Greetings, CSC friends! Hmmm, this may be my first submission to this newsletter since being editor for a couple of years about a decade ago… WOW, Time!!!
I love writing you knowing you have such a wonderfully useful roadmap for attending to and navigating the Via Negativa. Clearly that’s pretty useful these days, wouldn’t you say?
It’s Autumn, and the existential crises that have been brewing for years, decades, centuries and millennia appear to be coming to a head at this very time.
Uncertainty around the ongoing prospects for democracy, civil society and even life on Earth are flooding our minds and roiling our souls.
Most of us are struggling with questions like…
how can we maintain healthy attendance, pledges and (virtual) plate numbers during COVID?
How do we replicate our typical ritual experience online? And how do we continue to offer reassurance to our people when we’re kind of freaking out ourselves?!?!
“How” questions can sometimes be confoundingly problematic. For one thing, they tend to lead (naturally) to trying to figure out an answer. Not that that’s inherently bad, but there are downsides, including the possibility (likelihood?) of getting stuck in our heads. Especially when there’s a committee (or a community!) involved.
When I get stuck (which only ever happens to me several times a day) I’m often reminded and drawn to the liberating idea of relaxing around trying to force answers and instead looking for better questions. It usually entails some version of going deeper.
The following 3 foundational questions invite us deeper into essence and open the way to curiosity and wonder. Along the way we may find ourselves surprised by creative flashes that blast away our straitjackets and open whole new possibilities.
3 foundational questions
In my personal life and in my work helping people navigate the unknown through piano improvisation, I’ve found it transformative to focus on 3 foundational questions we humans (and, essentially, all life forms) are always facing.
These 3 questions bring us back to the present, back to our bodies and our innate awareness, and to our primordial power to engage more authentically at any given time.
I invite you to consider these as individual CS communities and as CSC overall.
1) What is happening now?
What is happening around and within your CS community? What is the universe bringing to you, literally, through your eyes and ears?
Pay attention to what actually IS, relative to your interpretations. (Of course, you can’t help but to interpret stimuli, just notice that you’re doing it.)
Remember, we’re in a quantum reality and our brain is just doing its best to create a representation for us. It’s helpful to remember that it’s inherently limited in its assessments.
2) Who am I/are we now?
This is the question of the year, and especially in this VN season. It’s a hard question to ask deeply, and we don’t like to do it. We’d rather define ourselves by the measurables, i.e. the building or the ministers or style of service, the music, organizational structure, policies and budget %ages, outreach and volunteer activities.
Of course, those are the manifestations, often treasured and held dear by the community. They are our hands at work, the fruits of our hearts, but they’re not the essence.
Who are you when the all trappings, the leaves, fall to the ground? What is left in you to harvest that could nourish you through a barren Winter?
What is it about being in a C.S. community, instead of another spiritual/religious community, that resonates and helps you feel connected, alive and purposeful?
Is there a dream you harbor about your community (or CSC overall) that lights you up and serves as a motivating energy? a North Star?
Are you opening to this VN season to listen deeply for wisdom and inspiration that could ground you more deeply than ever before and guide your next steps?
3) What do I/we do now?
What is the next rock in the river for your community? What is clearly a good next step, aligned with what you perceive in your environment, with who you are now and with where you want to go? Are you willing to allow the path to take you to unexpected territory? Are you okay with not knowing where that step may lead? Are you willing to try stuff and learn as you go?
Applying these to CSC
As we at Jubilee! assess what’s happening now we are swimming in the larger sea with you and Covid and societal unrest and division and uncertainty. Who we are after Howard Hanger’s retirement is less certain than it was when Howard was our spiritual anchor.
So the question of what do we do now feels a little premature. We may well need these months of Fall to do some more deep diving. But even in the midst of that uncertainty, I’m drawn to reach out to this community to pose a question or two for you.
I wonder what might be possible if we truly saw ourselves in this together and did some brain/heart-storming about what might become possible in that context.
Might it be mutually beneficial to start looking into sharing virtual pulpits a little more often? Is a question like “Who are we now as a community of communities” shifting in this new time?
Might we consider things like virtual choir swapping? (I know, sounds kinky…) or sharing different kinds of offerings like gifts of music, poetry and story? Maybe we could introduce ourselves to each other in these kinds of ways on Sundays and then consider other ways to cross-pollinate. Maybe sharing classes or conversations on CS, racial awareness, meditation, resilience in the strangest of times, etc.
Or maybe we could get creative about other ways to deepen and expand our circles?
What kinds of creative ideas might this CSC community come up with that could help spread the miracle of CS to people who may be truly hungering for it now?
As the Alicia Keys song goes: “We are here. We are here for all of us. We are here for all of us. That’s why we are here.”
Does all this stir any other questions? Let’s chat! Reach out to me at email@example.com.
You can follow Jubilee!’s next steps at www.jubileecommunity.org. Would be great to see you, connect and create!