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, August 27, 2013

Calling to New Places

by Doug Wysockey-Johnson

There are many, many reasons to follow a call.  Just one is that it brings you to places that you never would have discovered otherwise. 

Dr. Conrad Fischer wrote in his book Routine Miracles  Now I know that a calling can bring you to strange place.”  He is referring to a decision he made early in his career.  It was 1991, the year between residency and being chief resident.  The Director of Critical Care invited him to work in a small hospital in New York City called St. Clares.  Half the beds were for AID’s patients.  Most of his teachers told him not to go, saying, “Once you have a place like that on your CV, your career in academic medicine is over.  No one will want you.”  He went anyway.

When I became Executive Director of Lumunos (then called Faith at Work), it required moving from Vermont to Washington DC.  DC was a “strange place” to us, way further south than we had ever lived.  And we loved Vermont, so it was not a move we were excited to make.  But the call was strong, and we both agreed it was the right decision.

While there were challenges to those years, I would not trade them for anything.  The people we met, the small church we connected with, the differences we encountered—all have enriched my life in many ways. 

I wonder if that is one of the reasons God calls us—to get us moving, to open us to new experiences, to show us places we wouldn't otherwise go. Maybe Jonah needed Nineveh as much as it needed him.   

Reflection Question:

When has a calling brought you to a “strange place” or a place you wouldn't have predicted?  

Thoughts?  Please feel free to post your comments below, and share! 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Ministry of Imagination

We need to ask not whether it is realistic or practical or viable but whether it is imaginable…  The hope-filled language of prophecy, in cutting through the royal despair and hopelessness, is the language of amazement... the language of amazement is the ultimate energizer.
                                                                          ~ Walter Brueggemann

by Lauren Van Ham

Recently, I was holding space for a group of individuals engaged in a process of deep formation.  In the course of their sharing, questions surfaced about race and the unexamined privilege in the group.  I wonder what it feels like to simply read these words in this blog?

Race.  Unexamined privilege.

Reactions in the group ranged from seat-shifting and barely waiting their turn to speak, to downcast expressions and complete withdraw.  And my reaction was in there, too.  In that moment, more than anything, I wanted to have a conversation about race and privilege as though each person in the room were fearlessly, joyously describing a part of their story – how they got here and what’s important to them. 

But we’re not there yet.  The conversation about race and privilege isn’t over, because it’s not finished. And there are many more conversations just like it.

In effort to learn more about what had happened in the group that day, I sat with one of my trusted mentors and described my desire to move past the topics of racism, power, sexism, privilege, you-name-it, and experience a new kind of conversation, a new form of connecting human to human.  My mentor re-focused my longing with simple instruction, “The prophetic imagination renews our energy to see and work with the things we no longer want to see.” 


There was a thud of recognition in my chest.  There are so many conversations I, we – all of us – wish could be over.  Prophetic imagination nudges us to look again, and it begins with *amazement:

  • In America, 1 of every 3 black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime.
  • The human heart weighs only half a pound, but it does the daily work-equivalent of lifting 1 ton from the ground to the top of a five-story building.
  • At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day
  • It takes about 600 gallons of water to make one hamburger
  • NBA player, Kobe Bryant is paid 30.4 million to play for the L.A. Lakers
  • About 64.5 million people volunteered through or for an organization at least once between September 2011 and September 2012
  • If we were to fit our solar system into a coffee cup, the Milky Way galaxy surrounding it would be the size of North America…
  • If the DNA in our bodies were uncoiled and laid end to end, it would reach the moon and back 100,000 times. 
  • Prairie grasses grow roots measuring 10,000 miles long, and bamboo can grow up to 3 ft in 24 hours.

And with some amazement in the air, are we then able to add the ministry of imagination….our own? 

What, in your last 2 days, has been amazing?  Where, in the world, your communities, your family, are you longing for some prophetic imagination?  How might imagination bring fresh eyes to your view today?

About Lauren: Lauren is an interfaith minister and lives in Berkeley, CA.  She serves as the Dean of Interfaith Studies at The Chaplaincy Institute and tends a private Spiritual Direction practice.  You can read Lauren’s blog at: http://www.laurenvanham.com/

*Amazement Sources:
8. DNA

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Why Can't We Make Enough Room?

by Tom Pappas

[Ed. Note: The Americans with Disabilities Act is celebrating 23 years.  It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in employment, public accommodations, transportation, State and local government services, and telecommunications.]
Honoring two good men and praying to bring down the mini bureaucracy.

Bonnie has MS and Rich, her husband, has been here caregiver for longer than the decade that I have known them. I have been in their home and photos indicate an earlier active life outside the chair that she now manipulates with slight movements of her head.

MaryAnn and John met in college and her polio did not dissuade their courtship or long happy marriage.

