Millennial Women

By Kate Gerwin

Kate will facilitate Well for the Journey’s new Millennial Women group, which begins Sept. 14.

Growing up Catholic and attracted to mystery, I was always fascinated by the lives of nuns, this sisterhood of women who seemed to have found something bigger then themselves to dedicate their lives to. My early realization—concurrent with my discovery of boys—that I did not, in fact, want to be a nun, in no way lessened my desire to live a life dedicated to wonder, mystery, and most of all God. Many years later however, I realize that I may have inadvertently become one despite my best intentions.

Researchers estimate that about 35 percent of millennials—those born between 1981 and 1996—consider themselves to be religious “nones”, or not affiliated with a particular religion. While some of these self-identified “nones” are atheist or agnostic, many consider themselves “spiritual but not religious,” reflecting the growing trend among young people to eschew the restrictions of religious labels. This does not however, mean that millennials are any less interested in spirituality or living rich inner lives; in fact, research shows that millennials are just as, if not more likely than older generations to engage in spiritual practices.

While I and other millennials might not be showing up in church on Sunday mornings, the impulse to gather and connect still runs deep. After all, we tend to forget that most of the world’s religions were formed by groups of people coming together to share in the mystery of being alive, with all of its joys and sadnesses. Whether it is sharing in meal or yoga practice, or discussing the spiritual themes in Harry Potter, the ability to come together and connect seems ever more important in our plugged in society.

Millennial Women, one of the newest offerings from Well for the Journey, offers the opportunity to do just that. The aim of this group is to provide a place of sharing, connection and community for younger women who may or may not be actively engaged in their church community, but who are seeking to find ways to deepen their spiritual lives none the less. Through time in nature, art and film, and group sharing, the group will offer a space for laughter, reflection, and companioning for the journey that is life, all the while taking into account the unique experiences of women in their 20s and early 30s.

Now that’s a sisterhood I can get behind!

Learn more and register for Millennial Women.

Kate Gerwin, M.S., LGCP, is a Baltimore based counselor, educator and lover of good TV. She is such a proud Loyola Greyhound that she went there twice, once for her B.A. in Philosophy and once for her M.S.in Pastoral Counseling. Kate geeks out about things like mindfulness and holistic living and can often be found hiking, but more often eating. She firmly believes that happiness is an ever shifting ratio of gratitude and guacamole.

Getting into the Spirit of Blessing

By Sara Eisenberg

There are many things I enjoy about visiting my older daughter in Durham, North Carolina – great company, conversation, food, a relaxed pace of life, support for localism of all kinds: music, food, crafts. But one of my favorites is the local greeting: Have a blessed day.

Other Northerners, or perhaps non-Christians, might flinch or feel disrespected. I find it sweet and welcoming, a gentle call to wake up in the moment, actually complete the circuit of connection that a human being has held out right in front of me. When I respond, I find myself nodding my head in a movement not unlike bowing the head in prayer.

In Hebrew there is a similar formulaic language to the prayer and ritual practice of blessing that begins with these six words: Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech h’Olam.

In the prayer book I grew up with, the translation was “Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe.” Since I was more familiar with fairy tale kings than historical kings, this sent me on more than a few spiritual goose chases.

Over the years, with many trustworthy teachers and guides, I began to put together some of the nuances of the Hebrew words, and tease out some of the linguistic barriers. For example, Melech is “a masculine noun” that runs up against my own feminist preference for egalitarianism, as well as against all of the sages’ cautions against anthropomorphizing God. Melech can be gender-neutralized as “Ruler,” the role of bringing order to and being involved in the running of a kingdom, such as the Universe. Another English translation renders Melech as “living Spirit of the world” – a bit ethereal for me. Yet another translation is “the Force of Nature in the world.” This one really works for me as the highly kinesthetic person I am, often sensing in my body the many rhythms and collisions of these forces in daily life.

Eventually I distilled my linguistic and spiritual excursions down to the following sense:

I’m using words here for the Wordless to say, I want to connect with The Mystery of What You are, I want to rise up to meet You and I want You to come on down here and meet me, You with Your unpronounceable Name, Who is also so close to me, so within me, even while You keep the Universes spinning.

