MICAH NEWS - December 2007
by Trey Everett
For some time now we at MICAH have been working on a yearlong comprehensive healing program. The Health and Spirituality Yearlong Comprehensive Healing Program (Health and Spirituality Program) is designed to give people tools, encouragement, and opportunities to reflect upon and examine their whole life, physically, mentally, and spiritually in order to make serious lasting changes. It's an investment toward becoming the people we were created to be.
The Health and Spirituality Yearlong Comprehensive Healing Program ~ The Health and Spirituality Program
is available to you no matter where you live. Each of the following six components that makeup the program can be accessed either by coming in person or over the phone.
The Six Components of the Health and Spirituality Program are:
- Integrative Medicine Consultation and Evaluation
- A Personalized Program
- Monthly Reflection
- Discounts on Supplements
- Access to On Line Support
- Year End Evaluation and Life Plan
Is This for Me? ~ It is for you if:
- You want to improve the quality of your life.
- You're willing to make the effort for change.
- You're ready to accept direction and encouragement from out staff.
- You're able to embrace the truth that healing is not a quick fix but a patient and mindful life-long journey.
- You live anywhere on this planet.
We just started offering the program last week. Check it out and let us know what you think!
Find out more about the Health and Spirituality Program > >
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MICAH NEWS - November 2007
by Trey Everett
This last month Dan and Debra led workshops at two different conferences and MICAH hosted two retreats. At each of these events the energy and excitement produced were eye opening. The MICAH retreats in particular were not only life giving to the participants but to us leaders as well. I’ve been reflecting on these retreats and on the effects and differences of doing things because we want to do them verses doing things because we feel we have to do them. You know how it is, you’re worn out from a long hectic day at work, all you want to do is relax but there’s that meeting, event, or church program you’re supposed to be at. You muster the energy to gulp down something that you pretend is supper, drive through town like you’re on the speedway, and arrive short fused and late to your obligatory gathering. The instant the meeting starts all hints of creativity, joy, excitement, and energy dissolve and blown away to the four corners of the earth. You have this sense that your brain has shriveled up and sadly this is confirmed when you finally get home and look in the mirror to see some zombie staring back at you. You have become the living dead, present in body only. That’s the Christian life!
Yes, I know we have to do much in life that we don’t want to do. There are a lot of meetings we attend that don’t bring us life. But I was wondering what would happen if our churches or groups or community functions were full of people who actually wanted to be there? What would happen if those who really didn’t want to be there we gave permission to just go home and rest or play or spend time with their family? Well, my first though is that our churches, businesses, and organizations would have smaller crowds, possibly less revenue, and there surely wouldn’t be near the number of programs. But at the same time there would be more energy, joy, creativity, and discussion. That doesn’t sound like a bad tradeoff. A room full of the living dead verses a handful of the reborn. This reminds me of the Kingdom of God: tiny and high voltage.
What usually happens is the alternative to this scenario: a packed house of frustrated, drained, grumpy people who came only because they’d feel too guilt ridden if they missed. Those in power over the organization or church decide that the ‘good’ attendance, the ‘improved’ giving, and the busy programming are a sign of God’s blessing and so plans are made to speed things up a notch or two. And if those in power decide that things are not going so well then plans are made to speed things up a notch or two. And if those in power don’t have a clue how things are going then plans are made to speed things up a notch or two. That reminds me of the kingdom of this world: busy and life taking, busy and life taking, busy and life taking.
What might God be saying to us about how we run projects, churches, events, etc? What would it take to make our churches, homes, ministries, and jobs more life giving? What if we refused to make it all one big dog and pony show and instead we focused on being more sensitive to creativity, rest, joy, and encouragement, in other words, the things that truly give people life? A program bursting with zombies might look impressive at first, but I’ve seen too many late movies and too many dysfunctional churches to fall for that. I know what happens when the sun goes down, and it’s not pretty.
