Summary

Describe Bridging Teams in one sentence:  Todd John

Five individuals living in poverty in Peterborough (who’ve named themselves “the Awesome People”) journey with mentors towards a more stable life.

What is the goal of this project?

Bridging Teams address the 11 Essential Resources required to overcome Poverty’s Tyranny of day-to-day crises. By creating a social network of middle-class mentors, the Awesome people have expanded their resources and supports to deal with poverty’s complex challenges. 

What strategies does the project use?

Using the “Bridges Out of Poverty”[1]*  framework, two separate learning streams orient under-resourced Leaders and middle class Mentors.

Then, the five Awesome People and ten Mentors come together to meet weekly for three hours in a Bridging Team to cross cultural barriers, build community, and fight poverty.

Once the team has built trust and bonded, support circles for each of the Awesome people are formed. Two mentors were assigned to walk with each of the Awesome participants.

The Team was facilitated by staff for the first nine months of weekly meetings.

Describe the most positive aspects of the project and anything that you would do differently if you did it again.

By far the most positive aspect of the work was the success in creating a safe, non-judgmental, space for mutual learning among people from different socio-economic cultures (or classes).  Our focus on Team-building included three key elements:

  • Food: every session included a meal first provided by staff, then shifting to a pot-luck sharing.
  • Fun: The use of trust-building, adventure-based, activities created a common ground and bonded the team.
  • Storytelling: Midway evaluations scored storytelling from each participant as a highlight. Every person answered five interview questions. The group passed a talking stick reflecting on what they valued in each person’s story.

Each of the fifteen participants has created 18 new relationships including staff (15 x 18 = 270 new relationships).  This new social network has the potential of affecting the lives of every participant in significant ways. For the Awesome People, they now have positive relationships with retired teachers, lawyers, therapists, journalists, social workers, parenting experts, and clergy. In addition, they will benefit in all kinds of ways from a new access into the social networks of these new intentional friendships.

Here is a sample of what the Awesome participants had to say:

“…allowed me to find a career direction after many years of uncertainty. Now I can move toward a new goal”

“…wonderful sense of belonging”

“…feeling very good about myself and my life”

“…helped me see the strength in myself…more self-confidence with speaking in pubic, self-esteem, leadership roles, and having fun”

Mentors were challenged to learn (through training and extensive practice) how to become allies beyond their habitual desires to help/fix/advise:

“…greater awareness of real-life challenges of people in poverty”

“…the possibility of a world where everyone is heard, everyone is part of what we’re creating, and no one is left out”

“…one of the best processes I’ve ever encountered for building solidarity across economic class”

“I am less judgmental, and I am in awe of how resourceful these awesome people are.”

“…helped me build deep connections and trust relationships across class lines”

“Bedford House is uniquely suited as a catalyst to engage, train, and equip diverse groups of people.”

What has made this project a success?

Community support for this slow, costly process has been outstanding. The Awesome participant’s dedication and energy drives us forward to believe “Whatever the problem – Community is the answer.” 

Spirituality of Frisbee

We met Christie when we first moved to Peterborough. She was working part-time as a community organizer for the Peterborough Poverty Reduction Network. With her contagious enthusiasm she brought an amazing skill set to our shared vision of creating a community hub at George Street United Church.

Christie authored a study of Peterborough’s downtown demographics, and crafted a person to person survey we used at our first community picnic. Yes, the one with the rainstorm that blew us all inside – turning a picnic thrown by a small group of volunteers FOR the community – into a common effort where all hands were needed to move everything indoors – including the buskers on their way home from downtown who played and played and made a party of the picnic.

But this story is about Christie. As the seasons turned, we celebrated the birth of her son Pax – and the birth of the Seeds of Change hub at George Street. We celebrated the birth of her daughter Evelyn – and her new job with the Tamarack Institute. Her focus on Neighbourhoods with Tamarack’s Deepening Community project has given us a new reason to get together and make good things happen.

So Lynn invited Christie to be our guest at a Subversive Faith interview. We have five standard questions designed to elicit stories from our guests about both their faith walk and their walk as an activist – and how the two intersect. At first Christie was unsure. She had never spoken in public before about her faith and the idea was a bit daunting. It was a sign of her trust in us that she agreed.

The small group that gathered on the third Wednesday in February was very glad she did. Veteran Peterborough activists were there along with some new to the work. Church people and unchurched. Christians and those whose spirituality defied labels. Christie’s warm and vibrant character, combined with intelligence and a deep compassion with those who struggle, drew us in as she unravelled her stories.

