A Blessing for Release

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A Blessing for Release
written by Emma Donohew for Ash Wednesday 2019

May this blessing find you in the places you feel confined
May its words weave into those parts of your being that have become restrained
Let this blessing be a small permission slip
To release the burdens you no longer need to carry

ReLease

Unclench your hands
Let Go of that which you were holding
That which is you were holding too tightly too

Unleash your breath
Let Go of that shortness
That separation of flow

Unlock your heart
Let Go of that which is no longer serving you
That blockage that interferes with your authenticity

Let Go
Even just a little
So that this blessing can rise up to fill the spaces
Those holy spaces that emerge

ReLease

For you were created from Holy Dirt
For you were born from Holy Dust
For you are here to be fully alive

Let Go
Again and Again
So that this blessing can wait with you in your discernment
About what you decide will fill you again

The one and only 'Hamster Church begins

by Charis Weathers

by Charis Weathers

At the beginning of 2019 Echoes entered into a new phase: collaborative leadership. We now have a team of four who are working together to set some direction for Echoes, in hopes of greater community engagement and offering more ways for the “church” to be accessible.

Jory has started a weekly text study, both Jory and Emma will be leading Creative Church, Emma will be starting a weekly offering of Pub Church in March, and Victoria just started a monthly Church of the Wild that we’re calling Outdoor Church. It is So. Freaking. Exciting.

The one thing I’ve wanted to do for quite a long time is to start a monthly public dialogue series. A few years ago the Whatcom Land Trust invited Echoes into a partnership. We teamed up to interview local spiritual leaders asking the question, “How does your faith (or non-faith) lead you toward conservation?”

This “Faith & Nature” series had such a wonderful line-up! A Rabbi-in-training, a former Catholic priest who was Hindu by birth, a Unitarian Universalist, a Zen Buddhist, an Atheist, an Evangelical Christian, a yogi, a Lummi elder, a Muslim. It was rich, meaningful, and thought-provoking. We had the opportunity to dialogue about perspectives and ideas that were new to many of us in attendance, we became acquainted with a greater spectrum of people who reside here in the ‘ham. These gatherings helped to promote understanding, compassion, and forged new relationships. For me, it was the embodiment of church.

Public dialogue provides opportunity for getting to know people on a deeper level, developing new connections (relational, mental, psycho-spiritual), learning about amazing things going on in Bellingham, creating greater compassion and building synergy. Listening in on a meaningful conversation can be world-expanding. This particular endeavor is sort of like internet phenomenon Humans of New York meets the On Being podcast - pure magic. Our dialogue partners will be people who are connected to Bellingham in some way. They will share some of their life story that relates to living here, and how they are getting along in/contributing to/challenging the ‘ham. They might be business owners, be from a marginalized people group, be in politics, be caretakers, be innovators, be dreamers, be activists….they might be….you.

This is my hope for ‘hamster church. If you have a suggestion for a dialogue partner, do please contact us.

We’re working toward making a podcast to develop from this series as it can create additional reach and impact. Consider contributing to this endeavor - a little goes a long way.

Our first ‘hamster church is THIS Monday at 6:30pm at the Whatcom Land Trust. Our special guest is Natalie Whitman. It’s going to be awesome. All are welcome; do join us.

A Year of RE’s

design and post by Victoria Loorz

design and post by Victoria Loorz

When you decide to set a year of themes, at first you don’t really understand the implications.  Something SEEMS right, and you go with it. One of our first tasks, as the four co-pastors of this new experimental team of leaders at Echoes, was thinking through themes for the year.  After a fun session of brainstorming and asking Charis about the core identity and life of the community she has nurtured the past five years, we all came to this mutual sense of “Yes” about a year of Re’s.  

Reframe, Release, Revive, Resurge,

Rewild, Resist, Repair, Remember,

Reveal, Remind, Relent

Re is a common root word, of course, meaning “back” or “again.”  Interesting theme for 2019. I believe we are on the cusp of a magnificent shift forward in our culture and in our collective spiritual awakening.  I sense that not in spite of the obvious cultural resistance to change (“Let’s make America great again!”), but because of it.  Regressions are often a sign that change is on the horizon.

Joseph Campbell captured this pattern when he observed the progression of all great stories:  the Hero’s Journey begins with a Call to Adventure, into some new perspective or way of being or way of living. And then, just about immediately, the resistance begins.  He calls it “Refusing the Call.” Those who never answer the call get stuck in this regression, pining for how it used to be, stuck in regret, rebellion or a whole lot of other negative RE words that keep you in misery.  Everyone else faces the resistance, eventually, and leans into the adventure of What is Waiting to Become through them. Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight or quit an addiction, or find new life after a major loss knows this process intimately.

Focusing on the looking back and again-ing acknowledges a deep, theological truth.  That in the act of reframing and remembering and renewing, we imply that there is a framing and a membering and a newness that always was.  And our spiritual practice, then, of returning back again to that place of “original blessing” (Matthew Fox’s words), is a return to an original rightness and meaning, which is necessary for us as we feel caught in the claws of pervasive perceived disconnection.  

Religion, in fact, is the call to re-connect.  Re: “again” and Ligios: “connection", the same Latin root as ligament: sinews which hold the bones, the structures together.  The whole venture and adventure of religion is about the journey of re-connecting. With God, yes. With other people: your family and community and all the Others. Your species and not your species. Both like you and unlike you. Restoring original, kindred unity. And, also, a reconnection with the core of your own soul, the dwelling place of the Holy, of Christ.  

Rather than an institution of separation, of who’s IN and who’s OUT…what if, instead, religion were a process of re-connecting with what is already whole?  A connection back again to our own wholeness, our common spiritual vitality, our identity and role and sense of meaning as humans. What if religion was the re-membering of ourselves back into the reality that we are not separate at all, but part of a living system of inter-being?  And what if a religious person is actually a person who says “Yes” to becoming a ligamenting agent of restoration in the world?

We didn’t really think about it at the time, but starting on a new adventure as a community with a plan to begin with a year of REs, of looking back, is actually a pretty good idea.  It’s an invitation to explore together the possibility that the point of a spiritual life might just be participation in a restored, reunited, renewed, rewilded relationship with All That Is.