Love.

The bridge in Trinkets goes like this:

And if I get older,

if I ever die,

if I get to a gate at the end of the sky,

and a beautiful creature says, Now Bonnie, what do you want?

Might say, A record and picture and a wiener dog, swear to God.

My list would probably be different, though I gotta admit that my dog—hell, all my dogs—will likely make the cut.  But what’s on the list doesn’t matter; it’s having a list that counts.  I find that paying attention to what moves me, what makes my heart crack open, is a great practice, because when I really know what I love—not just what I happen to crave at a particular point in time—I know who I am.  And when I know who I am, well, then I get to live out of that big Self that is rooted in and powered by Divine Mystery.   Way more fun than living in the small self who scrabbles crazily for respectability, more stuff, approval.

A record and a picture and a wiener dog, swear to God.


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