Saturday, July 2, 2016

Once Upon a Time in an Alley

Funny how a quick glimpse of something will take you on a tangent.

Driving down the street the other day, I noticed granite gravel-covered alley moving between blocks of houses. I miss alleys. I grew up in a small California town where residential streets, and commercial ones, for that matter, were traversed by one-lane paved alley ways… where most garages and carports lived. Where trash cans waited for pick up day – none of this bringing your trash out to the front curb… garbage trucks navigated the narrow lanes behind your house to do their work.

These alleys were not well-maintained – deep divots and mounds made them uneven for driving – the entire alley was a speed bump… and in the winter they were fabulous for driving your bike through rain puddles and creating wakes in your path. On really hot, Central Valley days you could literally smell the melting asphalt, and make dents in it with your feet.

Alleys were short-cuts to downtown, and great places to stop and talk with friends… unless your neighbors had an unleashed dog in their back yard. I climbed a fence one day, winding up in a stranger’s back yard because a momma dog did not want us passing by her pups. That was scary. I literally did not know I could move that fast.

Now and then, I will see a television show or a cartoon where something is happening in the alley. Usually it is about people “up to no good,” but I think alleys have been given a bad rap. In small town America, alleys offered a chance to step out of the mainstream and slow down a bit; a place to meet, or take a shortcut, or just get out of the traffic.

Alleys make me nostalgic for simpler times, gentler worlds, and fewer big decisions. I definitely do not want granite chips in my alley, like I saw the other day – old asphalt is far quieter and more inviting.  Like I said, funny how a quick glimpse of something will take you on a tangent, through time and space and it’s all inside your mind.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Day 9 Quest 2016

Visionary Chris Brogan: How will you better clarify who you serve and what you do for them in 2016?
This has brought up some intriguing thoughts as I have contemplated it. Who DO I serve? Do I serve my Board of Trustees? Do I serve my congregation? Do I serve God/Spirit/Life? In a way, I serve all three, but where and how?
How do I clarify this? Through a stronger and more consistent spiritual practice of prayer and meditation and journal work and physical self-care. Only when I am totally open to Spirit and Its work in and through my body and soul am I able to discern who I serve and how I serve (what I do).
When I strive to “meet the needs” of either the Board or the congregation, am I really just working at the level of effects? Is not my role really, more fully, to work at the level of causation? When what I do is come in to “fix” am I not undermining the personal power of everyone to create their own experience?
For years I have said my ministry is about empowerment – and yet I still struggle with letting go of control to allow people to succeed on their own. My role is to get clear on this and to articulate it more fully and completely in all I do – my talks, my classes, my meetings, my work on myself.
This is a big doorway – a lot of exploration to happen here – and it keeps coming back to big picture thinking and not getting sidetracked… moving out of the level of effects and dwelling in the beauty and power of Cause.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Day 7 and 8 of Quest 2016

Day 7 – Visionary John Jantsch: Payoff - What can you stop doing in 2016 such that it would allow you to focus on higher payoff activities?

Step away from the minutiae! That would be my biggest and most effective act. I pride myself on being a big-picture thinker, but even as I embrace the larger, grander scheme of things, I find someone/something pulls me back to examine some tiny schism along the way that needs attention – (MY attention? Really?)

The “higher payoff” concept leaves me a bit cold. It smacks of Wall Street Banking parlance… and to me, the higher payoff would be a profound change in the way we live in the world, the way we see one another, the way we become God in action. So perhaps this is still all where I am headed – to a scheme of things that keeps me focused on where I am headed, rather than stopping to fix the road signs. I can stop getting sidetracked, because I have a firm grasp on the grand design. I like that.

Day 8 – Visionary Sally Hogshead: 1 of 3 - Of these 3 options, which one is most important in your work right now:

Quality of life

Quality of work

Quality of compensation

And the answer here is quality of life – there is no need for anything else if the quality of life is not there and good. When my quality of life is good, my quality of work is good – and my quality of compensation is assured. This is one of the simplest questions – and perhaps it is meant to be a tap on the shoulder. I am being called to remember what is important. Yes, money and benefits are nice, doing a good job is important, but if the quality of one’s life suffers as a consequence of either, what does it matter. The Life is all we have.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Different Jesus

