MICAH offers ministries for body, mind and spirit including contemplative and silent prayer, meditation, spirituality, spiritual direction, and retreat center.  The Family Practice and Integrative Medicine Center also offers holistic health and healing services including integrative, complimentary, alternative, and natural medicine, replacement therapy, natural healing, natural menopause, bio-identical hormones, and replacement therapy.

MICAH NEWS - December 2009

by Trey Everett

Black Friday has come and gone, or has it? I remember years ago relatives of mine waking up extremely early on the day after Thanksgiving in order to go Christmas shopping. Sales, specials, once-in-a-lifetime offers floated around in their frontal cortex. They would arrive early enough to get incredible deals, but not without scars. Strong coffee, memorized floor plans and deadly weapons such as elbows and shopping carts were used to fight hordes of other bargain seekers. Sometimes they would come home giddy with carloads of wonderful items saving millions of dollars. Other years they would come home distraught and cursing with dark circles under their eyes, lots of bruise and war stories, and only a few second rate purchases. At the time this one-day event seemed strange to me. Why put yourself through this torture I wondered? But as I got older I realized that shopping (along with full moons, hallucinogens, and politics) causes people to act strangely. You might think humanity would realize that any day named "Black" would be a good day to stay hold up in your house, but no. As the years moved along stores began opening at 5 AM, then 4 AM. Savvy shoppers began investing in tents and camped out all night in order to be one of the first ten people to buy a big screen TV for only $25. Of course they already had four but who can pass on such a good deal? Billions were spent on advertising campaigns in order to draw people in. People began to be trampled to death while racing into stores. A fire broke out one year and instead of shoppers running out of the smoke filled store like any sane person the opposite happened, they had to be stopped from running in. Did that slow down the feeding frenzy? No way! This year an outlet mall in Corene's hometown of Owatonna decided to open all their stores not at 4 AM but at midnight. Who needs to camp out anymore? Dan just walked into my office and said, "Today is Black Monday with four million purchases made a minute." Black Friday has evolved from a one-day event into a season starting in early November and running through the New Year.

Now I don't think shopping is evil. But, like everything, there is a limit. Looking for that awesome deal we can brag about for years to come can be dangerously addictive. Amassing more for our selves and giving material items that friends and loved ones don't need can distract from what is really important. God help us when shopping becomes a "hobby." What can be done about this? A few years ago our family, along with many others, made the conscious decision to not shop on Black Friday. This year we tried to take it a step further and not use our computer or watch TV or drive. Amazingly we had a great day with no dark circles under our eyes or bruised up bodies, plus we saved a lot of money. A friend of mine told me that this year after an exhausting Thanksgiving he decided to sleep in Friday morning. At 7 AM his phone rang. Not wanting to wake up his wife and baby he quickly turned it off since they were at a relative's house sleeping in the same room. He tried to go back to sleep but his sister, who had just called, immediately texted him. Maybe there's a family emergency he thought as he quietly snuck out of the room and called his sister. "What's going on?" he whispered." "Do you have a shop vac?" she asked. "What?" "Do you have a shop vac?" she asked again. "No," my friend whispered back. "Do you want one? They're really cheap." Even after just being woken up he had the saneness to mumble the brave and counter cultural word "NO!" Then he hung up and went back to his family and fell asleep.

Sometimes that's all we can do, and actually, that's all we need to do. I think that's pretty good advice.

