Posts under Weekly Conversation category
Thoughts On Being Rich | 027

CHAPTER 27, IN WHICH WE COME FACE TO FACE WITH THE GREAT WEALTH WE HAVE

This week, Lightning and Vince are talking about money. Lightning started the conversation by telling a story about how the sign in the window of a local investment company (How well you retire tomorrow, depends on how well you plan today) causes him to panic every time he sees it. Vince also shared a story about the shaming messaging used to promote financial services in the media today. The guys agreed that our society tries to define us by our financial position. And yet, if we define ourselves by our financial security, the quiet inner life becomes more difficult. The more time we spend fretting and worrying about our retirements, the more difficult it is to maintain a calm inner space. There are so many panic-inducing messages coming at us, that it is nearly impossible to have a clear vision of our own finances. No matter how well off we are, there is always advertising to make us feel inadequate. This leads to all of us having a skewed view of our finances.

In order to get a more objective view of our finances, Lightning shared some stats from www.globalrichlist.com. He began with the disclaimer that statistics can be manipulated to support any argument. But, if we put aside our cynicism and critical thinking for just a few moments, these stats can be eye-opening.

If a family of 4 makes $24,000 per year, they are in the top 2.7% of wealth in the world. Incidentally, $24,000 is the poverty line, as determined by the US government.
If a person makes $32,500, s/he is in the top 1% of wealth in the world.
If my income $42,000 per year, I am in the top 1/2% of wealth globally.

The guys were quick to point out that you can be in the top couple percent of wealth in the world, and still be unable to feed your family and pay your mortgage in America. We live in an affluent society, and our context skews our view of our personal finances.

Lightning suggested that if you have an electronic device to download this podcast, you are one of the wealthiest people on the planet. If you have internet access you are among the richest people in the world. It doesn’t seem this way because of our context, but it is true. We are all rich. Even being a below average earner in a wealthy society makes me wealthy. It just makes me discontented and wealthy.

Vince shared a story about friends of his who are making an intentional effort to consume more responsibly. They have discovered that doing so costs a lot more. In a culture where we are all feeling financially inadequate, making choices to spend more on seemingly-identical products is difficult.

Lightning shared an entirely different approach to personal finances that he learned at an intentional community in Evanston Illinois called Reba Place Fellowship. This community pools their resources; every member signs their paycheck over to the community. The fellowship then provides each member allowances for food and clothing and other personal expenses. Each member receives similar allowances, with minor adjustments based on need rather than income. The people who make a lot of money share the same standard of living as those who make an hourly minimum wage. Any financial needs beyond the basic allowances are handled in small groups—the same small groups where members meet each week for bible study, accountability, and spiritual growth. This model integrates our spending and standard of living with our spiritual life.

So, if Lightning wanted a new Ferrari he would bring it up during his weekly small group. The people in that group—with whom he was living life on the most intimate level—would help determine if this “need” should be funded by the community. The small group might ask “Lightning, why do you need a Ferrari?” This could begin a fruitful dialog about Lightning’s inner life and his insecurities that he is trying to compensate for by buying a fine piece of precision Italian engineering.

This is an entirely different way to do personal finances. There are benefits and challenges in any financial model, but making decisions in community often helps us avoid our blind spots and become the people we want to be. When we each manage our finances on our own, we have no accountability and no perspective on our own lives. We spend money to compensate for needs and wounds that are not financial in nature. I can use my money to meet needs that are not actually financial (like buying a race car), which further reinforces the skewed view I have of my financial security. This will only ever increase my inner noise and anxiety.

Most of us have an opinion of our finances that serves only us. We believe that we are not well off. If we believed that we are rich, that would mean allowing ourselves to be the object of Jesus’s teaching. But by comparing our finances to those around us who make more, we are able to dodge Jesus’s harsh words for the wealthy and also not take responsibility for the poor.

One thing that has been transformative for Lightning is asking God to show him the riches in his life. Lightning has found new appreciation for so many free things all around him…sunsets, night-time stars, sitting around a campfire with close friends. He feels so rich and so grateful for everything in his life.

Lightning posed these questions to us:
Are you rich, but living in a context that tells you you’re not?
Are you poor within your context, but rich in a larger context?
Are you rich because of the community around you?
Are you rich because of the blessings in your life?
How are you rich?

Vince closed the conversation with a quote from actor Jim Carey: I hope everybody can get rich and famous and will have everything they ever dreamed of, so they will know that is not the answer.

Join Lightning and Vince next week for some thoughts on being poor.

