Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The Musical Hamilton

A beginning reflection on the musical Hamilton

The musical appears to be many stories in one presentation. There is the personal life of Hamilton, there is his political life in the formation of our country, the dynamics with various personalities, the conflict, etc. 

Because he is shot and dies, the play becomes a grief story and ends as a resolution to a grief story when the wife leaves a legacy in his name, especially the orphanage since he was an orphan. As a hospital chaplain who directed a grief recovering group for 17 years you could predict I would see this as a dominant among the other various stories and levels of meaning. Am I sure it isn't the dominant, only the dominant I was left with.

This is definitely a play that wasn’t put together over night. 

From the grief standpoint I was reminded of All the Way Home, a play based on James Agee’s book, Death in the Family. The story is told from the nine year old whose father dies suddenly in a car accident.  I saw the play in New York duing a summer I was serving as the supply night chaplain at Bellevue Hospital. The memory continues. I have some good stories at the night chaplain as well.

Marlin Whitmer

Friday, August 23, 2019

The Liturgy as a theophany for energy, ministry, meaning


The People's "Liturgy" as a theophany for Ministry and Meaning.
As I listen to folks who have ministries outside the walls of the Trinity Cathedral I become aware of how meaningful these ministries are to them. I see ministry connecting with meaning in an ongoing way. This meaning provides a mutual benefit as well as a benediction, i.e. good word for what is happening. One person said, “We are all winners.”

Meaning and Energy.
The conversations reveal another insight. These ministries energize the persons involved. I can feel this energy as they tell their stories. Their stories, treasured outcomes, convey an inner excitement and enthusiasm. One person who was at our listening session said, “We didn’t have enough time.” The energy is such there is more to tell.

Two Levels: Ministry and Language intertwine to form an age-old loop.

Then I had an “aha!” experience. The meaning and energy function on two levels. One level connects ministry and meaning and the other an understanding of language which adds to the meaning.

The level with language involves energy as well. Language is used to convey this insight. Language has been used by mankind to convey this insight for generations. All of a sudden the ministry and meaning activity being manifest becomes connected with what humans have done since their beginning. Here is one example.

Ministry as the people's "liturgy." An Aha! of major proportions.

The Greek word liturgy at the time of the early Christians meant the work of the people. What people did for their civic society was called liturgy. i.e. clean the street. Now we get word play with erg/urg from the centers of energy and liturgy. The word urg in Greek means energy. Energy is both expended and received as we work in a meaningful activity, i.e. ministry. Grace laden.

The early Christians knew about metaphor. They moved liturgy as the work of the people for community to the work of the people at Worship. The Eucharist is our Liturgy where we are fed by the presence of Christ. The Liturgy reads “He in us and we in Him.” We are energized with His presence and we go out into the world to do our work, our liturgy, our ministries, and meanings are renewed and generated anew.

One person said, “where we are fed moves to the community.” The word moves from liturgy in the community in early Greek society to Liturgy in our Worship and now back to liturgy in the community in our own day.

We have come full circle in our meaning and usage in the work we do and the language we use, in Church and in the community, with liturgy and Liturgy. We are one in Him.

To the Glory of God, 
Marlin Whitmer

A sermon describing a theophany.

The Call 11 Pentecost August 25, 2019
 Date added: August 25, 2019

Monday, August 19, 2019

Summary of popular blogs to 8/18/2019


89 Blogs: 7,879 page views, started in early 2017
Still learning about a blog. Had some help when I learned tags are
labels here.

Those with Over 30 page views: 15

Sports Metaphor: A Cup of Tea 49 on 2/11 68
The Sports Page: training ground for
listening training 35 on 2/11 44
An Unforgettable Meeting 53
A huge Aha! From a patient visit 75 on 2/11 77
The Alphabet as Teacher 40
A Mental Health Sermon 45
A Lesson from First Grade 40
Chewing the Cud — Holy Cow 111
Peran a Greek Word 30
Where the Wild Things are 40
The Entertainment Center 75
Learning about the “container” metaphor            164
History of the Befriender Program            34
Listening Triads: speaker, listener, observer            39
"Bottoms Up" has possibilities, i.e. wounded healer

"keep the learning close to the practice." The importance of metaphor
is a dominant theme in most of the popular blogs and a theme that seems to attract. Metaphors are important in every language. Right?.


