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......

Thursday, May 26, 2011

What the Hell! Love Wins?

Ok, I bought the book to read for myself what the commotion is all about. Glad I did.

My main criticism is that someone inflated a 40 or 50 page manuscript into a 200 page, triple spaced, 3/4 sized hard cover book with enough blank space for a second bonus book tucked inside.

Its not a book of poems. No need to take Rob Bell's words and sprinkle them so sparingly on each page. It almost appears as if the book is laid out to be read aloud, perhaps for a podcast series.

But back to the content. I suppose his notion that Heaven and Hell are within each other, intertwined, interwoven and bumping up against each other, is enough to gall any evangelical fundamentalist. (Remember its not what you believe but how you believe what you believe that makes one a fundamentalist.)

He goes on to define Hell as "our refusal to trust God's retelling of our story." The backdrop for this interpretation is Luke 15 and the story Jesus told of two wayward sons and a loving father.

The youngest son believes he is cut off, estranged, no longer deserving to be his father's son because of all the horrible things he has done. His sees his badness as the problem.

The older brother believes that he deserves to be a favored son because of all the good he's done. He obeyed all the rules and 'slaved' for his father all his life.

Yes the younger brothers wrongs have led him into misery and separation, but the older brothers rigid goodness has also served to distance him from his father. Bell's point is that our badness can and does separate us from God's love and so can our goodness.

The father throws a celebratory feast for the youngest son welcoming him back into the family with a robe, ring and sandals. The older son refuses to join in the lavish reunion party. He becomes bitter, thinks he has been wronged and is furious with both his father and younger brother.

The father responds with a different story, "My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours." He redefines fairness. Grace and generosity aren't fair and the father sees the younger brothers return as another occasion to practice unfairness.

Obviously he doesn't deserve a party. That's the point. That's the profound unfairness of the father. People are given what they don't deserve. The father retells the older brothers story just as he did with the younger brother. After all, "You are always with me, and everything I have is yours."

Whose story will the sons believe? Their own or their fathers. As Bell points out, the difference between the stories is, after all, the difference between heaven....and hell.

Jesus puts the older brother at the party, but refusing to accept the father's version. Being at the party is hell for him and that's what makes it so hellish. It's not a picture of separation, but one of dis-integration.

Hell is our refusal to trust God's retelling of our story. We all have our own version of events and believe all sorts of things about ourselves.

The gospel confronts our story with God's version of our story. Beginning with the certain truth that we are loved in spite of our sins, rebellions and hard hearts. No matter what's been done to us, we are invited to live a whole new life without shame, blame or anxiety.

Hell is refusing to trust, often stemming from a distorted view of God. "We shape our God and then our God shapes us. A distorted understanding of God, clung to with white knuckles and fierce determination, leaves people in hell at the party."

"The father's love cannot be earned and it can't be taken away. It just is." It goes on no matter what, and all our darkness, sin and goodness and rightness are irrelevant when it comes to the counterintuitive ecstatic announcement of the gospel.

There is nothing left for the son's to do but trust the father's love. God's love simply is. "Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing." Jesus forgives everyone without their asking for it. It is a unilateral love and God isn't waiting for us to get our act together.

"The only thing left to do is trust." We are already at the party. Heaven and hell, here and now. Our story? Maybe its time to listen to a new story, because the good news is better than that.

Love wins!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

All things Irish with Generation Wes....Bono's Beach!

Hey Hey Wes: Just praying for you today and all the amazing young folks from 215 that populate my imagination from the past two decades. What a profound blessing.....Here is an email I sent back to Open Hand Indy during our visit to Dublin back in 03.

Today the wind was hallowing in Dublin, the rain blowing sideways and one could really feel the foul weather...

We scheduled our "foot race" for 3:00pm from the front door of Wes' house to Bono's gate (the front gate of Bono's home) in an exclusive area of south Dublin on a cliff overlooking the Irish sea...a mere 5 miles one way. Ann, Kath and Nat were to meet us via an auto at the finish with photo's and warm, dry clothes.

We were off, battling the lanes, traffic, and the elements...loving every minute, chatting away like a couple of school kids.

After the first flat 3 miles the final 2 were hilly, slippery and narrow...passing by famous people's homes...there is Van Morrison's, there is the Edge's home....and on toward our final destination, Bono's front drive gate.