In recent years, I have attended Christmas Eve Services with family, and have been fine with them as times for families and friends to get together and celebrate the birth of Jesus. There has been lots of singing and prayer at services over the years, and while some of it is not in line with my belief structure, I have been good with it over all.
This year, not so much. The prayers were virtually all about how unworthy we all are of the great gift that is being given, that God, who is far outside and above us is out of our reach, even though we are calling HIM Immanuel (God with us). People were standing and waving their arms in the air, even as each hymn and prayer seemed more and more exclusionary.
I was sad and then I was angry. Everything was so antithetical to my understanding. An omnipresent God is everywhere - within, through and around each of us. In this group, however, even little children were separate from God, according to the words being intoned in the service.
Finally they closed by saying Jesus was born just to die for us. So, I guess all his lessons about loving one another, and social justice and caring for each other have no meaning? I am so sad that the couple of hundred people in that room, and my family members in particular, actually believe that.
Our faith likes to say that we honor all paths to God, and I am really having a hard time with this one I just experienced. For years, I have seen Jesus differently from what I was taught in church, and the work of the Jesus Seminars and our newer theologians have helped expand my thoughts even further.
Most recently, I came upon the work of Robin Meyers. First I read Saving Jesus from the Church, and am now reading his work The Underground Church. Both of them deal with the idea of how to stop worshiping the Christ and start following Jesus. It is a lot like the idea of not worshiping the finger pointing at the moon and thereby missing the whole moon.
This is the Jesus I fell in love with as a young woman - Jesus the man, the way-shower, the great example... or as Meyers calls it “reclaiming the subversive way of Jesus.”
A bit over a year ago I began questioning what the next step in my ministry might be... it has been evolving, and I am coming to find that it is time to let my crazy subversive heretic out to play. There is no time left to play it safe. It is time to begin going where I am called and seeing if anyone follows.
The key sentence that calls me? “Before the gospel got turned into just another marketing strategy, it contained the two most powerful words ever to address the sickness of the age: fear not.” The time has come to cast aside fear and let the soul lead.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Days 5 and 6 Quest 2016

From Visionary Scott Barry Kaufman - What recurring daydream for 2016 inspires you to do business as unusual like never before?

I have struggled with this for most of the week. I have discovered that I do very little in the way of “daydreaming” - though I do muse about how I might have done things differently or how I can “fix” things... when, in Truth, nothing is broken and nothing requires fixing. My work seems to be to create a new vision for how things might be. What does this actually look like when it is working at optimum speed? What do I look like when I am doing and being a new and “unusual” way of living and expressing? That is going to require some deep work, AND, I am getting so far behind, I plan on creating SOME KIND of answer for Days 5 and 6 so I can move into Week Three and Day 7.
There are five full days in 2015 at the end of Week Four, and I believe my synthesis work lies there.

From Visionary Seth Godin: Would they miss you if you were gone?
What would have to change for that question to lead to a better answer?

Even though I am exquisitely hard on myself, I have to say, I truly believe “they” would miss me if I were gone. My friends in Visalia and Petaluma all miss me since I left there, so the assumption would be this community would also feel that way. I am thanked in so many ways for touching lives with my words. I am also reminded that I am reaching a limited audience and that I ought to have a “bigger stage.” So what needs to change is I need to quit being afraid, thinking small, doubting my abilities and letting fear slow me down. The advice from my future self pretty much says what needs to change (day 4) and I printed that out and keep it at my bedside, to read before I go to sleep.
This is just stirring the pot - there is so much more that is ready to come to the surface. I let my soul work on this and guide the way.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Day 4 of Quest 2016

From Visionary Tina Selig:  What advice would your future self a year from now give you today?

Amazingly, this came much more easily and wholly into my soul than some of the earlier questions. The advice of my future self - a year from today:

It is SO worth it, you have to begin NOW!

“You must do the thing you are most frightened of doing”

Remember when you told Mom that she was the grown-up now and she got to decide how SHE wanted to live her life? Take that advice.

Never, never, never, never, never give up. Ever.

Become self-referring like never before. You are your own best feedback, and you need to go with your gut instinct. You have a great “truth detector”

The “how” will make itself known. Just hold the vision, and let it guide you.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Day Three of Quest 2016

Visionary Guide Debbie Millman asks: How would you do business as unusual in 2016 if you knew – no matter what you chose – you would not fail?

Right now I am in that slippery place where I am not sure what I desire. Not sure whether I am doing things because “I’ve always done that” or whether I actually still choose to. I am grateful for the clarity that this week is helping with, because it truly is “getting clear with myself” and it is moving me in a good direction. At least I believe so.

Removing failure from the computation - always a good exercise - what would you do if....

For years, I have wanted to start a Science of Mind charter school - an elementary school that empowers children as creative thinkers while teaching them reading, writing, science and math skills. Our children need us to create spaces for them to succeed.

Since I moved to Eugene, the plight of the homeless has touched my heart. This town likes to think it is liberal and “with it” and “Berkeley North” and it is so very far from that. We have created no way for the shelterless to find a way out.

My greatest fear is that I will die with my “songs” - my words - inside me. I could write - I could put pen to page and create words that inspire and move people to live fuller, richer lives.

I find right now that my energy level is so low that nothing ‘grabs’ my soul and says YES, that’s it. That is where I need to be. And I know the very act of writing these lifts my creative juices and stirs them up. Actually, exploring the question from Day 2 of how to move toward change without making what IS ‘wrong’ sounds like an appealing way to spend my time.

Perhaps by exploring the synthesis of these first three, as Jeffrey, the director of Tracking suggests, I may get even more “clear with myself.”