Garden Church Gathering Sunday 9.28

 

IMG_5837In this beginning stage of putting down roots and forming as a community, we will have a Garden Church Gathering once a month (always the fourth Sunday) to explore and experiment with re-imagining church together. As we discover what it looks like to work, and worship, and eat together we will move to meeting every other week, and by Easter of 2015 we hope to have a Gathering every Sunday.

Our September Gathering will take place on Sunday, September 28th from 3:15pm—5:15pm at the small park just down the hill from the Korean Friendship Bell in Angels Gate Park at Pt. Fermin in San Pedro. *See below for detailed directions.

3:15-4:00pm Work Together—Grab some gloves and a trash bag and do some park clean up. (Cleanup is done at the risk of each individual. We will provide gloves and trash-bags). Or sit and meditate for the sake of all under a tree.

4:00pm Worship Together—Bring your camping chair, blanket, or find a seat on the grass and we’ll join our voices together in song, engage in some scripture and a message, pray together and share the Sacred Meal (Communion) with God, each other, and the earth beneath us.

4:45-5:15 Eat Together—The Sacred Meal will lead into our shared Community Meal. Everyone is invited to bring something to share in a simple potluck. Sign up here: http://www.prepatrip.com/t/3jk4i8/potluck/1 As we eat, we will talk about what it means to each of us to re-imagine church and discuss where it is that God is leading this unfolding community.

Contact us if you have any questions:  

We look forward to Gathering together!

*If you’re a GPS type, program it for Pt. Fermin Park. Then, drive past Pt. Fermin park, down below the Korean Friendship bell, and you will see a parking lot on your right (away from the water). You can then pull in and park in the parking lot there. We will be working together to clean up some of the hillside near the parking lot. We’ll then gather together in the shade near the other end of the park for worship and our picnic.
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Twenty-Seven Beds

Part of the Pilgrimage Summer 2013 Series

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Twenty-Seven. That’s how many times I’ve changed where I laid my head at night since I moved out of my Indiana apartment in May. Twenty-seven times I’ve picked up my toothbrush and put it back in its travel bag. Twenty-seven times I’ve put my head on a pillow, knowing that in day or week, I would be in another place.

Earlier this week, I settled my head on my own pillow, with my very own white striped pillow case, pulled the matching deep red comforter that I made back in my Colorado days up to my chin and breathed into new space: one that is mine for this next season. Unpacking in my new home, my mind flies back over these twenty-seven beds, and the places and days spent between them. It’s been a summer overflowing with rich experiences, learning, growth, travel, and change.

I’m reaching for a “concluding blog post.” One where I tie everything together, tracing those threads back through each location and tie up each theme in a nice crisp bow.

Nope. Not going to happen. And it wouldn’t be honest to the pilgrimage to try. The tangled, interconnected, still processing, led by a Force greater than the journey, energy resists being wrapped up and captured in a few pithy phrases.

But here’s what I can tell you.

I can tell you that I have lived these months of being a pilgrim fully.

I can tell you that the Divine had themes woven throughout my travels that changed me.

I can tell you than I laughed more than usual and that I’d like to continue that trend.

I can tell you that nature and I reconnected and have taken up our old love affair with a passionate commitment.

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I can tell you how there are beautiful and fascinating people everywhere and potential for human connection around every corner.

I can tell you that coming home to a place that has been a grounding space for years is sweeter than ever.

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I can tell you that new friends who you swap stories with fresh energy are gifts, and that old friends who know your story because they were there are blessings.

I can tell you about my time in various Swedenborgian communities and how connecting with my faith heritages has strengthened and formed my future ministry.

I can tell you how I love children and how spending time with them feeds my soul.
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I can tell you how exploring a city and finding out of the way coffee shops and secret gardens is one of my favorite ways to spend a day. Especially days when you do it with two good friends and you climb a tree and visit while swinging your legs in the air and having deep theological conversations. 

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I can tell you that the life of a nomadic pilgrim is humbling when you’re relying on others for your “homes.”  And how I know that my experience of this is incredibly privileged.

I can tell you about that privilege and how I always knew where I would sleep and I thought a lot about the people who cannot say that. Especially one day when I was sick in the UK and we had to move and all I wanted to do was be home in my own bed and I began reflecting on those who are sick and don’t have their own bed, until my prof told me that I really didn’t have to be doing theological reflection all the time and to have some more vitamin C and water.


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I can tell you than I see God in more places now than I used to, especially as I hunt for God’s image in the faces of people. 

I can tell you that I trust the Divine leading more now than I did three months ago and that doors keep opening and my trust and delight is growing.

