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Healing (Sojourners Summit 2017)

How do we heal?  How do we promote and welcome healing in times of community pain and resistance?  

A few of us shared stories of personal and community healing during the closing conversation at Sojourners' Summit:

  https://summitforchange.com/watch/

May you have spaces, supports, and trust for the healing you need.  

Stories from Spiritual Entrepreneurs

In the spring of 2017, several faith-based service year programs sponsored a speakers series: “Calling, Service, and Justice: Stories of Spiritual Entrepreneurs.”   Speakers from the Washington, D.C. area reflected on their journeys inward to face questions, doubts, and fears - and to receive grace and insight - about calling and action that honors self, community, and world.

Some highlights:

Gail Taylor, founder of Three Part Harmony Farm, talked about having a bi-vocational identity that allows her to pursue and support her dream.  She is a farmer and yoga teacher who uses advocacy skills from a former life to make her vision a reality!  Those came in handy when she worked with D.C. Council members to draft and pass legislation allowing her farm to exist on monastery land without jeopardizing its nonprofit status.  

She shared how formative her role in a small, ecumenical, lay-led church community that empowers people to envision has been. Moreover, she reflected on re-understanding scripture after working the earth for a while.  In addition to support from spouse and church, an accountability group kept her focused and helped her act.    

Bill Haley, executive director of Coracle, shared many risks of saying yes to his calling.  That calling required him to give everything up, commit career suicide, and jump off a cliff.  He needed “a God moment” to realize that his resume is inconsequential and that God knows best how to use his life. 

He learned that lesson in leaving a ministry in inner city D.C. to relocate to rural Virginia.  In the process of moving toward a new ministry, he kept asking God: “But what about justice?”  He got his answer when discovering a slave cemetery on the property they bought.

Bill has been formed by Gordon and Mary Cosby’s understanding of calling as: 1) transcendent, coming from otherness, and being nothing we can dream ourselves; 2) meeting a need; 3) simple (e.g. there is a need for housing); 4) persistent and gnawing; and 5) impossible (without God).  To the question of how we know where to serve, he answers:  cultivate empathy and it will show you who you need to be with, where, and how.    

Adam Taylor, lead for faith-based initiatives at The World Bank, attempted climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in three days (versus the five recommended) to get an answer about calling from God.  At one point, because he was going too fast and pushing himself too hard, he collapsed and was unconscious - if not gone - for a while.  During that time he remembers a fuzzy conversation with God in which God said: “You take yourself too seriously.  The answer you seek has been within you all along.”  Adam woke with a sense of peace and focus.   

Along his journey, he has learned: 1) Calling is like spiritual GPS.  If you are off, you’ll be rerouted; 2) Justice is not about ideology.  It is about restoring right relationship and a lifestyle that pursues that; 3) To embrace a more holistic Jesus.  He tries to avoid following George Bernard Shaw’s observation that “God made us in God’s image.  We returned the favor;” 4) "To whom much is given, much is expected" is true.  This helps prevent him from taking shortcuts; and 5) Kairos time can be triggered by egregious situations and actions.  We must be aware of those moments and how they empower us. 

And, for you movie fans, he thinks we all have Matrix moments where we have to choose the red or blue pill:  to truly know and experience, or ignore and escape.   

Becca Stelle, with Becoming Church and the Church of Christ, Right Now, was catapulted into questions of faith in her twenties when she spent several months with a close friend whose husband died suddenly.  She realized that her seminary training could not make things better. She was wholly unprepared.  In that time, she began to hear Jesus differently.  She started to ask what it meant to really follow Jesus.  She realized that Jesus is always at the margins - not front and center.  She later left the traditional church when her parish did not want to spend time with that reality.     

Years later, a meeting with Gordon Cosby robbed her of the excuse that no one out there shared her passion.  She recognized that she wanted to be under the spiritual leadership of those who had been to hell and back.  Becca’s friend who lost her husband had been her first teacher.  Now the homeless, addicted, and incarcerated would teach her. 

The small church model she now works with is based on the 12 step model.  It maintains that all of us are addicted to a crazy society, and that our “us vs. them” mentality is part of that addiction.  It offers space for deep sharing across what are usually social and class divisions.  It stresses being known as deeply as possible - but not trying to fix each other.  The Church of Christ, Right Now is called to relationship with the formerly incarcerated.  The church even owns stock in the Corrections Corporation of America (private prison industry) so that it can attend board meetings and try to influence the leadership.

Something above grab you?  Show up where these leaders are and explore why!  And keep an eye out for future events on calling.

I Believe

I believe because I go to the woods and am met.  I go not to get away from, but to draw closer to.

