Thursday, January 28, 2010


Last night was the end of the 3rd semester of my Wellstreams program to become a spiritual director.
I am surprised to find that I am halfway through this process. Already.

And I have three more semesters - a year and a half and I will be through. Amazing.

I am about to enter into a really daunting part of this process. We will not only have class, read books, write papers, and have triads where we do direction with each other - but we will start doing direction on people outside of the class - for a year. I have two people to guide and I will also have to meet with my supervisor once a month.

What I have learned is to do everything as it comes and not to worry about how to get it done.

Because this clas is really about deepening our spiritual life, and growing more and more into a trust of God's presence and power - I find that my anxiety about performance has really gone down over the past two and a half years.

I have no idea where this is all going to lead. I know that the spiritual direction that I will not do will not involve parishioners, friends or family. So, we will see where God is leading me once I become more skilled in this ministry.

Anyway, it is stunning to me that time is passing so quickly on this - and I know that it will be a blink of an eye and this whole wonderful experience will be over.

I am just so glad that I took the risk and the effort to enter into this program.
It is all about following your dreams.

Monday, January 25, 2010


Spiritual but not Religious

I spent some time today at a workshop for ministers about a category of people who are not going to church because they are "spiritual but not religious."

According to the pollster who spoke - it looks like it may be 25% of people. With the others dividing like this:
12% - Not Religious Not Spiritual
25$ SBNR
20% Religious but not Spiritual
45% Spiritual and Religious.
I know it doesn't exactly add up - but all the numbers on this stuff is mushy. Like what is spiritual and what is religious. Oh well.

I heard Dr. Linda Mercandante report on her project on SBNR which was about her qualitative research of 80 plus people who self identify as SBNR

First she talked about what causes SBNR -
1. The intellectual landscape has changed over the last 20 some years
- distrust of reason (not anti-intellectualism but an understanding of some essential mystery that reason cannot accomodate)
- distrust of authority - religious authorities too
- fear of commitment - like to keep options open
- market driven environment where everything is for sale - you can access spiritual retreats, books, people for $$
2. Post Modernism - I always hear about post modernism at workshops these days!
- sense of fragmentation
- sense that there is no accessible universal truth
- no meta narrative - and anyone promoting one is seen as suspect
- no trust and desire for community of shared meaning

And the result of this is that people are creating their own meaning and cobbling it togeher. She used the word "hybridity." Blending many things that may not be compatible.

and for many people religion is seen as a roadblock
- they reject religions claims to truth
- they fear that religion demands an abdication of personal liberty (they say Footloose and think that is all churches? )
- people want to be "patrons" and not "subscribers"

And she said that the question is no longer - where do I belong? but what is the meaning of my life with my self as the arbiter?

What she found is that there were some consistent beliefs with the people that she interviewed.
1. They believed in God - but used other language. Like "The Transcendent" and "energy," "Light" etc.
This is seen as a force to cooperate with - not necessary a source of guidance and help

2. They believe that humanity is born good - and the problems come when blocked from the source. They often believe that religion teaches that people are born evil (we don't)

3. They have no confidence in life after death - often refraining from contemplating what comes next

4. There was not a sense of ongoing community within the spiritual communities that they had.

I don't know whether this is true or not - 80 conversations do not seem like a lot to me. I do know that the SBNR folks in my life make me think about the R part and what it has meant to me to live a very religious life.

So, I listen to this and wonder about it all. I know that my whole life has been shaped by the church and by the community that i have found there over the years. When I look at my friendships on facebook I see that there are intergenerational connections because of my life in the church and camp. That doesn't include all of my relationships with the "saints" who are not computer people but have greatly affected my life.

And that my life is also influenced by the practices of my faith - study, worship, sacraments. I have experienced wonder and healing and all kinds of "God moments" - more than anyone knows that have kept me going and kept me humble.

And I love that the church forces me to care deeply about people different from me. To work with them and for them. To learn to forgive.

Because I am in the religion biz I know better than anyone else - that there are flaws. However, religion has given my life meaning and purpose. And really - a sense of excitement and wonder as I continue to learn that there is always more to learn, to do and to become in this religious life.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Home Again

Well, the cruise is over and now I am home and happily so.

The cruise was what I needed - but very different from last year. This was a time that I wanted two things: to rest and to detach from my "church life." And I got to do both. I did not even check email _until Thursday - but more about that.

