Friday, June 26, 2009

Katie Sherrod

I hope you'll pop on over to Katie Sherrod's blog: Desert's Child. I have her listed on the sidebar of favorite blogs.

She has a great post on Broadway Baptist being kicked out of the Southern Baptist Convention this week. That's the church my husband attends and in which we were married.

She's also pasted Patricia Clarkson's speech at the Human Rights Coalition Event on gay marriage. Oh, it's priceless.

Katie Sherrod is an Episcopalian and she frequently blogs about what's going on in that troubled denomination, especially since Jack Iker is here in Fort Worth. This post is too good not to copy here. She writes:

I don't read David Virtue, but this was sent to me by a friend. You can see it here.

ACNA'09: FROM MY EAR TO YOURS....By David W. Virtue in Bedford, Texas


Rumors abound that Ft. Worth Bishop Jack Iker's long term goal is to take his diocese to Rome. Not true. Numerous sources have told VOL that he is deeply committed to the new North American Anglican Province and he will work with his fellow bishops over the thorny issue of women's ordination.

A number of his Ft. Worth priests were recently seen at the Anglican Use conference in Houston. He has told them that if they want to go to Rome, they can do so, but they can't take their property with them.--------------------------------

One doesn't know where to start, does one?

Intensive Journaling

I attended an Ira Progoff Intensive Journaling Workshop last weekend. It's billed as "writing to access the power of the unconscious and evoke creative ability." And I think that's an accurate billing.

The instructor spread it out over Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon, which is a great way to experience this method. I wasn't too tired!

We began Friday night by journaling about our present circumstances. Here's what that's about:

We being with the Now. But Now is not limited to the immediate instant. It's not just here and now, not just the spot on which we stand, nor this moment when we speak. Our Now moment is elastic. Therefore, we stretch the present moment back as ar as it needs to go in ortder to include as much of the past as is still an active part of the present.
I like that...the elasticity of the present moment. We began the journaling with: "Now that..."
So I included things like, Now that I'm married. Now that I have the Ph.D. Now that I have a family. Now that I'm doing work that is meaningful to me. Now that I'm having such problems with my body slowing down. Now that I have dual standing in two denominations. Now that I've "discovered" the work of John O'Donohue. Now that I appreciate beauty. Now that I have a car I enjoy driving and 600 thread-count sheets on the bed. etc. etc. (Yes, we were suppose to include material things as well as people, circumstances, events, emotional states.)

After that we approached the Present from a different vantage point, "shifting our psychic position to a depth viewpoint" by means of what Progoff called TWILIGHT IMAGERY. I love that word, twilight.

We moved into stillness, quiet, and let ourselves "drift into the twilight level" of consciousness. Our instructor described this in such a way that I got the idea of "auto-pilot." I used to drive the 45 minutes from my therapy group to home on "auto-pilot," a state in which the car seemed to drive itself as I intently processed what had happened in the group. One minute I was just turning out of the parking lot, and the next minute I was home. Not sure if this is the best way to access "twilight imagery," but it seemed to work for me. The book says that twilight level of consciousness is one in which we "let ourselves feel the tone and quality of the Now period we've just described." We simply allow any and all images to come to us, we intuit them, we feel them in our body. And we record those images as they come.

A lot of my imagery concerned me and my husband, but random things also came to me...friends who are battling cancer...driving, driving, driving...My need to be well-thought of...How good it was that The Author came with me to this workshop...How the instructor reminded me of my grandfather...How my life moves, and Oh, what if it stops? (strange)...Fear of failure at teaching this seminary class in the Fall...Waves came to me and I remembered that time sitting on the rock pier on the Atlantic Ocean beach...

Next came a Life Correlation, putting the conscious "Now that..." listing of my present life into conversation with the twilight images.

On Saturday we did a Daily Log where we listed everything that had happened within the last 24 hours. Amazing how much I could put down! The purpose of the Daily Log, as well as the Steppingstones which come next, is to provide material for the Journal Feedback work. That's where some powerful insights can come.

Next we were asked to write 12 Steppingstones which are "significant points of movement" in our lives.

Steppingstones stand forth as indicators of the inner connectedness of each person's existence...They enable us to draw out of the jumbled mass of our life experiences the thin and elusive connective threads that carry our potentialities through their phases of development toward a fuller unfolding.