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MICAH NEWS - October 2007
by Trey Everett
Like most businesses, organizations, and churches we at MICAH have regular meetings. However, unlike most businesses, organizations, and churches our meetings take up very little time discussing business. Most of our time is spent simply listening to God and being in community with one another. Our sixty minute MICAH meetings open with a check in time to see how everyone is doing, we then focus our attention to what God may be saying to us through Scripture (this is called Lectio Divina), any business is discussed last and then we then close in prayer. Mysteriously a lot is accomplished in these meetings and besides that you find yourself actually wanting to go. These weekly meetings are recorded on your website under “Prayer.” The following are a few of our prayer journals over the years.
February 2004 ~ People tend to address issues by doing new programs, yet they never really get at it. There is something wrong or disconnected with the process. That seems to be the key. The process that we are trying to stay grounded in is about listening to God and not getting caught up in the push for programs or demands for more by outside sources. What are we hearing? We must allow this to guide us.
September 2004 ~
The staff gathered and began with an awareness examen over the life of MICAH and our engagement with it. Some of the openings that we noticed were that MICAH seems to have a life of its own, that plans are coming together (sometimes even without us noticing that they are), the life of prayer has led to a sense of prayer more often, spiritual direction and leading worship, year long development, people have been coming and continue to come, more of a fit, there is a sense of spiritual indifference and not concerned about the outcome which is very freeing, conversations out west...people are amazed. Blocks included: the institutional church, the way things have been, the situation in the larger church seems to continue to get worse and worse, own negativity, overwhelmed and harried regarding getting the clinic up and running, disconnect between wanting the life of prayer and committing to it. We then talked of the future and what the fall and winter hold for us as individuals and for MICAH.
October 2005 ~
Today we prayed with scripture from the book of Mark 1:35-45. Most of the group's attention was drawn the number of people who followed Jesus and how many attempts were made to seek him out. He was followed by the disciples, religious leaders, the sick and also many common folks. It was noted that even Jesus made a specific effort to make a personal connection with his Father with intentional prayer time. It is an important quality of successful leaders to have this horizontal one on one divine relationship before they can share their wisdom in a vertical way that is pleasing to God.
In the story, Jesus told the man he healed to show himself to the priest and offer sacrifices. This made Jesus appear humble as if he was not looking for credit or acknowledgment for his gift to the man. Another wondered if Jesus was frustrated when the healed man did not follow his command to not tell anyone. The man told everyone even when Jesus gave him a strong warning not to. Did this bother Jesus or did he know the nature of man and expect him to do this?
Another was drawn to the attraction to Jesus. He was offering very valuable gifts for nothing in return. This is a concept that is very difficult for us to understand. When this is tried in modern churches it is a very unpopular and often a skeptical situation. Do we lose sight of what Jesus did? Why is it so hard to follow this example? There is great value to what Jesus has to offer and the crowds of all types of people were and are still drawn to him.
December 2006 ~
Our scripture text for today, Isaiah 42:1-7 started our MICAH meeting with a check in time to see how everyone was doing and then we took a look at Isaiah 42:1-4, 6 and 7. One of the images that came to mind after two readings of the Isaiah passage was a huge gentle power that sweeps across the land. At first this coming "thing" doesn't appear to be significant because it¹s so soft and gentle (won't raise a voice or snuff out a smoldering wick). But after it passes it is easy to see that nothing is left unchanged. Everything is completely transformed.
After our time of prayer we discussed the "program" aspect of MICAH once the building is constructed. Who might come, how long they would stay, what we hope they will experience, how to get the word our, etc., were all points of discussion. It is exciting to see this gentle power slowly engulfing and transforming all in its path.
February 2007 ~ Our scripture text for today, Ezekiel 13:1-10a started our meeting.
We discussed the whole discernment process and thought about how easy it is to not only follow a false prophet¹s advice but to be a false prophet as well. Discernment is very difficult and we were reminded of a harsh story in 1 Kings 13 where a man of God unknowingly followed false advice and was therefore killed by a lion. Discernment is difficult, even for men and women of God. The fruit determines if one is truly following God¹s wisdom or if they¹re following their own imagination. Ezekiel knew who the false prophets were by their fruits. The false prophets didn¹t want to help rebuild the temple and they were not helping in the peace process. Rotten fruit. What do false prophets look like today? Most people today have no idea what God is saying.
