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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.

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|0 Comments

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

Pumpkin pie and the bigger questions

By Erin Dunigan

It was Thanksgiving. This year my family could not make it down to La Misión, as has been our custom for years – Thanksgiving in Baja. My mom always makes the mashed potatoes and the green beans. Melissa and Steve, my compadres, are in charge of the turkey (even though Melissa is a vegetarian!). Martha, who is like my second mom, makes the southern style cornbread stuffing and the most important item of the day – the pumpkin pie. Because of this family tradition, I have only once, when I lived in Scotland, actually made any of the Thanksgiving dinner myself. It’s not a bad deal, really. Until, of course, your family can’t make it to Baja for the holiday. As the holiday approached I didn’t really even think about it. That is, until the day before Thanksgiving. That is when it hit me – the undeniable craving for a piece of pumpkin pie. And that was when it also hit me – wait, even though my family isn’t coming, the truth is, I could make a pumpkin pie myself. It was as if a chorus began to sing hallelujah. Yes! I will make the pie – and even better, I won’t have to share it!

So, I set about looking for the perfect pumpkin pie recipe. I didn’t want to bother Martha by asking for hers, so I let google be my guide. I found one that seemed to be just right. I went to the local market and made sure that my ‘manteca’ was the vegetable kind, not the pig kind – pork pumpkin pie is an experiment I’d rather leave for someone else. As I began on the crust I realized I had hit an impasse – it called for parchment paper on the raw crust, which then needed to be filled with weight such as uncooked dried beans to keep the crust from ballooning when being precooked. I knew I didn’t have parchment paper. Where might one get parchment paper? Perhaps the new Climax in Puerto Nuevo might carry it, but I had just got back from buying a turkey breast there and didn’t want to hop back in the car, especially with the rain coming. So, I turned to google again, seeing what I might use as a substitute. No luck – no clear answers. Foil didn’t seem to be a good option, nor did wax paper, which I did happen to have, albeit from the 1970’s. So, I decided to turn to the expert – Martha. I sent her a text asking her what I could use instead of parchment paper. She had a few follow up questions but then asked, “How long does the recipe say to pre-cook the crust before you put in the pumpkin mixture?” I looked and reported back. That was when she sent me a photo of the recipe from her cookbook – […]

By |2020-02-12T11:28:46-08:00December 6th, 2019|Articles, Blog|Comments Off on Pumpkin pie and the bigger questions

On Duty and Delight
by Erin Dunigan

 

Ice Blended BeverageDon’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
—Howard Thurman

It was summer. The last place I wanted to be, if I admitted it, was in the hospital. But that is where I found myself, not by choice. The good news was, I wasn’t there as a patient.

A summer chaplaincy internship was one of the requirements for my graduate program and since I had avoided it the summer before by taking Greek, if that gives you any indication of how much I wanted to avoid the summer hospital chaplaincy. I had heard horror stories about it from others who had gone before me – dealing with intensely traumatic situations, screaming family members, fear, grief, anxiety, anger – none of which said ‘summer’ to me.

But there I was, in the hospital on a bright sunny Southern California day. My ‘job’ was to cover the third floor, knocking on doors and asking the patients something along the lines of ‘how are your spirits today?’ Kind of like the people who come knocking on your front door selling their God or religion or their politics – except these poor people were confined to hospital beds and couldn’t pretend not to be home. It was awful. What made it worse was that when I introduced myself as the chaplain many people assumed that the chaplain visit could only mean one thing – they were dying – and so panicked. It was awful.

So, on this particular sunny summer day, I made an executive decision. I would ditch. Not completely, as I needed the internship credits and couldn’t justify leaving the hospital. But I would ditch my door to door work on the third floor and head down to the hospital lobby where I knew there to be a coffee cart. An ice blended mocha sounded like the perfect solution to my predicament.

With my deliciously chilly ice blended mocha in hand, I looked for a place in the lobby to sit down. “If I sit down and talk to someone, then I can justify ditching in case my supervisor walks by,” I thought.  I know, not the best of motives, but alas.

So, I spotted an older woman sitting alone and went to sit near her. She too was drinking something and we struck up a conversation. She was a delight. As it happened, she was there waiting for her husband, the patient, to have some tests. We chatted about life. When she asked what I was doing there I explained that I was working as a summer chaplain. “Oh, I hate chaplains,” she responded, not intending any ill will toward me, just stating […]

By |2020-04-18T13:23:05-07:00December 4th, 2019|Articles, Blog|Comments Off on On Duty and Delight
by Erin Dunigan