Steppingstones are not intended to give us an intellectual understanding of our past. That's why there's no such thing as a correct listing of steppingstones. They are inherently in flux. The key to working with them is to let the list be created spontaneously out of the fullness of the present circumstances of life.

The thin and elusive connective threads. This was interesting. We were to begin with "I was born." and go from there. As I later reflected on my 12 Steppingstones, I divided them by thirds. Alongside the first grouping I wrote, "I survived this." Alongside the second group I wrote, "I un-learned these." And alongside the last group I wrote, "I am becoming me." Someday soon I'd like to do this part again and see if I come up with some different groupings.

Next we did some Dialogue/Feedback journaling. First, dialogue with persons, then with our works, and lastly with our body.

Dialogue with persons can be with someone current in your life, someone with whom we no longer have a relationship, or with someone who has died. The Steppingstones probably contain some powerful clues about which person to choose for the dialogue. We describe the relationship, as in where it is now, noting especially any emotions evoked.
"Our goal is to establish a deep dialogue so that we can open out the full possibilities and implications of our relationship. To do that, we cannot let ourselves fall back into the old patterns of communication--or non-communication--that have previously characterized the relationship. We want to reach a level that we've not reached before...We want to get beyond the outer mask to the inner person so that we can speak from an authentic depth in ourselves to the deep core of being in the other....We do this by placing ourselves inside the actuality of the person, as though we were participating in it from within."
To get to the inner person, we listed this other person's Steppingstones. That was the most powerful part of the whole workshop for me. The person I chose lives in another state, and I realized that I had allowed the relationship to grow more and more distant. More importantly, I realized I didn't know the other person's significant moments, and from that realization lots of things, which are unbloggable, began to happen for me.

We wrote dialogues with our Works, which are things we've done that involved moving from an inner vision to an outward fulfillment. Then it was a dialogue with our Body, and this, too, was immensely helpful to me. In this journaling method, the body is the

"primary instrument of connection between life and the world. We want to re-establish our access to the natural wisdom of the body. The body knows how to regulate itself. Our life history of inner existence and our life history of the body are mirrors to each other."
We began by listing Memory Experiences with the Body. He gave us a long time to simply sit there and list EVERYTHING we could remember about our relationships with our bodies. Amazing. I had 64 things listed and two-thirds of them were very very positive. Surprise!! It brought up all the fun memories of playing as a child, how I won a bicycle contest in 5th grade (hadn't thought of that in ages!), climbing the tree in our yard in San Antonio, how I loved playing ping-pong and tennis, the much needed hug from my Uncle Weldon at my grandfather's funeral...

Outside the workshop, the method includes dialogue with Society, with Events/Situations--the idea being to increase our level of awareness of (a) patterns in our lives and (b) possible pointers toward meaning and direction.

There's also a section in this journaling method on Meaning Dimension which we did not have time for in the first of two workshops. It includes dream logs, and meditation logs.

The method is, as its name says, INTENSE. And, just in the sheer breadth of what's covered, it's also rather complicated. I know I don't have time to tend to it every day, but the instructor kept saying that once you get the hang of it, it's extremely useful for when we are
  1. feeling stuck, or
  2. at a crossroads and need to make a decision, or
  3. upset about something.
And I can see myself turning to it for exactly those kinds of things. It's amazing.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Five

I'm home this morning and Jan is writing the Friday Five! ....

Jennifer recommended this book, which I got because I always value Jennifer's reading suggestions. The author of Life is a Verb, Patti Digh worked her book around these topics concerning life as a verb:

Say yes.
Be generous.
Speak up.
Love more.
Trust yourself.
Slow down.

As I read and pondered about living more intentionally, I also have wondered what this Friday Five should be. This book has been the jumping off point for this Friday.

1. What awakens you to the present moment?

Oh, great question! Let's see....
Beauty of all kinds....
Recognizing the Christ in those around me....
Remembering who I am....
Stopping to pay attention....
Tasting my food....
Feeling someone's touch....
Hearing the squealy voice of my granddaughter upon seeing me: "K.K.!!! K.K.!!!!" ....
Seeing Young Man with Integrity and Deep One embrace in our kitchen.....
Talking to soul friends...
Being with Lovely Passionate Feminist or Beautiful Genuine Girl or Blonde Beauty (my niece)....
Having one of those deeply meaningful conversations with my husband....
Spiritual direction....
etc etc etc.