45 minutes into it we sprinted the final 100 meters neck n neck, shoulder to shoulder, hoping the women could get a photo finish so we could record the way...the girls were late, we blew by the gate, soaked to the bone, sweating and steaming...and skidding to a halt on the wet pavement. We made the best of it, found a narrow public path down the steep side of Bono's property and to the beach. Wes ran straight into the Irish Sea, with me on his heels and we shocked our exhausted bodies back to life...tumbling on the surf, rocks and sand.

Maybe Bono saw two crazy American's from his cliff perch above the sea or maybe he saw two Celtic Druid's doing what they had done on many wild days....jumping into the frigid waters to stone their souls with a searing clean pain....Amen.

Stoned cold on the edge again,

PS I filled my water bottle that day with Bono's beach Irish Sea water and brought it back to Open Hand Indy where we blessed, christened, and baptized many over the years before it was finally empty. I guess I need to get back there and refill that bottle.....Amen.

"Dear soul-mate and worshiper of life!

Here is another archived email from the queen of Norway to Beowulf.......dated October 1, 2003.

Dear soul-mate and worshiper of life! First of all, I can't tell you how much I would love to have been in Indy celebrating you and Erica's LOVE for each other! Sitting here in Norway reflecting and looking back at our history together, I feel so privileged and alive! I realize how blessed I have been through our friendship which has given me so much fun, joy, laughter, love, anger, thoughts, faith and understanding. To see the beauty in life through your glasses has been exciting, passionate and a big portion with fun!

Remember my first day in Indy, Easter 1999, and you asked if I wanted to join you and Pete (your car) to an Easter party at Judy's. Since I came from YWAM you loved telling me the story about another YWAMer, Lionel ! He cooked food naked in the kitchen at 215! You really loved telling me that story, shame that I never got to see it.

You and Josh dressed in all black at the Patio when Todd was playing.

Your birthday party, when the whole 215 went to the Martini bar in downtown - me, you, Eric, Wes, Marc and Emerson - we all dressed up! That was my first night at the Jazz Kitchen as well, and many stories start there.

I love your passion for European pants, those tight ones, which people in Indy don't use! Keep on wearing your leather pants; I'm sure Erica doesn't mind at all.

Thanks for introducing me to the whole Latin community - Juan, Ruben and those "Mexican's". That was the start to the best international parties at 215!

Sunsets, discussions, gourmet dinners at the backyard, holy time at the grave yard, 215 parties, Juan, Ruben; thanks for sharing them with me!

African dance at 215 when you had a great scene dancing to Johnny Clegg. Your great aunt and nephews in Johannesburg; thanks for inviting me to this great family! Brewpub, swing dance at Babka's place! The black and red dress we bought at East and 38th street. The mini marathon with the banana. Our speed walks at 6am along Washington Street. Your poems. Shoe shopping, together. I am going to stop here, Nolan! Emmanuel is screaming and wants my attention, badly.

My soul is in Indy today blessing this beautiful couple. I am so happy that Erica is the ONE for you, Nolan! I knew it the first time I got to know her, she is a beautiful woman, with a strong sense of self, and an incredible passion and care for those around here! I am at peace.

I and Emmanuel are giving our blessing all the way from Bergen in Norway - and we really hope to see you here, maybe next time you go to Ireland? You are really welcome. Mi casa es tu casa - My home is your home.

All the best!

Cheers, Salute and Skal!

Faith, Hope and Love - Elisabeth and Emmanuel

"I'm smiling with the sun in my face. Could I be Irish?"

I was reading journal #44 this morning and found this simple email message from Rich Starkey. "I'm smiling with the sun in my face. Could I be Irish?" Here was my response:

Hey Rich....If you can answer yes to the following questions I'd say "hell yes" you are Irish!

