Blog Moving to rachelguaraldi.com

Hello there faithful readers. I’ve been working hard on a new website and have almost moved all of the blog posts from this site over. My new website can be found at rachelguaraldi.com. I’ll be setting up this site to forward over there in the next month or so. In the meantime, check out my new website and subscribe at the bottom of one of the posts to get email updates of my new posts. Thank you so much for the support and readership over the past five years. My hope and prayer is that you’re continue reading with me through the next five.

Blessings,

Rachel

Experience of Faith: God, The Holy

My CPE program asks me to write a series of short reflection papers called Experiences of Faith. They touch on different parts of the faith experience such as Community, God/The Holy (below), Authority, Inside/Outside, and Saying Goodbye. In writing these I thought it might be a good practice of sharing and accountability to post them here. So here’s the second of the series: Experience of Faith-God, The Holy.

When I think about my experience of God, several stories come to mind. My actual experience of God is a mosaic; a myriad of snapshots and video clips as would make up any relationship. Are there threads or themes that run through and connect these experiences? Yes. Are there images and metaphors that serve as the container for these experiences? Yes. Have I grown and changed in my relationship to these experiences and realities? Yes.

To begin, I think that it;s important for me to note that the theology of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) is non-trinitarian. We use many different references for the Divine. When someone says God or Spirit or Christ; or Inner Light, Inner Guide, Living Water; they are referring to the same essence and the same presence. One differential that is made though is that Christ, or Living Christ is of that same presence, however Jesus is referred to most often (in Liberal Quakerism) as the historical wisdom teacher who was deeply attuned to and attentive to that Christ, that Living Holy Spirit, that Divine Presence available to him. All that being said, below are some experiences of the Divine from my life:

God the Source: My first experience of God is hard to pinpoint. My time at Quaker meeting and at Quaker camp exposed me to the art and experience of speaking in Worship. I was taught to visualize myself as a tree to ground myself at the beginning of worship; to reach my roots down and my branches out and up and feel the Divine Spirit course through my body. To speak in worship was to respond to the physiological experience of being pulled, through the heart to stand up and share a message. For me, even today there is a set of feelings, a sense of compulsion that pulls me up to speak. I spoke in worship for the first time when I was in 5th grade. That small still voice rose up inside me and spoke out through my mouth in front of the community. I don’t remember what I said and I don’t remember how people reacted, but I remember the feeling of being filled. The experience of this is most often what I akin to baptism.

God the Mother: When I was in 8th grade, I had suffered several hard years as well as the normal cruelty of being a young middle school girl. One day in particular, I had a powerful experience of feeling an all encompassing sense of love, worth, and purpose emanating from inside me.  That day I started talking to a sense of Divine Presence whom I personified as God the Mother. This internal monologue has continued throughout my life, even as I have expanded that gendered nature of my personification to include a sense of the Divine that is encompassing and beyond gender. It was in these conversations that I first learned about prayer. I began to read everything I could about spirituality, faith, and relationships with the Divine. I wanted to understand this presence and what it meant for my life.

God the Guide/Teacher: Towards the end of High School, my youth group leader introduced me to the image of the Living Christ. Quaker theology teaches the concept of Realized Eschatology; the belief that Christ has already risen, is available to all, and Christ is here to teach his people himself. There is the thought among Quakers that when we come together in expectant worship, where three or more of us are gathered, so is the Living Christ. This sense of imminent presence combined with a relationship with the divine that was one of student spoke true to my experiences. I would often visualize in worship or in the ministry of service, Christ’s hands in my hands, Christ’s feet in my feet, Christ’s heart in my heart. Years of Quaker wilderness camp had also exposed me to different nature-based spiritualities and I have often seen Christ as my guide, sometimes in human form and sometimes in animal form. A presence that never leaves me and is always teaching, always pointing, always opening the way before us. There is an intimacy in this relationship as well as a sense of becoming.

