Lumunos helps you Reflect ~ Connect ~ Discover your gifts to find your call in life, through these stories and observations here, through our website, and through retreats. Help us help you continue to discover your calling in life. Donations are accepted through our Website.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Prayer for Renovations

by Angier Brock
I have just survived the renovation of an upstairs bathroom. You who have gone through that sort of thing will understand why I use the word “survive.” Any renovation is disruptive, but one involving a bathroom can be particularly awkward. Among other inconveniences was the fact that I had to vacate my bedroom for eight weeks, taking with me to the guest room everything I might need during that time so that my regular room could be sealed off against the bathroom project dust.

Before I go further, I should say that I am grateful for any bathroom at all, and I feel enormous gratitude for the resources that made this renovation possible—including a wonderful contractor with a cadre of skilled carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and tile men. I am also grateful for having a spare room into which I could move. And now that the project is finished, I am delighted with the results, which include better light and more efficient storage space. 

Still, the dust, the noise, the workmen tromping in and out, and the lack of access to many of my belongings—those things were disruptive. I sometimes wondered if the end result would be worth the expense and the bother. 

But here’s the happy surprise of it: Putting a sustained and focused effort into improving the smallest room in the house has effected changes for the better in almost every other room in the house. A small free-standing cabinet displaced by the renovation ended up in the kitchen, providing much needed storage space there and inspiring a general re-organization of all the kitchen shelves. The loss of bathroom wall space to new built-in cabinetry meant that several pieces of framed needlework required relocation—and that precipitated the reorganization of things hanging in other rooms in the house. Ultimately, I so much enjoyed the simplicity of life in the guest room—with only a couple of pairs of jeans, several turtlenecks and sweaters, and a few other necessities—that before I moved back into my bedroom, I combed its closets and drawers for things to throw out or give away.

I wonder if the current season of Lent can operate in my inner spiritual rooms in a similar way. Has something in me has grown too small, too ineffectual, too cluttered, or too complacent? Do I feel called to toss something out or to give something away? Is there a new habit I long to foster? In any case, a decision to observe Lent means that I commit to a Lenten discipline—a kind of sustained and focused inner “renovation.”  I may find the process costly, disruptive, inconvenient, awkward. I may become discouraged by how messy things become before they “improve.” But if I see the project through, I will also find that renovating some small room in my inner house effects healthy changes in other rooms as well. I may live into the happy surprise of Easter—than out of the trials of “renovation” can come the gifts and the grace of resurrection.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Beyond the Water Cooler

by Doug Wysockey-Johnson

Rachel Remen was a therapist for two surgeons who were respected faculty at a nearby medical school. Each one came to her independently, reporting loneliness, depression and burnout. Neither knew the other was also seeing Dr. Remen.

Of this situation, Remen writes:

These two men had been professional partners for more than twenty years. They shared a receptionist, a staff of nurses, an office, but they didn’t know each other. They shared a therapist, too but I was ethically bound not to tell either about the other’s visits or even that they were both my patients. I would encourage each of them to talk to his partner about these things, but I’d get the same response every time: “Him? Heaven’s he would just laugh.”

In the meantime, Gallup research shows that 50% of employees with a good friend at work reported that they felt a strong connection with their workplace, compared to just 10% without a good friend at work.

In an article about this finding, Christine Riordan writes in a Harvard Business Review blog:

Camaraderie is more than just having fun….It is also about creating a common sense of purpose and the mentality that we are in it together. Studies have shown that soldiers form strong bonds during missions in part because they believe in the purpose of the mission, rely on each other, and share the good and the bad as a team.

Based on this growing body of research, more and more organizational leaders are connecting the dots. Employees that are connected to each other and their purpose are happier and more engaged.

This is where Lumunos comes in. The last few years, we have been given the opportunity to see this phenomena up close. Lumunos has been hired by organizations to help their employees develop a deeper sense of collegiality. Sometimes the topic is about the challenges of the work; other times it is about work-life balance. Always the goal is to go beyond water cooler discussions.

Lumunos has been about relationship and purpose for over 80 years. It doesn’t really matter to us whether the conversation happens in a retreat center or conference room. We are just glad that people are talking about things that matter.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

No Fear of Death

by Paul Hettinga

Recently Laura Truax, Senior Pastor at LaSalle Street Church in Chicago, preached about one of our greatest fears: death. According to her, death is used by God to help us focus on life, on living fully, on becoming all we’re meant to be. Death isn’t used by God to create fear in us or to be the final damning judgment on us - but due to Jesus victory over death, it’s meant to enliven us, to eliminate fear in us and to cause us to choose life and choose it fully each day.

I had two reactions to her sermon:

First, she asked us to write our own epitaph and post it in front of us as a way of reminding us who we want to be at the end. Mine was a simple thought; “I’d like to be known as a person who leaned in more than I leaned out.”

It’s not a big goal in most ways and certainly the words are inadequate in describing what this means for me - so here are a few key points of what this might look like:   
  • Lean into faith, hope, love - God
  • Lean into peace - not fighting, anger, adversarial attitudes or violence
  • Lean into my wife and our relationship - not away from her
  • Lean into what I value, or even my ideal values
  • Lean into the mystery - instead of leaning back on the certainty
  • Lean into the future - instead of resting on the past
  • Lean into the light - both in living and when approaching death…
  • Lean into community, both close and far, like and unlike myself
  • Lean into me - the "me" God imagines me to be. It’s there that I’ll find both him and myself and the community of saints that we are destined for if we will but lean in just a little bit each day.

Try writing your own epitaph and share it with someone you love. Like me, I think you’ll find it will bring focus and joy to your journey.

Second, I have a good friend of nearly 35 years now who has always said he thought life would be better lived backwards; i.e. start off old and die young. Aside from the obvious impossibility of this, it’s an interesting idea in light of Laura’s sermon.

In this view, we start life with all the experience, knowledge, love and prioritized values that a life well lived might produce. Instead of learning this slowly as we live, we have it at the inception of a life lived backwards. For example, we could be better parents if we had grand-parented first; anybody who is or has been a grandparent knows this or better newly married couples, better students and so on.

Since Jesus overcame death and promises the same victory for us, he has taken the mystery away and has given us an opportunity to embrace that which he already knows - that death has no sting - that in death we are made not less but more, we are not simply gone, but are in the presence of God, all the saints and in the hearts, minds and spirits of those we left behind.

If we embraced this fully, made it a central point in our core of most closely held personal values, deep within our psyche, our soul; it would be like living backwards, living old to young, having all the keenly formed ideas of a life well lived at the beginning and through our life, not just at the end of our life. I believe this is what God wants for us - to so fully believe him, to trust him, to have our lives defined by that which he has already taken care of for us that we have no other real choice in life but to lean into our futures, fearlessly.