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MICAH NEWS - November 2009

by Trey Everett

For Sunday School this month we're learning about Elijah and the widow from Zarephath. You remember the story, God sends Elijah to Zarephath where he's to meet a widow whom God says, "Will feed you." Elijah follows God's wishes, finds a widow and then asks for water and bread. This all seems simple enough until we find that the widow only has an itsy bitsy amount of flour and oil, just enough for a last meal and then she and her son will starve to death. At this point I have a hunch that I might question God. I mean, surely God wouldn't want me to take food from this poor woman's meager rations. That's not nice. I didn't even get a name from God, maybe I have the wrong widow. Maybe God actually said to get my food from a window not a widow. I'm just thinking I'd have a hard time following through with this difficult task. But Elijah doesn't. Like a true Old Testament prophet he doesn't hesitate for a moment and tells the sad woman to make him a biscuit first and then with what's left she can make something for her and her son. This, by-the-way, proves that Elijah wasn't from around here because this in definitely not "Minnesota nice." But, he sort of makes up his meanness by adding this little prophecy, "The God of Israel will not let your jar of flour and bottle of oil run out until the drought is over." Well, that's a nice touching little prophecy, maybe Elijah was from around here, but if I were that hungry parent I think I'd tell that guy who just walked out of the wilderness to keep on walking. We need to be generous, but come on, there is a point! We have responsibilities to our family. We're not supposed to be fools. However, this widow is not like me. She listens and shares what little she has with this disheveled stranger and God provides just like predicted. But the widow tosses caution to the wind before she knows the outcome. Why? I doubt Elijah had a glowing halo around his head but did she see something special in him? Did she have a strong sense that this, however counterintuitive it seemed at the time, was exactly what God wanted? Maybe she and Elijah had something called faith.

Faith. We, as Christians, talk of it's importance. We say it is vital to following Christ. We claim to have it, but I wonder. Faith is easy when we have money in the bank and a fridge full of food. Faith is somewhat easy when we have a secure job and two dependable cars in the garage. We can glibly say within the walls of our beautiful secure homes and churches, "I have faith in God." Faith is easy when everything goes as planned. Faith? Is that really even what faith is? There is something to say for those who demonstrate that they truly believe God will take care of them when they have nothing to fall back on, no security blanket, no answer in sight. There is something wonderfully captivating about those who live in faith in the midst of desolation and impending doom. What would happen in our lives if we obeyed God even when it was far more different and difficult than we first thought? What if we trusted, believed, that God really would take care of us even when we were down to our last meal? We might never know because, well, that would take a tremendous amount of faith.

In the next scene the widow¹s son dies. Whoa!! But...but, I thought God was going to take care of them! This seems to throw a wrench into everything I've said above. But, I have to remember that the will of God is far more different and difficult, and far more grand and glorious than I first thought. Have faith.
1 Kings 17.

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MICAH NEWS - September 2009

by Trey Everett

The summer seemed to fly by as work on the MICAH building focused on the stone front. We're honing our masonry skills as the building is slowly transformed from white tyvek and plywood into this beautiful ancient church/monastery look. The green roof was transplanted as most of the plants died over the winter. It seems our winters are much more severe than the green roof people thought. The new plants are looking great right now and we're hoping next spring they will be alive and well. Our intern Rod had a wonderful month with us. We really enjoyed spending time with him and getting to know him. The summer seemed full of lots of "small" events, acts, and projects.

Fall is upon us now. School is starting next week and our family is gearing up for the new school year. As my girls snuggle into bed I often hear the words, "Dad, I need a drink." I attempt to fool them by getting a lukewarm drink from bathroom sink. I mean, who wants to walk all the way downstairs and then back up when there is perfectly fine drinkable water upstairs? "Dad! Ice water!" This is ucky." I can't fool them, so I make the long trek down to the kitchen, shuffle around for the appropriate cups, then the ice cubes, then the cold water and finally I make the long journey back up to their room. I think a fly would have taken a bigger sip, and then they hand me the full cup of cold water, turn over and go to sleep. I do a lot of pouring as a dad. Pour a drink here, pour a drink there, get up, sit down, get up, sit down, upstairs, downstairs, upstairs again. And I realize that's nothing compared to what Corene does. Sometimes just pouring drinks is all that seems to get done. Their thirst is quenched, but quenched only for the moment. In a few minutes they'll be thirsty again. I sometimes think, "I could duct tape a garden hose to their mouths." But, I'm a minister. I can't do that.

Really, I have to admit, there's nothing wrong with getting thirsty, nothing wrong with quenching someone's thirst, even if it is just for the moment. Actually that's the best we can do. When I humble myself enough I realize I can't solve the world's problems, or even my own. I can't stop pain and sin and heartache and poor choices, but I can pour a drink. I can listen. I can pray. I can encourage, or drop a line, or call, or stop by. It's not much, but somehow God multiplies that small act of kindness, that small gift, the hospitality, or smile, or touch. Somehow God's power flows through those small gestures. No words can really explain it. I joust pour that drink at home, in the neighborhood, at church, knowing that's all I can do sometimes. And really, that's all God wanted me to do in the first place.

