Wednesday, November 28, 2012


I did my first webinar last night and probably my last.

I enjoyed the preparation for it. The subject was "Having Difficult Conversations" and someone suggested I lead it because our moving into intentional diversity as a church has led us through some difficult conversations.

What was ironic to me as I worked on the project was that I realized how much I really dislike having "difficult conversations." My history has been avoidance if possible.

But I also recognize that I have grown over the years and have learned that these conversations can often be illuminating and life giving.

I started the webinar by sharing two writings: Ephesians 4: 1-16 as Paul writes about leading "a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called,
2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

I also ahared the wonderful prayer/poem by Teihard de Jardin about trusting the "slow work of God":
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way
to something unknown,
something new.

And that led me into talking about and describing what spiritual maturity looks like and how important it is for all of us to continue to grow spiritually and that will help us to actually engage difficult conversations.
As a pastor (but really everyone!) I need to be aware of how I block difficult conversations because I do. Sometimes by ignoring problems and other times by placating people instead of confront and other times by controlling the discussion.

My other points were about recognizing our own anxiety, becoming self differentiated and humility. We are able to enter into conversations if we don't think we have all the answers.

I am not going to put the entire webinar in this blog but I will say that by the time I was done I really was able to understand that living in the present moment - without judgment - is the most helpful part of our being able to hear each other and find ways of connecting on what we agree about and understanding the areas of disagreement. All of which is very difficult because of our tendency to want to protect ourselves.

The entire webinar was recorded and it will be online on the website of our regional church

Now the other thing I learned is that a webinar is a very challenging way to share information for me (Margot) because it is in a vacuum. I prepared the powerpoint and the talk and sat in my office and gave it. I could not see anyone's faces and everyone else's computers were on "mute." When I was finished we asked for questions and there were none.

And so, there was a closing prayer and I signed off and that was that. Usually when I do sermons and retreats and Bible studies I am looking at people's faces and getting energy from their response and presence. This was so different and very uncomfortable for me.

And it brought home to me why it is that I am so resistent to "meetings" that are on a computer. I know they are efficient and mean that people do not need to travel to be "together" but I like bodies in the room! I get energy from others.

And so, probably, no more webinars for Margot - but I am always available for retreats and seminars. In person.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Guy Ghj Ghj

This is a picture of my granddaughter Addie who was part of a Thanksgiving play at her school on Tuesday. I was invited to come and sat with three other adults in the front row.

Addie is, at home, a clown and a cut up. She is very friendly, outgoing and the one I can depend on to hug me every time she sees me. At school she is quiet and diligent in her work and very shy. She is like her mother was and actually, she is like I was.

The whole experience of being there took me back to being a little girl in a school and not feeling quite at home. Wanting to fit in and not wanting to do anything that would call attention to me in the wrong way. I guess this must be universal. (Except for those kids who always have their hands up - wanting to be noticed!)

After the plays we went to the cafeteria to have a feast which had been supplied by the parents. Several classes were together in the same space with teachers and parents and grandparents. It was really noisy and I realized in that moment that I had really changed over the last few years. I imagined Kacey and Lisa, who teach elementary school, and that this was normal for them. But for me, it was ALOT and I was no longer used to the noise and the energy.

Addie and I ate together and we talked. I learned afterward that I "embarrassed" her because I talked to the boys across the table from us. But really, she was the one who told them not to drink out of the drinking fountain because someone had farted into it.

Anyway, I felt blessed to be invited, to remember my own childhood and to be part of Addie's world for just a moment. I know it is not always easy to be 8 years old any more than it is always

easy to be 63. It was good to feast together.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Stress Free Thanksgiving

That is my hope for everyone today. Certainly I am having one. What a blessing.