We discussed the pod cast and the response we¹ve gotten after posting it on the MICAH website. Over 100 people have listened to the first pod cast within the first week. After receiving some good reviews and advice we have decided to make the pod casts shorter as well as make them into a discernment process for us as well. After deciding on a topic we will spend time in silence to see what comes up. We¹ll then use those thoughts and insights to begin the discussion.
We also looked at the design plans for the new building. The previous design, while good, didn¹t give us a peace. After some discussion and thought we decided some changes needed to be made. We all have a very good sense about this last design.
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MICAH NEWS - July, August, September 2007
by Trey Everett
As I was reflecting on this past summer of 2007 a couple of words came to mind. “Slow” was one of the words. This summer went by so very slowly! Now I know many of you reading this are saying, “What?! You think it went by slowly? Do you realize it’s already September? School is starting. Halloween is just around the corner.” Even though we’ll soon see Thanksgiving decorations and Christmas lights for sale it seems as though this summer just dragged on. This slowness may be due to the fact that Corene and I now have three kids. Just two energized youngsters at home during the summer is a lot of work but now we’ve thrown in a baby who just started crawling and has radar for open doors, stairways, and tiny pieces of metal that he thinks is part of his 15-minute snack. Tough days seem to stretch into weeks. But slow doesn’t imply less. Slow isn’t second rate. Slow times can be very rich and full times.
For example, even thought the summer seemed to drag by for me there was a lot going on at MICAH. Dan went on a number of teaching trips, I preached a few times at church, and we continued to discuss and discern the future building project of MICAH. Over the summer we had opportunity to build a shower house, plant some trees, start building a gazebo, and go tubing. We continued to pray and meet and plan and listen for God. We also had a number of events through the summer. We kicked it all off (well, we were going to anyway, I’ll get to that later) with a leadership week involving students from Crookston high school. The Student Leadership Week was designed to help students hone their leadership abilities through service, work projects, decision making activities, group discussion, time alone to reflect and just living in community. We had three weeks of Sweat & Silence planned. Youth groups from Indiana, Minneapolis and the Bemidji had signed up. The Sweat & Silence weeks consisted of five days of learning prayer practices while serving others and working on various projects on the MICAH land. Simply living in a yurt for a week without electricity, running water, the mall, and so on, seems to teach more about community than anything else. 9th and 10th graders from Clearwater Forrest Camp spent a weekend camping on the MICAH property. They spent time in silence and walking the labyrinth and journeying on the pilgrimage route. During one stormy night that blew down a few tents all 35 of them ended up sleeping in the yurt. I really wish I had a picture of that! We had a group from Bemidji come in for a wonderful day of walking the pilgrimage route. It was a great day of prayer and reflection. So the summer was rich and full but (long pause) slow. What does that mean?
The other word that came to me when reflecting on this past summer was the word “cancellations.” Our first week (remember the cool Student Leadership Week?) was cancelled. Half of the students who signed up decided to cancel just days before. Two of our Sweat & Silence retreats were cancelled, again just days before each retreat was supposed to begin. Out of our four weeklong retreats, three were cancelled. This is besides other ‘smaller’ cancellations that seemed to take place on a weekly basis. This was a bit of an inconvenience, more than a bit actually, because we had stocked, and planned, and scheduled for each of these events. Inner tubes for tubing down the Red Lake River, a large water container to take care of showers and drinking water for the week, sleeping pads, plastic tubs, various cups, plates, bowls, a heavy duty camping stove, and not to mention hordes of great food were all purchased for these events.
