Tag Archive: growth


015

The Christian Virtue of Hypomone – Transfiguration Community (Bible Study)

hypo – under
menein, mone –

  • to remain standing, to stand one’s ground (as in an Olympic wrestling match)
  • to endure to the end (as in a race), to last the distance
    • under the impact of evil
    • under the impact of a burden
    • in the face of a hostile and unbelieving culture
    • in the midst of seductions and temptations
  • to withstand resistance
  • to bear or suffer (patience)
  • to persevere
  • to be immovable

Its opposite is:
cowardice, caving in, colluding,
passive doormat kind of suffering,
running away, to waver, wobble, flee, give way,
to be changed, to pass away, to be transient, perishable

Menein is an active stance, a brave withstanding, a virtue.  Hypomone is used 7 times in the book of revelation, as the right and necessary virtue of the faithful i the old aeon (age)

Biblical: the soil that bears fruit under pressure

  • Luke 8:15 ‘But as for the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in a beautiful and good heart, and bear fruit in hypomone.
  • Acts 14:22
  • Romans 2:7, 12:12, 15:4-5
  • 1 Corinthians 13:7
  • 2 Corinthians 6:4, 12:12
  • Ephesians 6:11, 13, 14 The goal of the wrestling with the principalities and powers etc is to stand (used 4 times). The word used here is not hypomone but stenai.
  • Colossians 1:11
  • 1 Timothy 6:11
  • 2 Timothy 3:10
  • Titus 2:2
  • Hebrews 12:1
  • Revelation 2:2ff, 2:19, 13:10; 14:12

Walter Wink – Naming the Powers

Steadfastness in Prayer
Refusal of idolatry
Absolute intransigence – Unbending determination – an iron will.
The capacity to endure persecution, torture and death without yielding one’s faith – one of the fundamental attributes of non-violent resistance.
The power to sustain blows.  Obstinacy – Endurance.
Perseverance on the basis of the inner victorious sense that all contrary relationships and hostile forces can be overcome.

The strength that comes from faith, hope and love.

Hypomone is not gritting one’s teeth in stubbornness but the strength to suffer that comes from faith, hope and love. ‘Let your only experience of evil be in suffering – not in its creation.’

Swap Super funds, make a giving budget, recycle water for flushing… these are some great commitments not achieved by my Household Covenant.

It’s 2012: I’ve just finished up at a proper job and Marita and I have taken in an Iraqi refugee, a young woman, named Shahad. We have scored a sweet deal on a low rent run-down Footscray house and I’ve just had a three month sabbatical visiting Bartimaeus Co-operative Ministries (BCM) in LA and returned home dreaming “What next?”
This expressed itself in the following, I’m sure annoying, way:

“At BCM I learned about cover crops and installed a timed irrigation system.   At BCM they shower over a bucket then use that water to flush. At BCM leftovers were upcycled into a new and different meal the next day so nothing was wasted. At BCM they don’t let you watch TV… they don’t even have a TV!”

…when the Household Covenanting series came up it seemed like a good way for my housemates and I to go on a journey together exploring ways of living sustainably and agreeing together on what some expressions of that might look like.

Where to start? Find meaningful part time work. One day per week in Footscray, no car, no screens. I don’t know about meaningful but I got an ABN and did contract administration – talk about part time – some weeks I had six days to be present in Footscray! While this part time lifestyle opened up opportunity for great projects (do maintenance on rental property – exceed minimum obligation, support Shahad, plant daffodils and tulips) it also wrought huge changes, suddenly go dumpstering is a weekly economic necessity, get piano lessons (subject to someone else’s expertise) isn’t financially viable and Marita’s family tradition of donating first income (giving this away as first fruits as gratitude to God) seems naive in the face of my irregular income. We imagined this spreadsheet tracking the-real-coffees-I-didn’t-drink forming, in part, the budget for our sustainability initiatives but I am instead dependent on the beneficence of my own friends charity to pick up my tab if they want a cafe catch up… This, THIS was in some ways where the real work/learning on savings, debt and poverty took place as I came to have a real and personal understanding of doing without – doing without ‘real’ coffee and inviting people to my home instead; doing without the safety buffer in my savings account led me, in fear and desperation, to rely on God’s providing and I received it in many ways and from sources I could not have imagined; doing without eating whatever I wanted when I felt like it and instead connecting with food seasonally by consuming food grown ourselves, sourced from Sharing Abundance[1] and dumpstered… I had to learn preserving methods, humble myself to let others pay for coffee, and give even though you don’t know where your next income is coming from. These are some great commitments achieved by my Household Covenant …and I didn’t even have them written down.

