Posted in church, Forgiveness, Raised Catholic

Shining the Spotlight on Clergy Sexual Abuse

I was not sexually abused by a priest, but I know and have counseled many people who were.  I was not sexually abused by a priest, but I worked in the Church when the insidious legacy of priests sexually abusing children and having inappropriate relations with other vulnerable populations began to come to light.  I was also still working in the Church when the sexual abuse scandal exploded and other “sins of the institution” came to be known.

So, when I watched the recent Academy Award winning movie, Spotlight, which tells the story of the Boston Globe’s investigation into clergy sexual abuse, uncovering and then exposing the unconscionable cover up of hundreds of priests (249 in the Boston Diocese alone!) who had been sexually abusing children and the thousands of victims, I was already long-acquainted with the story, but was so deeply moved and startled by the true extent of the crime, I could hardly speak for days.  What I didn’t know, was that a dear friend, professionally a Lay Ecclesial Minister, was also watching the movie at the very same time, reliving her own experience of clergy sexual abuse and reflecting on her on-going path of healing.  Here is her response:

Original photograph by Kathy Walczyk
Original photograph by Kathy Walczyk

I watched the movie Spotlight five times. I cried every time. I cried because the reporters knocked on doors, they came in search of listening and learning. They came to give a voice to the voiceless. They opened doors of truth. In the middle of watching Spotlight for the fourth time, I wrote to thank them, the real reporters. I got a personal reply in six minutes. Six minutes!!!

I wish it were like this in the church. I wish the church had come knocking on doors in search of us, our story, listening with the intent of learning our needs, and inviting our voices. Greater dignity was lost in this lack.

And I wish all the walls of defense were not so high and the finger of blame would lower. I wish humility, responsibility, and a desire for mending and reconciling would replace what we have now.

I wish we could bring the sacred to conversations, uplift the holy in each other.

I wish the church could talk about the beautiful, sacredness of our sexuality, our life essence, and our lifeblood that is good, and is within every human. And I wish we could talk about how our desire for God, for wholeness is found through relationships with each other. I wish we could talk about how this same sensual spirit is creative and life giving. Without healthy dialogue of our human sexuality there will be no understanding of how sexual violence in holy places, by people wearing crosses, can affect one’s communion with God and with each other. Reconciling divisions will come when we can address this in a spiritual, caring way.

There is a better way.

+++++++

Read Kathy’s original post HERE.

Kathy’s artwork and poetry are currently on display as part of the “Co-Workers in the Vineyard” exhibition at St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN.  Learn more HERE.

Kathy’s work will be displayed locally at The Norbertine Center for Spirituality in DePere September 1 – 30, 2016.  Watch the Norbertine Center’s website for details HERE. 

Posted in Authentic Freedom, church

A New (Original) Way of Being Church

This past Sunday, I suddenly realized that I am DOING what I came here to do, and what I have KNOWN for a very long time was my mission and purpose on this planet – to bring forth a new/original paradigm for being Priest in a new/original paradigm for being Church. I sit in awe-filled wonder over the fact that I have arrived and that I am HERE doing what I have been trying for twenty years to do. Here it is, right in front of me. It’s been here all along, but now it seems it has wholly (holy) and completely arrived.

sunlight-315917_1280

What I thought was the final piece of the puzzle (the Sunday Service which is launching this Sunday, August 16th 8:00 am at Inner Sun Yoga Studio), was it, but it seems there was more. It’s not enough to simply show up on Sunday morning and facilitate a worship/prayer service, being Church and being Priest is about being a vessel of God’s love through the overall care and wellbeing of those in your community. Part of that care is to provide opportunities for your community’s psycho/spiritual nourishment, growth and development which I am already providing via Authentic Freedom Academy. Part of the responsibility of a priest is pastoral counseling and support which I provide as a Spiritual Director. Part of the job of a priest is to be a vehicle through which God’s healing is more fully present to individuals – which I provide through Reiki, Spiritual Direction, etc. Another task of a priest is sacrament – rites and rituals that bring people together in community and which help them to consciously connect with God’s grace. This I have had an opportunity to do through the weddings, ordinations and other rites of passage I have facilitated. This past Sunday, I had an opportunity to witness how the sacramental part of this task is even more present for me than I originally thought and how it is unfolding in a way that reflects the manifestation of a new/original paradigm of priesthood and a new/original paradigm of being church in the world.