Now I don’t mention this to whine and cry. It’s just an observation of the summer, which after some reflection I realize is a mirror image of our current culture. Cancellations are happening everywhere. People promise to do something or be somewhere only to call and say they won’t make it or they just don’t show up at all. And what is interesting is that 99% of us do this. In fact after all the canceling I experienced this summer (and after a pod cast Dan and I recorded on Spirituality and Canceling which you can listen to on the website) I ended up doing some of this same canceling by canceling the children’s sermon on Sunday (I just decided not to do one without telling Dan, which is the worst kind of canceling). It happened to be a Sunday when the reader and greeters, and who knows who else, also cancelled. It was only after I did this that I realized, “Hey! I just did some of our ‘cultural canceling!’ It’s rubbing off on me now!” So, what does this mean?
Maybe these two words, “slow” and “cancel,” reflect a kind spiritual growth or retreat in itself, a kind of personal Sweat and Silence. It is difficult, trying, and frustrating to live in the midst of slowness and cancellations. However, if we’re paying attention, we can notice some good in the midst of slow days and being stood up. Patience and respect for the everyday grows in our heart. Compassion, commitment, and a desire to be true to our word begin to creep into our consciousness. Of course the easy thing is to resent, fume, and throw a fit when we’re not entertained or when others cancel on us, but maybe these are some of the everyday secret ways God uses to transform us.
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MICAH NEWS - June 2007
by Trey Everett
For the newsletter this month I wanted to include three sections of the pilgrimage route located on the MICAH site to give you a taste of what it’s about. If you are interested in partaking in this special “journey”, please contact us and we will be happy to assist you.
“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.” ~ Psalm 84
Section 1 - YURT
The word yurt was originally taken from the Turkic word meaning “dwelling place”. Yurts have been dwelling places in some of the most remote regions of the world including the deserts of the Sahara, and the polar tundra. This yurt was the first “building” on the rural MICAH site and so it is the beginning place of your pilgrimage today. Thousands of prayers have been lifted up where you are now standing which truly makes this a lovely dwelling place of God.
“How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty!” ~ Psalm 84
You are God’s dwelling place. How does God delight in you?
PRAYER: Holy God as I take up this journey, quiet my heart that I might notice Your loving presence within me. Amen.
Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true. With thanksgiving I’ll be a living sanctuary for you.
Section - GRAVEL PILE
It may seem strange that a huge gravel pile exists right in the middle of this rich farmland. But you are actually standing above the hidden shoreline of an ancient lake, Lake Agassiz. The lake’s shorelines are a good source of gravel and gravel pits are found along its length. At one time this prehistoric glacial lake covered this entire area. Some estimate a water depth of 300 feet stood over what is now Crookston. Lakes and seas are often Biblical images of storms, chaos, turmoil, and great fear.
But soon a fierce storm arose. High waves began to break into the boat until it was nearly full of water. Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with
his head on a cushion. Frantically they woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you even care that we are going to drown?” When he woke up, he
rebuked the wind and said to the water, “Quiet down!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. And he asked them, “Why are you so
afraid? Do you still not have faith in me?” ~ Mark 4:37-40
As you stand above this ancient seabed think of storms and fears you are experiencing in your own life. Why are you afraid?
Great God, Sustainer of Life, whether it be worry, sickness, death, the unknown, our past or our future
We know nothing compares to you. Give us the faith to stop trying to save ourselves and to trust you to save us. Amen.
SONG: Peace, Be Still. Peace. Be Still. Peace.
Be Still. The storm rages. Peace. Be still.
Section 8 - NE CORNER OF PROPERTY
Despite the fact that the wooded natural habitat of the deer is mostly gone due to farming, an amazing number of deer inhabit this region. Over 200 have
been sighted in this area at one time alone. Deer trails crisscross the land. A deer stand can be seen from here. This fence is an obvious boundary
in our eyes but to the wildlife this boundary doesn’t exist. Deer, fox, coyotes, rabbits come and go as they please undaunted by rules and regulations, private property, fences, shut gates, and “No Trespassing” signs. Boundaries become illusions.
