Meditation

As part of a wellness challenge coordinated by my Pilates instructor Anne I’ve began meditating every day.  The first week our mantra was “I have all the love and support I need.”  The very first day I set the timer on my phone for 5 minutes, only to have it ring and be sure that I had made some error.  The time breathing through that mantra had quickly evaporated.  This week our goal is to have a daily 10 minute long session for meditation.  I edited the mantra to be “I move through life with grace and purpose”. After reading Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind years ago I had occasionally meditated, but this is the first time I have engaged in regular practice.  I am finding a big change in my anxiety levels this week.  I feel calmer and more focused.  My spirit is buoyant and I can see some of the ways I have let my fear be a barrier to my work in the new start. What is really eye opening is how clearly this mediation practice is a form of prayer.  My time spent breathing centers me in a truth bigger than myself.  Maybe sometimes I’ll use a more clearly prayerful mantra like”God is present in all things and people”, but whatever I say I know that this time and encouragement restores my spirit and readies me for the ministry God is calling me into here in Sellwood. Each of us needs new spiritual practices from time to time as we live our lives.  I’m so excited to have found this new space of growth and renewal.  At...

Servanthood

I am a fairly typical type A personality.  I have been taught to step up and lead.  I have been affirmed in my gifts and given roles of responsibility and authority.  I am the cruise director of my friends, helping pick the movie, plan a day, or select the restaurant. One of the best things I have learned in the midst of all my take charge life and work is how to step back and be a servant.  Often I want to help and by help I mean go in and make it all better!  But really what most people need is someone to love them with a servant heart.  It is what Jesus was calling us to as he washed feet at the last supper.  I remember clearly one day after a tragic loss for the elementary school in our former town asking a teacher if she needed any help.  I was thinking I could provide a little encouragement or perhaps I could listen as she told me of her pain.  What she needed was for me to cut some paper for an afternoon art project.  She hadn’t done it because she had been crying through her prep time.  So my gift that day was one of simple, but needed labor.  What I learned is that some times the best gifts are the most humble. My latest volunteer endeavor is 3 hours a month at the Southwest Community Health Center.  I answer phones and check people in for their appointments.  I am the low one on the totem poll.  The nurses, doctors, and roomer all have more power...

Quilted Together

I was recently asked if it was okay to participate in SFC if someone was not a Christian.  My answer was a resounding yes.  We are a community for people interested in sharing life and serving others.  We use Christian language and come from a Christian tradition, but we welcome all people to share a meal at the table and to learn and grow together in love. We have folks who struggle with the word God, people who have been deeply hurt by Christians and the church, we have people who see God a little differently than the orthodox theology would see God, and we have some who hold mainline beliefs.  We learn from each other and can share our hopes, questions, and love with one another.  We serve together, cry together, laugh together, and wonder together. Some people may startle at this idea of not having to be a Christian to be part of our faith community.  In my opinion there are lots of churches out there already doing an excellent job of getting all the people who believe the “right” things together.  We’re the place for everyone else. There is no statement of belief or creed you have to affirm to belong here.  Respect, a willingness to share honestly, a longing to serve the community, and the intention to grow spiritually are what are needed to be a fully engaged member of this faith community.The purpose of our community is to be intentional in contemplating what we believe and then to live that out.  The trick is I don’t tell anyone what to believe or how to...

Praise

This month our dinner topic is prayer.  For the first week our discussions around the dinner table centered on our personal experiences of prayer.  We talked about how we like to pray and when we’d experienced prayers that impacted us, as well as negative impressions or experiences of prayer.  Some folks met peace on the top of a mountain, others shared about their prayer disciplines with a devotional book.  We found prayer to be grounding, to be a place of honesty about our spiritual condition, to be something we did in solidarity with others or when overwhelmed.  Some prayers were wordy and addressed to God others were silent and simply a lifting up of energy.We also talked about prayers of thanksgiving and how powerful gratitude can be.  That idea prompted folks around the table to share what they were grateful for.  Beautiful things were shared.  One man said that being part of this community filled him spiritually so that he could engage in his life’s ministry and be spiritually present where he was needed.  Besides the beautiful and delicious cake his wife brought to share his words were my favorite part of last night.  That sums up exactly who we are trying to be as our community continues to blossom.  This morning I am thankful indeed. May you have much to praise God for today as well....

What Now?

We’re at one of those places once again in our journey where I’m not really sure what is next.  We have a good, solid group coming to dinner on Thursdays.  We have some lovely people who want to come on Sundays, but so far attendance has been hit and miss.  We have a monthly service project and a monthly book study.  We are in the black financially and just paid all our apportionments (the shared giving that we contribute to the larger United Methodist Church) for 2014.  We’re on track to meet our benchmarks for the year. Now once again the cycle of networking, gateway events, and seeking deeper commitment begins.  The best part is that this year Jeff, Paige, and I aren’t operating alone.  We have a leadership team to help with this discipleship process.  We have folks who are interested in things like attending our local neighborhood meetings.  We’ll be holding a leadership retreat this fall to talk about our dreams and the work each one of us can do for God made manifest in this community. It’s an exciting time of next steps.  It’s also a little daunting as I don’t happen to know what these next steps will bring us.  In this space I do my best, adjusting as the Holy Spirit blows.  I’m once again hoping that this madness works and we find ourselves in places of beauty and deepening relationship. I would appreciate your prayers and positive energy as we continue to listen and grow. -Eilidh Trying to catch the...