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“Wild Space” Wednesdays : Reflections on Marching and Why Wild Space?

Today, I’m instituting a new rhythm post for Wednesdays called, “Wild Space.”  I’m borrowing and improvising with this concept I recently discovered from Dr. Sallie McFague, Eco-Feminist, who, two plus decades ago, began a systematic revisioning of her own theology of God, Humanity, Salvation, the Church…Creation.  She suggests the church has lagged behind in waking up to the reality of climate change and the gnarly, challenges of  the addiction of consumerism that feeds the damage being done to the planet.

I’m inspired by the concept of wild space because it’s roomy for interpretation and improvisation.  Here’s a little more about the context. In her recent writings, McFague presents a path for “ecological praxis of incarnational compassion in action.”  Fancy words, I know, but words I find visionary and inspiring, rooting progressive, creation-based, theological reflection with action. Yes!  One of the steps on this path is voluntary poverty.  In her brilliant, honest manner, she writes of this spiritual practice as a part of a kenotic spirituality, a practice based in self-emptying.  She presents profiles of luminaries like Dorothy Day, Saint Francis, John Woolman, folks who show us what it looks like.  It seems strident initially, but she’s not proposing we become saints and give up everything we own. She is suggesting, however, we avail ourselves to the wild space of self-restraint in our consumption.  She is suggesting we (folks of the middle class, folks with means) do everything we can to leverage our influence on social justice policy…this of course includes climate.

Wild space for Dr. McFague, refers to

A window of opportunity to see a different vision of the good life, [one that is broad and inclusive].  Being a Christian means having a wild space.  This different vision is counter-cultural.  It is based in the radical, generous, abundant love of God and God’s desire for abundant life for all [creation].”

I’m with her…and her…and her

The Womxn’s March experience was a wild space territory for me.  It was a march about abundant life for all, for sure.  Taking action in this way with my body, showing up for myself…walking on behalf of all my women cousins and loved ones in small towns across this country who wouldn’t dare step forward to march, walking on behalf of the Chowan River and Puget Sound, I feel in deep alignment.

and with her…and her…and her

Guest poet

I have traveled outside my skin
for so long
that I want to become the wind
so that I can reach you.

ann-marie stillion

“Making new maps”: Placing attention on what matters

 

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“….in honor of what can be born of darkness, and care, and rooting deep in place, may we make new maps together out of hope, and fallen twigs.”  S. Lindsteadt, A Green Language

 

Leading with a series of questions is risky, but I’m going to take the leap anyway because I don’t know any other way to begin this.  Perhaps, I’ll suggest as a preface that you consider these questions when you have some quiet moments for reflection in the next few days. The end of the year, even the winter time, is a good period for rest and reflection, so we can figure out our next steps.  Don’t worry about a deadline.

What matters most to you, now?  Who and what do you feel a meaningful connection?

Do you feel divided in your energy and time because of feeling ladened with care?

Are you desirous for deeper alignment of your values and your actions/behavior in your life and in the world? 

 Do you experience connection to the sacred when you’re outside in the natural world?

Do you feel you have energy to fine tune your commitments?  Do you feel you have choice here or do you feel trapped in some way?

Are there people/dates/organizations on your calendar that you need to ‘let go of,’ ‘quit,’ ‘remove,’ ‘unsubscribe’ from?  

Who and what is missing on your calendar, in your schedule?

These questions are surfacing in my interior reflection pond in these last days of this year.  There’s both promise and pressure to a new starting point like the new year.  It’s a time to re-imagine what’s possible now, given where we are, given our individual – collective energy.  Having a fresh starting point like the new year, can allow us to re-place [place again] our divided attention/energy on the places, people, organizations/movements, commitments that are in deepest alignment with our values and what we hold as sacred.

Sylvia Linsteadt’s words of invitation and blessing to ‘make new maps of hope,’ appeals to my idealist side, the side that lives in the ‘what if.’   What if I shift attention more completely here?  What if I release this?  Who will I be making room for?

My map of hopes and twigs

As I place my hope-filled commitments in words now, I do so with an intention to honor the lands and waters of my ancestors that have and continue to nourish my bones and spirit. May they guide and direct my heart and actions.

~I commit to continue to practice as an urban contemplative, nurturing connection to the natural world, practicing embodied connection with self/others/the Divine through song, movement, story, and stillness, and sharing this journey more publicly through writing, to build connections

~I commit to be more vulnerable and open to the Divine, to “Love’s way”

~I seek to travel with others who are practicing loving, stewardship of the earth, and acting on her behalf as led to do so

You?  If you sense a desire arising for revising, paring down, shaping up, re-focusing your attention and energy, a revising of your interior map, I’m hopeful to share more questions, reflections, prayers, field notes from my wanderings and pondering in the future to accompany you.

