“Method” ( as in “Methodist”)

 

 

A PAUSE TO CONSIDER METHOD
Earlier this month I chose the word “method” for the letter “M”‘s pause. This week I jump ahead of myself in the alphabet (You’re getting “M” before “F”!) as I struggle with what my word choice brings to my world. Why? Because I have strong feelings about what is going on in the (United)Methodist Church: The Methodist church that generations of my family have supported, loved, and served for as long as I can remember. My experience of that church this day is discordant. The current conditions of the UMC have inspired in my soul a longing for transformation, a new method of looking at organized religion, especially within the Methodist paradigm. United, I might add, is merely a label—Individual churches remain affiliated with the edicts of the “Mother Church”; however, individually they negate the methods dictated by asserting, “We’re welcoming, but we’re not leaving the UMC (because our salaries and buildings will go away without them). We’ll (slide under the radar and) figure out a way for same sex marriage and ordination for all—someday. Just not this year.” A church, probably not hopeless or faithless; however, bound tightly in tradition, incongruent and out of integrity with today’s attitudes, acceptances, and actions that I hold dear. Today (which is the day before this essay is published) I let go of what no longer serves the methodology in which I choose to operate. I choose spirituality over religion. Thank you, God.

This week’s focus is on the word, “Method.” Method is defined as a procedure, technique or way of doing something, especially when its way is in accordance with a definite plan. A method is a manner or mode of operating, usually in an orderly, logical, systematic instruction, inquiry, investigation, etc. A method is an order or system by which someone arranges, does, or organizes anything—their way of being and doing sequenced in a planned agenda.
The word “Method” is used in “the Method”, a theorized technique of acting in which the performer identifies with the character to be portrayed in an individual, natural manner, becoming the character. In Earth school, we share different methods of being, becoming, and doing—infinite methodologies, all of them chosen, bestowed, adapted, or inculcated to grow our longings into visions. The methods we choose work for us when they do. When they don’t, we usually choose another mode of operation for our methodology. Methods come and go—working when they do, transforming even when they don’t. All structure and organization emanate in some form from a chosen method, varying in how methodical or how attached to method the program/concept/structure is.

I can operate in excellence with methods that serve my creation of the highest good. When a chosen method gifts me joy and blessing, my heart sings with praise and thanksgiving. I walk in grace and I live with gratitude.
One of the things I’ve loved most about being part of the Methodist Church for 60 years is the music. Honestly, our hymnal is filled with the songs that have colored and consoled my life, many written by Charles Wesley.   After sampling other faiths’ songs and different denominations’ music within the Christian Church, my faith history is best expressed through the wonderful Methodist hymns. I have loved pieces of John Wesley’s theology, especially his strangely warmed heart, his focus on love, his coined expression, “agree to disagree,” his concern for care of the physical body as well as the spiritual body, and the way he questioned and struggled with his faith in God. Methodism was first called, “the holy club”—a name I love because holy means sacred, belonging to God—All/Everything is sacred and holy, and whether we’re Methodist, Hindu, or Agnostic—We are holy.

 


Wesley taught that we know our faith by scripture, reason, tradition and experience. Methodists are taught to use logic and reason in all matters of faith. In the early days, they did so in a very methodical manner and became known as the “Methodists”. Evangelism and mission, charity and service within community are ideals with emphasis on serving the poor and average persons. Annual covenant services and an original covenant prayer used by John Wesley are still traditions in many if not most Methodist Churches.
The INCLUSIVENESS OF GOD’S LOVE is a hallmark of Methodism. In the Methodist theology book, EVERYONE is entitled to God’s grace and protection. And, the music!!! Thank you, God, for the great music of the United Methodist Church! Thank you, God, for the intention to include everyone, blessing all creation, in every variety of the rainbow, all shapes, sizes, and presentations, with the freedom to heed God’s calling to and for him or her—no matter what!

