Advent Video Devotional
Journey along with Rev. MargaretAnne Overstreet, Interim pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Carmi, Illinois as she leads us through "Messengers of God" - a contemplative Advent video devotional featuring the voices of prophets and angels.
Watch online at aninbetweenplace.wordpress.com...
Summary of the 59th Minnesota Holistic Medicine Group Meeting
- September 19-22, 2012
submitted by Bill Manahan, Co-chair
The Minnesota Holistic Medicine Group took advantage of an integrative medicine and spirituality conference held in Crookston the weekend of September 19 to 22. Instead of having our usual September gathering/conference in the Twin Cities, this one was held in the Presbyterian Church in Crookston. The conference was organized by Debra Bell, an integrative medicine family practitioner working in Crookston, and her husband, Dan Wolpert. Dan is a pastor plus being a practitioner and teacher of contemplation plus being the co-founder (with Debra) of the Minnesota Institute of Contemplation and Healing (MICAH).
The title of the conference was Science & Spirituality: Seeking an Integrated Reality. As described in the brochure, Debra and Dan wanted to organize this conference because so many people view the various aspects of our lives as separate and distinct. There is an increasing separation and alienation that results from carving our world into distinct compartments, and it seems to be causing damage to both individuals and to our world. Therefore, using the observations and experience of science and the contemplative life (having a deep conversation with God), this unique event explored the different facets of our existence to help us understand how they contribute to our reality. There was a wealth of interesting information discussed during the weekend, and I found it stimulating, exciting, informative, and fun. Thank you, Debra and Dan for this fabulous conference.
There were plenary sessions, workshops, hands-on myofascial release sessions, lots of time for drawing and producing our own art, and a wealth of group sharing experiences. For me, one of the most fun things was having our meals together in the church basement. I grew up in a small town going to lots of church dinners and suppers, so it truly felt like a journey into my past. There was plenty of tasty and healthy food from a local chef, and I did not get to eat one single hot dish, tuna casserole, or Jell-O/marshmallow salad the entire weekend. My mother would have been disappointed, I suspect.
For those of you who considered going and decided against doing so, the seven of us who drove to Crookston from the Twin Cities would all say that you made a mistake. Each of us really enjoyed the conference, the weekend, the food, and the friendly intimacy of a small town and small conference. There were about 25 total attendees with some extra people from Crookston joining us one night for the drumming circle.
I was planning to give a review (in this summary) of some of the fabulous workshops I attended during the weekend, but now six weeks later, I do not think I can do them justice. If you do want to learn more about the conference, please contact Cathy Dolan, Cheryl Giles, Valerie Lis, Mary Schuster, Katharine Swenson, Kim Lane, or me for more details.
Next Conference/Gathering on January 19, 2013
On October 6, I sent you information about our next meeting on January 19. It is titled “The Role of Vibrational Technologies in Transformational Healing and Spiritual Development.” Some of the new technologies can induce a profound state of relaxation which can hopefully assist in opening and balancing our individual energy fields. This January 19 meeting will be about a few of those new technologies. I know that some of you have had a chance to have a one-hour session in Dan and Ellen Cohen’s BodySound chair. All but a couple of the practitioners who have used the chair have had a profound experience, so I encourage all of you to consider taking advantage of Dan and Ellen’s offer to have a free one-hour session in the chair. They are interested in getting feedback from practitioners to help them figure out the best way for people to experience the chair. You can contact Dan at email@example.com and Ellen at firstname.lastname@example.org. Their home offices are in Eden Prairie and Chaska. Believe me! There is no “hook” to this free offer. We truly need your experiences, thoughts, feelings, and advice regarding this technology, so give yourself a treat and make an appointment for one hour in the chair. I have not talked to anyone who did not feel it was worthwhile.
More details will be sent in December regarding the January 19 (Saturday morning) meeting. It is once again at the Carondolet Center in St. Paul. No pre-registration is required. The cost will be $25 to cover food, drinks, and room rent. Students are $5. Registration, breakfast, and socializing will be from 7:30 to 8:30 am, and the conference will go until noon. Feel free to e-mail or call me if you have any questions.
Science and Theology Conference: Live Doodles
During the September 2012 Seeking an Integrated Reality: A Conference on Science and Spirituality, Trey Everett did live drawings from the conference keynote addresses and one of the large group debriefing sessions.
Why We Live in Community
Why did Jesus come to earth and die on the cross? At the most basic and simple level he did this so we could be forgiven and could enter heaven, but there is a deeper meaning to the life and death of Jesus. But, I’m getting ahead of myself here so let me back up a bit.