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MICAH NEWS - June 2009

by Trey Everett

We are excited to welcome Rob Weis to Crookston. From June 8 through July 6 Rob will be part of a month long Spiritual Life and Leadership internship with MICAH. Rob comes from Carlinville, IL where he is a counselor at Blackburn College.

The MICAH building continues to progress toward completion. Two weeks ago the kitchen cabinets were installed. We now have plumbing and electricity. That's especially good since Rob will be living in the MICAH building for his internship.

We have been working on printing a booklet of the Holy Doodles. Below I have included an excerpt from the introduction page.

Discernment is about becoming aware of what brings you life. Since I was a kid I have loved doodling. I would spend hours drawing, making little cartoon books, and designing covers of notebooks and folders with monsters, trees, spider webs, piranha, and so on. I remember drawing little tattoos on my classmates. I even thought for a while that I would become a cartoonist. However like many adults, as I got older I made less and less time for what I loved. I found that the only time I spent drawing was when I was addressing envelopes, talking on the phone, or taking notes in college and seminary class. As time went on I rarely drew at all.

Shortly after moving to Crookston Minnesota to work with MICAH Dan Wolpert, the co-fonder of MICAH, noticed my love for art. He suggested I spend more time doing what I love and somehow using this creativity in my work. I remember saying, "Great! So, how can I do this?" He replied, "I don't know." For a long time no particular ideas of how to implement art into my work were apparent, until one day as I was thinking about a spiritual concept a clear image of the concept popped into my mind. I pulled out my journal and drew a picture of the image, it was my first "Holy Doodle." I slowly began understanding that God really wants us to do what is life giving. God wants us to continually notice where the fruits of the Spirit like love, joy, and peace are. Because where you find the fruit is where you find God.

This booklet is not designed to be a trendy, glitzy, shallow, make-me-feel-good, let's-fly-through-this, dog and pony show kind of resource. Even though this is a book of cartoons it is also a book about contemplating deep issues. It is designed to be thoughtful, introspective, searching, and challenging. The leader will not do most of the talking, there will be periods of silence, there are no right answers, and in the end you may have more questions or feel more confused than when you started. But, believe it or not, this is a good thing. When we dig below the surface, when we begin to question and think more deeply about our life, behavior, theology, relationships, etc. it is difficult but it is also freeing. My hope is that Holy Doodles, Cartoons to Contemplate will stretch your mind just enough to cause you to think more deeply about your life with God.

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MICAH NEWS - April 2009

by Trey Everett

I have often wondered where rivers come from. As a kid it's easy to stand and stare at the tremendous current and think that it must eventually just run out. Like when you pull the plug to drain the bath tub, after a while the water is gone and you're left with an empty tub. But, for the most part, that doesn't seem to happen with rivers. They keep going and going and going. They're perpetual motion machines. In fact at certain times of the year (right now for instance) some rivers swell and overflow and become
pretty scary. At times like these we may simply hate the river. As it begins to rise and threatens to spill over the dikes we focus our energies on it and are understandably upset. We like it but we don¹t want it in our back yards or living rooms. But at other times, most times, we love the river. Looking at an aerial view of Crookston I see the Red Lake River snaking through town. In and out, back and forth, from one end to the other it roams. It's a huge part of life for us here in Crookston. We fish in it, boat on it, swim in it, and skip rocks on it. We walk, drive, and snowmobile on top of it. We drill holes into it and put little houses on it and escape from a stressful life for a while. We thoroughly enjoy the river, but we hate it at times too. We ignore it and then we can't stop talking about it. Life with the river has it's literal ups and downs. It¹s sort of a love-hate relationship.

Easter is almost here. During this time of year death and resurrection often become more real to us. We not only reflect on the story of Christ and the cross and empty tomb but we also reflect on our own death and resurrection story. Ours is a continual death and resurrection. As we grow closer to Christ we continue to die over and over. It is not pleasant or relaxing to die to ourselves, it's actually harsh and scary. At times we hate it. But we are also resurrected, again and again and again. We experience times of wonderful life and love and joy. This is our life. This death and resurrection snakes through our life from one end to the other. And as we seek Christ this cycle of death and resurrection never ends, it never dries up. A perpetual motion machine.

