Try This!

A moving car is much easier to steer than a parked one. So says the cliché about moving forward in life. But personally, I think it’s a good one. While some of us thrive on change, others of us would rather get a root canal. That said, it seems all of use can be resistant, closed or even defensive to opportunities for change. Our egos can get in the way. I firmly believe we all need outside influences to get us moving. On our own we get stuck. We resist. We balk. Oh how often we miss out because we remain in our comfortable lives. We hang out with the same people, eat the same foods, watch the same TV shows. I think the following from Franciscan priest, Richard Rohr, is worth sharing. “The Dalai Lama said it well: “Every change of mind is first of all a change of heart.” I would add: ‘Every change of heart is soon a change of mind.’ This is the urgently needed work of mature spirituality…Many folks over the years, even very good-willed people, have read and listened to my presentations of the Gospel yet have actually done very little–in terms of lifestyle changes, economic or political rearrangements, or naming their own ego or shadow selves. After all, “Isn’t church about believing ideas to be true or false? Isn’t religion about attending services?” Most people just listen to my ideas and judge them to be true or false. They either “like” or “don’t like” them. But thinking about ideas or making judgments about what is moral or immoral seldom leads to a radically new consciousness. Transformative education is not asking you to believe or disbelieve in any doctrines or dogmas. Rather it is challenging you to “Try...

We’re All Connected...

This week I went back to school…not as a student, but as a teacher at a community college where I’ve taught for almost five years.. I teach communication courses, so it’s vital that I connect with students the first week, help them feel excited about the subject, and let them know they are going to learn AND have fun. This time I had a new tool in my arsenal.; it’s an energy stick sold by a goofy Denver-based scientist named Steve Spangler that I heard speak last week. The device is a simple contraption that lights up and plays a noise when the circuit is completed. How do you demonstrate it? You touch another person, then make contact again to complete the electrical circuit. It’s a perfect demonstration of the reality that we’re all connected. That’s right, WE’RE ALL CONNECTED in ways we are oblivious to. In fact, all living things are connected. I demonstrated this to my classes by having everyone form a circle and join hands. Then when they least expected it, I slipped the energy stick to a person standing next to me (instead of grabbing their hand) and the stick lit up and made a noise. But the moment anyone in the group let go of the person next to them, the stick would cease to entertain. Just one person had to disconnect for the circuit to be cut. We are all connected. This reminds me of one of my favorite documentaries. I AM was produced by Tom Shadyac, a director of films that made Jim Carey a household name (Bruce Almighty, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, etc.). After a nasty bicycle accident, Shadyac set out to explore deep truths about the universe, what make us happy, what it all means,...

What my dog teaches me about God...

I have two dogs. One is a neurotic, co-dependent Schnauzer named Moxie. But despite her quirks, I love her. The other is a Cairn Terrier named Penne. (Hence I have a Moxicillin and a Penicillin.) Though I know the Divine exists in all things, I am particularly struck by how my Penne models God. She loves me unconditionally. I don’t have to earn her trust of love; she just accepts me. She is affectionate. She likes to snuggle and licks me with great affection. (I know she likes the salt on my skin in the summer, but I also think it’s her way of saying, “I love you.”) But the strongest attribute of my little black pooch is that she is keenly aware of me. I get busy and forget all about her; but she keeps tabs on me. When I walk from one room to another (including the bathroom), she follows me; I look down to see the little Penne at my feet. I think it’s amazing that one being can be so acutely aware and in touch with another. Even as I wrote this last sentence, she walked up and gave me eye contact. I guess it’s her way of “checking in.” I do think the Divine is acutely aware and attentative, always in touch and never far away. Like the affection of an amazing little creature, how much more the thought that the creator of the universe not only knows my name, but follows me around wherever I go. Wow. That’s pretty...

034: Life Stages & States Aug22

034: Life Stages & States...