This past Sunday, the sacramental part of being “priest” and being “church” presented itself in what would traditionally be called “anointing of the sick.” I was intuitively led to offer this service to a client who had been recently diagnosed with cancer and who is facing surgery this week (today as a matter of fact, please keep her and her family in your prayers). As I sat with my client and her family in a “make it up as we go along” service I realized that THIS is the new/original model of priesthood and church. There were no rubrics to follow, only the guidance and prompting of the Holy Spirit and the immediate needs of the family. We prayed. We shared in ritual. The family told stories, hugs and tears. We read from a sacred text chosen by my client. We sang a song that held great meaning for the family and that uplifted everyone with humor. The service ended with my client offering cake and coffee (if that isn’t communion, I don’t know what is!). It was perfect. It was sublime. It was AWE-some! As I sat in reflection of this experience, all I could do was feel humbled and in awe over whatever it was that allowed me to be witness to this sacred experience.

This is what it means to be priest. This is what it means to be church. No rubrics. No doctrine. No collar or special robes. No golden vessels or special laws. Only rapt attention to the immediate needs of those before us – their need for healing, comfort, nourishment and support in a way that honors their own unique beliefs and personal experiences of the Divine. I am humbled and in awe over twenty years of holding onto a vision, believing when everyone else (sometimes me included) thought I was insane, only to suddenly realize it is here – a new/original way of being priest and of being church in a world desperately in need of both.

If you live in the Oshkosh area, please join us this Sunday for our first Sunday Service. 8:00 am (doors open at 7:40) at Inner Sun Yoga Studio. Learn more HERE.

 

Posted in church, Jesus, Mary Magdalene, women

Church of the Magdalene?

Consider today’s blog as a pondering of sorts – musing on what would it have looked like if the Magdalene’s perspective on the Jesus message had not been supplanted by fear, power and control, but instead, had been allowed to flourish?  I entertain these thoughts not in opposition to the Institutional Church, because ultimately, I believe that the only way for the Church to survive is if both the feminine and masculine are honored, but, not unlike the feminist movement, we have to start the conversation somewhere.  So….here goes…..

 

Mary Magdalene  by Robert Place
Mary Magdalene by Robert Place

1) To begin with, I believe the Church of the Magdalene would be less concerned about saving us from sin and death, and more concerned with empowering us in life.  If there is such a thing as hell, I often believe THIS IS IT!  The Church of the Magdalene would give us tools for learning how to navigate the human condition and would help us find comfort in our losses while celebrating our joys.

2) The Church of the Magdalene’s second task would be to empower us in fulfilling the mission God intended for us.  We would be given the tools and support we need to find meaning, purpose and fulfillment in our lives through the uniquely creative way in which God desires to be known in the world through us.  We would also be given the help and support we need to overcome the inner obstacles to living that purpose.

3) In the Church of the Magdalene, the priesthood would not be one of exclusivity, but instead, would empower a priesthood of ALL believers.  EVERY SINGLE PERSON would be ordained into their unique, special and necessary mission for the betterment of humankind and our world.  Some would be ordained as healers, teachers, counselors, prophets, welcomers, nourishers, sustainers, supporters, stewards of the environment, growers, inspirers, bringers of beauty, shadow walkers, hand holders, receivers of healing and compassion, etc. etc. etc.  Yes, some would be called and empowered to pastor and lead communities, but this role would be no more important than any other vocation.  All are needed….all are empowered.

