Dear Middleway Urban Monastery friends,
Just hours before the end of 2021, the City of Bryan delivered a trash bin to Middleway Urban Monastery. Our address is freshly painted on the front of the bin, and it is at least outwardly clean.
This is significant because days before, there had been questions as to whether we "had" to have a trash bin. Our garbage consists mostly of beverage cups and paper towels, which accumulate at perhaps one medium bag per week. One volunteer offered to take the weekly bag home to dispose. But no, the city said, we are required to have a trash bin because it is part of the utilities. In other words, because we pay to have lights, it is assumed we will also create garbage that needs to be picked up regularly.
The new bin beyond the welcome mat and directly across the street from Middleway's front door is symbolic of a common block to spirituality - hanging on to the "garbage" we generate in our lives. We tend to not want to deal with issues and situations we or others create. We let someone else deal with it, or leave it sitting around until it's overflowing, in the way, and a bigger problem to solve.
But when we have "light" in our lives, we can regularly throw out our personal inward "garbage" ... maybe even require this of ourselves in a sort of spiritual discipline ... and then step up to the welcome mat and come in for peace, comfort and hope while exploring God's love. Come and see.
12 Days Christmas meditation continues through Jan. 6
We are hosting a 12 days of Christmas meditation online over the holidays, led by Heidi Campbell. From now until Jan. 6, join us daily at 2 p.m. on our Facebook group page for a 3-5 minute spiritual reflection on the meaning behind each of the symbols shared in the song about 12 Days of Christmas. Take time for some holy listening through short, devotional prayer times meant to help prepare your heart and mind for the coming year.
Children's program added on Centering Prayer evenings
Centering prayer will continue in January on the first and third Thursdays beginning at 5:30 p.m. Adults are encouraged to join in the 30-minute quiet prayfer time led by Rich Nelson.
Children's program leader Aneya Elbert quotes Rebecca Nye, Children's Spirituality specialist,"We need to take a generous, trusting attitude to what may constitute prayerful activity for children. It may look as if a child is just doodling or idly rolling balls of play dough or gazing blankly out of the window. But in these moments God and the child may be in deep communion."
Among the techniques available are painted rocks like those pictured in this newsletter. A child may be encouraged to select a rock and describe what God is saying in that, for example.
Elbert will lead the children in spiritual activities while the adults are in centering prayer, 5:30-6 p.m. Dates for both activities this month are Jan. 6 and 20.
Common Threads group spiritual direction continues Jan. 12
Thread projects of any kind will be the backdrop for a new group spiritual direction gathering. Each month, women and men are encouraged to bring a thread project - cross stitch, needlepoint, crochet or knitting, for example - to work on while sharing about where God is in their life. Common Threads will meet monthly on the second Wednesday from 2-3 p.m. Kathleen Phillips will guide the group through methods of sharing stories and listening to each other with a "holy ear." Our next gathering is Jan. 12.
Book club's hybrid gathering to return in January
Get the January Middleway book and start reading "The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are" by Brene Brown. Our next meeting will be Tuesday, Jan. 25 at 10:30 a.m. Our gatherings are hybrid, meaning we will have Zoom for those unable to be in person while others will gather in a room here at the monastery. Together we will discuss our book of the month. This month we will also consider upcoming books for the spring. Come share your ideas of what would be good to read and discuss together.
The link for Zoom attendance:
Volunteer at Middleway
Come be a part of the Middleway community! Your presence is the main thing we need. It's easy, and you'll be able to enjoy the hope, peace and comfort while you are there as a volunteer. Just help us welcome others into this space.
You also can offer your talents in administration, reception, hospitality, plants/greenery, library, arts, technology/information, worship, cleaning, and growth/sustainability. Each of these areas are called Circles of Stewards, which are groups of people within the community who share similar interests and want to help make Middleway as special, sacred space for all. If you're not sure which area you'd enjoy most, just pick general interest, and we'll let you know what volunteer opportunities are open.
You can sign up at https://timecounts.org/middlewaymonastery/. Simply fill in the form and make your choices. Then when opportunities become available in the Circle(s) of your choice, you will be notified and can decide if you are able to participate at particular times.
These opportunities are more than volunteering -- they are community forming. Being at Middleway will be less of the typical "doing" associated with most volunteer activities and more of the "being," that is, being present to welcome visitors and enjoy the surroundings yourself! With this in mind, our volunteers are in community with the Middleway Urban Monastery's Guide for Life:
Conversion of Life “Conversatio”: Living our life as if it were a conversation with God, in a commitment to personal spiritual disciplines.
Humility: Living our life in perspective, in a commitment to assess and honor one’s own gifts and those of others.
Hospitality: Living our life in service of others, in a commitment to welcome guests in love and a spirit of prayer.
Prayer: Practicing a spiritual discipline that includes daily prayer.
Ecumenism: Honoring all expressions of Christian faith and respecting in Jesus’ name all persons of other religions and faiths.
Other ways to experience Middleway Urban Monastery
Ready to dig a little deeper spiritually?
Join our Facebook group page. Doing so will let you receive notices about events as well comment and see what others in the Middleway community are saying.
Come to our website and explore the offerings, including links to our Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube accounts, if you like those formats and want to follow.
Pass the word. Ask your frieds to subscribe to this newsletter by going to https://www.middlewayurbanmonastery.org/contact Enter the email address at the Subscribe button on the lower right.