Monday, March 28, 2016

Invite Positive Change

The Mystery within...
If you were in the wrong would you rather be admonished or invited to change?  If good religion is sourced in love, compassion and tolerance wouldn't it also be inviting?  If all is sacred, why exclude?  If non-violence creates spiritual healing, wouldn't we all want to become more inclusive and peaceful?  Could the exclusionary hierarchy of patriarchy find peace and healing in promoting diversity among its ranks?  I'm not at all sure. 

Barbara Brown Taylor, a former Episcopal pastor who left her position to teach theology, summarized so beautifully in her book "Leaving Church" what religion needs today:  "We needed a different way of being together before God, shaped more like a circle than pyramid.  We needed to ditch the sheep paradigm.  We needed to take turns filling in for Jesus, understanding that none of us was equal to the task to which all of us had been called.  We needed to share the power."  And she asks this great question, "…might it be time for people of good faith to allow that God's map is vast, with room on it for both a center and an edge?  While the center may be the place where the stories are preserved, the edge is the place where the best of them happen."

Nathan Schneider—The Wisdom of Millennials was a Krista Tippet's On Being guest.  He remarked institutions will always fail us but are necessary and important only if they are willing to change and grow.  He saw the prospect of positive change in the Nones, those claiming no religious affiliation yet many striving to lead a good life.  Though I am considerably older than the Millennials Schneider was talking about, my leaving church has infused me with a blessed freedom.  I have broadened my spirituality through exploring a variety of spiritual practices that have helped me grow.  Will today's Nones be a force for future positive change in religion?  Only time will tell.

What if we trusted God will eventually draw positive growth from the changes happening today?

Monday, March 21, 2016

Share Your Beliefs

The Mystery within...
I was exposed to some good diversity training in my former work life with the USDA Forest Service as managers worked to comply with Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s.  In addition to adding and advancing minorities and females in the workforce, the Forest Service was also coming to terms with the importance of biological diversity in natural resource management.  Just as biological diversity is the hallmark of a healthy ecosystem, a symbiotic relationship among diverse people can create a vibrant workforce.  I believe the same holds true for spiritual growth since I understand spirituality as a profound sense of belonging to one another and the earth. 

In "God Never Hurries I wrote:" I continue my spiritual journey ecumenically seeking truth from a variety of formal belief systems and non-religious sources. I enjoy Native American ceremony and teachings; and attendance at a local nature center that offers a wide variety of presenters, with discussion, under the broad title, “The Spiritual World of Nature.” I partake in a monthly ecumenical Christian service, and a catholic discussion group called Wisdom Seekers led by a spiritually in touch priest. I’ve learned to pray with my body through Yoga. I’ve done classes and retreats presenting Buddhism and Hindu beliefs, and have enjoyed group Kirtan sing fests. I’m in two book clubs and delight in finding the spiritual through many different authors’ creativity. And I just continue to look for and find God everywhere.

I gratefully accepted the loan of a PBS video titled "Beyond Our Differences" featuring prominent spiritual leaders from around the world.  For me the video highlights were:  roots of good religion are sourced in love, compassion and tolerance--quests for certainty are dangerous; there are different approaches to the same goal—to create good human beings; everybody and every thing is forgivable; God is found in the heart and where people come together; surrendering to anger and hatred is violence against yourself; non-violence creates spiritual healing; we are to help people understand each other; authentic spirituality is working with the excluded and abandoned; all is sacred; inalienable rights belong to everyone and everything; surrendering to the Mystery will reveal your purpose; it is most important to be brave; a recipe for peace is for everyone to contribute a small part; when you become peaceful your life is different; appreciate and celebrate diversity; share each others gifts.   

What if we all shared our beliefs while honoring everyone and everything's inalienable rights?

Monday, March 14, 2016

Grow in Grace and Wisdom

The Mystery within...
Growing in grace and wisdom is a very good thing, but not at all easy. 

"Darkness, mistakes, and trials are the supreme teachers. Success really teaches you nothing; it just feels good."  From Richard Rohr's Center for Action and Contemplation daily meditation February 23, 2016, Order, Disorder, Reorder 

I have experienced serious growing pains throughout my life.  Those learning opportunities have led me to know the first step toward growth is to accept whatever is; search and discern new paths, and finally, trust good will eventually come from my struggles.  My October 7, 2013 blog post, Recycling Pain was a good review for me in the slow, difficult, but very worthwhile steps toward growth. 

As a woman, I have come to know that this mysterious God, who somehow lives in each and everyone of us, loves us and is there for solace and guidance.  I understand spirituality as a profound sense of belonging to one another and the earth.  I do not believe spirituality is a fiduciary relationship I hand over to others, although my interaction with others is integral to growing in grace and wisdom.  The darkness of patriarchy was truly a supreme teacher for me and the natural world became my solace.

What if we could always trust darkness, mistakes, and trials to grow us?

Monday, March 7, 2016

Works of Mercy

The Mystery within...
Two friends and I were honored to be dinner guests of two retired nuns this past weekend, Sr. Sylvia and Sr. Mary Alyce.  In addition to their wonderful home cooked meal, an opening prayer in honor of the coming International Women's day on March 8 enriched our evening.  A part of our little ceremony was naming a woman who brought positive influence into our life.  Without hesitation I named my late crone friend Rosemary to whom I dedicated "God Never Hurries."  Lively conversation continued throughout the evening and when we left we were each given several copies of a book Sister Mary Alyce wrote about the foundress of their order, the School Sisters of Notre Dame, Mary Theresa of Jesus Gerhardinger.  She said she sold enough copies to pay her publishing costs and now she just wanted us to give her book away so more could read, "Memories of Franziska—Franziska Huber Gerhardinger September 5, 1762 – July 8, 1843" who was Mary Theresa's mother and through whom Mary Alyce relates the founding of their order.  I had previously read her book and what stood out for me was the expectation that Mary Theresa would care for her aging mother.  But instead she got her excellent care and went on to found the School Sisters of Notre Dame.  Also accompanying the book was a card announcing the Jubilee Year of Mercy on which is written the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. 

 Corporal Works of Mercy

Feed the hungry
Give drink to the thirsty
Clothe the naked
Shelter the homeless
Visit the sick
Visit the imprisoned
Bury the dead

Spiritual Works of Mercy

Instruct the ignorant
Counsel the doubtful
Admonish sinners
Bear wrongs patiently
Forgive offenses willingly
Comfort the afflicted
Pray for the living and the dead

I remembered the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy from the 1943 Baltimore Catechism.  What I have since learned about the historical Jesus made the editor in me want to make some changes to the Spiritual Works of Mercy.  

Grow in grace and wisdom
Share your beliefs
Invite positive change
Bear wrongs patiently
Forgive offenses willingly
Be present to the afflicted
Pray for the living and to the dead

What if all of our beliefs were subject to intellectual and spiritual maintenance?