God the Thread, the Inner Light: The metaphor of the Inner Light is probably the most common reference to God in Liberal Quakerism. George Fox, one of the founders of Quakerism, wrote in his letters that he was commissioned by God to “walk cheerfully over the earth, answering that of God in everyone.” (which is where my blog name comes from) This sense of God in each person is also the basis of the Quaker peace testimony. How is it even comprehensible for the Divine in us to fathom harming the Divine in another? If there is even the seed of the Divine in the enemy, is there not then that chance that the enemy will become our friend?

As I have grown older, the visual of a candle burning within each of us, at our heart center has faded and been replaced by the image of a ball of golden light thread. Perhaps it is my own love of fantasy and science fiction books that reference magic as a ball of string inside a person from which spun threads can be drawn and used. that has encouraged this evolution of metaphor or perhaps the sense that when a meeting for worship is centered and life giving, it is talked about as a gathered meeting, like a string connects each of us and is gathered together in a close and intimate communion. Whatever the influences, when I think about holding someone in the light (a kind of prayer reference that Quakers often use) or when I think about my own call to healing ministry, I think about drawing from that ball of thread, winding the thread around someone’s hand, or heart, or other ache or pain, and when that thread is wound, it expands and a soft shimmer of the Divine Presence grows from that small piece. It is a ball of thread that is sourced from the Divine, that is the Divine, so it never depletes and exists within everyone. A source to be drawn upon and to be in relationship with.

God the River, the Living Water: The last metaphor for the Divine that I have come to think about and use regularly is the metaphor of Living Water. In the Gospel of John, Jesus speaks of the Living Water as the source that will quench all thirst. In the Religious Society of Friends it is this source that fills us up before we speak in worship and spills over in our work as a community. One of my mentors in college wrote a pamphlet describing worship as everyone entering into the Divine Stream. Some of us wade at the edges, unsure whether we want to get wet. Others swim in the center of the Stream where the current is strongest and get swept away by its strength. In this way, we all feel the pull of that current, some feel it stronger than others, so that when one person is compelled to stand and speak, it is no wonder that a message that is true and faithful resonates with so many of us present. It is this Divine Stream that is always present to us, always available for us to enter into if we desire. Sometimes when we enter into it in worship, or even outside of worship in our own times of contemplation and prayer, we find that the world is in that river with us.

When I think about how my understanding of God impacts my present ministry and spiritual care giving, my first thought is that it is where I go first. In my prayers and in my own contemplative practice, these are the images and understanding of God that make up my spiritual home. Chris Hoffman writes in his poem Medicine Bundle, that each of us has a heart room, a place where your soul sits and where sacred objects are hung–sacred objects that remind us of who we are and why we are here. I like to think of my different understanding of God as parts of that heart room and that everyone I have “met has a heart room [too] unused and dusty although it [sometimes] may be.”

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Experience of Faith: Community

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My CPE program asks me to write a series of short reflection papers called Experiences of Faith. They touch on different parts of the faith experience such as Community (below), God/The Holy, Authority, Inside/Outside, and Saying Goodbye. IN writing these I thought it might be a good practice of sharing and accountability to post them here. So here’s the first of the series: Experience of Faith- Community.

Community is a central part of my faith tradition. The Quaker testimonies include Community along with Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, and Equality. I hear people often say that the pacifism and activity of Quakerism drew them in but it is the community that provided a reason to stay.

My sense of community began the summer before 5th grade when I started attending a 2 week Quaker wilderness summer camp. I was so scared the first night away from home that I started crying. The girl who was sleeping on the bunk next to mine was also crying. She reached out and took my hand and we spent the night comforting each other. Our whole unit was like that, the boys cabin and the girls cabin that made up a unit bonded like family. We loved each other fiercely, encouraged each other up mountains, danced together around fires. There was a feeling of inclusiveness that I didn’t find at school.

