Posted in Essay, Poems/Poetry, Spiritual Practice, Terri Stewart

Sacred Space in All That Is

I am not quite done with the reading I wanted to do to create the final posting in the series of Sacred Space in the body, so I am going to share this recent post I wrote over at BeguineAgain.com.

…I was, I AM, I will always be…

Really, that’s the definition of the Holy Name that G*d passes on to Moses. This infinitive form of the verb “to be,” makes me think of even more! Reaching my fingers back through time and forward to the future.

Couple that with the declaration in the book of Genesis,

Let us make humans in our own image! Male AND female G*d created them

Lawrence T. Richardson expanded a bit on this. Instead of our traditional understanding that would be more of male OR female, G*d created them, it is male AND female. He is a transgender, queer-identified pastor, someone who has been created both male and female and claims both. Pastor Richardson talks of transgender people being the epitome of G*d since they are both male AND female rather than either/or. Now, I don’t really agree that there is a hierarchy of being most made in the image of G*d, but I do agree that the great I AM is embodied in all people.

One of the things I love about physics is the discussion of matter in regular plain-old Newtonian physics. Matter is neither created nor destroyed. Therefore, the dust that we experience has always been, is, and will always be. The things we breathe and touch that make us sneeze fits, have always been, are, and will always be. We are all connected through earthly and cosmic stardust (to dip into Carl Sagan’s language a bit). We, through our connection to the divine and through our connection to physical matter have always been, are, and will always be.

How can I not feel holiness, sacredness, the divine if we are not all connected?

stardust shimmers

ten thousand light years ago

birthing new life

It is at moments when I reflect on all that was, is, and shall be, that I feel fully connected and grounded in the Sacred Space in All That Is.

from the Hubble Telescope Infrared Horsehead Nebulae
from the Hubble Telescope
Infrared Horsehead Nebulae

Shalom and Amen,

Terri

Originally published at http://www.BeguineAgain.com

Photograph from the Hubble Telescope, Creative Commons License

terri

REV. TERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s  Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual. (The 2014 issue just released!)

Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at www.cloakedmonk.com, www.twitter.com/cloakedmonk, and www.facebook.com/cloakedmonk.  To reach her for conversation, send a note to terri@cloakedmonk.com

Posted in Essay, poem, Poems/Poetry, poetry, Spiritual Practice, Terri Stewart

Naming Your Sacred Truth

Gloriously Pink by Terri Stewart
Dazzling Pink

Recently, I took a personality test that was required for a program I am participating in. Sometimes, I feel like the most tested person in the world! Meyers Brigg, Gary Smalley, MMPI, an actual interview with a therapist—and I think there were other tests. My organization really, really wants their people to be healthy!

The unique thing about the most recent test – called the DISC – is that it created a public and private personality profile. My “two” personalities were not far off of each other, but they were different. Most significantly, my “D” or dominance trait is very high publicly and only moderately high privately. Meaning, I am bossy.

What a surprise!

Privately, though, my bossiness is exactly balanced with my expressive part of my personality. Meaning, I can be obnoxiously loud! Loud and bossy!

An even bigger surprise!

Not.

Those are just the harsh ways of looking at my personality. Really, I am the head of an organization – if I can’t provide direction, the organization will not succeed. And the expressive + directing can equal playful and silly. Or dramatic. That is the private me.

Question: What does this have to do with spiritual practices or sacred space?

Everything! There is the old adage, “Know thyself.” But it is also, “Know Your Story!” And “Tell Your Story!” (The whole expressive personality thing = exclamation points.)

I am reading a book called Your Mythic Journey by Sam Keen and Anne Valley-Fox. They go into a discussion of public and private personas. Sometimes we think about our authentic selves like it is only possible to be fulfilled if we are 100% “authentic.” Maybe. The questions that spring to my mind are: “Who is your authentic self?” “Is your public self any less important than your private self?” “Are we allowed to protect our fragile bits and keep them private?” “Can we hold personas these in dialogue?” “Is the private self always the healthy self?”

And on, and on.

Today, I’d like to encourage you to glimpse your public and private self through creating a fill-in-the-blank scenarios and then looking at all the words you accumulate to create a revelatory product that illumines the sacred being that we all are.

Pen and paper in hand, sit back and follow the prompts.

