Sep/Oct 2020 Newsletter

This newsletter is a publication of Creation Spirituality Communities and is funded by its members and supporters. If you are enjoying this newsletter and appreciate keeping up with the Creation Spirituality community, please consider becoming a member or renewing your membership.


Membership is available at several different levels at annual and monthly rates.
Contrasts
Nathan DeMay © 2020

In the contrasts of 
Sun and Storm Clouds
Day moving into Night
Bright Red Autumn Leaves mixing in with Ever-evergreens
I see You
Upcoming Offerings
Creation in Crisis Webinar
 Wednesday,  October 7
1pm PST  2pm MT  3pm CT  4pm EST

The destructive effects of climate change no longer reside in our fear and imagination. Climate change has become our experience. Life along the coasts are feeling it the most. The rest of us have to watch it all happen, feeling helpless and hapless. We have asked four of our Creation Spirituality friends who live on the west coast to share their stories and wisdom from the increasingly fierce fires. Please join us on October 7 offer your interest and support to those in the middle of global warming. 
SAVE THE DATE!

CSC VIRTUAL GATHERING

January 15-17, 2021


Wherever you are! Online via Zoom
Every Sunday ONLINE
1p Hawaii/4p Pacific/6p Central/7p Pacific
A 90 minute happening that includes body prayer, learning, and sharing in small groups. It is also recorded and available for later viewing online.

Please join us in exploring a new way of expressing our Oneness in and with Creation.
Encouraging Good Trouble
Workshop w/Michael Mansfield
Saturday, October 24th
1:00-4:00p Eastern
(10a Pacific/12p Central)

Benefitting Black Lives Matter and the Equal Justice Initiative
Free Heart Offering

Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble...You can do it and you must do it – it is your time! 
Congressman John Lewis

Hosted by Patty McGrath, this workshop with Michael Mansfield, will deepen our un-learning racism and continue our work for a just election using storytelling and song.

We will be sharing our stories of how we've been moved to change since the death of George Floyd and the passing of John Lewis. We will sing and move together. We will discuss strategies we can put into effect where we are to unlearn racism and work in promoting a fair election.
After your registration you will receive a confirmation email with more details about the workshop and how to donate to Black Lives Matter (M4BL) and the Equal Justice Initiative.
Reflections on our Times
The Familiarity Illusion Blinds Us to the Kingdom of Heaven
by John Robinson, PhD, DMin

  • Nothing is ever the same as before - not people, places, things, or conditions - but judging them the same means we fail to see the world anew and instead keep recreating the old one. We miss the divine world of Creation because what we think we see is simply what we think. We don’t really know what a single thing is. That realization alone can open the doors of sacred perception. 

  • And seeing the divine world is the greatest gift we can experience and share. It activates the perceptual change critical for humanity’s renewal and rebirth. We wake up and discover who and where we really are.

  • How to find this always-new consciousness in these grim times of toxic smoke, COVID, climate destruction, rampant political corruption, racism, wealth inequality, and failed leadership? Living in God-as-Reality brings us home to the values that will save us: love, compassion, peace, inclusion, sharing, beauty, and the grace of Presence. It’s here even now. 

  • And here’s the way home. Find the miracle in the sensory-perceptual moment – breath, beauty, wonder, peace, joy, and the always-present possibilities of love. It’s always about childlike innocence and wonder. Find the miracle and join the meandering dancing flow of the moment. Whatever it may seem, in reality, it’s all God creating God. That’s the miracle.

  • In Matthew 18:1-5: Jesus said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Come home to heal us all. Find Heaven here. But not with your words, beliefs, or future goals. With your seeing.
Let us give thanks for Earth, our home
by Tim Cronley
                                   The heartbeat that resonates
                                   in the sacred space of the womb
                                   is the same heartbeat that now echoes
                                   throughout the corridors of Space.