”I’ll stride freely through wide-open spaces as I look for your truth and your wisdom.” ~ Psalm 119:45
What boundaries has God been removing from your life? What boundaries would you like removed?
Living God You set captives free, You part waters,
You move stones. Open my eyes to the prisons I am in, and lead me into freedom. Through Christ our Shepherd we pray, Amen.
“May God be a bright flame before you, be a guiding star above you, be a smooth path below you, be a kindly shepherd behind you, today, tomorrow and forever.”
A traditional Gaelic blessing, from Iona Abbey Worship Book
I hope your summer is a pilgrimage of sorts for you…a journey to God. ~Trey
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MICAH NEWS - May 2007
by Trey Everett
If you’re out-of-the-loop on what’s been going on with MICAH here’s a simple little summary that will catch you up to speed.
Four youth oriented retreats are being planned for the summer of 2007. The Student Leadership Retreat will take place June 11-15. Eight Crookston high school students will be attending this wilderness week designed to nurture and develop leadership skills. June 15 -20, August 5 -10, and August 12-17 are the dates for the Sweat & Silence weeks. Designed for high school and junior high youth these work/prayer weeks will give students opportunities to explore a deeper prayer life through community, service, and ancient prayer practices.
Shelter Archicture is almost finished with the MICAH building plans. This amazing, half buried, bird shaped, sustainable building will house 18 residents, an apartment, library, clinic, office space, kitchen, dining hall, and worship area. We continue to work on the program aspect once the building is built and we’re starting to put together the fundraising component.
We will have a pilgrimage route completed before the first June retreat. The pilgrimage route, located on the rural MICAH property, takes a winding course along riverbanks, woods, hills, valleys, fields, and roadways. Each site along the way offers scripture, song, prayer, and meditative questions for individuals and groups to reflect on their lives. You can take either the six route pilgrimage lasting about one hour or the twelve route pilgrimage lasting about three hours.
We continue to update the MICAH website, micahprays.org. You can listen to a new pod cast every Wednesday. Each pod cast is on the topic of spirituality and everyday life. They are quirky and interesting. Susan Continues her journals on what life is like when you attempt to only buy what you need. The clinic, Friends of MICAH, Prayer Journals, up coming teaching opportunities and events, etc. are ways to keep up with what’s going on and what’s important to MICAH.
Of course without discernment MICAH would not exist. Our weekly MICAH meetings, which are posted on the website under Prayer Journals, consist mostly of us listening to what God is saying. Last Friday we held a half day discernment retreat for the future of MICAH. We continue to make prayer a priority, seek to notice God’s movement, and journey to where God is. We invite you to do the same.
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MICAH NEWS - April 2007
by Trey Everett
A few weeks ago Dan and I attended a conference on sustainable tourism. Now if you¹re like me you're probably wondering, "What in the world is sustainable tourism?" Let me give you a little quote from one of our conference packets. "Sustainable tourism emphasizes the natural and cultural resources of a given area and packages the history, food products, artists and wild areas in a way that enhances and draws upon inherent cultural and scenic richness of rural areas." Quite a definition, I know, and also a really great idea. In other words sustainable tourism is about helping people see the value of going to the apple orchard, local artist, or canoeing rather than going to the mega mall for food, entertainment, and exercise. MICAH is all about healing body, mind, and soul as well as healing and enjoying the environment, and so sustainable tourism fits very
well with MICAH's personality.
Taking care of the environment and eating organic foods and making use of the natural resources in our area are things I am finding great joy in, but I must admit this is somewhat new to me. Oh, I never threw my Dr. Pepper can out the car window or particularly enjoyed shooting and eating endangered animals, but I also never considered myself an environmentalist or heaven forbid a tree hugger. All my life I have just been thoughtlessly floating somewhere between those who worship creation and those who feel the right to whip it into shape. However as we continue to work with MICAH I am strangely aware that I am taking on more and more of a greenish hue. I¹m not a tree hugger, don't get me wrong, but I've possibly moved into the Otree sympathizer classification. I want you to know that this shift in my thoughts and actions is very hard for me to admit since I grew up poking fun at the "green" segment of the population which included people like my present light green self. But this confession, as well as the actual shift, is very positive and healthy plus it feels great.