Your Public Self

  • Make a list of 10 words or phrases that best describe you using the prompt, “I am ______________ .”
  • Now rank the words/phrases in order of importance
  • Now cross them out one at a time until you are left with your most important trait.
  1. I am playful.
  2. I am smart.
  3. I am disorganized.
  4. I am also organized.
  5. I am faith-filled.
  6. I am compassionate.
  7. I am loud.
  8. I am wise.
  9. I am filled with ideas.
  10. I am creative.

  1. I am compassionate.
  2. I am playful.
  3. I am creative.
  4. I am filled with ideas.
  5. I am faith-filled.
  6. I am smart.
  7. I am loud.
  8. I am wise.
  9. I am also organized.
  10. I am disorganized.

What is your revelatory word? Please leave your word in the comments section to share.

If you would like to take this one step further, I encourage to take your 10 words/phrases and use them as word prompts to create a micro-poem (using as many or as few of the words as you like).

playful love

spatters life dripping

with painted ideas

of

dazzling pinks, blues, and yellows.

swarming compassionately

and loudly causing

chaos

while held together

in

sophic faith.

i. am.

Of course, my private self is not quite so lovey-dovey, dazzling pink, or wise. Often the chaos is on the rise internally or the struggles I have with health are masked out. But that will be a post for another day. Today, embrace the sacred space that you present to the world. I believe that when we don’t have enough faith in our own abilities to be compassionate or loving or wise, we can live into that reality until our inner space matches our outer space.

Shalom and Amen.

~Terri

P.S. I’d love to invite you over for a quick look at the Advent reflections that have been offered at BeguineAgain.com

Thursday, 11/28, The Tipping Point, Essay by Jamie Dedes (The Bardo Group)
Friday, 11/29, Simple Truths, Poem by Kathleen Tenpas
Saturday, 11/30, I Didn’t Want to Move, Essay by David Orendorff
Sunday, 12/1, World AIDS Day, Essay by Tracy Daugherty
Monday, 12/2, Fowler’s Snare, Collage by Judy Alkema
Tuesday, 12/3, An Advent Prayer, Prayer by Mark Sandlin
Wednesday, 12/4, An Angel Came Near, Essay by Tracy Daugherty
Thursday, 12/5, Washed, Poem by Terri Stewart
Friday, 12/6, Zoom In, Zoom Out, Essay by Catherine MacDonald
Saturday, 12/7, The Word Stands, Collage by Laura Esculcas
Sunday, 12/8, The Wolf, Storytelling by Jim Cyr

© 2013, post and photo , Terri Stewart, All rights reserved

terriREV. TERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s  Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual. (The 2014 issue just released!)

Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at www.beguineagain.com , www.twitter.com/cloakedmonk, and www.facebook.com/cloakedmonk.  To reach her for conversation, send a note to cloakedmonk@outlook.com

Posted in Essay, Spiritual Practice, Terri Stewart

Sacred Space in Particles

I am fascinated with astrophysics. And I am probably just skilled enough to be dangerously inept! One thing that just makes my heart flutter is the idea that all matter is already created! We can neither destroy or create matter. (Except that we can, according to the Higgs Boson discovery – but that will be for another discussion!)

In general terms, matter is neither destroyed or created so that essentially the particles we immerse ourselves in are the same particles that have been around forever and ever. The Oxygen molecule I breathe in was perhaps breathed in by some semi-ancient ancestor. Who would I choose to share breath with? Maybe I would connect to some fabulously wonderful pioneering women such as Christine de Pizan or Joan of Arc. Or maybe with some substantial spiritual leaders like Jesus of Nazareth, Gautama Siddartha, or Mary of Magdala. I could be breathing their particles!

I am also breathing the particles that were created at the moment of birth of the cosmos. That rapid expansion of the universe when it really did somehow go from nothing to something. Pushed outward in a violent burst of matter, light, and waves. Culminating in this moment. This time. At least for us. This moment is the culmination. Until the next moment, that is!

So, I was thinking cosmologically in this way and I stumbled across a book called, The Tree. It is a children’s book written by a Pacific Northwest author. I imagined the particularity of matter as residing in the tree. And then I read the story of how this book came about. The author received this story while sitting underneath a Douglas Fir in the Pacific Northwest. He received it as a song, not as a story. He sang it often for various events. Half-heartedly claiming that the tree wrote it.

