Some years ago, a friend and I were walking. He asked me to describe my
spirituality in a nutshell. Spontaneously, I said, “Well, I would have to
describe myself as a sidewalk mystic.” Little did I realize how that
chance discussion would bring forth a website address many years later.
"Mystic" is a word from by-gone eras. Tragically, the word
most often only conjures up
medieval images of monks cloistered away in monasteries. This, in
turn, relegates God to
remote and obscure places and leaves 21st-century humankind with few
windows into the sacred. We live in an era where there is some vague
notion that God may be present in the cathedrals and
places of worship but often absent in our daily lives. And we are the worse
We, in our times, might be better served if we reached way back and brought back the essence of
mysticism – to once again trust our instincts and intuition; to find the sacred
in the ordinary. Mysticism suggests that as hard as we may try, we as
humans can’t get our arms around comprehending everything mentally.
Mysticism says to science and reason, “There are
limitations to your knowledge.” It then turns to religion and the arts and
says, “Your truths have boundaries.” A 'sidewalk mystic' tries to walk that
path between the two seeming polarities, embracing each side of the path,
knowing that together they inform and satisfy.
Awareness, presence, awe, and gratitude -- all are at the heart of mysticism.
It is conscious of and sees the sacred in the mundane, recurring events of our
lives. These moments do unfold daily on the sidewalk, in the
office, at the subway station, or at home – if we are open to them.
with this attitude and openness that I
walked the streets, paths, and highways of Honduras. And it is was there, not
in some church or ostensible "sacred site," that God found me - - in chance conversations, in gracious acts
that others extended me, in moments of mutual respect and genuine conversation,
in times of quiet and humble admiration of a people known as Hondurans. I am
deeply thankful for the experience.
Get it on the Web, Boy!
www.sidewalkmystic.com was mentally launched somewhere in Honduras; probably
on the road in the southwestern highlands, on the back of a chicken bus as I talked to a young Lenca girl. She and many others served as the inspiration to move
the idea from a concept to a living place where my experience could be shared.
Upon returning home, I wanted to learn how to publish a website. I
was curious about the software and code behind the 1000's of websites I had
seen. How are graphics captured and presented? What is the theory
behind website design? How are ideas best presented on the Web? How
does web writing differ from the standard prose we are taught? The rest is history.
For years, I have played around the edges of my writing. I didn’t take it
seriously until I had an article placed in a professional journal. Shortly
thereafter, a friend asked me to write a chapter in a book which she was
Social Justice: The Teachings of Protestants, Jews, and Muslims. After the book, I began writing a monthly
column on spirituality and social justice for the diocesan newspaper.
Since then, I have done virtually nothing with my writing.
This project has taken on its own
life. When I came home, I began madly writing about my journey to
Honduras. I took the scatter-gun approach and the quality reflected it.
no particular order, shape, or form. I quickly tossed it aside and began to
organize my thoughts. I created an outline, prepared the Welcome Page, and had
a co-worker who had majored in journalism review and critique my approach.
She helped me narrow down my target audience and from there it became easier to
write. While I had my own agenda in preparing the site, I had to learn
about the best approach to web writing. I learned that 25% of any
individual page on the web gets read. People scan, not read, websites.
Web writing calls for a quick hitting, bullet-ridden approach to presentation.
It has been a difficult style to maintain throughout the site, but I have tried.
I used the travelogue
section as a diversion from the cramped nature of web writing.
I have learned tons throughout this process. It has been a wonderful process
and now I offer it to you. From here, I plan on adding additional chapters
on Latin American recipes; a photo gallery; Honduran agriculture; and a chapter on Lempira, the
historic leader of the Lenca people during the conquest. I am open to other
ideas and would welcome your suggestions
Who knows? The mystic in me leaves the future open - for the chance
events which occur everyday in my life on the sidewalk.
This work-in-progress is dedicated to all the men who have affected my life. Of
John Boldt, my dearest friend, who taught me the essence of friendship.
John and I share a treasured trip together to Guatemala in Summer 1988.
The pictured, very short, ex-Marine now serves as a pastor to a Lutheran church in
the greater Houston area. Wish the boy would get a call to lead a
congregation closer to Wisconsin.
of these gents
Jorge Colindres Monzon, (RIP, friend, 2008) a Guatemalan Presbyterian minister, who hosted our visit
to his country in 1988. Jorge not only taught me what true Christian community
could be but also gave me windows into the heart of Christ.
|Francis Coyote Ulschack, who taught me to be a tender man and to be true to myself.
Fran and his wife Glennys shared Costa Rica's sidewalks with us in the Winter of
2001. Fran's visit on Earth ended much, much too soon in February, 2002.
|Allen Jackson Borton and Theophilus Herman Berner, Granddads. I wish I had
known them better.
most of all, this site is dedicated to my Dad,
Rupert (Rup) Allen Borton (pictured at right with brother Jeff),
a man among men. Big Rup taught me what being a man is all about. Oh, how I miss him.
As we began on
this walk, let us continue on in courage:
fortitude the soul contains,
That it can so endure
The accent of a coming foot,
The opening of a door."
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