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, September 27, 2011

Went to Snack, Got Inspired by Tom Pappas

“I never pay attention to the weather; it is what it is. But the last two days I have been checking every 20 minutes.” This is what the engaging young man said.

Last Friday we were standing in his beautiful back yard at a fundraising event for the program his wife started for our community.  Dozens (maybe hundreds) of people were invited, wonderful food was prepared, the street was blocked by the city, yard games were set up for the kids and adults alike. We had been enjoying glorious fall weather, and the date for this outdoor party was set, expecting more of the same. It rained the day before and a little in the night. I’d be checking the internet too.

Weather-wise, it was a pretty gloomy afternoon. We persevered. Under a gray sky we nibbled and chatted and at 5:45 the jazz combo quit playing and the founder of “Teach a Kid to Fish” spoke to the assembled guests.  She talked about quitting her pediatric practice and saying goodbye to patients and work she loved, to try to do something about childhood obesity in our community.

Sounded like a call story to me!  What would the voice have to say for me (or you) to trade a dream, a life course, the comfortable, for something that would have to be imagined and created out of nothing?

The chair of her board spoke next. He talked about his encounters with people who loved to fish and take kids fishing. We all laughed. Having an evocative name (see Lumunos) gets you into some fairly interesting and sometimes unpredictable conversations.  The board of Faith@Work was advised that this beloved name created problems for future growth.  People thought they knew what it meant. Staff and others had to un-explain the organization before they could define it properly.

Teach a Kid to Fish? What were they thinking? Yet how many of the important – truly important – elements in life are not so very easily explained?  They ride in on the backs of allusions and metaphors.

The Lumunos way is to tell your own story, not someone else’s. I break this rule consciously because I am quite inspired by all of this. How about you?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Prayer at the Change of Seasons by Angier Brock

I recently received, through email, a political “joke,” a cartoonish thing that the sender must seen as  having sufficient merit to warrant sharing it with four people, of whom I was probably the only one who found it offensive, bordering on violent. 

I keep thinking that she sent it to me in error, but there it was in my mailbox. I could have guessed her political persuasion, but I wish I had not glimpsed the bitterness and hostility behind it. I wanted to respond, but I deleted it instead.

Here’s the complication. The sender and I used to be connected to one another through our children. We had a cordial relationship, and over a ten-year period, we were often in one another’s homes. But ever since the divorce of our children, which I know broke both our hearts, we have been simply and quietly out of touch—though our paths will cross again, for we have two young grandchildren in common. Of course we each want the best for their future, even though, politically speaking, we differ in how we think that might be accomplished.

The thing is, receiving that email from her was an up-close-and-way-too-personal reminder of the deep divisions that afflict not only the two of us and our particular families but also those in culture beyond. Meanwhile, I know that while she and I differ in many respects and do not share all of the same values, we do share some. And then there’s the matter of our grandchildren.

This week, riding through the heavens on our fragile planet, all earthlings will undergo a change of seasons. Those who live south of the equator will move from winter into spring while those of us in the northern hemisphere will move from summer into fall. I, for one, am ready. We’ve had a long, hot summer in my Virginia neck of the woods. More than that, though, I take comfort in remembering how light continually changes for all people and all cultures as we travel around the sun, for reflecting on that changing light gives me a sense of the wholeness of creation— and reminds me that creation’s goodness is greater than our tribal divisions.

Thus reminded, perhaps in the first few days of fall, while day and night are still fairly evenly balanced, I will respond to that email. I would like to tell the sender that, as regards our differences, my heart is heavy. I would also like to say that I wish her and her family well. We share a common humanity, and we share a common brokenness.

And not only to her but to everyone I  would like to say that I wish we could find opportunities and language to talk over our differences, to work with both reason and compassion toward solving the complex problems our world faces, and to be kind and respectful to one another as we figure it out. In fact, that is my prayer at this change of seasons. From all extremes of both hot and cold, dear God, deliver us.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Where Do You Pray?

Ian is building a chapel.  In his back yard.  In many ways it is a typical back yard, with kids toys, patio furniture and dog poop in the grass. But he has made space for a stone chapel too.  Ian is a busy guy, with a complex job and two young children. But piece-by-piece, he is putting together this space that he will use for prayer, reflection and writing.

I don’t see myself building a stone chapel in my backyard, and I doubt you do either. But what might you or I do to help our prayer life?  Where could we go or what could we change to deepen our life of prayer? 

Sometimes intention makes all the difference.

Friday, September 9, 2011

9/11 - What Would Peace Look Like? by Terry & Tracy Moore

I recently read a piece describing what constitutes a person being an American.  Given that Terry and I have referred to ourselves as a Heinz 57 kind of mutt, it was affirming to read that the author expanded on this description for any of us called American citizens.  He wrote that we come from anywhere and everywhere throughout the world.  We come in all shapes and sizes and colors.  We cover the gamut of faith traditions and have made up some of our own.  We are conservatives and liberals and everyplace in-between.  In the past we have reached out to help about every other country in the world and we have accepted and even welcomed their tired, their poor, and their misfits.  Then the events of “911” happened and it seems strange that the three numbers, we have used for years, to call for help in an emergency, are the same numbers  now frequently used to describe the worst direct attack the continental United States has ever experienced. 