Later, he was invited to a celebration to celebrate the return of the Madrona Point burial ground to the Lummi people. The tribal chief wanted to hear his song. He sang it. And then offered the story of the song’s origins with the additional wondering, “Did it really come from that ancient Douglas Fir?”

The tribal chief said, “It did. I recognize the tune.” He went on. “It is known in our tradition that each tree has its own song. Our music comes from them. We show our respect for the great trees by singing their songs and playing them on the flute. We must all work to save the ancient groves in our territory.”

Hmm. That is really quite beautiful.

And so, for this offering in the quest towards finding sacred space, I invite you to connect with the particles of the cosmos, the particles of the tree, and to sit back and enter into the story of The Tree.

Shalom and Amen,

Terri

© 2013, post and video, Terri Stewart, All rights reserved

terriREV. TERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s  Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual. (The 2014 issue just released!)

Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at www.cloakedmonk.com, www.twitter.com/cloakedmonk, and www.facebook.com/cloakedmonk.  To reach her for conversation, send a note to terri@cloakedmonk.com

Posted in Essay, Spiritual Practice, Terri Stewart

Finding Sacred Space In the Other

This week in my church, it has been filled with conflict and dissension. That makes for a tough week! Let me clarify – structurally, from the upper echelon of the decision-making bodies, there has been a reinforcement of codified discrimination and what I think is just pig-headed wrongness. Ha! I am not feeling very charitable at all. I always have the choice of staying within the system or leaving. But leaving does not really move the ball forward for me. Why? Because my basic anthropology is that we are all connected. Even if I left this system and surrounded myself with folks that were just like me (how irritating that would be!), I am still connected to the people that I find the most frustrating.

Harrumph.

Then, I discovered this exercise written by Troy Bronson in his book Drawn In. It is an exercise for integration and forgiveness. Or perhaps forgiveness and integration. I am fairly certain that full integration is not possible without forgiveness! At any rate, I have adapted his exercise and now I offer it to you as a spiritual practice to aid in integrating those people that drive us bananas.

Take a piece of paper and fold it in half twice so that you have four quadrants. In the bottom right list your enemies: those who mean harm to you and your family; those who are politically opposed to what you are for; those who persecute you and others associated with your causes and passions.

In the bottom left list your friends: advocates for those associated with your religious, political, or social causes. Write all of this so that both groups are at the bottom of the page, with only a crease separating them.

On the Horizon (c) 2013, Terri Stewart
On the Horizon
(c) 2013, Terri Stewart

Now, draw a horizontal line to separate both groups from the empty top half of the page. Read this adapted version of Psalm 121.

I look to the hills!
Where will I find help?
It will come from the immense force
that created the stars, sun, sky,
And earth.

You are protected by Love,
And Love will not sleep
Or stumble
Or snooze.
Love always is.
Protecting you,
Standing at your right side,

The Tree shades us from the sun
The sun will not harm you
Nor will the
Moon.
Protecting you,
Keeping you safe from
All
Dangers.

The incredible creative force
That was, that is, that shall be
Is with you.
Now and always.
Wherever you go.

Reflect on the line, “I look to the hills!” and imagine that the line you’ve drawn is a horizon line made by hills way off at the distance. Imagine your friends and your enemies looking into a future where all things are met with love, justice, and mercy. Where the separating walls between these two groups are healed and taken down. Where the grievances are forgiven. Where they gaze lightly upon one another and see beloved rather than the other.

Now, offer your thoughts to love and reconciliation choosing to step forward into the hills that were once a divider, but now, as we all step into them, cocoon us in beauty.

Adapted from Ephesians 2:11-22

Don’t forget that you used to be the other! The enemy! They used to call you crude and rude. You were a foreigner in this land with no understanding of tradition. You had no hope and were held far away from life giving love.

Creative, responsive love unites all in peace! Breaking down the laws that separate us – that separated us. Following religious rules that are not grounded in loving kindness is not helpful! We all suffer, feel pain. But we are all one, one body united together. We are in this one life together.

You are no longer a stranger or an enemy! You are beloved. Just as those you persecute are beloved. All who went before you are the foundation for who you are today. And it is held together by Love and grown into holy ground where Loving Kindness dwells.