Christie shared many fascinating tidbits of her journey with us. Of her Catholic father’s and atheist mother’s influences. Of her experiences in India where living with so little revealed an abundance in community. Of a mystical adventure with her friend’s aunt that she’d never told anyone about. We were honoured by these gifts.

She shared how her son Pax has started asking questions about death. How he’d been exposed to two explanations. One story was that there was a home in heaven waiting for them and the other was that our bodies will turn into grass as part of the great earthly cycle. Christie shared her curiosity with us about how her son chose what worked for him – telling her, “I don’t want to turn into grass!”

But it was during the Q&A session at the end of Lynn’s questions when someone asked her “Could you tell us about the spirituality of frisbee?”. Christie’s eyes lit up with a big “Yes I can.” She had shared with us earlier on about her love of gardening, and yoga, and her love of the game of Ultimate Frisbee. And now she drew us into this passion with her… (my words will fail to capture her enthusiasm).

“There’s something about running full out, about pushing your body to its limits, about working together as a team – and you just find yourself in this sweet spot where you are totally focussed and totally alive and it is a beautiful place to be.”

She went on “And my teammates are all as enthusiastic about it as I am. They are such a community for me. When Evelyn was born, my freezer filled up with food and I felt so cared for. In fact,” she laughed, “during Evelyn’s birth I imagined playing frisbee. I was in the end zone making an amazing catch and feeling the high – and out came Evelyn! It was beautiful!”

The women in the room gave a spontaneous cheer for this birthing story. That was a new one for all of us!

Once again, we found in the Subversive Faith stories, a sacred dimension of human experience that defies our usual categories. Christie’s storytelling took us into the fully embodied spirituality of her passion. How the sacred moments of physical highs, combined with the power of our sacred imaginations, took her through the most fearful and painful – and literally lifegiving – experience. How incredible to be filled with wonder and joy at the miracle of our body/mind/souls pushing past the limits we know, to take us where we’ve never been before.

It occurs to me that maybe Pax could find comfort in this story the next time he wonders about death? Might we all call upon our most sacred memories of being fully alive – to carry us through death to a new life?

Our thanks to Christie for taking us along with her on the journey.

Coeurage

We were in the presence of a sacred heart at last nights Subversive Faith interview. The French word “coeur”, meaning heart, is the root of the word “courage”.

From Merriam-Webster: courage implies firmness of mind and will in the face of danger or extreme difficulty <the courage to support unpopular causes>. spirit also suggests a quality of temperament enabling one to hold one’s own or keep up one’s morale when opposed or threatened <her spirit was unbroken by failure>. tenacity implications of stubborn persistence and unwillingness to admit defeat <held to their beliefs with great tenacity>.

Peter Williams’ story gave us much to wonder about last night. He called us to join him in a crusade against shame. “A community without shame would remove the hurt that hinders all efforts to build community.” In its place, instead of shame, there would be compassion and a listening ear.

While the professional medical community spun its wheels trying to come to terms with the sexual politics of medicine (how to fund research and treatments that were politically “untouchable”) – there arose a need for a community response. Suddenly, there was a professional role for gay men with lived experience of how to negotiate the territory between society and individuals marginalized by their “unacceptable” sexual identity.

The gift in the midst of this tragedy, as Peter described it, was that when people’s death becomes imminent “there’s no time for any more bullshit”. Suddenly people need to resolve their response to their own death – to their anger, fear, and helplessness – and they need to resolve their relationships with parents, siblings and family. Now that there was no time for secrets and shame – people needed support to do and say what really mattered.

This is where Peter’s distinctions between faith and religion become most clear. While religion served to shame and exclude, faith was a living presence in the midst of human suffering. Peter tells of how 18 of his 20 closest friends died within a few years. Only a few church funerals were provided – and only if HIV was not spoken of. Instead Peter found himself organizing and leading funeral services that gathered friends and family to share sorrow and make meaning together.

Religion lifts expectations beyond what is humanly possible and always leads, eventually, to dissapointment. Religion gives power to people who use shame and fear to sustain their power and privilege over others.

Church however, for Peter, is about people coming together to share stories and walk with one another. By walking together and listening with a compassionate heart, we make meaning together. Community happens along the way.