1. Do you get stoned to the soul by the power of words and music?
2. Do you often drink beers as large as your head?
3. Can you slide across the floor on your knees when dancing?
4. Do you get loud under the influence?
5. Are you under the influence now?
6. Do you practice heroic hospitality?
7. Have you been married to the same woman for more than 20 years?
8. Do you have a son to carry the Starkey name to the next generation?
9. Do you cry easily?
10. Do you have a warped sense of humor -laughing when others wouldn't?
11. Can you swear and not take the Lord's name in vain?
12. Can you hold a paradox until you burst with tension?
13. Can you pick a fight and then be over it the next day?
14. Do you spoil your children?
15. Do you spoil your wife?
16. Are you kind and generous?
17. Do you have a fair complexion?
18. Do you go upstream instead of downstream?
19. Do you like to read, I mean really read?
20. Do you attend church, at least occasionally?
21. Do you drink the blood of the Lamb?
22. Could you kill another with your bare hands if necessary to protect the life of many?
23. Are you deeply connected to your best friends?
24. Is the world your play ground?
25. Have you read C.S. Lewis - alot?
26. Do you like U2?
27. Can you tolerate rain, lots of rain?
28. Can you tolerate pain, lots of pain?
29. Do you get depressed in the dark cold half of the year?
30. Will you spend more money than you actually have?
31. Can you close a deal on a handshake?
32. Have you ever been Chairman of a Board?

I'm pretty sure you are Irish Rich, and I even found the Starkey name on mugs in Dublin to prove it!


Monday, April 11, 2011

Open House for Joseph Kaliisa - Uganda country director for Building Tomorrow

Please join us this Tuesday, April 12th from 5:00 - 8:00pm at our home, (3173 N. Delaware Street) to meet and greet Joseph Kaliisa Bagambaki with Building Tomorrow in Uganda. We will provide food and drinks, and everyone can get to know more about their successful approach to building sustainable schools in Uganda.

Driven by a contagious ambition, Joseph has a passion to work for vulnerable women and children and to date has coordinated the opening of seven primary-level academies in Uganda with classroom space for over 2,100 students.

Please stop in between 5:00 and 8:00pm to meet and connect with Joseph!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Tag, you're it.

Did you know that there is a wikipedia page for the game tag? It includes explanations for far more variations of the game than I ever considered as a kid. The large number of variants may be due to the inclination of children playing the game to constantly change the rules. I know I have observed Cole change the rules, mid-game, just because he wanted to skew the odds in his favor. We have all done it.

Tag is often referred to as 'tiggy' in Australia, which confused me for years because I was too embarrassed to stop the conversation and say "you mean tag, right?" But it is such a universal concept that you could probably refer to it by any name and people would know what you are talking about.
I was watching Cole play tag in his Judo class this morning and was marvelling at how much is packed into this very simple game. There are times I want to step in as a parent and straighten things out. To police the game and make sure it stays true. But that isn't what the game is about.

I think the game is about conflict and about roles and survival and the thrill of testing yourself against another. If you can't beat the situation with strength or agility, then you need to outsmart them by changing the rules and using logic or persuasion. I don't know if there is justice in a game of tag, but I see compassion and cunning.

The whole drama of the game captivates me. In studying the game, I have moved beyond my initial disappointment that things weren't progressing in an orderly fashion and now enjoy how it has let me see another facet of my child's mind.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

It takes a village....Thulani Temba Marshall Smith - April 1, 1998

Click on Photo to get full picture.....

Come help us celebrate Thulani Temba Marshall Smith's 13th Birthday, Friday, April 1st at his house - 122 E. 32nd Street - 6:00pm. Food and drinks for all, and as we say, "Cheers and well done Thulani!!!"

I just looked at my Journal Volume 6 - On the cover are these words: Thulani Temba Marshall Smith - The Peace Child & Creator of Hope, welcomed into this world by all of us, April 1, 1998:

Here is my journal entry for Wednesday, April 1, 1998:

"He was born at 4:30pm. We each held the boy and prayed for him in a circle as he was passed around. His mother sang a song....Rod delivered him as the birth coach. What an experience. I imagine we will have lots to talk about with Jenny (who gave birth alone as a teenager) and Laurie who has a daughter. I do believe he will want to adopt the child!!! Wow, saying "YES" more than "NO" has lots of ramifications."

April 2nd, 9:45 am: "Rod called from his cell phone...he is adopting Thulani Temba Marshall Simth, and brining him home to 215 E. 32nd Street. ROD IS A FATHER!!!!! Thulani is a grandchild of Judy Blough and godson of the Reel family. He will be raised to embrace his African heritage and American heritage. To God be the Glory."

