My Exodus: A Review

I have known Alan Chambers a long time.  I met him at the very beginning of my tenure with New Direction when he was newly the president of Exodus.  I’ve read the two previous books that Alan authored and so when my complimentary copy of My Exodus: from fear to grace arrived in the mail…

Subversive Spirituality @ Tipping Points

To be in the world, but not of the world, requires subversive alertness.  Cultivation of a contemplative mind is crucial.  Spiritual practices and disciplines help form the virtues that guide our public engagement.  We learn to take a breath before reacting.  We recognize that our anger is a reminder of a deeper pain.  We choose…

The Non-Normative Jesus

A new reading of Matthew 19:1-12 New Direction works to cultivate community in a number of Generous Space groups.  While each group is unique, usually there is a discussion time led by one of the group members.  We heard great feedback from a session that Andrew Dykstra facilitated and asked if he would be willing…

This …. changes everything: sin & shalom

Have you noticed the inordinate amount of attention that is given to concerns about sin at the intersection of faith and sexuality?  It seems to be a sticking point for so many. “But it’s sin.” With this short phrase dialogue can be cut off, attempts to understand can be closed, relationships strained, alienation experienced, judgement…

This ….. changes everything.

One of the reasons I have so loved being engaged in the conversations at the intersection of faith and sexuality over the last decade plus is the very reason some people seem to avoid entering the discussion. I have found, over time, that this conversation invites you, eventually compels you, and if you resist –…

Part 4: Stages of Power

A good number of years ago, when I was a young and inexperienced woman in ministry, a mentor showed me Janet Hagberg’s stages of power.  It was an ‘aha’ moment for me.  It gave me an understanding of some of the feelings, experiences, and efforts I was making in my life to become a freer and more giving individual.

We had already covered quite a bit of ground at the women’s retreat, but I checked in with them to see if we could add this additional layer – as a tool to bring us to a deeper awareness of where we’re at and where we want to be.  Given the ages and stages of life and the many experiences represented in the room, I knew that the women would have a lot to offer to one another as we talked about these stages of power.

Though we’d been working with the four quadrants of a circle, representing the seasons of our lives, Hagberg describes six stages of power.  The first stage which would be up in the awakening quadrant, is described as powerless.  In this stage, we feel as though we are starting at ground zero.  Perhaps we have suffered a significant loss – a death of a family member, a break-up or divorce, being laid-off or fired, failing a course at school, not making the team, discovering the betrayal of a friend, financial disaster, totaling the car, illness or sudden disability.  These experiences can leave us feeling unmoored, unsure of where to turn, disconnected from needed resources.  Some may call it ‘hitting bottom’.  Hagberg suggests that in this place we may realize our need for God.  We cry out for help – we have no where else to turn.  We awaken from the stupor and recognize that we cannot carry on simply relying on our own devices.

Part 3: Seasons of Life and the True Self

This is part three of a short blog series reflecting on the keynote that I facilitated for the WeConnect women’s retreat at the Gay Christian Network conference in January 2015.  Together we shared practices and reminders that invite us to go deeper and farther in our spiritual lives.  The next layer we applied to the wheel introduced key ideas connecting us to our true selves.

In the top quadrant, that of awakening, there is a call to resist.  We resist “Who I am NOT.”  In this early season, a season of coming awake, perhaps after a period of chaos or stress where we found ourselves unable to remain present, attuned, or aware of the happenings within our soul, we so often forget (or haven’t figured out) who we truly are.  We may have taken on the labels or expectations of others.  Perhaps the whispers, the mockery, the accusations that pull us into dark, slimy pits of insecurity and self-loathing have overwhelmed us.  Perhaps the voices of others in our heads are so loud – that we can no longer hear our own voice.  This call of awakening is the call to stop, silence the voices, strain our ears for our heart song, and resist the false self (the one so badly wanting to earn God’s love and everyone else’s) (the one so frightened that the built-up personas are a constant presentation) (the one that has numbed down true emotions in order to fit in, not cause a stir, or be a burden).  We become still long enough to recognize that which is NOT ourselves.  The Spirit offers the accompaniment to a new song.  Perhaps life has thrown so much at you that you find yourself bitter, angry, complaining, negative …… and the still small voice inside reminds you that this is NOT who you are.   Resistance brings energy, it brings remembrance and recognition.  And it ushers us to the next season.

Part 2: Seasons of Life & the Medicine Wheel

After talking together about the practices of awakening, empowerment, relinquishment, and paradox, the women who gathered for WeConnect at the GCN Conference moved to another layer of the wheel representing seasons in our lives.  This layer made use of ideas and symbols from the Medicine Wheel of our North American First Nations people.  Now I am hardly an expert on the medicine wheel.  But in my crazy little home congregation we are passionate about reconciliation with our First Nations sisters and brothers and we have used the Medicine Wheel as part of our worship.

The medicine wheel differentiates the four quadrants of the circle with the colours white, yellow, red, and black.  These colours make connections to seasons, directions, times of day, and elements of the created world.  One of the things that has struck me about the opportunities that I’ve had to worship God our Creator with the medicine wheel is how intimately it connects us with the earth.  God has given us two sources of revelation.  The first is that vast beauty and wonder of his creation.  “The heavens declare the Glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psalm 19:1)  The second is the written word, God’s story through the scriptures.  In much of the western church we have so over-emphasized the scriptures that we have become impoverished in our connection to God through all that he has made.  I get Richard Rohr’s daily meditation sent to me – and interestingly enough – this week he is focusing on calling us back to a robust connection with creation as a spiritual practice of remaining in God’s presence.