I could not have foreseen that supporting Shahad might mean leaving lights on across the house overnight to manage her fear of the dark over my desire to reduce power consumption (darn that was meant to be one of my easy ones). That my aim to buy second hand is overruled by her desire to have nice, new things that are her own for the first time in her life (we took her to IKEA for her birthday last year and she LOVED it!). Now I could understand what Jon meant when he told us ‘…the rule serves me, not me it’. My middle-class, educated reasoned choices to dabble in downward mobility cannot mean much to someone who has never had many of the choices and opportunities I have been given and part of my covenant should be to work to redress that imbalance. Perhaps I have not strictly achieved everything I set out to do but I am not unhappy with where I’ve ended up instead.

I do not know what will happen if you attempt a Household Covenant but I doubt you will be disappointed or find the attempt uninteresting… we plant daffodils and tulips every year now, although we moved house just last month and the bulbs were just tips pushing through the ground and we won’t be there to see them bloom, I wrote this: 007

“Reflecting today on the things we plant in the hopes of fruit to come.  We believe in planting so we do it but ultimately we have very little control over what grows and who it belongs to.  The pain is in our awareness of this and our discipline is planting anyway – even though we’re tired and someone else may receive the benefit of our careful tending, someone else may not like the plants we’ve chosen or where we positioned them and tear them out like weeds.  The thing that I value is only valued by others if they want it themselves.  What I grieve for, is not this house, much like another having four walls and a roof, but the harvest hoped for here that will not be realised by me. There is a large harvest, but few workers to gather it in.  Pray to the owner of the harvest that he will send out workers to gather in his harvest.”

Those little shoots felt like a metaphor for walking away from the sense of home we created in that place and the practices started that we now wouldn’t follow through. I hope God is sending me you, you know, not to go round and pick my ACTUAL daffodils, but to be a fellow worker in the field.

New housemates, new street, new garden… perhaps it is time for a new covenant.

“Hey, …Marita? …Shahad? …Ana & Atticus? You guys want to head to Ceres for some bulbs?!”

[1] www.sharingabundance.org is a food rescue initiative whereby produce is rescued from backyards and shared between homeowners, volunteers who pick and local community food programmes.

{a nicer – edited! – version of this article appeared in the Dec14 Manna Matters newsletter.  Go straight to the source and find out more about Household Covenants at the Manna Gum website}

Ephesians @ FCOC

ferns

EPHESIANS 4: 7-16

But to each of us grace is granted and measured by the gift of Christ. Thus it says, “As He ascended on high, He led the captured away into captivity, He gave gifts to men.” But what does “He ascended” mean, except that He also went down into the lower parts of the earth? The One who descended is the very one who ascended far above all the heavens to fill the universe.

So He has given some to be apostles and others to be prophets; some to be evangelists and others to be pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the task of ministering toward the building up of the body of Christ, until we all may arrive at the unity of faith and that understanding of the Son of God that brings completeness of personality, tending toward the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. As a result, we should no longer be babes, swung back and forth and carried here and there with every wind of teaching that springs from human craftiness and ingenuity for designing error; but, telling the truth in love, we should grow up in every way toward Him who is the Head – Christ, from whom the entire body is fitted together and united by every contributing ligament, with proportion power for each single part to effect the development of the body for its upbuilding in love.

