Saturday, December 24, 2011

Transforming Anxiety

"The more original a human being is, the deeper is their anxiety"
Soren Kierkeggaard

"Large numbers of modern people seem to live fearlessly because they lack imagination. They suffer from an impoverishment of the heart. Total freedom from anxiety is the inner expression of a profound loss of personal freedom."
Karl Jaspers

"Our capacity for dealing with symbols and meanings, and for changing behavior on the basis of these processes - all are processes which are intertwined with our capacity to experience anxiety."
Rollo May

Anxiety is not something to be eliminated, but rather to be is not only a necessary component to normal emotional functioning, it also provides a rough and ready measure of our capacity for feeling and expressing all the other emotions.
1. Try to think critically about the things that are making you anxious, consider your anxiety as a challenge to help resolve some of the uncertainity of your life
2. Write about your anxiety - a written description transforms a feeling (an emotion) into words and deprives that feeling of its privileged access and control
3. Between anxiety episodes, stop concentrating on how you're feeling - shift the focus from what you are feeling to what you are doing
4. Learn to repress your anxious thoughts as anxiety feeds on our internal fantasies in which we rehearse all the things that can possibly go wrong (repression is not an inauthentic way of shielding oneself from the totality of an anxiety-inducing experience, but an effective coping style)
5. Adopt regular routines (not the same as rituals)...the goal is to take control of your anxiety, rather than allowing it to control you
6. Stick to priorities during times of heightened anxiety...remember the brain is constantly renewing itself and changing its "programming" based on your thoughts, attitudes and actions (so if you want to reduce the level of anxiety, act as if you've already accomplished your goal)
7. Avoid too much free time as it can be the breeding ground for anxiety...yet compulsive work is perhaps the most common way in America of allaying is one of the handiest ways of relieving anxiety and it can easily become compulsive
8. Try to maintain perspective...when you are anxious, you are focused on internal events, on the narcissistic world inside your head
9. Turn to family, friends, or colleagues when you are feeling your concerns and give others a chance to respond...isolation can increase our anxiety because when we are alone our fantasies escape the correction provided by another person's perspective
10. Make some form of exercise a regular part of your routine..anxiety includes a large motion component and we can have a hard time sitting still...exercise provides an outlet for that inner sense of restlessness

Highlighted by O'Steven from Poe's Heart and the Mountain Climber - Exploring the Effect of Anxiety on Our Brains and Our Culture
by Richard Restak, M.D.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Being Alone Together

No agenda - except to help people listen to their own soul
Paradox - of being alone together, of being present to one another as a "community of solitudes"
Circle of trust - to support an inward journey of each person
And/Both - we need interior intimacy that comes with solitude and the otherness that comes with community
Simultaneously - we need solitude and community to check and balance what we learn in the other and together they make us whole
Community - means never losing awareness that we are connected to each other, not about the presence of others but about being fully open to the reality of relationship
Space - create a space between us that is hospitable to the soul, where we can be alone together
Formation - best describes the Quaker practice of creating a circle of trust
Disclaimer - it is not a process in which the pressure of orthodox doctrine, sacred text, and institutional authority is applied to the misshapen soul in order to conform it to the shape dictated by some theology
Soul - is always calling us back to our birthright of integrity
Invited - to conform our lives to the shape of our own souls..and grow our selfhood like a plant, from the potential within the seed of the soul, in ground made fertile by the quality of our relationships
What kind of space - our soul's essence is a mystery, like a wild is tough, resilient, resourceful, savvy, and self-sufficient, it knows how to survive in hard places
Shy - despite being tough it is shy, and seeks safety in dense underbrush, and if we can learn to walk quietly, sit patiently, breathe with the earth and fade into our surroundings, the wild creature we seek might put in an appearance
Community - unfortunately it too often means a group of people who go crashing around the woods together scaring the soul away...from congregations to classrooms we preach and teach and assert and argue, claim and proclaim, admonish, and advise and drive everything original and wild into hiding
Circle of trust - knows how to sit quiety "in the woods" with each other and wait for the soul to show up...not pushy but patient, not confrontational but compassionate, not filled with expectations and demands but with abiding faith in the reality of the inner teacher
Unconditional love - people who help us grow toward true self neither judge us to be deficient nor try to force us to change, but accept us exactly as we surrounds us with a charged force field that is safe enough to take the risks and endure the failures that growth requires, drawn forward by love into our own best possibilities
Relationships - we are freed to hear our own truth, touch what brings us joy, become self-critical about our faults, and take risky steps toward change - knowing that we will be accepted no matter what the outcome
Presence - it is a gift we can give and receive right now, to people all the time
Soul - will show up if we approach each other with no other motive than the desire to welcome it...when we protect and border and salute each other's solitude, we break our manipulative habits and make it safe for the soul to emerge
A HIDDEN WHOLENESS - The Journey Toward An Undivided Life - by Parker Palmer