Last week Dan and I attended the Nurturing Communities Gathering at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, MN. It was a gathering of a number of intentional communities around the nation to discuss various issues related to living in community. There were groups from St. Louis, Chicago, New York, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Tennessee, Georgia, Waco Texas, Pittsburgh, Kentucky, San Francisco, and Washington DC. The communities represented varied in size, economic structure, leadership, ministry and longevity. Some are just a few years old consisting of three or four people. Some are decades old with hundreds of members. Some communities have a common purse, some don’t. Some share homes and vehicles while others live nearby one another. Some have separate jobs while others work together. One community makes high quality wooden toys and furniture to support them. Some worship together while others attend churches of their choice. And what was more interesting was that this gathering took place in the midst of the Benedictine community which has been around for 1,500 years.
What Dan and I noticed at this gathering was what everyone was talking about, which was basically how to get along with each other. They weren’t talking about strategies for ministry or sharing ideas on better ways to help others. They were talking about the pressures of economics and leadership and of just trying to live and work together. Some were obviously struggling to make it work and it reminded me of how difficult community really is. We want community and we don’t want it. We want to trust others and we don’t want to trust others. We want to be selfless and we want to be selfish. The reality is community is very complicated.
This weekend I was reading the book Why We Live in Community by Eberhard Arnold. He says,
“We must live in community because all life created by God exists in a communal order.”
When we look at creation we can see that this is true. There is a communal order to reality. Everything is connected, everyone is dependent on another. We consciously and unconsciously seek others out which makes up our societies. Now we are beginning to understand that we are connected at invisible levels. We are beginning to observe that our very cells and minds are communicating and connecting at deep and mysterious levels independent from time and space.
Which gets back to my original question, why did Jesus come to earth and die on the cross? He came to overcome death and division through love and sacrifice. He came to bring back the communal order God created in the first place. Jesus broke down the hostility caused by divisions such as Jew v. gentile, men v. women, free v. slave, rich v. poor, American v. Cuban, Republican v. Democrat, Christian v. Muslim. God has chosen us, normal, everyday people to be the church, to be the continuing presence of Christ on earth. God has chosen us to bring about this original unity and community through love and sacrifice. As the living Body of Christ we are to be bigger than the differences we encounter in our work place, schools, family gatherings, and communities. One final quote by Arnold,
“Community doesn’t take place in the form of hard demands on others, but in joyous self-sacrifice.” Ending division through love and self-sacrifice was Jesus purpose and thus it is a reflection of our purpose as well.
The Macedonia Project
Over the past year MICAH has been involved with something called the Macedonia Project. You may recognize this name from 2 Corinthians 8:2 which says, “We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia. During a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity.”
The Macedonia Project is a contemplative approach of spreading the spirit of generosity, awareness of God’s abundance, and stewardship leadership to local churches and individuals. The means of this process is through “good conversation” or in other words noticing and sharing the positive stories of stewardship in our lives. In this more relational approach to stewardship the common dead-end, frustrating, and often hostile approaches are by passed and new life giving ways of expressing gratitude and generosity become apparent.
The Macedonia Project is in conjunction with the Northwestern Minnesota Synod (ELCA) and MICAH. We have been providing services by selecting grant participants, formulating the curriculum and assembling resources for the Good Conversation groups, helping facilitate the group process, connecting the participants to churches and helping train them to run the church conversations, and providing administrative support for coordinating the project with participants, churches, synod, and conferences. The project will continue into 2013.
We practice what we preach and so as the Macedonia Team meets each month we take time to check in, participate in silence and a prayer practice, reflect on what has happened recently, and then, usually the last 30 minutes of our typical three-hour meeting we discuss future plans. It is a life giving process absent of charts and statistics and budgets. No worried or angry discussions about money arise. We find that out of this process we individually and collectively begin to notice what God is calling us to do.
Winter Conceals; Summer Reveals
from Trey Everett
Our family went camping last weekend at Turtle River State Park. It was our first visit to the park and in spite of some foreboding weather we had a wonderful time. We took an extended hike (i.e. we got lost) along trails in fields, woods, and next to the river. We sat around the campfire cooking food, drinking hot chocolate and coffee, and reading and journaling.