WONDERING Around: The Play in Self Care and Creating

I’m in the “collecting ingredients for a stew” mode.  When I begin a process of designing for an event like a retreat, I listen to ‘what’s up,’ for me, what I’m curious about, what lands on my desk top – web frequency, what emerges from the meditation cushion, and of course the dream scape.  It’s all fair game for the stew.

After my sit this morning, I began playing my shruti box (a drone sound) and singing/vocalizing aloud through a litany of phrases and words to get at the bottom of this place of discontent I’ve been feeling for several weeks.  This state of mind – heart – body, i.e. confusion, fatigue, irritability, cynicism, manifests impatience, more fatigue, discouragement, criticalness of self and others.  NOT a pretty place to live.  VERY unhappy place in fact.  I kept singing about what I thought I was unhappy about, and then it occurred to me.  This is doubt!  This is what doubt is.  It’s insidious in that I never quite know when it starts.  It can lurk around for days, weeks, and I do my adapting thing of ‘explaining’ to myself and others, what’s up, when it’s really just about doubt.  Self doubt. As I spoke that truth, my heart began to soften with the fatigue that goes with this state in my mind/ bodyspirit.  The tears flowed.  Beginning to clear….Phew!

So as I continue to listen and bring my own voice and the voices of others to the ‘design field,’ I’m circling with women who are writing about spiritual development of women, my own experience of  “timing” in life, May Sarton, Annie Dillard, “Mystic Tech,” what does nature have to say about soul – timing, economy of energy/resource.  WONDERING around….

 

“Restoring Your PLAY Factor”: The Invitation

Hand of Invitation - Harriet Platts

Hand of Invitation

On Tuesday, April 9th, we’ll begin a two-week playful exploration of what it means to modulate the dimmer switch on your play factor. Maybe it needs to be turned UP a bit?!  Or maybe, you have just the right amount of playing around in your life right now.

Just the other day, I was feeling so exhausted from the fullness of life, and it occurred to me to ask, what is the relationship between play and rest? I’ve often felt like to play, I had to feel totally rested, or energized, or inspired in order to engage in play, but in fact, RESTEDNESS – the dynamic state where stress or pressure feels suspended for just a moment,  can actually be a by-product of play.  Resting out from whatever version of PINCH-PRESSURE you feel, allows for one to experience a new sort of peripheral vision throughout the whole body. It’s the experience of possibility, a physical roominess of sort.

Please contact University Unitarian Church at 206-525-8400 to register. For church members, it’s $15 for both classes. For friends/non-church members, it’s $30 for both classes.  The classes run from 7-9, on April 9th and 16th.

STRONG in VOICE WHEN SINGING

Last weekend, I traveled with 30 + Unitarian ‘sisters,’ to retreat at Rainbow Lodge for the annual women’s retreat.  My bodyspirit was tired, but as soon as I headed out past Issaquah, I cranked up the music in the car, and I felt the cares lift.  I led the opening session of our retreat, “CREATE, PLAY, REST: Sharing Our Self-Nurturing Practices for Life,” and we began, naturally, with a song. When I lead others in song, I feel strong in my voice. I know the pleasure of making music with others, and music’s capacity to gather people in a moment’s time for celebration and connection.

On Saturday, I took an early morning walk out along the trail, close to a gushing, babbling brook.  Though it was chilly, the sun’s warmth was just right.  And then, the idea just popped into my head.  I should invite others to come out here with me after lunch, and sing in the sun.  I extended the invitation at lunch, and 6 brave souls gathered with me.  I taught them a ‘layered,’ song by Velma Frye, where a phrase is repeated, and then another phrase is layered on top.  “Set the clock of your heart,” the first group held as our foundation.  “Breathe in the dawn,” the next group joined. “Lift high the chalice of your life, taste the joy the joy of being awake,” I rang out as the third voice. The song spun out of us, flowing from the root of our hearts, out into that wooded space.  It was created in a moment, and then, it was over.  Just like that.

LIGHTS ON! Arts/Inquiry-Based Spiritual Care

Welcome to my new website!  I am doing something here that feels a bit risky in that I am showing you how I am creating through service.  I want to introduce a picture of what arts/inquiry-based spiritual care can look like, and how it is emerging in my practice.  Obviously, the words will too often come up short in translating what can best be experienced directly, but I’m too curious to give up trying.

I am a classically trained, experienced chaplain. Throughout my career, I have served in healthcare, educational and faith institutions, undergoing significant change and transition.  Some of my best work has been right at the intersections of change, where I stand with colleagues in solidarity and support, as we seek ways to lead in integrity with our shared vision-passion for serving others with distinction.  The unfolding path of ministry is providing opportunity to witness and to participate in co-creating and nurturing artful, soulful ways to serve in the world.

Thank you for your interest!  I welcome hearing from you!