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Over 60 years ago, I was baptized as an infant in the Methodist Church. I was confirmed in that same church 13 years later. I was married in the church 9 years after my confirmation, and our sons were baptized 2 and 5 years after our marriage, confirmed 13 years after their baptisms. Everywhere we moved in our adult lives, I found a Methodist Church to attend/affiliate with/join and serve. When family members died, when we renewed our wedding vows, our pastors, fellow members, and friends were there, at a Methodist Church. The traditions and my experience of the Methodist Church inspired me to go to seminary in 2002. Although my Christology and Theology separated from the teachings of the United Methodist Church, I was grateful for the support and guidance I received while briefly attending seminary. We left our home church where we had shared our time, talents, and treasures to move to northern Indiana where Gerry had bought a business that needed our attention. We affiliated with a Methodist Church while we lived there. When we moved back to Indianapolis and our former church home, the church had changed, becoming much less progressive, and no longer reflective of the way I choose to worship and serve. We chose to relocate our church membership to a non-denominational church pastored by a very dear friend, someone I consider my forever pastor, no matter what. That church later became a United Methodist Church.
The Methodist General Conference meets yearly to vote on rules and regulations for the Church worldwide. Over the years, Methodism has shrunk in the United States and Great Britain, but it has grown in Africa, Korea, and South America. A membership must attain a majority vote to implement new acceptances/ practices in the church. For more than a few years, any voting for inclusiveness in regard to other than heterosexual sexuality for marriage and ordination issues has been defeated, amidst fears and cheers. A divided denomination. Wars have been fought in the name of religion throughout history. Need we war within our own denomination? A sad day for those of us teetering on the edge of the questions: Do we need organized religion? Where do we go to find open hearts, open minds, and open doors? Is our church utilizing “the method”? What would Jesus do?

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My search for a community of “like-minded people sharing a spiritual experience” is ongoing. I’ve found it at The Garden, Unity Christian, Unitarian Universalist, a Hindu Temple, in shared Buddhist meditation, hiking with friends, and on my yoga mat. I know I’ll find community for worship and service wherever I look for it with an open heart. open mind, and an open door. I will keep wondering and wandering with God, longing for peace and love, full inclusiveness and welcome intended by and for all.

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And on Easter morning this year, I will gather with all the saints, departed loved ones, and my highest and best self to greet the rising sun, singing in full voice, with all who are with me and those who came before me, the Methodist version of “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.”

 

 


Prayers for us all,
Carol

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Enthusiasm

 

While pondering what “E” word to write about today, I drove by a daycare center with a large two-sided billboard. I first noticed the billboard on the way home from yoga, and the message on the eastern façade of the sign read, “Try to be the rainbow in somebody’s cloud.” When I drove to yoga the next time, I eagerly looked for the colorful rainbow message on the western facing side of the sign. Instead, the other sign of the billboard read, “Enthusiasm moves the world.” I became enthused about that message because it was the rainbow in my cloud of choosing between equanimity and equalitarianism, both of which were a bit heady and out of proportion for my word of the week selection. Enthusiasm rescued me from laborious methodology as this week’s word!
I get so excited about being alive in such an extraordinary world. When I experience intense, eager enjoyment, interest or approval, I am lifted from the doldrums to fly upon the wings of ardent inspiration with every adventure. Enthusiasm, for me, is the difference between plodding along a rutted, muddy path on a cold, windy, wet, dark day; and actually, soaring high in a pure blue sky with fluffy white patches of elephant shaped clouds, purveying the beauty of the world with imaginative creativity in flights of wonder and awe. Enthusiasm definitely rocks my world, and in turn, when I engage with enthusiastic others, my world becomes our world and we are a team in the joy and blessing process. If I meet an enthusiastic being while traversing a murky road, I am blessed by that enthusiasm; perhaps, forever changed because of a bird’s song, the wag of a dog’s tail, a tree’s bow; an infectious smile; a shared laugh; insights gleaned, inspired, and shared; eventually, my direction changed toward enthusiasm’s infinite vista of what is good, loving, and possible.
Enthusiasm produces and attracts energy. The noun comes from a Greek word, enthousiasmos, from enthous, meaning “possessed by a god, inspired.” Originally, the word was used in a manner to describe religious fervor/zeal (i.e., talking in tongues, frantic movements and body flailing), excessive enough to be judged in a derogatory manner by mainstream “normals.” Because we often “freak out” or judge what we don’t understand or feel uncomfortable experiencing, the religious definition of enthusiasm doesn’t command a high regard or respect by most enthusiasts of this word.

