Some simple but urgent guidance to get us through these next months.
I awoke on Saturday, September 19, with three sources in my mind for guidance: Etty Hillesum (1914 – 1943), the young Jewish woman who suffered much more injustice in the concentration camp than we are suffering now; Psalm 62, which must have been written in a time of a major oppression of the Jewish people; and the Irish Poet, W.B.Yeats (1965 – 1939), who wrote his “Second Coming” during the horrors of the World War I and the Spanish Flu pandemic.
These three sources form the core of my invitation. Read each one slowly as your first practice. Let us begin with Etty:
There is a really deep well inside me. And in it dwells God. Sometimes I am there, too … And that is all we can manage these days and also all that really matters: that we safeguard that little piece of You, God, in ourselves.
—Etty Hillesum, Westerbork transit camp
Note her second-person usage, talking to “You, God” quite directly and personally. There is a Presence with her, even as she is surrounded by so much suffering.
Then, the perennial classic wisdom of the Psalms:
In God alone is my soul at rest.
God is the source of my hope.
In God I find shelter, my rock, and my safety.
Men are but a puff of wind,
Men who think themselves important are a delusion.
Put them on a scale,
They are gone in a puff of wind.
What could it mean to find rest like this in a world such as ours? Every day more and more people are facing the catastrophe of extreme weather. The neurotic news cycle is increasingly driven by a single narcissistic leader whose words and deeds incite hatred, sow discord, and amplify the daily chaos. The pandemic that seems to be returning in waves continues to wreak suffering and disorder with no end in sight, and there is no guarantee of the future in an economy designed to protect the rich and powerful at the expense of the poor and those subsisting at the margins of society.
It’s no wonder the mental and emotional health among a large portion of the American population is in tangible decline! We have wholesale abandoned any sense of truth, objectivity, science or religion in civil conversation; we now recognize we are living with the catastrophic results of several centuries of what philosophers call nihilism or post-modernism (nothing means anything, there are no universal patterns).
We are without doubt in an apocalyptic time (the Latin word apocalypsis refers to an urgent unveiling of an ultimate state of affairs). Yeats’ oft-quoted poem “The Second Coming” then feels like a direct prophecy. See if you do not agree:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Somehow our occupation and vocation as believers in this sad time must be to first restore the Divine Center by holding it and fully occupying it ourselves. If contemplation means anything, it means that we can “safeguard that little piece of You, God,” as Etty Hillesum describes it. What other power do we have now? All else is tearing us apart, inside and out, no matter who wins the election or who is on the Supreme Court. We cannot abide in such a place for any length of time or it will become our prison.
God cannot abide with us in a place of fear.
God cannot abide with us in a place of ill will or hatred.
God cannot abide with us inside a nonstop volley of claim and counterclaim.
God cannot abide with us in an endless flow of online punditry and analysis.
God cannot speak inside of so much angry noise and conscious deceit.
God cannot be found when all sides are so far from “the Falconer.”
God cannot be born except in a womb of Love.
So offer God that womb.
Stand as a sentry at the door of your senses for these coming months, so “the blood-dimmed tide” cannot make its way into your soul.
If you allow it for too long, it will become who you are, and you will no longer have natural access to the “really deep well” that Etty Hillesum returned to so often and that held so much vitality and freedom for her.
If you will allow, I recommend for your spiritual practice for the next four months that you impose a moratorium on exactly how much news you are subject to—hopefully not more than an hour a day of television, social media, internet news, magazine and newspaper commentary, and/or political discussions. It will only tear you apart and pull you into the dualistic world of opinion and counter-opinion, not Divine Truth, which is always found in a bigger place.
Instead, I suggest that you use this time for some form of public service, volunteerism, mystical reading from the masters, prayer—or, preferably, all of the above.
You have much to gain now and nothing to lose. Nothing at all.
And the world—with you as a stable center—has nothing to lose.
And everything to gain.
