Notes gathered in retreat

Lesson I: Listening

From Mary Oliver’s “Mockingbirds”

Whatever it was
I was supposed to be
This morning–
Whatever it was I said

I would be doing–
I was standing
At the edge of the field–
I was hurrying

Through my own soul,
Opening its dark doors–
I was leaning out;
I was listening.

Lesson II: Recognition

Thursday, October 25th, 2008:

I’ve been starting new things every fall, my whole life.
I am currently in a warm sleeping bag in a quiet room all to myself on the Chesapeake–
I don’t even know where, except there are geese migrating through the dark
Outside, and the usual sounds of so many people
And guns and cars and fighting and
Fire trucks are gone,

I will let go–
I will allow for mind to clear, to re-set, to diffuse.
I will embrace who I am and I will Love,
Respect and Care for this body,
Come, Holy Spirit, Come–

Recognize what flows in and what flows out.
Open yourself to all that is larger–
Awe and reverence in this world;
Respect and wonder, O God our Creator.

Lesson III: Being

Friday, October 26th, 2008:

Sensing peace, health, growth

Maren and I do yoga on the pier in the cold enveloping mists of the Bay just after dawn. We laugh and stretch our legs and arms and speak of Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese.” Bodies of prayer. Comfort in old friends. Grace from above.

Thank you Lord for this day.

Lesson IV: Gratefulness

Saturday, October 27th, 2008:

Reflect on

Jesus feeding the 5,000
Remote area
Boy with lunch pail, loaves and fish–
Disciples say: This isn’t enough!
Jesus takes the lunch, gives thanks, distributes–
All eat to satisfaction
Abundance for leftovers.

Whatever is available is a gift to be received with gratitude–
Start with gratitude.

We suffer from a disease of craving.
We keep wanting and there is never enough.
We can’t turn off our desires: to be simpler even,
more in touch with the earth, more connected
To our neighbors
Recognize that what IS, is enough.
The opposite of enough is more.
And there is still a danger in craving the opposite of consumerism
Which is craving continual other-ness.
Extreme anything
All the time.

There is always something for which to give thanks.
Remember your situation in the world.
Remember others’ situations in the world.
Pray without ceasing
Set aside time to practice gratitude,
To voice your concerns,
To sit in silence.

Gratitude does not always
Have to be an acknowledgement of privilege–
This sentiment can invoke feelings of guilt over sincere thankfulness.
Don’t loathe your privilege, use it wisely!
Use it to change injustice over time.
Dissatisfaction is the platform for transformation.

“Our hearts are restless O God, until we find our rest in you.” [St. Augustine]

Lesson V: Joy

Don’t let your craving for justice
Take over your ability to experience joy and
Be IN the moment with the people you are around.
Jesus was concerned for justice but always up for a party!

“If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” [Emma Goldman]

There are three necessities in life:
Food, Shelter, and Joy.
Don’t invest your desires in the wrong places.

Lesson VI: Gift to be Simple

Simplicity is not deprivation.
Simplicity is intentional decision-making, moderation,
And richness in sustainable daily living.

The rich person is s/he who feels contented
With the very simple things necessary to sustain life.
“Richness” as we often think on it, is poverty,
Because what people have is never enough.
“Wealth” -is it material stuff or abundant living?
This is what we are promised in Christ:
“I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

What motivation lies behind your desire to ‘live simply’?
Are you motivated out of personal piety? Out of a desire to live
More inline with “the least of these,” in solidarity
With your brothers and sisters? Out of disconnect
With the material things of this life and richness
In Christ?

Simple Living is motivated out of joy and sharing–
A Christian response and testimony to God’s abundance.
Ideally, Simple Living is self-applied to individual’s lives and
Communities with varying thresholds.

Lesson VII: “Worship”

If we can view all as a gift
From our collective one God,
Then out of solidarity, we must share together–
We are pushed toward redistribution and simple living.

We are all one flesh.
God is Good.
There is enough.
God’s justice prevails.

Appreciate the richness of what IS given.

*          *          *

A prayer from Ester De Waal:

Uncrowd my heart, O God,
Until silence speaks
In your still, small voice;
Turn me from the hearing of words
And the making of words,
And the confusion of so much speaking
To listening,