What I like about the origin of this word, is the thought that infused with spirit, being inspired (connected to God/good, love, and possibility), brings all kinds of miraculous vision and intention to my experience of life in this world.

Enthusiasm heals what is broken, hikes challenging mountains, wades through weeds and thorns. It inspires me to survive, even thrive, with joy and immersion in the immensity of awe, wonder, and goodness available to all of us on planet Earth when we choose to be enthusiastic. When I am congruent with who I choose to be (maybe a rainbow in somebody’s cloud?) and live in sync with spirit and inspiration, I am living my enthusiasm and moving the world in the direction of my vision for love, peace, joy and blessing for all creation.

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How are you moving the world today?

Namaste,
Carol

A Pause to Discern

 

Discernment is this week’s “D” word. As a dictionaried noun it means an ability to judge well. From a Christian context, it is a perception in the absence of judgment with a view to obtaining spiritual direction and understanding. Actually, discernment is beyond religion; all of us empower each other when we choose to be discerning, choosing to discover what is our highest and best way of being, doing and having.
The verb discern means to perceive, recognize or distinguish an object, person or issue using faculties that require intentional practice, concerted deciphering, and perhaps, some difficulty. Discerning, and all aspects of this word require thought, effort, openness, intention, vision, questioning, maybe some charting and graphs, and most likely, the addition of prayer and grace.
Life’s most ardent pursuits can be travelled with no thought, all thought or hit and miss efforts. The marriage of thought, effort, heart, and passion are led by one of my favorite guides: discernment. The question, “What is for the highest good in this situation?” is a grounding question for the ever-present quandary of who I am, what I want, and what is my dharma. It also works for every other question that guides my best self’s reckoning for how to be contributing, responsible, committed and authentic in my creation for the highest good in my every intentional aspiration and action.
To choose discernment as a preferred manner of navigating life is a conscious choice to slow down, be present, let go, and breathe. Discernment is a great tool of discovery and becoming. It may be subjective, but as a constant and ongoing process, it evolves as I do.
Thank you, God, for the ability to discern what works best for me and my experience of life in this world. Thank you, too, for the ability to change my mind, my heart, and surrender my need to be right, in control, to judge with subjective filters. Help me continue to recognize we’re all in this life together, all of us walking each other home.


Namaste,
Carol

Content

 

 

CONTENT is the subject of this week’s pause. Many meanings for this seven-letter word, depending upon the context I use to define it. Context is the setting or situation in which a phrase or word is used, and Content is the word or idea that make up a piece (of art, literature, grouping, arrangement—what holds a grouping, a piece unto itself yet open for navigation). I can discern the content of something from its context, but I can’t invert it with a vice versa.

Content differs in meaning depending on whether it is used as a noun or a verb; in a sentence or in a book; in art, language, and audience (adult or kids).

In literature, art, communication and all presence, content is experience and information directed toward an end user or audience. In most books, newsletters, journals and magazines, I can find a “table of contents” listing what I can find within the piece and where to find it. With art, I consider content and form as I review an artistic rendition. Form is the medium and content is contained within the medium as its subject. Content, as a noun, as a distinctive bent toward academia, the arts, and intellectual pursuits; however, it’s a word any of us encounter when we read the ingredients in a soup mix or the lists of books/articles/videos in a syllabus, even the steps that go into the process of assembling parts from a box. Content clarifies what we are questioning, exploring, or ready to study/read/ appreciate/navigate.