4) The Church of the Magdalene would be less about showing up for church to “fulfill your Sunday obligation” or to receive your “get out of hell free” card.  The Church of Magdalene would also be less about watching and more about doing.  In the Church of the Magdalene, everyone is the presider.  We gather together to share our lives, our stories, our journeys and we do so through contemplative prayer, as Jesus did.  Then, we are all empowered to go out and do the work that Jesus calls us to do.  Love one another.  Heal the sick.  Feed the hungry.  Give sight to the blind.  Set captives free.  In this way, it is all Eucharist. And if there is a sacred meal to be shared, it could just as well be cookies and milk as bread and wine.  In the Church of the Magdalene….Christ is ever-present…in the word, in the people, in the prayer, in our sorrows and in our joys, in the rivers and the trees, in the very air we breathe – and we are invited to see the world in this way!

5) As all of it is Eucharist, so all of it is sacrament.  In the Church of the Magdalene, EVERYTHING we do, we do with God, when we hold that as our desire and as our intention.  Yes, we may ritualize our doings through public ritual, but none of the rituals are in order that we might receive another “get out of hell free” card.  Instead, through our rituals we celebrate the amazing God that we have and we give honor to each other and mark our life transitions as sacred.  Baptism is not for the forgiveness of sin, but, like Jesus’ baptism, a time to acknowledge that we are each God’s beloved sons and daughters and with us God is well pleased!  Reconciliation is returned to its original intent as an opportunity to take responsibility for our non-loving behaviors and ask God to heal us of the fears that caused these behaviors in the first place.  Anointing of the sick becomes an opportunity to share energetic healing with another, acknowledging that we are simply the vessel through which God is facilitating healing in another.  Ordination, again, is offered to everyone when they are ready to name, claim and be empowered in their own unique vocation of service to God.

6) The Church of the Magdalene would be firmly rooted in a deeply intimate and personal relationship with God.  Love would be the only ultimate truth and God, as Love, the source of authority with Jesus’ law of love being the guiding principle

Love one another as I have loved you.

and the Beatitudes of Jesus as a way to measure our personal growth.

7) Finally, the Church of the Magdalene would be less hierarchical and more collaborative, less about power and privilege and more about honoring all as sacred, less about patriarchy and more about honoring both men and women as sacred and calling forth their unique and magnificent gifts, less about fear and more about love, less about having and more about giving, less about separation and more about unity and most importantly, less about judgment and more about compassion.

I know there is more…..but this seems like a good start.  I’m interested in your thoughts.  What would the Church of the Magdalene look like to you?

 

 

Posted in About Lauri, Authentic Freedom, church, Empowerment, Jesus, Raised Catholic, Virtual Church

A Different Kind of Priest

Each of us are uniquely gifted to be a vessel through which God’s love is known in the world.  Often, the way in which God has gifted us and the call God extends to us transcends institutional definitions, boundaries and controls.  I share the way this has been made known in my own life as a way of encouraging you to look outside the box for how God might be calling you to be love in the world…..sometimes the answer is right under our nose and has been there the whole time and sometimes it is so obvious we wonder, “Why didn’t I think of that before?”

Priest All Along

I wrote last week about the lightning bolt awareness of how for the past 20+ years I have been a priest and I didn’t even know it!  Looking back on the ways in which I have been called to be God’s love in the world, they all take the form of duties frequently associated with a priest – preaching, teaching, healing, counseling, leading, pastoring, serving, ministering.  Of course, being raised Catholic, the path to ordination is not open to me (in the Roman Catholic Church anyway), and at this point in my life, even if ordination were made available to women, I don’t think I would pursue it.  I prefer to serve as a priest in my own way (rather, the way in which God is leading me to be priest), instead of being subject to the limitations of the hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church where clericalism frequently reigns over humility and compassion.

Lauri Lumby, mother and priest
Lauri Lumby, mother and priest

A Different Kind of Priest

What does priesthood look like outside the boundaries of tradition?  What is a priesthood without hierarchy, patriarchy and clericalism?  What is priesthood without a church?   As it is currently being revealed to me, for myself personally, it is a priesthood of a different kind, but in truth, it looks very much like a priesthood of the original kind.  When I look for a model of priesthood that feels appropriate to me, the example is obvious in Jesus.  To me, Jesus represents the quintessential example of what priesthood should look like.  What does it mean to be a priest like Jesus?