I read lots of books and it was such a blessing to have some books that reallly engaged me. I started the week finishing "Game Change" and at the end of the week I read "The Help" in one day! I recommend them both - but mostly the experience of having a day to do nothing but read and let your mind go into another world - whether it is the world of politics in 2009 or the world of Jackson Mississippi in 1963.

we also visited some isleans - Roatan, Belize and Cozumel. In Cozumel Chuck and I did what we did last year - sat in the plaza with some nachos and coronas and watched people. It was different from last year - since the girls were not along. Still nice - but I missed them.

I also missed my sister Ellen. The last few cruises we have been on have been with Ellen and Tom and so.... The grief comes and goes in the most unexpected times and places.

We returned home to some concerns. One of Rachel's best friends (Rachel is Chuck's granddaughter) was killed in a car accident on Thursday. It is just devastating for everyone. They are in our prayers.

Marnie is coping with colitis for the first time in years. It is probably because she gave up smoking. And now she is in terrific pain and wondering what to do next.

kacey continues to struggle with the job change as she moved from teaching special needs kids in an elementary school to middle school.

So, a cruise is a wonderful vacation - I recommend it to anyone and everyone. I love my life as mother and pastor. Happy to be away and happy to come home and go back into it all again.

God is at work in our rest and play, in our grief and illness, in all the changes of our lives.

I trust that.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What's Going On....

I want to have an update because I am leaving town tomorrow. And that is good news for me - a trip to New Orleans, a cruise to the Western Caribbean and two weeks out of the pulpit! Good for me.

The year is starting and it is going to be interesting.

In my Wellstreams program we are now halfway through. I am finishing the third semester this month. We have been "directing" each other this fall and now we have the names of people outside of the class that we will direct for the coming year. So, I realize that I will be adding three more meetings a month to my life - with each of this people and my supervisor. It seems daunting to me and at the same time very exciting.

At church we have started what we are labeling "A year of Passionate Spirituality" as our focus. God is still revealing what that is going to mean. But I am and will be preaching this season (Epiphany) from Paul which is in itself interesting for me. I tend to focus on the gospels and often the stories. The first two sermons have been meaningful to me - (if no one else!) and I really have felt led in this.

Yesterday two women from our healing team did a reiki treatment on one of the Oakleaf residents. Oakleaf is the retirment community next door. We will be doing a workshop there on Reiki at the end of the month and I wonder where that is going to lead.

Our Gospel Praise service is in discernment about a preacher for the future. There has been one person who has preached twice and he is fantastic. It is all I can do not to just call him and sign him up - but I know we have to do a process on this. But I am a dreamer and the thought of his coming on board sends my mind soaring into possibilities of what could happen with that church service.

Finally, I am still in process of discernment about my Sabbatical this summer. I have already put together two different plans for the time away and now I wonder what is really going to happen. This is a once in a lifetime summer for me - to have time away from the church to rest and find renewal and to continue to learn.
My first plan Devised two years ago) was to focus on healing ministries, and my second plan was more personal with family time and travel. Now the family vacation that I thought would start the sabbatical may not happen and Audrey is inviting me into working with her on a LGBT retreat in mid summer for GLAD and everything is up in the air. So I wait and wonder where God is leading me.

One more thing - I bought a book for the cruise - GAME CHANGE on Monday and can't stop reading it now! I have so much to get done before I go - but all I want to do is read this book. I am 250 pages in it in 2 days. HIGHLY recommend for all you political junkies.

Tomorrow we get on a plane at 8:15 AM and I get to really start to rest. In the meantime......a lot is going on!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

It is New Year's Morning and this is why I am happy

1. Our New Year's Eve party last night was really a dream come true for me. We played games, we ate food, we talked. we connected. And we - was about 35 people from 70plus years to three years old. We were completely diverse. We looked like the church that God wants us to be.

2. At midnight I was in the sanctuary of the church receiving communion and holding hands with others. What a wonderful way to start the year.

3. This morning I woke up and got enough sleep! At my age a night of getting sleep is a blessing.

4. I finished reading The Defector by Danial Silva. This suspense novel had been recommended by my friend Susan. The writing is good, the story is thrilling and I could not put it down. I love it when I find books that take me away from it all.

5. We are going over to Marnie and Eriks for Pork and Sauerkraut. Apparently for some people this is a new year's day tradition. And now I guess it is mine. I look forward to the company.

6. I am going to see the movie "It's Complicated" with Melanie. Another good way to start the year

7. The bucks are playing the rose bowl so I will catch the end of the game. That is about as much football as I need. Hope they win.

So the new year begins - with friends, family. books, movies, football and faith.
Good beginning.
Hope I can keep the balance.