During our recent trip to the Mexican border, I was reminded of the importance of human to human contact. A number of pastors and lay leaders travelled from all over Texas to engage with refugees awaiting asylum hearings in the United States.
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This week, several MWF folk joined a pilgrimage to the Mexican border sponsored by Texas Impact, a non-profit focused on lobbying for humane changes in immigration policy.
Dillon Hargrave is the Literacy Director for Neighbors Along the Line and the Missional Wisdom Foundation's Newest Dispersed Community Communicator.
By Larry Duggins
I lead pilgrimage all the time. The Missional Wisdom Foundation has led eleven pilgrimages—ten to Iona and one to Taizé—and I have had the privilege of walking with 172 pilgrims in those places. I have watched the pilgrimage process transform people by helping them to encounter God in a new or different way. I was transformed myself by my early pilgrimage experiences, learning to feel the presence of the Spirit in a new way. Each time I lead a pilgrimage, I am refreshed and renewed by the Spirit and by the community of pilgrims I am with.
This October, I am walking the Camino with Alexander Shaia and a small group of pilgrims. For 28 days, I will walk and reflect and encounter without being responsible for anyone other than myself. All the rooms are taken care of, all the logistics are handled, and I can remind my Enneagram 8 self that I do not always need to be in charge. Not sure how I am going to handle that, but I am getting ready.
The Camino is a long walk, so I am focusing on getting ready physically. I am ramping up my daily walking, and Wally the dog really likes that. I am going to one of those stretching places so that I can learn ways to better maintain myself. Got trips to the chiropractor and the doc planned just to be fully ready to roll. I feel like I am taking the car to the shop before a long road trip.
I am also thinking about handing off my duties at the Missional Wisdom Foundation while I am away. I am very blessed to be surrounded by a team of excellent leaders and talented coworkers, so that is quite comforting. Frankly, my biggest issue on the work front is feeling a little guilty for asking people who are already busy to watch all my stuff too. Because we lead as a team, there is not a lot of instruction required— they know how to do everything I do—but asking for their help and accepting their gift of time and energy is not easy for me. It’s that fourth quadrant in Simple Harmony—humbly receiving the gifts of others.
I am still working on my spiritual preparation. As I am walking in the mornings now, I am listening to a wonderful podcast called Typology that Denise Crane told me about. It is an interesting series of discussions about the practical implications of Enneagram work, and it is feeding some of my own internal work. Wendi Bernau recently got some really interesting Enneagram training and took me through the best Enneagram “testing” I have encountered. I am really chewing on the results, looking into myself and out into the world. I have a feeling that this might be part of my Camino, but I am not sure. I am praying about guidance from the Spirit, which I am certain will come. I am trying to make space just to listen. I am also sure that I will read some of the very good books Alexander has recommended, but not yet. Right now, I am working with what I have.
So, I find myself in an interesting liminal space. I am getting ready for something that is very familiar, yet completely unknown. I am working with mind, body, and spirit in my preparation, letting go of important things and being reminded that I am simply a part of the whole. That tie into community—into the body of Christ—reminds me that as I walk alone, I will not be alone.
After all that had been absorbed at National Gathering 2019, all the friendships and connections nurtured, all the conversations and stories shared, all the good food and fun and creativity, all the time taken for reflection and intention, it becomes time to ask: how are we doing now, weeks later, as regular life has returned to us in full force?
During each of the two National Gatherings, we have included a Taizé Worship Service. Our decision to include Taize is very intentional as that form of worship echoes many of the core themes and values of the MWF.
In the breakout session, “Improv for Community,” we played 3 games from my experiences as an improviser. Through “7 Things,” we practiced the posture of supporting whatever emerged from the mouth of our peer in the circle, who was currently listing 7 things on some make-believe list, giving hilarious, simple, quick, ludicrous, wonderful answers.
“I was excited to lead this session, since this is a topic that's very close to my heart. It went extremely well; people were willing to share their stories about times they felt isolated, which was one of the points of the session. Most of the time was spent sharing stories. I think we all learned from each other.”
Sometimes, I simply cruise through life assuming that everybody knows what I know. The other day, I was in a meeting with two of the Missional Wisdom Foundation’s smart young people, and one asked how to set a price for a class that she is teaching.
Everybody thinks empathy is a good thing, right? Most of us face a challenge, though. We think empathy is a good thing. We want to practice it, especially with those who are closest to us, but find ourselves at a loss in those moments when it doesn’t happen spontaneously.
Words from the Keynote Speakers, Randy Evans and Shelley Webb
One of the great delights of working for the Missional Wisdom Foundation has been discovering the network of amazing people and organizations connected to the foundation. During the National Gathering we sought to connect people with each other based on their gifts. First, we had people write on cards their gifts, skills, and passions. These were placed on a wall so others could see this amazing portrait of our Dispersed Community's assets.
You know how sometimes those informal conversations that pop up around the refreshment table or informally in the parking lot are actually the best part of the whole conference?
The gentle current of God’s will washes over every interaction. Like a river, we rush by the uncomfortable emotions, tension, and conflict.
Hospitality is not just a kind smile or nice refreshments, though those are certainly important. It’s not glamorous most of the time—like putting enough paper towels in the restroom. More often hospitality is noticed by its lack than its presence. How do we create a space in which people feel they belong to something bigger than themselves and are an integral part of what happens there—that each item is provided for you, individually, as well as for the community?
We made several significant changes to Launch & Lead during our redesign a few years ago. We were particularly excited about the possibilities created by hosting all fall and spring workshops at the same time and place. This meant that everyone participating in Launch & Lead would have the opportunity to meet and connect with everyone else, regardless of where they are in the process.
What happens when you gather a roomful of people who share a vision for Christian community, building bridges between peoples, and spiritual renewal? Potentially—anything!
A peek at the National Gathering 2019
From CBS This Morning
Declining attendance at America's churches has been a persistent trend in recent decades. Now some churches are taking a novel approach to keeping their doors open by renting out otherwise empty space during the usually quiet midweek. Omar Villafranca reports.