“We can’t assume that just because we have a common vocabulary – that we share the same assumptions and experiences around the words we use.” Where can we find the safe spaces and the time to explore with one another what we really mean when we use words like faith, god, belief…?

“My agnostic and atheist parents instilled in me a truth that belief can so often stand in the way of learning. When we come to a conclusion about something, it can be the end of our questioning and exploration.”

 

On the other hand, Peter read to us a passage from Mitch Albom’s ‘Have a little faith, a true story’ “ . It was about the key to happiness being found in finally being satisfied, being grateful. That’s it. That’s all.

 

 

We had a good discussion about wonder. For me it was wonder – rather than faith – that emerged from the evening as a common sacred ground. The joy and mystery that touches our hearts and minds and connects us with the soul of the earth, of the universe – is what is truly sacred beyond category or description. It is the territory where analysis gets left behind and creative expression begins.

The evening was a wonder. Peter’s courage and vulnerability touched us all. His stories found a home in our own. Our hearts were opened to listen and learn.

Fallen angel

When climbing down a 200 foot ladder in pitch black, there is only one way to deal with the terror of the unseeing and unknowing. Take it one rung at a time. Left hand releases its grip while the left foot drops to the next rung. Left hand and left foot secure, right hand releases while the right foot drops to the next rung. And so on.

And soon you’re into a pattern. The rhythm of it is a comfort. The left / right repetition, or cadence, is a kind of brain gym that keeps the mind busy while opening up and relaxing your heart and body to just do what needs doing. You’re into a flow.

Not a bad way to get thru a tough day. One rung at a time. Using a metaphor like this can be a lifesaver. It’s the power of the imagination.

The power of imagination is a divine gift. I would go so far as to say that it is THE divine gift. It is imagination that makes us more than our brother birds and sister fish. It is the ability to imagine that differentiates us from our four legged cousins. While they have tails – it is the tales we tell that makes us divine. When our imaginations engage – we connect with the power that creates, destroys, and begins again.

Thomas Berry, in the foreword of Bill Plotkin’s “Soulcraft”, awakens me to a wider deeper, heaven and earth-embodied definition of soul.

 

“Soul is fundamentally a biological concept, defined as the primary organizing, sustaining, and guiding principle of a living being… Soul, in all its diversity of expression, enables the flowers to bloom in the meadows. It enables all manner of living forms, the birds, the fish, and other living beings to find their way through thousands of miles on their migration journeys back and forth across the continents and in the dark depths of the sea…”

 

While we might think that it’s soul that connects us humans uniquely with god, Berry re-grounds us in a more ancient understanding of the soul. If soul is the air we breathe and the ground we stand on. If “soul” is another way of talking about the underlying organizing principles of life’s emerging, embroiling, encircling creativity. Then it is our human ability to imagine that engages us in that soul process.

 

Above all, this larger context of human existence was a caring world. It provided food and shelter, and healing in time of sickness. Beyond economic needs, the natural world in all its wonder provided inspiration for song and dance and poetry.”

 

These days are so short that by the time we get the fire going and the food unpacked and we make it out for an afternoon walk in the woods – the sun is already low. It’s sending its last strong rays across treetops to the hilltop we climb to say good bye to another day.

We were planning to walk the rail trail back to where it meets the road and circle back along the river. But as soon as we hit the rail trail’s gravel, Lynn wanders to its edge and says “Hey! What’s that down there?” and she’s gone down over the edge.

I call out a warning about the dangers of leaving the beaten path, about sticking to the straight and narrow way, and all that. I might as well have been preaching to the stones. She’s already halfway down the hill. So I plunge after her – needing to sustain a pretense of mighty male protector – even in her wake.

We crash through the underbrush and come upon a marshy meadow that’s filled the gap between two hills. At one end of this valley a beaver has constructed a wall of mud a good six feet high and fifty feet across. There’s a wigwam sized den smack in the middle. But instead of a pond behind the wall, there’s a meadow. A quick-running creek meanders and gurgles its way through the boggy grasses.

I’m still inspecting the dam when Lynn says “OH LOOK!”. I turn, expecting a moose or something wild and large. What I see is definitely wild and large and … it takes my breath away. “Holy Shit” I exclaim.

Like a dinosaur skeleton standing in a museum, there, in the middle of the football field-sized marsh, with no other trees around, lays a fallen giant white pine. It’s fully intact from root-stem to treetop laying the length of the marsh like a giant angel felled in some cosmic battle. But what strikes me first – what takes my breath – is the great circle of interwoven roots standing upright. It’s twice my height and twice my arm’s width.

