Thursday, June 28, 2012

pondering wild goose: sustainable communities

The Wild Goose schedule works like this - every hour there are up to 8 things going on at one time, at various venues throughout the property.  Inevitably, there are time slots where nothing grabs you and others where you desperately want to be in two places at once.

Wild Goose kids' tent
Friday, following morning prayer, I dropped Aaron & Sarah off at the kids' tent (which, by the way, was awesome!) then had a long conversation with a young woman who works with people who have autism.  Her point of view gave me hope that faith communities are beginning to "get" the absolute necessity of embracing neurodiversity.  Our talk meant that I walked into the session on Sustainable Communities a bit late.

I was stand-off-ish about this session.  I live in a big house in the suburbs; I'm not Shane Claibourne by any stretch of the imagination.  But Tom Sine and Matt Pritchard weren't asking us to leave their tent and "sell all we have to the poor" (not immediately, anyway).  They took turns describing various intentional communities in existence right now across the country, which I found interesting.

My scattered notes:

look up "peace church theology" (Mennonites)

the future is changing - re-imagine an economy more festive & celebrated that costs less

school loans & house in suburbs grossly high percentage income, keep us from doing good we long to do in world

book The New Conspirators 

nothing in scripture says work 40 hours a week invented in Denmark 50 years ago - look up

cross race, class, culture, intergenerational

mustard seed village - look up

you can live together without living off each other

if you can't sell your house open it up to community, transitional people/families, etc

series on NPR family matters - look up

So... what?  Here's where I've come to, so far, as I reflect on what I learned.

I do want to look up the various terms and books listed above.  I feel ill informed on this topic and it overwhelms me, somewhat, like I'm in a class I missed the prerequisites for ... but I am genuinely interested.  As a family of 6, it's not realistic for us to consider any major changes, but I do want us to be open to inviting others into our home. I believe that will happen more over the years, but frankly, right now, the one we have welcomed is still adjusting in many ways, so I feel no pressure to make any sudden changes, that way.  The one point I do want to take action on is figuring out the garden thing - either planting fruit bushes in our own yard, or joining in a community garden at a separate, nearby site.  This is something I know nothing about, but I have green-thumbed friends. It's time to learn.

What I really took away from this session has more to do with how we advise the kids, as they are growing up and planning their futures. Right now they are 13, 11, 10, and 8 - middle school is here, high school right around the corner.  What will their goals look like?  Are school loans worth it? Is college the only option, or even the best option, for all kids?  Will they follow their passions or accept a job that "pays well"?  Must the two be mutually exclusive?  As they enter adulthood, how can they make conscious choices that ensure they remain free - free to live lives that both make them happy, and do the most good in this world?

I came away with a fresh sense that kids approaching college and adulthood have options, many of them radically counter-cultural.  Some look at the future with doom and gloom because the unsustainable bubble of Western prosperity is bursting, but we need not view things that way.  I am hopeful that the next generation can avoid the trappings and mistakes ours has made - that they can be much, much happier with less.  If so, they will be better for it, and so will the world.

I can't say what the future looks like for my kids and their families, but I'm excited for them....  I really am.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

pondering the wild goose: morning prayer

Mornings at the Wild Goose Festival were wonderful. As I'd open my eyes to the sun peeking through the trees, one or both of the children would be staring at me, silently - watching me sleep. Which I found touching, considering how many times I've done the same with them.  One of the beauties of camping.

One morning little Molly came over to visit during breakfast. Another, I chatted with tent-neighbors Margie and Allana, young 20-somethings who had driven down from New Jersey.  And another, I was invited over to chat with tent-neighbors Jack and Carol, a delightful couple of my parents' generation who had come up from Georgia.  But I always excused myself in time to make it to morning prayer.

At 9 am Brian McLaren greeted those of us who staggered in, coffee in hand, not quite recovered from too-late talking or singing or dancing the night before.  Each day it was the same; he began by having us sing this song, which we'd start in a low key, then inch it up and up until we were singing it high and loud.  It really was beautiful.

Then someone else would lead us in this prayer, in a read/response fashion:

 Almighty God, to You all hearts are open, all desires known, and from You no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love You, and worthily magnify Your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Someone would then read to us about a martyr - I specifically remember Martin Bishop of Tours and Hildegard. Inspiring stories of service and sacrifice.

Then Brian led us in singing the Lord's Prayer a new way.  First, though, we were invited to be fully present.  Remove your shoes.  Feel the grass.  Hear the birds.  Pray with your eyes OPEN. 

Then Pam Wilhelms led us in portions of the prayer from St. Patrick - each morning we added a bit more.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today

Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.

At this point, we were asked to form groups of 6 or so.  We were given a passage of scripture and instructed that one person should read it aloud, then we sit in silence.  Someone else should read it aloud, then we sit in silence.  Finally, someone else read it aloud, then sit in silence.

Then we were invited to discuss the passage.  It was very good for me to hear others' perspectives, especially since Brian had not given us easy passages to discuss (one morning our reading was Psalm 137).

What really stuck with me though, was that each morning I met new people.  I remember the 3 fresh-faced college boys who came together, the couple who run a farm outside of Danville, VA, the young woman who is writing her dissertation for seminary on The Theology of Autism, the young man who I could tell just needed a hug so I asked if I could give him one and tears filled his eyes as he said "yes, please" (later, I saw him laughing as he danced it up during the parade), and the couple who met in AA, were recently married, and have started a ministry of their own in Tennessee.  I remember them - and they remember me.

