Saturday, May 25, 2013

Trinity, Communities and ATD

The western liturgical tradition celebrates Trinity Sunday this weekend. In a well known image, The Holy Trinity by St. Andrei Rublev, uses the theme of the "Hospitality of Abraham." The three angels symbolize the Trinity, which is rarely depicted directly in Orthodox art.
The Trinity is central to the early development of Christian belief in God as Creator, Redeemer, Unifier. In the early Christian centuries, the community of faith struggled to understand how God was one, yet manifold. The formula of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit came to be understood as central to the Christian faith, being discussed at church councils that gathered mystics and prophets, who were lay and ordained theologians.

Elizabeth of the Trinity, a modern mystic prays this way:
O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me forget myself entirely so to establish myself in you, unmovable and peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity. May nothing be able to trouble my peace or make me leave you, O my unchanging God, but may each minute bring me more deeply into your mystery! Grant my soul peace. Make it your heaven, your beloved dwelling and the place of your rest. May I never abandon you there, but may I be there, whole and entire, completely vigilant in my faith, entirely adoring, and wholly given over to your creative action.
The Trinity finds a modern expression in the three prongs of the ATD movement: working to bring forth an
  • environmentally sustainable, 
  • spiritually fulfilling,
  • socially just 
human presence on this planet.
ATD describes and promotes a movement that is made up of hundreds of thousands of individuals and groups that are each working in their own neighborhoods, in their own circles. Each of these individuals and groups subscribe to this trinity of values, while focusing its attention on one or the other of them in a more particular way.

  • There are communities that gather to live and promote environmental sustainability, both for themselves, and for the broader human community as well as for the broader community of creation. 
  • There are communities that gather around spiritual values, for example those that gather to live the gospel deliberately and radically.
  • There are communities that work for justice in so many different ways in society.
It seems this triad of communities is an in-breaking of the Trinity of Love into our world. May this Trinity Sunday be an impetus to re-commit to living these Trinitarian values and weaving them into the fabric of our lives and communities.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Emergence: Two Loops

How do organizations grow, expand, mature, decline and re-emerge? There are probably as many ways of unfolding of this pattern as there are organizations in which it unfolds. However, there are some interesting theories advanced by organizational studies and business writers, as well as by those reflecting on emerging consciousness.
One such theory really speaks to me as I continue to explore the emerging reality in religious life today. It starts with a simple life-cycle curve based on the biological life cycle. Individuals are born, grow, mature and decline. This cycle is repeated in every species and it is the basis of evolution as organisms pass on their genetic code to succeeding generations and those organisms adapt to changes in their environment and habitat. Izaac Adizes writes extensively on the application of the biological life-cycle to organizations and the characteristics of organizations at the various stages. Lawrence Cada applies the notion to religious life.
Deborah Frieze takes the concept one step further, asking how it is that organizations can be re-born, re-founded or transformed. She calls it the two-loop model. The origin, growth, maturity, decline life-cycle remains in place. If the organization is to be transformed, some of its members - usually just a few pioneers have an insight into the essential nature of the organization and into why it is declining and how it might better adapt to the evolving reality. They take the kernel of the organization's life and step apart to incarnate this in a new way. Gradually, they are able to articulate the emerging reality and gain a few collaborators. Slowly they grow and begin to emerge as a distinct expression. At this point, members of the original organization may bridge over and join the emerging reality. The diagram below is based on Deborah's work and helpful to me in visualizing this movement.
Where to you see this dynamic played out? Where are we in giving birth to an emerging reality in our various organizations, movements, configurations? What do we need to support and sustain this emerging and transformational energy? Where is the Spirit moving among us this Pentecost?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Transforming Religious Life

RFC has been running a program on transforming religious life. It has run for three years, and each year it was offered in several cities. The program is an invitation to religious to come into conversation about renewing / transforming their communities.
I didn't attend the first year of the program, but I attended the second and third (this year). I was there last weekend, and found the conversations and networking to be very enriching. I guess whenever you get 100 people in the same room all oriented toward something they love, it's going to be enriching and energizing.
The program invited us to explore contemplation as the basis of our lives, and contemplation moves us into a space of personal and shared discernment.
From there, we were invited to explore mission, community and solidarity with the poor. These elements, contemplation and discernment, and mission, community and solidarity with the poor were places of common spirit among us. We definitely saw the special uniqueness or flavor of each community, and the tremendous wealth that we share in common.
One question that echoed through the room on several occasions was: how do we bring this back to our home communities, how do we get everyone moving in the direction of transformation?
While I'm all for that, I wonder if the question is rather: How do we get all of us who are ready for transformation moving in the same direction and sharing energies and gifts?
I think if we wait to get everyone on board and moving, we may miss the moment of transformation. What if we come together - there is so much good energy flowing! Be a blessing right where you are and join in widening circles of blessing where all is gift.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Gangster Gardener

"Growing your own food is like printing money."

I have a back-yard garden for the first time in... a long time.
I can say a whole-hearted YES to Ron's ideas.
Another friend at Carondelet Community Garden Urban Farm writes this:
Grow food for recreation! Grow to make yourself happy! Growing anything can be very rewarding, calming, therapeutic and an excellent hobby. You wanna grow the biggest celery or the rarest vegetable? Do it! We grow when we grow!
Growing my own food means my veggies won't be ...
poisoned by herbicides and pesticides,
grown in GMO monocultures,
picked and shipped by underpaid workers, or
trucked for hundreds of miles.
Growing my own food is ...
an opportunity for me to slow down and spend time in the fresh air,
an opportunity to get out and meet and share with my neighbors,
my joint project with air, earth, wind and sun,
a reminder than I am one with nature, and
a gift of God and a space for prayer,
Here's to gardening!!!