                                   The sleeping child
                                   weightless in amniotic space
                                   is the same child who, on waking,
                                   upward leaps on a pillar of fire
                                   to look back with joy
                                   at the blue-white water world
                                   …of Earth, his home.
Reflections on the Creation Spirituality Interfaith Worship Experience
by Mark Formwall

I am a participant in the new, Creation Spirituality Interfaith Worship Experience (CSIWE) and I was asked to share my experience/perspective. I grew up unchurched but was moved with the birth of my first child to become active, and I joined a Lutheran Congregation (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) the year the ELCA was born! I have been active in leadership and have enjoyed Walk to Emmaus and other ecumenical activities throughout the years. I consider Father Richard Rohr’s writings an important part of my faith journey.

I very much enjoy participating in the CSIWE each Sunday. It’s approach, ‘finding connection and not perfection’ provides a wonderful foundation for the service. The emphasis on connection is very helpful. Many online experiences, for me, seem disconnected, perhaps more performance or lecture. I miss the sense of a community of faith. The readings from all faiths and opportunities to share our journey as the worship proceeds helps expand my perspective and moves me from viewer to active participant. I have the opportunity to share what I am experiencing and also learn what others are experiencing!  The learning segment is also very helpful as we consider our faith and actions in the context of society today.  The brief video followed by small group discussion helps us to more deeply explore that lesson and to engage with other participants no matter where they live.  As my journey progresses, I am also learning the importance of the whole person: mind, heart, and body.  The music, while simple (a good thing for me) considers the embodiment of our faith experience!  I find this truly helpful.  
by Patty McGrath
When asked what does it mean to me to worship on Sunday with the Creation Spirituality community - all I could think of was the phrase My heart has prompted me to seek your face Holy One, do not hide from me. Psalm 27. 
First, there's the effect of seeing teachers and fellow students in regular worship - people who taught me so much, and forever enriched my life.. It took me eleven years to complete the DMin at the University of Creation Spirituality. So, I was the recipient of a lot of love and support from a large number of people! We danced, studied and prayed together then. Some things in CSIWE echo deep memories of UCS. When we bless the seven directions each week, it seems like Sister Jose Hobday is smiling on us.
There is real interaction - even though we're on a Zoom call. The use of chats for sharing thoughts during the worship is the most interactive of any of dozens of Zoom conferences that I'm on weekly. And the challenge of sharing 'what am I doing now' in small breakout sessions is a way of learning from others and honestly evaluating where I stand.
I love the strategy of using YouTube videos as homily material. They are provocative and relevant. And I've gone back to see them again. Can't say I remember doing that with a church homily in many years. And every major segment of the service is enriched by movement and song, Body Prayer, led by our own Troubadour, Michael Mansfield. I can dance in my kitchen as we sing together.
Finally, the whole experience is all about Gratitude. It's all blessing. Roxanne's powerful final blessing is itself enough of a reason to join the service weekly. We all bless each other as we echo her words: 
The truth of your being is as radiant as a star.
The love within you is stronger than any other force in the Universe.
You are a beloved blessing of the Creator. 
Aho! Amen.
It doesn't get much better than this.
Armageddon
by James Irving Mann

Someday, (it is close at hand),
Rocks of the World will no longer tolerate
Humanity’s destruction of Mother Earth.

Gibraltar will be as a Trumpet
And blow the Spirit of Life
Into his brothers and sisters:
  Rocks from the mountains
  Will roll down on the cities;
  Volcanoes will erupt
  With a vengeance;
  Stones in human structures
  Will turn to dust;
  Grains of sand
  Will leap into the wind;
  Diamonds will blind
  Those who have enslaved them.
  
All who live in the land will tremble!

When the Trumpet ceases,
There will be a New World Order:
  Mountains will be Heads of State;
  Crystals will be Healers of the Planet;
  Silver will be Maestro of the Sphere;
  Granite will be Guardian of the Desert;
  Jade will be High Priest of the Soil.