Following group time, we were invited to stand and recite the prayer of Francis (which I can't say without hearing The Brilliance in my head)
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

And finally, in closing, we clasped hands and sang Brian's song, from Teresa of Avila

I am grateful to Brian for sharing this time with us each day, and for inspiring me to use many of these tools here at home with our family and with other groups I may be given to lead.  So simple, so worshipful, so inspiring...

Morning prayer was like fresh wind blowing over the embers of my heart.

(next up, I reflect on my notes from the session on Sustainable Communities)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

pondering the wild goose: thursday's reflections

Yesterday we returned from 4 days and nights at the Wild Goose Festival at Shakori Hills (right here in North Carolina).  I chose not to bring the laptop along, opting instead to take vigorous notes (over 20 pages worth), which I look forward to sharing here in the form of multiple posts. Now home relaxing on the deck, the sounds and sights of our backyard woods call my mind and heart back to Shakori Hills.

We arrived Thursday afternoon and set up camp in 95 degree heat and humidity.  My middle two, Aaron (11) and Sarah (10) were real troopers, helping their Mama remember everything Daddy taught us during our practice run in the front yard.  He couldn't come along, due to a big weekend event of his own back home, so we asked grandparents and friends to help occupy the oldest (Luke) and youngest (Mary), for whom the festival would have been far more challenging.  Once the tent was up and the car unloaded, I gave the two of them some money with instructions to find out whether the food vendors were open.  Hot and exhausted, their choice of ice cream for dinner was completely fine by me! 

I missed the opening ceremony, and chose not to participate in the evening's scheduled talks. All I cared about that first night was chilling on a blanket and listening to music.  I needed to get into the space, needed a buffer zone from the flurry of home.

I was not disappointed. 


That night the kids and I lounged under the stars as Aradhna taught us new songs and Josh Garrels sang songs we knew by heart.  Our friends sat nearby, stars shone above us, and the breeze finally blew cool comfort our way.  I felt my breathing slow, my face relax, and my spirit awaken.

I was ready - SO ready ... or so I thought at the time.

 But far more awaited me than I'd bargained for.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

pondering memories

I grow weary of people bemoaning technology. Longing for the old days.  Here's the thing - everything is what you make of it.  Everything.

Photo albums can be wonderful, or photos can sit in a box and never be looked at.  It's what you've made of them that matters.

I wasn't much of a scrap-booker, myself, but my oldest were born in the BOOM of all things scrapbook, so I felt like I didn't have a choice.  By the time our third came around I'd pretty much thrown in the towel on the whole thing, so she was five before she had a baby book!  Thankfully Mary's was easier - by then technology had caught up to my way of doing things.  We had her adoption blog printed into book form.  Voila - done!

But this, I can do - videos set to music.  I love making them - the kids love watching them.  And oh do they watch them!  Again and again... which is, of course, the point.  Sure, I love it when others (you!) enjoy what I've put together, but I'm fully aware that I'm no expert.  These aren't of a quality to impress; they're made for the kids.

I decided to link them all (or as many of them as I can recollect at the moment) in one place, here.  Enjoy.  Or don't.  But do make some memories of your own, and capture them in a way that makes you happy and that your family will enjoy for years to come!




2006 (the year we brought teenager Megan along!)



2008 - Mary's adoption video!



January 2011 - Disney!

Spring Break 2011 - Road Trip/Tour of the Southeast

2012 - Back to HHI

Monday, June 18, 2012

pondering parenting: credits in confidence

“Hey sweetie, I could use some help. Would you empty these water bottles, refill them, and put them in the garage fridge?”

This task is more complicated for our youngest than it would be for most kids her age.  She asked several dozen questions, which I most often answered with, “I don’t know, you decide” or “You can figure that out on your own”.

It took her a long time.  She had to mop up the floor a few times.  And we discovered later that one of the 6 water bottles leaked all over the inside of the refrigerator because she didn't stand it upright and failed to seal the lid well.

None of that would have happened if I’d stood over her. Directed her. “Helped” her. But a lot more wouldn’t have happened, either.

She wouldn’t have had to think for herself.
She wouldn’t have learned that the world keeps turning if you make a mistake.
She wouldn't have learned that she is capable.  Sure, one water bottle leaked, but 5 didn’t - and what did, she cleaned up on her own.  With that, she has a few extra credits in her confidence account. 

Last week our older daughter’s raft took her far from the shore of North Forest Beach, where we were vacationing.  I’ve heard many accounts of people being stranded a mile or more out to sea because of this very thing.  They panic - they don’t know what to do.  I’m not sure I’d have known what to do.

There was no authority figure around to verify for her that she’d drifted too far from shore – it was a  conclusion she had to arrive at on her own.  Based on that assessment, she took a risk:  she got out of the raft.  No one directed her to, she made a decision and acted on it.  She tried to pull the raft in, but couldn’t - the water was well above her head, and swimming was too difficult with it in tow.  She didn’t waver - no time for that.  She left the raft behind and swam for shore.

Who told her she could do that? 
I'll tell you who.

Big deal?  Maybe not to you.  But to a 10 year old (and her parents), it was a very big deal indeed.  

She has more than a few extra credits in her confidence account now, too.

And so do I.