Saturday
Apr292006

« Some Days... »

Some days it just pays to wake up in the morning.

Today started with only a job interview planned. I went to that a little early like I tend to do for most engagements if I have enough control over such things. It was an interview for Adventure 16, an outdoors and sporting goods store. I don't have any real connection to it; I just answered an ad for truck driver and warehouse hand. The pay didn't appear to be horrible, and the shift was full time. At least it's not as bad as at the AV shop which has not had me in but for fourhours in the last three weeks and more. The interview on this morning was rather short. I met with the warehouse boss, the manager and one other. The place was sort of homely. Far from being the cold gray setting that pervades all things at AV land. The woman who I met with at A16 was motherly, about 58 or so, and didn't come off as cold and gray, so I was able to relax. The atmosphere was generally more down-home than businesslike. In the interview, I was able to be candid that I was concerned for how scheduling would work. I told them enough about the AVC predicament I was in, trying to balance personal time with work, and clashes happening on time that was technically "mine." I didn't dwell, but I did make a question to help me discern whether that would be an issue again, and it seemed that it would not be—business hours are 7-3:30, therefore, it wouldn't be an issue if I did schedule things on weekends and evenings. Amen to that. I have to give them my DMV printout, so I will return on Monday with that, and then start to cross my fingers. The pay is roughly the same as at AVC. At least it would not be too great a loss. In fact, even working a regular part time shift would be a gain at this point! Also, I don't suspect that the business of moving product would be as brutal as the things I had to move at AVC. Some of that was starting to feel dangerous.

Anyhow, that's too much about my temporal pursuits for one post!

lee van ham looking sharp in 2010Lee Van Ham of Jubilee Economics MinistriesBy far the rest of the day came alive starting once I took that hat off and put on my spiritual sojourner hat. Actually, I changed shirts, not hats, and then I was off to see Lee Van Ham for the third time in about two weeks. Early on, when I originally met him, he had the probing questions that made me think, and it was clear, even about ten months ago or so that he was someone that would be good to be near. Subsequent meetings, still centered around "my" project of peak oil awareness had me deepen my mission based on things Lee said. And, maybe in another post, I will detail out some of my feelings about his birthday party this past December. These days, the recent meetings have come about because in my quasi-employed state, I was looking for ways to spend time growing in some way, and so I wrote and asked to meet with Lee, which we've done a few times now.

For today, the third meeting was at his office at the Methodist church. The original intention to chat in the first meeting is morphing into creating a guided spiritual formation effort that would probably bring benefits to both of us, but I have a feeling that with his 65 years and half a life in ministry, I would be able to learn a thing or two and be led to other levels of awareness about life in general, but particularly as a budding Christian in the age of much stress around the world. I guess I am finding it's time to finally understand the Bible as a force for change and development. With Lee's interfaith awareness and practices, I find that he's a great source of inspiration for meeting the challenge of the world today, with a spiritual underpinning that was lacking from my issues-only approach last year. With dear wife Kelli being immersed in her studies of theology, philosophy, and all the other great things in life, I have found myself drawn into her wake, and interestingly, her entry into the field has pulled me in too, but for me, there is no particular framework, even at my church, for diving in deeper. Over the months, encounters with Lee have been the ones that have challenged me or left me feeling like 'yeah, that's who's shadow I need to stand in!'

