October 24, 2016
by Dr. R. Scott

Street. Photos.

Jesus once said, “They have eyes but do not see. Ears but do not hear.” Which of course is all of us some of the time and some of us all of the time. But to help you open your eyes a little wider this week, I offer a couple of street photos I’ve recently taken . . .


And then one more that seems to go with it. We cannot fly all of the time. But surely every human being is entitled to fly some of the time. Take a Breath. Blessings to you all.


October 20, 2016
by Dr. R. Scott

Post. Political. (and i approve this message)


The third presidential debate is over, and like so many of you, I’ve grown weary with all of it. It continues to suck the oxygen out of every room in America, leaving the impression that the only thing that matters is more news about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. It seems to me that Taking a Breath right about now could be a good thing, and so I invite you to celebrate the beauty of the human journey.

This past week two friends celebrated significant anniversaries for their sobriety, and in turn, the reclamation of their lives.

This past week one friend fixed dinner, bundled it up, and delivered it to a neighbor who is recovering from a serious surgery.

This past week a child went to school, as she has every day this fall, and discovered the joy of reading a book and writing a report about it.

This past week another friend finally secured a job after a long and arduous search, and he is feeling like he has turned an important corner in his life.

This past week a friend continued on courageously with chemo-therapy treatments, and she never complains about her illness.

This past week two people fell in love with one another, and overcoming years of hurt, they have begun to open their hearts to one another. 

This past week a musician in my neighborhood wrote a new song, and an artist down the street finished a painting, and a poet-friend wrote a poem.

This past week a family sat down for a rare family dinner, and without phones or iPads or televisions, they actually talked to one another. 

This past week a friend had to say good-bye to a beloved dog, but the pain is assuaged by the goodness of companionship they enjoyed through the years.

This past week a young couple, while taking care of their newborn son, paused for a moment of wonder and love and gratitude.

Take a Breath today. The real human journey swirls within us and around us. It is life. No one moment is the same. No one moment will ever be repeated. It is the gift of life in all its ordinary wonder. Tinged with grief. Open with possibility. And always, always awaiting our next breath.

October 14, 2016
by Dr. R. Scott
1 Comment

Baseball. Lessons.


I live in Los Angeles. I like to see the Dodgers do well. I like Dodger Stadium. It’s a great place to see a ballgame. I like the ace pitcher for the Dodgers — Clayton Kershaw. I remember Dodger stars from my childhood — Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Maury Wills. And who can forget Kirk Gibson? The Dodgers are one of the great baseball teams in the history of the Major League, including their legendary player Jackie Robinson.

Yet I love my Chicago Cubs. I don’t just like them; I love them. I love going to Wrigley Field in Chicago. I love this particular team — Chris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez. And of course their magician of a manager — Joe Maddon. I follow the Cubs every single game during the year. The Cubs have broken my heart so many times I’ve lost count. Nevertheless, they’re my team and I love them.

It strikes me today, on the eve of what I hope will be a great championship series, that baseball is reminding me that most of our choices in life are not between good and evil, but between one good next to another good. If you want to get philosophical about it, rarely are ethical issues a choice between good and evil; it’s almost always a struggle over gradations of the good and the right.

And so even as I prepare my soul for heartbreak this next week — see, I really am a Cub’s fan — and I wish the Dodgers good luck — just not too much of it — I’ll be pulling for my Chicago Cubs. Baseball provides a breath of fresh air for me and for many other fans. That’s been especially true this year with the success of my Cubs. I hope you’ll take a breath today too. It’s Friday. Enjoy your weekend. (Go to church!) And good luck with all those choices — good, better and best — these are the hardest choices of all, and that’s something I know deep down in my baseball soul.

October 13, 2016
by Dr. R. Scott
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Bob. Dylan.


Well, I never thought I would say this line: “Congratulations Bob Dylan for winning the Nobel Prize in Literature!” I never thought I would say it, but I like how it sounds. Dylan was a voice for a generation. Slightly before my time. Prolific during my time. And even now, growing a little older and looking a little haggard, Bob Dylan continues to create music that touches the soul.

Consider some of my favorite lyrics . . .

How many roads must a man walk down / Before you call him a man? / Yes, and how many seas must a white dove sail / Before she sleeps in the sand? / Yes, and how many times must the cannonballs fly / Before they’re forever banned? / The answer my friend, is blowin’ in the wind / The answer is blowin’ in the wind. (Blown’ in the Wind)

Dylan captured the angst of a generation. His words reflect what we sometimes feel, namely, our personal futility and the futility of the entire human enterprise. To feel the futility of life is to be human. In the words of the Hebrew Bible — “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” He also captured the futility of what happens when a relationship doesn’t become what we had hoped. Consider the following . . .