2. What are 5 things you see out your window right now?
Green bushes and grass....
Our birch tree in the front yard...
The wind blowing....
Green, green, green

3. Which verbs describe your experience of God?

Be who you are....
Let go....
Find your deep joy!

4. From the book on p. 197: Who were you when you were 13? Where did that kid go?

At 13 I was a very unhappy person, full of self-hate and shame.
After a LOT of work and cooperating with God's Spirit, that 'kid' has grown to love herself, and thus is able to love others with integrity. Praise be. Praise be.

5. From the book on p. 88: If your work were the answer to a question, what would the question be?

Katherine, what's something that brings meaning, joy, and deep fulfillment to your life?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Reunion of our Courage to Lead group for Clergy

Just back from a wonderful Courage to Lead reunion retreat in San Antonio held at the Oblate Center.

The Oblate Center is in the center of San Antonio, which is a huge city, grown by leaps and bounds since I lived there in 4th through 6th grades. The Center is an oasis of peace, calm, and beauty, with very comfortable hotel-style rooms and great food. It's where I spent a week every quarter for the Two Year Spiritual Academy back in 2001-2003, so the place feels pretty much like home to me.
This reunion group is amazing. People are so willing to share who they are....this is the group in which I learned, through being with them for five "seasonal" retreats in 2006-07, that "Courage Work," as it's called, is practicing authenticity. Oh, it's wonderfully powerful.

Our theme for the retreat was "Embracing the Paradox of Abundance and Scarcity." For my part, I shared the story of experiencing the abundance within me one night a few years ago...I was driving home from a weekly therapy group meeting, having spoken my deepest truth to another member of this group that evening. It had taken all the courage I had (and didn't know I had!) to speak this truth, and the result was less than I had hoped. Still, as I drove home, I suddenly realized that there is a part of me--deep within--that is absolutely inviolate. There is a part of me that cannot be harmed, cannot be wounded. There is part of me that no one can violate. And I actually experienced that part of me driving home that night. I experienced the love of God that IS my own soul. Within me is all the abundance of the cosmos, the image of God, the tiny little spark of divinity given to me by the creator/source of All That Is. This sounds strange, I know, but the experience was so powerful that I felt the inside of my little 1994 Corolla light up. Light filled that little car and just engulfed me. It was utterly ... well, no words can express it. .... ....

Scarcity remains, of course. I experience fear and worry and angst, still. But you know, all I have to do is remember that experience, and the fear usually flees! What a gift it was. What a beautiful, beautiful gift. .... ....

To commemorate our retreat, we gave each attendee a small piece of pottery, a plate, with a "loaves and fishes" motif, like this:
I'm going to order this bowl and a chalice, too, with the same design.

I want to share one more experience from this retreat. On the grounds of the Center is this statue:

I sat with it Monday evening for a good long while. Jesus comforting a young woman whose baby has died. say it was moving is such an understatement. The power of the life-size figures brought the very pain of the world to me. And yet Jesus has such a beautiful, joyful expression on his face...I've never thought of it quite like this, but I suppose one could say that the essence of courage is joy.

Wish the photograph had turned out better, but I took it right at dusk so the lighting is muted and only had my little iPhone camera...

Update: Jan just sent me a better photo

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Ahhh...just waking up...

Here's our precious little granddaughter, Little M. She spent the night with us, and David snapped this photo of her just after she woke up and came into the kitchen.

And later, she and I are playing...


I'm in the midst of several impending losses these days. Friends leaving, other friends threatened with cancer, feeling a bit rejected by another friend (probably has to do with how busy this person is, but it still kind of hurts).

Just makes me realize afresh how precious friendships are. They make my life so beautiful, so worth living. And friendships, in this day and age with life at Warp Speed once again, are so difficult maintain--in the sense that it takes work to make time to keep up with friends. Despite my attempts to have lunch with folks and keep up with friendships that way, there are many other people in my life that I haven't seen for months and month. And I miss seeing.