Today we discussed how this little forum might take shape and what it might seek to accomplish. Part of what I have been feeling compelled to do is to actually get out of the book so that some meaningful work might be done. I have ideas of doing things that would somehow accomplish this, but am too tentative to carry them out, or too willing to let my daily life make an excuse for not doing so. I also want to deepen my awareness of the Bible and really any other text that compels me to awe and wonder, but hopefully action. Really, I fancy myself a sponge now, but one that needs to be drawn away from material toys (computers, primarily) and into the "real world" of books, face-to-face engagements, and other real experiences. Meeting with Lee can achieve that first by ensuring that I meet and talk to a real human. And our little mission now is that we will study and reflect, and find a way to manifest this into existence. The basis of what he does is delightfully subversive. For such a soft spoken gentle man (sic), he preaches some great mind-bending sh*t! So, however it comes to me, I hope that these encounters will lead me to being more alive, more feeling, less programmed by the prevailing society. I think meetings of this sort will lead me to reckon better my relationships with my dad (or at least be less damaged by it), to deepen my marriage (which I feel is the cornerstone of one's relationship with society as a whole), or to just be a more sensitive person to the needs of others, and again, society. Having read Parker Palmer's book about vocation, Let Your Life Speak, I found that as much as anyone might like the great heroes like Gandhi, MLK, and others of their stature, none of us could be them. However, what one can strive for is the inner-groundedness that they had to have in order to meet the challenges before them. So the point is not striving to be the leader, but having the tools to lead when they are needed. And I think they will be needed. And I think meeting with Lee will be a significant step in working toward such a goal. Lee sent me away with a book that is the basis of much of the work he does now, teaching the ethical implications of the biblical sabbath-jubilee. Though I had known of his work for several months now, today was the first time I think I understood it enough to repeat it back to someone. After I left, I went and read a section of the book. On the first page, it came alive–something was said about "we read the gospel as if we are poor, but live as if there is no gospel at all." That pretty much stripped away any pretense. Reading that immediately got into me like an arrow and spoke to me in a way that underscored everything I think is important to getting out of our predicament today.

But, the day was not over. Lee reminded me of a movie showing on the subject of food, and announced it was at an "intentional community down on Hawthorn" street. Intentional community? On Hawthorn? Well, it turned out to be an old house that was shared by four parties. I got there just before 6 pm and met Jason and Brooke who lived in the front house. I spotted books or authors that I recognized: Buber, Bruggemann among the most readily visible ones; some stuff that lines the walls of Jerry's library, and more and more, Kelli's library. I felt at home rather soon. I could tell we had some progressive spiritual minds here. It was a cozy place that smacked of intelligence, compassion, and friendship. People filed in, more and more—a number of couples among them. By the time dinner was served, it was about 20-25 people, almost all between about 25-35, with Lee being the elder of the group, but absorbing it and mingling as if he was new to it all. He also proved to be the anchor of a small pack of us who were there because of him. Aside from the good group of people there was a delightful dog that seemed to like me, so I got a chance to pet her.

The movie itself was The Future of Food, which was quite in line with the stuff I would show at an EONSNOW showing, but on this evening, it was a delightful house party with fresh vegitarian food prepared on the spot by folks who obviously know about this stuff. The movie, as all these sorts of movies are, was pretty horrifying (I only watch this type of movie now, it seems) and there were times I swear I wanted to spit and curse at what I heard. Sometimes, there were collective gasps as it was revealed exactly how diabolical corporate practices can be.

But the real clincher for the whole evening was the discussion afterwards. Oh, I would have loved to have had this sort of discussion at one of my shows, but rarely did it ever reach as deep as this. Most of the people who started the evening stayed to the end, and a good thing. By the end, we had had some deep experience that was tangible and unifying. We did a round of introductions which took a while, but was always interesting. After seeing the movie and having a discussion, it was really fascinating to see how people arrived here, what they did, their sense of mission in life. It was diverse without being scattered. I think one that that was sparked was reverence. The night took on a spiritual dimension that I never could have imagined. People, crowded into a small 1920's living room, perched on chairs and sitting on the floor, all eating pure food that was carefully prepared. I had a vision of Jesus and the disciples in communion, but in this case, we were all Jesus, and all disciples just the same. It was magical in a way. The shared experience of eating together, even with total strangers as they all were to me (except for Lee, but he and I didn't end up in the same conversation for long at any time during the night) took on a holy dimension. And, to deepen the experience, we were gathered because we needed to learn about a common threat to this food supply, the most fundamental thing for each of us assembled.

People introduced themselves, each telling about some work they do in organic farming (even as new practicioners), counseling, volunteering, education, and even ministry. It was just a remarkable bunch of people who have their hands in so many interesting things, and the spirit was there it seemed that moved each to offer their knowledge and passion. I think the real victory of the evening was that everyone was saying that this group must reconvene. That was sort of the point anyway, to gather folks for a program led by the lady who presented the movie, but it went beyond that.

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