Content as an adjective or a verb has another meaning. When I am content, I am pleased, gratified, at peace with my situation, satisfied. While content is not a word like awesome or wow, it is a remark similar to, “It is well with my soul.” There are subtle nuances to this word that convey, “Less than perfect, but I’m okay with what is.” Content as a verb or an adjective is a generic term with many levels, depending upon the user and the context. When I say, “I’m content with that definition.”, what I really mean is, “This is enough for now. I might like developing this idea more fully, but it doesn’t work for me to do this now so I’m at peace with what is.”

My favorite Martin Luther King quote is, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Content, as a noun, is something all of us contribute to as authors, artists, captains, parents, and servants of our lives, the context we create, and the content contained within what we create. May we be content with the content of our character as we contribute to the content of our world.

Namaste,
Carol

A Pause of BODACITY

 

This week’s Pause is a word beginning with “B”. Some of the words I considered were balance, beatitude, benison, being, boundary, belligerence, and bliss. The b-word I’ve chosen combines an “A” word I especially like with a “B” word my husband uses frequently while scanning the beach: BODACITY.
In a standard dictionary, “bodacity” may not always be listed. Its claim to fame was Kung Fu Panda. Most word detectives shun the idea of “bodacity” as a verified word; however, I’d like to be audaciously bodacious in claiming it as creatively accurate for the purpose of this blog. How else do words like audacity and bodacious become cross-bred from words containing the slight differences of meaning to a combination more brilliant than either alone? In today’s world, “bodacity” is wanted, needed, appreciated and venerated. Just as passionately, it is scorned,  admonished, and judged. “Bodacity” is required for radical transformation. When old methods no longer modify a broken status quo, an exploration of other transformative options is necessary. “Bodacity” is the biggest, boldest, loudest forum for protest, petition, enrollment, refinement, and reform.
The dictionary defines audacity as a willingness to take bold risks. Audacity is also defined as rudeness, impudence, disrespect. A two-sided coin, the word itself can be a grand action or a deplorable judgment. Audacity walks the fine line between favor and disrepute, rather like an unpredictable relative at a formal family event.
Bodacious means unrestrained and audacious in a way that I find admirable. It also means excellent and attractive. I would say bodacious is the preferred definition of audacity from a positive, grand action view. The person who is bold in an acceptable way can be bodacious. As slang, (like Gerry’s bodacious beach remarks), this word is used; however, in this context, it doesn’t apply.
The reason I like the word “bodacity” is that the impudence, the loud side of audacity when married to the freedom and awesome excellence of the” bigger than life” bodacious inspires calls for marches, petitions, protests, community formation, reformation, revolution, group movements—all of which inspire our collective closer to what brings possibility, peace, progress and open doors: freedom. Practicing “bodacity” blesses me with authenticity, comradery, honesty and a voice to express, be heard, and move forward reform, renovation, restoration and rejuvenation. Bodacity connects as much as it fragments the collective. Often it initiates fractions and fissures before the broken pieces align into a patched restoration of wounds, slights, celebrations, and healing.
Some made up words like “fortuosity” (The Happiest Millionaire) and “supercalifragilistic” (Mary Poppins) stick with me when I maneuver exuberantly and confidently through life. “Bodacity” is an attitude I adopt and embrace as I purvey with angst the nightmares fostered by the leadership of our divided country. We need audacious, bodacious being and doing to bring healing to ourselves, our country, our world. It may not be easy to step out of our cozy, small-world comfort zone into radical “bodacity”, and yet, if we don’t, who will? We’re in this together, and we don’t go home until we all go home.

I go to my mat to do yoga regularly because I show up for myself. Where are we showing up for each other, our world? Whatever our “more or less justifiable beliefs”, may we be one in our bodacity.