But during our two day camping experience one thing in particular we noticed was all the Spring/early Summer life. There were all sorts of birds making their unique chirps and tweets and trills. Two ducks were hoping in and out of the river. Coyotes were yipping and barking throughout the night. I kept hearing a lone turkey gobbling here and there and then in the morning Corene caught a glimpse of it. But the one form of life we all noticed in abundance were the caterpillars. They were everywhere! Mostly Painted Lady caterpillars and some tiny inch worms. These slow moving, leaf eating insects were climbing on our tent, on our shirts and hats, all over trees and even falling out of trees. As I lay in the tent every few seconds I would hear a thump on the top of the tent and then the sound of another caterpillar rolling off the side. At one point Jack found one crawling inside his shirt. A day later we found one that apparently hitched a ride in our gear climbing a wall in our living room.
I’m okay with caterpillars, and would much rather have an abundance of them than any ticks or mosquitoes (and there were no ticks or misquitoes!). A few days before we went camping we found a few of the Painted Ladies in our yard. We made a nice little home for them and put them in a container with sticks and leaves in hopes we will see their transformation from a heavy, slow earth crawling life into a light, floating on air existence.
I once heard someone say, "Winter conceals and Summer reveals." They said this in reference to our spiritual life. There are stages where we are quiet and hidden, silently growing and transforming. And then at the right time we "emerge" changed and transformed, visible to the world as somehow new, more fully human. Of course the transformation in a butterfly’s life takes place in a very dramatic way and takes place only once. You and I experience this transformation usually less dramatically but, depending on how much we engage with and pay attention to God, we experience it constantly, daily I would suggest. In this emerging season of the year maybe we can be reminded of our own spiritual journey of emerging and going forth as the transparent love and compassion and truth of Christ.
from Trey Everett
Sometimes in our worship service during the Declaration of Pardon the congregation responds with, "In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven and set free to become truly human." I have always been intrigued by the phrase "truly human." Recently I've been reading through the book The Luminous Gospels which is a contemporary translation of the so called "gnostic" Gospels of Thomas, Mary Magdalene, and Philip. These early Christian texts are thought provoking and shed light on our common perceptions of the traditional teachings of Jesus found in our New Testament Gospels that we are so used to. Toward the end of the Gospel of Mary Magdalene some of the disciples are having a discussion amongst themselves. Levi says to Peter, "As he (Jesus) taught us, we should be clothed instead with the cloak of True Humanity, and following his command announce Good News without burdening it further with rules or laws he himself did not give us." This phrase "True Humanity" can also be expressed as "being clothed with the perfected form of humanity." What does this mean?
It seems to me that Jesus is our example of what it means to be truly human. Jesus was a human in the sense that he had flesh and blood, he experienced hunger and thirst, and he experienced emotions and had feelings like the rest of us. But Jesus also exemplified our best selves. If I am looking for a hint or description of what the ‘best Trey' is like I need look no further than the life and teachings of Jesus. Jesus shows me what it means to be the person God created me to be.
Jesus has a tremendous amount of compassion and when I begin to have more compassion I am actually becoming truly human. Jesus exudes freedom when he says no to traditions or expectations that do not bring about love and life. Therefore when we begin to thoughtfully refrain from doing things out of guilt or fear of what others think, we experience this freedom and thus we become more human.
I can't help but be reminded of other passages in the New Testament that talk about being "clothed with Christ" or "putting on the mind of Christ" and how this relates to being a "true human being." Maybe reading Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John with this thought of being "truly human" will reveal new insights. With refreshed minds and hearts we really can announce the Good News that "In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven and set free to become truly human." That is something to be truly thankful for.
2011 Annual Report: Transformation at Work
from Trey Everett
Jesus brings new life into our dusty minds and hearts. In the parables and throughout the Gospels we see Jesus bringing this new life. People are being resurrected, eyes are opened both physically and spiritually, people begin to live and act with new understanding.
The Gospels are soaked with transformation. One story in particular seems to showcase this transformation. It's the story of the woman caught in adultery. As you remember the story begins with the Pharisees and Scribes bent on trying to trap Jesus into saying something incriminating. And so on their way to stone a woman caught in adultery they figure they can use her to trap Jesus. Two for one, what a deal! With the power of the law behind them and with a lot of self-righteousness they demand Jesus respond to their plans of stoning this woman. They are focused on right and wrong, black and white, yes and no. They have a justice oriented, management and control focused mindset. And as they demand a clear black and white response from Jesus they are shocked by what he does and says. Jesus doesn't enter into their world of answers and management and control, he engages them from another perspective, another way of seeing. Jesus just scribbles in the dirt. It's a response that catches them off guard. They're not sure what to do and so they ask a second time for his response. This time Jesus stands up and utters the simple, direct, and laser cutting phrase "He who is without sin let him throw the first stone." They all walk away leaving Jesus with the woman. This is truly a miracle. Here is a pack of rabid, self-righteous, myopic, fearful, controlling men who are polishing their guns and ready for a fight. No amount of arguing is going to persuade them from their mission of justice and from their deep seated, concreted encased ideas. But with less than a dozen words and some scribbles in the sand life and light and energy enter this painful scenario and we see transformation at work.
