Oh, Creating One!
You reside within and among us all.
You reveal all Light, and revel in all Love.
You beckon us beyond Ego’s fear and violence.
You call us to our true home, where earth-loving citizens live from Heaven’s embrace.
Deliver us from pride and despair,
from tribalism and lofty rhetoric,
from anger and apathy.
May we be unrelenting in our work for true peace and true prosperity for all.
May we be bold in speaking truth about the barriers to these, wherever they are found.
May today’s results reveal our best selves, and illumine with clarity the spiritual and civic growth that is yet ours to do.
May we see in one another’s eyes the longings and hopes, the vulnerabilities and frailties that are our own.
May such knowing animate a New Creation wherever we live and serve.
For the Sake of Good News, I pray.
With vision of these already answered, I pray.
In union with the Living Christ, I pray.
With the deeds of my life, I pray.
— Rev. Jacki Belile, CEC is an American Baptist minister and spiritual life coach at Living Well Ministries in Chicago. She serves people of all religious backgrounds who desire to live from their best spirit (energy). Her special passion is building bridges of compassion and respect, which manifests in her forgiveness, self-care and LGBT-affirming programs. She wrote this prayer in stages on November 6, 2012.
PRACTICING THIS FREEDOM IS TRULY LIVING WELL!
My life as a disciple, partner, coach and minister has been changed by the principles of Energy Leadership. At the heart of it is the reality that how we think about ourselves and the world (our consciousness) can be fueled by relatively more catabolic or anabolic thoughts. These seven levels of energy lead to varying understandable emotional response, and can thus create a smaller or larger range of experiences in this world. By exploring and removing our energy blocks, we make room for the natural inflow of MORE energy (spirit, I would say). Thus, we experience and shape more peace, joy, productivity, objectivity, and compassionate connection.
As a minister and life coach I am dedicated to supporting the most grounding PRACTICES for my clients and students. Helping with the daily practice of cultivating freedom in relationship to their thoughts and emotions is a wonderful, wonderful privilege. I think that this is related to what some evangelical churches do well, and many mainline churches do poorly. The mainline social gospel tradition has a much wiser grasp on the societal obstacles to justice and opportunity that we have created (“systemic ills”). And, my heart is sometimes heavy that we lack a compelling vision of the intersection of individual freedom and responsibility with the social transformation we seek. This model is a very promising tool for holding these two truths together for the sake of lasting change.
Created by Dr. Bruce D. Schneider, this is undergirding of the coaching philosophy of The Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC). After my previous pastorate at Grace Baptist Church, I completed this coaching program when I launched Living Well Ministries in 2008. I count it as one of the most nourishing and challenging blessings of my life, and am proud to serve with thousands of peers across the world who share this “toolbox” for the good of others and fulfill their own callings.
In preparing for the blessed opportunity to be with PFLAG-Chicago on July 15, I was so mindful of the long journey I’ve taken. It feels more like concentric rings on a tree than a journey through strangely disparate lands, though.
A fundamentalist Baptist childhood
a graced evangelical college chapter (laced with the pain of the closet)
the finding of sanctuary and healing as a young adult lesbian in an intimate LGBT-welcoming church (Grace Baptist Church)
the journey of ministry call and the fires of social justice awakening at Chicago Theological Seminary
a season of pastoral leadership that brought new rhythms of wellness and passion for personal and community health
(including spiritual paths and places!)
new paradigm shifts that make peace and prosperity a reality, and call me to build yet more bridges.
What is the impact of all of this?
More than ever, I know that my part to play in justice-making is more of a healing and bridge-building role than an activist’s battle strategy.
I look around at the volatility of our times and the fervent opponents to diversity and solidarity. What I see and feel is the brokenness we all share in the web of the Ego: fear, insecurity, anger, aversion, enmity. No prejudice which would withhold safety or equality from other groups is VALID, and must be challenged and overturned. But I trust more than ever this Knowing: ALL EMOTIONS ARE VALID. (By valid, I simply mean that people are having whatever experience they are choosing to have, and it is not my place to judge these difficult feelings.) While we do the necessary work to persuade, and to “lobby” and to convince minds and to gain votes for the sake of more just laws, we can either hold a transcendent and redemptive hope for all (New Creation) or simply replay the unsustainable script Winner Takes All with its short-term gains.
