First, a Scriptural Inspiration: “Looking at it one way, you could say, ‘Anything goes. Because of God’s immense generosity and grace, we don’t have to dissect and scrutinize every action to see if it will pass muster.’ But the point is not to just get by. We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well. “1 Corinthians 10:23-4 (The Message)
So, what do I mean by “supporting lives of faith, intention and service?“
SUPPORTING… We all find ourselves at times or places in life when we need extra tools, information, encouragement or companionship for living well. LWM classes and retreats are safe, respectful places for your exploration of the spiritual growth topics that draw you here. Short-term spiritual coaching supports you by uniquely combining respect for your faith, heart-centered goal-setting and non-judgmental accountability. LWM supports wider work by partnering with those who work for social wellbeing and justice through co-sponsored events and projects.
LIVES… Our lives are precious, unique and short. LWM topics are inspired by my own journey toward living well. One particular thread in this journey has been a deepening gratitude for the sacred finitude of my life. Inspired by a story from the Talmud, I am not called to be Moses (or Mary, or Dr. King or my mom). I will be held accountable for being me; you, for being you.
Through education, coaching, ceremonies and consulting, LWM will support your precious, particular life as you explore what living well means – and does not mean – for you and/or your community.
FAITH… Faith is a verb, not a noun. Faith is not intellectual assertions or dogma, but the resilient, trusting act of letting go of our attachments to certainty and control. Many today turn from the church of their upbringing to seek support for a spiritual life which is affirming, vital and freeing. Too many have been wounded or neglected by the churches we’ve encountered. My own experiences of coming out and working within the Welcoming and Affirming Churches movement teach me that our stories are sacred. Our longings for peace, community and purpose are the work of the Spirit. Supporting faith happens as we listen respectfully to our own and others’ stories, deepen our biblical understanding, and cultivate the prayer/meditation lifestyle appropriate to our current season of life.
Whether you’re seeking to “befriend the Bible,” to nourish your faith in a time of pain or loss, or embrace a challenging faith transition, LWM will support your development and discernment. Some class/retreat themes many will find relevant include: Being a Progressive Christian, Making Peace with the Bible (programs for LGBT and straight Christians), and Creating Integrated Spiritual Practices. You may be led to attend upcoming one-day Bible study retreats, immersing yourself in biblical books or topics. Short-term spiritual coaching is designed to bless your particular needs with compassion, encouragement, brainstorming and accountability, whatever the issues that you face.
INTENTION… A favorite plaque of mine says “Discipline is remembering what you want.” Sometimes we need help figuring out “what we want,” or whether that, in fact, is for our highest good. Sometimes we know all too well what the Spirit’s leading is but lack the will, hope or support we need to live in holy intention. Whether you want to break habits that aren’t serving “living well” or build new ones that do, I believe the Spirit works through compassion and companions to accomplish God’s work in/with you. My own life experiences of striving to “live well,” along with my work in the Faith and Health movement, have convicted me of the connections between our health (relational, physical, spiritual, emotional and beyond) and our alignment with intention. I believe that supporting this connection between health and intention is the path to avoid legalism or “works” on the one hand and an “anything goes” passivity on the other.
LWM class/retreat themes proven to resonate widely include: Living the Serenity Prayer, Freedom through Forgiveness, A Spirituality of Self-Care, Excellence vs. Perfection, and others. And, short-term spiritual coaching, as inferred above, is all about living in intention!
SERVICE… A friend lovingly challenged this part of LWM’s mission. “Why wouldn’t you say justice instead of service,” she wondered? She made a strong case for what I know to be true; there are some who labor for social justice among communities to which I am also deeply committed who may see “service” as a limiting, even patronizing word. As I reflected deeply on her challenge, I wondered: Is LWM’s call to support service at odds with my/our pursuit of justice? I have the seeds for a more substantial post on this next week.
Put simply, I believe “living well” is accomplished when we live in intentional connection and solidarity with others like and unlike ourselves, for the sake of expanding justice. I hope LWM programs and coaching will play a particular role in supporting individuals’ growing wisdom and engagement as justice-seekers in this world. My call, though, is to play just one specific role in this greater work. That role can best be understood as “connector.” Supporting “lives of service” means supporting the connections between “living well” and your own leadings to deeper discipleship. That might mean a vocational (paid or unpaid!) shift for you, as you name discontent with your disconnections from justice-making. Or maybe you need a place to reflect on the connections between the local church or social service work you already do, and God’s lessons and greater picture for your life. Maybe you need a renewing prayer retreat to sustain a humble, service-oriented mindset as you undertake the demanding, long-haul work for justice. I care about helping you find AND SUSTAIN your place (not someone else’s) in the bigger picture.
Upcoming Bible and book/film classes and retreats, as well as co-sponsored events, will often teach about injustice and justice in accessible, convicting and empowering ways. Whether in educational settings or spiritual coaching, you will encounter an encouraging, creative spirit. If this is your purpose for joining Living Well Ministries, you’ll find support for follow-up choices that result in your unique contributions —- and transformations – in relation to justice.