1) For me, it starts with the clothes.  Nowhere in scripture does it describe Jesus as wearing special clothes, in fact, in several instances, he challenges religious leaders who don special vestments (phylacteries) as a way of drawing attention to the way they are better, separate, or more special than ordinary folks.  I have a very strong sense that Jesus dressed in the same fashion as the people to whom he was ministering. What that means for me is that I dress in ways appropriate to the occasion.  In presiding over weddings, I dress up in ways similar to the guests.  In facilitating spiritual formation in circle, I dress casually.  When seeing people one-on-one, I wear business casual.  And when networking with business professionals, I dress appropriately. There will be no Roman collar or guilded vestments for me.

2) While Jesus sometimes taught in the temple, he was mostly seen ministering to the people where they were at.  He moved about the marketplace, in the desert and on the mountain, in people’s homes, teaching, healing, ministering to people where the people were.  Jesus was not a member of the official hierarchy of the Jewish temple, instead, he was priest to the people in their midst.  A related key point – Jesus did not have a church.  Instead, it seemed his church was anywhere he found himself.  For me, this means being open to all the ways in which God is calling me to meet people where they are at – and in this day and age, it is often in front of their computer.

3) Jesus’ primary audience was those no longer welcome in the temple and for this he was often condemned.  Jesus spent much of his time in the midst of “sinners and tax collectors,” and he often ministered to lepers.  Jesus made himself available for those who had been rejected by the Institution in which he was raised.  This is highly reflective of the audience God continues to place before me – women and men who no longer feel welcome in the religious institution in which they were raised….and for me, 90 -95% of these folks were raised Catholic.

4) Jesus prayed – a lot, and he taught his disciples how to pray.  Before, during and after every ministerial encounter, Jesus can be found in prayer.  Prayer, his intimate relationship with God, seemed to be the foundation upon which everything else was built.  I can only hope to be following this example that Jesus set.

5) Jesus’ priesthood served to support and satisfy the deepest longing of the human heart – to know that we are loved, and Jesus did this primarily through his loving regard of the people to whom he ministered.  Jesus did not judge or condemn the “sinners and tax collectors,” or the sick to whom he ministered.  Instead, he helped them to find healing for the deeper spiritual wounds that told them they were anything less than love.  Jesus built people up.  He empowered them.  He gave them dignity and respect.  And, he admonished anyone who would treat ANY of God’s people with anything less than love.  Jesus did not pile up a burden of tasks or rules that had to be accomplished in order to earn God’s love.  He taught that we are loved by God without condition and that when we turn away from God, God is anxiously waiting with open arms for us to come home to the truth of who we are – one with God in love.

How is the truth that God is revealing to you and the gifts God has given you, calling you to step outside the traditional or familiar?

 

Posted in Empowerment

Already Who We Are Meant to Be

I suddenly realized today that I have been living the life of a priest/pastor for the past twenty years and I didn’t know it.  This realization crashed in on me after a busy morning of appointments and administrative work and as I reclined on the couch for a brief nap before venturing into a full afternoon and evening of client appointments.  I was taking “the pastor’s nap,” as my Catholic priest colleagues and former employers used to call it.  I received this awareness like a bolt of lightening and thought to myself, “Oh my God, I’ve been a priest all along…..I just never gave myself credit for it.”  These are the kinds of situations that make me really appreciate God’s twisted sense of humor.  Here I’ve been, wandering through the past 20 years of my life moaning and groaning with the question, “Ok God, what do you want from me?  What am I supposed to be when I grow up?  How am I supposed to serve you in my life,” when apparently I’ve been doing it all along.  As I surrendered to the pastor’s nap, I realized that I am already being who God made me to be.  So, I guess I can stop wondering and get on with being the priest/ess that God made me to be.

DSCF3242

How you are already being who God made you to be?

