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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

You, Me and the Earthquake in Japan

Earthquake. Tsunami. Below-freezing nighttime temperatures, and snow. Not the serene snow that drapes the shoulders of Mt. Fuji on a postcard or a painted screen, but a bone-chilling one that adds to the misery of those who have lost homes, villages, loved ones.  Then heat, way too much, at the damaged nuclear power plant, heat that valiant workers are still struggling to control as the rest of the world watches and wonders and remembers what “meltdown” means when it is used literally rather than metaphorically.
I watched the early pictures in horror and disbelief—and also in awe of the flimsiness of human existence in the rush of moving water. Later, as intrepid reporters dispatched individual stories to the rest of the world, I watched with a range of other emotions: grief for those grieving, admiration for those who acted heroically, relief for those with miraculous accounts of survival or reunion.
Through it all, I have wondered: What has this to do with me?
My own life these last few weeks has seen disruptions, too, though they are so minor I feel ashamed to mention them. The mild dislocation and inconvenience that comes with renovating a kitchen—but who in Japan would not take choose that over the physical and psychological trauma they are enduring?  A close friend with an infection that at one point threatened the loss of her foot—not such a minor thing, actually, but nevertheless easier to face and with a better prognosis here where roads are passable, water is not contaminated, doctors are available, and hospitals have standing walls. A dying beloved dog to whom we will probably have to say good-bye later this week.
I respond to these things as best I can. I try to be patient with carpenters and painters, even when they inadvertently track in mud and blow dust all over the house. I admire—and am grateful for—their skills. I find the emergency room, and I wait and pray as tests and surgical procedures illuminate a path forward. I spoon feed vanilla ice cream to a frail English cocker, coaxing her into swallowing pills the vet has prescribed, and I carry her outdoors when she needs to go.  
But I cannot help but feel that the disasters in Japan call me to respond to them as well—not by doing anything dramatic, like selling all and going there, but by doing something. Perhaps by adjusting the way I use resources of time and money, water and electricity, food and material goods. Perhaps by a gift or action that would help shelter the homeless, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, comfort the afflicted, or help protect or heal the environment—if not in Japan, then at least somewhere on this fragile island planet that we all share.

What about you? Has the recent news from Japan—or elsewhere in the world—called to you, too? If so, how will you respond?

Angier Brock, Guest Blogger

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Our group often begins with a centering question. We have been meeting for many years and there have been so many of them only a few stand out. I have thought many times about my answer to, “What is a place in your life that you find serenity?”

Until cartilage in my left knee gave out last November I was running 3 miles every other day.  It seemed to me the first mile went like this: ‘Ouch. My feet hurt. I have to go to the bathroom. Why am I doing this?’ The third mile was the same: ‘My feet really hurt. I really have to go to the bathroom. Not sure I make it?’

But the second mile was 8-9 minutes of bliss.  I DID find serenity in that second mile. I had a good rhythm and it was invigorating. I felt good. My mind went to a place where my senses were not granted access.  Truly some of my best ideas, solutions and God-moments were found there. So that’s how I answered the question, “Where is the place you find serenity?”

In the meantime, running the two icky miles and the one glorious mile grouped together was my exercise regimin. There wasn’t another activity that I enjoyed or felt called to. I have been running since the 1960s.  It was seeming like the cartilage injury was making me rethink how I would be able to stay fit.

Then last Tuesday Dr. Lawson made three incisions in my knee and while I watched on a monitor, trimmed what he called my “banana-peel” meniscus. He and Eric, the physical therapist, think I’ll be able to run again. I am so thankful. I went to church without crutches or cane. Did I say I was thankful?

Time will tell if I get to run again. I think I will for a while but I have entertained the option of it not happening. For me to be true to my life’s call it is important for me to both replace the exercise and find that consistent serene place.

  • What is a place in your life that you find serenity?
  • As life’s circumstances change has your call changed?
  • As life’s circumstances change how has God helped you adjust? 
by Tom Pappas, Guest Blogger

Monday, March 14, 2011

What is Worth Dying For?

