Dear Friends, We are truly living in unusual times. Month after month, most everything has been up in the air, with no resolution, and no resolution even in sight. Now add to the pandemic a surging social revolution, where a growing number of Americans are a reexamining what are, for many, fundamental elements of “the way things are” or, “what society looks like, and needs to function,” like having police forces, like assumptions of justice and decency in our legal structures, like blithe unawareness/denial of systemic racism.
As a kid, I was scared of the dark. To be more exact, I was terrified of the dark. I could not walk through my childhood home without turning on lights.. At 33, with three children under 4 and separation papers ready to serve my husband, I cried one night and asked the Divine how would I ever survive, a woman who could not even walk through her house at night without turning on the lights.
Barbara and I buried our beloved dog of more than seventeen years last week. Gabe was one of my best friends, a constant companion when I was home, accompanying me as I worked in the garden, the orchard, cutting firewood. He liked nothing better than to “help me” with whatever I was doing, which meant just being outside and being with me as I worked.
He died in early March, when the ground was still frozen.
In our last blog post, we made the statement that “We also see this [program] as a practice lab…” and that we would elaborate “…in a different blog post.” Here goes.
We are fundamentally rethinking how to establish a sense of spiritual and emotional safety in a group, and how best to empower all participants in the degree of risk taking that feels appropriate to them. We see Participating in God’s Power as a crucible where participants will be building capacity for active and competent agency, rather than relying on the facilitators to provide a sense of spiritual and emotional safety.
When people hear that we have been creating a new spiritual formation program, their first question is usually some version of “So what is this program about?” The listener doesn’t want a long detailed description, they want it in a nutshell, what some people refer to as “an elevator speech.” How to compress a year and a half’s discernment and planning, and the resulting fourteen days worth of programming into a few sentences has sometimes seemed daunting. That said, here goes (though more than a few sentences…)
The vision we were given for this work carries a sense of Barclay’s quote “For, when I came into the silent assemblies of God’s people, I felt a secret power among them, which touched my heart; and as I gave way unto it I found the evil weakening in me and the good raised up.” That secret power, God’s power, aches to rest in us as much as we ache to rest in it. The world is calling us into that place. The invitation is full on.We want to explore, in community and individually, what it looks like to “give way” unto that power and to experiment…
Since the first retreat seeking guidance for the shape of this program, we were moved by a powerful sense of being called to live in, and witness to, the unhealed places from our pasts that we still carry. In the same moment, we saw in those places, our own “thorns in the flesh,” the places where God is powerfully alive and present. The astonishing power of that first worship has continued to inform our sense of what God is calling us to in offering “Participating in God’s Power.”