[Springboard] Approach To Junaluska

david442 at cox.net david442 at cox.net
Wed Nov 14 15:49:51 EST 2007

The contradiction that bites at my consciousness for the past 12 years is Jack Gilles’ Number 2 under All the gifts of humanness belongs to all.  Not only as the contradiction states now is there an  absence of approaches to exploring profound humanness as a way to unite us all, but most humans around the planet are aware of this absence.  They know nothing really satisfies their deepest soul felt needs.  They are thirsty for vitality beneath the wealth and beneath the poverty they are experiencing.

	As I have tried to satiate this thirst in myself, I have found that until very recent times I did not have a daily, weekly, monthly or annual practice that met this need.  In the past seven years I begun to explore daily and hourly what Saint Paul advocated two millennia ago “prayer without ceasing.”  By chance it came to me through Engaged Buddhism as expressed in the work of Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk.  My mentors in this tradition are Larry Ward and Peggy Rowe-Ward who’ve are lay dharma teachers in this tradition.  

	Peggy calls Larry a Buddhacostal since he has found no need to leave his Christian Baptist heritage to become a “Buddhist”.  This Engaged Buddhism neither requires “conversion” nor in Larry’s own words is there any reason to convert.  We are Christians learning an immense bundle of practices and “great beings” who embody traits and vivid images of what living as a profound human being is all about.  When we sit before an altar the whole wall is covered by these “bodhisattvas” or “saints” who are available to us here and now, not somewhere over the rainbow.  This practice comes to me as very fresh.  If I had grown up Buddhist, maybe it wouldn’t be so fresh.  But Thich Nhat Hanh has done a fabulous job making Buddhist lore transparent to humanness.  That’s the freshness I love.

	Could I have found my thirst slaked somewhere else?  Could I have found it in my own Christian tradition?  Of course.  But I didn’t.  The saints of the past practiced sitting, walking, eating, lying down, standing meditation 24/7.  Mindfulness all day long even in my sleep (those dreams and night visitations are critically important) is a great way to live.  The only failure in the Christian priestly, monastic traditions was to train us lay people to do these practices sufficiently that we could take it with us into our daily lives, into our work place, our families, our friendships, etc.  It is “intentionality” to the nth degree in our own Order: Ecumenical tradition.

	I would welcome the opportunity to glean the wisdom we’ve all been accumulating over the past 20 years about what practices are working for us.  I know they are working.  Just look at all the wonderful, miraculous achievements we’ve been doing in corporations,  in health-education-environment, in local communities, in other service organizations, in doing whatever business we are currently doing.  We know our practices are alive and healthy because over the 20 years we have continued to be Those Who Care.  What works for you?  Please share it.

	If you find yourself thirsty for a corporate spirit life, look around you.  Dare to look behind all the labels that are thrown around.  Dare to look in unsuspected places.  There are retreat centers galore.  There are books and book stores galore.  The “New Age” is over.  I know because I saw it in writing the other day.  (A smile and a wink)  It is now the New Now!!!!!

	How would I approach our process at Junaluska?  I want to hear everyone’s story about their life and their work.  I want to be able to paint a mosaic of our Doing.   I want to listen to our Knowing – what we have learned from doing what we’ve done.  Maybe a cross gestalt of our knowing and doing would name the guilds that in a way we are already members of.   And I want to know what spiritual practices we’ve been doing that have authentically sustained and motivated us over the last 20 years, or even just the last 5 years.   We cannot easily in three days separate these into three departments.  So I would put them all in the first 3 hours and then do the cross gestalt and ask, “What’s next?  And what shall we do together in the ensuing days, weeks and months?”

	As Goethe said long ago, “Once we let go of our hesitancy and commit ourselves to our dream, providence will enter in and provide the help we need to do what we set out to do.”  (My paraphrase)


David McCleskey

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