Patience Robbins, taught often about Sister Dorothy Stang, a sister of Notre Dame, who was murdered in the city of Anapu, Brazil, for her work for justice and the poor in that area.  When Patience, my friend and mentor from the Shalem Institute,  would talk about the inspirational life and death of Sister Dorothy Stang, at first I didn’t quite get it.  I thought, “must be a Catholic thing, to be inspired by martyrdom.  Me?  I’d rather live.”  But the story stuck, and has continued to run around in my spirit over the last several years. Sister Dorothy spent her adult life helping the poor of Brazil work for environmental justice, making enemies with wealthy landowners and loggers who were used to getting their way.  She was gunned down in the road on the way to a community meeting about these land rights issues. When she was surrounded by her killers, she opened the Bible and read the Beatitudes out loud.

For the past month I’ve been riveted by events unfolding in the middle east.  News coverage is now unfolding the personal stories behind to story of the early days of revolution in Egypt, and I see women who look just like me out on the streets, making a revolution happen with their presence, their precious life energy, their demands and their networks.  Christiane Amanpour on ABC News This week had a fascinating 5 minute story about some of these women.  It is inspiring to watch!  In real time, real life, it begs the Biblical question in this Lenten season, “what would I die for?”  

Reflection Questions:
Who inspires you to live your values?  What’s their story?
What values would you take to the streets to march for?  And if not march in the streets, take a stand in some way for?

Some Resources from this blog:

More on Sister Dorothy Stang, from Wikiedia: “Dot, as she was called by her family, friends and most locals in Brazil, is often pictured wearing a t-shirt with the slogan, "A Morte da floresta é o fim da nossa vida" which is Portuguese for "The death of the forest is the end of our life."  She said, “I don't want to flee, nor do I want to abandon the battle of these farmers who live without any protection in the forest. They have the sacrosanct right to aspire to a better life on land where they can live and work with dignity while respecting the environment.”

The Center for Children and Theology: http://www.cctheo.org/  You can order  Patience Robbins book:  Parenting: A Sacred Path from those folks.

This week with Christiane Amanpour:  In celebration of women’s History Month, and the women who are indeed willing to die for their beliefs, here is the Roundtable discussion with women leaders in Egypt and the middle east – I would have liked to see the unedited version! http://abcnews.go.com/ThisWeek/video/women-revolution-discussion-tina-brown-nawal-el-saadwi-zainab-salbi-sussan-tahmasebi-politcs-13069559

by Tiffany Montavon, Guest Blogger

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The King's Speech--And Yours

Sure The King’s Speech won the Oscar for the Best Picture on Sunday night.  But did you know that before that it won a Lumun?  Don’t feel bad if you didn’t—no one associated with the film did either.  

A Lumun is an award I just made up, and it is given to any person or piece of art that says something about the process of following call.  The King’s Speech was a clear winner. 

If you saw the picture, you know the core of the story:  King George VI has a horrible speech impediment.  Lionel Logue is an unconventional speech therapist who helps him “find his voice”, which enables King George to overcome his stammer and deliver a radio address that inspires the people of Britain on the brink of World War II.   

It’s a literal story of something that is true for all of us.  None of us can find our voice or our call completely on our own.  Here at Lumunos we often speak of “Evocative Friends”, people who evoke (from the word e-vocis , literally to draw out our voice) our call. 

In his book Answering your Call, John Schuster speaks of evocateurs:  “A person who expresses this talent we will call an evocateur—one who evokes out of people and their circumstances the skills, gifts, and potential they did not know they had.”  He names these traits of evocateurs, many of which Lionel Logue possessed:

*Evocateurs ask good questions
*Evocateurs tell the truth
*Evocateurs see potential
*Evocateurs appeal to our longing to be more than we are
*Evocateurs both find and create teachable moments

Who have been your evocateurs?  For whom might you be an evocateur?  Who knows, next year it might be you winning the Lumun. 

Doug Wysockey-Johnson

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