Gathering thoughts and voices

My external life and work reflect my inner heart and mind – multivocal. I almost always have at least 3 trains of thought going at any one time.

They may be bullet commuter trains, or workhorse engines, but they’re continually running, and not always in the same direction.

 

Network-Rail_2866962b
Sometimes the tracks go off in all sorts of crazy directions…..
….. or are they coming together from disparate places?
I’m not sure. Maybe both. Either way, this also describes the way I approach my work – bringing together multiple streams of thought, and then sending them off in far-flung directions.

My challenge is not so much holding all my trains of thought as it is communicating them in a way that makes sense to others, which they can retell, and into which they can find their own points of connection. This is one of my primary goals for the coming months – finding ways to clarify and articulate my own multivocal tracks into one meta-narrative or central story that holds it all together.

(At this point someone is saying, “Isn’t the unifying story The Gospel, the unifying character Jesus, or God?” Yes, but while true it is so broad and vague as to be next to useless for this exercise in particularity of vocational expression. The question is not “who is God?” but “who am I becoming because of God?” Jesus is God incarnate – telling us all that we need to know about God, or more accurately all we can know. How is my unique life to be an extension of that witness – how am I to incarnate God in the world?)

The primary trains of thought in my professional / work / ministry life right now are:

  • Vocation – “The voice with which our lives speak good things into existence in the world.” Research and teaching (writing and speaking) on how this understanding of vocation is essential to human life.
  • Multivocal – Discover how vocation is manifest through the six domains of human flourising, and how you can become more fully yourself, more fully whole, by discovering, developing and deploying your vocational identity in each part of your life.
  • Synchronous Life: Six Domains of Human Flourishing – developing, using and sharing this model for understanding human wholeness, and the place of vocation in it.
  • Coaching & Consulting – Leadership and Life Coaching, Spiritual Direction and Pastoral Care for leaders of ministries and nonprofits
  • Pastoral/Parish Ministry – serving as a leader in a particular Christian congregation, including preaching, teaching, worship leading, leadership development, pastoral counseling…
  • AltrCall – Gathering and Sharing Stories of Vocation. A gathering and exploration of stories of calling that include but go way beyond the norm and the expected. Clergy and Laity who are finding new ways to live out their call to ministry. Some will bear a family resemblance to things you already know. Others will be as if seeing ministry for the first time.
  • Entrepreneurship – supporting entrepreneurs in business, community nonprofits and ministries through coworking and other modalities that bring together leaders and innovators in collaborative relationships, experiences and spaces.

All of these make use of my skills in research, writing and speaking, strategic thinking and deep listening and connected yet differentiated relating. My great hope is that my work will enhance the lives of leaders across multiple sectors of society, with a special passion for those serving in congregational and community based ministries. I believe my greatest contribution and impact will be in helping these kinds of leaders to not only survive but to thrive personally and professionally – in every area of their lives. If this happens, then they will have the resilience, humility and humor to persevere in the midst of opposition and press on toward the goal of the high calling – “till justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream.” (Amos 5:24) Until from them flow forth streams of living water. (John 4)

Because I’m able to hold all of these in my heart, head and hands at one time, I’m unable to see simply and clearly where the center may be, the narrative thread that runs through and holds them all together so that others can make sense and use of them.

I’d love to hear from you. What do you see that communicates best (and worst) in all of this? Where are the gravitational centers? Where do you find most resonance with your own thoughts and the conversations you hear in your world?

Wisdom of the Crone

I have the privilege of serving as a Coach and Spiritual Director with several women who are in or approaching their 3rd chapter – “life after mid-life” – and am enjoying hearing how they discover their emerging new sense of self. They are looking for models or points of reference to help make sense of what they are experiencing. We are curious whether those of you who also fall into this category find the “wisdom of the Crone” to be helpful for your reflections? If so, do you have reading suggestions? I’m aware of Barbara Walker’s The Crone: Woman of Age, Wisdom, and Power and DJ Conway’s Maiden, Mother, Crone: The Myth & Reality of the Triple Goddess.

Alternately, do you have other images that might be similarly helpful?

Thanks

Clarify your dream for your life.

Many of us are thinking this week about our accomplishments in the year past, and the things we hope to do in the year ahead. Some of these are personal quality of life topics, while others are more about our professional or work lives. Often we try to think and function as though these were separate and disconnected spheres, only overlapping or impacting each other during a heavy work project, on sick days or at the company holiday party. My own experience and observation indicates that an integrated life is a happier and healthier life – one where our personal and work lives overlap in healthy and beneficial ways. A great example of this is the growing trend in flexible work situations where people can be more effective and efficient at work because they are able to also accommodate their family needs, including caring for children, spouses and aging parents.

