Experiencing another Holy Disturbance on the lake

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I love living in the city. Between Buffalo and Philadelphia it’s been 3/4 of my life. I love people who learn how to share, the convergence of cultures, the creativity, and the ability to walk/bike to most places I go. I don’t love various forms of pollution we have to adapt to, especially light pollution. It makes the stars really difficult to see.

I learned three important disciplines that help me stay even though I’m privileged with the mobility to live in another context. The first is to take care of whatever creation I’m living on. That started as spider plants in the house, then growing herbs in pots and now into a backyard garden. Secondly, take advantage of the open/green space we have. Play outside. The third is to leave regularly and enjoy God’s creation in the larger region. This past week I got to enjoy two separate trips to the Poconos – one for a wedding and the other for a two-day mentalizing session with the other Circle of Hope pastors.

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I took this pic while thinking about this stuff

My cell talked about two concepts that came to me during an hour chill session on the pastors’ trip while we met at Franny Lou’s Porch this morning. While sitting on the edge of a small lake yesterday, I enjoyed the stillness of the water. It reflected the glorious autumn spectacular of the trees as well as the sky full of chubby clouds. The reflection almost looked like the real thing until something would disturb the water. I think I can sometimes enjoy a copy or reflection of something so much that I almost think it’s the real thing. That might be like listening to a good podcast and imagining I’m in Antarctica or watching my indie sci-fi thrillers and wondering which one of us is a cyborg. While reflecting the Goodness of God is important, we need to experience God directly in order to make a good reflection.

I decided to experiment with the acorn sitting next to me, tossing it into the stillness and got a nice thumpk, producing a perfect circle that rippled out smaller and smaller. I imagined that ideas can be like that – those within the blast radius of it’s goodness feel the big waves, further away you don’t really get it. Experiencing the presence of the Holy Spirit is kind of like that, too. We all feel the Holy Disturbance at one point or another, but most of the time we stick to our conditioning and miss the big ripples. We can easily stay behind our screens, fixate on our anxieties, and keep the earbuds in while doing whatever we need to do for comfort and privacy. The ripple doesn’t move us.

When we learn to open ourselves to the experience of God’s Spirit through worship or prayer, we can become like water still enough to be moveable. We don’t just feel the little ripples or reflections, we experience something that makes us want to joyfully throw acorns.

As we gathered in our weekly face-to-face time, I think we all got some strength. It’s wasn’t just putting gas in the tank so we can do normal life, it’s being present to the reality that a once caged birds have been set free to fly and are soaring. It honestly excites me to worship together this Sunday, when Preston & Ellen have been developing a liturgy for us to be able to draw near to God together. I imagine 200+ covenant members getting together later this month for the Love Feast and my heart is further warmed. I want to live where the Holy Spirit is disturbing me and moving me. There’s nothing quite like the real thing.

A society of beggars: Navigating the seas of Brilliant Friends & Crowdfunding Fatigue

I’m a bit of a booster when it comes to my friends’ projects. While I certainly love creativity, most good ideas I hear about never turn into a reality. Sometimes it’s because some people are better dreamers than practitioners. I think most often, it’s because we don’t think we actually make a difference.

Not a small number of my friends shared the pixelated photos yesterday of a group of white people walking down the street. They were likely the group who assaulted two guys in Center City last Thursday after making anti-gay remarks, landing them robbed and in the hospital.  How could sharing these photos actually help? On Twitter, someone must have recognized the dude in the salmon/blue shirt while searching Facebook check-ins near the scene. No arrests have been made as of now, but it appears this case may have been solved by Twitter users. It’s amazing!

I hope that seeing how sharing stories or other seemingly small contributions like this make a huge difference for people involved. Caring & sharing go hand-in-hand with social media – especially with investing & crowd sourcing. Here are a few suggestions for how to navigate the seas of having brilliant friends while possibly feeling the fatigue of people asking.

Ask the questions “why are so many people begging?” I’ve heard my share of “back in the day” stories when if someone had a business idea they went to the bank and got a loan. Since 2008’s financial debacle, that’s not likely to happen – especially if your business doesn’t exist yet. Our financial rulers prefer to ramp up more big box franchises, non-tenure adjunct instructor, part time employee, consolidation of wealth strategies. Those of us without rich families of origin, benevolent wealthy friends, or friends capable of investing are left begging. How should we respond to begging when we’re turning into a society of lesser beggars?

People are asking us for money or signing up for something everywhere we go. Buying underwear at Target is to be asked if you want a Target credit card. Going to a show is to be asked to buy merch so the band members can afford to have a family. Watching a Youtube video is to sit through an advertisement and being asked to “like,” “share,” and of course “subscribe.”

Pay attention to your heart while examining what your friends are sharing. Do you have a few minutes to consider their idea or do you tune it out when you feel like you’re being asked for something? Have you been desensitized to a friendly ask by all the begging? Is God trying to soften your heart at times for meaningful attempts at breaking through

You might have the problem of there being too many good ideas for you to support. You can’t give money to all of them. You might not want to turn your Twitter/Facebook feed into a constant stream of advertising because it could violate your personal branding, image, or purpose for having them.

Consider what you give away unconsciously. Most of my friends fantasize about war tax resisting without looking at the resources we have while the war machine gladly enjoys our acquiescence. We’re hit with bogus fees on everything from ATM withdraws to processing fees to fuzzy administrative charges from utility companies.

It’s been a rough summer for my friends trying to crowd source some start up funds. Gary Ducket Pickles got about $4k of a $30k goal on Kickstarter. Crime & Punishment Brewery got about $13k of their $24k goal on Indiegogo. Are these ideas bad or are we fatigued?

This week my friend Alyssa is trying to fund her thesis show about PTSD and women in the military. My friend Nic is gething pre-orders for his upcoming book about Kensington Homesteading a block from my house. Scotty is about to go to to Iraqi Kurdistan with Christian Peacemaker Teams. My friend Blew, after a crazy landlord conflict had to close my favorite direct trade organic coffee house that happened to be a block from my home. She is attempting to courageously open a new one, right across the street from the old one. She’s got like 4 days and about $7k to raise or else she gets nothing from her Kickstarter campaign for Franny Lou’s Porch.

Consider what you give away consciously. You swim in a sea of imagination where people are less reliant on inherited wealth or debt to predatory lenders. Does your conscious sharing/spending match your values? Martha and I had to adjust our budget a few years ago to make room for gifting to projects we believe in or friends that need a blessing – on top of our normal common fund sharing with Circle of Hope. It is freeing for us and feels good to help good dreams become reality. We want more generative projects and businesses, even if it means less “freedom” to spend money on other whims and habits.

I don’t think God expects everyone to be huge boosters of all these campaigns. I hope that you can find some prayerful place between your the instincts you might have to shut down in what could feel like pressure or blindly say yes to everything. God will guide you towards Godly values and help discern how to keep putting them into practice. I think we have a chance to do so many beautiful things together, and our neighbors need more beauty.