 

 

Posted in church, Discernment, Empowerment, Freedom, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Raised Catholic, world changes

Priest in a Post-Modern World

Yesterday, I began the discussion on charisms by asking the question, “What is your magic?”  In the next several posts, we will be exploring spiritual gifts (as they are defined by the Catholic faith in which I was raised), ultimately with the hope of giving you some tools to assist you in your own discernment.  What is your magic?  Today, I am going to press pause on that exploration to share a bit about my own discernment around this question and the answer that keeps showing up – and one I most often believe I can do nothing about.  With the assistance of today’s blog, I hope to change that!

LauriPriest

So…here it is.  I am called to be a priest and have been given every charism to fulfill this vocation.  I am a fantastic presider (I just officiated my brother’s wedding and was confirmed in this gift).  It has been reflected to me that when proclaiming the Word, people are moved and that I’m an adequate preacher.  I have been given the gift of healing through the ministry of hands-on-healing and spiritual direction.  I have been given the gifts of faith, leadership, pastoring, teaching, knowledge, and wisdom.  I have even learned to accept voluntary poverty and celibacy(ahem…not by my choice!).  I know that I have been a source of encouragement and many have reflected on my most obvious charism which is discernment of spirits.  Oh yeah, and I seem to know how to write and am rarely without inspiration in this regard.  So……God gave me all the gifts to be not just an adequate priest, but an amazing one!  Unfortunately, God put me in a place where I have been unable to respond to this call.  In the Catholic Church in which I was raised and where my heart still remains, there is no place for women called to the priesthood.  So, the question is, how is one supposed to respond to that call to be priest when the Church they love cannot accept their gifts (even if I am no longer worshipping there….and that is a whole other story)?

Sure, I could change teams and seek ordination through another faith, but that does not resonate with my truth because even bigger than my issues with Catholicism are my issues with patriarchal, hierarchical institutions.  No, I’m not some rabid, militant feminist who hates men.  In fact, I adore men.  However, I am deeply troubled by the separation, power, control and manipulation through fear that has been promulgated by many (if not most) patriarchal, hierarchical institutions.  And, I don’t believe there is one church, corporation, educational institution, medical, government institution that is not guilty of using their hierarchical, patriarchal power to uplift themselves while keeping others small.  It is primarily for this reason that I do not bargain away my Roman Catholic upbringing for another hierarchical, patriarchal institution, none of which have anything to do with what, I believe, Jesus had in mind.

So, how does one respond to their call to be priest when the faith they grew up in won’t take them and when they can’t support any other institution founded on the same hierarchical, patriarchal sin as the one they came from?  Ultimately, this strikes me as a post-modern question.  The old guard is dying and the new is yet to be revealed.   This is a time ripe with opportunity, but fraught with danger and anxiety.  How will we tend to the grieving in the face of the death of the old?  What will the new world look like?   How will we tend to the spiritual, pastoral, religious and communal needs of a culture beyond hierarchy and patriarchy?  What will this look like?  In the meantime, what do we do?  For me, the answer can only be this:

  • Continue to preach (through this blog and other opportunities).
  • Continue to heal (through spiritual direction and hands-on-healing).
  • Continue to preside (through weddings, naming ceremonies, funerals, etc).
  • Continue to teach, counsel and lead.
  • Continue to use my gifts of discernment to help guide myself and others.
  • Continue to be open to sharing the gifts of prophecy when they emerge.
  • Continue being priest in all the ways that I know how and in all the ways in which I am free to do so.

Now, let us go in peace to love and serve the Lord.  Thanks be to God!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvFUw9HvRf8

Posted in Authentic Freedom, creativity, Midlife Journey, Raised Catholic, Returning book

Church of the In-Between

The midlife journey is about birthing our Soul – the unique way we are spiritually and creatively gifted to find meaning, purpose, fulfillment and connection in our lives, and the way in which we are called to share our gifts for the betterment of humanity.  Returning – a woman’s midlife journey to herself, chronicles the journey toward my own spiritual and creative fulfillment while providing creative tools through which you may do the same.  Today, I share with you a recent poem that surfaced in response to my own continued Returning and the unfolding answer of what it means to be priest in the post-modern world and beyond my own Catholic upbringing.

lauridocmartinwebshotcolor2013

Priest to the Church of the In-Between

Priest to those in-between

in an in-between world

in an in-between time

A Church free of walls

Free of name

A name-less, face-less God, or no God at all.