Richard Rohr, September 19, 2020
We had such an amazing summer Fireside Chat series, featuring some AMAZING guests who shared a wide range of spiritual beliefs and experiences with us!
We would like to extend a HEARTFELT THANK YOU to our featured guests: Pastor Alexis Tweto, Richard Loliwayntati Gonzalez, M.A., Brenda Peterson, Pastor Mark Thompson, Pastor Ethan Luhman, Chris Lear, Lindsey Smith, Ben Nussbaum, Rev. Susan Drake, and Erica Turner. Thank you all for sharing so much with our guests, and thank you to those who joined us for this series!
Did you miss one of our Fireside Chats? They are also available on our YouTube page!
Check them out here!
THANK YOU * THANK YOU * THANK YOU
Thank you to everyone who donated to A Place To Be on
GivingTuesdayNow! - A Global Day of Unity
We asked and you responded! Because of you, we exceeded our goal by OVER 50% and raised OVER $1,500!! Thank you just doesn’t seem enough. I am blown over by your generosity and humbled by your support of our mission. Because of you, seekers around the world have access to prayer opportunities, book discussions, retreats, spiritual resources and Scripture studies not to mention the ability to connect and converse with other inter-spiritual seekers. When we are allowed to gather in person, we will still be able to offer the online connection to those distance seekers that we have gotten to know. This is possible because of you and there are not enough words to express my gratitude! Thank you!
If you didn’t get a chance and would still like to donate, please visit our website at www.aplacetobesc.org.
Join us for the following Facebook Livestream prayer opportunities! Visit our Facebook page for more information and to tune in!
Prayer Reflection Service: Tuesdays and Thursdays at 12:00 p.m. CST
Praying with Beads: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 12:00 p.m. CST (Mondays and Fridays will be focusing on Protestant prayer beads and Wednesdays will be the Mysteries of the Rosary.)
Contemplative Practice: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 4:00 p.m. CST with Virtual Solidarity Postings on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4:00 p.m. CST
Faith communities throughout the area are hosting Online services and faith sharing opportunities! We have posted many of them here.
In accordance with the Governor's Safer at Home order, ALL in-person group events are canceled until further notice.
We apologize for the disappointment and inconvenience, but feel it is the most responsible action to take in the best interest of all of our friends and the community at large. We will miss our gatherings very much and will be holding you all in prayer!
Please do not hesitate to reach out to us with ANY needs, even if you just crave a listening ear. We have built some incredible relationships with people and organizations throughout our communities and if we cannot provide you with what you need, we can certainly help you find a path that can.
In the meantime, we would like to encourage all of our friends to consider those in their lives who may be most vulnerable and check in with them. Those who are out of work or do not have the option to stay home, elderly who rely on various programs for sustenance and socialization, children who are out of school and parents struggling with childcare, and all those with already compromised immune systems will all need more community support during this difficult time. Additionally, food pantries, meals on wheels, schools, churches and other organizations may be in need of extra donations and volunteers to keep up with the increased demand. Let's work together to make sure nobody falls between the cracks as we all adjust to this new reality.
Please remember you are never alone! Call us if there is anything we can do to help you or anybody in your life during this difficult time: 262-277-1928.
A collision of opposites forms the cross of Christ.
One leads downward preferring the truth of the humble.
The other moves leftward against the grain.
But all are wrapped safely inside a hidden harmony:
One world, God's cosmos, a benevolent universe.
APTB Leadership Retreat
On a cold Saturday in January, A Place To Be Leadership Team gathered to pray, reflect, and discern about our own spirituality as well that of the Center. As we shared our hopes for A Place To Be, words and phrases were collected that became our Vision for the future. We would welcome your input! What word or phrase would you like to add to the list?
Click here for more information about our leadership retreat.
Join us ONLINE as we view and discuss the documentary series The Story of Us with Morgan Freeman. For more information, click here.
Join us for our ONLINE Bible Study on Paul's Letters. New additions to our group are welcome at any time. For more information, click here.