One example of the changes that are taking place is that I'm now recycling. I know people have been recycling for decades but for some reason I didn't really start until we moved to Minnesota. Cracker boxes, peanut butter jars, and even toilet paper rolls are now saved to be recycled which may be in part because I think in Minnesota you're incarcerated if you don't recycle. But there are other odd changes that aren't so easily explained. We now drink organic coffee and tea, we're giving consumable gifts rather
than "stuff" that will just clutter our friends or families already cluttered homes, and we're investing in good bicycles, snow shoes, and camping equipment because we're wanting to spend more time outdoors. Our television has developed a low self esteem because we don't stare at it very often, our days are not overloaded with frantic rushing and our home has taken on a quiet library atmosphere except, of course, when our daughters are making wild animal yelps, or when our four-month-old son reminds us he's still the center of the universe. We're eating more fruits and veggies and local foods, staying away from processed items, and yes, Dr. Pepper has not
been making house calls as regularly as in the past. In general we're careful to purchase and consume less.
This is slowly evolving lifestyle, I believe, characterizes God. Protecting, honoring, and taking care of the earth and the people in it rather than ravaging, gorging, and amassing is certainly Scriptural. Isn't it God's desire that we add to the beauty not take away from it? Being content, seeing value in what is around me, treating others like I would want to be treated, considering how my lifestyle and purchases affects the rest of the region and the world is what healing is all about.
So what does all this mean? Well, maybe one day MICAH will be one of the stops on the sustainable tourism route (www.greenroutes.org) where people will come from all over to be healed and to see what healing looks like. Maybe one day we'll start taking care of our bodies and communities and churches and streams and skies like they're, well, important, special, precious, and a way that shouts tribute to the Creator. I'm reminded of what Dorthee Soelee says in her book THE SILENT CRY, Mysticism and Resistance "Nature herself Ospeaks and people read the praise of God on her lips." I am learning to read lips, just don't call me a tree hugger, yet.
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MICAH NEWS - March 2007
by Trey Everett
Ta daaa! Our first pod cast is now up and running on the MICAH website! The title of the audio page, which can be found when you go to micahprays.org, is The Heart of the Matter, Brief Reflections on Life and Faith. With a cup of tea in hand and smiles on our faces we made our first painful recording, the subject was children and spirituality. Our hope is to continue producing pod casts in which we reflect on how spirituality intersects our everyday lives.
This first pod cast reminded me of what children can teach us about time. Children almost always seem to have more time than their parents. In fact, they seem to have so much of the stuff that it just creeps by ever so slowly.
“Is it Friday tomorrow?” “Three more days, you can make it.”
“Is it Christmas yet?” “No honey, it¹s February.”
I remember once driving from Missouri to Minnesota; it was about an eight-hour trip. Within the first 20 minutes of our trip Zoe began asking “Are we there yet?” The clock slowly ticks by for kids. Days seem like weeks. Summer lasts a couple of years. A single afternoon can hold untold experiences. Life goes by at an eternally slow pace.
But something happens when we leave childhood; time speeds up. As adults we don’t measure time in hours or even days but by weeks and seasons and years. “What! It’s already March? Wasn’t it just Christmas two, maybe three weeks ago?”
Even though I realize minutes and years don’t literally speed up, it sure seems like they do. Why is that? What changes our leisurely, carefree childhood into the insane pace of adult life?
I think this shift in the speed of time is a spiritual matter. When we focus on the past and future, instead of living in the present moment, time appears to speed up. How often I find myself thinking, worrying, regretting, planning, or reviewing the past or the future of my life instead of being in the moment. I miss conversations because my mind wonders into the past. I overlook someone because I let a future worry cloud my vision. As we grow older we spend less time in the here and now, less time appreciating what is going on around us, less and less energy simply listening, seeing, feeling, sensing what is happening right before our eyes. We cannot live in another moment of time except for the present, but we try.