Peace and Serenity will greet the Dawn;
Rivers will flow with a joyful noise.
Oceans will sing praises
                      and
The Rocks of the World
Will, once again, sleep in Holy Silence….
Three Foundational Questions for Navigating the Unknown
by Daniel Barber 

Greetings, CSC friends. I’m noticing this may be my first submission to this newsletter since spending a couple of years as its editor about a decade ago… WOW, Time!!!
 
Are you in overwhelm with the immensity of the various issues and challenges on your plate in this time, both personally and in your CS community? Does the balancing of the day-to-day with attendance changes, finances and organizational strategies along with societal and political crises feel not only daunting, but moving into the realm of frightening?
 
I’m feeling grateful for the opportunity to write you, having as you do a powerfully useful roadmap for navigating the Via Negativa, a profoundly useful map in this time.
 
It’s Autumn, and the existential crises that have been brewing for years, decades, centuries and millennia appear to be coming to a head in this very moment. 
 
Uncertainty around the ongoing prospects for democracy, civil society and even life on Earth are flooding our minds and roiling our souls.
 
We have many real questions 
such as how can we maintain healthy attendance, pledges and (virtual) plate numbers during COVID. How might 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?!?
 
I would offer, though, that 
“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 several times a day) I try to remember the liberating idea of relaxing around trying to force answers and instead looking for better questions. It usually entails some version of going deeper. Of course, this is what Lady Via Negativa lives for!
 
3 foundational questions
 
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, open the way to curiosity and wonder, and proceed with authenticity, resourcefulness and joy. Along the way we may find ourselves surprised by creative flashes that blast away our straitjackets and open whole new possibilities.
 
And when we bring sound improvisation (a form of body prayer) into this process, it also brings us back to our physicality, our innate awareness, and to our primordial power to engage more authentically at any given time.
 
I invite you to consider these questions for yourself personally, as individual CS communities and as CSC overall.
 
1)    What is happening now?
 
What is happening around and within you right now? Literally, what are you hearing, seeing and feeling? How about in your CS community? What is the universe bringing to you through your individual or collective eyes and ears?
 
Pay attention to what actually IS, relative to your interpretations. For example, try to listen to the sounds in your environment as if you had no idea where they were coming from! (As if you were an oscilloscope and could only register the sonic data itself.)
 
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 via Negativa 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 percentages, 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 Creation Spirituality 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 via Negativa 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 Jubilee! and 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. We may well need these months of Fall to do some more deep diving into this one.
 
So the question of what do we do now leads me to acknowledge that in the midst of that uncertainty of who are, I’m drawn to reach out to this community. Perhaps part of what we are is only a fragment of a larger spiritual organism.  
 
So I have a question or two about that.
 
I wonder what might be possible if we truly saw ourselves in this together? What might that mean for us? Who are we as a community of CS communities? What is the essence of that? What is our nature?  
 
What might it look like for us to engage those questions in this time now? What might emerge that might surprise us?  
 
It’s easy to presume ahead of time that we know the answers, or that that would be too difficult or confusing, before we actually engage the questions.
 
But as there are unknowns beyond our capacity to fathom staring us in the face in the next few weeks, maybe it’s okay to allow ourselves to engage in an open-ended exploration for now. And those 3 questions are all about NOW.
 
What if we engaged in a community-wide self-reflection this Fall and planted some good questions now? What if we allowed that process to unfold naturally? What if we allowed those planted questions to flirt and mingle with each other underground and out of sight over Winter so that creativity itself could work its unseen magic?
 
Who knows, come Via Transformativa, we might find ourselves BEING community more actively and visibly on Sundays and during the rest of the week.  
 
Whether that would look like sharing pulpits or doing some choir swapping (sounds kinky!) or gifts of music and poetry is not for us to “answer” right now. 
 