So what if we look at the events of September 11, 2001 (911) as an emergency call.  Not the kind of call that brought forth an entity called Homeland Security and spurred ongoing wars, with no end in sight.  What if instead of becoming like the enemy we are seeking to destroy, we offer another way. What if instead we looked at the perpetrators as the enemies Jesus taught us to love? What if we looked for ways to be Christ like, to truly follow Jesus’ teaching, to love the Lord our God with all our hearts and minds and our neighbors (and our enemies) as ourselves?  In the many versions of the Bible we have, we have never found Jesus to add the words, “Except for…”

Peace has never been bought with the price of war.  Yes, our country came about because our ancestors fought for our freedom.  So we often equate freedom with peace, although they are not necessarily one and the same.  From the very beginnings of the United States we have experienced many fights to protect our freedoms, as if we have a right to this gift of freedom which apparently many of us, as Americans, have believed God bestowed on us alone.  Even in times referred to as peaceful, there have been internal strifes and external wars. 

So, what would Peace actually look and feel like?  The first step would be to find Peace within ourselves.  This Peace comes when we begin to truly follow what Jesus’ taught and not just worship Him on Sunday mornings.  As does the Peace which comes when we mindfully love and care for ourselves and our neighbors, where ‘ere they may live, and also for all creatures and the environment.  By so doing, we are showing our love for the Lord our God and offering thanksgiving for all the blessings we share.  "Share" seems such a simple word.  It’s one we say to our children as they grow older and go through the stage of “mine-I-ness”.  Unfortunately, many of us never grow beyond this stage and as adults wielding power and authority, we still shout out: “It’s mine. Let go”. 

As the 10th anniversary of the attacks perpetrated on September 11, 2001 approach, what will you remember?  What will you choose to honor and memorialize?  Terry and I are praying for all those, here and the world over, whose personal lives were irrevocably changed. We remember those who gave their lives in the attempt to rescue their friends and neighbors and give thanks for their courage.  We remember those, who in the aftermath, sought for a peaceful resolution and for those who still do.  And we pray that in the face of any attack we may personally encounter, we will stand as strong as the Amish-Mennonite communities and their belief that Jesus teaches an alternative way.


Terry and Tracy

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sign Still Up by Tom Pappas

I consider it a gift from God given to me by a remarkable colleague many years ago. We were high school counselors together and because the offices were being remodeled, our desks were pushed together and we faced each other in a normal sized classroom. There were several other counselors also in the room. Not a model for security and privacy, huh?

The topic might have been politics, or more likely (is the principal listening) best educational practices, when I complained to Jerry that, “I hate it when I have my opinion settled and I come across new information; then I start questioning my position. I don’t like being wishy-washy.”  Here’s the gift, which I have enjoyed incalculable times since.  He said, “I don’t think of that as wishy-washy, I call that open minded.”

The yard sign on our property says to the drivers on South Street, “STOP THE XL PIPELINE”.  I put it out there because the vocabulary of oil delivery includes the words rupture, spill and leak. As a Nebraskan I was offended that the route through our state crosses the corner of one of America’s unseen treasures.  The Ogallala aquifer is a vast resource for water, in fact, the largest in the world. It was clear to me that the risk of a possible spill is not worth it. But then I got wishy-washy when I saw a document that showed the routes of dozens of pipelines already crossing the aquifer. Sign still up.

A protest at the White House ends this week regarding the XL pipeline. Nebraskans are participating but the leadership for the action comes from others who reject the environmental impact of extracting oil from tar sands and the commitment to fossil fuel energy this huge project represents. I still don’t like a Canadian company blithely deciding the endanger water our state needs, but I am bolstered by the ammunition of better arguments than what I started with. Sign still up.

Local news this weekend showed a scientist explaining that an aquifer is not a cavernous underground lake but water filled layers of rock and sand. An oil spill would not spread uniformly but would stair step down and away from the middle of the aquifer. God’s gift through Jerry is making it trickier for me to stand where I stood when I first encountered the XL pipeline. Sign still up - mind still open. Thanks, Jerry.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A World of Need by Doug Wysockey-Johnson

This is one of those weeks when there are a lot of people who need help. It follows then that this is one of those weeks when there are a lot of people who want to help but aren’t sure how, or when, or if they can. 

Here in Vermont where I live this is certainly true. I spent yesterday carrying buckets of water and mud out of a friend’s basement. But this equation of people needing help and others wondering about if and how to help is also playing out in Chicago and Atlanta and Seattle and Des Moines.  Bad things happen every day and everywhere.  When do we drop our schedule and go?  When do we trust that it is right not to go?

There are times when a need presents itself, and we just act.  Because of who is involved or the urgency the matter, it is a no brainer.  Most of the time though, taking a moment to pause, to pray, to reflect, can help us discern whether or not we should go.  

I don’t know why I continue to be surprised by this, but prayer made a difference for me this week.  I was stuck, trying to figure out how to juggle helping neighbors with work and childcare obligations.  After spending some time praying, the way just seemed to open.  An email came from a friend stating what they needed and when.  A neighbor and I figured out how to share childcare.  Loaves get multiplied, time extends, and things just work out.

Following call (which this was) always involves a cost.  So we were woefully unprepared for our arriving guests last night, and the email box is a doing some flooding of its own.  It is a part of the deal.

Another day the leading might lead to a “no.”  I don’t believe that all of us are called to attend to all needs all the time.  I do believe that in the face of need, each of us in our own way can ask the question:  God, do you want me there?  If so, will you make a way?