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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

A Photo for the Archives!

Not Church Online!

This photograph may not seem particularly outstanding but it is historic! It’s the first photo taken of a Not Church Online gathering, April 19, 2020–a whole new and potentially very expansive concept for what started here in this “tiny coastal town of La Mision on Mexico’s Baja peninsula,” as TIME magazine called it shortly after it started in March of 2012.* That article “The Rise of the Nones,” which was referred to on that week’s cover, can also be read here under “articles.”

It’s not of the first Not Church online gathering, that was Not Church Norte on March 23, a couple of weeks before, but it hadn’t quite landed on us that these are historic times so there’s no photo documentation.

 

 

By |2020-04-23T14:54:00-07:00April 22nd, 2020|About Events|Comments Off on A Photo for the Archives!

Everything Changes
by Erin Dunigan

Erin BackpackingIt is so easy to want to hang on to the way things have always been, isn’t it? Even if we don’t realize that we are doing it. I don’t know about you, but I find comfort in routine, in predictability.

I am an avid backpacker. I love getting away to the back country for days – no internet, nothing extraneous, all day long hiking in spectacular beauty, breathing fresh air, drinking only water, eating only what the body needs to resupply for the journey, sleeping under the stars. For me, it is magical. Now, to hear that you might be led think that I’m some rugged adventurer. Which, in part, is true. But not completely.

The thing is, my backpacking has almost entirely been in the High Sierra of California – an area which has trails, maps, rangers, and for the most part, well maintained markings along the way. You don’t actually have to be able to use a compass, though of course it is always recommended. You do need to be able to read the topographical map to know when to expect access to water, potential river crossings, and possible flat areas to camp. But, the thing is, there is a trail. For the most part, you follow the trail. There is no mystery as to where you are going – you are going that way.

It was not until one such backpacking adventure, when my traveling companions wanted to investigate a local peak that was definitely not on the trail that I realized – I am actually not as badass as I thought. Because, as soon as we began to hike off trail – going toward a very obvious landmark that would be hard to lose sight of – I felt a bit of a shift in my breathing. A shortness of breath. A bit of fear, even. I realized, it was the fear of going ‘off trail.’ The thing is, we were in a valley with a small peak – it was really quite obvious where we were headed, and how to get back to the trail from which we had come. This was not some blizzard situation, where we couldn’t see in front of us and were fighting for our lives. It was just a short jaunt off trail to see if we could get a nice view from a bit more altitude.

What I realized that day was how much I had come to rely on the trail. How much I had come to rely on knowing where we were going. On knowing that there was a path, a plan, and that our job was to simply follow the path. As soon as I was ‘off trail’ all of a sudden all of that security melted and I felt vulnerable, a bit afraid if I were to admit it, and as though I were losing my sense of orientation. The adventure was fun as long as it seemed safe and […]

By |2020-04-22T11:32:07-07:00April 22nd, 2020|Articles, Talks|Comments Off on Everything Changes
by Erin Dunigan

More from April Not Church

 

April Not Church was historic and you can read a short post here to find out why.

We opened the historic gathering with “The Swan” by Mary Oliver

Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air –
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music – like the rain pelting the trees – like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds –
A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet
Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?

Mary Frances Lyans shared these thoughts on changes and led us in singing “Long Time Sun” followed by a meditation:

Dear Friends,

During this season, many in our human family around the world, of various spiritual traditions and practices, take time out to reflect upon some of life’s deeper mysteries.

Be it resurrection, reincarnation, rebirth and renewal, there is a common theme.

And at this time of global crisis, there is also great opportunity to go within and effect a transformation of fear into love, for ourselves and for others.

Through deep meditation we open up the possibility to be “reborn” in every breath, in every moment. And gratitude is essential.

We can come to a place of silence and inner peace. It is only here, in the present moment, that we are able to realize the Christ consciousness, the Buddha nature within, which is our true home.

We can help guide humanity through the dark night of the soul by giving our Light, thus increasing that Light exponentially.

Fasting, prayer, meditation, service to others – all are helpful in making our hearts a beacon.

While we certainly may miss the joy of family gatherings, Easter baskets with brightly colored eggs and chocolate bunnies for the children, a beautiful Passover seder,

or even dancing and singing together in celebration of Spring, we have, I believe, an even more compelling and joyful calling.

We clean house, sort out what is truly of value in our lives, and shine our Light.

Om. Shanti

PeaceLove,
Mary

Erin’s wonderful talk, “Everything Changes” from this historic gathering can be read in its entirety here.

Tom and Yella Werder shared their personal insights and practices that are supporting them during this pandemic and closed out the gathering with “It’s in Every One of US.”

See you in May!

 

By |2020-04-22T13:10:10-07:00April 22nd, 2020|About Events, Talks|Comments Off on More from April Not Church

Not Your Father’s God by Anna Zimmerman

 

At a recent Enneagram class as the group studied a diagram and discussed the various personality characteristics when we came to the quality of “love” there was some disturbance, dissension. It even led to conversation about the G-word through the idea of “God is love.” The word actually seems to make some people… shudder.

I sort of chuckled to myself, or maybe out loud even, since no one was paying attention to me at that moment. I may even have said something under my breath like that God really is love. Because that’s what I have come to know for myself. But I remember very well when I was of the other mind.

I grew up in a hell and brimstone community. My dad was even a Southern Baptist minister, making me a PK, preacher’s kid. Even though my dad was a very gentle, loving soul who did not spend lots of time telling people they were sinners going to hell, that was all around us. Dancing=hell etc. It’s taken me a lifetime to recover from what was damaging for me, though I do see that it was and is valuable, sacred (s-word) for some.

Somehow I was able to say yes to the Master’s Program in Spiritual Psychology at the University of Santa Monica when my dear friend recommended it, dialed the phone to the admissions office and put it in my hand, and I remember during the first few classes and books resisting the words and phrases that were packed with what I remember experiencing as such vitriolic judgment. Ironic that I had some of my own such judgment in reverse.

It was in the second year of the program a student, an earnest young women, stood up in front of the class of about 200 and shared some similar experiences. I remember one of the beloved and brilliant professors Dr. Mary Hulnick asking her when she would be ready to let go of the God of her father and find what there is for her? A whole conversation between teacher and student ensued with my pen flying over my notebook page trying to get down every word as I also opened my heart and mind to the learning coming right at me.

It still took more time, maybe the first year of an experimental follow up doctoral program, or maybe it was during my time as a classroom assistant that a first year student, an engaging Black man who was also grappling with a Christian background, joyfully shared, again to the full class, that his previous learning combined with what was being offered there was enhancing his previous ministerial leanings and confirming that God, in fact, is love.

When I heard it that time, and it’s rumbling and resonating joyfully and powerfully inside me right now as I write this, that that was the moment the hole closed up the rest of the way for me and I got that too.

I still find a sort […]

By |2020-04-22T11:35:35-07:00April 19th, 2020|Articles, Blog|Comments Off on Not Your Father’s God by Anna Zimmerman

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