Free of doctrine

Free of Creed.

A Church, not of my own making

 It making me according to its need.

Priest without collar or stole

privilege or power

chalice or blade.

Heart and arms open

Meeting where you are at

in the places in-between.

SOUL is the unique way you are creatively gifted to find meaning, purpose and connection. Soul, when engaged, leaves you feeling fulfilled, content and whole.  My mission is to help you BIRTH YOUR SOUL.  Lauri Ann Lumby (920) 230-1313 lauri@yourspiritualtruth.com.

Posted in church, Discernment, Initiation, Jesus, Midlife Journey, Raised Catholic

Heeding the Call to Be Priest

How does a woman, raised Catholic, respond to the call to be priest?  The soul’s calling will not be silenced, and through meditation and prayer, the soul will find its way. 

lauriprofilebwwebshot2013

The First Signs of Call

From the moment that Fr. Jeff gave his now infamous brick-to-the-head homily, (“If there’s something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t done it yet….get off your butt and do it now!”) I knew that I was called to ministry.  I knew from the moment that I began my ministry formation that I was called to something more than just lay ministry, (like the day our class was asked how many were called to ordination and I raised my hand, only to be met with a scowl) but as a woman, this path was not open to me.  So, I repressed the call secretly seething in resentment and jealousy over my male classmates who, if they felt called, could be ordained to the diaconate.  It didn’t seem fair, but I accepted it as the way things were and continued on my merry way.

The Day the Wheels Fell off

Surprisingly, it was not due to the obstacles to ordination that I eventually left active ministry with the Catholic Church.  Instead, it was because of my call to Reiki.  Reiki, a technique for hands-on-healing with Eastern origins, was condemned by the United States Catholic Bishops. I had to make a choice, be obedient to the Church, or God.  I chose God.

The Persistent Call

While I relocated my ministry to a secular audience (interestingly….95% of whom were raised Catholic), the call to the priesthood never really went away.  Every two years, it seemed, the call got really loud and insistent and I would go off looking for how and where to exercise this call.  One exploration was within the folds of an off-shoot Catholic Church, but I soon learned that while this denomination was more egalitarian than some, they were still firmly entrenched in hierarchy and separation….something that did not resonate with me.  In a more recent appearance of this call, I was invited by one of my mentors to “Get over your Catholicism…..go find another denomination and pursue their path to ordination.”  SIGH.  While that is a path that may work for some….I knew it wouldn’t work for me.  I did not want to trade one set of rules and doctrine for another and while many denominations do allow for women’s ordination, women are still often treated as second-class citizens and are passed over for the prime positions of leadership and the larger congregational calls.  Not to mention….as much as the Catholic Church has its problems, I remain Catholic in my heart and cannot see myself trading in my personal beliefs about the Eucharist, the Communion of Saints, the rich tradition of monasticism and contemplation for something else.  Again, I found myself coming up empty on the answer to this call.

The Soul Knows

But in the end, the Soul knows her truth and she knows her way.  Within the Catholic Church, following my call to be priest wasn’t an option.  Considering the pursuit of this call within other denominations only left me feeling frustrated and angry.  Where and how does one accept the call to be priest when anything resembling hierarchy, patriarchy or power makes one physically ill?  How does one pursue the call of the Soul when anything that serves to separate servant from those being served (special clothes, special chairs, chairs in special places, steps, railings, special titles, etc.) makes one want to tear ones hair out????  The answer, it seems, is in what I have always been doing and with and for whom I’ve been doing it.   I have already been living my call to be priest … I just haven’t called it such.  I am priest when in my writing I share the good news of God’s love.  I am priest when I teach people how to find themselves through meditation, movement and prayer practices.  I am priest when I listen to someone pour out their grief or discern God’s call for themselves.  I am priest when through Reiki or Spiritual Direction I am able to help another find healing.  I am priest when I grab a latte at the local coffee shop and give a hug to the disabled woman who goes there or share laughter with the baristas.  I am priest when I smile at the people in line at the grocery store and when I can respond in patience to a delay at the DMV.  I am priest when I give my son a backrub after a hard basketball game or snuggle my daughter on the couch while watching her favorite TV show.