 


Audaciously, bodaciously yours,
Carol

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A Pause for Acceptance

 

To launch an arrow from a bow, resistance is necessary. Tension with the bow string propels the arrow toward its desired target. Choosing to travel the alphabet, beginning with “A”, apprehensively yet avidly approaching the absolutely astonishing alphabet with aspiration for artless accuracy, mirrors the archer’s administered adaptation for an arrow’s astounding airlift. Initially, I imagined, “All right! Awesome!” (Another great “A” word!)
As I applied appreciative accommodation to actively acquiring an abundance of “A” words, I aggressively accumulated assorted acronyms, adjectives, and adverbs. I abandoned archaic adherents (abhorrent to adapt or address) as I accelerated archiving antonyms. The amicable, appealing assurances actualized were the following awards: 1. An “A” for… Ardently arranging all “As” as addressed, attached, attended, accomplished, assembled and accounted for. 2. An appallingly analytical amusement for adopting an amazing attraction to an abnormal activity in my search for the perfect “A”.

AND…I acknowledge advancing to an agonized achievement of acquired ability to choose A word…finally. I feel especially agreeable to accessing what is accessible to aggressively activate this “A” agitation away from asylum!
This is how my mind works, dear reader. So many words, and all of them competing for my adoration. I preface this pause with weird meandering because I often process in this manner. It is so much fun until I drive myself crazy becoming overly absorbed studying A words. It is with great deliberation I’ve chosen this week’s word. In the running were words I love but didn’t choose: Authenticity, Audacity, Activism, Attention, Awareness, Apathy, Appearance, Attachment. The A word winner is…ACCEPTANCE.

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Acceptance is synonymous with acquiescence, which comes from a Latin word which means, “to rest in”. Acceptance in human psychology means facing and recognizing the reality of a situation, process or condition without attempting to ignore, change or resist it.
Resistance to change often manifests as pain, suffering, despair, disease, death, angst, loss, or sadness. Change is constant in our world. Each of us, individually as well as collectively, is responsible for choosing responses to all change.
I’ve learned that fearful, negative or undesired thoughts and feelings are only released when I consciously choose to face my experience with neutrality: detach. observe. notice. embrace=D.O.N.E. (Perhaps a superficial acronym, yet memorable in a “go, do, get” world.) Done with the drama, avoidance, judgment, fear-based layers, I open the portal of possibility, unlocking the door for acceptance to enter my awareness.
Acceptance doesn’t mean I love “what is”; rather, I am choosing to acknowledge the situation without running away from my experience or deluding what is into made-up worries, chastisements, blame and reasons to escape, elude, circumvent, and willy-nilly life. Acceptance does not deny what it is. When I discard my attachment to my emotions (thoughts and feelings in motion), I am able to confront the condition before me without ignoring it, fixing it or making up horror stories about it. Detachment empowers me to objectively view what I’m experiencing without an accompanying storyline, releasing the masks of anger and accoutrement. I can observe my situation rationally, without the competing intentions of fear and ego clamoring for power and control. I notice how my thoughts and feelings become parallel. When I detach enough to observe my process, I notice that the movements of thought and feeling have subsided, and integration of thought(mind) and feeling(heart) is available. Whenever I choose to embrace this methodology without resorting to the emotional drama of non-acceptance, I heal my view of the situation and the world within me.
“Non” and “Un” are pronouns to words supporting negation. When I affirm, “It is what it is,” I’ve made the first step toward positive intervention. I am a conduit for miraculous healing when I choose to accept my role as a conscious spiritual embodied being, intentional about doing my part to improve what I can, and accepting my presence with “what is” as DONE.
Acceptance is what I consider the human equivalent of grace. So many differences, sufferings, disparities, conflicts, and subversive acts attack and invade my ability to navigate life as I would ideally choose in this world. Thankfully, throughout the course of history, humans have sought God, nature, humanity ,and art for support and ideation. These four pillars are grace-builders for me. These “Fabulous Four” supply catalogues of inspiration for our journey through Earth School. How amazing are the gifts of navigation provided for us if we choose to seek them!
When I consider the question, “Is there a universal truth?”, the only one I ardently hold as my truth is, “ All beings want to accept themselves and be accepted by others.” Acceptance is the first step toward the ultimate aspiration of my heart: Peace and Love intended and realized by and for all creation. The first step toward any kind of healing with ourselves and our planet is acceptance. We’re alive together. Let’s be DONE, accept each other, and choose to journey with peace and love.