  • God’s grace and the scope of it are God’s gifts to me
  • The apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are NOT saints but are here to equip the saints.
  • “Building up until we all may arrive” – commitment to a process/a journey of growth through discipleship that brings completeness of personality… our personalities are not complete? “growing and transforming always… tending towards the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”
  • Guard against the human craftiness and ingenuity for devising …Guard against my own devising – conscious and unconscious.
  • Misuse of “telling the truth in love” – need to be telling my own.
  • We should grow up – Jesus the cornerstone
  • Fitted together and united – partners in building
  • Each single part to effect – each part necessary to the whole; if each part is necessary then tearing a part down or smothering it is counter-productive.
  • Upbuilding in love

“This is giving your life to the one within that you know as Lord, which is a totally private matter. No one except you can judge how that is going. But if you’re not doing it, Rumi says, you are wasting your time here.” Coleman Barks. Preface, pg xv

058

The Way of Love is:

  • the path of annihilation – die before you die
  • not religious
  • escaping into silence

Love writes a transparent calligraphy, so on
the empty page my soul can read and recollect.

  •  a mystical conversation or shobet
  • is learning through grief

My work is to carry this love
As comfort for those that long for you,
To go everywhere you’ve walked
And gaze at the pressed down dirt.

  •  discipline – polishing the mirror

 Rumi says an ecstatic human being is a polished mirror that cannot help reflecting. What we love, we are. As the heart becomes cleaner, we see the kingdom as it is. We become reflected light. The polishing may be related to practices, a devotion we do everyday that is an emptying out…

 What does it look like to remember who we are (our best selves) and acting from there?

What practices could we engage in that help us remember?

Drowning

What can I say to someone so curled up
with wanting, so constricted
in his love? Break your pitcher

against a rock. We don’t need any longer
to haul pieces of the ocean around.

we must drown, away from heroism,
and descriptions of heroism.

Like a pure spirit lying down, pulling
its body over it, like a bride her husband
for a cover to keep her warm.

Longing

Longing is the core of mystery.
Longing itself brings the cure.
The only rule is, suffer the pain.

Your desire must be disciplined,
and what you want to happen
in time, sacrificed.

Eco-cosm

blog 004

This discipleship, or growing up, or whatever you want to call it is the process of discovering and defining our own ecocosm.  Each book of spirituality invites me to visit other peoples’ ecocosms and this is useful in as much as it assists with the awareness and structuring of my own.  This is where churches suit or not, where communities thrive or not… space needs to be allowed/created for the expression and fuelling of our individual ecocosms. In knowing others better I know myself and this is the strongest recommendation I can make for living in community.  In clarifying all the ways that I can understand 1-am-not-you, I can be affirmed in all the ways-I-can-be-my-best-self. We are each of us individually knitted in the womb, the hairs on our head counted, each of us made by God, each of us co-creators with God. Walk the path set before you to walk.  God is with you exactly where you are right now.  God has put people around you who need you, God has put people around you who can help you, inspire you, teach you… Ask always “What is the next step?” What is your leading edge? Our God moves and invites us to walk along the Way.  Pray “Here I am send me” and take a copy of Dr Seuss’s ‘Oh, The Places You’ll Go’ because it’s the closest thing to a handbook there is.  I’m a Type 2 in the Enneagram, I am INFJ in Myers-Briggs, my top 5 in Strengths Finder are: Belief, Restoration, Responsibility, Individualisation and Strategy, I am single in a world where marriage is the dominant culture, I am a woman in a male-dominated culture, I am mad in several specific but (hopefully) endearing ways and a product of my family of origin and the sum of all my life experiences to date.  I am my own ecocosm.  I need to own my own ecocosm.  No one else will tend it for me. I need to consciously tend my ecocosm – who can I meet up with? what can I read? where can I travel? how can I see anew, with new eyes, those familiar things that are so easy to take for granted or become complacent about the vital life breath of why-I-am? This might be right within the four walls of exactly, specifically, particularly where I am right now.  There is a story of an American Indian elder speaking with his grandson:

“…there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, and resentment. The other is good. It is joy, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, and bravery.”

The boy thought about it, and asked, “Grandfather, which wolf wins?”