I think back to many stress FULL Thanksgivings. There have been many reasons for that:
- I remember Thanksgivings in the Gersen family and there was always stress around whether or not the turkey was done. And was everything going to come out at the same time. My Mom was an anxious hostess and put a lot of pressure on herself - which of course we all got to experience. Last night I watched Top Chef and one of the chefs prepared a turkey that wasn't completely done, so it must be a universal stress.

- I also remember Thanksgivings when I was a young Mom and worried about the behavior and eating habits of my three girls at the table. I felt responsible and anxious myself.

- And then there was the issue of football and whether to watch it and who was going to clean up? I think I grew up in a family where there was guilt but not clear enough assignments or something.

But now, I am a Grandma and best of all I am married to Chuck. Once he came into my life the Thanksgivings all became much easier. Now he smokes the turkey and it was ready yesterday and it will be delicious today.

I have gotten to the point where I want everyone to be happy doing whatever they want. If the kids don't want to eat - that is fine, if other want to watch football, that is fine, and certainly if I am needed in the kitchen - I know that someone will let me know.

So, this morning I spent time in my prayer room experiencing gratitude for the ways in which my life is easier on every level. Thankful that Kacey and Audrey are together in Lynchburg, Virginia and that my brothers are together in Hanover, New Hampshire and that I get to be with Marnie and Erik and his family in Columbus.

And it is peaceful, stressless and really a holiday.

I am aware of the blessing of maturity and the abundant life that i have been given.
My prayer is that this day is blessing for all.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thoughts on a Monday

The problem is that i have not written in a long time and there are some things I wanted to note in this blog. So, I think I will just list them and then hopefully I will become more disciplined and write more frequently.

1. I will start there - discipline. I really want to be more disiplined and there is something about Mondays - my day off that encourages me to believe that I can and I will! So, I made my bed today, exercised and so far have not eaten like a pig. That's a start. But what I know is that if I look at journals I wrote 35 years ago - there was still this desire to be more discipline. Starting there - some things never change.

2. With my Wellstreams Peer Group I listened to a CD of Richard Rohr last week on "Emotional Sobriety" which is where the 12 steps always lead. He believes that we need to detach from our emotions which feel like truth but make us over responsible.
Here is some of what he said:
"You are not your feelings, you have feelings."
"Feelings are seductive - there is something nice about replaying and justifying them"
"Feellngs are the ego in the dance of attachment."
Ken Keyes wrote: "So much more suffering comes into the world by people taking offense than by people giving offense."

So, the answer to this is detachment or rewiring our brains and the way we do that is through contemplative prayer There is much. much more about this - but I continue to learn that I need to pray more and not allow my obsessive thinking and feeling to lead me into the paths of numbness. I am hoping this is making sense as I write it. I was going to do a whole blog on but...

3. Last Saturday I went to a workshop on the Bowen Family Systems Theory. I learned again that it is helpful to see the patterns that have been passed down generation to generation. It is about the way we see and encounter the world. We each made a diagram of our own families and it was interesting to me. Here is a quote from that: the luckiest child in the family is the least focussed. Hmmm.
Anyway, there are 8 concepts that he touched on in the presentation, each of which helps affects us: differentation of self, triangles, nuclear family emotional process, sibling position, multigenerational transmission process, family projection process, emotional cutoff and societal emotional process.

There is so much to learn here - and I felt like we dipped our foot in the pond.
It did ultimately relate to the information from Richard Rohr in that he talked about the human brain and our maturity which comes - again in detachment.There are three brains - reptile, mamalian and neocortex. And the mamalian and reptilian brains react quickly and can easily get us into trouble. The more reactive we are the more we maintain anxiety in the system.

and so we need to become imaginative and problem solving and able to differentiate ourselves. And again at the end of the day I learned that contemplative practice makes us a less anxious and therefore more differentiate and mature presence.

And I think I will stop here because I find myself back at where I started - talking about discipline. I am trying to spend more time in contemplation - because I know intellectually and experientially - that the more contemplative I am, the more at peace I am.

The prayer room is cleaned up - I think I will go and pray.