Friday April 3rd, 7:30pm: Rod arrived home with Thulani Temba Marshall Smith. Judy had dinner for everyone. We lit the Rhino and Thulani didn't even wake up...he is a good baby. All the kids wanted to take care of the boy. We smoked a cigar and drank some beer, but forgot to open the Champaign."

Saturday April 4th, 9:00am: We went to Rod's this morning and everything went well last night. The baby slept well, waking at 3:00am and 5:00am. He will be getting a passport soon. Yesterday the ________ called and dumped some anxiety on Rod...about adopting the baby. Rod spent some time with Ann trying to get perspective...was he doing the right thing...was his mother being fair, not giving couples the chance of adopting the baby? He talked with her again at the hospital to get her input...she still was firm about Rod adopting Thulani...she explained that few American's have Ubuntu ("I am what I am because of who we all are"-soul, spirit), but Rod has it. They can communicate without words...the mother and Rod. It certainly seems right. "I believe the Lord has his hand in this...the finger prints of God are all over this..." Out of Africa, Amen!

Well done Rod, and Happy Birthday T.....

Next page in the journal: April 1st, 1998 Editorial entitled, "Moral preening on a trip to Africa" by Mona Charen. "....the outlook for most African babies born today is terribly bleak."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cheers and Blessings on St. Patrick's Day

Esther De Waal reminds us that the Celtic world of faith understood life as a journey rather than merely a destination. Encouraging a deeper, fuller way of being, of living within the whole of themselves and Creation, St. Patrick nurtured a nation of agrarian tribes in the baptism of their collective and fertile imaginations.

With a generous spirit of orthodoxy, the ancient Irish Christians were able to embrace the natural rhythms of Creation, both the light and the dark seasons. These seasons became symbols of the Celtic refusal to avoid pain and suffering, while at the same time rejoicing and celebrating the fullness and goodness of humanity created in the image of God.

Centuries before the Great Schism of early faith communities into Eastern Orthodoxy and Western Catholicism and long before the Reformation, Celtic Christianity was instinctively communal, shunning any separation of praying and living and working. For them faith was inseparable from ordinary life with no notions of sacred/secular divisions. All life including Creation was..."taken up by a Christianity that was not afraid of what it found but felt that it was natural to appropriate it into the fullness of Christian living."

Celtic culture shared much with the traditional and aboriginal peoples around the world who rejected overt individualistic and competitive inward-seeking lifestyles common today. They recognized themselves instead as belonging to one another and embraced life as mutually interdependent beings within the whole web of Creation.

Our quantum world and the new science that describes it today, speaks the same language of mutual holistic entanglement, linking us all together in this unfolding work of Art that we Christians call the Kingdom of God.

"The Celtic world touches all of this but yet remains totally unique, earthly, and mysterious, knowing darkness and pain but equally rejoicing in light, full of poetry and song and celebration, showing us the depths of penitence and the heights of praise, touching us in the secret hidden parts of our own selves and yet connecting us with others. So although each of us is in the end solitary, St. Patrick reminds us that we travel in company with those who have made this journey before us, by the whole company of heaven, the saints and the angels, a "cloud of witness", who surround us and who hold us up as we go."

Cheers, and enjoy the Celtic challenge!

Adapted from The Celtic Way of Prayer - The Recovery of the Religious Imagination by Esther De Waal

Friday, February 18, 2011

"Set down my name, sir!"

"Then the Interpreter took Christian and led him up toward the door of the palace; and behold, at the door stood a great company of men, as desirous to go in, but dared not. There also sat a man at a little distance from the door, at a tableside, with a book and his inkhorn before him, to take the names of them that should enter therein; he saw also that in the doorway stood many men in armor to keep it, being resolved to do the men that would enter what hurt and mischief they could. Now was Christian somewhat in amaze. At last, when every man fell back for fear of the armed men, Christian saw a man of very stout countenance come up to the man that sat there to write, saying, "Set down my name, sir," the which when he had done, he saw the man draw his sword, and put a helmet upon his head, and rush toward the door upon the armed men, who laid upon him with deadly force; but the man, not at all discouraged, fell to cutting and hacking most fiercely. So after he had received and given many wounds to those that attempted to keep him out, he cut his way through them all, and pressed forward int0 the palace."
John Bunyan Pilgrim's Progress

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Counseling with Dating Couples

I had a dream last night that Rabbi Ed Friedman was conducting a premarital counseling session with Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz in front of a class of YWAM students. The session was being video taped and we all sat there mesmerized as the Hollywood stars began to answer questions while Ed fleshed out two genograms, side by side on a massive white board at the front of the classroom.