A Priesthood of my own Making

And this is the perfect kind of priesthood for me.  A priesthood beyond belief, beyond doctrine, beyond denomination.  Where the people I minister to can be Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Atheist and everything in between.  A priesthood where I can engage in any spiritual practice that works for me and support others in doing the same.  A priesthood where I can stand in my personal beliefs and honor others beliefs as equally sacred, holy and true.  A priesthood where I can acknowledge Jesus as my guru, while honoring the sacred teachings of other holy men and women.  This is my kind of priesthood and my kind of church – a church where every single person is honored as equally blessed and sacred and where salvation isn’t even a question because we are all already saved.

What is your soul’s calling?

Posted in Discernment, Divine Revelation, Empowerment, Initiation, Inspiration, Midlife Journey, Spiritual Formation

Heeding Soul’s Calling

Today’s blog continues the exploration into the question of personal, spiritual, soul, calling.  Who and How are we uniquely called to be? 

lauridocmartinwebshotcolor2013

The Soul’s Calling

For each and every one of us, there is a unique call that when heeded,  leads us to a place of inner fulfillment, contentment and joy.  This unique spiritual call is the magnificent way in which we are called in service to ourselves and in service to the world and is accomplished through our own unique vision, gifts and passions.  In heeding this call, we are birthing our soul, our truest self, our most magnificent self, the person God made us to be.  Attending to the soul’s calling is the most important work we can do in the world – because in birthing our souls, we are providing a model for others to follow when soul calls to them.

Recognizing Soul

The soul is a mysterious spiritual thing.  It whispers to us in our dreams, through our imagination, in the tiny whispering voice of intuition and in various physical sensations.  Soul can also show up as restlessness, rage, hatred, anxiety, tension, worry, depression and despair  – especially when it is being ignored or not getting the attention it knows it deserves.  And soul is messy.  Soul does not show up in a tidy little package that fits into the tightly woven box of societal constructs or expectations – in fact, soul is everything BUT compliant.  Soul breaks down barriers, boundaries, traditions and rules and will not fit into anyone’s box, least of all our own.  And soul is surprising.  Soul shows up when we least expect it and in the most unexpected way.  But….one thing we can be sure about soul is that it reflects our gifts, our passions, our hopes and dreams and it holds within it all the ways in which we are able to be in service to love and in service to the world.  Soul holds it all and is limitless in what it is able to hold. And soul is big –  as in big, wide, general terms such as healer, teacher, provider, helper, lover, muse, comforter, guide, counselor, etc.  But by definition, soul cannot be defined, instead, it defines itself in its revealing.  Soul grows as we engage in it and teaches us who and how it wants to be.  In recognizing soul, we are the student, the soul is our teacher.

Surprising but not so surprising revelations

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, I have been journeying with and through Bill Plotkin’s book, Soulcraft.  As I have been reading this book, I have been amazed at how my own spiritual journey began to take on a new life and a new direction.  It was as if in reading his book, my own Soul was seeking to be born.  And last week, through a series of meditations, dreams, “coincidences,” writing exercises, visualizations, my SOUL made itself known.  How do I know this?  Because her appearance was surprising, but not surprising at all because she has shown up in this way time and time and time again and I have followed trail upon trail upon trail in her pursuit.  While I’m a little hesitant in sharing my soul, I am heeding Bill’s directive that when the time is right, it is important to share our SOUL in the world so that it can take its rightful place and begin to do its work.  So….without further ado….