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Have Passport Will Travel

Old men ought to be explorers
Here and there does not matter

We must be still and still moving

Into another intensity

For another union, a deeper communion

- T.S. Eliot, "East Coker"

At the age of 56, I may finally be ready to enter the journey of the second half of life. Here is what Fr. Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest has to say about that in his book Falling Upward. "Nothing can inhibit your second journey except your own lack of courage, patience, and imagination. Your second journey is all yours to walk into or to avoid. My conviction is that some falling apart of the first journey is necessary for this to happen, so do not waste a moment of time lamenting poor parenting, lost job, failed relationship, physical handicap, gender identity, economic poverty, or even the tragedy of any kind of abuse. Pain is part of the deal. If you don't walk into the second half of your own life, it is you who do not want it. God will always give you exactly what you truly want and desire. So make sure you desire, desire deeply, desire yourself, desire God, desire everything good, true and beautiful."

What I really desire in this second half of my journey is to partner with a dynamic team that is aggressively combining business investment with corporate social responsibility and strategic community philanthropy. Ideally this would be a company of social entrepreneur's (for-profit or not-for-profit) that have a local, national and international presence, while making a strategic impact as they expand operations in emerging economies and developing regions of the world.

I enjoy the challenge of establishing effective alliances among government, business and civic philanthropy partners. The first half of my journey has taken me to over 35 nations and allowed me opportunities to learn from and mentor young adults in Australia, British Columbia, Fiji, Norway, Brazil, New Zealand, Hawaii, England, Switzerland, Korea, Scotland, Holland, Ghana, Romania, Togo, China, Ukraine, Denmark and Egypt. I was also privileged to have extensive opportunities of walking alongside and equipping graduate level interns from around the world in 3-6 month urban practicums in Indianapolis.

I recently sat down to summarize the last two decades of my journey in Journal #69 and realized just how hard it is for me to describe where I'm coming from as I prepare for what's next.

Here are some highlights:

Player/Coach: Co-founder of several bride building enterprises between faith communities, corporations, business leaders and visionary global humanitarian entrepreneur's

Trainer/Mentor: Over 30 years of leading, encouraging and challenging young adults from around the world - I learned as much from them as they did from me

General Manager: Over a decade of coordinating State and County mental health contracts to provide faith-based / home-based counseling for at risk families and children in need, managing therapists and graduate interns with case loads of up to 60 families at a time

Pastoral Counselor: Personally worked with over 450 individuals and families and we had 85% overall success rate in reuniting children with their families- what a privilege to occasionally witness the miracle of family reunification

Hospitality/Discipleship: Co-founder of emerging faith community with 14 years of intentional presence in Indianapolis, hosting countless global guests in our commercial properties

Thanks to everyone who has accompanied me on bits and pieces of this journey over the years, especially all you Open Hand folks. Rich, for being with me on the road to Kumasi. Rod, for inviting me to join you in first class on our flight to Auckland and inviting me to explore the world. Ann, the wife of my youth and traveling companion over the past 30 years. Janet, for your inspired words of confirmation as we moved into the hood. Marshall for your ongoing integrity in the most difficult of situations. Elisabeth for loving life and living deeply as a true daughter of Eve. Derek for all your large art that populates our imaginations. Josh, for knocking open closed doors that intimidate so many of us. Scott and Jeannie, for driving down 32nd Street and deciding to anchor your presence in our community. Crazy, anointed YWAM around the world, for inviting us all into the wild Kingdom. All our global interns, for challenging us every step of the way. Nolan, for impregnating 215 with your contagious DNA, speeding up the evolutionary process for so many young adults. Humphrey, for recognizing and calling forth the Spirit of Marriage in our community. Bob, for introducing us all to Rabbi Ed Friedman and Bowen Family Systems Theory. I could go on and on as there are so many significant others of you out there.

I can't wait to see where the second half of life journey takes me and maybe some of you too.

What choice remains?

Well, to be ordinary is not a choice:

It is the usual freedom

Of men and women without visions.