We were in Geneva, Switzerland and I had signed up to participate in a "Counseling with Dating Couples" class in his Family Systems Program. The syllabus highlighted the historic work of the famous Swiss Psychiatrist, Dr. Carl Jung and his influence on Dr. Murray Bowen, the pioneer of Family Therapy movement in the United States.

Friedman began the class by lecturing for a brief time on the difference between the more traditional symptom oriented counseling that tends to concentrate on the relationship of the dating couple, compared to the systems oriented investigation that focuses on emotional process in the family of origin over several generations.

He scribbled down three key components of the extended family approach to couples counseling:

1. First point - dating couples can't hear much premarital advice as they are moving toward one another at the speed of light and away from everyone else. The best way to assist them during this time is with a focus on extended family genograms that allow them to learn more about their own and their partner's backgrounds.

2. Second point - premarital couples haven't yet experienced the profound fusion (loss of self) that generally happens once they tie the knot. Marriage and having kids are the two most powerful events in life and the degree of fusion and or differentiation they can expect to experience is only predictable from a family systems approach looking over three generations of extended family emotional process. (They will behave much more like their parents than they are wont to believe.)

3. Third point - the typical linear "compatibility" model of dating focuses primarily on the personality of the two individuals and their relationship. A relatively calm courtship often times is judged as proof that the couple are made for each other. Actually a major component of "knowing" your partner is to experience how they operate in a crisis. And exploring family history is a much better indicator of how well individuals might cope with one another during a crisis after they have made the marriage commitment.

As he erased the board in preparation for the construction of two genograms, with stunned disbelief, all we could do was shake our smiling faces at one another as the two famous movie stars sauntered in and took their seats by the white board.

Friedman turned to the class and said, " I hope you enjoyed the recent movie, Vicki Christina Barcelona......because we are in for a real treat today!" With that, I was rudely awakened by Ann as she leaned over said, "Steve, will you quit talking nonsense about Barcelona, we are going to Sevilla."

Agh....shame! That was one (make that two) genograms I really wanted to see.

STEVEN Black + Winter White Classic British Biker Boot

Wanda Jackson feat. Jack White 'Thunder On The Mountain' OFFICAL HD VIDEO

Friday, February 11, 2011

Open Hand- Friday Morning Prayer Liturgy

Friday Morning Call to Prayer
"He comes to us as One unknown, without a name, as of old, by the lakeside, He came to those men who knew Him not. He speaks to us the same word: "Follow thou me!" and sets us the tasks which he has to fulfill for our time. He commands. And to those who obey Him, whether they will be wise or simple, He will reveal Himself in the toils, the conflicts, the sufferings which they will pass through in his fellowship, and, as an ineffable mystery, they shall learn in their own experience Who He is." Albert Schweitzer

The Greeting (Doxology)
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

A Reading (All in unison)
Say among the nations, "The Lord reigns." The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity. Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy; they will sing before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his truth. Psalm 96:10-13