Baltimore Yearly Meeting is a regional organization of Quaker Meetings that spans southern Pennsylvania to southern Virginia. Each individual Quaker Meeting has a few teenagers who age out of the camping program when they get to high school. So the Yearly Meeting organizes youth retreats, every other month, that brings together about a hundred high school Quaker youth. The retreats are youth run; there is an Executive Committee that plans, convenes, and nurtures the community throughout the year.

Each Friday night of these retreats the teenagers come together for Quaker Meeting for Worship with an intention of Business (Quaker Business Meeting). The first things that is done each retreat is to read the Gathering Expectations which begin: “When Young Friends gather together we strive to foster a community built on caring, trust and love.”

In high school, I was an outcast. I was in the smart kid’s class. I was really good at playing oboe in the orchestra. I only shopped at thrift stores. I made a lot of my own clothes. I attended peace rallies and participated in the Day of Silence each year. After September 11th, I wore a black armband to school most days to protest the U.S. retaliation in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq.

It was my Young Friends community that kept me from bending to the pressures, judgement, and bullying that I faced at school. It was a community where I felt loved; people believed in me and I excelled as the clerk, or leader of the community. I had two mentors who were closer to me than my own parents. One of these mentors taught me more about Quakerism, Christianity, and activism than anyone else.

By the time I graduated and started college, I knew what kind of friends I wanted to make in my life. I wanted friends who loved me, supported me, believed in me, and let me do the same for them. I wanted friendships that were open, honest, and sometimes hard. I wanted friendships where I felt like I mattered, that I was wanted, friendships where I could show up for other people too.

Developing friendships like this has not always been easy. The Quaker and non-Quaker communities that I’ve been part of have also been challenging. I think our human society and our brokenness interferes at times with the ideals of radical trust, unconditional love, and shared resources. Issues of racism, classism, sexism, hetersexism, and other systems of oppression are found laced among our best intentions. The communities that I’ve been in that have been most successful are ones that openly talking about our flaws and cultivate a culture of forgiveness, grace, and believe in change.

In 2010, I ran a program for young adults to live in community, engage in service, participate in spiritual direction and develop skills in leadership. At the beginning of the program, the group was tasked with creating a Community Covenant. The group was given little in terms of direction except a set of queries that asked some questions that they might want to consider. The result was a beautiful statement and a set of guidelines. The statement read:

“We find that the values that are the foundation of our community are respect, trust, and love. We aspire both to ground our community and stretch ourselves by affirming our gifts and challenging each other and ourselves. We find that no written document can fully reflect the covenant we have already created through the relationships in this community. Our covenant consists of the love, respect, and trust that we have for each other, of the conversations we have had, and the experiences we have shared. Words cannot express the depth of this covenant- we feel our covenant, in our own hearts and between each other. We will feel and affirm this connection wherever we go this summer, fully trusting in the covenant of mutual appreciation that we have for each other.” (Pendle Hill, YALD program 2010)

This covenant statement reflects for me the essence of the type of community that I strive to be involved with. In these covenant moments, it is more clear of the expectations that the community places on the individual. I’ve grow up with an acute understanding of how my actions affect others and how other people’s actions affect me. There is a habitual thinking of a sense of self beyond the individual and yet a call, an expectation for the individual to call out the community for not abiding to the will or way of God. This is most representational during Quaker Meeting for Business, where the process is not consensus based, but is called seeking the Sense of the Meeting. Its a process where the community is seeking God’s will for the community, which may or may not be agreed upon by everyone present. Individuals are empowered and expected to voice concerns, alternate views, etc, for those voices could turn the heart of the community and change the direction of the discernment. However, other times those voices are released up to God and the way that is open before the community is contrary to what has been heard. Its a Sense, a heart feeling of what is right for all of us. When it works, the process is beyond beautiful. When it doesn’t, when egos and agendas interfere with us being faithful, we all feel the pain.