I am inspired every Sunday as I observe the dedication with which Rich and John attend their partners. Their devotion seems like a lot in the sanctuary, but what about the traveling, and the preparation at home? These men are a credit to all Christian men and to their marriage vows. Everyone with a “man-card” would be well served to do Rich or John’s day just one time.

Both couples sit near us in worship – front left. We don’t own the pew but do we think of them as “our seats”. During the sanctuary remodel, two pews near the door to the elevator were shortened to accommodate a wheelchair and not crowd the aisle. Guess what? When both couples are there, it’s not enough space. You should see it when there’s a baptism and those front pews are reserved for family!

One time only, would you be willing to say a prayer for them with me. Pray that the committee called Building and Grounds would abandon their position, “That would be expensive,” when requested to shorten two or three more pews. Pray a blessing for Rich and John. If Presbyterians had them, they would be saints.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Prayer for a Changing Planet

by Angier Brock

In the summer of 1976, I went for the first time to a retreat center called Shrine Mont. There I made the 500-foot climb up Yellow Spring Mountain to a clearing where a wooden tower is topped by a large wooden cross. That summer, I had been married for six years. That summer, my two sons were young, ages three and four, and the prospect of grandchildren was so far in the future as to be unimaginable. That summer, I could hike up to the cross and back in forty-five minutes—though why I was in that much of a hurry escapes me now.

I went there again last week. This summer, I have been divorced for six years. This summer, my hiking partners were my older son and his two children, ages nine and eleven. This summer, I could not have gotten up the mountain and back in forty-five minutes even if I had wanted to—though, thankfully, no one was in any rush. 

Things change. Things change not only in the lives and relationships of us humans but also in the life of our planet, which the 1979 Episcopal Book of Common Prayer calls “this fragile earth, our island home.” Part of the Appalachian chain, Shrine Mont’s Yellow Spring Mountain probably was once as high as peaks in the Rockies or the Alps. After eons of erosion from wind and water, however, today it rises only about two thousand feet above sea level, a far cry from its earlier glory days—though still high enough to count as a good climb.

At the clearing at the top, I stopped to pick up a rock streaked with red. I wanted to show my grandchildren an example of the iron deposits that lend a metallic taste to the spring water we had sipped at the foot of the mountain. When my granddaughter turned it in her hand, lo and behold, there in the rock, in addition to the veins of iron, was the fossilized imprint of a shell. Could it be that the land on which we were standing, long before it had been pushed up into being a mountain, had been the bed of an ancient sea? Talk about change!

Change is all around us, sometimes subtle, even invisible, and sometimes obvious and unmistakable. At times we welcome the gifts that change brings into our lives. At other times, we rail against the losses and the grief it dishes out. Somehow the human race has managed to muddle through all manner of changes—births, deaths, marriages, divorces, illnesses, the rise and fall of empires, wars, feasts and famines, employment and unemployment and retirement. It helps, of course, to make the climbs and descents of change with people we love—and to come into clearings along the way where we can stand at the foot of the cross, take stock of our situation, voice our fears, name our thanksgivings, lift up our prayers.
And then there is our planet, which is undergoing changes in climate much more rapidly than scientists had originally thought—and with consequences we are only beginning to grasp. “Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low,” the prophet Isaiah tells us. Indeed. And the ice caps will melt, and the sea level will rise, and weather will become more and more extreme, and…. 

How well our planet fares will depend on how willing we are to help it muddle through. How willing we are to come into the clearings and take stock. How willing we are to listen and to learn. How willing we are to speak out. How willing we are to pray not only with our words but with our actions. And, God help us, how willing we ourselves are to change. 

Please read, share, and comment...what are the changes you are struggling with?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Summer Visits

by Doug Wysockey-Johnson

For many of us, summer is a time to see family.  We use these precious months to visit new grandchildren, or aging parents. We witness young cousins reconnecting while the adults good naturedly argue about whether Suzy has “Wysockey eyes” or “the Johnson nose.” On my vacation I spent time on the Lake Michigan shoreline where my grandparents spent their honeymoon.  They are gone, but their spirit lingers. 

Yes we slip into our old family roles.  Conflicts do come up and tempers flare. But there is also the realization that this is dear and fleeting time.  Looking around the table while we celebrated my father’s 87th birthday, I had to wonder:  What will this celebration look like next year?  Will we all be here and healthy? 

Experiencing these family connections is one of the joys of summer.  The poet Wendell Berry captures the spirit of these times:  
I tremble with gratitude
for my children and their children
who take pleasure in one another.

At our dinners together, the dead
enter and pass among us
in living love and in memory.

And so the young are taught.
                        (Poem #VIII, from Leavings, published by Counterpoint) 
I wonder:   Who from your extended family did you enjoy seeing this summer?  Who did you miss?

Please feel free to share and comment below!