I can tell you about how I’ve stood and preached when there were no words to say and that God gave the words.

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I can tell you that the curved balls came, as they always do, and that with them always came the breath, or laughter, or strength, or help that was needed.

I can tell you that some of the best conversations happen over a drink in the evenings after the meetings, or workshop, or class.

I can tell you where the yarn shops are in a number of cities in the US and UK. And about how I met the sheep that gave me this yarn.

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I can tell you how long it takes to fly and drive and walk all sorts of places. And I can brag that my sense of direction has improved with dedicated attention.

I could wax on and on, worthy of commercial or two, about the virtue of my Sherpani carry-on suitcase, my Haiku purse, my Jambu shoes and my NorthFace jacket, four items that accompanied me without exception throughout all my travels.  And I could tell you about the women who tried to steal my shoes at camp because they loved them so much.
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And I can tell you about how I found home in the few moments of intention as I entered each space, and how my mini art and spiritual practice kit was pullout out all over the world and how I kept crocheting that prayer shawl.

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And I can tell you about how I appreciate and fought my commitment to blog throughout the trip and how much your comments and accompaniment brought companionship and joy.

So that’s what I can tell you today. And the steps of the pilgrim continue.

It’s about seeing beauty and humanity everywhere, feeling the Divine infused in all things, and showing up to what is in front of us. Here’s to the continued pilgrimage called life. 

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Divine Tension of Anticipation

Anticipate: to realize beforehand; foretaste or foresee: to anticipate pleasure.
Anticipate: to expect; look forward to; be sure of; to anticipate a favorable decision

The advent season is one of anticipation. Of waiting… Of preparation… Of looking forward to the special Christmas day… When the concepts of anticipation and Christmas come together, I picture the look on a child’s face when December 1st rolls around. Waiting for Christmas becomes a month-long celebration. Some wake up each morning, ready to open the next door of the advent calendar. People scurry around making gifts and tucking them at the back of the closet or in that hidden spot in the crawl space, waiting for their Christmas morning unveiling. As children, the month of December can seem like an eternity, 24 whole doors on the advent calendar to open before one can wake up to the delight of Christmas morning.

Parents in the month of December are called to work with their children on discipline. “Nope, you can’t open doors for December 17th and 22nd today—today is December 3rd.” “You can shake and poke the presents from Grandma under the tree, but don’t think about peeling the tape back on the corner of the box”.  There’s something charged and magical in the waiting along with the frustration and restraint.

What of our discipline in advent?  What do we anticipate as we approach the celebration of Christ’s birth, Divinity Incarnate on earth? I’ll admit that I’m not so far from the ways of childhood, when it comes to Christmas. I get excited when the lights start going up on the trees and I’ve been madly knitting gifts for weeks now. I anticipate Christmas concerts and meals with friends and family and await the gentle glow of candlelight traditions.

Anticipate: to realize beforehand; foretaste or foresee: to anticipate pleasure.
Anticipate: to expect; look forward to; be sure of; to anticipate a favorable decision

There is something in the waiting that feels sacred to me. There’s a care in the preparations that speaks to the precious nature of the holiday we’re approaching. I am seeing God in this tension, in the waiting, the anticipation. Maybe anticipation is God’s gift to us, the foretaste of God’s goodness, the spark of light in a darkened world. We anticipate, prepare, and stay in the tension because we look forward to a dream being realized; we feel God’s vision of the future we are working towards.

When we live in the anticipation as a Divine gift, we can find the sacred, the joy of knowing that something beautiful is coming, the energy and excitement to persevere, the trust and patience to wait. We anticipate the end of a season. We anticipate a shift in our attitudes. We anticipate a change in a relationship, a new home, conquering an inner battle, mastering a skill, or the passing of time.

We can live into the anticipation as a gift, or we can see it as a burden. We can wake up each day and curse the fact that it is not yet Christmas morning, be bitter and twisted about the greener grass across the way and threaten to rip open all the gifts under the tree. We can live our lives in a way that would cause us to walk into a darkened room, throw on every bank of lights, and flood the room with a harsh fluorescent glare to see what’s there—RIGHT NOW.

Or… The people who walked in darkness, saw a great light. Those who dwelt in the shadow of death, upon them a light has shone. The light is out there—flickering in the darkness. The Christ light shines, beckoning us to draw near, to follow, to anticipate. In this advent season, we are reminded to walk in spiritual disciplines, to breathe in the tension between what we look towards and what is. To engage in the sacred dance of anticipation. To be present in each moment, each breath. To look for the Christ light shining in our midst.