It’s harder as I grow older to be part of such an intentional community, since community members most often does not live with or even near each other. Annual Meeting sessions bring this region of Quakers together once a year and weekly Quaker Meeting brings smaller groups of us together more often. However, we are challenged to love, listen, trust, and forgive each other over time and distance. Communication is hard and conflict is not easily resolved in these ways. Yet friendships that foster this kind of community are still friendships that I seek. Its the kind of friendship that is expected of me in my faith community and among the friends whom I surround myself with. My husband and I hope to live in community someday; live next door to people who are these kinds of friends. We hope to have children in this kind of community, and raise them with expectations and joys of community as well.

 

Chaplaincy as Pilgrimage

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In my last post I began to explore my journey in becoming a hospital chaplain. I am reading Margaret Benfield’s book Soul of a Leader, as part of my participating in the Soul of Leadership program. The first three chapters of Margaret’s book look at a process of soulful leadership where first you follow your heart, then you find partners along the way, and then you dare to dream of what could be. While writing my last post, I found myself thinking of my own struggles as well as the people around me who are supporting me. I used the image of my fellow chaplain interns as pilgrims along the same journey.

Pilgrimage is a powerful metaphor for me. I hiked the Camino de Santiago in 2009. It was after several major transitions in my life and I needed the pilgrimage to find myself and find God. Each day of my month long pilgrimage, I prayed the prayer “God teach me how to love, how to love myself and how to love others. God teach me how to love.”

So now, as I am reflecting on my challenges in my Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) chaplaincy program, I find that much of my challenges have to do with getting in my own way, my head not being convinced that my heart knows best, self-critique, fear, and worry. I find that I am praying the same prayer. I am walking the same path of self-discovery. I am in the process of finding myself and finding God.

About a week ago, in lovely synchronistic fashion, in my CPE program, we were asked to read an article by Elizabeth Canham, “Strangers and Pilgrims,” published in the literary work Weavings. Elizabeth writes:

“We are strangers to ourselves and the most appropriate posture we can adopt is awe and a willingness to allow the Spirit to reveal more of what is hidden below the surface. This is pilgrimage, a journey of discovery and surprise, and the welcomed stranger within enables us to honor the mystery of others who travel with us. On pilgrimage we learn to travel light, discarding the heavy load of judgment and appreciating the gifts of those we meet along the way. Sharing resources, stories, and needs creates mutuality and turns strangers into friends. It also creates hope.”

So as I am learning to “walk,” learning to hope again and trust those walking with me, I discover that I am on a pilgrimage again. The other chaplain interns and I go out during the day and work with patients, like pilgrims go out onto the road and interact with what ever crosses their paths. Then at the end of the day, we come together for sharing, reflection, and mutual support.

When I finished the Camino de Santiago in 2009, there were two things that most of us pilgrims missed. I missed that every day, all that I had to follow was these small yellow arrows. While sometimes hard to find in the midst of towns and the twists and turns of the path, following the yellow arrows was my only task each day. I felt a sense of direction, a sense of purpose that freed me to reflect, to pray, to be with myself, and to be with God.

The other thing that I missed was all the people along the way, pilgrims and non-pilgrims, who wished me many times a day “Buen Camino,” Good Journey. A greeting that acknowledged the process, not the destination of the pilgrimage and identified me as a ever growing, changing, becoming person on my path.

While I see my fellow chaplain interns as pilgrims hiking along the same path as me, we chaplain interns are not the only pilgrims on journeys in the hospital. Our patients are pilgrims on their own journeys too. Often when I am in the room with a patient I find that I am listening to them tell me what yellow arrows they are following, yellow arrows marking their journey (maybe to recovery, maybe to wellness, maybe through grief, or something else). What is it that keeps them going? What is it that helps them stay in the direction they are being pulled? What distracts them from their journey?

Part of my role in the room is also to listen to the stories of the patient’s journey. What do they think about while they are traveling? Where have they met God along the road? Who has crossed their path unexpectedly? Why are they doing this? What does it all mean?

