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About NotChurch

We are a community of people, mostly American expatriates, living in a small coastal town in Baja California. Though some of us come from 'church' backgrounds, many bristle at the thought of organized religion. That doesn't, however, mean that we are not seeking something more out of life, and to connect with the spiritual--though that takes many different shapes for us. Not Church has emerged as a way for us to continue on that journey together.

Meditation and Action by Dr. Mary Contreras

Never Regret Being KindI want to talk today about Meditation and Action.  Even before this pandemic, I have been wrestling with the ideas and practices of contemplation, meditation and how these are linked to action.  This particular time in our shared history brings this ever more present and crucial for me.

We all know that meditation, while subtle, is a powerful practice for waking up to ourselves…and to one another.  We learn how to be present to our immediate experience. The more we sit still, the more the mind becomes calm and clear.  Our awareness becomes less distorted and less judgmental.  Our heart is more open and compassionate toward others.  When we do get upset or thrown off balance, we are much quicker to regain our composure and find our seat amid all of life’s inevitable ups and downs.  It is meditation that has helped me to find gratitude in the midst of this pandemic.

But I also believe this is not enough, especially now.  We also need to act. But let me also say that without meditation or contemplation in our lives, our actions will not be as powerful or fruitful or done out of love, which I believe true positive change originates from.

I believe we are being called now, more than ever to bring about a revolution in our way of living our everyday lives.  I love that some have called this the Great Pause.  I also love that some people are acknowledging that we shouldn’t return to normal because normal was fraught with problems.  So how should we return to our lives and living?

We live in a world whose people and the planet are in deep pain, and have been for a long time.  Some of this pain is a product of economic inequality which the pandemic has made more evident.  We have long known that millions suffer and die from hunger each year.  Obama recently said in his speech to graduates, “A disease likes this just spotlights the underlying inequalities and extra burdens that black communities have historically had to deal with in this country,  We see a disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on our communities, just as we see it when a black man goes for a jog and some folks feel like they can stop and question, and shoot him if he doesn’t submit to their questions.”  He goes on to say – what I believe is crucial here for us today – “Injustice like this isn’t new.  What is new is that so much of your generation has woken up to the fact that the status quo needs fixing, that the old ways of doing things don’t work, that it doesn’t matter how much money you make if everyone around you is hungry and sick, and that our society and democracy only works when we think not just about ourselves but about each other.”

Pope Francis declared May 16 to the 24th as the 5th anniversary of “Caring for Our […]

By |2020-07-19T13:53:40-07:00July 4th, 2020|Talks|Comments Off on Meditation and Action by Dr. Mary Contreras

June Not Church…Powerful!

Not Church La Misión on ZOOM

 

The theme for the June Not Church was ‘life and death in the times of upheaval.’

With the pandemic in full swing and world-wide protests, we certainly do live in challenging times.  We tried to acknowledge the challenges and find inspiration for finding the opportunities for positivity.

Doug welcomed us with personal reflections. Nadine led us in 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence to acknowledge just how long George Floyd suffered under a policeman’s knee.  Maria inspired us with a poem by Hafiz and one of her own. Rhonda read a poignant, timely poem, “The Black Prayer” by RuNett Nia-Ebo and Erin tied it all together asking us to reconsider what we mean and who exactly is included when we talk about “we.”

A lot to think about.  It was a powerful gathering.

The Candle burns down by Hafiz

We melt a little each day.  The candle
burns down.
And it may wonder at times, it may
wonder:
What will become of me? What will
happen to my precious flame?

O, so much brighter my dear, you will
become, so much brighter. 

Untitled by Maria Rosales
When you hit rock bottom
dig further down.
When you reach your molten core
Mystery will arrive
in so many disguises—
a songbird once drowned
out by the noise in your head,
purple and yellow blossoms
dazzling your morning eyes,
or a bee heavy with nectar
pauses to look at you—
perhaps that oak branch tapping the windowpane
asks permission to rock
your scorched soul, whispering
“Hush…”

The Black Prayer read by Rhonda Purdle

This is deep, so take your time.

Why Did You Make Me Black Lord
Lord .. Why did you make me black?
Why did you make someone
the world would hold back?…
Black is the color of dirty clothes,
of grimy hands and feet……
Black is the color of darkness,
of tired beaten streets…

Why did you give me thick lips,
a broad nose and kinky hair?
Why did you create someone
who receives the hated stare?

Black is the color of the bruised eye
when someone gets hurt…
Black is the color of darkness,
black is the color of dirt.

Why is my bone structure so thick,
my hips and cheeks so high?
Why are my eyes brown,
and not the color of the sky?

Why do people think I’m useless?
How come I feel so used?
Why do people see my skin
and think I should be abused?
Lord, I just don’t understand…
What is it about my skin?
Why is it some people want to hate me
and not know the person within?

Black is what people are “Labeled”
when others want to keep them away…
Black is the color of shadows cast…
Black is the end of the day.

Lord you know my own people mistreat me,
and you know this just ain’t right…
They don’t like my hair, they don’t like my
skin, as they say I’m too dark or too light!

Lord, don’t you think
it’s time to make a change?
Why don’t you redo creation
and make everyone the same?

God’s Reply:

Why did I make you black? Why did I make you black?

I made you in the color of coal
from which beautiful diamonds are formed…
I made you in the color of oil,
the black gold which keeps people warm.

Your color is the same […]

By |2020-07-01T15:21:38-07:00July 1st, 2020|Events, Talks|Comments Off on June Not Church…Powerful!