- Thomas Merton, Cistercian Monk

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Celtic Christening for wee lad Gabriel Joel O'Brien - born 12/21/2010

Please join our global Open Hand community on Sunday evening, August 7th at 5:30pm for the Celtic Christening and pitch-in feast to celebrate the life of Gabriel Joel O'Brien, son of Joe and Mary O'Brien. (Reynolds home - 3173 N. Delaware Street)

Let's welcome home the O'Brien family as they journey to Indianapolis all the way from Brisbane, Australia. Can't wait. Good on ya mates....!


Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Celtic Summer Dedication - Robert Leonard Bernlohr

"Love it will not betray you, dismay or enslave you, it will set you free. Be more like the man you were made to be."

The Challenge: Creative people like Mariann and Andy, and creative communities like Open Hand, often want to do more than simply reanimate that which has come before. Often there exists an impulse to create anew. In such a context creative folks look for signs of life and then begin to participate in and with it.

But many institutions and families go the other way. Rather than discovering life and building organic structures to give shape to this life, they inherit stale structures and go looking for life. This is a Herculean task. They also tend to value control, stability, and the ability to quickly resolve tension with a solution. However, one of the dominant currencies of creativity is tension - the ability to hold seemingly opposing forces in dynamic relationship without privileging one at the expense of the other or too quickly resolving it. New life is messy and doesn't always fit neatly into preexisting categories.

We are often concerned with orthodoxy (right thinking) or orthopraxy (right doing), but pastor and writer Dwight Friesen has suggested a third category ortho-paradoxy, that is, living rightly in the tension and mystery of the mysterious and revealed God of the Scriptures. Doing so requires and invites a radical dependence on the Spirit of God living in and working through his people in creation. Creativity values tension because it creates possibility, the chance that something might happen should the environment exist in a way that allows for life to emerge organically from it. Amen. Intuitive Leadership Tim Keel

The Charge: Andy and Mariann.... "Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your hearts and try to love the questions themselves...Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer." AMEN. Rilke

The Blessing: Now is your chance to bless this family with a personal word of love and encouragement.

Song of Worship - Sigh No More (Mumford & Sons)

Serve God love me and mend
This is not the end
Lived unbruised we are friends
I'm sorry, I'm sorry.

Sigh no more, no more
One foot in sea, one on shore
My heart was never pure
And you know me
And you know me.

And man is a giddy thing
Oh man is a giddy thing
Oh man is a giddy thing
Oh man is a giddy thing.

Love that will not betray you, dismay or enslave you,
It will set you free
Be more like the man you were made to be.

There is a design
And alignment to cry,
Of my heart to see
The beauty of love as it was made to be (x4)

Celtic Prayer of Dedicaiton

Thou Being who inhabits the heights
Imprint Thy blessing betimes,
Remember Thou the child Robert of our tribe,
In the Name of the Father of peace;
When the priest of the King
On him puts the water of meaning,
Grant Robert the blessing of the Three
Who fill the heights.
The Blessing of the Three
Who fill the heights.

Sprinkle down upon Robert Thy grace,
Give Thou to him virtue and growth,
Give Thou to him strength and guidance,
Give Thou to him flocks and possessions,
Sense and reason void of guile,
Angel wisdom in his day,
That Robert may stand without reproach
In Thy presence,
He may stand without reproach
In Thy presence.

Women (gather around Mariann and Bobby and lay hands of them)

Men: The first blessing is in the name of the Father, representing wisdom.

Men (gather around Andy and Bobby and lay hands of them)

Women: The second blessing is in the name of the Son, representing peace.

Children (gather around Thulani and Bobby and lay hands on them)

Everyone: The third blessing is in the name of the Spirit, representing purity.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Summer Celtic Christening for Robert Leonard Bernlohr

Please join our Open Hand community Sunday evening at 5:30pm, June 26th for a pitch-in feast in honor of the extended Bernlohr/McGee Clan. (Reynolds home - 3173 N. Delaware St.)

We will celebrate the arrival of the wee lad Robert Leonard Bernlohr along with his proud parents, Mariann and Andy, with an outdoor Celtic Christening.

Be with us and bring a blessing! Amen.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Curb Your Anxiety Friday - With Indy Summer Interns

Kick back with us on the front porch Friday, june 17th as we hear from several interns laboring to lower Indy's collective anxiety this summer. Enjoy pizza, cold drinks, and snacks with them from 6:30 - 9:oo pm - 3173 N. Delaware Street.

Three of these interns living in our community include Andrea with AmeriCorps (Reynolds home) , Jeannette with the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic (215), and Najib at the Indianapolis Star (Rod's home).

Bring a friend......