“I Heard An Owl” by Carrie Newcomer

This song has been one of my musical prayers of late.  It wrestles beautifully with the nature of evil, love and healing and what is God and what is human and where the hope and action come in.

Here’s a link to a youtube video someone made using the song if you’d like to listen to it. Or check it out on iTunes.

I Heard An Owl
by Carrie Newcomer (on her 2002 CD “The Gathering of Spirits”)
I heard an owl call last night
Homeless and confused
I stood naked and bewildered
By the evil people do

Up upon a hill there is a terrible sign
That tells the story of what darkness waits
When we leave the light behind.

Don’t tell me hate is ever right or God’s will
These are the wheels we put in motion ourselves
The whole world weeps and is weeping still
Though shaken I still believe
The best of what we all can be
The only peace this world will know
Can only come from love.

I am a voice calling out
Across the great divide
I am only one person
That feels they have to try
The questions fall like trees or dust
Rise like prayers above
But the only word is “Courage”
And the only answer “Love”

Light every candle that you can
We need some light to see
In the face of deepest loss
Treat each other tenderly
The arms of God will gather in
Each sparrow that falls
But makes no separation
Just fiercely loves us all.

In praise of the semicolon

In praise of the semicolonIn Praise of the Semicolon
Never put a period,
or colon or even a comma
where God put a semicolon.Unlike the settled-
before-its-time
periodor the colon’s
invitation to see all
possibilities

or the exclamation point’s
screaming, insistent
finality

or even the lighthearted
comma with its
sabbath pause

the outrageous
semicolon holds
us in the middle

without yielding to one
thing or the other.
It’s so easy to get lost

along the way where
there is so much
pushing and pulling.

God I believe;
Help my unbelief.
Amen; Life.

Terry L. Chapman

Thanks to https://www.facebook.com/EmergentVillage for this quote.

Or as Swedenborgian scholar Rev. Dr. George Dole puts it: “Written revelation is inevitably misunderstood and misused if it is regarded as exclusive or final. “

Independence. Dependence. Interdependence.

I was brought up in a world where being independent was highly esteemed. As an American. As a radical homeschooler. As a Woofenden. As an oldest. As an Anna. Independence was prized, and had a profound and primarily positive impact upon molding me into who I am today.  Most days I have boldly forged ahead in life, moving across the country and putting myself through college, engaging in dream jobs that hadn’t existed prior to me taking them, traveled across the oceans, purchased a home at age 23, jumping off the cliff of secure job into the unknown world of seminary. I lead a self-sufficient and independent life.

Then there’s dependence. Certainly I was deeply dependent on my parents growing up: they fed me, clothed me, educated me, nurtured me, provided safe space for me to explore and grow. Even as a strong-willed teen-ager who thought she could do it on her own, I was provided for and cared for. Dependent. And that was a gift. I was depended upon as well, as a big sister to six, a leader in the youth group, and a part of the household. As an adult, I’ve learned dependence in other ways, from friends and employers, relationships, institutions and organizations. Some in ways that served, other times noticing that I had become depended on others for my sense of self and worth.  When I went through a serious illness, I learned the deep humility and gift of dependence.  I was taken in and cared for, fed, driven and gently nurtured back to health by friends, family and community. I learned that one could be loved and cared for while being unable to give anything in return. I learned the beauty of dependence.

As I move through life, the push and pull of dependence and independence continue to refine me.  I continue to learn how to be vulnerable with others, learning to ask for and receive help as well as give it freely. I’m growing in trust in the ebb and flow in human relationship. Finding the place of respect and appreciation for friends and their opinions, without relinquishing my sense of self to those around me.  We walk the tightrope, when to lean, when to stand tall, the time to break down walls, and the awareness to not become enmeshed.

I think this might be part of learning interdependence.

(A number of other blog posts are coming to mind here. How these ways of being dependent, independent and interdependent might manifest in our society, religion, politics, international relations, the world as a whole. But those are musings for another day; just one more paragraph before I go.)

Gotta talk about God for a moment. Am I dependent on God? Yes: for every life’s breath, every green tree, every compassionate gesture.  All of it.  Am I independent from God? Yes, I believe in someway I am.  It is this independence that gives me freedom, (or at least a sense of it). I feel free to choose to act and think and be. Independent in the idea that God is God and I am not. Being the human in the dance of Divinity and humanity. And yet, it is hard for me to state with any strength that I am independent from God, though on paper there’s something to it.  Maybe this third word is the one to use. Am I interdependent with God? Is interdependence, the ebb and flow, the giving and receiving, the reciprocity and mutual connection, the essence of Divinity itself?

I don’t have all the answers. But, then again, neither do all the experts. What do you think?