With a sense of reverence, as if approaching an altar in a sacred temple, I slowly pick my way across the marshy grasses towards it. I am stopped ten feet away by the creek three feet deep and three feet wide that winds its way around the uprooted stump. From here, I examine the great web of roots – not in a big clump with taproots going down – but every root splayed outwards in an interwoven flattened circle. It was as if the roots could not pierce down into soil but spread out reaching in all directions for nourishment.

Part of this tree’s wonder is that it seems not to belong here. No other trees, living or dead, are within thirty yards of it. Why wouldn’t that great circle of roots have been able to pierce down into the marshy ground? It is as if some great hurricane hand had plucked it from a granite hilltop and placed it artfully here – for us to discover and adore.

Leaping across the creek’s threshold I enter into the holy of holies, stopping every second step when I see a new combination of curving root and twisted branch that appear crafted by an artisan’s skill.

Like a boy I run around behind the great circle of roots. I follow the trunk up along its length to a place where it has descended enough so I can scramble up onto it. I tightrope walk back up – down the trunk – to where I can see through a gap in the roots. I call to Lynn to snap a trophy photo like some tourist visiting a cathedral.

I walk back down the trunk to join Lynn as she comes close. We’re like a couple in an art gallery examining a masterpiece. We’re ooing and awing at every subtle facet of this wondrous work of art.

 

“The winds, the mountains, the soaring birds, the wildlife roaming the forests, the stars splashed across the heavens in the dark of night: these were all communicating the deepest experiences that humans would ever know.”

 

Everywhere we look – our eyes are drawn into the detail. Our imaginations intersect with the soul of this wild expression of the Maker. The swoop of grain here reveals the howling winds and storms endured. The twist of root and branch tell of creatures and claws and wings and limbs that walked beneath or lived within the tree’s tall branches. These roots hold a tapestry of stories from the centuries.

Though dead and decaying – it is alive. So alive. Though ever so slowly returning to the bed of the creek, from it’s the bearded thick moss on its trunk grow two tiny young pines. They rise up from the stump as if from a forest floor instead of a suspended eco-system five feet above the ground we stand on.

 

“The entire universe is shaped and sustained in all its vast interwoven patterns by the mysterious powers of soul.”   Thomas Berry

 

Magical, mystical, storied, we long to capture it in digital images. We want to take it home and possess it. And at the same time we know that photos cannot capture this sense of awe we feel. (These words I write are a mere echo of the artist’s voice that struck deep chords within us.)

Like the disciples on the mountaintop experiencing the Transfiguration of Jesus – we want to build tents and make permanent this fleeting wonder. We want to bottle it and offer it as a potion to our friends. We want to distill it into dogma and call it “ours”. We want to take it and use it – with good intent – but its gold will turn to dross in our hands.

The best we can do is point our friends in the right direction. The right direction being – to see the wonders beneath us, above us, beside us, before and behind us. We can invite them to awaken – again and again – to resonate with the wonder born within us each day. Born like Christ in mystery and wonder amidst earthy companions. The fecund smell of straw and shepherds filling our senses and making us one with the angels as our hearts join in the divine chorus of love, thanks, praise, and peace.

The light is diminishing quickly on us now and Lynn begins to hurry us home. I trail behind her, lingering and wondering, and not wanting to let the enchantment dissipate. She gets us back on the beaten path and home again to tell the tale.

On our descent, off the beaten path, we discovered a deep wonder. Beneath the surface all is interconnected, interdependent, intriguing and inviting imagination. Rung by rung we descend deeper into the untellable mysteries hidden in the dark. Yet once our eyes grow accustomed to seeing – a new light shines now from within the surface of things.

I can see in the dark – using the mind’s eye of imagination – that “I am” as much a part of what’s growing and becoming – of what’s dying and decaying to begin again – as all that comes from the great “I am”. Running in my veins, beating in my heart, is the great “I am becoming” who spoke to Moses from burning bush to let him know “I have heard the people’s cry”.

Trust in the slow work of God

 

Things were bad for Mary and Joseph.

They were on a journey inspired by a dream and vision and a baby of promise.

God was doing something new with them – but what?

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope.

For hope would be hope for the wrong thing.

So the darkness shall be the light,

and the stillness the dancing.