TO DO LIST
-Subscribe, rate and review on iTunes here
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STUFF THEY MENTIONED THAT IS WORTH CHECKING OUT
Reba Place Fellowship
The church that Vince co-leads: Brown Line Vineyard

CONTACT INFO
vince@unquiet.life
lightning@unquiet.life

 

January 5, 2016
Preparing together for the new year | 026

CHAPTER 26, IN WHICH WE TRY TO APPLY SOME INTENTIONALITY TO OUR 2016 CALENDAR

Last week Lightning and Vince talked about intentionality in life and especially in developing an inner life.
Since we are on the cusp of a new year, the guys talked this week about making a plan for having some inner quiet. If you’re going to make some resolutions, we hope that inner quiet will be at the top of the list.

When I intentionally pursue a quiet inner life,
1) I know myself better. Many people have never become friends with themselves.
2) I live with more influences in my life. I have a more considered life with a larger perspective.
3) I can know others better because I have myself to offer them. Intimacy is born out of risky self-disclosure. No one accidentally risks in relationship.
4) I will know God better. This is often the natural outplaying of knowing myself better and living in deep community.
5) I have something to offer the world. Think about heroes or mentors or elders in your life. If they had not been intentional, where would you be today. Those people made a lifestyle of being intentional. They made thousands of intentional choices before they did anything significant.

Lightning presented a three tier model for creating inner quiet in the new year.

First, develop a daily practice of quiet. How will you get off the American conveyor belt in small ways each day? Perhaps getting out of the office at lunch time, or getting up earlier. Vince sits with a cup of coffee, and Lightning exercises. The important thing is to block out the time and do it every day. If you need some help knowing what to do during your daily quiet, check out conversation #14 or Richard Rohr’s devotions.

Second, build into your schedule a weekly practice that is more significant than your daily experience. Lightning recommends a two-and-a-half-hour weekly block of time for silence. Carol Kortsch promoted this idea in conversation #20. This is a chance to reflect on life and the world around you. Vince called this the micro-retreat.

Third, prioritize an extended time of reflection 4 times per year. This could be a half-day, or an overnight retreat…or even several days. It can be most effective if you are not in your typical environment, so getting away to a retreat center or even a friend’s house is recommended. These should be added to your calendar now so they are not overlooked or forgotten. Do it right now.

The guys had a few words of caution as you’re planning your quiet 2016.
1) Watch out for guilt. Please don’t feel like you have to live up to everything Vince and Lightning have said. This model is a starting point. Feel free to add to and let it evolve.
2) Anything worth having is going to take some effort. This will take some commitment and perseverance. The benefits of living this way are seen in the long term much more than in the moment.
3) Be careful with evaluation. Don’t evaluate too soon or in the wrong way.  Commit to this for 3-6 months before doing much evaluation. Lightning shared that his only success criteria is whether he feels closer to himself and to God. If it is life-giving, it is working. That is the only measure of success.

The guys closed the conversation by encouraging you to get out your calendar and write some stuff on it.  Write in the quarterly retreats you are going to take. Write in your weekly times of reflection. Figure out how your are going to get 15 or 20 minutes each day to be with yourself and God.

The quote that Vince shared is from Steven Covey:
The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.

TO DO LIST
-Subscribe, rate and review here
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STUFF THAT IS WORTH CHECKING OUT
The church that Vince co-leads: Brown Line Vineyard

CONTACT INFO
vince@unquiet.life
lightning@unquiet.life

 

December 29, 2015
Begin with the End in Mind | 025

CHAPTER 25, IN WHICH WE LEARN ABOUT SHEEPLE, AND BORROW FROM STEPHEN COVEY

Lightning began this week’s conversation by talking about the small town of Saugatuck, Michigan. Saugatuck-which has 925 year-round residents-has one of everything: one hardware store, one deli, one toy store, and one coffee shop. Lightning’s friend, who owns a vacation house in Saugatuck, describes this small town as an escape from the tyranny of choices.

In the big city, however, we have a plethora of choices. So many choices that sometimes we freeze up. Psychologists refer to this as choice paralysis-the inability to choose because of the sheer volume of choices. Vince and Lightning have both experienced choice paralysis, but Lightning also experiences what he calls choice exhaustion. By the time he arrives home after work, Lightning feels unable to make the most basic decisions…like what he wants to eat for dinner. This choice exhaustion causes Lightning to select the path of least resistance. He goes with the flow and follows the prescribed route to conserve his mental overhead. Humans are cognitive misers. This is the American conveyor belt. We all follow the prescribed and generally accepted path because it is easier than assessing what I want and how I can get it.

Lightning learned a new word recently: sheeple. These are people who blindly follow like sheep. The person from whom Lightning learned this word gave this imperative: DON’T BE ONE OF THE SHEEPLE.

But following the prescribed path doesn’t necessarily take me where I want to go. There is no guarantee that just because everyone else is doing it, that the end result will be good for me. For instance, working long hours to make a lot of money to have a great car or house may not actually make me happy. However, determining what is truly best for me and taking steps to get it requires a level of inner quiet that is difficult to come by. It seems our American culture is a race to nowhere.

Ben Stein, famous American actor (Bueller, Bueller) said, “the first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: decide what you want.”

Lightning shared a story about taking his kids to the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, and how a little forethought made it a great trip. Vince also shared about a recent vacation plan that he and his wife cooked up that also benefited from some advance thinking.

In the 1980s, Stephen Covey popularized the phrase Begin With the End in Mind in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

Vince and Lightning talked about how living a quiet inner life requires intentionality, and that often having intentionality requires some inner quiet. The guys enumerated these steps to beginning with the end in mind: 1) imagine yourself in the future and try on different outcomes to the decision you’re facing; 2 decide which outcome you want; 3) layout the decisions and steps you need to take to achieve that desired outcome.

When we are able to live in such a way to bring about our desired outcomes, we are living out of desire rather than obligation or compulsion. This is the difference between intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation.

Lightning and Vince are not the first guys to talk about living with intentionality. Getting anything we want in life requires intentionality. Instead of focusing our intentionally on amassing or increasing, let’s focus it on getting some inner quiet.

When I intentionally pursue a quiet inner life,
1) I know myself better. Many people have never become friends with themselves.
2) I live with more influences in my life. I have a more considered life with a larger perspective.
3) I can know others better because I have myself to offer them. Intimacy is born out of risky self-disclosure. No one accidentally risks in relationship.
4) I will know God better. This is often the natural outplaying of knowing myself better and living in deep community.
5) I have something to offer the world. Think about heroes or mentors or elders in your life. If they had not been intentional, where would you be today. Those people made a lifestyle of being intentional. They made thousands of intentional choices before they did anything significant.

On the topic of vocation Fredrick Buechner said, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet”

Surely there is a loss to all of us every time a person never steps into the fullness of who they were meant to be.

Next week, Vince and Lightning will be sharing some thoughts on how to make a plan for inner quiet in the new year. Please join them, and allow a little extra time to make your plan after the conversation.

Vince closed the conversation with this quote:
“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.”
-Saint Francis de Sales

 

TO DO LIST
-Subscribe, rate and review here
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STUFF THEY MENTIONED THAT IS WORTH CHECKING OUT
Stephen Covey’s book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
The church that Vince co-leads: Brown Line Vineyard

CONTACT INFO
vince@unquiet.life
lightning@unquiet.life

 

December 22, 2015
Boss, Physician, Parent, God | 024

CHAPTER 24, IN WHICH WE CONSIDER OUR VIEW OF GOD

Vince began this week’s conversation by telling stories about two of his friends who are in similar situations. Each of these individuals has taken a big life risk because s/he believes God lead him/her into it. Vince relayed how similar their situations are, and how differently each has experienced the unfolding scenario. Each individual acknowledges the stresses in daily life that this big decision has created, yet one friend seems to be motivated by trust and intimacy with God while the other seems to be operating out of obedience. This observation of parallel situations with different experiences caused Vince to start thinking about how our view of God affects our experience of life.

Dan Fuller, an author and theologian, poses this question: Is your view of God more like that of a boss or a doctor? He asserts that for most of history, humanity has seen God as a boss to be appeased. But, he argues, Jesus came to shift that view so we could see God as a great physician.

This has a lot to do with finding inner quiet. If we view God as a demanding figure who requires performance and adherence to policies and procedures, surely our inner experience will be stressful. But, if we view God as a benevolent physician who prescribes courses of action for our own health, then we can find peace and trust in his direction.

Lightning had trouble buying into this metaphor. He shared that many therapists believe that our view of God is largely shaped by our childhood relationship with our father or other authority figure.

Another contributing factor in our view of God is the way we perceive ourself. Lightning shared that because he is driven, he expects God to be driven. He projects his own frustrations with himself onto God, and it takes work to love himself and believe God loves him. He was reminded of Carol Kortsch’s words in conversation #20, “extend welcome and presume welcome.” What would happen in our relationship with God if we always extended welcome and presumed welcome? What would happen if we believed the best about God, and thought that he believed the best about us? Perhaps there would be more quiet.

Lightning wrapped up the conversation with this quote:
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
-Teihard Chardin

 

TO DO LIST
-Subscribe, rate and review here
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STUFF THEY MENTIONED THAT IS WORTH CHECKING OUT
Daniel Fuller’s book The Unity of the Bible
The church that Vince co-leads: Brown Line Vineyard

CONTACT INFO
vince@unquiet.life
lightning@unquiet.life

 

December 15, 2015
Death by paper cuts | 023

CHAPTER 23, IN WHICH WE HEAR ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CLEAN AND TIDY

Vince woke up recently feeling off. Do you know that feeling…when something isn’t quite right, but you can’t put your finger on why. There was no big thing that had led to this feeling, just a thousand mild grievances and annoyances. For example, the dishes are still in the sink, the laundry isn’t folded, a friend is late (again), a coworker gets the credit for my great work, and my boss doesn’t even notice that I went above and beyond. It is easy to brush off these little things, until they compound into something much bigger. Over time, these small things can kill the quiet life. We call this death by paper cuts. It’s the small things I believe aren’t affecting me, that gradually kill me.

The guys asserted that the answer to feeling “off” was to live a lifestyle of forgiveness. Vince is not speaking of the long journeys of forgiveness that we each may be on for the significant ways we have been hurt or wronged. He is talking about how to release the multiple minor annoyances and grievances we encounter everyday in our world. If we don’t find a way to move past these accumulating small hurts, we become passive aggressive, overly concerned with righting the scales, or we spend our lives endlessly shifting our anger from one focus to the next. This is no way to live.

Lightning defined forgiveness as releasing another person’s debt to me that I believe s/he has. This definition puts the entire focus on my inner experience. The other person may not have done anything wrong. This is not about assigning blame or determining who was responsible for the offense. This is simply about taking someone off the hook for what I think they owe me. When I release someone from a supposed debt, I can move forward with my life.

Lightning shared a story about a significant disappointment in his life, for which he forgave God. God was not in the wrong; God had not tried to hurt Lightning, but Lightning felt that God owed him a better experience. In order to move forward with life, Lightning forgave God for what he believed God owed him. This view of forgiveness is not transactional. It doesn’t require anyone to apologize or receive the forgiveness that is extended. This is simply a way for me to continue moving forward without having to inventory and track what everyone owes me.

Vince shared an easy model for this type of forgiveness that he has developed with his co-pastor at Brown Line Vineyard. Here are the steps:

1) Own what you are feeling. Regardless of the situations that brought you to this moment, take responsibility for what you are feeling.
2) Ask God to meet you in your current feelings.
3) Forgive those who have created these minor annoyances and grievances. Release any ways that these small issues or judgements have reinforced negative things about you.
4) Have a member of your community pray for you about it.

Vince told us about Proverbs 26:2, which says that an undeserved curse does not come to rest.

The guys closed the conversation with this quote from Dr Martin Luther King Jr: “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a permanent attitude.”

 

 

TO DO LIST
-Subscribe, rate and review here
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STUFF THAT IS WORTH CHECKING OUT
The church that Vince co-leads: Brown Line Vineyard


CONTACT INFO
vince@unquiet.life
lightning@unquiet.life

 

December 8, 2015
unAmerican Jesus | 022

CHAPTER 22, IN WHICH WE REMOVE OUR AMERICAN LENSES TO SEE JESUS MORE CLEARLY

NEWS FLASH: We’re three days into Advent, but it is not too late to sign up for the daily devotional conversations. Treat yourself to a wonderful Advent this year with Vince and Lightning. Sign up here.

In this week’s conversation, Vince and Lightning pick-up where they left off last week. After reviewing the elements of our American worldview that the guys described last week, Lightning posed these questions to himself:

1) What if there is no big break in my future? Could I be OK with that?
2) What if my finances never get any better? What if I’m never ‘comfortable’? Could I be at peace with that?
3) What if I never do anything? What if I never get recognized? Could I be at peace with that?
4) What if God’s plan for me isn’t an American success story? Could I be content with where I am?

Just these questions are worthy of months and years of reflection and contemplation.

With these questions ringing in his ears, Lightning shared an unfamiliar interpretation of Jesus’ parable in Luke 19. Vince commented that simply believing there could be several true interpretations of a parable is difficult with our American lenses. We want to find the one true meaning. Ambiguity and nuance are not always valued in our society, or in biblical scholarship.

Lightning read the scripture passage, and then shared the historical context in which Jesus spoke. The interpretation of this parable that began Lightning’s inner journey of quiet is from Richard Rohr’s book Simplicity. When I remove my American lenses, we can see beyond my initial expectation that this parable is about me. Lightning asserts that this story is actually about the teller. It is not prescriptive for our lives, it is descriptive of Jesus’ life. Jesus uses this parable as a framing device to understand his trial and death. That is why he told this story on the way to Jerusalem, when the crowds expected him to establish his kingdom.

Lightning has unknowingly brought his own American perspective to this passage for years. Our American lenses tell us that more is always better, and that people get what they deserve. When interpreted through a greedy capitalistic paradigm, the first two servants are the heroes and the third servant is the fool. But if we can remove our American lenses, we see that the third servant is in fact the one who acts with integrity. The third servant is the Christ-type in this story. Jesus uses this parable to explain, at a very macro level, the mission of his life. He gives this metaphor for civil disobedience and non-participation in a corrupt system.

The implications are broad. If Jesus demonstrated non-cooperation with corrupt systems of government and religion, should we do the same? If Jesus was condemned and killed for his critique of the power system of his day, what will happen to us? If Jesus didn’t defend himself, but willingly accepted the consequences of his non-cooperation, how can we follow him?

This interpretation of this parable, and these questions, are what began Lightning on his inner journey of quiet. He found that his eyes were open and his capitalistic goggles were removed…and then he had to realign large parts of his life to this new understanding of who Jesus was. Getting off the American conveyor belt and removing our American lenses is crucial to living a quiet inner life. In what ways do you need to adjust your inner life, and your outer life based on this reading of the words of Jesus?

 

TO DO LIST
-Subscribe, rate and review here
-Join our email list of friends here

 

STUFF THEY MENTIONED THAT IS WORTH CHECKING OUT
Richard Rohr’s book Simplicity
The church that Vince co-leads: Brown Line Vineyard


CONTACT INFO
vince@unquiet.life
lightning@unquiet.life

 

December 1, 2015
My American Lenses | 021

NEWS FLASH: Advent starts on Sunday! Don’t get steamrolled by the most unquiet season in America. Sign up here for our daily advent devotional podcast. Join Vince and Lightning every day to prepare your heart for Christmas. You’ll thank yourself later.

 

CHAPTER 21, IN WHICH WE EXAMINE OUR VISION

This week’s conversation is about the dramatic discovery Lightning made a few years ago that began his pursuit of a quiet inner life. Lightning began by recounting his spiritual journey, and some of the major milestones in his relationship with God. Even before Lightning began seeking inner quiet, he had had a variety of spiritual experiences. After having his biggest life dreams crushed, Lightning entered five years of darkness. This season of life was marked by anger, frustration, disappointment and disillusionment.
As he began to come out of this season of darkness, Lightning stumbled on a Richard Rohr booked called Simplicity. As he read this book at a retreat center, Lightning began to see how much his faith in God, and his reading of the bible, had been influenced by his American culture. This was a surprise to Lightning, who has always perceived his own faith as not tainted by culture. Yet, the more he read, the more his eyes were opened to the influence of his American worldview. This influence, which the guys called our American Lenses, is the collection of our culture’s values, presuppositions and expectations.

America is not a quiet peaceful place,—it is loud and busy and full of complexity. It seemed to Vince that if we’re interpreting spirituality through an American paradigm, we might never find inner quiet.

Lightning shared a few examples of how our assumptions about daily life are influenced by our society rather than the bible. For instance, we all expect to take a summer vacation…but that concept can not be found in the bible. Retirement is a common expectation that many Americans look forward to, but retirement is not a biblical concept. Neither vacation or retirement are bad, but they illustrate how our expectations are influenced more by our culture than by our faith narrative.

It is difficult to succinctly describe the influence of a worldview, but Lightning shared 4 different foundational tenants of his American lenses.

1) In America, we believe that the best (and perhaps only) way of knowing is with the mind. We value formal education and academic credentials. However, Jesus seems much more interested in my motives and my actions than my cognition. Jesus seems to live much more from his heart than his head. The only people he engages on an intellectual level are the religious scholars of his day, and he has harsh words for their practices of neglecting the poor in favor of keeping the rules (Luke 11:46)

2) In America we believe that more is always better. We want choices based on size, and fit, and color, and flavor, and cost. We think we should have big dreams, and that we are all entitled to achieve those dreams. Zig Ziglar said, “You were born to win, but to be a winner you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.” In America we expect to win and get ahead. We are entitled to have a good life of affluence.

And yet, God seems to like poor people (Luke 6: 20). Jesus suggested giving away money instead of hoarding it (Matt 6:21). Jesus, who was himself a homeless vagrant street preacher, doesn’t seem very concerned with our accumulation of wealth.

3) I am the center of my own life. I make choices that reinforce my opinions, views and identity. I avoid situations that challenge my perspectives or cause me to feel bad about myself. But Jesus doesn’t seem interested in bolstering my identity. What if God doesn’t have a plan for me to make a significant impact on this world.

4) We believe that people get what they deserve. We believe that hard workers will be successful, and that poor people are lazy. We are a society that believes in causes and direct effects, and is frequently blind to unjust causes and indirect effects. And yet, the entire narrative of the bible seems to indicate that there are spiritual forces in our world that we do not see, and that our own systems and processes are easily corrupted.

As an aside, Lightning asserted that in the bible God is always on the side of the poor. As we’re in a presidential election cycle right now, ask yourself this: If God is always on the side of the poor, who should I vote for?

Once Lightning discovered that so much of his faith and perspective had been informed by his American lenses, he couldn’t go back. He had to pursue a lifestyle that was more like Jesus. Jesus lived out of his heart. Jesus didn’t pursue fame or wealth or power. Jesus didn’t allow others to flatter him or build him up. Jesus loved and accepted all people. And Jesus had the inner resources to do all this and them let himself be killed for it. Lightning felt that he had to reorient his life and faith to avoid these American distortions.

Next week, Lightning is going to share with us one of Jesus’s parables and an interpretation that helps us see the bias and worldview we bring to the passage. He’s going to show us how different Jesus is when we remove our capitalistic goggles.

Vince closed the conversation with this quote:
To come to the pleasure you have not / you must go by the way in which you enjoy not.
To come to the knowledge you have not / you must go by a way in which you know not.
To come to the possession you have not / you must go by a way in which you possess not.
To come to be what you are not / you must go by a way in which you are not.
-St John of the Cross
The Ascent of Mt Carmel, I, 13, #10

 

 

TO DO LIST
-Subscribe, rate and review here
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STUFF THEY MENTIONED THAT IS WORTH CHECKING OUT
James Martin’s book Between Heaven and Mirth
The church that Vince co-leads: Brown Line Vineyard
Lightning’s business: Podcast Farm

CONTACT INFO
vince@unquiet.life
lightning@unquiet.life

 

November 24, 2015
A Life of Retreat w/ Carol Kortsch | 020

CHAPTER 20, IN WHICH WE MEET CAROL KORTSCH AND ENCOUNTER THE WILD SOUL IN THE WILDERNESS

Vince and Lightning are joined this week by Lightning’s long-time friend Carol Kortsch. Carol and her husband of 40+ years, Uli, are Lightning’s spiritual parents. They have spent their lives building communities all over the world and loving people. Carol is a semi-retired professional therapist, a retreat facilitator, an author, an amazing cook and a prolific gardener. At Carol’s suggestion, today’s conversation is about retreats.

Carol and Uli own an historic beautiful 2.5 acre property in the suburbs of Philadelphia where they live with several others in community. They have dedicated their property as a suburban way-station of intentional community, a place of hope and healing for the soul-hungry who are looking to slow down and listen more clearly to their own inner lives and the life of the larger global community. Uli and Carol have spent years of sweat equity in maintaining and loving their home, which they call Stonehaven Commons. Their desire is that in the midst of traffic and noise, we could all learn what it means to offer radical hospitality to all biodiversity. From this physical location and this core conviction, Carol facilities retreats for individuals and groups who desire to find more of God and more of themselves.

Vince shared that before he became aware of spirituality and faith, he had no idea what a retreat was. However, over the past ten years of pursing Jesus, some of the most profound and influential experiences have occurred in a retreat environment. We are a culture who is just beginning to take seriously our physical and spiritual journeys of faith. To sustain our own souls, we need to regularly get a break and get away.

There have been groups of people throughout the centuries who have built communities on the ideas of silence and contemplation. For instance, the Quakers talk about the many voices of creation as being the other book of God. There is something tremendously freeing about the permission to be quiet with myself and quiet in a group.

Carol suggested taking a two-and-a-half hour retreat, which Vince feels drawn to. We see in the bible that Jesus often went out to isolated places early in the morning to pray. Vince called this a micro-retreat. If there isn’t space in your life for a weekend retreat…how about a micro-retreat? How could you retreat for two-and-a-half hours? How could you turn your 30 minute lunch break into a retreat?

But retreats aren’t just for individuals. Carol shared her experience leading group retreats that are about listening to ourselves and others. These retreats combine silence and group sharing in ways that are not demanding. Much of what Carol shared are the principals and practices of the Circle of Trust approach (as developed by Parker Palmer and the Center for Courage and Renewal). The boundary markers of this type of retreat include:

• Be here.  Be as present as possible. Slow down and breathe.
• Presume welcome and extend welcome.
• All participation occurs as a result of invitation – it is never demanded or required. The environment is never share or die!
• Speak your truth into the center of the circle, respecting the truths of others. No fixing, no saving, no setting straight.
• When things get difficult, turn to wonder.
• See others – and especially yourself – with ‘soft eyes’.
• Hear others – and especially yourself – your own inner teacher.
• Welcome silence as a member of this circle.
• Let the beauty we love be what we do.
• Protect confidentiality.
• Trust that you will leave this circle with whatever it was that you needed when you arrived, and that the seeds planted here will keep growing in the days ahead.

These guidelines allow group members to create a safe environment in which each person can be seen and heard by the group as well as him/herself. When this happens, we get in touch with who we are at the deepest level and we get in touch with God. Carol shared an analogy from her mentor Parker Palmer: The soul is like a wild animal, that hides shyly in the woods. If you want to see a wild animal, you don’t go beating into the bush while making a lot of noise. To see a wild animal, you enter slowly and quietly. You watch out of the corners of your eyes. You move slowly and fluidly. You respect the animal and the environment.

Carol is on the very short list of people that Lightning wants to be like when he grows up. He asked Carol how to get to the inner place of maturity and quiet that she has found. Carol believes that both community and solitude are deeply important for the inner journey. By living with an open heart, and an open soul, and a desire to learn, we find each other. Living this way we discover others who become our community. This is the work of a communion of solitudes, where we can be together and yet still find our own journey alone. That is the vision for this podcast. Lightning and Vince want this to be the place where a community of solitudes gather each week for conversations that help them on their journeys. We must all find our own way, but we can do it together.

But Soul Work is also fun. It is a great joy to discover yourself and others in depths that you didn’t know existed. Carol is developing a series of Wild Soul Retreats. She shared this poem with us:

Calling Your Wild Soul, by Carol Kortsch

Calling the one who hides in the shadows
Who rises through mist at dawn.
Calling the self who dances alone
On sand and in sea and through stone.

Luring the one who hollers in dreams
So loud. You know you can’t escape.
You must dust off your feathers, fly free in the wind
Waddle to seek mud for your toes.

Come.
Wade in the water, search under rocks
Turn over every curious leaf.
Until you know you are One.
You always belong.
This voice of wild Earth is our own.

To close our conversation, Carol shared this quote from Parker Palmer:
Self care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self, and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.”

!ALERT!
Vince and Lightning have invited us over for meaningful conversations every day during advent. It’s open to everyone, but you have to sign up for the email list. Do it here. Do it now.

 

STUFF THEY MENTIONED THAT IS WORTH CHECKING OUT
The works of Parker Palmer
Center for Courage and Renewal
Stonehaven Commons
Carol Kortsch’s novel The Retreat
The church that Vince co-leads: Brown Line Vineyard
Lightning’s business: Podcast Farm

CONTACT INFO
vince@unquiet.life
lightning@unquiet.life

 

November 17, 2015
the Ancient Enneagram | 019

CHAPTER 19, IN WHICH WE LEARN ABOUT TYPES 1 AND 4, AND CONTRAST STITCHING

Vince and Lightning began a conversation last week about how to know ourselves. Listen to last week’s conversation here.

Lightning shared that only as he has gotten older has he recognized his lack of self-knowledge. It seems that the older one gets, the more aware one becomes of his/her need to be in touch the soul.

Vince and Lightning have each had beneficial experiences with a variety of personality typing tools and this week they are sharing an ancient tool known as the Enneagram. Though it is thought of as a personality assessment, it has some dramatic differences to every other typing methodology in use today.

Because the Enneagram is centuries old and comes to us from through oral tradition, it was not developed by science or research. This flies in the face of our modernistic scientific approach to life. The Enneagram is more like the shared wisdom of the ages than it is like algebra. As such, the Enneagram feels more human, more nuanced, and less clinical. The Enneagram has been used throughout the ages for spiritual direction. This means that it is based less on personal preferences (thinking vs feeling) and more on the deepest needs and desires of the soul.

The Enneagram divides humanity into 9 different types. These are simply called types one through nine, In recent years, psychologists and sociologists have studied the Enneagram and developed assessment tools that will tell you your type. However, this is a recent development, and the guys suggested that we not simply take an online test. Instead, they recommend reading descriptions of the nine types and cataloging your emotions as you read. The description by which you feel most embarrassed is probably your type. The Enneagram is a tool that types people according to their deepest need or desire, and having those wants and needs revealed in black and white can be utterly humiliating.

The core message of the Enneagram is that every person’s greatest strength and their greatest challenges and struggles are indivisibly linked. The good and the bad are two sides of the same coin.

Lightning shared the story of finding his type, and being so undone that he could not leave his house for two days. He talked about ways that his type has been an attribute and helped him in life. He also talked about how all his core struggles and difficulties in life are the result of his type.

Vince shared his type, and how it has lead to both positive and negative situations in his life.

And so, if the Enneagram reveals that strengths and weaknesses are the same thing, what can we do? If the only tools available to me are the ones that created this mess, how do I get out of it? Lightning and Vince agreed that the “work” the Enneagram pushes us toward is silence and dependence on God. In many ways the Enneagram renders the individual helpless, and the only way forward is to ask for God’s help to change us at a deep core level.

Lightning gave the disclaimer that a 20 minute conversation doesn’t do justice to the Enneagram. Please check out the resources listed below. Thanks to Richard Rohr for his insight on the Enneagram.

If you haven’t signed up for the daily advent devotional podcast, do it now! Go to http://unquiet.life/advent.

Vince shared this quote about the Enneagram:
To meet your gift, you must, so to speak, chew, eat, and digest your sin…If we own and take responsibility for our darkness, if we feel how it has wounded ourselves and others, how it has allowed us not to love and not to be loved – if we do that, I promise that we will become alert to the other side, to our greatest gift, or rather, the actual depth of our gift.  Our gift is our sin sublimated and transformed by grace.
Richard Rohr,
Christian Perspective on the Enneagram

TO DO LIST
-Subscribe, rate and review here
-Join our email list of friends to receive the daily devotional advent conversations here

STUFF THEY MENTIONED THAT IS WORTH CHECKING OUT
Enneagram Institute
Enneagram Worldwide
Wisdom of the Enneagram book
Richard Rohr’s Enneagram book
The Complete Enneagram book
The church that Vince co-leads: Brown Line Vineyard
Lightning’s business: Podcast Farm

CONTACT INFO
vince@unquiet.life
lightning@unquiet.life

 

November 10, 2015
Knowing Myself | 018

Lightning began this week’s conversation by telling us that there have been recent years where he and his wife put their kids to bed on Christmas eve, wrapped the last few presents, and then said to each other, “we have done nothing to prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus this year.” Advent is the most unquiet season of the entire year in America.

The guys want to not miss the fullness of advent, and they proposed that we all prepare our hearts for Christmas together this year. To do that, Vince and Lightning will be having daily conversations, similar to these weekly conversations, during advent. Each conversation will be about 5 minutes long, and will be delivered to your mobile device or available on the internet. They are excited to share these daily devotional conversations for free with those on the unQuiet Life email list. If you want to prepare your heart with them, please join our list of friends at http://unquiet.life/advent

This week, the guys are talking about how to know oneself. When Lightning was 18, the idea of someone knowing himself seemed silly. “If I am me, what is there to know?” he recalls. As he’s gotten older, he has realized how little he understands his motivations and preferences. It seems that knowing oneself is not something that happens naturally. In addition, it seems the world would be a better place if more of us were more self-aware.

Vince used to believe things about himself that have turned out to not be true. Lightning had trouble remembering specific things he believed about himself that aren’t true, but he did remember mistakenly believing everyone was like him. Having a foundational belief that all people were alike, Lightning had a lot of judgements about “those people”. Through a personality typing tool called the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator, he first learned that people are different in lots of ways. Many of the characteristics he had judged other people for are simply differences in personality preferences.

The guys talked briefly about the work of Jean Piaget, who was a developmental biologist, who passed away in 1980. He devoted his life to closely observing and recording the developmental stages of human development. Piaget defined egocentrism as simple a young child’s belief that everyone thinks as they do, and that the whole world shares their feelings and desires. Piaget believed a child outgrew this somewhere between 7 and 11 years old. Lightning appreciated the work of Dr Piaget, and also disagreed that all people grow out of their natural egocentrism before adolescence.

There are a number of different tools that Vince and Lighting have used to know themselves and other people better. Some of these are
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
Strengths Finder
Strengths Deployment Index
DISC
PDP

Though all of these are valuable in different ways, Vince and Lightning chose to focus on the MBTI. This personality typing tool is one of the most widespread, and is built on the work of famous psychologist Carl Jung. For a more detailed explanation of the MBTI, see wikipedia.

For information on using the tool, as well as free or inexpensive type tests, check out one of these pages:
www.personalitypage.com.
http://www.myersbriggs.org.
http://www.16personalities.com.

Lightning and Vince each shared their type, and talked about what it means to their everyday lives.

The guys closed with this quote.
Friendship with oneself is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.
-Eleanor Roosevelt

 

TO DO LIST
-Subscribe, rate and review here
-Join our email list of friends here

STUFF THEY MENTIONED THAT IS WORTH CHECKING OUT
The church that Vince co-leads: Brown Line Vineyard
Lightning’s business: Podcast Farm

CONTACT INFO
vince@unquiet.life
lightning@unquiet.life

 

November 3, 2015