And as I wish them goodbye at the end of my visit I am wishing them a “Buen Camino,” a good journey. I acknowledge their own changing, growing, becoming self on their own journey, their own path.

 

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Can my Head and Heart be friends?

This fall, I have started a program called Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, a program that prepares me for a career in Hospital Chaplaincy. To even apply for certification, I need to complete 4 units of CPE each of which consists of 300 clinical hours and 100 classroom hours. At the end of the 4 units I will have the opportunity to write lots essays and go before a certificating board, that is if I discern that this is the path I want to follow. Concurrently, I’m enrolled in a program call Soul of Leadership, a program designed to reflect, challenge, and develop skills in leadership, spirituality, and the integration of the two. As part of the program, I am reading several books and writing reflection papers, as I am also doing in my CPE program. My CPE supervisor, in one of our supervisory meetings, encouraged me to look at Chaplaincy as Leadership. He was very supportive of me participating in both programs and looks forward to hearing about my experiences. At this first Soul of Leadership retreat, as I sat down to do the first readings and reflection exercises, I found that the journey to explore Chaplaincy as Leadership has already started. So in these reflections, that is the focus of my thoughts.

In Margaret Benfield’s book Soul of a Leader, her first three chapters begin to outline a process of soulful leadership where first one muSoul of a Leaderst follow the heart, then find partners, and then dare to dream. Margaret uses various stories of leaders in many different work place environments and situations to illustrate her points and asks, as part of the Soul of Leadership program, “How have you followed your heart, found partners, and dared to dream in ways similar to the leaders highlighted in Chapters 1-3?”

When I look at my journey to the CPE program and ultimately chaplaincy, I am surprised to find that it was a journey of following my heart. After completing seminary in 2011, I worked in several positions trying to find my call, trying to find a good fit, trying to find where, as folks I hang out with often quote, “My greatest passion meets the world’s greatest need.” Yet with the challenges of being a young women in the work force and with the social consciousness of systems of oppression that include systems of race, gender, class, and ability inequality, I not only did not find my call, I wasn’t sure if when I found it, I, as a white middle class able person should be trying to meet the world’s need. So, in the last four years, I have found work that I have loved and worked with people whom I have loved, but work that ultimately did not lead in the direction that God was pulling me. And I have found work that I have not loved and worked with people who have been challenging, some who have been hurtful and degrading.

From each of these experiences I have learned a great deal. For one, I have learned that when my heart speaks of hurt and injustice, it speaks loudly. When my heart speaks of joy and contentment, the voices of expectation, ambition, and restlessness speak louder. I have learned that challenge and lack of challenge can both lead to boredom. That my own self-critique can cause me to disengage, which I also do when I do things too well and I find no place to grow. I have learned that doors close for me due to my age and my gender and open for me due to my race and my education. I have learned that compassion, intuition, and love are rare workplace values and when I do find them, I have a hard time trusting that they actually exist. I have a hard time rejoicing in their presence because I fear the sense of professionalism that in moments of needing to “cover our ass” rips them away. Yet ultimately I have learned that God wants me to love, wants me to be compassionate, wants me to use my gifts of intuition and imagination in the work that I do in the world. It is this call that has led me to chaplaincy and it is in this way that I have come to follow my heart.

Last spring, I was in the middle of the interview process for a role in leadership in my Quaker community when I applied for the CPE program at Brigham & Women’s. It was the only CPE program to which I applied, and although I had thought about applying for several years and spoken to my family about it, my reason for doing so is still a bit mysterious to me.

I had been selected as one of 4 finalists for the position in my Quaker community and my in-person interviews had gone really well. The other finalists were prominent figures in the Quaker world and I felt honored to have been selected along side them. I had significantly less experience than these other three but was told by the community that the skills, experience and gifts that I did have would be enough to be considered. The community ultimately decided to choose someone else, who in my opinion was a safe and logical choice. Hiring me would have been risky and I believe it would have been fruitful. It was crushing not to be hired by my community and to feel like I’ve lost, or perhaps misplaced, partners on my journey in Quaker leadership.