Sunday, August 11, 2019

Work and Windows

I was a hospital chaplain for 28 years and during that time I was the director of a grief recovery group for 17 years. Grief work involves parishes as well. This story applies to more than one situation. At present I would say it applies to the citizens of a nation as a metaphorical process for healing. 

Staying with a Pastoral Story

I want to tell you about LeRoy. His 13-year-old son died of cancer a number of years ago. The son was quite a phenomenon. His mother was his main parakaleo, called one alongside, chaplain, and pastor. I supported her and the father. Mark drew pictures of his illness experience. Before the diagnosis his pictures of nature were tranquil. After the diagnosis of cancer all the creatures had claws and bared teeth. He drew all the stages of dying, if one can call them stages. He called himself a "telephone pole" to reinforce his self awareness about communicating his experience. When I negotiated through his mother to put his pictures on slides he gave permission with the addition, "I get the royalties." He died. And the missing picture was that of acceptance and peace that Dr. Kubler Ross talks about. His mother found it later at home done in pencil and hiding among other drawings. It showed a Russian rocket with a ray gun going over the earth and everything in its path was cracking up and falling to pieces, except the grave stone, with the letters RIP, Rest In Peace. He drew the descent/ascent transformation model. 

LeRoy said at the time of Mark's death, "I don't want my sons death to be in vain." LeRoy came to the Grief Recovery Group. Later he took the Befriender training. He worked with the Grief Recovery Group serving as coordinator for the group with the loss of a child. He did that a number of years plus twice a year he gave the same talk -- each time with energy and meaning. The title of his presentation: "Work and Windows" -- two metaphors. Grief was pure work, energy draining, with aimless wandering. He drew a meandering line going all over the newsprint; down, up, alongside, down and up again, curving around. A person can not grieve all the time. Therefore, you have to take time out. And then he would put windows at different points along the line. He called them "window time" when you look out and see where you have been and what is happening. He would tell his own story and his experiences with the grief group. He shared various feelings and confusions he had known as well as what he learned in those essential "window" times. This was his hermeneutic diagram to interpret and provide meaning for his journey. 

LeRoy is retired now and working with another support group. I said I would like to use the image of "Work and Windows" in my presentations for the Wayne Oates Institute on the healing power of stories. I'll dedicate it to Mark. His death has not been in vain. LeRoy gave permission and thanked me. You can move the "Work and Windows" method to any situation in life. Whatever is work requires a window time for reflection and review. Window time makes for remembering, a chance to make new connections, where opposites are reconciled, Sabbath time. The story is well received in the seminar and feed back affirms the "Work and Windows" story is being told in many different places. 

As we stay with the story, and as we stay with relationships, the work of the staying (Parakaleo - called one alongside) brings new windows and new vistas for seeing (peregranatio - our journey with God). this is equally true in the management field, parish life, or any location for both learning and community building. The health effect is one of being healed and energized. The story effect is one of knowing you are both one and yet part of a larger story: The story of God with the community of humankind. 

Now we are into a methodology for the journey. Work and Windows is old stuff in new clothes. God created in six days with window time each day in the litany. God saw that it was good. God allows for remembering and recollecting. He rested on the seventh day. Sabbath time is a big window. 

I do not recommend the lone ranger approach nor is it healthy to keep our feelings and thoughts bottled up within. Then venting emotions as in dumping on another isn't very helpful either.  I want to promote Work and Windows as both actual and metaphorical for staying with our story for keeping our learning close to our day to day relationships (work), and for sharing our discoveries with each other as a practicing community (windows).

There are a number of ways of talking about the process told in the above story. 

I have been told by a Jewish mystic the Hebrew letters in the word Shalom follow the same pattern. S, shin, with three prongs represents fire which opens the door to understanding. God must be trying to tell us something through different ways to make the same connection, complete, mem. 

We are not always quick to catch on. This is not unlike Jesus use of the Greek word susnesis in Mark 6 where it is translated understand. Understanding requires making connections. Understanding requires interpretation. Starting with us, God wants us to understand at the deepest levels for meaningful lives in serving others.

Marlin, A. P. C. (Ret.)