I go with desire.  Or a question.  Or the sense that I carry something.  Or three words on a sticky note.  I try to leave all else behind, especially old ways of seeing.  I leave all at the edge, except for trust that this will be new.  And the prayer that I will receive well.

I go in the name of Jesus.  With faith in the Trinity.  Not faith in how I understand it, but faith in how it moves me.  I don’t need to know too much about that.

I believe because of what happens in the woods when I am still and silent, and embrace life around me.  I let go of time and big ideas.  I see and hear afresh, and sense with power that is not mine.  The true power makes me smile and sometimes laugh out loud.

Theology has helped me become who I am – or who I was.  But it is not why I believe.  Big words have fallen away.  The soothing of simple impossibilities remains.  Faith is embrace of those mystical inbox quotes that transport until reality grabs me back.  And a few days now and then to read them to the fish, racoon, Robyns, and bones.

This gift is a craziness to follow Jesus between the lines.  I hope and pray I’m the right amount of crazy.  The amount that lets God shape Us until i am ready to leave the woods.  That is who We are.

I believe because I risked that there was more in less.  Because I found that to be true.  It leads not to certainty, respect, and proof – but to mystery, warmth, and smiles.  Depending on the moment, there is fear or comfort.  Either one helps.  Both keep me searching for meeting spots.

I believe.  Don’t ask for explanation.  Ask for your gift.  Pray to feel how God believes in you.

Listening for Calling Workshop (Sept. 17 at the Potter's House)

"Vocation is something I can’t not do for reasons I can’t fully explain and don’t fully understand myself” (Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak).  

That has been my favorite definition of vocation for many years.  It has nurtured my mind to articulate calling; heart to pursue passion; and spirit to receive guidance from God.  

My journey of trust has helped me understand calling as a sense that something bigger than me invites me to greater purpose; that risk and trust are required; and that saying yes will ultimately lead to a deeper understanding of God, self, and others.  That gives me focus, but you should understand calling in your own unique way.  

God calls us in different ways, gives us just enough understanding, and asks us to trust that we’ll know more as we commit to the journey.  Not everyone will understand your journey of relationship with God and self.  You’ll even have to work hard to make sense of it! Therefore, knowing what calling requires of you is entwined with what it means to you.  

How broad or narrow is it?  What areas of life are relevant?  How have you been reached? What has touched you?  Is your calling to faith, relationship, family, community, place, service, leadership, other?  

I am called to help others with calling.  Parker Palmer has helped me, and maybe others have helped you.  But you must keep exploring calling in personal ways.  More intimate relationships with mind, heart, and spirit can guide you.  To follow where those lead, you may need help recognizing and accepting invitations.  

Join others on Sept. 17 (or a subsequent date this year) to accept the invitation and explore your calling.  Come for a time of creative listening, sharing, reflection, and engagement with calling. Come to trust your experiences, gifts, and desires.  Come to honor your story, and how sharing it can empower you.  Come to welcome how your sense of call might open you – and maybe others – to something greater.

For full information on the Listening for Calling Workshops, click here

What Is Being with Between?

You are there.  I am there.  And Jesus was there. 

In between. 

Named or not, we are always in between.  We live and move in spaces between awareness, knowing, and action. 

It is a gift when something grabs us or tips us off to the need to focus on a question or reality.  That awareness drives us to figure out what insights or clarity will provide information, assurance, and guidance.  If we gain such knowing, the challenge becomes exploring how that calls us.  Attention, patience, and discernment in that period can lead to understanding the action required.

The fully human Jesus was often in between. 

Jesus had to become more aware of His calling as the Son of God.  He learned He was beloved in His baptism.  He nurtured relationship with God in the wilderness.  He felt the power of His first miracle.

Jesus spent time with people to know their needs and limitations.  He touched and healed.  He wept.  He knew trust and betrayal.  He was shaped by experience and discernment. 

Jesus acted on His understanding of the coming kingdom.  He defended the weak and challenged injustice.  He empowered disciples.  His journey to the cross began the defining transition of His life – and the Christian faith.    

We are not so different from the human Jesus in our desires and struggles – and in learning to co-create with God.  We are not alone in the many in betweens.  God is in those spaces and knows our needs.  And sometimes, it can help to have others there.      

My heart is with those sensing a call, pull, or energy hinting at new possibility.  I have learned to pay attention in the spaces between.  I know the terrain.  Because of my journey, I offer companionship as others walk their own paths of growth and meaning. Being with Between supports individuals and groups as they explore calling, discernment, and transition in the spaces between.

As you honor awareness of God, may you open to new spaces.