The social and political opponents of LGBT diversity, or transracial solidarity, are caught in the grips of age-old fears of difference and projections of blame and anger that the New Testament might call “the flesh.” But I am letting go of the battle mindset that “spirit” opposes “flesh. The Rainbow Journey has taught me that this idea does great internal damage to our personal spirituality and integrity. And, how often do we make our group out to be the ones who need to battle those “Others!”
Time and time again, when I’ve set a different course and nurtured a different energy, I’ve found that hearts and minds of opponents open up to new encounters and relationships. People long for a little respect and dignity; our brothers and sisters who are most afraid and angry, who are most caught up in emotional and social barriers or violence, need the healing presence of bridge-builders who genuinely care for their pain and can honor their authentic desires for Good. It is only then that ideas about the Good, or how to live out the Good, can be reexamined and let go where they are found to be limiting our God.
I most certainly have not “arrived” in my own struggles to occupy such a place. But I am a product of these multiple communities and hold them all, somehow, inside me. I have made peace with that. And I am more convinced than ever that spiritually speaking this is the KEY to “living well.” In my living, coaching and teaching I am focusing on personal transformation and healing. As LGBT folks and allies work on forgiveness, coming our, self-care or faith transitions, they find that the more self-compassion and acceptance we experience the less enmeshed in enmity we need to feel. It is only from this place of spiritual freedom and equanimity that we can truly be the creative change agents that our world so desperately needs.
Forgiveness is not about a head trip, or just THINKING(forcing) our way to resolution.
HOWEVER, I do find that it matters very, very much how we define it, map it, open to it, and measure our progress. This kind of thinking helps us on our way to empowerment as we set intentions for progress. Far from merely intellectualizing the process, it instead enables us accept our agency and power in the choices we make. Oh, how the soul longs for this!
As a forgiveness coach, I have the privilege of supporting a wide variety of people in their transformation of the painful attachments to which they’ve long clung. How we define forgiveness, its nature and purpose makes all the difference on the journey. Are you using the best compass for the journey — the soul’s longing to express present healing — or are you using a navigation tool which keeps you imprisoned in the past? No matter where you were yesterday, you can begin shifts TODAY which will free you to forgive for LIFE.
Learn more at July 21 “Forgive for Life” workshop. Register today at http://www.eventbrite.com/
I am experiencing an abundant Lent, awash in cleansing self-examination and Holy Spirit’s grace and vision. For years my compass text for Lent has been Isaiah 55, which beckons us to graced inquiry, trust, and joy. Some tough things are going on for me right now, what Joyce Rupp describes as wilderness-imposed growth. Yet I take refuge in this Word, and the community and path to which it points:
Ho, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labour for that which does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
3 Incline your ear, and come to me;
listen, so that you may live.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David.
4 See, I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander for the peoples.
5 See, you shall call nations that you do not know,
and nations that do not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel,
for he has glorified you.
6 Seek the Lord while God may be found,
call upon God while God is near;
7 let the wicked forsake their way,
and the unrighteous their thoughts;
let them return to the Lord, that God may have mercy on them,
and to our God, for abundant pardon.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
12 For you shall go out in joy,
and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall burst into song,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial,
for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.
The medieval mystic Meister Eckhardt said the spiritual life has much more to do with subtraction than with addition. Yet Christians today are involved in a spirituality of addition. Consumer culture wants us to have more. God wants us to let go.
— Richard Rohr
Check out more wonderful Lenten nourishment from Rohr.
At its core, civility isn’t an issue of choosing our words more carefully. Civility is an issue of attitude. Ultimately we will discover that every human exchange bears the promise of blessing instead of cursing each other. The more we can admit that God is always at hand and loving each one of us as (equal) children, the more we’ll treat each other in ways guided by our common Father-Mother God.
— excerpt from The Christian Science Monitor’s devotional column on 3/5/12.
How might we be civil with those whose choices are causing pain? With those whose short-sightedness or prejudice would distort or diminish the welfare of others? With those who use the name of God to perpetuate hatred or insular complicity in social ills?
This Lent, I pray for daily openness to transformation. A transformation of heart and character, not just external matters and etiquette. This piece on civility points to the heart of the matter: an equanimity of spirit about one another in our challenging relationships is the only way we can bear the fruit of blessing. Genuine blessing that empowers social change, just relationships, and thriving kinship. Blessing is not cheap affirmation, but holding a vision of empowerment and generativity.
