• evansph2

The current tissue of the newsletter of the UU church of the Larger Fellowship, is focused on spiritual practice. Many lovely articles about what spiritual practice is and isn’t. Contributor, Rev. Sharon Wylie writes that spiritual practice is “an activity whose primary purpose is to quiet the mind and bring us into deeper connection with the interdependent web of all existence. Spiritual practice is Intentional, practiced regularly and is non-productive.”

A practice that is INTENTIONAL– In other words, it’s not something you are already doing everyday anyway – like washing the dishes. It is an activity that you engage in with the sole purpose of paying attention . You do it in order to focus your mind. You do it to practice being intentional. You are going to focus and be aware of each moment as you do the practice. You do it because you choose it.

A practice that is REGULAR. You don’t do it when the spirit moves you. You don’t do it occasionally. You do it on a regular basis; if not daily, then something close to that. Like brushing your teeth. You do it because you have committed to doing it and because you have decided it’s in your own best interest. You do it regularly because that’s how habits work. You practice “staying with”.

A practice that is NON-PRODUCTIVE. This is the one that gives me personally the most challenge. Why would I do something that isn’t productive?” Well, why indeed! I seem to always demand that anything I do give me a pay-off. I’d like to learn how not to be attached to outcomes. Walking a labyrinth is not walking to get somewhere, it is walking to walk – to be aware that I am walking. It’s how I’d like to walk through all of my life. Awake. Aware.

So these are good litmus tests for deciding if what you are doing (watching birds, writing in a journal, making art, reading, meditating, hiking, washing the dishes, etc.etc.etc.) is actually a spiritual practice FOR YOU. Is it intentional, regular and non-productive? Or is it some other thing -- which might be good -- maybe it's fun, or healthy, or insightful, or, or, or -- but is it a SPIRITUAL PRACTICE? We can use these three words to help us decide.

And, I also want to lift up this idea that we do spiritual practices in order to PRACTICE. We will never achieve some sought after reward or goal or enlightenment. We are practicing noticing what IS. We are practicing seeing ourselves. We are practicing over and over to slow down, wake up, breathe. You would think that would be easy. It isn’t!

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  • evansph2

I have not been posting as regularly here as I mean to. Perhaps because there seems nothing new under the sun and yet everything is new. Or, perhaps because I feel like a fly trapped in a lampshade buzzing around and around. In the current UU World Magazine, Rev. Mark Belletini has a thoughtful article about surviving in the pandemic where he mentions “the saving presence of art” in his life. At the same time, I read an article by Austin Kleon where he mentions that he is moving through the time of pandemic by giving himself art challenges. He had a quote by Octavia Butler, “All good things must begin”. I like these thoughts. Why not leap up into the space that has been given us and BEGIN something – anything?

So, what could you begin? I have been “playing around” with making small water color paintings which I turn into bookmarks or cards for friends. It gives me great pleasure at the same time that it seems trivial. And, it’s clear I’m no artist. I have decided to live with that. This sort of “pause” that we are in can hold both depth and lightness. If you, like me, are sometimes buzzing around in the lampshade, I suggest trying a commitment to making something with your hands.

Maybe you could make a blind contour self-portrait and paste a word or two in a journal each morning.

Or you could make a “coffee cup mandala” in your journal each morning.

Or you could make a collage each morning without know why or what it’s about until you’re done.

Or you could just doodle with paint and a pen.

Maybe you’ll decide to keep a one-sentence diary. One sentence on each page, and paste something else onto each page too. Add the date and call it a day.

Austin Kleon committed to making 100 blind contour self-portraits. Then he made 100 tiny “zines” on various topics, then 100 collages of houses. Is there something you could commit to making 100 of? Or 30 – one each day in July? There is some saving grace in making something with our precious hands even if we can’t figure out why – but especially if it feels like fun when you are doing it. Writer/artist Jill Badonsky says “Instead of focusing on how it’s going to turn out, focus on how much you absolutely love what you’re doing.” That would be good advice for living in this time of pandemic too, as I think about it! Call it a work of heart.

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  • evansph2

Updated: Jun 27

“When you are used to privilege, equality feels like oppression”

I have written and rewritten this post several times. Each time not feeling certain I said the right thing, the best thing, the honest thing. And, I am sure now that there is no one right, honest, best thing to say. I do know this is not the kind of world I want to live in. And that I am committed to make changes in myself that might lead to helping create the kind of world I do want to live in. As a white woman, I have come to understand that it is our (white people's) work to dismantle the system that is so broken, the system that gives us so many advantages. It is time to lean into my own discomfort – to learn to listen more than speak, to look in the mirror instead of blaming others for what is happening.

It is hard. It is uncomfortable. It is necessary. There is no clear path and I have to keep walking it anyway – without the right words, without certainty, without looking for praise and applause. I have to clearly see how I have helped create what is so wrong. Without blame or shame, I have to change. And, I have to have compassion. May I find it. May I query my own spirit, and ask over and over – is this the kind of world I want? And then dig in somewhere – anywhere – and begin. I can’t wait for the right idea, the right moment, the right answer, the right action. The time for waiting has passed. It’s time to begin.

Here are 75 choices of things white people can do to fight racism! Click here

Here is a poem Black poet, Lucille Cliffton wrote 28 years ago after Rodney King was brutally beaten by the police. It is called. “For Rodney King”. And sadly, could have been written this week for George Floyd…

so the body of one black man is rag and stone is mud and blood the body of one black man contains no life worth loving so the body of one black man is nobody mama mama mamacita is there no value in this skin mama mama if we are nothing why should we spare the neighborhood mama mama who will be next and why should we save the pictures 

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