Ain’t it hard when you discover that / He really wasn’t where it’s at / After he took from you everything he could steal / How does it feel / How does it feel / To be on your own / With no direction home / Like a complete unknown  Like a rolling stone. (Like a Rolling Stone)

But he also captured the poignant beauty of relationships too. Like most poets, Dylan was forever circling the ultimate experience of love. You can almost feel yourself sitting in a small apartment with a friend or lover as Dylan writes the following words . . .

Then she opened up a book of poems / And handed it to me / Written by an Italian poet / From the 13th Century / And every one of them words rang true / And glowed like burnin’ coal / Pourin’ off every page / Like it was written in my soul from me to you / Tangled up in blue. (Tangled Up in Blue)

Congratulations to Bob Dylan — Nobel Prize Winner! Take a Breath today. Let the poets and mystics and madmen (and women) speak to your soul. They take us to new places in our humanity. They remind us that there is more to life than meets the eye. Or in Dylan’s words: Behind every beautiful thing, there’s been some kind of pain. 

October 11, 2016
by Dr. R. Scott
1 Comment

Not My Holiday. The Holiday I Need.


In the upcoming hours Jews from around the world will celebrate Yom Kippur. I don’t need to become Jewish to appreciate Yom Kippur. There is something healthy about asking for forgiveness. Knowing that you need forgiveness from God and others. There’s also something quite liberating to imagine bestowing forgiveness on another. It’s an act of letting go, and God knows most of us could do for a little letting go in our lives.

Consider the following definition of Yom Kippur from the perspective of Reform Judaism . . . Yom Kippur means “Day of Atonement” and refers to the annual Jewish observance of fasting, prayer and repentance. Part of the High Holidays, which also includes Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur is considered the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. In three separate passages in the Torah, the Jewish people are told, “the tenth day of the seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be a sacred occasion for you: You shall practice self-denial.”(Leviticus 23:27). Fasting is seen as fulfilling this biblical commandment. The Yom Kippur fast also enables us to put aside our physical desires to concentrate on our spiritual needs through prayer, repentance and self-improvement.

Yom Kippur is the moment in Jewish time when we dedicate our mind, body, and soul to reconciliation with God, our fellow human beings, and ourselves. We are commanded to turn to those whom we have wronged first, acknowledging our sins and the pain we might have caused. At the same time, we must be willing to forgive and to let go of certain offenses and the feelings of resentment they provoked in us. On this journey we are both seekers and givers of pardon. Only then can we turn to God and ask for forgiveness: “And for all these, God of forgiveness, forgive us, pardon us, and grant us atonement.”

I invite you to Take a Breath today. In addition to wishing my Jewish friends a blessed Yom Kippur, I encourage everyone to breathe in the forgiveness you need. Breathe out the forgiveness you need to offer others. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. You may not be Jewish. You may not even be particularly religious. But this is much is true — We all need to breathe.

October 4, 2016
by Dr. R. Scott
1 Comment



This is an invitation for you to join me Friday night October 7 at 7pm for Alimento, a new art exhibit at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, presented by Dan McCleary and Art Division, Joan Agajanian Quinn and myself. It is going to be a spectacular evening.

As human beings we don’t merely eat; we dine. We don’t just gather; we cook. We don’t gorge; we savor. We also share in the joy of food, gathering at a table with friends and family, and sometimes even strangers. I have felt for a longtime that there is a certain spirituality that goes along with food, that enjoying it and sharing it becomes a kind of communion of the human spirit. Even a communion with God.

We have so many outstanding pieces in this exhibit. Let’s fill Shatto Chapel on Friday night, enjoy some food, some friends and some wonderful art! (Meet some of the artists too!) Take a Breath today. Pencil it on your calendar for this coming Friday. Ailimento. First Congregational Church of Los Angeles.


October 1, 2016
by Dr. R. Scott
1 Comment

Saturday. Morning. Glory.


Morning Glory

There is a vine growing up my spine.

Occasionally it blossoms like a Morning Glory — 

True and perfect and without blemish.

Most days, however, it is tangled.

How ashamed we are of our wildness.  

The burden of carrying a phenomenon is unspeakable.

