Silence

Silence is not so much a rule to be observed by refraining from speech,
but… an opportunity for growing in the sense of the Divine Presence.
It is only by learning to live in that Glorious Presence,
and by reflecting on the depth of our own silent listening
that we can come to
know the difference between activity and compassion,
and it is compassion that makes us
open up our silence to others.

Gurus, Ashrams, and Christians – Vandana

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Christmas… Snow, rain, and pure joy

Best friends
Best friends

As I wait in Portland for our ride back to Bend, I find myself thankful, thankful, and more thankful for the blessings of Christmas this year. Leaving behind the car and the cell charger left me with much more time to… yah, I guess we spent much of the time on the computer. Working on blogs, websites, emails, and movies.

But there was more than that. Arriving to Portland with its snow saturated streets, cars buried, some roads undrivable, I was thankful that we were able to rest in the spacious seats of the Breeze bus line. After three days of rain and 50 degree weather, though, the multiple feet of snow left on the ground worked itself down to green grass again. Strange. Definitely encouragement to stay inside and by the fire.

Carley made some amazing food. From Mexican stew with corn bread dumplings, to chocolate cake, to turkey.mash potatoes.cranberries, we were satisfied to no end. Parker brought the beer and provided us with story after story (not to mention the “dumbledor”… the crazy concoction of chai, heavy whipping cream, almond milk, coconut rum, and hazelnut liquer). I brought the home roasted coffee. Kat brought her sweet self. Carley’s daughters, as well, graced us with their presence.

Love of friends, family, adventures, memories, rest, escape. Thankful for it all.

First Year not at Home for Christmas and why

I’m not going home to the Midwest this Christmas. For the first time in my 28 years of life, I will not be with my biological family on Christmas. Not an easy decision to make, but one I made purposefully. I think on a very surface level, there is the difficulty of getting away for a week… the heating of my home… the taking care of the plants… the transition happening when I get back. All that stuff can certainly be worked out and worked around. But there is more.

On a much deeper level, it is about considering the sacrifices I might make to understand those who don’t have a choice. It’s just money, they tell me. We can pay for your ticket. But as of right now, it would cost $800 to $900 for me to be home for a week. That’s more than rent for two months. In my mind, better to donate that money to bridgeWORKS so I can continue to bless people with hospitality. See the thing is, I am finding myself with people who don’t have a choice. They don’t know people who could pay $900 so that they could fly half way across the country. They don’t even have a choice to sleep under a roof, even in a car. They don’t have a choice about where they are going to eat or what they are going to eat. For me, this may never be a problem. I have people who will help. I’m not alone. Not the case for many, many people. There are so many reasons that people can give me of why I should take the opportunity if I have it.

It’s like choosing to walk on a cold day, when I have a car or a bike I could use. Why not drive? You’ll get there 10 times faster and you’ll be warm. Why walk and freeze your ass off? Your feet will hurt, your hair might freeze, you could slip and fall… and you have a car and can pay for gas. And yet, some people don’t have a choice. Do I know what that feels like? Can I truly empathize with them if I remove myself from their situations by simply doing things because I can?

We all have ideas about how Christmas should be. We all have ideas of how we would like our worlds to be. This usually involves how others should act as well. Many times, this comes from a “We have always done it this way and it will be uncomfortable if we think differently about it this time” thought process. We feel pain. We are sad. But for me to live purposefully, I recognize that there is going to be suffering no matter what decision I make… whether I stay or whether I go. No matter what, my decisions may cause others pain. And no matter what, whether people are pleased or hurt by my decision, it is usually because they are seeing what they want to see about why I chose one way or another. It may have nothing to do with my own reasons.

I must put aside the suffering and choose from my deepest heart and purpose. If I do not do this, I am not offering myself to the world. I am only giving what everyone wants me to give them.

Advert for community living

In the spirit of communities like Simple Way (http://thesimpleway.org/PSC/index.html) in Philadelphia and SEVEN (http://reimagine.org/node/5) in San Francisco , I am seeking out individuals and couples that are interested in joining together to live, share, and serve as a way of making a lasting impact on Central Oregon. Please contact me (Nate) if you are interested. bettger2[at]gmail[dot]com

My hope: to start small with one house (rented or owned) of people living intentionally and deliberately in ways that seek to grow themselves and further their engagement with making a difference in this world… eventually grow to multiple houses… and thereby begin the process of re-creating the village culture in an increasingly individualistic world. Timing of coming together would be spring to summer. Conversations should start now.

The expectation: Personally, I am seeking to live in the way of Jesus and by committing to values that are in line with his life, I hope to make a difference. While it is not necessary for everyone to believe the same things religiously, it is expected that those interested will have a firm grasp on the path that they have chosen and will consistently be seeking to deepen it with an increase of love and desire to live for others and understand their place with God.

It is also expected that those joining at the beginning of this venture will have a firm grasp on their mission and gift to the world? What do you offer others that brings you more joy than anything in the world? How do you know that you are doing what you are supposed to do? If these answers are not clear, there should be a strong desire for discovering them. Much of who we will be as a community is dependent on us challenging each other to live from our deepest gifts.

Finally, it is expected that there will be a mutual agreement to shared rhythms that would be re-looked at by the community every month. It is not that there should be a rigidity or legalistic attitude to the way we live, but to maintain intentionality we will agree to the shared rhythms.

These rhythms might look like the following:

Prayer and Study – As we spend time together in various means of prayer and study (meditation, silence, scripture, books, writing, retreats, etc) we engage our minds, spirits, and bodies together, focusing on the presence of the loving God in every place we go and every person we meet.

  • We maintain a consistent scheduled time DAILY for prayer in whatever way we feel comfortable
  • We gather at specific times weekly to study together.

Service and Vocation – It is our desire to look at our work differently and more creatively. We do not work just to earn money for ourselves. We were created with specific gifts for the purpose of benefiting others and providing for each other in ways that balance resources and provide for needs.

  • Monthly conversations looking very specifically at our jobs and whether we are “working” in ways that develop authenticity and Jesus’ message of the kingdom of God
  • Exchange of services, not just money
  • Serving together as a community (Bend Community Center, homeless, etc.)
  • Providing a way of connecting people with those who are seeking to use their gifts to benefit others

Conversation and Hospitality – It is our desire as a community to invite dialog and questions. We seek to create space where people can feel at home enough to be authentic and to really vocalize their questions. When we gather together for significant amounts of time we begin to see what it means to be family with the world around us. Once we can begin to be in loving dialog with those who are different than us, we can begin to unify as people who want to change our city and world.

  • We make an effort to spend time with and learn from those whose views are very different than us. It is a discipline to come together with opposing ideas and still come away loving each other.
  • Communicating with the Bend community that if people need places to stay they can find them with us when they can contribute in some way to the community life (not money necessarily)
  • Community meals (lots of them)
  • Other opportunities for focused dialog (panel discussions, guest speakers, etc)
  • Viewing our home as a sacred space

Third Places – It is in the third places that people connect. Not home and not work. (Coffee houses, pubs, yoga studios, art studios, skate parks, etc). This is the arena where people get plugged in. It is our hope as a community to begin to build a network of third places that support each other and where we circulate. Here, we live the presence of God to others.