Yet in the midst of this intense experience, I had applied to the CPE program. I had been interviewed and had been accepted. It was confusing to feel both deep hurt and pain for the other job as well as joy for my acceptance into the CPE program. I felt like my heart was running a marathon (I also got married a month later so that adds to it all!). So while one way closed for me, another opened and my heart still sought partners for my journey. When I started the CPE program in September, I found myself among friends, journeymen, and pilgrims hiking along the same path.

So now that I’ve found myself in an incredibly supportive program, where my gifts are valued and encouraged, where I’m asked to be the kind of person that I am and that I want to be, do I dare to dream of doing this as a career? Chapter 3 in Margaret’s book looks at finding the heart’s hope. “With hope restored, the soulful leader dares to dream.” (56). It’s a fearful process for me. Do I trust the path? Do I trust God? Do I put my whole self into this dream? Do I trust the chaplain partners that I have around me?

In some ways, learning to hope again, learning to trust in a new community, and learning new skills and new roles, is like learning to walk. I’ve only been in this program for a short time and I feel that I’m not quite ready to dare to dream of this being a career path. I’m still learning to trust the program and the people around me. I’m still learning to trust myself too. I’m finding that when I stumble, when I don’t meet my own expectations, or when I project my own fears and anxieties onto my interactions with others, I get in my own way. Margaret writes, “When leaders don’t have room to stumble, their hearts lose their passion.” (30)

While my program is incredibly supportive and reminds me constantly to be gentle with myself, it is me who doesn’t let me stumble. And in that confused state of self-critique, I wonder, is this really what I want to be doing? Can I cut it? Am I slacking? Will the CPE supervisors want me to continue the program after this semester? Am I going to grow bored of this? Am I going to hate this career but feel stuck in it? Do I want to devote the next 2 years to finding out? Am I really doing anything at all? Am I bad at this? And on and on and on. The voice in my head is dangerous to my heart’s growth and fulfillment. So how do I unite my heart and my head? How do I help them be friends? How do I find the place where they both pause in a sense of rightness that what I am doing in my life is good? I don’t know yet… and so the journey continues.

 

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The Space Between

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In my hospital chaplaincy program we are reading a book called Eyes Remade for Wonder, but Lawrence Kushner. It is a compilation of Kushner’s writings over the years, integrating his spiritual writings about the Hebrew alphabet with stories and revelations from his life. Kushner opens his compilation with an exploration of the hebrew letter Aleph. Aleph, he writes, is the pronounced somewhere between silence and sound. It is an inbetween letter, a letter that is full of potential, full of the not quite.

It is that space in between that I feel called into, in Quaker worship. Quaker worship is not silent, in terms of the absence of sound. But its also not full of words. Quaker worship is not quiet nor is it loud. Some Friends say that Quaker worship is waiting worship, waiting for the Spirit to speak. Other people have described worship as at time of wrestling, discerning whether a message is for you alone or for you to share to the community. For still others, worship is a time to contemplate their week, process what happened, and seek the beauty and divine in their lives. When friends of mine have said that worship was the same as mediation, where the goal is to remove all external distractions and empty the mind, I have pushed back. “We are doing something here!” I’ve exclaimed. “We are engaging, participating; we are active.” So in that place between silence and sound there is a rich life.

In that same chapter, Kushner talks about Makom, the place of God that can be found in the inch behind your heart. It is an indwelling of the Divine. If you place a Ha, in front of the word makom, Hamakom, the word means “The Place of God” capitalized, and is one of the many Hebrew names for God. This is not unlike the Quaker concept of “That of God in everyone.” So as we sit in worship and attend to that active life within, we are finding that place of God inside of us that speaks to that of God in others. It is that small still voice that we are waiting for, listening for, hoping for. That small still voice that will rise up out of that rich life between silence and sound and speak wisdom and revelation.  And in lovely synchronistic fashion, the root of the word, Makom is Kom, the Hebrew word that means to rise.