For me, striving to know and be a blessing means always striving to see the Higher Self in myself and others, even when beliefs and actions are expressing limited current capacity for loving actions. For my spiritual coaching clients, it often means creating some essential space to simultaneously nurture their own good and their practices of prayer for others. We often have so many more choices than we perceive. For all of us, it can sometimes be very very hard on the Ego, which really wants to name Good Guys and Bad Guys. But its a kingdom pursuit that is every bit as worthy as the priceless pearl of Matthew 13:45-6
Did I say it was hard?
I will pray for you and I ask you to pray for me!
Here’s a real golden nugget, I think, from Emanuel Swedenborg’s True Christianity:
We read that we are to love the Lord God above all things, and our neighbors as ourselves (Luke 10:27). To love our neighbor as ourselves means not despising our neighbors in comparison with ourselves. It means treating them justly and not judging them wrongfully. The law of goodwill pronounced and given by the Lord himself is this:
“Whatever you want people to do for you, do likewise for them. This is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31,32)
This is how people who love heaven love their neighbor. People who love the world, however, love their neighbor on a worldly basis for a worldly benefit. People who love themselves love their neighbor in a selfish way for a selfish benefit.
Wow! Think about the entrenched ugliness of our unresolved pain and violence in this world. Is it not much about comparing and competing, treating folks unjustly or allowing injustice, and judging wrongfully?
I am really savoring this collection of Emanuel Swedenborg’s writings, including the parts of it that are a bit strange metaphysically. I love to learn about innovative ideas and experiences others have had (or thought they had), and to ponder what it might reveal about God’s reality. One does not have to be hopelessly relativist to be committed to appreciating at face value the potential gift that others are bringing. To listen and to understand does not mean to give over all discriminating faculties! (Unfortunately, the sort of fundamentalism and evangelicalism that formed my early life would indeed have us fearfully separate ourselves from such encounters, rather than seek in them the practice of neighborly love and intellectual humility).
I especially love to read things outside the mainstream of acceptance (or, shall I say invisible histories/herstories and even “heresy”). It is a spiritual practice — studying the breadth and spirit of experience, testimony and communal ethics that have been born amid human grappling with the presence and expectations of God. And, striving to encounter these things with the heart, not just the endlessly dissecting intellectual impulse. Swedenborg called these “sense-oriented” and I associate them with negative Ego grasping which other traditions name as our snare.
My coaching clients and students see this loving neighbors and self thing is the heart of the matter. So, in fact did Jesus. Swedenborg has some truly innovative ways of picturing and teaching this. Tomorrow’s post will be especially interesting for those working on the spiritual projects of forgiveness and biblical self-care.
Maybe a Lenten practice that would be good Christian contribution to public discourse this election season:
To not despise our neighbor in comparison with ourselves.
To treat others justly.
To not judge wrongfully.
To do unto others as we’d like done unto us…
“The Law of Goodwill.”
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand.The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!” — Matthew 7:24-27
This passage has held and nourished many returns – my returns to study — over the years. It’s so simple really. To hear and act upon the words of Jesus. Jesus (not church or government or culture). The words he’s just shared (the Sermon on the Mount, not later pronouncements of Tradition).
What is it to hear?
To hear and perceive the Good News in them.
To hear and feel Gospel-style judgment (not condemnation) in them.
To hear and know more of God because of them.
To hear the Truth in silence beneath our hapless and self-centered words.
To hear the pain of this world, as He did.
What is it to act on them?
All of these are to act on them, in the manner Jesus himself acted upon Word:
To submit to their wisdom in hope, obedience and simplicity.
To chew them with earnestness, as a sweet scroll, turning food into life and into waste as well.
To wrestle with them as Jacob, settling for nothing less than blessing.
To resist their use as weapons, as lifeless tools in the hands of prejudice or legalism.
To take upon — as a yoke — an inner meaning which is Life and Spirit.
To embody them as Word-made-flesh, unafraid of our place in the family of things.*
Jesus cried out with lament on another day, “If only you knew the ways that make for peace!” Today, He stills beckons us to the blessing of the universal and nonviolent compassionate spirit of the Sermon on the Mount. When we embrace such a life with our whole being, we must dissolve Ego’s opposition and the backlash of those who themselves are threatened by such grace. But it is truly the way to the life of resilience and witness that is pictured by the house on the rock. It is the life of freedom from judgments, vengeance and prejudice. It is the life that lasts.
Where do you see examples of the steadfast in your life, of the weathering of failure and finitude?
Where do you see the crushing impact of despair, discrimination, or disappointments?
What fresh word of life is for you this day?
*I am invoking Mary Oliver’s poem Wild Geese here. Check out Panhala for the full text and lots more great poems.