Monthly Archives: October 2021
People often come to me and say some version, “I can’t stand XYZ… why do we do this?” Almost always whatever XYZ happens to be is something that someone else loves so much they come and ask me, “why can’t we make everyone do XYZ?” I usually want to introduce person A to person B and say, “have you met?”
We are all fed in different ways. We make meaning in different ways. We express ourselves in different ways. And we almost always imagine everyone else is fed, does meaning-making, and should express themselves the same as we do. But they don’t. Learning this is really important. It helps us in so many different ways. I’ve said before I had to learn to parent each of my children differently. They are not all the same kid… so I can’t be the same parent to them. My values are the same, and the values I wish to nurture in them are the same – but they respond differently to different stimuli so I can’t be a one trick pony.
And frankly… that is true of everything we do. We cannot be all things to all people – but we do need to learn how to express ourselves in ways that meet people where they are, in ways that they connect to… and that’s true of the music we sing and play, the themes we preach and teach, and the service we will out in our life together.
And we also have to give ourselves permission not to like something… without condemning it – because it just may be perfect for your neighbor. This is what I find helpful about various personality “tests” – which I prefer to call tools. They aren’t predictive of all we do and say and shouldn’t be used in such ways… but they can be reflective tools to understand why we like/resonate with some things, and dislike/disconnect from other things. They can provide insight. They can offer grace – or help you to offer it to yourself.
With this said… for those who are interested, I’d like to offer this Spiritual home tool. (If this isn’t your thing… great! This blog post / newsletter article ends, here – thanks for coming!)
This exercise comes from a book by Corine Ware called “Discover Your Spiritual Type.” You need a piece of paper and on it draw a circle with the following four quadrants:
For each of the following questions draw a spoke (on the wheel) in the quadrant corresponding to the answer number for each question. So if you on the first question your answer is number 2, you will draw one spoke in quadrant 2 of your circle…. You will use this circle later. Now… the questions from Corine Ware’s book:
The Order of Worship
- A carefully planned and orderly worship program is a glory to God.
- A deeply moving and spontaneous meeting is a glory to God.
- Simplicity and some silence are important elements needed for worship.
- It is not a service, but ordering ourselves to God’s service that is important.
- Stick to announced beginning and ending times of worship services.
- It is important to extend the meeting time if one feels led to do so.
- All time is God’s time. A sense of timelessness is important.
- Gather whenever and for as long as you need to accomplish the task.
- Words express poetic praise; we ask for knowledge and guidance.
- Let words and feelings evoke God’s presence in this moment.
- Empty the mind of distractions and simply be in the presence of the holy.
- My life and my work are my prayer.
- Music and text express praise to God and belief about God.
- Singing warms and unites us and expresses the soul’s deepest heart.
- Chant and tone bring the soul to quietness and union with God.
- Songs can mobilize and inspire to greater effort and dedication.
- The word of God, rightly proclaimed, is the centerpiece of worship.
- The gospel, movingly preached, is the power of God to change lives.
- Proclamation is heard when the Spirit of God speaks to the inward heart.
- What we do is “preaching” and speaks louder than anything we say.
- A central purpose is that we fulfill our vocation (calling) in the world.
- A central purpose is that we learn to walk in holiness with the Lord.
- A central purpose is that we be one with the creator.
- A central purpose is that we obey God’s will completely.
Support of Causes
(If necessary, circle the words and pick the categories with the most circles.)
- Support seminaries, publishing houses, scholarship, preaching to others.
- Support evangelism, missions, spreading the word on television and radio.
- Support places of retreat, spiritual direction, liturgical reform.
- Support political action to establish justice in society and its institutions.
- Sometimes I/we are said to be too intellectual, dogmatic, and “dry.”
- Sometimes I/we are said to be too emotional, dogmatic, and anti-intellectual.
- Sometimes I/we are said to be escaping from the world and are not being realistic.
- Sometimes I/we are said to have tunnel vision and to be too moralistic.
(If necessary, circle the words and pick the categories with the most circles.)
- Discernment, discipline, knowledge, order, grace, justification.
- Love, conversion, witness, spontaneity, sanctification.
- Poverty, humility, wisdom, letting go, transcendence.
- Simplicity, purity of heart, action, temperance, obedience, martyrdom.
What the congregation believes is necessary, who you believe is necessary.
- Assent to doctrine; baptism; endorsement by group.
- A personal inward experience of God, baptism; public declaration.
- All who face Godward are incorporated in the holy.
- Solidarity with humankind is membership in God’s kingdom.
Ritual and Liturgy
- Ritual and liturgy evoke memory and presence, teaching traditional truths.
- Liturgy and ritual ceremonies are not of great importance.
- Ritual and liturgy are ways in which God becomes present to us.
- Ritual and liturgyare one way we make statements about inner conviction.
Concept of God
- God is revealed in Scripture, sacrament, and in Jesus Christ and his cross.
- I can feel that God is real and that Christ lives in my heart.
- God is mystery and can be grasped for, but no completely known.
- We participate in the mystery of God when we become creators with God in the world.
After you have all the responses now look at the following chart and make the necessary notations to what each of the different pie pieces on their chart mean.