As we move into the new year, we do well to clarify our life dreams alongside our short term personal and professional goals. Otherwise, we may invest years and even decades into valuable endeavors only to discover far too late that we have failed to build the life we most wanted. When we have clarity around our life dream(s), then we can make choices each day that will move us in that direction, and can gather a community of advocates who will help us along the way.

DASL
Consider the possibility that your life needs more DASL. I’m not asking you to add bling with glitter and rhinestones. No, DASL stands for Dream ~ Articulate  ~ Share ~ Live. Dreaming is something that happens inside of our hearts, minds and imaginations. Our dreams want to come out, so we learn to articulate them, even when they do not seem to make sense to us, or seem irrational, unbelievable, impossible. Next we share this articulation of our dreams with others. We do this for several reasons. When we share, we hear ourselves and our dreams, and we come to believe in them more. We also continue to refine our articulation of our dreams. Plus, when others hear our articulation of our dreams, then they ask questions, catch the vision, begin sharing our dream, and experience an upwelling of their own dreams. This process naturally unfolds into the reality of living our dreams. When you see it, clarify it, and tell it, you begin organically to live it, and you find resources in people, ideas, tools, and energy that will help make the dream a reality.

Where is my dream?
If you already have a dream trying to burst forth, and you know it intimately, then the hardest work is already done. But what if you don’t have a dream, or can’t see/remember because it lies buried under obligation, fear or grief? In an upcoming post we will consider some techniques to uncover or discover your dream (personally or professionally). For now, go back to the last dream you remember having, and practice DASL with that. And when you’re ready to talk, let me know.

Discerning, Choosing and Acting with limited information and limited control

Download Discerning, choosing and acting with limited information and limited control
We often are faced with situations in life where we feel a need to choose and act without all the information and answers, and where various elements are beyond our control. At the same time, we do not want to be reactive or reactionary. We believe faithful and fruitful require us to consider, pray, reflect, discuss, discern, choose and act as best we can, individually and collectively, “trusting God with the rest” whatever that may mean. One way of building our capacity for this discernment work is through the Ignatian Prayer of Imagination. In this prayer method, we hear a biblical story and place ourselves within it, thinking, feeling, sensing, and experiencing it. Most often Ignatius invites us to pray with stories of Jesus acting in the world. At other times we are with Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph, and the disciples, as they respond with a Yes to God’s call on their lives. We can also learn from those in the Hebrew Scriptures who were called to make choices in the world and trust God along the way. Following are some scripture passages with which to practice this form of prayer. You might use them, one each day, Monday through Friday, or take several days to hear, experience and discern the wisdom in a particular text for you. You may also select texts of your own choosing – keeping in mind that this form of prayer is more effective when used with stories than with lessons, teachings, rules or theological discourses. Other resources may be found at: http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/; http://wau.org/resources/article/re_use_your_imagination/; http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/Imagination/Intro.html . For more reflection on Choosing and Discernment, see Joseph A. Tetlow, SJ, beginning with this prayer: http://predmore.blogspot.com/2012/07/prayer-joseph-tetlow-choosing-christ-in.html

A Week of Abraham and Sarah
Abram is called to Journey – Genesis 12:1-9
Abram, Sarai and Pharaoh – Genesis 12:10-20
Abram, Sarai and Hagar – Genesis 16
Abraham, Sarah & three visitors – Genesis 18:1-15
Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Hagar & Ismael – Genesis 21: 1-21

A Week of Moses
Birth and childhood of Moses – Exodus 2:1-10
Moses – Prince of Egypt – Exodus 2: 11-15
Moses from prince to shepherd – Exodus 2: 16-25
Call of Moses – Exodus 3:1-14
Moses negotiates with God – Exodus 4

A Week of Exodus
Israelites at the Red Sea – Exodus 14
The Israelites Thirst – Exodus 15:22-27; 17:1-7
The Israelites Hunger – Exodus 16
Israel measures the challenge – Numbers 13
Israel rejects God’s invitation – Numbers 14

A Week of Women
Tamar – Genesis 38
Deborah – Judges 4
Ruth – Ruth 1
Esther – Esther 4
Judith – Judith 8