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/34-Stages___States_-_Jeannette_.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 20:06 — 27.6MB)Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSJeannette Slater & Dr. Deb discuss personal growth in light of what some have identified as life stages & states. The conversation was somewhat sparked by a brief article published by Father Richard Rohr on May 3, 2015. He builds on the work of philosopher, Ken Wilbur who described the differences between life stages & states. Here is a section of the article, though we encourage you to click on the link above and read it in its entirety: “Your stage of human development has to do with your location in time, your culture, and your education. It has to do with your level of intellectual maturity, how much you’ve been able to integrate thought patterns in a consistent and informed way. Most of us in our lifetimes have grown through a few stages, eventually seeing the limits of each previous stage (both in our own lives and within history), and moving to the next: in general, the ideal tangent is pre-rational, through rational, and on to trans-rational. The trans-rational stage builds on the other two and thus has endless horizons. This is the full trajectory and direction of human growth, with many intermediate stops and starts in between. “Your state of consciousness is more about your level of inner awakening than mere correct information. How much do you live connected to self and others and the Whole? How much have you overcome your sense of separateness and superiority? How much do body, soul, and spirit work together as one? Have you moved beyond simply reacting? Can you act and think in pure inner freedom? In traditional religious language, how much do you live in union with God? “Your...

What do you see?

What do you see when you see people? A problem with living in a world filled with judgments and classifications is that we don’t always look at others in positive ways. We have a tendency to not only compare, but stereotype and make strong conclusions about others. We don’t always deal well with different and messy. Most of us are socialized to have strong opinions about others. So it is often challenging to look upon others in the best light. We fail to see the Divine in them. We fail to celebrate the uniqueness. I recently read this quote by the mystic, Thomas Merton from his Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander: “In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness. The whole illusion of a separate holy existence is a dream. . . . This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud. . . . I have the immense joy of being [hu]man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now [that] I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this!”* This reminds me of a similar experience I had; I could have written Merton’s piece myself one day while visiting Kuala...

Excellence

Last week I went to an awesome concert. It was at one of the top venues in the world, the Red Rocks natural amphitheater in Colorado. The setting was almost perfect. The sun set as we watched distant showers over the Denver skyline. Our skin enjoyed a perfect temperature. And then we got to hear musicians who are the best of the best perform from their hearts. The bands? Eclectic Pink Martini from Portland, jazz pianist and vocalist, Diana Krall and her band, and the Colorado Symphony. Wow. The audience was treated to mind-blowing performances by exceptionally talented musicians. The genres played were diverse: jazz, bossa nova, opera, pop. I was on row 48 clapping to the beat, mouthing some of the lyrics and kept saying wow, wow, wow. Excellence has a way of blowing your mind and leaving your speechless. There is something special about being around people who are doing what they were made to do and have perfected their craft. Would anyone question whether John Lennon and Paul McCartney were meant to write songs, or Steve Jobs was to innovate technologies, or Michelangelo was to paint and sculpt? My 16-year old niece is visiting. She’s a competitive swimmer, so I asked her why she swims. She said being in the pool is not only a stress reliever, but also a place where she can be alone with just her and the water. She competes because it helps her work towards her goal of getting a college scholarship and maybe even going professional. She competes against others, but I think she mostly competes against herself. She is convinced she was made to swim. She’s got three things that are necessary: talent, motivation, and discipline. She’s probably still working on her 10,000 hours,...

Pain Lessons

You can’t always get what you want. So said the great musical poet, Mick Jagger in the Rolling Stones classic song. How do you respond when you don’t get what you want? How do you respond to obstacles, or what best-selling author, Seth Godin, called “the dip?”* When you hit a roadblock (which could be an illness or any tough situation), you have choices. Do you ignore the problem, go around it, push through it, surrender to it? These past few weeks, I’ve had a health issue that has seriously cramped my style. And by style, I mean it has made it impossible for me to get much done. I am a doer and tend to judge the success of my day by how much I accomplish. At the beginning of the summer, I made a long list of tasks I wanted to accomplish during the warm weather and while I was less occupied with teaching. But time got away, and I’m not sure where the summer went. As a result, as the summer started to wind down, there were extra expectations I put on myself for one last push before school starts. And then I got a foot infection. Not only did it swell up, hurt and make me limp around. It also made me incredibly tired, and feeling like I had the flu. It’s been a real drag—for what seems like a long time. I realized I had a choice in my response. I could do the usual and stress about what I hadn’t accomplished. I could get angry at the illness. There were various emotional states and thoughts I could engage in. However, through this, I found myself mostly able to let expectations go and do what I could from my chair. After...