What would happen if I became like a little child? What would happen if I played with my kids and just focused on playing? Not play with my daughters while I watch the news, or while I review an article, or while I make a mental to-do-list, but what would happen if I just played? What would happened If while I stood in line at the grocery store I paid attention to what was happening right there and then? The sound of items being scanned, the temperature of the air, the slumped shoulders of the person in front of me, how I’m feeling, and so on? What would happen if when I spoke to someone on the phone that’s all I did? No multitasking, no organizing my desk, or picking up the living room, or doing the dishes, but just giving the person on the other end of the line my full attention. What would happen? Life would begin to slow down, that’s what would happen. I would begin to see life through the eyes of a child.
Children can teach us a lot about the spiritual life. They are completely in the moment whether playing or eating or reading or talking. When I walk with my kids somewhere we have to leave early because they live in the present moment. As we make our way to some destination one of my children sees a bug and bends down to inspect it. Another finds a series of cracks in the sidewalk to cleverly skip over. Some formerly unseen steps next to a house are discovered and therefore need to be climbed. A leaf is picked up, contemplated, and carefully tucked into a pocket. This drives me crazy! I’m on a mission, I’m focused on getting somewhere in the most efficient way possible. I’ve got big important plans and I don’t have time to contemplate a leaf or tip toe around cracks or to stop and smell the roses, but my girls have the time. I think Jesus had that kind of time too. Do you imagine Jesus walking at a brisk pace trying to squeeze in as many healings as he can in the next half hour? Do you imagine Jesus having a conversation with the woman at the well while trying to decide if he needs new sandals, or thinking about how hot it is, or wondering when the disciples will get back with some food? I picture Jesus looking in her eye, focused on the moment, attentive to her gestures, treating her like she was more important than anything.
I know what you’re thinking, that this is impossible in our world. Jesus lived in an age without fast food, Day Timers, and watches. Children don’t have responsibilities like us adults; they don’t have families to support or important meetings to attend. We’re all so busy that if we just slightly decelerated we’d find ourselves drowning in a sea of unfinished to-do lists. But I wonder how many of us are already doing too much, already going under. One reason life rushes by is because we’re so, well, busy. I’ve been trying to practice this difficult slowness for a few years now and I’ve found that the world doesn’t end when you bow out of the rat race. I’ve noticed, strangely, that when do less I actually get stuff done, and in fact the quality of what I do is much higher. I suppose the goal is really not to slow time down but to live how God wants us to live, in the present, like children. And when we live our lives at the right pace we will experience peace, improved quality of life, and a beautiful slowness. A single afternoon can once again hold untold experiences. What we can learn from a walk with our kids!
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MICAH NEWS - February 2007
by Trey Everett
Dan spent a weekend at San Francisco Theological Seminary last month. He gave a presentation on his latest book Leading A Life With God, and also led a one-day retreat. It is becoming more and more evident that people are desperately eager to learn how to transfer their individual spiritual practices into the body of the church.
Susan Burkle, the massage therapist at the clinic, has started her yearlong journey of only buying what she needs. Susan has been posting her experiences titled "What is enough? A year of paying attention to shopping" on the MICAH web site. This seems to be a hot topic since people continue to talk about this and have been eagerly reading her postings. To keep tabs on her progress just go to micahprays.org and click the question mark icon.
At our last MICAH meeting we discussed the MICAH building via conference call with Shelter Architecture. Shelter sent us the latest round of schematics including a very cool video of the possible future building. We had a good discussion of the overall function, layout, and landscape designs. It is exciting to watch this aspect of MICAH slowly unfold before our eyes. Seeing how spiritual discernment plays a part in this "secular" process has been very intriguing to me.
Dan and I continue to work on setting up an audio section on the website. Our plan is to record sessions on how spirituality intersects our everyday lives. In the near future you will be able to listen to these audio sessions and either be enlightened or R.O.F.L. (rolling on the floor laughing), or both.
