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Dear Friends,

Last week we wrote about "change being in the air", and this week we are focused on a change in "cyberspace"! We invite you to visit our newly revamped and updated Spirit of Life website (www.spiritoflifecommunity.org) After many months of work on the part of a number of members of our community, we have 'gone live' with a new improved, easy to update site! A very special word of thanks to the Thierauf family for sharing their amazing generosity, sharing their expertise, time and energy to make this happen.

Ron and I had the gift of sharing a meal last night with Matthew Fox after picking him up at the airport in preparation for tomorrow's presentation at The Spirit of Life (see details below). During our dinner conversation, Matt shared a quote from the theologian and philosopher, Dorothee Söelle that connected in essence to our thoughts for this week's letter to you. The quote is: "To feed the hungry means to do away with militarism. To bless the children means to leave the trees standing for them". Our thoughts have been revolving around the interface between the Feast of St. Francis (Oct. 4th) which will be the theme of our liturgy on Sunday, and Matthew Fox's theology of creation spirituality. As we anticipate Matthew's presentation to us tomorrow and reflect on the gospel of the "lilies of the field" and contemplate Francis' love for nature this Söelle quote emphasizes the reality that Francis' way is not just a peaceful way of being in the world, but it is an essential attitude of respect for life, and in today's reality, a mandate to change our behaviors if we wish to have a place of peace and well-being for all who inhabit this planet Earth. Imagine the resources that would be available to those who hunger, if our country had not been engaged in war these past years. Imagine a world where "global warming" created by our own misuse of nature didn't threaten the planet as it presently does.....

How do we take on such a huge task, especially when it appears that there are so many current forces mitigating against a mandate such as this. One way that we touched upon is that of The St. Francis Pledge, which can be found on the website: www.catholicclimatecovenant.org. We encourage you to visit this website and register your commitment, or simply 'pray' this pledge in your heart today as a way of increasing your consciousness and decision making.

The St. Francis Pledge

I/We Pledge to:

• PRAY and reflect on the duty to care for God's Creation and protect the poor and vulnerable.

• LEARN about and educate others on the causes and moral dimensions of climate change.

• ASSESS how we-as individuals and in our families, parishes and other affiliations-contribute to climate change by our own energy use, consumption, waste, etc.

• ACT to change our choices and behaviors to reduce the ways we contribute to climate change.

• ADVOCATE for Catholic principles and priorities in climate change discussions and decisions, especially as they impact those who are poor and vulnerable

We are blessed to have the founder of the concept of Creation Spirituality with us as we contemplate the message of Francis....we hope that you can join us for this amazing opportunity!

Wishing you blessings of peace and hope in your life and in our world,

Jean & Ron

Dear Friends,

Change is in the air! Autumn is fast approaching, we see it's warning signs in the smattering of leaves changing color, and feel it's chill in the crisp air in the morning. Change is never easy, ....and changes in the weather are often the very least of our difficulties. It simply means shifting our wardrobes from summer to fall; putting our gardens to rest, popping a few pumpkins here and there, and perhaps stockpiling wood for the bigger changes yet to come. Our gospel this Sunday is a story about change....a change of heart on the part of one who initially refuses a 'call'. In this story, a landowner asks his two children to go out into the vineyard to do some work. One initially refuses, then 'changes' his or her mind, and goes to do what has been asked. The other initially responds with a firm "yes" ... a promised commitment, but doesn't show up on the job. I expect that any one of us could be either character in this scenario. Sometimes we dig our heels in on a decision, only upon reflection (and a bit of grace!) to change our mind and experience a 'transformation' a change from one way of being to a more open, responsive way of being. And, sometimes we might be the character who says "sure", but doesn't show. Jesus is using this parable to indicate that even when we've set upon a path that is not leading in the right direction, we can be changed, transformed into true followers of his Way. This is not quite as simple as the change of season wardrobe adjustment, but the process is quite similar. We need to take some time to do a spot check of our inner wardrobes.....what are we carrying/wearing within that's holding us back....what's keeping us from responding with an open heart and open mind....what are we holding onto that belongs to a 'past' season?