Heeding the call to be PRIEST

Yep, I said it.  PRIEST.  I know, I know, I know…..I’ve been down this path before, but Soul assured me that while all the other explorations of this path proved to be fruitless…..this one is right.  BECAUSE…….it is a priesthood of my own making……free from the confines of denomination or even belief.  Free from the rules of institution.  A priesthood that is authentic to who I am, what my gifts are and how God continues to call me in service to the world.  A priesthood that encompasses all that I do, all that I am and touches every single part of my everyday life and personal encounters.  Exploring Priest from this perspective took me back to my ministry training which outlined the responsibilities of a priest: (to which I would add PRAY):

Teach

Preach

Heal

And, these are the things I am already doing and will continue to do in the world through not only my professional ministry, but in simply being and walking in the world.  So, yes, I accept the call to be priest – and will allow it to reveal itself to me in the way that it wants to be known uniquely through me.  🙂

How is your SOUL calling to be born in the world?

(Here’s one of the coincidences that occurred this past week as my daughter and I were having a little fun with her choir robes….and my goofy son trying to get in on the fun)  🙂

LauriPriest2

Posted in church, codependency, Midlife Journey

The Pope Resigns

No better day than today to share another excerpt from my upcoming book, Returning – a woman’s midlife journey to herself.  This excerpt is from the chapter entitled, Illusions – specifically those things we place on a pedestal (for me,  the Catholic Church) and what happens when we see the truth beyond the illusion.

StMaryOshkoshaltar

 

And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”

Acts 5: 28-29

Illusions

As I began to see myself and the world around me more clearly, one of the most devastating realizations was that the Catholic Church, in which I had invested my faith, hope, belief, trust and now career, was imperfect and flawed.  It was not a coincidence that my awakening happened right on the heels of the priest sex abuse scandal.  As I was more diligent in asking questions about God – what did I believe, what resonated as truth for me, who was the God that I had come to know through my own prayer and explorations, the Church fell farther and farther from the pedestal on which I had placed it (with the Institution admittedly helping itself along the way).

As I came to more and more freely embrace the truths I had come to know within myself, including my call to contemplation and hands-on-healing, I came more and more in conflict with the Church that was “supposed” to love me without condition.  As the illusions I had created around my faith shattered at my feet, the more I was compelled to “make it right,” an endeavor that eventually proved to be fruitless and one that came at a terrible cost – the loss of my Church and the loss of my faith in my Church.

In spite of this, my faith in God never wavered and it was to my ever-expanding image of God, that I pledged my allegiance.

The Woman I Know Myself to Be 

The Woman I know myself to be,

Created by God, in persons three.

Holy Spirit, feminine Divine

Creator God, your breath is mine.

Christos, human actualized,

the journey, fully realized.

Within my heart, the truth be told,

denying the lies that I have been sold:

“You are unworthy of your mother’s love,

in sin you were created, not of God from above.

It is never enough, whatever you do,

and how could anyone really love you?

If they knew the truth of the woman you be,

then surely they would turn and flee!

Not perfect, no matter how hard you try!”

Encased in my body, living the lie.

But through the years and through the tears,

I have sorted out these fears,

and deep within the muck and grime,

I have discovered the truth sublime:

Beauty is my name you see.

Joy the dance inside of me.

Created in and of God’s love,

God within, not from above.

Never separate, always one,

To this truth, I have come.

The Woman I know myself to be,

is made of love, not sin you see.

Beautiful, wise, intelligent, kind;

a loving mother, you’ll surely find.

Compassionate, tender, silly and fun,

Passionate, sexy, smile bright as the sun.

Strong, yet vulnerable, healthy in mind,

admitting to weakness, accepted as fine.

The wounded healer I know me to be,

living life’s lessons, the truth set me free.

I am singer, dancer, writer and friend,

student, creator, to thee prayers I send.

Love and joy, the breath that made me,

know that this is too what made thee.

Created in the image of God,

belief in less –  illusion and fraud.

Divine is what we truly be,

if we but live authentically.

Seeking God above all else,

toasting to the growing wealth

of abundant promises discovered true –

All of this is made for you!

Realizing faith defined,

owning the truth in body and mind:

One not two or three or four,

love alone unlocks the door.

Believing the promise of Creator Divine:

“I love you and you are mine.”