interfaith


I’ve been rafting but never “really” whitewater rafting.  I’ve never been in that position of hitting the rapids and holding on for dear life ~ that place where it doesn’t make sense to paddle, because the current has hold of you and is just throwing you downstream.  {I’m sure there are people who have done proper whitewater rafting who could totally throw my analogy under a bus – or a raft – due to inconsistencies.   I ask that you humor me and allow me my slightly flawed analogy.  Thanks.}

image from http://www.zooraft.com/ ~ Looks awesome! :)

image from http://www.zooraft.com/ ~ Looks awesome! 🙂

This summer has me feeling like I’m going through the whitewater.  There are tons of rocks and eddies bumping and tossing me from one side to the other.  None of it is bad; in fact, it’s all pretty great.  I know I’m going in the right direction ~ I couldn’t get out of the current if I tried ~ and I’m loving the ride.

Big life changes seem to happen in groups, like clusters of rock formations causing otherwise calm water to bubble and froth.  This summer marks one of those times in my life.

As of June 8, I am an ordained interfaith minister.   I am working on a book of the spiritual lessons I have learned through my experiences; I look forward to leading workshops and presentations on deepening your own spirituality, regardless of your religious background.  I was blessed to perform a handfasting as part of the wedding of an old friend ~ though I believe I was shaking more than the bride!  Leading two worship services on Matinicus Island ~ my ancestral and spiritual home ~ was wonderful for everyone involved.  In addition, I am in the planning stages for officiating a September wedding in a corn maze.  Working one-on-one with people to deepen their own sense of connection with the Divine is my passion and my vision; I hope to attend a program starting in October on this path of spiritual direction.

Coming to the realization that interfaith ministry is “great for the heart and soul, but not for the wallet” (as a new friend put it), I am very excited to have started my own business as an Independent Consultant with Celadon Road.  The company’s mission is to make the world healthier, greener and more sustainable; I can certainly get behind that, as that’s how Tim and I try to live in our home and our lives already.  All products with the Celadon Road logo are made in the United States of organic and all-natural ingredients.  We sell eco-friendly items in 10 different lines, including skin care for women, men and children / babies; house cleaning products (including laundry detergent); dog beds, treats and toys; jewelry; and home decor.  I attended the National Convention this weekend in Providence, RI, and am thrilled to be part of a company made up of REAL people who care about each other and support each other.  My up-line (the woman who brought me into the company) was incredibly surprised to win the Ethos Award for the consultant who most lives out the mission of the company.  Having spent the weekend staying with her and her family, I can’t say I was as surprised!  {Now that you are curious, you can check out our products, get information about hosting a party (in your home or online) or joining my team on my Carrie’s Celadon Road webpage!}

They say {good/bad/interesting} things come in three’s.  Our “third” is that Tim is starting grad school this fall.  He has already begun the homework for his first class, a three-day orientation the week before Labor Day.  The goal is a Masters in Counseling Psychology from Lesley University, for which he will take classes on nights and weekends for three years.  This will be followed by at least one year of internship… at which point my income will be that much more important.   I am incredibly proud of him for taking this leap into a career that calls him.   Life will not be the same… but I guess we already knew that.

What stays the same, with all these changes going on in our lives?

As often happens in the summer, I fall off the “formal meditation practice” wagon… so, yet again, I begin again. 🙂  We are enjoying our trips and our friends’ visits… so, again, we bounce from planning to planning, and need to remind ourselves to live in the present.  My focus shifts and our scheduling shifts… so, again, we determine the priorities and set the course.

We have a lot of excitement and many unknowns, but we know we are heading in the right direction.  As bumpy as the ride might be, as much as we don’t know what’s around the next bend, we know we are flowing with the current.

The Divine is steering.  I just have to hang on.

🙂

I was in Starbucks when I received a text from my husband to check the news.  Needless to say, seeing the headline, “2 Explosions at Boston Marathon Finish Line” (or something to that effect), was the end of my homework productivity.

There is a lot of speculation happening right now.  We want answers.  We want someone to blame.  We want a reason, a motivation, so that our minds can somehow make sense of it all.

The truth is, even if we knew who planted the bombs (IEDs, like our soldiers face in Iraq) and why, we still would not be able to make sense of it.

The easy answer is that whomever did this, planned this, implemented this – that that person or group is Evil.  I have a hard time with the concept of evil.  My belief structure and personal theology really don’t allow for the idea of evil.  My belief structure allows for the concept of unwise or unskillful action.  Each time we do something negative, it is easier to do it the next time.  Thus we form neural pathways that reinforce that behavior, which make it easier and easier to do negative things, and the negative things can become more negative as we go.  Someone that others would view as Evil, I would say has probably been damaged in some way (haven’t we all?) and has formed the neural pathways of negative behavior, anti-social or violent behavior.  For some reason, unknown to me, that behavior has been reinforced in that person.  [The one amendment I’ll make to this is that I do think it’s possible for a rare someone to be born socio-pathic.  I don’t know how that fits in to my belief structure, but I think it’s possible.]

So, without the concept of Evil – with the belief that every person is a beloved child of the Divine who is loved and beautiful and Good, though they might have forgotten it – how can we (I) make sense of this?

Talking about “learning lessons” is always sticky.  Let me use myself as an example:  I have learned and grown a huge amount because of having CF, being as sick as I was, and getting my double-lung transplant.  I have learned on an intellectual level (I could probably pass a basic nursing test); I have learned on an emotional and spiritual level.   I think there are many many lessons that people can learn by being physically ill, especially through chronic illness.  That said, that does not mean that I would EVER wish physical illness on anyone.

My belief is that our souls (yes, I’m a Buddhist who believes in the soul, ever-changing as it might be – go figure) are here to learn.  My belief is that the crap that happens in our lives is designed specifically and intentionally to help us learn.  With every experience – good or bad – our souls are learning.  If we don’t “get the answer” the first time the lesson comes along, the same lesson will come back another time and another time, in different forms, until we do “get it.”   [I’ve heard this is a Hindu concept, but it’s one that I’ve held since long before I knew anything about Hinduism.]  I have no idea what lessons can be learned from the horrible tragedy of the explosions at the Finish Line.   I am sure, however, that there are many lessons – on the personal level, and on the societal level.

We, as a society, are learning how to respond to mass violence – terrorism – in our city.   We, personally, are learning how our emotions react.  Do we immediately jump to conclusions?  Do we hug our families a little longer?  Do we judge more harshly those that look different from us?   Do we smile more freely or open our homes to strangers?   For those that were present, that perhaps are still in the hospital – or those that lost loved ones completely yesterday – do you live in fear?  Do you stop running or stop supporting your family members who run?  Of course you must grieve, but over the long term (lessons sometimes take a long time) do you learn to live with one leg – or no legs?  Do you make an effort to open yourself to joy, even while holding the pain?

The sun is shining.  Spring is coming.  We can hold the violence from yesterday without  becoming violent in our hearts, words or actions.

So let it be.

 

Last Sunday, Feb 10, 2013, I lead my first worship service as an almost-ordained interfaith minister.  It was (not-surprisingly?) a very different experience than leading a worship service as a lay leader in my UU church.    I would like to share with you here a taste of the service.  (Other than the final song, I have left out the music and meditations.)

With love…   (more…)