Whisper of running streams, and winter lightning.

                                                            T.S. Eliot  

As the solstice approached, I found myself in that familiar Christmas funk that I’d now labeled the “well of doubt”. I had no solid reason be to down. My life is charmed in so many ways and my pockets are full of privilege. I’m on a path that I’ve chosen and I feel a purpose running in my veins. “Why then?”, I’d ask myself trudging through the grey city streets.

A visit from Saint Nicholas subtly disguised as John Bird at our Subversive Faith gathering cheered me significantly. This coming together of activists interested in hearing faith journey stories is now a monthly look-forward-to event for us. John is thoughtful, informed, and could pass for a laughing Bhudda as easily as Santa Claus. His optimism and humour were contagious.

So, without a good reason to be down, I made a decision. Instead of questioning my funk and working hard (uselessly) at climbing out of it. I decided to go deeper into it.

What if this sadness I carry is a gift? What if I am simply tapping into the suffering of others disguised as my own? What if my tears belong to the earth’s sorrow? Perhaps dropping down into a well of despair is a digging into the message of angels? What if I dug deeper?

In our early twenties, my brother and I spent a summer hard rock mining in Snow Lake Manitoba. It was my job to inspect the fill lines that ran all through the black catacombs of our mine. It’s shaft ran 3600 feet deep into the earth. And every 200 feet down there ran horizontal “drifts” where rail lines carried the iron ore. Between the “drifts” were cut vertical shafts only big enough for a ladder running 200 feet straight down. As I travelled throughout the mine that summer I became quite familiar with those ladders.

The only light in those tunnels is the light on your hard hat. When you switch it off you experience a blackness that is absolute. The total absence of light. It was on those 200 foot ladders that I became familiar with the gift of darkness.

Have you ever climbed an open ladder up a water tower? The best advice is “don’t look down”. And so, the saving grace of climbing those ladders was the dark. If I could have seen how far I had to fall – the job would have been much more difficult.

Often, the ladders would lead down into a “stope” which is the cavernous cave excavated by miners. I can still feel what it was like to suddenly find yourself climbing down into a vast emptiness. From the tight surrounds of a vertical tunnel – or well – to step down into a dark open space larger than any cathedral. So large that my light couldn’t find a wall or object or even the bottom to shine upon.

To climb down into that black open space was both terrifying and somehow awe inspiring.

This long diversion into my past is all in effort to describe to you what I felt last Friday on my journey down into the Christmas funk.

We’d planned a thirty hour retreat to our Kinmount cabin. But Lynn needed to connect with classmates and professor in Winnipeg via high speed internet. So we turned to the generosity of our Kinmount neighbours Reverend Desmond and Colleen Howard.

As Lynn chatted high-speed, I chatted with Desmond and Colleen by the hearth of their home. Now Desmond knows my story pretty well and I know his. When we come together we share like old friends. Right away he tells me he’s been studying the Holy Spirit Heretics of Christian history. “They’re just like you.” he tells me.

And we go off into the wild territory of quantum physics and the heart. How the church through the ages would always resist the ever-expanding notions of the divine imagination. As the spiritual adventurers of each age found new revelations in the ancient truths there was always an opposing, and very human, reaction that sought to keep God within the confines of dogma and the status quo.

“Advent is about becoming.” Desmond pronounced with the excitement of an explorer who’s found a new land. “It’s not about waiting but about seeing how things are unfolding all around us and within us.” He preached to this congregation of one with all the passion of an evangelist.

Like an indigenous elder, he told long stories that made me laugh. The stories I knew had more than a punch line to offer. Within the laugh there were seeds of thought to be considered later. Desmond spoke of how – as his own life is shrinking with the circumstances of age – his perspective is expanding to see his situation in the context of 13.8 billion years of life’s unfolding story on earth.

We plunged into the mysteries of the divine expanding, creating, becoming, unfolding – collaborating with our own energies of faith, hope, and love in this and every age. From the big bang that created not only the stardust matter which we stand and chew upon – but also the immaterial dark matter that science now tells us is 93 percent of what “is”. And always into an expanding universe that is still becoming. Deep beneath the surface of our daily lives, the eating, drinking, sharing, stealing, lying, hoarding – fear-filled and hope-filled existence – there runs a deeper story still.

