| Anne Williamson |

Invitation is tough. It involves risk, courage, vulnerability… Will they hear and like my ideas? Will he say, “Yes”? Can I communicate my vision? Am I a good leader? Appreciated member of the team? Does she value my friendship like I value hers? Does he value me? Will they care as much as I do? Will they be fair? Will she show up? Gladly? Lovingly?

Often, these are questions to which we’re not sure we want the answers. Past experiences, current insecurities, ignorance, all make us wary of extending that invitation, of extending ourselves. It’s far easier and much safer simply not to ask. 

For all we risk in invitation, though, the alternative is actually far riskier....

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| Chase Tibbs |

You can already feel the tension. The tug is coming from all sides. You feel you have to commit to one or the other. The middle ground is as grey as can be. And along with the wins, there are the losses that come with how you approach the conversations. On the one hand, if you don’t bring up conversation regarding the latest situation/news, aren’t you participating in the “quietness” around the current issue? On the other hand, if you bring up conversation on the current news, you may be risking your relationships because of your differing opinions and perspectives on said latest situation/news.

We live in a world where disagreeing is not tolerated. Multiple perspectives cannot find a harmonious community. Diversity in theologies and ideologies is unable to sit at the same table.

If only there was a handbook for conversation around the holidays when sitting with family and friends with whom we disagree...

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Next Sunday I'll be teaching at entry.point church in Carmel on why it's more interesting and honest - even faithful - to be a community of rebels rather than conformists. One of my points will be all the good it does to expose ourselves to diverse ideas and perspectives. Community, though perhaps more chaotic, is wisest when created from varied voices.

In WAYfinding, I do my best to practice what I preach (in this case, literally). So, I want to hear from you! What are your ideas for our community? In July, I'll be taking space to listen - more on that next week - and I want your vision for WAYfinding to percolate with my own. Each of your voices is rich with the divine accent; please complete this short survey this week so I can create from your v/Voices as well as my own. Thank you!

- Anne

(The basic survey is 3 questions. However, if you were involved in any group from Fall 2014 - Spring 2015, if possible, please also take the time to provide feedback on your experience(s).)

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In the Kurt Vonnegut version of the biblical Genesis story, man politely asks God, "What is the purpose of all of this?" God's response is perhaps less than satisfactory; essentially, God replies, "You decide." God's response is not the part of the story I find most interesting, though. It's man's question, or rather according to this story, man's first assumption: that there is one purpose and it applies to everything.

Now, I like this idea. I like believing, underneath all the micro purposes, there exists one - one purpose that if comprehensively integrated would bring not universal peace but much, much more of it. I don't know this to be true, of course. And, I don't know what it is. I simply - or most days, incredibly not simply - have faith in it. 

What I do know to be true, though, is how necessary the presence, stories, ideas, questions of others has been on the journey to finding the one. Just when I think I've got it figured out, a new story shatters my confidence. Right when I feel solid in humanity's purpose, nature reminds me to think bigger, less anthropocentric. I know I've got a clear picture now until an unexpected question turns and blurs my lens just enough.

Is this frustrating? Sure. But, mostly, its grace. It's not up to me to determine the purpose of all of this. It's up to us. We need each other to find our purpose. Without a multitude of voices - strange and familiar - we become echoes who don't realize it. We settle into our perspective, and often, sometimes violently, force it on others.

This is one of the reasons we do what we do every week in WAYfinding. We create spaces where people with diverse ideas, beliefs, stories, gather to wonder aloud and honestly about "g/God" and how to live deeper and love better. Do we do this perfectly? No. Are we as diverse as we'd like to be? Absolutely not. But, it's our intention, our heart. Because we know we need each other. If there is a purpose to all of this; if "g/God," some sort of connective pulse to life exists, and we can know something about i/It; if we're going to live deeper and love better; we're not going to do so in silos, only hearing from voices like our own. We're going to do so together.   

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I recently read an article by James Martin, a Jesuit priest, about the benefits of being both spiritual and religious. In it, Martin is honest about the many sins of religion. He also asks us to consider the benefits. Particularly in contrast to spirituality, he sights community and the wisdom of religious tradition. To this end, he shares a great story...

"One of my favourite images of God is the ‘God of Surprises,’ which I first encountered in the novitiate. My own idea of God at the time was limited to God the Far Away, so it was liberating to hear about a God who surprises, who waits for us with wonderful things. It’s a playful, even fun, image of God. But I would have never come up with it on my own.

It came to me from David, my spiritual director, who had read it in a book of that same title, by an English Jesuit named Gerard W. Hughes, who borrowed it from an essay by the German Jesuit Karl Rahner."

I love this story. This kind of exchange of ideas, opening of perspectives, is one of the main reasons I'm passionate about faith communities too.

However, I couldn't help but notice Martin's teachers in this story were all white, male Jesuits. Of course, their perspectives are of value, but I find myself wondering... What other beautiful images may have come Martin's way in the novitiate had his teachers been from other religious traditions too? What wisdom may have arisen from being part of a community that did not mostly look like him? 

I love religion. I think it can be a beautiful, spirit-filled experience. I also think it can close us off... to other people and perspectives, yes; but, also, other ways of imagining religion, other ways of imagining communities of faith. If we truly believe in the God of Surprises, then shouldn't we be open to all possible imaginings? As Martin expressed, new images can be liberating. Perhaps new models of religion and spirituality can be too? LISTEN, LEARN, LOVE...

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It had been an exhausting week: busy work schedule; sick toddler; midnight power outage and accompanying loud, electricity workers; packing. I thought I'd feel relief when finally on the plane to Seattle; instead, I was homesick. Strangely, I longed for the familiarity of my day-to-day life, however chaotic.

Fast forward 2000 miles and 24 hours. I've slept and woken up to Mt. Rainier, showered, and am now eating delicious food with my husband, sister and her fiancé. I feel almost giddy. The energy of a new city and a vacation without a certain (beloved) child has sunk in. Life looks different and me in it. 

Such experiences remind me, remind us, new perspectives are vital to seeing clearly. Stuck looking at life from one vantage for too long, and we forget. We forget parts of ourselves, that we once saw the world differently, and therefore, might again. We need these experiences to remind us that the kaleidoscope turns and is beautiful here too.

The same is true of faith. If God or the Divine is ultimately a mystery to us - and I would argue this is necessarily the case - then trying to traverse this Mystery from one perspective is too limiting (not to mention hard). We need others to lend us their perspectives, to reach up and turn our kaleidoscope. 

This is exactly what we try and do for each other every week at WAYfinding. It's not perfect. Community never is. But, maybe, it's necessary. Maybe to see a true image of God, we have to engage in God talk with people of diverse perspectives. In the absence of perpetual travel, we have to find a way to new perspectives ourselves.

What do you think? LISTEN, LEARN, LOVE...

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