For Silent Reflection (Meditation)
Domestic order is obviously threatened by the margin of the wilderness that surrounds it. Marriage may be destroyed by instinctive sexuality; the husband may choose to remain with Kalypso or the wife may run away with godlike Paris. And the forest is always waiting to overrun the fields. These are real possibilities. They must be considered, respected, even feared.
And yet I think that no culture that hopes to endure can afford to destroy them or to set up absolute safeguards against them. Invariably the failure of organized religions, by which they cut themselves off from mystery and therefore from sanctity, lies in the attempt to impose an absolute division between faith and doubt, to make belief perform as knowledge; when they forbid their prophets to go into the wilderness, they lose the possibility of renewal. And the most dangerous tendency in modern society, now rapidly emerging as a scientific-industrial ambition, is the tendency toward encapsulation of human order - the severance, once and for all, of the umbilical cord fastening us to the wilderness of Creation. The threat is not only in the totalitarian desire for absolute control. It lies in the willingness to ignore an essential paradox: the natural forces that so threaten us are the same forces that preserve and renew us.
And enduring agriculture must never cease to consider and respect and preserve wildness. The farm can exist only within the wilderness of mystery and natural force. And if the farm is to last and remain in health, the wilderness must survive within the farm. That is what agricultural fertility is: the survival of natural process in the human order. To learn to preserve the fertility of the farm, Sir Albert Howard wrote, we must study the forest.
Similarly, the instinctive sexuality within which marriage exists must somehow be made to thrive within marriage. To divide one from the other is to degrade both and ultimately to destroy marriage.
Fidelity to human order, then, if it is fully responsible, implies fidelity also to natural order. Fidelity to human order makes devotion possible. Fidelity to natural order preserves the possibility of choice, the possibility of renewal of devotion. Where there is no possibility of choice, there is no possibility of faith. One who returns home - to one's marriage and household and place in the world - desiring anew what was previously chosen, is neither the world's stranger nor its prisoner, but is at once in place and free.
If we are to have a culture as resilient and competent in the face of necessity as it needs to be, then it must somehow involve within itself a ceremonious generosity toward the wilderness or natural force and instinct. The farm must yield a place to the forest, not as a wood lot, or even as a necessary agricultural principle, but as a sacred grove - a place where the Creation is let alone, to serve as instruction, example, refuge; a place for people to go, free to work and presumption, to let themselves alone. And marriage must recognize that it survives because of, as well as in spite of, Kalypso and Paris and the generosity of instinct that they represent. It must give some ceremonially acknowledged place to the sexual energies that now thrive outside all established forms, in the destructive freedom of moral ignorance or disregard. Without these accommodations we will remain divided: some of us will continue to destroy the world for purely human ends, while others, for the sake of nature, will abandon the task of human order.
The Necessity of Wildness - Wendell Berry

Response - The Kingdom of God

Out of death came life


An empty cross and an empty tomb, A nail mark shown and a presence known.


Coming like fire to all people and ages, Coming to birth in the water of life.


Called to receive him in bread and wine, Called to be free in the power of love.
For when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power.


Out of love comes celebration


Where peace is the means of making us one, Where truth and justice is done.


Promise of splendor and signal of worth, Sources of all goodness, renewing the earth.


In our compassion, making love known, In our conviction, God's power shown. You did not choose me, I chose you.


Let us go into the world rejoicing.
It is Christ who goes before us.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Curb Your Anxiety Friday (Theology Happy Hour) - with Father Noah Casey

Please join our Open Hand community gathering, Friday, February 18th from 6:00 - 8:00pm with special guest Father Noah Casey, at the Reynolds home - 3173 N. Delaware Street.

As usual we will provide hearty refreshments, a light supper and drinks as we fellowship around the fireplace with Fr Noah. He will highlight some historic themes of monastic faith traditions that have informed and challenged the church for over 1,700 years.

(Our Bob Hunter toast will have to wait for another day - his flight has changed and he will only be landing in Indy after 10:00pm)


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Systems Thinking

"Systems thinking is the process of understanding how things influence one another within a whole." Wikipedia

"Only by restoring the broken connections can we be healed. Connection is health. And what our society does its best to disguise from us is how ordinary, how commonly attainable, health is. We lose our health - and create profitable diseases and dependences - by failing to see the direct connections between living and eating, eating and working, working and loving. In gardening, for instance, one works with the body to feed the body. The work, if it is knowledgeable, makes for excellent food. And it makes one hungry. The work thus makes eating both nourishing and joyful, not consumptive, and keeps the eater from getting fat and weak. This is health, wholeness, a source of delight. And such a solution, unlike the typical industrial solution, does not cause new problems." Wendell Berry essay - The Body and the Earth

Challenged, O"

Monday, January 24, 2011

Finding our way back to the Garden of Eden

"The beauty of the female is the root joy to the female as well as to the male, and it is no accident that the goddess of Love is older and stronger than the god. To desire the desiring of her own beauty is the vanity of Lilith, but to desire the enjoying of her own beauty is the obedience of Eve, and to both it is in the lover that the beloved tastes her own delightfulness." C.S. Lewis

Catholic theologian Ronald Rolheiser points out the..."fundamental task of spirituality is to help us understand and channel our sexuality." The word Sex comes from the Latin root = and the verb "secare" literally means to "cut off", "to sever", to "disconnect from the whole." Therefore to be "sexed" essentially means to be cut off, severed from, to be amputated from the whole.