If we engage in this via Negativa moment with heart, mind and faith, we might find ourselves drawn to possibilities beyond anything we’ve ever imagined. 
 
I trust if we answer that 2nd question, Who are we? deeply enough, we could come up with a ton of new ways to celebrate life with others who are hungering to do the same. My prayer is that as we did this, we would be blessed by and blessings to the four-leggeds, the tall standing ones, the flying and crawling ones, the river people, sky nations and beyond.
 
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 daniel@danielbarber.com
 
You can follow Jubilee!’s next steps at www.jubileecommunity.org. Would be great to see you, connect and create!
 
Blessings onward…
 
Daniel Barber
Leader of the World Beat Band,
Jubilee! Community in Asheville NC
 
I Am Sound, LLC
(Helping people navigate the unknown with improvisation on piano)
Let us Listen to our heart
by Tim Cronley 

      My heart                                                                    
      beats in the sacred space of silence               
      discerning things                                                        
      beyond the ability of ear
      eye, touch, or mind to know.

Stone                                                              
        old friend and brother                                    
        avuncular messenger
        from the time of Creation
        my heart leans into your flinty silence                      
        and I can feel the still warm tracings                         
        .…of our God.

Water
changeling sister dressed in snow and ice
my heart enters your being
and I see in your beautiful water world
the oceanic Kingdom of un-reasoned Love.
        My heart listens
        to the Creation Song
        sung by stars suspended in sacred space                               
        co-joined in their song by creatures of the Earth
        confirming in them what it knows of itself
        that we all are One, Holy, and Free.
 
Lover
we share the Joy-Song
of our wedded hearts made speechless
…by the certitude of our knowing
CS Communities News
Have you ever had the sense that all of the events of your life have been leading to a certain time and opportunity, but you did not have a clue of what that time or opportunity was? That has been what developing the CSIWE has been like for me. I continually give thanks to the Source of my Being, that has stirred this experience into being from within me. It is not I, but the Spirit within me that has led the way. I also give thanks to the worship team Seth, Michael, Judy and Caroline who said, “yes” to the vision and the CS teachers throughout the ages that are providing inspiration.
Giving birth to a project of this scope during a pandemic seems odd, but perhaps it provided the fertile ground from which this expression could emerge. During the period of prudent isolation new ideas were germinating within me. As I watched many of my clergy friends’ transition to online worship, ideas began to take shape for an online, interfaith worship experience.

I began to wonder how to merge the pedagogy and teachings of Creation Spirituality into a brief, online worship experience. I knew from my time on the CSC board that our members overwhelmingly say what they want from CSC is connection, so that was my guiding star.

The definition I developed for my dissertation in 2005 of creation spirituality was: Creation Spirituality is an oasis that lives at the confluence of three rivers of wisdom. The intermingling of these three rivers has created this unique oasis. The three rivers of wisdom are: the wisdom of indigenous cultures, the discoveries by post-modern science, and the mystical teachings of the world’s religions.

I stepped forward to create a merging of the hunger for community, CS pedagogy, CS teachings, this definition, and the potential of the online platform for a virtual community experience. I was guided by my experience as a Christian minister yet I wanted this worship experience to be very different. I consider most Christian worship to be passive, and I wanted this to be active. Hence the name, Worship Experience instead of worship service. I felt very freed by the idea of using many rivers of wisdom to inform the experience.

Most worship services ask the participant to jump into a “praise giving” state of mind at the beginning. The first principle I practiced in my 30-year career as a psychotherapist was “start where they are.” I longed to create a worship experience that invited the participant to join the worship circle and take inventory of where they are, what they bring to the experience. I have long felt that in a traditional Christian worship service, the most important part is what is commonly called prayers of the people. This is where the community lifts joys and concerns to each other and our common Source. In Creation Spirituality we think of the Spirit being active in our lives in a four-path model. I combined these two elements and we invite participants to notice what is present to them right now, as awe or gratitude, loss, grief or mystery, expressed creativity, and participation in inner or outer transformation. The challenge then became how to do this in an online platform without it taking several hours to complete. I felt that the use of the Zoom chat box would be a way to lift things to the community and manage the time.