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MICAH NEWS - March 2009

by Trey Everett

Have you ever had a conversion experience? Most Christians seem to have a testimony of their "conversion" but what is conversion anyway? Is it an event, a process, a way of thinking? Is conversion an activity that we produce or is it something God does? Can someone be converted but not realize it until years later? Is conversion something that happens instantaneously or does it happen over long periods of time? Does it happen just once or can it happen over and over and over again? When someone says, "I've been converted," is this something that happens in the person's mind or heart? Or does conversion take place in God's mind?

The last three weeks I have drawn doodles about conversion. The first doodle titled "Conversion 101" shows God emptying our mind of all its junk. God then puts the mind of Christ inside out head. The second doodle "Conversion 201" shows God taking out our hardened heart. Our rock-like heart is crushed revealing the real heart, the image of God. Both of these images represent conversion to me. When we are so full of our own thoughts and ideas and prejudices, everything that distracts us from seeing how things really are, we have a difficult time "seeing" God. When our hearts are so hardened, over time we become calloused, unresponsive, and dead to the promptings of God. Love, joy, and peace, the fruits of the Spirit, are not really part of our lives in any significant way. But when God helps clear out our distractions and false ideas and prejudices and small ways of thinking, and when God puts the mind of Christ inside us, that is conversion. When through some kind of divine process our hardened heart breaks, revealing the beauty that has always been there, this is conversion.

This week's doodle continues the theme. "Conversion 301" is inspired from the following saying of the Desert Fathers. Abbot Lot came to Abbot Joseph and said: Father, according as I am able, I keep my little rule, and my little fast, my prayer, meditation and contemplative silence; and according as I am able I strive to cleanse my heart of thoughts: now what more should I do? The elder rose up in reply and stretched out his hands to heaven and his fingers became like ten lamps of fire. He said: Why not be totally changed into fire? This to me sounds like conversion. What does it mean to be totally changed into fire? What does conversion mean to you?

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MICAH NEWS - January 2009

by Trey Everett

It is the start of a brand new year and exciting things are happening at MICAH.  The windmill continues to spin and produce energy at an impressive rate, the north side of the building has now been buried with dirt up to the roof, and the little plants covering the roof are safely tucked in under the snow for a long winters nap.  With the outside of the building almost finished we are now working on the inside.  The kitchen is currently being researched and planned. The design of the bedrooms and bathrooms are being thought through.   By the beginning of summer we plan to have the building fully functional and ready to be used for retreats, events, and for various creative opportunities.  If you are interested in helping with construction, landscaping, or with other areas, or if you just want to come out and walk through the building to see what is happening we warmly welcome you. 

A number of events and opportunities will be taking place this summer which include:

  • "A Day Apart" are one-day retreats that will take place every Tuesday starting May 26 and ending on August 18.  If you need a day to get-away then consider coming to one of these.
  • Three weekend retreats are scheduled for the last weekends in June, July, and August.  A Prayer Retreat will take place June 26-28.  A Health and Spirituality Retreat is scheduled for July 24-26.  And we will have a Couple's Retreat August 28-30.   You might consider being part of one of these retreats.
  • MICAH will also be offering internship opportunities in the summer of 2009.   Spiritual Life and Leadership, Culinary, Construction, and Landscaping Internships will be made available.

Beside these scheduled retreats we continue to offer tailor made group and individual retreats.  For more details on each of the retreats and the internships, and to find out continuing information about MICAH go to our website, micahprays.org. 

A Happy and Peaceful New Year,

TIME Magazine Article "The Rural Exodus"
Featuring Daniel Wolpert

TIME magazine reporter David Van Diema writes "In Minnesota, Daniel Wolpert pastors a conventional, aging congregation but also runs a contemplation center on a plot of former farmland..."

Read the TIME magaize article:
The Rural Exodus >>

Watch the accompanying video clip:
Vanishing Pastors on the Prairie >>


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