You are part of that holy ground.
You are holy ground.
They are holy ground.
We are
Holy
Ground.

There is no near and no far.
There is only here.
Be one.

Shalom and Amen,

Terri

© 2013, post , Terri Stewart, All rights reserved

terriREV. TERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s  Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual. (The 2014 issue just released!)

Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at www.cloakedmonk.com, www.twitter.com/cloakedmonk, and www.facebook.com/cloakedmonk.  To reach her for conversation, send a note to cloakedmonk@outlook.com

Posted in Essay, Spiritual Practice, Terri Stewart

Finding the Sacred in Impermanence

Today I have been thinking about the beauty of impermanence. These thoughts were inspired by an artwork installation I saw recently called Shimmering Tree. Shimmering Tree is a projection of a digital tree onto a huge wall in a gallery. The tree is shimmery, animated, and changes seasons. But it is digital! I wondered about this digital artwork media installment sitting next to traditional portraiture or other more concrete forms of art. Shimmering Tree is art from digital artist Jennifer Steinkamp. An earlier piece of hers is Dervish:

It is a fascinating thing. Steinkamp’s work may be a valuable lesson to not become too attached to a physical manifestation and to embrace the beauty of what is.The inherent contradiction is that this temporary art is captured forever kn a digital form!

I think there may be a deeper spiritual practice lurking in the embrace of impermanence. This is more than recognizing that things change-it is a deep-seated gratitude for impermanence. A recognition of the beauty inherent in change, impermanence, evolution.

I wonder, what have I been holding onto that I need to let go of? Usually those things are behavioral for me. But it could be something else. Shoes. Books. Things. Sometimes I get this fleeting impression of impermanence when I wish I had my camera with me to capture a particularly beautiful vision. But I am forced, in that moment, to receive the image and to release it-with gratitude.

Thinking of impermanence and developing a greater appreciation for it led me to remember a video I saw from Ukraine’s Got Talent. This art is the epitome of grace, beauty, and impermanence.

Of course, life has always been impermanent. Art decays. But usually it is with us more than 5 minutes! Much art outlasts people! What are we going to do when everything has a lifespan tied to the technology cycle?

We better learn to master this! I wonder if there is one word you would like to offer as a movement towards seeing the beauty of impermanence? My word is: ego.

How about you?

Shalom and Amen,

Terri

© 2013, post , Terri Stewart, All rights reserved

terriREV. TERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s  Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual. (The 2014 issue just released!)

Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at www.cloakedmonk.com, www.twitter.com/cloakedmonk, and www.facebook.com/cloakedmonk.  To reach her for conversation, send a note to cloakedmonk@outlook.com

Posted in Essay, Spiritual Practice, Terri Stewart

Finding Sacred Space Within Our Own Skin

I am attending a retreat this weekend. I have done two exercises today that stretched my own perception of myself. I’d like to offer one to you as a Spiritual Practice geared towards finding sacred space within your own skin and being willing to see yourself.

I don’t know about you, but that can be the most difficult spot for me to discover. Somehow, I can look at others and see their beauty, but acknowledging my own beauty seems at once terrifying, bold, and that I may fall short of being that … what? That person. That human. That woman. That mother. That chaplain. That presence of comfort. Oh, I think it is true that I fall short – we all do – but failing myself at simply just seeing myself is not okay!

Nowhere is that more present than in the myriad of photos I have of family and family vacations. Where am I? Behind the camera. I may be in 1 in a thousand photos. Seriously. It’s not okay! This Spiritual Practice is geared at self portraiture. It is a series of photos. (None of these photos are touched up. I am intentionally resisting the temptation!)

First exercise … find a place where you can intentionally photo bomb yourself with a weird background. I thought this was fun with a mural in the background. I think I can use this one when I am mad! This will let you have a humorous, gentle start!

WP_20131026_019

Next, consider what a self-portrait consists of … it is any part of you that is in a picture. Gather photos of you reaching for something, holding something, stepping onto a path, you name it! Hands, feet, hair!

WP_20131026_031

WP_20131026_028

WP_20131026_025

Next, learn to use that timer on your camera! I understand that iPhones have Gorilla and Windows phones have Auto Timer Camera. Now take full shots of yourself doing different things.