The old man quietly replied, “The one you feed.”

i tell you arise

In the field of personality and character growth too, the law of polarity is constantly at work. e.g. a balance must be found between the conscious and unconscious, between individual and community, between masculinity and femininity.  Every attribute exists in a state of tension and balance with an opposite characteristic in our personality.  The greater the tension that can be tolerated between these qualities, the more creative and productive it will be.  If the tension is dissolved by favouring one virtue and denying the other, the inter-play is lost and growth ceases.  Even the value which was favoured becomes lifeless and sterile.  Therefore faith in God needs to stand in the proper balance with faith in oneself; love of self must be allowed to exist in tension with love of others. The well-balanced mature personality will be able to handle both freedom and submission, independence and dependence.  The mature person will know when to be an introvert and whent o be an extrovert; furthermore one must keep a balance between the physical and the spiritual; the intellect and feeling; sensation and intuition; knowledge and love; orderliness and spontaneity.  We must be both choleric and melancholic; sanguine and phlegmatic; full of self-confidence yet fully confident in God, courageous but prudent. (p23)

Teaching 12 – The Root of Suffering

What keeps us unhappy and stuck in a limited view of reality is our tendency to seek pleasure and avoid pain, to seek security and avoid groundlessness, to seek comfort and avoid discomfort.  This is how we keep ourselves enclosed in a cocoon.  Out there are all the planets and all the galaxies and vast space, but we’re stuck down here in this cocoon.  Moment after moment, we’re deciding we would rather stay down in that cocoon than step out into that big space.  Life in our cocoon is cosy and secure.  We’ve gotten it all together  It’s safe, it’s predictable, it’s convenient, it’s trustworthy.  If we feel ill at ease, we just fill those gaps.

Our mind is always seeking zones of safety.  We’re in this zone of safety and that’s what we consider life, getting it all together, security.  Death is losing that.  We fear losing our illusion of security – that’s what makes us anxious.  We fear being confused and not knowing which way to turn.  We want to know what’s happening.  The mind is always seeking zones of safety, and these zones of safety are continually falling apart.  Then we scramble to get another zone of safety back together again. We spend all our energy and waste our lives trying to re-create these zones of safety, which are always falling apart.  That’s the essence of samsara – the cycle of suffering that comes from continuing to seek happiness in all the wrong places.

 

Teaching 20 – Solgan: “All activities should be done with intention”

Breathing in, breathing out, feeling resentful, feeling happy, being able to drop it, not being able to drop it, eating our food, brushing our teeth, walking, sitting – whatever we’re doing could be done with one intention.  The intention is that we want to wake up, we want to ripen our compassion, and we want to ripen our ability to let go, we want to realise our connection with all beings.  Everything in our lives has the potential to wake us up or put us to sleep.  Allowing it to awaken us is up to us.

 

Teaching 37 – The Practice of Compassion

We cultivate compassion to soften our hearts and also to become more honest and forgiving about when and how we shut down.  Without justifying or condemning ourselves we do the courageous work of opening to suffering.  This can be the pain that comes when we put up barriers or the pain of opening our heart to our own sorrow or that of another being.  We learn as much about doing this from our failures as we do from our successes.  In cultivating compassion we draw from the wholeness of our experience – our suffering, our empathy, as well as our cruelty and terror.  It has to be this way. Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.

 

Teaching 43 – Tonglen: The Key to Realising Interconnectedness

…when anything is painful or undesirable, breathe it in.  In other words, you don’t resist it.  You surrender to yourself, you acknowledge who you are, you honour yourself.  As unwanted feelings and emotions arise, you actually breathe them in and connect with what all humans feel.  We all know what it is to feel pain in its many guises.

You breathe it in for yourself, in the sense that pain is a personal and real experience, but simultaneously there’s no doubt that you’re developing your kinship with all beings.  If you can know it in yourself, you can know it in everyone.  If you’re in a jealous rage and you have the courage to breathe it rather than blame it on someone else, the arrow you feel in your heart will tell you that there are people all over the world who are feeling exactly what you’re feeling.  This practice cuts through culture, economic status, intelligence, race, religion.  People everywhere feel pain – jealousy, anger, being left out, feeling lonely.  Everyone feels it in the painful way you feel it.  The storylines vary, but the underlying feeling is the same for us all.