Our chosen reading for this Sunday by Joyce Rupp provides some opportunity for deeper reflection on the dynamic of transformation. We hope that you will find it enriching.....

AUTUMN PRAYER OF ACCEPTANCE (adapted)

Autumn God, earth teaches me by her natural turning from one season to another. As she enters into the dying and rising cycle, she welcomes the changes. May I be open to the teachings in this season of autumn and turn as autumn does toward opportunities for my spiritual transformation.

When I accept only the beautiful and reject the tattered, torn parts of who I am, when I treat things that are falling apart as my enemies, walk me among the dying leaves. Let them tell me about their power to r e-energize the earth's soil by their decomposition and decay.

When I fear the loss of my youthfulness and the reality of my aging, turn my faced to the brilliant colors of October trees. Open my spirit to the mellow resonance of autumn sunsets. Brush your love past my heart with the beauty of golden leaves twirling from the autumn trees.

When I refuse to wait with the mystery of the unknown and when I struggle to control rather than to let life evolve, wrap me in the darkening days of November. Encourage me to enter into stillness and silent mystery, to wait patiently for clarity and wisdom.

When I grow tired of using my gifts to benefit others, take me to the autumned fields where earth freely yields the bounty of her summer. Let me become aware of how she allows her lands to be stripped clean so her fruitfulness will be a source of nourishment.

When I neglect to care for myself and become totally absorbed in life's activities, let me see how animals gather sustenance and provide for their winter. Take me inside the caves of those who hibernate and remind me of my contemplative nature.

When I fight unwanted and unsought changes and when I seek to keep things just as they are, place me on the wings of birds flying South for another season. Gather their spirit of freedom into my heart. Let me be willing to leave my well satisfied place of comfort for the discomfort of a long flight into the unknown.

Thank you, God of Transformation, for all these lessons that the autumned earth teaches me.

May the beginning of this Autumn season be a time of renewal and transformation in your heart!

Loving blessings,

Jean & Ron

Dear Friends,

As we honor the Muslim holy fast of Ramadan, we draw our inspiration from the Muslim Sufi mystic poet Hafiz celebrating the preciousness of life and eternal life:

God's Bucket

If this world
Was not held in God's bucket
How could an ocean stand upside down
On it's head and never lose a drop?
If your life was not contained in God's cup
How could you be so brave and laugh,
Dance in the face of death?
There is a private chamber in the soul
That knows a great secret
Of which no tongue can speak.
Your existence, O love my dear
Has been sealed and marked
"Too sacred," "too sacred" by the Beloved -
To ever end!
Indeed God
Has written a thousand promises
All over your heart
That say,
Life, life, life
Is far too sacred to
Ever end.

- Hafiz (Sufi poet)

You may be familiar with the ministry of Fr. Roy Bourgeois to close the School of the Americas which has long been engaged in training assassins in Latin America and elsewhere. We ask your help in calling and adding your voice to this crusade:

The Deadline has Arrived, and We Need Your Help Once More!

Click here to activate your family and friends for the White House Call-In Day on Tuesday, August 16.

The deadline for the congressional sign-on letter asking Obama to close the SOA/WHINSEC is here! Thanks to all your support, we managed to get 69 Representatives on board. A great accomplishment! Now is time for the essential task of delivering the letter to President Obama, and once again we need your help. The letter will have the most impact if it is accompanied by calls from interested people from all over the country telling the President to "Shut It Down". So we are asking you to call the White House this Tuesday, August 16th and let him know that you support the closure and investigation of the SOA/WHINSEC.

Please spread the word about the SOA and the upcoming White House Call-in Day. Click here to tell your friends about it!