He goes on to remind us that sexuality is an all encompassing energy inside each of us creating a drive for love, communion, community, friendship, family, affection, wholeness, consummation, creativity, self-perpetuation, immortality, joy, delight, humor, and self-transcendence. Sex becomes an energy inside us that works incessantly against our being alone.

Sex is an expansive energy and we are healthy sexually when we have all these things, not just when we are sleeping with someone. A person can have a lot of sex and still lack true love. We can be celibate and still have community, family, friendship and creativity. Sexuality is as much about having friendships as it is about having lovers. Indeed as Rolheiser states, "It may be painful to sleep alone, but it is perhaps even more painful to sleep alone when you are not sleeping alone."

The Greeks did not ask one aspect of love to carry all the others. Their understanding of "Eros" had six systemic dimensions:

1. Ludens - love's playfulness, teasing, and humor
2. Erotic Attraction - sexual attractiveness and desire to have physical union
3. Mania - obsessiveness, falling in love, romance
4. Pragma - sensible arrangement in view of family, life, home and community
5. Philia - friendship, soulmates
6. Agape - altruism, selfishness, sacrifice

"Mature sexuality is not simply about finding a lover or even finding a friend, its about overcoming separateness by giving life and blessing it. Its about giving oneself over to community, friendship, family, service, creativity, humor, delight, and martyrdom so that God can help bring life into the world. It is also the pulse to celebrate, to give and to receive delight, to find our way back to the Garden of Eden where we can be naked, shameless, and without worry and work as we make love in the moon light."

Rolheiser explains that..."all these hungers, in their full maturity, culminate in one thing: they make us into co-creators with God. Mothers and fathers, artisans and creators, big brothers and big sisters, nurses, and healers, teachers, and farmers and producers, administrators and community builders....Co-responsible with God for the planet, standing with God and smiling and blessing the world."

Here are four of his fundamental principles that I strive to live by and hope to pass on to the next generation:

1. Sex is sacred and never simply a casual, neutral act, it needs respect and it thus builds the soul as a sacrament and brings God's physical touch to us...conversely if not respected it becomes a perverse thing that begins to disintegrate the soul. In a committed, loving and covenantal relationship sex is sacramental and part of the couples Eucharist. A privileged vehicle of grace. (Casual sex is often destructive of true community, and often of the individual soul as well. It can never be casual, but it is either a sacrament or a destructive act.)

2. Sex by its nature needs to be linked to marriage, monogamy, and a covental commitment that is by definition, all-embracing and permanent. Sex outside of marriage is a schizophrenic act. By its nature it speaks of total giving, total trust, and total commitment. Thus, if real trust, commitment, permanency, and unconditionality are not present within the wider relationship, sex is partly a pretends to give a gift that it does not really give and it asks for a gift that it can't respectfully reciprocate.

3. Sex has an inner dynamic that, if followed faithfully, will lead its partners to sanctity = God's energy within leads people to sanctity. Young people initially want sex, yet love creates a new desire, and sexuality demands not just sex but intimacy, exclusivity and commitment as well, leading to marriage and children and how much they change our outlook! Children grow and community expands and adults continue to mature, mellow and ultimately bless...Sex followed in fidelity leads to sanctity. Desire, working through us, if followed faithfully, keeps opening us up further and further to gracious adulthood.

4. Sex requires a healthy chastity - which is not the same thing as celibacy. It doesn't mean that one does not have sex, nor that one is a prude. Chastity is first of all, not even primarily a sexual concept, though, given the power and urgency of sex, faults in chastity are often within the area of sexuality. It has to deal with all experiences - it is about the appropriateness of any experience...ultimately chastity is reverence and sin, all sin, is irreverence. To be chaste is to experience people, things, places, entertainment, the phase of our lives, and sex in a way that does not violate them or ourselves. To be chaste is to experience things reverently, in such a way that the experience leaves both them and ourselves more, not less, integrated. Conversely, we lack chastity when we cross boundaries prematurely or irrevently, when we violate anything and somehow reduce what is. Sex, because it is such a powerful fire always needs the protection of chastity.

