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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|0 Comments

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

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

cornucopia and southwest airlines

Cornucopia

 

Doug warmly welcomed the group and requested healing thoughts and prayers be sent out to our friend and neighbor, Betty Davidson for a full and speedy recovery from an aneurysm.

Kathy encouraged us to be a little bit better with a variety of thoughts and quotes on the theme of cornucopia.

The universe operates through dynamic exchange . . . giving and receiving are different aspects of the flow of energy in the universe, and in our willingness to give that which we seek, we keep the abundance of the universe circulating in our lives. ~Deepak Chopra

See more of Kathy’s quotes from Dr. Paul Farmer, Maya Angelou, & Paul Coelho on the Inspirations page

As a prelude to a brief meditation, Ron recounted his week’s experiences from the highs of time with loving grandchildren to the lows of losing friends and shared a dream that brought a reminder of constant need to attend to our powerful egos.

Ross played a thoughtful selection of swinging tunes from the late 30’s:  Over The Rainbow, God Bless The Child, Pennies From Heaven.  How fortunate we are that Ross is so willing to share his abundant talent.

Terry shared thoughts on gratitude and happiness and her explanation of how conscious gratitude has brought her abundant happiness despite six bouts with cancer was truly inspiring!

And Erin found a way to turn a personal adventure on Southwest Airlines into an entertaining allegorical tale on the topic of abundance:

Not long ago I was at the San Diego airport, again, waiting for a flight. This is not a new experience for me, though this time was actually somewhat different. Normally, in order to accumulate miles and elite status, I fly United Airlines or one of its partners. But on this particular trip, flying to Reno, Nevada, United was much more expensive, with much less preferable flight schedules. So, I wound up, for the first time in a long time, on Southwest Airlines.

Just the thought of Southwest Airlines makes some people nervous – no seat assignment? Will I have to fight for my place? Somehow the opening of the Hunger Games comes to mind – with everyone fighting over his or her share of the cornucopia…

Being the somewhat privileged traveler that I am, I took advantage of paying an extra $12 to get bumped up closer to the front of the line – not the front, but at least not the back. Since I was only to be gone a few days, all I had was a carry on rolling suitcase – of the small, able to fit in the overhead style – and a purse. Actually, that’s what I fly with almost always. When I fly United I know that I will have room for my roller bag as my status gives me privilege in boarding the plane. But this time I was on Southwest and I could feel myself getting a bit nervous as the boarding time neared.

Boarding SouthwestThat was when I noticed it – or, rather them. A […]

By |2020-02-15T12:49:16-08:00November 10th, 2014|Talks|Comments Off on cornucopia and southwest airlines

Ripening
September 14, 2014

Strawberries Ripening © Erin Dunigan Strawberries Ripening © Erin Dunigan

For most of human history, it’s as if we have had long spring-times and only the briefest of summers, a lot of time to put down roots and sprout but almost none to mature. But now, around the world and especially in the developed countries, more people are living longer, healthier lives than ever before. Our normal life span, which stayed at an almost steady twenty years for most of human history , has leapt in an evolutionary eyeblink to seventy-eightyears in the West. Why is this so important? Think about how helpless we are as infants and children compared to other species. It takes us so long to be able to live without our parents’ support, so very long to develop our intelligence and adaptability and skills, to grow in our capacity for compassion and wisdom, good judgment, and discernment. To put it bluntly, it takes all of us a frightfully long time to grow up and many of us never do.

The sudden spurt in longevity over the last fifty years has changed the landscape for growing old. Doesn’t that make you wonder what these years are for? That’s precisely what I’ve been wondering for the past twenty years: How do I make the time ahead count? How can my generation and the ones coming after us not just fritter our later years away, not doze through our aging?  – Sherry Ruth Anderson, “Ripening Time.”

The question I bring before us this morning is a simple one – as we journey through the chronology of our lives, are we ripening, or are we merely rotting? The rotting, of course, is inevitable – the ripening is not.

The next question is, what will we do about it?

What does ripening look like? How does it happen?

BananasMost of us are familiar with the situation of fruit in our grocery stores – bananas that come from Ecuador, picked green – I’ve seen them there at the port in Guayaquil – and shipped around the world. This is done since a green banana travels much better than a ripe one. So, they are kept intentionally immature so that they travel better. Once they reach their destination, the ripening process can be induced – artificially. The primary chemical that is at play in ripening is ethylene – it is that which is fostered when you put your fruit in a brown paper bag to help it ripen. It’s enhanced if you put an apple core or a banana peel in the bag – increasing the ethylene and thus the ripening.

What’s the big deal? It seems to work, doesn’t it? The fruit can travel better, then it ripens on demand – sounds ideal.

Except…

tree-ripened-peachWhen fruit is allowed to ripen on the tree, or the vine, or the plant, it’s ripening happens from the […]

By |2020-02-15T12:50:41-08:00September 17th, 2014|Talks|Comments Off on Ripening
September 14, 2014

Ripening

September 14, 2014

For most of human history, it’s as if we have had long spring-times and only the briefest of summers, a lot of time to put down roots and sprout but almost none to mature. But now, around the world and especially in the developed countries, more people are living longer, healthier lives than ever before. Our normal life span, which stayed at an almost steady twenty years for most of human history , has leapt in an evolutionary eyeblink to seventy-eightyears in the West. Why is this so important? Think about how helpless we are as infants and children compared to other species. It takes us so long to be able to live without our parents’ support, so very long to develop our intelligence and adaptability and skills, to grow in our capacity for compassion and wisdom, good judgment, and discernment. To put it bluntly, it takes all of us a frightfully long time to grow up and many of us never do.

The sudden spurt in longevity over the last fifty years has changed the landscape for growing old. Doesn’t that make you wonder what these years are for? That’s precisely what I’ve been wondering for the past twenty years: How do I make the time ahead count? How can my generation and the ones coming after us not just fritter our later years away, not doze through our aging?  – Sherry Ruth Anderson, “Ripening Time.”

The question I bring before us this morning is a simple one – as we journey through the chronology of our lives, are we ripening, or are we merely rotting? The rotting, of course, is inevitable – the ripening is not.

The next question is, what will we do about it?

What does ripening look like? How does it happen?

BananasMost of us are familiar with the situation of fruit in our grocery stores – bananas that come from Ecuador, picked green – I’ve seen them there at the port in Guayaquil – and shipped around the world. This is done since a green banana travels much better than a ripe one. So, they are kept intentionally immature so that they travel better. Once they reach their destination, the ripening process can be induced – artificially. The primary chemical that is at play in ripening is ethylene – it is that which is fostered when you put your fruit in a brown paper bag to help it ripen. It’s enhanced if you put an apple core or a banana peel in the bag – increasing the ethylene and thus the ripening.

What’s the big deal? It seems to work, doesn’t it? The fruit can travel better, then it ripens on demand – sounds ideal.

Except…

tree-ripened-peachWhen fruit is allowed to ripen on the tree, or the vine, or the plant, it’s ripening happens from the inside. When fruit is picked too early – for commercial and cosmetic reasons […]

By |2020-01-31T16:23:35-08:00September 14th, 2014|Talks|Comments Off on Ripening