This is an important time in the search for justice for victims of massacres committed by SOA graduates. On Monday, August 8, 2011, nine former soldiers and government officials from El Salvador were arrested for their role in the 1989 the massacre of 14-year-old Celina Ramos, her mother Elba Ramos and six Jesuit priests at the University of Central America in El Salvador. More information is available here. SOA violence continues today in Colombia, Honduras and other places. In order to prevent atrocities in the future, it is imperative that we take advantage of this push to close the school and to end U.S. militarization in the Americas. Accountability for the perpetrators of the 1989 Jesuit massacre, while a long time coming, appears to be within sight. However no such accountability has been applied to the institution in the US that trained them.

We have provided a petition that succinctly defines some of the key problems with the SOA, and why it needs to be closed. If you have not signed the petition, please do. We will also be sending you an email on Tuesday, reminding you to call the President's office. In the meantime, let your friends and family know about this call to action. This would be a perfect time to talk with someone who might not know much or anything about the School of Americas, and encourage them to call in next Tuesday.

In order to help you get this message out to as many people as possible, we have created a Tell-a-Friend page with some information about the School of Americas and the current legislative campaign to shut it down. Please take contact up to 20 of your friends and family with this crucial call-in action. Click here to start notifying people!

Thanks,
The Folks at SOA Watch

May your monastery of the heart be abundantly graced and well-lived in....

Ron & Jean

Dear Friends,

Amidst the snapshots of the sweltering heat and Jean's Father Henry's 95th Birthday and Jean's own sixth anniversary of ordination and the feastday of Mary of Magdala, apostle to the apostles, our readings this Sunday (yesterday, at this point) invite us to wisdom. Solomon prays for the wisdom to govern God's people. Jesus talks about the wisdom of investing in the kingdom. Joyce Rupp (our second reading) captures the Wisdom of God resting in our hearts and inviting us to settle in and know this intimate companion and grow.

One application of this is a new initiative of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, PA (Sr. Joan Chittister's community) launching what they describe as "a lay monastic movement for seekers of God and a meaningful life, calling it 'our gift to the next generation.' "Monasteries of the Heart: A New Movement for a New World offers an opportunity for anyone—regardless, or even in the absence, of faith tradition—to live Benedictine spirituality and values with online communities or in face to face groups of family, friends, neighbors or fellow churchgoers, they said. Members create their own 'monastery' by supporting each other in shaping their spiritual lives around Benedictine values of community, prayer, meaningful work, peace and care of creation. They can gather around a table or in the online 'monastery without walls' for prayer, discussion and reflection." Their website is www.monasteriesoftheheart.org. In addition to this online connection, our weekly spirit of Life Eucharist offers another gathering for us who create these monasteries of the heart. Joyce Rupp leads us into this monastery in our hearts.

The Star in My Heart

Joyce Rupp

Sophia, to you I come,
You are Wisdom of God
You are the Whirl of the Spirit
You are the Intimate Connection
You are the Star in my Heart
Sophia, Open my being to the radiance of your presence
To the guidance of your companionship
To the compassion of your indwelling
To the lighting of your blessed vision.
Sophia, trusted friend, beloved compassion,
Sophia, mercy-maker, truth-bearer, love-dweller,
Sophia, all goodness resides within you.
Sophia, take me by the hand
Bless the frailty of my weak places
Strengthen my ability to swell in darkness
For it is there that your deepest secrets are revealed.
Sophia, we walk together! Amen.

May your monastery of the heart be abundantly graced and well-lived in …

Ron & Jean

Nourish your Soul ~

Jean Marchant & Ron Hindelang invite you to join us in creating a Catholic Community of Worship & Service, Justice & Joy. Eucharist is celebrated weekly ~ Every Sunday Evening at 5:00PM. The Congregational/UCC Church of Weston
welcomes us into their sacred space for our weekly Eucharist.