Nagasaki

It dropped from the sky just three days after the other one. The first was an atom bomb, the equivalent of 15 thousand tons of TNT that exploded above Hiroshima, Japan. The second was a plutonium bomb that fell on less than 200 miles away on Nagasaki. Never in the history of humankind had a single weapon—two it seems—created such mass and catastrophic devastation. About half the population of these two cities died instantly as their bodies evaporated into nothing or their flesh was ripped or burned off. In the weeks and months that followed, others died from their burns, radiation sickness, malnutrition and other injuries. And for years, other victims, and their offspring, suffered a variety of cancers and birth defects. By any account, it was horrible. We will not discuss the justifications here; people all over the world can justify what they do to fellow humans in the name of whatever they are preserving or fighting for. As we remember these events 70 years later, perhaps we can take away some lessons. I heard on a news report this week that the Japanese people are not bitter. Hmmmmm, not bitter? How could this be? Then I heard the name of the memorial at Hiroshima is not called a war memorial, it’s called a peace memorial. Wow. I don’t recall ever seeing a peace memorial in America, or anywhere else for that matter. In fact, if you Google “peace memorial,” the first several hits you see are for the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Compare this to the attack on the twin towers in New York on 9/11/2001. Americans were incensed that they would a) be attacked on their home soil, and b) innocent civilians would be the target of the attack. Home soil...

033: Boundless Aug08

033: Boundless

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/33_Boundless-Bryan_Bishop.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 36:36 — 33.5MB)Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSBryan Bishop has been writing stories for many years but is new to the book scene. After conducting interviews and doing research around the world for almost 20 years, he has just released his first book, Boundless: What Global Expressions of Faith Teach Us About Following Jesus. In it, he shares stories of faith that have emerged from unexpected sources—hidden movements of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and others who are experiencing and following Jesus outside of traditional Christian channels. These are people that have likely never even met a Christian or learned how to look for God in culturally Western fashion. In researching the fascinating expressions of other cultures and religions, Bryan found an ability to not only learn from others, but identified some fascinating keys to spirituality that can inform the rest of us. From the book’s back cover: “If you want to grow in areas where you feel stagnant or disillusioned, if you are concerned bout friends who have left the church behind, or if you chafe against the European-American cultural box into which we force Christianity, you will find in this book a liberating view of what it looks like to follow Christ.” Boundless is about rediscovering cultural diversity in Christianity that has been stifled for centuries. It’s also about Westerners who are increasingly fleeing the institutional church in record numbers. From pages 29-30 in the book: “I wonder if there’s a parallel with the appetite in the West for ethnic cuisine. Could it be that Christianity, as it grew up in Europe and America, developed its own kinds of flavor? I has become like good old European meat, potatoes, and gravy. Or to Americanize it, like...

Hiroshima

This week we “lament, and grieve our own complicity in the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945 on the Feast of the Transfiguration. The atomic bomb became a symbol of humanity’s capacity for negative transfiguration.” So writes Father Richard Rohr, keenly aware that he lives near “Trinity Site,” where the bomb was tested before it was used to destroy two cities in Japan. “This is a reminder to me,” he wrote, “that my capacity for evil is as close as my backyard and my own shadow [myself].” Transfiguration marks the time when Jesus climbed a mountain with two of his disciples—Peter and James—and was transfigured before their eyes. It was a profound spiritual experience when “dazzling brightness which emanated from His whole Body was produced by an interior shining of His Divinity.”* Whether or not you are American, I thought Rohr’s devotional on the subject was both timely and universal enough to share portions with you. May the anniversary give all of us us pause to remember and reflect. In considering the life message of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, a French Carmelite nun who lived just over a hundred years ago, the contrast between WHO WE ARE and WHO WE COULD BE is stark indeed. Rohr went on: “What if we had studied the “science of love” in the Little Way as she did? Harnessing the energy in the smallest interactions, moment by moment, we might have found that, indeed, “Love is as strong as Death” (Song of Songs 8:6). What if we had practiced confidence as Thérèse did–as deep trust in the mercy, love, and goodness of God? Maybe we would not have found ourselves in the position where good people participated in the continual “sin of the world” (John 1:29), which I am convinced is ignorant killing. Endless...

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