By the same token, if you feel some sense of delight – if you connect with what for you is inspiring, opening, relieving, relaxing – you breathe it out, you give it away, you send it out to everyone else… If you’re willing to drop the storyline, you feel exactly what all other human beings feel.  It’s shared by all of us.  In this way, if we do this practice personally and genuinely, it awakens our sens eof kinship with all beings.

Teaching 86: Six ways to be Lonely

Usually we rgard loneliness as an enemy.  It’s restless and pregnant and hot with the desire to escape and find soemthing or someone to keep us company.  When we rest in the middle of it, we begin to have a non=threatening relationship with loneliness, a cooling loneliness that turns our usual fearful patterns upside down.  There are six ways of describing thsi kind of loneliness:

1. LESS DESIRE is the willingness to be lonely without resolution when everything in us yearns for something to change our mood.

2. CONTENTMENT means that we no longer believe that escaping our loneliness is going to bring happiness or courage or strength.

3. AVOIDING UNNECESSARY ACTIVITIES means that we stop looking for something to entertain us or to save us.

4. COMPLETE DISCIPLINE means that at every opportunity, we’re waiting to come back to the present moment with compassionate attention.

5. NOT WANDERING IN THE WORLD OF DESIRE is about relating directly with how things are, without trying to make things okay.

6. NOT SEEKING SECURITY FROM ONE’S DISCURSIVE THOUGHTS means no longer seeking the companionship of constant conversation with ourselves.

Therefore I am going to allure her;
I will lead her into the wilderness
and speak tenderly to her.
There I will give her new growth,
and will make in her darkness a door of hope.
There she will respond with devotion
as in the day she first knew freedom.

Hosea 2:14-15 (sort of…)

342 PACIFICA 19 (OCTOBER 2006)
Vignette, Janet Turpie- Johnstone

Growing up by the wild seas of our Southern Ocean. Deep green waters, that are both terrifying and beautiful, in one. Deep green waters that disappear over an unseeing horizon. Local yet universal. Familiar yet strange. Portland was and is my “home”. A place of pain and of joy. On every return home, is to revisit all the pangs of childhood and adolescence. It is like a rehearsal for some play, going over the old so as to know the new. Experiencing it all again and again, feeling the sting of the salt of old wounds, weaving them into the fresh, making life vital and real in the now. How easy it is to just respond as habit teaches, I know this, I have been here before. Habit is part of the mix, but it is not the whole and each habit needs to be refreshed so as not to become the whole. Stale and hard, salted out of life, or fresh sprinkled lightly with some zest, is the offering I make. On looking back I look inwards, and find that the secret journey is the real one. The one from inside, the one from where I know I am alive, where I transform the habits into reality. Where I call to this world, “I am that I am”. There is no need for any other explanation, I just know that I am. How Biblical, but how cheeky. There the familiar and the strange, coming together in the story of one woman’s life.

Think it’s a pretty important part of the journey to re-visit where you came from and reflect on how far you’ve come, this first ‘home’ can act as a bit of a lodestone drawing us back to the roots of our identity and the formational experiences that led us to become who we are.

Some reflections on “Terra Nullius”

What does it mean to be ‘somebody’? There is an irony in the indigenous people here believing the colonisers to be ghosts and the colonisers ‘not being able to see’ the natives. To take what is there, then take more than what you need is to create imbalance between people, the Spirit and the land. A synergy lost. Disease. Dis-ease. Can we truly be comfortable living here with the history of this land? Settlement. What does it mean to be settled? Maybe in the same way the land was ‘nobodies’ it was ‘anybodies’ – like the ocean, like clouds… if you love something you have to let it go. How much is there to be gained in letting go of control/ownership of the land? There is a quote on the wall at the Jewish museum which says “if you do not have land, but have memory of land, then you can make a map”. The land is something carried in the heads and hearts of the indiginous people – how are they allowed to live out what is in their heads and hearts? Hospitality in this land is not reciprocal, we need to make space to receive what they want to give us – not prescribed expectations.

Staff conference day – 1 July