So what does rise up? How do you discern if that small still voice is speaking just to you alone or is pushing you to rise and share with the community? Part of the process is the asking. Asking that voice, that presence of the Divine, that heart center, if you are led to share, to speak, to give forth. More often than not, the quiet revelations of our hearts are for us alone. A glimpse into meaning, purpose, connectivity of two or three or four pieces of our lives. An ah-ha moment that leads us to sigh, to sink into the comfort of being among friends, to smile and know that things make sense, things will be ok or alternatively, know what you need to do next.

And then there are those time, times when the words rolling through your mind, coursing through your veins, bubbling up from your heart, won’t leave you alone. You might begin to shake, you might begin to feel like you will explode if you don’t share, you might not feel anything at all expect the rightness that this message is for everyone to hear. It is in those moments when a gate appears in front of you, a way opens, and you are swept up through that gate into the call to minister, the call to share. You are a vessel for this message, a messenger of the divine wisdom, a friend among those who believe the truth you have to share.

And when you have shared, when the message has gone out from you and you sit down, sometimes you can still feel the tremors of the words coursing through your body. Sometimes you still shake with the thrill of being called. And most times you settle into that quiet rightness that you were faithful to the still small voice that resides in the Makom, the place of God right behind your heart.

Those are the good days. The experiences of worship where you listen, hear, discern, and respond to the life inside of you. Those of the times when everyone in this room feels connected, gathered together like a thread connects each of our hearts and when we sit together that thread brings us closer and closer to each other and to the Divine. But this is not everyday, not every Sunday. There are many times when the roar of life outside of us drowns out the life inside of us. When we are more concerned with making announcements, being heard, being seen, relaying information than we are listening to that rich activity inside. There are times when we rise to speak when we decide that the message that we are given is not eloquent enough, not comprehensive enough, not good enough to match our expectations or those expectations that others have for us. In those moments we talk too long, add too much, muddle the messages that have been given to us and ultimately outrun our guide.

What is beautiful though in all this humanness, is that we keep coming back. There is some sense of searching, some sense of hunger, some sense of belonging that keeps us coming back into the worship. We come back to listen, to quiet down, to hear what there is there, what wisdom, what message is available to us. We ask the question, is this for me? or is this for the community? And if prompted we respond to the later by rising and speaking. And when we are done, our community thanks us not for our message, but for being faithful to the message within us. We come back to be gathered together in a community of seekers. We come back to belong in this room, to belong in that heart room, to belong in the place between, between silence and sound.

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From the making of “What does George Fox Say?”

The Season Turn

IMG_1580Over the last few months, my life has shifted and changed. In June, Ben and I were married under the care of Beacon Hill Friends Meeting. We spent the summer traveling, first for our honeymoon and then for Yearly Meeting and finally for Burning Man. We settled back in Boston in early September just in time for me to start my first credit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, a program that will begin my educational journey towards being a hospital chaplain. In many ways, I’m back in school full time again. In addition to the CPE Program, I’m also participating in the 18 month Soul of Leadership program, studying Herbal Medicine for Women in a distance learning-go at your own pace program (I’ve been working very slowly on this for over a year now!) and I’m preparing to be the assistant leader for a pilgrimage program to Assisi, Italy at the end of May. I’ve also started studying Reiki, having monthly sessions in spiritual direction, and I’m in process of transferring my membership to New England Yearly Meeting!

With all these changes (add one more, I’ve changed my name!) comes new opportunities to explore self care, community, being married, and my loves of cooking, writing, art and music. Its a full life, one that I am deeply thankful for. As the seasons change, both in my life and in the year, I hope that I will be able to share more of my journey with my readers through writing.

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