3_jpg

5_jpg (1)

12_jpg (1)

Last, look into the camera and be love. You may think of someone you love and gaze into the camera or think of loving yourself or think of loving the world. Start here. Be an image of love.

WP_20131026_034

I spend a lot of time “being love” in the world. Working with incarcerated and homeless youth. But without a loving foundation that includes spiritual practices that let me see and be myself, I won’t be able to sustain compassionate action. Even the healthiest egos need times of sustenance.

Shalom and Amen,

Terri

© 2013, post , Terri Stewart, All rights reserved

terriREV. TERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s  Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual. (The 2014 issue just released!)

Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at www.cloakedmonk.com, www.twitter.com/cloakedmonk, and www.facebook.com/cloakedmonk.  To reach her for conversation, send a note to cloakedmonk@outlook.com

“A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.”
― Desmond Tutu

Posted in Essay, Spiritual Practice, Terri Stewart

It’s All Sacred Space II

"I AM" Sacred Space
“I AM”
Sacred Space

Following up on last week’s “It’s All Sacred Space.”

Two pastors that I know are extraordinary. They both pastor homeless people. One lived as a homeless person for two weeks so he could understand what was going on. The other is homeless. She refuses to live in a home and sleeps on the streets every night of her life. She takes this so seriously that given the opportunity to sleep inside at a convocation, she made special arrangements to sleep in the doorstep-declining housing thousands of miles away from her people. She is the only one who would have known! And nobody would have judged her in error for sleeping inside at a conference she was attending.

I am amazed at the depth of commitment they both have.

In my context, that would be sleeping in a detention center. I am not sure I am prepared to be locked up in order to be one with the people that I am committed to walking with.

But maybe that is because I am not viewing all space as sacred. If I imagine that a jail cell is the Cathedral of Notre Dame with an air of mystery, sacrament, and holiness…does that change the context? Maybe. But could I put on the blue scrubs, white t-shirt, white socks, and orange plastic flip-flops? Using harsh soaps, eating questionable food, everything? Hmmm. I am not sure I could ever do that. I am also not sure that it is a requirement to do so. But, perhaps what is a requirement is the holy imagination it takes to think of what this walk would be.

That is the spiritual practice I’d like to invite you into today, holy imagination. I believe that we are all called to support the least among us. In other words, those who cannot take care of themselves. Those our societies often label “other.” People who are “other” than us—outside the norm—impoverished, imprisoned, hungry, sick, non-gender conforming—whoever is being “othered.”

Who is your other?

Could it be someone from a different faith tradition? A different political point-of-view? Or any of those I listed above? Generally, there is always someone we “other-ize.” Even though I am working with people every day that are affected by incarceration, I found myself in a spot today where I felt the person I was sitting with was totally “other” from me. She is telling me flat-out that when she returns to her community, she will return to drug use and gang involvement. Period. She sees no other way. No other hope. That is hard for me to fathom. She says, “I will probably be dead by 21” without blinking. Wow. And sheesh. I need to find a way to sit with her in a way that is hopeful and not descend into other-izing her even though her current ideas are so foreign to my mind and heart.

If I use holy imagination, maybe I can put myself into her life and feel where her self-imposed traps come from. And seeing where the traps are, maybe I can point out a way she can negotiate the traps and bring herself greater freedom. I don’t know. I will continue to work on it.

Today, using your own holy imagination, can you take five minutes (really, 20 minutes is more like it!) to do some visualization work?

First, relax as much as you can. Keep working at it until you have quieted the monkey mind (or brain chatter—but my inner chatter is more like a monkey!).

When you have fully relaxed, set your intention. Here, I am suggesting your intention should be a conversation with whoever you “other-ize.” (Could it be yourself?)

Next, focus on what you want. Today, our desire is closer understanding. How can you begin to understand the figurative foreigner across from you? What questions can you ask in order to bring you deeper understanding? I am always amazed at my own capacity to carry assumptions. How can we leave assumptions and expectations behind so that there is room for increased understanding?

As realizations and understandings grow, there may be a struggle. Give your struggle up. It is like the monkey-brain. Keep offering both of these things away. I usually visualize putting these on a cloud and whooshing them out of my space. Don’t struggle too hard. If it isn’t happening, it isn’t happening. Then, don’t be too hard on yourself. There will be another day, another try.

