2020 – Not the Vision We Imagined

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The year 2020 has changed the world in an untold number of ways. Has it changed you?

Purple is the traditional color for Advent. Advent: a time of waiting, the coming of something, the beginning of a new thing. In my Christian tradition, we call the four Sundays before Christmas Day the season of Advent. We are waiting for the Christ Child. Every year we know we will celebrate Christmas – when God put on human flesh and joined us in time and space. Advent allows us to reflect, ponder, assess, and confess if necessary. We wait for four weeks, then we celebrate. That celebration will happen later this week.

2020, unlike any other year in our lifetimes, was phenominal. Not in a good way. With the worldwide pandemic, ravaging wildfires on seveal continents, floods and hurricanes with severity not seen before. For the United States, we had a political season and election that voted in a new president by millions of votes that other millions of Americans will not believe. How have you survived 2020? It is a year that has traumatized millions of people. Are you one of them?

I started a new ministry this year: Flourishing Souls. (Flourishingsouls.org) For that is my goal for every human being. For each person can find healing, grounding, awareness, and the deep, non-judgmental love God has for each and every one of us. Yes, you can believe it too. Flourishing Souls uses contemplative prayers and the Enneagram for self-awareness and union with God. I will do group teachings on Centering Prayer and class introductions to the spiritual aspects of the Enneagram. I also do individual sessions with the Integrative Enneagram and how it reveals the essence of who you are: God’s image. God’s very breath started all the beauty and wonder in the world…and you are part of the brilliance.

So, those of you who are ready for something new in life that is not outside of you but within you perhaps now is your time to step into that place to find the space that will do that for you. If we all are willing to use the discomfort of 2020, the uncertainty of 2020, the pain and fear of 2020 to move into a better way of being in the world, that is resilience work. That is vulnerability work. That is strength of character, or as Brene Brown would say, “wholeheartedness.” Are you ready, are you willing to be wholehearted?

I learned early in the shut-down that I am not considered an ‘essential worker’ as it relates to the pandemic. So for the past nine months, I have been isolated (with my husband and dogs). I have been quarantined away from all the people I love, the communities I was a part of, and from the life and schedule I had created for myself. All gone. (I do want to thank and revere all those who are essential and care for and protect us, you are amazing!). So in my hibernation time, part of starting up this new ministry caused me to do some deep soul searching myself. I’ve dealt with the healing of some childhood trauma I had not yet addressed. I’ve dealt with unrealistic time frames and internal reorganizing of my own heart. Now, I am ready (not completely or perfectly ready but), as ready as I will be to journey with my fellow human beings. 2020 has brought me through some low and uncertain days and I am using it as an Advent for what is to come in the next year: 2021.

There can’t be a going back to where we were pre2020. The world has changed and you have changed. But that’s good even if it doesn’t feel good. We have learned things and gotten wiser this past year. Imagine, what you and God can do in the next year if your willing to open your heart, your mind, and your body to live as the Spirit of Truth beckons you to live. There are many ways and places in the world for you to find the next best thing for your heart. It doesn’t have to be Flourishing Souls, but it should be something. You didn’t survive 2020 to go back to what you were doing, being who you were. Don’t settle for what was. Pray that God gives you the vision for your soul and your next steps. 2021 awaits and we should be celebrating!

FlourishingSouls.org

Thomas Keating | Spiritual inspiration quotes, Centering prayer, Contemplative  prayer

Time for the Cohort

So…I am in Kansas City with the 8 other people in my cohort and our professor, the inimitable Tony Jones.  This is our 4th (and all fear last) time we will all be together.  It will be the last time we are together like this.  We started out as strangers in June of 2011. Sitting in a classroom in Pasadena at Fuller Seminary, about to embark on a Doctor of Ministry adventure.  This week all of us have confessed how our reality has not been like our first expectations.  For all of us it has been a wild ride of transformation (and no assumption that it is over!).  We thought we would be coming to get advanced education in Christian Spirituality.  Now, our 4th time together there has been a paradigm shift. The best part is, we have all been on this ride together, and that is what made all the difference.  Those first 5 days in a classroom were jarring.  We didn’t know each other and we didn’t know this teacher, who immediately pushed us out of our comfort zones.  It was like bobbing after a boat wreck in a life preserver.  We each had a life saver, but we were not sure, in the tumultuous waters who to trust.  Do we link arms or just float alone in that small area of safety?

Day 6 of 10 that year changed everything.  We moved from the seminary setting to a monastery nearby.  We lived the last 5 days in a the cloistered community.  All meals and classes were shared, but so too, were our free moments.  We learned about each others families, each others ministries and we began to push back on the professor. Though not the guest professor, Lauren Winner.  She imparted her wisdom on the history of spirituality.  All of it, we soaked it up.  Not just Lauren and Tony’s teaching, but each others presentations.  We went to the movies and we shared late into the night the philosophies that inspired us.  We learned we could trust each other.  The jokes and nicknames began to come.  Laughter came more easily.  In the evenings we shared in the cup Jesus shared with his friends.  We also shared our mistakes, and that is when you learn you are safe in another’s company.  As a class, we had become a family.  As we said goodbye after 10 days of year one it was awkward.  How do you say goodbye to people you now feel so connected to?  It wasn’t easy, but it was the easiest goodbye we have had.  When we left we also had a name.  The word most used by Tony that session.  We left as, and still remain, Bricolage.  It fits.

Here in KC, we begin the increasingly frightening and hard work of framing our Ministry Project Theses.  We feel that trust again.  For the 4th time.  4 times as deep as the first year.  I will write more about our other years together soon.  But for tonight, we are finding inspiration from one another for these projects. Together we can freely share any thoughts in this safe environment, many of which are not safe at all.  There is freedom and growth in that.  We trust.  And, because we have spent 4 amazing years doing amazing things together, we also live in the beauty of dissonance.  How different it would have been that first year if one of us would not have trusted. If just one clung to their life preserver, missing the preservation of life we have found in each other.  Where would we be then?  Not in KC.  This makes Kansas City one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to.  The scenery has been great too.

Hello world! One small post . Who knows where it will go?

March 24, 2014

What is an introvert doing creating a blog?  If I follow my tendencies, this could be my last post.  But, if I reach beyond my tendencies into my desires, there may be something more.  I want to use this space to put out “there” thoughts that may make a difference.

I want to use this space for several reasons.  These may change, but for now, I want to explore concepts related to my dissertation to obtain a DMin (Doctor of Ministry degree). Say DMin fast and it sounds like I am in league with the other side.  I am not.  I am a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ.

I also want to use this space so that as a public speaker, people can get to know me. They can see if they want a speaker with a terribly orthodox, reformist, transitioning theology.  A theology that is always wrapped in the grace and mercy of One with nail scars from His trip to reach us.

Once I thought I knew everything about what I believed.  But when you are sure of what you believe, there is no room for growth.  And not much room for God.  So I have decided that I would rather grow and risk change than be certain.  I want to be open, but not foolish.  I want to be discerning, but also willing to look for Jesus in places I hadn’t looked before.

You are welcome to journey with me and help me and disagree with me.  Unless you already know everything about what you believe.  Then you have no need of me.

My tagline: by Grace!   I wouldn’t be here otherwise.  You are welcome here.  -J