The other thing that I felt was critical to an active worship experience was sharing in small groups. Because of the Zoom feature to move people into breakout rooms, this became a reality.

As this idea was originally being birthed in me, I thought that we would have as our “topics of study” familiar Creation Spirituality ideas like blessing of creation or a study of mystics, etc. Every time I started to develop the experience in that “safe” direction, I felt that I was creating “on my own,” without the Divine assistance I was used to. Finally, I stopped and asked, what is the most worship appropriate conversation for us to be having right now? In early June of this year, the answer came to mind right away, racial injustice. I settled on the title unlearning racism because I felt that asking our Creator for help, in a worship experience, to unlearn this “sin” of our lives was most worthy. I hope that as this continues in the years ahead, we will also get back to some of those other themes, but it seems my inner inspiration thrives on the experience being a place where mystic, artist and prophet all have a place at the table.

It actually took some courage on my part to select a few CS friends to share this wild idea with, and see if they would like to partner with me. If it were not for them being so enthusiastic, the birthing into the physical world might not have happened.

After our two practice “worship experiences” in August, we went “live” the first Sunday in September. We are so grateful that over 100 people have registered for each experience and about one-half to one- third join us for the live online experience and then others watch the recording that is sent out to those who register each week, along with other resources and a three or four question feedback form.

We as a worship team are still learning so much. We are keeping the goal of offering connection as our focus and the CS principles as our guide. If you are looking for a place to connect with yourself, your Creator and this community, I hope you check us out. At some level, my life has been leading me to this. Perhaps your wisdom is calling you here too, especially during this time of great uncertainty and unrest.

Roxanne WhiteLight, DMin
Member Publications
Want to Review Books?
From time to time (and now more frequently than before) your newsletter editor is approached by authors within our community who are offering their books for review and promotion. If you are interested in reading and writing up reviews of books focused on creation-centered spirituality, please let us know. The books will include poetry, theology/philosophy, memoir, art, etc. We would be interested in relatively in-depth and objective reviews of books. Please send a message to newsletter@cscommunities.org
New Book from Rev. Dr. Vicki Garlock
Ever wonder about the inside of an Islamic mosque or a Sikh gurdwara? Ever wonder what the first worship spaces were like? Do you know which religions usually require removing shoes or wearing head coverings? Travel around the world and explore the ins and outs of sacred spaces from seven of the world's major faith traditions - all in one volume. The similarities and differences might surprise you!

We All Have Sacred Spaces can be ordered from Amazon.
What is Creation Spirituality Communities?
Creation Spirituality Communities, Inc. (CSC) is a network of individuals and communities who are grounded in the sacredness of all creation and seek to connect to the spirituality of creation through mysticism, creativity, and cultural transformation.

CSC includes people from many spiritual traditions, cultures, races, sexual identities, and ages. They come to Creation Spirituality through the writing and speeches of Matthew Fox, through articles and videos, through conversations with friends, and through study at one of the Creation Spirituality universities – now the Fox Institute of Creation Spirituality.

Creation Spirituality Communities provides avenues for gathering together, being inspired, and embodying the CS message of compassion, co-creation, and transformation. We are led by a nine member board of directors and supported by our members.
Roxanne workshop
Below are the Creation Spirituality Communities that we are aware are meeting on a regular basis. If you are participating in a community or CS circle that is not included on this list, please let us know by writing to contact@cscommunities.org.

If you are the convener or leader of a CS community, you are invited to an online conversation on the first Monday of every month at 11:00EST. Please let us know if you are interested!

LIST OF CREATION SPIRITUALITY COMMUNITIES:

Creation Spirituality Communities
contact@cscommunities.org | www.cscommunities.org