Read the following basic descriptions of the four “pie pieces” in the chart, or the four types of spirituality and which ones correspond to you:
- Thinking – people of this type enjoy sermons, lectures and study. They experience God primarily in thought about God and seeking knowledge of who God is. Their growing edge tends to be enjoyment of God, and the danger of the thinker is allowing the ideas of/about God to replace God. They tend to come towards wholeness when aware of the limits of logical thinking about God and appreciate the mystery of God
- Feeling –people of this type experience God through their emotions and what they know of God comes out of their feelings. The weakness to this type is a need that others have the same “heart warming” experience of God and the growing edge is to find God’s will in the ordinary stuff of life, and being obeying God in the doing.
- Being – people of this type are most comfortable just being with God absent from needs of thought or feeling: “to be still and know that I am God (psalm 46).” Their weakness tends to be sense of pious advanced spirituality over the thinker or feeler, and a desire to stay in the state of contemplation all the time. Their growing edge is using intellect to appreciate how God uses other people, and also to being more ordinary and less special by pushing towards being contemplatives in action.
- Doing – people of this type have a “kingdom spirituality”. They want to do things for the kingdom of God and have a passion for transforming society and social justice. Their weakness may be a lack of deeper faith development and being superficial in their actions. Their growing edge is engagement of spiritual formation and prayer to get in touch with their feelings separate from the need to do.
The words outside the circle explain what happens if we live solely in one type of spirituality and so “hang out” on the outside of the circle. The hope for each of us is to be pulled by Christ and our community of faith into the center of the circle where we engage in holistic spirituality, here the being person can engage as well in thinking, doing and feeling – just as those people can engage in their opposing and adjoining spiritual types. However, in times of stress we may find the need to reside solely in our “spiritual home”. This is good and right, but the question always remains and it always does: how do we open ourselves up to Christ’s invitation to come back to whole-ness? And how do we foster gratitude to others whose spiritual home lies outside our own and whose holy friendship helps us to see a wider and deeper world of imagination and love?
*the title isn’t mine, it is a slight shift on the name of the poem quoted here and is the work of Tanaya Winder.
Today I bring you a poem… preceded by three happenings:
Monday was Indigenous People’s day – a day we hope to bring forth from the ashes of celebrating Christopher Columbus “discovering” lands already lived upon and bringing tides of colonizing oppression to free hearts and spirits…
…flip to a pre-committee meeting Monday night where instead of talking about programs and ministries we shared on cameras and tv screens across miles a deep connection of our shared grief as “prayer concerns” turn heavy…. that was how it was described to me, “that meeting was so heavy with our grief”…
…I reside on lands that were roamed and cared for and lived on by the Northern Shoshone people who exist today in three federally recognized tribes of Idaho and Utah… (those words “federally recognized tribes” come clumsy off my lips as I recognize both the gift of being “recognized” and the curse of federally recognized as if without federal recognition you didn’t exist, which they did and do). I live on the lands of the northern and western bands of the Shoshone and Bannock and Paiute people… and so I sought to center their voice in my listening and sharing today rather than my own and in my wandering I came to this poem from Tanaya Winder who is of the Duckwater Shoshone tribe with a mix of Ute and Pauite and Black heritage and she writes here about grief… so the tapestry weaves itself together with this excerpt from the middle section of larger poem I commend to you in full here:
Our grandmothers told us stories of the desert,
how giant serpents laid on mountains
to create canyons. Imagine earth crunching
under the weight of unbearable sadness.
Imagine what it feels like to collapse
into an uncharted territory of grief.
As young girls we learned the tale
of a mother who cried so many tears
she created a lake in the middle of the desert.
Today she sits in stone beneath a star-stitched sky,
holding up the otherwise untethered blue.
Last month, I read an orca gave birth
to a female calf who died thirty minutes
after entering our world. The orca carried her dead
calf for 17 days. Tethered by grief, hers the price
paid for love and loving.
At 34, my sister gives birth
to her first child, a winter-born boy.
In recovery, my sister asks if she can walk yet.
Her nurse says, “Wait until your legs are yours again.”
I wonder who and what I’ve carried
and carry for days, months, for years. Grandmother,
take me back to your childhood, where you sang
“Blue Moon” in boarding school, where you won
the talent show.
Take me back to 17,
when my back first curved into an S—
the serpent inside me coiled under grief,
my scoliosis stopping any sports
outside of prayers and inside dreams.
I wish we’d had more time.
I invite you to spend some more time with Tanaya’s words and gifts and offerings… you can find quite a few here: https://tanayawinder.com and here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/tanaya-winder
It isn’t a new thought… it’s a yearly thought: We come to this season and the world reminds us that its time to do some letting go. It would be ludicrous to go into your yard right now and start strapping leaves to the trees, so they don’t fall off… and yet in our lives we often cling to things we won’t don’t want to lose in that same kind of futile struggle. We fight the progression of seasons. Ecclesiastes reminds us “for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” This also means, reflexively, for that for every matter there are times that is simply isn’t the right season to be carried. You can no more force a tree to hold its leaves in fall than you can make it bud out new growth in the depth of winter. The trees live the rhythm of life, and we can learn that wisdom if we are willing. Trying to do things “out of season” is costly for all involved.
I invite you to reflect on what this “fall wisdom” is inviting you to contemplate in your life: where are you clinging to that which is not giving you life? What is it time to let go? What is time to plant for the future? Are you in step with this season of your life?
I leave you with this poem, Sonnet 73, from William Shakespeare on life, death, and love in the light of fall:
That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire,
Consum’d with that which it was nourish’d by.
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.