Amen....enjoy the challenge!

Adapted from Ronald Rolheiser's great book - The Holy Longing.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Hasta la vista baby......Annie is off to Spain!

Here is our Celtic Commissioning liturgy for Annie Reynolds - 16 January, 2011

"Community cannot take root in a divide life. Long before community assumes external shape and form, it must be present as seed in the individual self: only as we are in communion with ourselves can we find community with others. Community is an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace, the flowing of personal identity and integrity into the world of relationships." Parker Palmer

LEADERSHIP: To be a leader one must have and embody a vision of where one wants to it is not a matter of knowing or believing one is right; it is a matter of taking the first step.

MENTORS & APPRENTICES: They are partners in the ancient human dance of the spiraling generations, in which the old empower the young with their experience and the young empower the old with new life, renewing the fabric of the human community as they touch and turn.

AUTHORITY: It is granted to people who are perceived as authoring their own words, their own actions, their own lives, rather than playing a scripted role at great remove from their own hearts.

IDENTITY: Our identity is an evolving nexus where all the forces that constitute our lives converge in the mystery of self: our genetic makeup, the nature of the men and women who gave us life, the culture in which we were raised, the people who have sustained us and harmed us - in the midst of this complex field, identity is a moving intersection of the inner and outer forces that make us who we are, converging in the irreducible mystery of human beings created in the image of God.

INTEGRITY: This is whatever wholeness we are able to find within that nexus as its vectors form and reform the patterns of our lives. Integrity requires that we discern what is integral to our selfhood, what fits and what does not - and that we choose life-giving ways of relating to the forces that converge within us. By choosing integrity, we become more whole, but wholeness does not mean perfection. It means becoming more real by acknowledging the whole of who we are.


Annie will you embark on this journey to Seville, Spain, with a spirit of adventure, and as a steward of your unfolding vision to live abroad, while embracing a new culture, a new language, and a new people? I WILL

Annie will you continue your generational dance, and as much as you are able, apprentice yourself, while empowering with new life, those Spanish mentors that God gives you....and likewise accept personal empowerment from their collective experiences and wisdom I WILL

Annie will you continue to author your own words, determine your own actions, live your own life, refusing to play scripted roles, so that you may cultivate your God given authority? I WILL

Annie will you continue to explore the subtle dimensions of the complex identity of your life, and in this process of self-discovery seek to bring the inner and outer forces into harmony, at the intersections of your heart, mind and will? I WILL

Annie will you read avidly, and explore new and traditional works, embracing the challenges of being on the forefront of global trends in the marketplace, while creating new ways to do "old things". I WILL

Annie Reynolds, with God as our witness, we release you and we bless your....go with grace to Seville!

Let us pray (all in unison)
Almighty God....
Sun behind all suns,
Soul behind all souls,...
Show to us in everything we touch
And in everyone we meet
The continued assurance of thy presence round us,
Lest ever we should think thee absent.
In all created things thou art there.
In every friend we have
The sunshine of they presence is shown forth.
In every enemy that seems to cross our path,
Thou art there within the cloud to challenge us to love.
Show to us the glory in the grey.
Awake for us thy presence in the very storm
Till all our joys are seen as thee
And all our trivial tasks emerge as priestly sacraments
In the universal temple of they love. Amen.

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art -
Thou my best thought by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou by wisdom, and Thou my true word,
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Riches I need not, nor man's empty praise,
Thou mine inheritance, now and always,
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my treasure Thou art.

High King of heaven, my victory won,
May I reach heaven's joys, O bright heaven's Son !
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be by vision, O ruler of all.

We all love you Annie!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Red Rover Red Rover Send Annie Over - Seville, Spain

Please join our Open Hand community for a pitch-in feast, Sunday, January 16th at 5:30pm, as we commission Annie for her upcoming I.U. Spring semester abroad in Spain.

Bring a side dish or desert and we will provide the rest including Spanish wine and meats. We will be celebrating at the Crane's - 3174 N. Delaware - our inaugural community gathering in their historic and recently updated home. (Thanks Jeff and Leah - can't wait!)

As they say in Seville,
Que corren los toros!!!!!!