Finally, don’t get tangled in negative thoughts—whoosh them away on that cloud! Experience your highest self—the one that sits in loving kindness, compassion, and hope.

When your conversation is complete (and you may get horrible answers, let’s be honest), hold onto the highest self for a moment and see yourself. See the person who took a risk today of entering scary, sacred space. A person who was willing to love. Look at yourself and see the sacred space within.

Shalom and Amen,

Terri

© 2013, post , Terri Stewart, All rights reserved

terriREV. TERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s  Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual. (The 2014 issue just released!)

Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at www.cloakedmonk.com, www.twitter.com/cloakedmonk, and www.facebook.com/cloakedmonk.  To reach her for conversation, send a note to cloakedmonk@outlook.com

Posted in Essay, Spiritual Practice, Terri Stewart

It’s All Sacred Space

Star Trek, Captain Kirk and “Bones” (Dr. McCoy) using Universal Translators

Sometimes I think that we all need universal translators when we are trying to understand each other across cultures, belief systems, and personal social locations.

Often, though, it takes someone yelling at us to knock us out of our system of thinking and gives us the ability to see things in a new and visionary way that connects rather than divides. All too often we cannot get to this point because we walk away when we things are uncomfortable, challenging, or abrasive.

And no doubt, abrasive is yucky. Witness: the US government interactions right now.

What to do?

Enter deeply into the story of the other person. This is a spiritual practice. I call it Extreme Accompaniment (should I trademark that?). I was contemplating this further today as I was researching another article. My reading revealed to me that we get to radical acceptance of the other when:

  1. Everyone goes to uncomfortable places
  2. Step outside of social norms, forget what you think you know about the other
  3. Everyone involved becomes open to conversion
  4. Keep dialoguing past the rhetoric and abrasiveness
  5. Then, transformation and acceptance may occur (Congress, are you listening??)

Of course, there are limitations. You should not be in situations that may cause harm.  But I am more and more convinced that this deep listening is a spiritual practice. And it is a practice that our world does not do well right now. It is up to the artists and the contemplatives to lead a new revolution! A revolution of extreme accompaniment or of walking with other people. A practice of deeply listening and working with the other’s deepest desires. A practice of loving each other. Love is the universal translator.

If we listen and love, maybe we will all be able to see past the space debris and see the cosmos in each other’s souls.

Shalom and Amen,

Terri

© 2013, post , Terri Stewart, All rights reserved

terriREV. TERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s  Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual. (The 2014 issue just released!)

Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at www.cloakedmonk.com, www.twitter.com/cloakedmonk, and www.facebook.com/cloakedmonk.  To reach her for conversation, send a note to cloakedmonk@outlook.com

Posted in Naomi Baltuck, Story Telling, Photo Story

Benchmarks

A bench is like an old shoe.  Whether in use at the moment…

…or long since abandoned…

…its former occupants leave their mark.

All over the world, these are the true thrones of the people.

They provide company…

…entertainment…

…a sense of belonging…

…a place to rest…

…to reflect…

…to escape the worries of the workaday world…

…or not.

Oh, the stories they have heard…

The sights they have seen…

Those benches have been warmed by the flesh and blood of people who have loved…

…and sometimes lost. Who’s to say?

But the next time you see one, sit and rest a spell.

As you take the bench, and watch the world go by, don’t judge too harshly.

Listen to the stories it has to tell.  They won’t be so very different from your own.

– Naomi Baltuck

All words and images (including the portrait below) copyright 2013 Naomi Baltuck,All rights reserved

NaomiPHOTO1-300ppiNAOMI BALTUCK ~ is a Contributing Editor and Resident Storyteller here at Bardo. She is a world-traveler and an award-winning writer, photographer, and story-teller whose works of fiction and nonfiction are available through Amazon HERE. Naomi presents her wonderful photo-stories – always interesting and rich with meaning and humor – at Writing Between the Lines, Life from the Writer’s POVShe also conducts workshops such as Peace Porridge (multicultural stories to promote cooperation, goodwill, and peaceful coexistence), Whispers in the Graveyard (a spellbinding array of haunting and mysterious stories), Tandem Tales, Traveling Light Around the World, and others. For more on her programs visit Naomi Baltuck.com