A Willingness to be Astonished
Carrie Newcomer and Process Theology
Everything is Everywhere
Living a permeable life.
"A Permeable Life is about what presses out from the heart, what comes in at a slant and what shimmers below the surface of things. To live permeably is to be open-hearted and audacious, to risk showing up as our truest self, and embracing a willingness to be astonished.”
Grateful for the particular.
Dear ones, I am thankful for you. & for the meadowlark who has chosen a nearby roof-ridge. For the compassionate flow of the cosmos continuing while we rest. The leading edges of storm fronts over the Pacific. For time befriended. Old growth Redwood forests & days spent among them. Coffee made by other hands. Spontaneous laughter & serious concentration of beloved children. For wooden building blocks. Pens. Paper. Eyeglasses. Maybe even for the sadnesses that tell us how deeply we stain one anothers' lives. Typewriters. Boots. Strangers and the neverbefore. Beethoven's terrible dedication to making, Alfred North Whitehead's, Judith Butler's, & the poets'. For the funny canned cranberry sauce that in a few hours will ride shotgun, a measly contribution to the most generous of feasts, but desired anyway. For breeze on bare skin & reaching to play our hair after illness. For gentlenesses of every kind.
Critical of Hyper-Invididualism
A major root of this perception among us comes from the fact that so many in our era seem to believe the isolated individual alone is real. Mass shootings of innocent people – like the one that recently occurred in a school in Newtown, Connecticut or in a theater in Aurora, Colorado - reveal gunmen who feel alienated from friends or meaningful social connections, loners who seem unable to view other people as sacred realities in their own right. Rather than being isolated cases, these shootings are symptomatic of a society that is increasingly autistic and atomized, where everyone is too busy for sustained friendship. It is this hyper-individualism that is at the root of so many of our ills.
The soul is a weaving.
"I am a philosopher, let me tell you a great secret of life—a soul is not a thing, it is not something which stands untouched by the events of your life. Your soul is the river of your life; it is the cumulative flow of your experience. But what do we experience? The world. Each other. So your soul is the cumulative flow of all of your relationships with everything and everyone around you. In a different image, we weave ourselves out of the threads of our relationships with everyone around us."
Everything is everywhere.
In a certain sense, everything is everywhere at all times. For every location involves an aspect of itself in every other location. Thus every spatio-temporal standpoint mirrors the world.
The sacred cannot be put in a small container.
I am one of a growing number of people that do not want to put the sacred in such a small container.
We don't live days, we live moments.
“We don’t live days, we live moments. In an ever-accelerating world that does not encourage reflection, presence has become a personal choice and decision. We will have to decide if our response to a limited amount of time is to speed up and never really be present, or to slow down to the speed of soul and savor what is momentary and now.”
To be fully alive is to savor the moment.
Our culture reasons that because we feel there is not enough time, we should increase our pace, multitask, and fit more into our already overbooked days. But perhaps the more effective response to the limits of time is to live more fully in the moment, to savor it and expand it out in all directions.
Kissing the joy whenever we can.
Savoring is a form of mindfulness; it is gratitude, too. When gratitude and mindfulness unite in spontaneous union, something beautiful begins to quake inside of us, and we cannot let such a moment pass like any other; no, it is a moment that must be noted and cherished before it wings its way toward the rebirth of eternally new moments. And even then, we yearn after it with a desire to protect it, keep it, own it. But the moment cannot be held any longer than we can hold a quivering bird in our hand, for as the poet says, "He who binds to himself a joy/ Does the winged life destroy;/ But he who kisses the joy as it flies/ Lives in eternity's sunrise." This is the way of things; this is the process of Eternal Flow.
Trusting in fresh possibilities.
I want to leave room in my heart for the unexpected.
God comes to us, not as a settled past that cannot be changed, but as the energizing presence of fresh possibilities, surprising and unexpected, which call us into new futures, open to creative transformation.
Astonished by the bejeweled world.
We live in a bejeweled world in which all things are present in all other things on the analogy of Indra's net.
Committed to kindness.
Would it be so wrong, could it be that bad,
Trusting that kindness can be contagious.
In a process world, the quantum world, the connections between us are deep and mysterious and invisible, like sub-atomic particles that we cannot see but are nevertheless vibrating with a song that could be entitled "Be Kind to One Another." Sadly, not enough people pick up on these vibrations that are the most real part of the universe. People look at matter alone, the surface, the way we seem so disconnected and alone and in competition. We fight and throw bombs and disfigure children for a cause.
Grateful for imperfection.
Through the years, process thought—especially process theology—helped expand my narrow, severe, impoverished view of myself, God, and the world into a lovely, widening landscape of beauty, love, and letting go. The psychological effect of process theology helped me slowly regain my health and, eventually, flourish. Yet when, as a professional minister and teacher, I encountered anorexic girls, I related to them only as an objective professional, keeping my own "imperfect" past to myself. But now I am too old and life is too short for such distance and pretense. At least that's what Karen Carpenter was telling me with her voice from somewhere in heaven.
Committed to building healthy communities
1 group mixed individuals (should include variety of identities: species, age, gender, ideology, ethnicity, physicality, sexuality)