In the Meantime
by Erin Dunigan

Morning Coffee Do you remember back at the beginning of this all? Back when people were joking about how to keep from touching your face (cover your hands in jalapeño) or how to know how long to wash your hands (sing happy birthday all the way through)? It seems like a lifetime ago, in many ways. Sure, we knew what was coming – or so we thought. But the actual experience of these past few months is something that we could not really have imagined. For some people the major challenge has been how to get their needs met while staying isolated – ‘needs’ such as almond butter, red wine, and freshly caught fish. For others, the challenge has been how to feed their family when the government dispensas only come every few weeks, and even when they do, can hardly feed a family for any length of time. For some of us it has been a time of being able to work in the garden, take life at a slower pace, and explore new learning. For others it has been almost maddening to not be able to go out, see people, connect, and have their routine social interactions. We are all, of course, unique in our personalities and their various ups and downs, and so it makes sense that our experience of this time would be varied as well.

Back toward the beginning of it all I had the realization that I had not sufficiently stocked up (aka hoarded) on two very essential items – red wine and coffee. So, I made a trip to Costco in Ensenada (back before their were checkpoints and temperature checks) to make sure I was stocked up. The coffee was whole bean, dark roast – a daily necessity. The red wine was a cheap Merlot from Italy, in a box of 6. I bought two boxes, just to be safe. I figured, hoarding wine, in the grand scheme of things, wasn’t all the bad. Upon arrival home from Costco I was so relieved. Phew. Exhale. Now I can handle this situation. Now I can breathe a bit easier. (The privilege of this is not lost on me, but that’s a different article.)

And then a funny thing happened. Maybe it was because the wine was not that great. Who knows? But that night when I opened a bottle to enjoy a nice glass of wine I got only a couple of sips in and…I didn’t want anymore. In fact, I haven’t had any since. It was as though once the ‘scarcity’ was removed, once the fear of not having enough was solved, the desire actually disappeared. It was as though the ‘need’ was based less on actual desire and more on fear of not having enough. It puzzled me and I began to ponder – what exactly was going on?

The more I thought about it, the more I came to realize that it was as though the idea […]

By |2020-05-29T13:40:18-07:00May 29th, 2020|Articles, Talks|Comments Off on In the Meantime
by Erin Dunigan

Grief by Erin Dunigan

Grief

My dad passed away fifteen years ago. He had been struggling with cancer for two years, so it was not a surprise when the day came, even though it was. Those of you who have been there know what I’m talking about. As much as you think you can do to prepare for that moment, you still are not prepared when it actually hits. My dad’s passing was peaceful, at home, amidst family and friends. It was actually a lovely sacred time – you could even call it a gift.

For the three years prior I had been studying theology, including courses in what is considered pastoral care – courses such as how to be present with people in difficult times, how to help families make difficult end of life decisions and how to deal with grief. So, though I would not have said so in so many words, somewhere under the surface I thought I had a handle on the whole ‘my dad is dying thing.’

It became clear very quickly that I thought wrong.

When my dad did actually pass it was as though the ground had been pulled out from under me. I was not a child – I was a grown adult in my mid 30’s. But even still, it felt as though the very ground that I walked on became unsteady, unstable, shifting. I felt as though I was looking for a firm place to stand and tapping with my foot, but I couldn’t seem to find anywhere to actually step down.

“Oh, this is just part of the grief process,” I told myself. There are traditionally thought to be give stages of grief, that can happen in any particular order and that can cycle as one moves through grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. Another thing I had learned is that there is no particular timeframe – grief can last far longer than one expects, or than others realize.

I had read. I had studied. I knew the five stages. I knew all ‘about’ grief – but it was not until I was in the midst of it that I realized, no amount of learning ‘about’ could save me from the ‘going through.’ I realized that somehow I thought I might protect myself from the grief, that I might be able to take a short-cut around it – I’ve studied this, I don’t need to actually feel it myself! What I learned when my dad died, more clearly than I had up to that point in my life, is that there is no short cut. Grief is something that one must travel through, not around. But I did also learn that it does not last forever. That in going through it, one actually does, eventually, get to the other side. That the grief does not have the last word. That the grief does eventually pass.

Of course I still miss my dad. But the missing is not as painful as […]

By |2020-03-25T10:43:44-07:00March 25th, 2020|Articles, Blog|Comments Off on Grief by Erin Dunigan

March Not Church Norte Goes Online

Not Church Norte will be gathering virtually by Zoom, this Wednesday, March 25th at 5 pm.

Click this link to join the meeting: https://zoom.us/j/9231159289 

or you can paste it into your browser.
Meeting ID 9231159289

PLEASE DO NOT JOIN THE MEETING UNTIL 5 PM
 
*You don’t need to have the ZOOM app to join the meeting, but it might be easier for you if you do.
You can download the FREE ZOOM APP from your phone or PC APP Store
By |2020-04-22T12:51:41-07:00March 23rd, 2020|About Events|Comments Off on March Not Church Norte Goes Online

January Not Church

We look forward to seeing you at the first Not Church of 2020. We will gather at Poco Cielo Lounge (the north building) at 10AM. If you can, please continue the conversation and express appreciation to Cheryl and the Poco Cielo staff by staying after to enjoy breakfast with friends.

By |2020-04-22T12:52:10-07:00January 6th, 2020|About Events, Home Page|Comments Off on January Not Church

Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise

The Happiness Study Group is starting a new book on January 7. We will be studying Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh as we embark on our SIXTH year together. This will be the group’s TWELFTH book (if you count the second round of Elliott Dacher’s “Aware Awake Alive”)!

The Happiness Study Group meets Tuesdays at 2pm for meditation, study and discussion. Notes and general information are posted on the Group’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/949524048429145/

Please contact Nadine at nadine.lockitch7@gmail.com if you would like to join our group and get directions.

You can check out the book and purchase it on Amazon here or elsewhere if you prefer.

By |2020-02-15T12:57:22-08:00December 22nd, 2019|Happiness Study Group|Comments Off on Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise