Saturday, September 26, 2015

Spiritual Excercise

I've been waking up early every morning to do a walk of a couple miles-- not too fast because I'm still working with a healing ankle-- and to pray.  It feels great to pray again.  To have the silence and the mind-space to hang out with God.

I've been praying through Phyllis Tickle's Divine Hours, which has been wonderful.  It is like a liturgical worship service, three times a day, every day of the year.  It is a portable monastery.

I've also been praying for others again, which has been fantastic.  Just walking and praying.

I also made a list for myself.  I'm a firm believer that lists help us to focus and figure out things in our lives that otherwise would take us a long time to figure out.  I ask a question of myself and then I write out the answer in list form.  I'm always doing this when I visit a monastery, when I have the silence and time to hear the Spirit clearly.

So the dual question I asked myself this time is: What is harming my soul?  What is healing me?

Too much listening
Pointless acts-- doing things that end up benefiting no one
My anger
Overwork/taking on too much
Being overwhelmed

Hmmm.  Nothing new there.  And some of things things can't be helped. We all do things that benefit no one sometimes.  It's part of the danger of doing anything, it's always a risk.  But this is why I balance it all with acts of healing.

Writing, especially poetry
Liturgical prayer
Peacemaking like Jesus

But I recognize that I cannot just spend my life in healing.  A balanced life is loving God (receiving his healing) and loving others, spending time meeting their needs.  I may not be able to love others with the intensity or depth that I used to, but I can, and must, still do this:

Pray for others
Organize charity
Write for justice

All of this above are just pieces of my life.  I still have to organize it, but I'm getting there.

September 26, 2015

It's been a good month.  I've spent two weeks with my parents,who are living a quiet retired lifestyle in California.  And I just came back from four days at a Trappist Abbey, where I didn't speak or was spoken to for that time.  I got some time by myself, and a lot of quiet.  I have been able to connect again with God and to really listen to him.  I've been able to discipline myself spiritually, begin an exercise regime and get my diet under control.  I've been building balance.

The main thing that I've discovered is that my brokenness isn't going away.  It used to be that when I got some time alone, I returned energized, ready to take on a number of month's hard work.  Not this time.  People, any people, overwhelm me now.  It's like I have a PTSD of people talking to me.  My body responds to a "good morning" as if someone is challenging me or asking me to solve their crises, and I get immediately exhausted.

But even in the midst of silence and peace, there is a cloud that occasionally descends upon my mind.  It might last for an hour or half a day.  This cloud makes my thinking sluggish and sometimes it makes me dizzy or feel sick or exhausted.  When it comes, I am slow, I have to force myself to think, if I have to, but I'm much more likely to do better watching a movie or reading a novel.  Just pass the time gently until it goes away.

Now I recognize my sense of being overwhelmed.  When I am asked to multitask or to deal with many issues or problems when that cloud descends, I can't move that fast.  I struggle to function at a low level, and when people are demanding that I function at a high level, I get angry at them and

I believe that it is just a form of depression, this cloud, another sign that I can't keep functioning at this level.  But that still doesn't answer what the future holds for me or Anawim.

Thursday, September 10, 2015


A recent story about me in the Oregonian:

As usual, people like to highlight the conflict between the neighbors and us.  Of course, they didn't ask the neighborhood associations about us.  Only people who heard stories of what we do, and don't like it.

No one wants criminals in their area.  But the neighbors complaints are all based on fear, not on what actually happens.

First of all, crime is lower in our area, than in other neighborhoods in our area.  If we draw criminals, then they aren't doing criminal activity in our area.

Second, the neighborhood associations have investigated us, and found that almost all the complaints against us are coming from a few people, who have made up a bunch of stories.  Like when one person said that we had a bunch of people staying over on the house on our property, and not, in reality, another church having a regular prayer meeting in the middle of the night.  Or like the story that we were running a brothel here.  Not possible. We have one of our pastors living on the property, keeping the place secure.

As far as trash in the park, yes, the homeless leave trash.  And the homeless clean it up.

The fact is, there is a class of people-- not because of any criminal activity, but because they belong to a certain class-- that are not accepted anywhere.  And if anyone accepts them and says, "Come, you are human beings.  We will support you and help you live," then you will be rejected by society.

It is not "enabling" to provide a place to sleep and shower and a place where you can cook your own meal, when you have no other place to do this.  It is not "enabling" to train the homeless to care for each other and to make sure nothing happens to the neighborhood in which they are welcome.

I will be called an "enabler" because I don't want the homeless to die.  I accept that.  If that's some people's idea of an "enabler", I will wear the badge proudly.

It is the church's job to take in criminals and to show them a new way. Jesus ate with "the sinners" providing them an opportunity to live a new way.

TC came into our facility a few weeks ago, just out of years in prison.  He was yelling and boasting about how violent he was.  But after a week coming to our facility, he realized that his "jail mentality" doesn't help him in this context.  Now, of his own free will, he is calm and cleaning up the facility.  Simply out of gratitude for what we have given him.

The only things we enable are change, peace and life. 

Monday, September 07, 2015

Sept 7, 2015

It is little remembered that Jesus' first day of rest was spent in the "lower parts of the earth."  Rest isn't a paradise.  We must travel the path of Dante before we can reach that.  Our first stop is Inferno.

My first days of rest are full of sickness, struggle and pain.  This is nothing different than every day before my rest, but then I had adrenaline and activity to cover up my daily feelings. When you rest, all you have left is your weariness, your body aches, your suffering.

To rest is a choice to surrender my addiction-- adrenaline.  Just like any other drug, withdrawals have consequences.  Withdrawal sickness is common, and sometimes painful.  To rest is to experience pain, to endure flame.  I took two naps on my first day of rest.  Now, on my third day, I was restless all night, so I am worn all the more.

I know that it is only for a season. I have to put on a good face for my parents.  But inside I just want to be by myself.

Still, I am creating a bit.  And I've almost finished my first Murakami novel.

And I am trying to put myself on a new schedule.  This month is about re-building my spirituality and diet.  Low animal fat, more exercise (but gentle, gentle on my sprained ankle), and diving back into prayer.  It will be a good month, but hopefully I'll have enough stamina to create balance.