As I reflect back on ministry of MICAH I see this same Gospel like transformation at work. Light and life and energy materialize as we seek to follow the risen Jesus in our midst. This way seeing, noticing, paying attention to Jesus is far different from the controlling, management oriented, black and white blueprint much of the world and church tend to follow. And out of this different understanding and way of life unfolds the various creative ministries of MICAH. Cooking classes, science and theology, prayer retreats, work with pastors, health and healing, art, movie screenings, podcasts, and so on are tangible result of this noticing and following. Transformation in our painful world is at work.
from Trey Everett
Over the last few months I've been reading books on the mind in general and specifically on being mindful. I've found this a very intriguing topic. The basic idea these books seem to teach is that most of the time we humans live in the non-real world of our thoughts. We live a make believe existence the majority of our lives. I've sound this subject so interesting that it has inspired a number of Holy Doodles such as "The Great Wave," "Downpour of the Mind," "Free Your Mind," and "Bob's View."
If you're not quite sure you agree with the idea that we live mostly unaware then consider what's going on in your mind as you drive to Grand Forks. We're driving our vehicle across Hwy 2 without hitting other cars, or swerving into the ditch, or going too much over the speed limit. So we must be present to the moment right? We can't be mindlessly driving can we? Actually we mindlessly drive all the time. As we somehow stay on the road we relive the last phone conversation we had with our in-laws, we replay the argument we had with our spouse and this time we win, in a miraculous turn-of-events we imagine our boss realizes our ideas are awesome and promotes us, we fantasize that we inherit a few million dollars from an unknown relative, we write and star in a Hollywood block-buster movie, we become the new front runner for the president of the United States, a song on the radio takes us back to some vivid memories 25 years ago which we relive and this all happens before we pass Fischer! It is pretty amazing we get anywhere safely! The only thing I find more intriguing then how our minds work is how unaware we all are of our extensive "day dreaming."
Here's a personal example of how I have recently experienced the habitual power of mindlessness. A few months ago Corene and I were riding our bikes along a trail near Brainerd. As we were riding along an especially scenic trail we met another couple going the opposite direction. As the couple passed us on our left I did what I habitually do when I ride my bike, I glanced in my little rearview mirror. It was a mindless action that I've done thousands of time as I've ridden my bike down streets, though neighborhoods, and along trails over the last few years. And so as the couple passed I turned my head to look into my mirror and I saw the bikers peddle away. I saw their clothes, I saw the backs of their helmets, I saw what they looked like as they continued on their way in the opposite direction. It was a very clear image that I distinctly remember. I keep telling you how clear this image of this couple peddling away was because of what I am going to tell you next. The mirror that I was looking at on my bike handle was actually gone. There was no mirror to look at. It had broken off a few days before. If my mirror was gone then what happened? This is what happened… as the couple passed us and I habitually turned my head to look at them my mind made up an image of what my mind thought I would or should see. This made-up image materialized in my brain within the brief moments I was turning my head to look into the now gone mirror. It was a vivid, visual, and moving image that I still remember today. But as my eyes locked onto the end of my handlebar a nanosecond later, I realized there was no mirror and that therefore this image I held in my mind of the couple peddling away was just a fabrication. I peddled along the trail in a daze pondering and trying to come to terms with this strange experience. I could still recall what this couple looked like in my mirror as they peddled away but I knew this image I was recalling was not real. My mind had made it all up. This was a brilliant, seamless manifestation of the mind which I don't think I would have noticed had my mirror actually been there.
If my mind performed this amazing, realistic parlor trick with the bike mirror that I bought into then my mind was probably doing such things in all sorts of situations, all day long, throughout my lifetime that I'm also buying into. What is the hope once we realize we are living such mindless lives? Hope is present as we begin to realize our fallen reality. Realizing the state we are in is the result of Christ's compassion and presence with us. Christ is slowly helping us to wake up to what truly is real, to acknowledge it, and then to move on ever so slowly but truthfully. As we begin to pay more and more attention to what is real, no matter how uncomfortable that may be, we are actually paying more and more attention to God. Because God exists in the real, not in our make believe worlds. May we all begin to wake up.
A View from Nowhere
Brief reflections on issues of the day from a spacious landscape
Read columns at CrookstonTimes.com...
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