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MICAH News - January 2007
by Trey Everett
"What has been my spiritual experience at MICAH?" Dan asked. He wanted me to
reflect on that question and then give a brief report of my findings to the
church session. Here¹s what I unearthed:
FREEDOM. I have experienced a tremendous amount of freedom while here at
MICAH. Before we started packing up our home in Missouri I asked for
detailed information about my job. In other words, I wanted a job
description. After all, you just can¹t up and move your family across three
states without a detailed job description. Everyone knows that except for
Dan. I clearly remember his reply, "We can give you a list of 25 things to
do but you may hate everyone of them. Instead, why don¹t we just spend some
time in prayer, see what you like doing, and then we¹ll tailor make your job
to fit your gifts." Hmmmm, that didn¹t sound so bad. I decided I could
live with that, and that is exactly what has happened since we moved here.
I have been given extremely large, almost hysterical amounts of freedom. As
projects pop up I am given the liberty of choosing what I¹m truly interested
in and what I have natural ability for. Here¹s a typical conversation with
Boss says, "Here¹s a new project to consider. How would you like to
work on it?"
I say, "Uh, I really wouldn¹t like to do that."
Boss says, "Okay. What about this other idea I¹ve been thinking about?"
I say, "That sounds interesting. Tell me more."
Now, I can sense some practical, task driven people thinking, "That¹s not
how things work in this world!" Exactly. That¹s not how things work in
this world; it¹s how I imagine things working in the Kingdom of God. This
freedom to choose areas of interest and areas I¹m more skilled at transforms
my job into something more like an art. Which, as you might guess, results
in creativity, energy, focus, and quality in my work. I often catch myself
thinking, "I can¹t believe I work here. It¹s just too good to be true."
SPACE. Every job has "busy work" like running errands, decorating the
bulletin board, paying bills, trying to fix the copy machine, etc. This
busy work is like little fires. Everyday there are little fires here and
there to put out, and each fire, although often very small, takes energy and
time. Before you know it you¹re spending an appalling amount of energy and
time just running here and there, doing this and that while those important
projects are sabotaged. I¹ve noticed that since working here at MICAH I
don't seem to have much busy work. I am given generous amounts of space to
focus on the life and ministry of MICAH. This spaciousness gives me the breathing room needed to think clearly and creatively, to notice God¹s
promptings, and to have freshness in my work. I love this space.
PRAYER. The third area that came to mind is spirituality. Before we moved
to Crookston I was a minister. I spent time in prayer and believed prayer
was important, which makes sense; after all I was the pastor. The problem
was that prayer really wasn¹t encouraged in the church. Now, you may be
thinking that I must have been at some strange kind of cult church, but I
wasn¹t. The church I was part of was just like any other church in America,
and in "any other church in America" prayer is nice and sweet and even said
to be important but it¹s not really encouraged. What is encouraged in most
churches is running programs, recruiting volunteers, expanding the budget,
building, growing, looking attractive, and making things happen, or making
things comfortable, whichever may be the case. I have noticed the opposite
at MICAH. Prayer is not only encouraged but it is the real work here.
Running programs, expanding budgets, building, growing, making things happen
are all second to prayer. Now, I can sense those same practical, task
driven people thinking, "Well, that¹s nice if you pray a lot, but you¹ve got
to do more! Someone has to be in charge of getting the ball rolling." A
lot is happening here at MICAH, much more than I can list right here. What¹s
interesting is not that a lot is happening but that all the things that are
happening were not thought up by our own clever minds or started by our own
talent and determination. All these projects, ideas, ministries,
opportunities, etc. seem to come out of nowhere! Who starts that ball
rolling? I¹m slowly realizing that it¹s not our job to make things happen,
that¹s God¹s job. We pray, start noticing where the ball is rolling, and
then we just get behind it. That¹s church. That¹s prayer. That¹s been my
experience so far at MICAH.
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