Tangled vines. Green leaves. The occasional blue flower that opens to the sun. 


September 30, 2016
by Dr. R. Scott

God. That’s. Good.


The ripeness of a plum. The juiciness of a grapefruit. The dessert that makes your heart sing. The perfectly roasted chicken (from Zuni Cafe in San Francisco). A baguette toasted in the morning with a little butter. Risotto. A piece of salmon. Morel mushrooms. Pasta with pancetta and peas. A little butter. And wine. Of course. Wine. It’s food. It’s all glorious food.

Food is one of the most dynamic issues of our culture. Everything is changing about food too. How we grow food. Buy food. How we farm in a humane way. Some people have too little. Some too much. Food becomes a window into the diversity of the human family. Food is nutrition. Yes. Of course we need nutrition. But it’s more than nutrition. It is pleasure. And community. Food is joy and love and sharing.

Food is also deeply spiritual. No wonder virtually every world religion gathers people around a table. Food provides a kind of communion. With God. With one another. It reminds us of a larger hope we have for our humanity. Food nourishes the body. But food also nourishes the soul. There. I said it. Soul. And we are desperate for the soul to be fed.

This coming Sunday I open an October sermon series on food. I’ve titled the series — “God, That’s Good!” We will have two services each Sunday morning — 9 AM in Shatto Chapel and 11 AM in the Cathedral space of First Church. I am so excited about this series on food. I hope you’ll be in church this coming Sunday! Pick the service time that works for you. On October 7 we’ll have an opening for a new art exhibit at the church titled Alimento. That is the Spanish word for food. It means the communal / human / spiritual experience of sharing sustenance together.

As you can see from the photograph today, my office overflows with the art of food. It’s ready for installation. It’s going to be spectacular show. So Take a Breath today. Enjoy some good food this weekend. Share some food with friends. And then join me this coming Sunday for the beginning of what promises to be a delicious month at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles.

September 25, 2016
by Dr. R. Scott
1 Comment

Vin. Scully.


If you don’t know Los Angeles, then this might not mean much to you, but today is a big day for our city and Dodger fans in particular. Vin Sully, the longtime Dodger baseball announcer, will call his last game tonight. His career lasted a mere 66 years. And in ways great and small his voice brought joy and fun and drama to Dodger fans all over the world. As most of you know, I’m a Cubs fan and still cherish memories of the great Cubs announcer Harry Carey. But when it comes to Vin Scully, let’s face it, he is in a league of his own. Calm. Smart. Articulate. Understated. Poetic. There are so many ways to build community. We need teachers and principals. We need politicians and public servants. There are people who work on the front lines of justice and poverty and environmental issues. We need all of them and more. But sometimes communities are held together by voices of love, kindness and insight. That’s Vin Scully. Take a Breath today. And if you’re a baseball fan, tip your hat to the Dodger legend.

September 23, 2016
by Dr. R. Scott

Personal. Messages.

How strange it is to live in a thriving city like Los Angeles, demanding, over-wrought with traffic and stress and busyness, and then to be startled by something profoundly personal, like a little message from the Universe / God / Source. I found two in one day this week. Looking for signs and messages is my version of Pokemon Go. I believe every moment is brimming over with soul. Ripe for insight and awareness.

I saw the first sign walking over to a Starbucks near the church. In pink spray paint it says: I love you. Who wrote it? What’s behind it? What if the message just magically appeared? What if the Universe was saying to me or any other passerby: I love you? Or what if someone wrote it as a declaration about life itself — that love is life and life is love? I’m not sure, but I like it. It’s a reminder that the essence of life is measured by how much we love and how much we are loved. It’s that simple.


The second message was at a gas station. Someone used white spray paint and scrawled the message on a trash bin near the gas pump: I Miss You Dad. Who did this? It’s graffiti, I suppose, but it’s more personal than most graffiti. It’s not a social message, but a message of personal longing and feeling. A message that is sad and sweet at the same time. I started thinking of the people I miss. And now that my dad is suffering severe memory loss and living in a nursing home, it especially made me miss my dad. Yes, I miss my dad too.


Oh these messages that come to us in unusual ways. They become a soft knock on the door or a bonk on the head. What do they mean? How do we interpret them? I don’t know the answer to these questions, but I’m trying to pay attention these days and I know I need them. I’m guessing a few of you could use a message too. Take a Breath today and find you messages. If something speaks to you, be ready to listen. If something appears, be ready to see it. Oh, how the universe quivers and overflows with meaning.