130 Newton St., Weston, MA 02493
(Newton St. is located off Route 30, near Route 128 & 90, or from Route 20 follow School St., to Newton St.)
Note: Transportation is available from the Riverside T Station upon request.
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Dear Friends,

In our most recent letter, we quoted from Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, and invited you to reflect on what your personal "I Have A Dream" speech might contain. As we approach the anniversary tomorrow of our country's tragic experience on 9/11 ten years ago, it seems appropriate to continue considering the question of our dreams. I think it safe to assume that all of us yearn for peace, and profoundly lament the tragic loss of life ten years ago. It seems inconceivable that over 3,000 Americans began their day as any other, only to lose their lives in the senseless act perpetrated by extremist fanatics. In the ensuing years, our country's engagement in its "war on terrorism" and "Operation Enduring Freedom" with the end result of the deaths of an additional 6,236 Americans serving in the military, and over 10,000 Iraqi ISF, and 50,152 Iraqi civilians. I can't seem to locate a count of Afghani civilian causalities....but we can imagine.

The question for me is: Can we imagine a different kind of response rather than meeting aggression with aggression; violence with violence? I have been so moved by the story of two widows from this area (Patti Quigley of Wellesley and Susan Retik of Needham) whose husbands died in the attacks on 9/11. These women were each pregnant during their time of loss and in their time of great need were amazed by the support, emotional, financial and otherwise which sustained them and helped them to cope. In the midst of their grief, they had the heart to imagine what it must be like for widows in Afghanistan, and they appreciated that these women would be in far more dire circumstances than they, and from their imaginings founded a non-profit, traveled to Afghanistan, which has made an enormous difference in the lives of a number of Afghani widows and their children. Their story is one among many who share how they began to live differently after this tragic event in their lives. All because people allowed themselves to imagine a different road to peace! The way to peace in our world begins with each of us....with our hearts being opened to 'being' in a new way.

The search for a peaceful way of being is as old as humankind. Conflict has always been a part of the human condition. One thing is clear. The path to peace has to begin with each of us "imagining" and living out of our dream for peace. Joan Chittister's writing this week on "Spiritual Imagination" offers a reflection on Benedict's dream of world peace. It provides us with a 'recipe' for nurturing and feeding our imagination.

Spiritual Imagination

Joan Chittister

Over the archway of every medieval monastery were carved the words, Pax Intrantibus, "Peace to those enter here."

The words were both a hope and a promise. In a culture struggling with social chaos, Benedict sketched out a blueprint for world peace. He laid a foundation for a new way of life, the ripples of which stretched far beyond the first monastery arch, to every culture and continent from one generation to another, from that era to this one, from his time and now to ours. To us.

That is our legacy, our mandate, our mission—as alive today as ever, more in need in today's nuclear world than ever before.

Benedictine peace, however, is not simply a commitment to the absence of war. It is, as well, the presence of a lifestyle that makes war unacceptable and violence unnecessary. Even if we dismantled all the war machines of the world tomorrow, it would be no guarantee that we would have peace. The armies of the world simply demonstrate the war that is going on in our souls, the restlessness of the enemy within us, the agitation of the human condition gone awry.

To all these things we need to bring our own world—new spiritual imagination. Imagine a world where people choose their work according to the good it will do for the poorest of the poor—because they saw it in us.

Imagine a world where holy leisure, spiritual reflection rather than political expedience began to determine everything we do as a nation—because they saw it in us.

Imagine a world where the care of the earth became a living, breathing, determining goal in every family, every company, every life we touch—because they saw it in us.

Imagine a world devoted to becoming a community of strangers that crosses every age level, every race, every tradition, every difference on the globe—because they saw it in us.

Imagine a world where humble listening to the other became more important than controlling them—because people saw it in us.

Imagine a world where what makes for peace becomes the foundation of every personal, corporate, national decision—because they were called to it by us.

Let us resolve again to follow the fiery-eyed radical Benedict of Nursia whose one life illuminated the western world. Let us, in other words, live Benedictine spirituality and illuminate our own darkening but beautiful world.

– from Radical Christian Life: A Year with Benedict by Joan Chittister

As we re-member the events of September 11, 2001, let us re-commit to finding ways of being peace in our personal and communal lives. We can make a difference, and if we don't we can imagine the consequences. We've experienced the horror of terrorism, our world is desperate for a new model. Let us imagine together the difference we can be as we deepen our personal experience of 'being peace'!

Loving blessings,

Jean & Ron