Namaste,

Carol

Questions for consideration:  What does it mean for me to practice acceptance?  Do I practice non-acceptance anywhere in my life?

Quote to consider:   ( James Baldwin, “Notes of a Native Son”  from Notes of A Native Son, 1955)

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“It began to seem that one would have to hold in the mind forever two ideas which seemed to be in opposition.  The first idea was acceptance, the acceptance, totally without rancor, of life as it is, and men as they are:  in the light of this idea, it goes without saying that injustice is a commonplace.  But this did not  mean that one could be complacent, for the second idea was of equal power:  that one must never, in one’s own life, accept these injustices as commonplace but must fight them with all one’s strength.  This fight begins, however, in the heart and it now has been laid to my charge to keep my own heart free of hatred and despair.”

 

A Pause for Adventure with Words

An Introduction to…A Year’s Journey of Weekly Discovery.
An Exploration of 26 Letters Beginning 52 Pauses for Consideration.
An Adventure with Words for 2019.

 

 

Dear Reader,
With some trepidation, I address my computer screen as I write this introduction to 2019’s weekly “Pause”.   I’ve decided to follow a crazy inspiration to travel the alphabet, reflecting on meaningful words defining and coloring my experiences of life in this world. Subjectively-languaged words create both possibilities and problems because of what they represent, symbolize, evoke or invoke in me/us. Some words are controversial in their meaning and construction, and some words are paradoxical by their very nature. Words with multiple meanings can be confusing. Many words invite divisive response, even adversarial reaction. Some words demand and command attention , and some words command and demand action. In our world, historically and today, words unite and words divide. We use language to reveal ourselves—our stories, passions, beliefs and feelings. Words can be conflicting, defensive, attacking, justifying. Especially as I age, I prefer music, prayer, and the silence beyond words in my quest for reconciliation to a unified vision where peace and love are intended by and for all creation.
This year, I invite you, dear reader, to participate in a lively discussion of my weekly Pause, sharing freely your feelings and considerations concerning each subject. Because we go through the alphabet twice (26 letters x 2=52 weeks/a year), there will be opportunity to propose suggestions for the second round of word discussion. For example, if I chose audacity, activism, or attachment for “A” next week and shared my experiences, questions and judgments around the chosen word, I would appreciate hearing your thoughts and considerations about attachment, activism or audacity. I would also value ideas for the next “A” word to be considered mid- year. Realizing discussion can become divisive, I ask that we remember Byron Katie’s questions when responding:
IS IT TRUE?
CAN YOU ABSOLUTELY KNOW THAT IT’S TRUE?
HOW DO YOU REACT, WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU BELIEVE THAT THOUGHT?
WHO WOULD YOU BE WITHOUT THE THOUGHT?
I would also ask myself the questions, “Am I respectful and considerate of differences expressed? Can I be open to differing opinions with a gracious attitude and a willingness to engage in open dialogue?”
A debated writing is an audacious act for me. There are so many horrors and great divisions in our world. While I may gather with like-minded souls, volunteering, voting, serving, and praying for my peace and love vision, it is when we come together from different mindsets with the concerted intention to create open dialogue that miracles occur. Healing happens when we are open, present, and lead from our hearts with compassion and vision.
At the end of each pause, I will include one or two questions for reflection, response, discussion. I hope our conversations will gather us toward the good, love, and possibility we were created to share. Until next week…

 

 


Namaste,
Carol

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