Climbing down deeper into my “well of doubt” I came upon this vast expansive perspective in the deep dark bowels of the universe. What had seemed a tight and small place to be in – was now beyond the reach of my headlamp’s light. In such a fearful and awe-full place – l let my intellect become stilled. I found that my soul expanded into that vast emptying fullness.

I found beneath hope, beneath love, beneath the prayers that I don’t know how to pray – an underground stream of trust.

Desmond sent me the link to this poem that puts it well. And tomorrow I’ll tell you what Lynn and I discovered that afternoon as she left the path and descended down into the crown’s land bush beyond our cozy cabin.

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way
to something unknown, something new.
Yet it is the law of all progress that is made
by passing through some stages of instability
and that may take a very long time.    (Spoken like a good paleontologist!)

And so I think it is with you.
Your ideas mature gradually. Let them grow.
Let them shape themselves without undue haste.
Do not try to force them on
as though you could be today what time
will make you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new Spirit
gradually forming in you will be.

Give our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God,
our loving vine-dresser. Amen.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) was a French philosopher, Jesuit priest, and paleontologist.

The darkness shall be the light

It’s almost 7am and it’s still dark outside.

This longest night marks the end of a stretch of doubt for me.

My friend and soulquest partner Doug coined for me a phrase I’ve been using to describe my mental state lately. He was talking about what happens when we head off the path in search of soul. He said that you are sure to find yourself falling into the “well of doubt”.

It’s been happening fairly regularly for me this fall. While on the surface of daily interactions I remain my usual buoyant, optimistic, well-met self – my inner life has been a roller coaster. At least a few times each week I fall into what I now call “the well of doubt”.

It’s a dark place. I can’t see much of anything and so am left to my memories. And the memories that arrive in this place are the dark ones – my failures, my weaknesses, the betrayals and hard feelings – are alive and well down there.

It’s a small place. Cramped and damp. I can feel it coming on like a case of the 24hr flu. The only way to treat it is – like the flu – wait for it to run through my system.

Now this place is not new to me. For years I’ve found myself in those dark places – especially at this time of year. The weight of the world’s troubles and my own failure to put a dent in them would get me down for weeks at a time. But something’s changed.

I’m getting better at diagnosing the conditions that bring about this fall from grace into the well of doubt. The grace that is usually the wind beneath my wings. The optimism that gives me the courage to keep at this difficult course I’ve chosen – fades away like the wind and leaves me in stillness.

What seems to bring it on is my efforts to peer into the future. Now I could simply let go of such efforts and say “whatever will be will be”. That helps for sure. However, we happen to be at the end of a year of exploration and experimentation. The church has funded us to explore the concept of a New Ministry here in Peterborough.

We’re almost finished writing up the results of the year’s study. We’ve almost finalized our summaries and conclusions. We’ve even hired a consultant to help us evaluate the data against our stated objectives of a year ago.

Somehow I’m thinking that reporting that “whatever will be – will be” isn’t going to cut it with our financial backers. On one level they might understand that the road we’re walking is a “spirit-led” process. They might appreciate that what’s required are the boots of faith, a good walking stick of intuition, a heart that’s open to invitation, ears that listen, listen, and listen more, and eyes that can spot the signs when there’s no map to be read.

How to be “the church” without a church? How to be “the church” when there’s no congregation to support the effort? How to be “the church” when there’s no choir or pulpit or pews? How to be “the church” when there’s no paycheque, or benefits, or pension plan in place?

And so, while we’ve got all kinds of prayers and words of encouragement behind us. While funds have arrived just in time to keep us going. While all indications are that there’s a thirst out there for the gifts of the spirit and the ancient wisdom that guides. While we know that folks will gather with generous hearts desiring purpose and passion in their lives – we too are thirsty and hungry for answers to the questions posed?

How will this new thing be “the church” when it doesn’t look or sound or sing like “the church”? Who will be the people gathered and how will they define the good news that gathers them? And the toughest one of all is “How will this New Ministry be sustained?”

And so, as I peer into the future day after day, trying to see around corners we haven’t even encountered yet – I inevitably trip over the things I’m missing right at my toes – and fall.

From down in that “well of doubt” these words come my way. And they speak to me.

 

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope.

For hope would be hope for the wrong thing.

Wait without love

For love would be love of the wrong thing.

There is yet faith.

But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the calling.

Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought.

So the darkness shall be the light,

and the stillness the dancing.

Whisper of running streams, and winter lightning.

T.S. Eliot

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you more of the signs I’m sensing in these dark nights.