So I recite the six Hebrew words. Then, what roots these wings of my own personal prayer formula are the fill-in-the-blanks: for giving me clothes to wear and the capacity to tell day from night, for guiding my steps and strengthening me when I am weary, for bringing me face to face with a stranger who wishes me a blessed day.

Read Sara’s post, The Blessing After the Meal.

Sara Eisenberg is a wisdom guide and healer. She will facilitate Be a Blessing: Insight from the Jewish Tradition at Well for the Journey on November 17 (10 am-12 pm). Sara has studied Nondual Kabbalistic Healing with A Society of Souls’ founder Jinen Jason Shulman since 1995, and holds an M.S. in Herbal Medicine. She is in private practice at Ruscombe Community Health Center, teaches at the MD University of Integrative Health (formerly TAI Sophia Institute) and she is the founder of A Life of Practice, her online home where she integrates her work in Nondual Kabbalistic Healing, Herbal Medicine, and Creative Inquiry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six Questions with… Jim Truitt, Pastoral Ministries Manager, Oak Crest

Jim Truitt July 2016Jim Truitt is the pastoral ministries manager at Oak Crest, the Erickson Living retirement community in Parkville. This fall, Well for the Journey will begin bringing several of its programs to the Oak Crest campus through its new “Mobile Well” program.

How do you approach pastoral ministry and programs for a community of older adults?

Good question! The mission statement for Pastoral Ministries includes the following language – “to honor and assist residents in the growth and expression of their spiritual lives, and to foster an atmosphere across the campus that respects all faith traditions.” Fortunately, in seeking to meet that goal we are very resource-rich. We have a total of eight full-time and part-time staff in Pastoral Ministries, a chapel that seats 400 people, and the participation of over 300 volunteers. Of course, we have our challenges as well. There are about 2,150 residents at Oak Crest, living in independent apartments, assisted living, and skilled care, representing a variety of faith traditions and spiritual perspectives.

We want to provide worship services and programs that are meaningful to the long history and rich traditions of religious life, and I think we do a very good job in that area. Beyond that, living in our community is really ideal for giving residents exposure to the practices and traditions of other faiths. We find there is often a new or renewed openness to other faiths, not pulling people from their own perspective but allowing them to learn about and appreciate other perspectives. Clearly, we want to care pastorally for people who are facing transitions or crises in their lives or families. Lastly, we want residents to serve and be involved, contributing their gifts to our community and adding meaning to their lives. It is truly a joy to see residents accept, care for, and enjoy each other regardless of where they are on their spiritual journey.

What do you find inspiring about working with the Oak Crest community?

Well, just the scope and diversity of the community is invigorating! When residents move in, they bring their interests, skills, and pastimes with them. We have over 100 resident-run groups and clubs; I can’t even begin to describe everything that goes on here, right where the residents live. Let’s just say that even finding a room and time for the workshops from the Well was a challenge! Within Pastoral Ministries, we consider ourselves privileged to witness the full fruit of a lifetime of faith lived out among so many residents. Certainly, we deal often with loss and grief, yet are humbled to see residents approach life with strength, courage, and humor. Personally, I have so much fun working with the residents, and so often see residents that make me literally say, “wow, I want to be like that when I grow up!”

How did you learn about Well for the Journey?

One of the groups I work with on campus is the Spiritual Life Council, a group of residents representing very diverse religious backgrounds and spiritual interests. We have strong religious programming for our large Catholic and Protestant faith communities; the focus of this group is to encourage respectful understanding of and personal growth in the common ground within religious traditions, interfaith explorations, and spirituality. Most of them are from the Baltimore area, and were familiar with the Well, speaking very highly of both the people and the programs at the Well.

Why did you decide to invite the Well to bring classes to Oak Crest?

I would say there are two main reasons. First, the Well represents a tremendous resource of perspective, people and programs, that we think could open new doors of growth for the residents. Second, I was looking for an organization with which we could truly partner over the long haul. We have in the past had many speakers and programs at Oak Crest, drawing on the wider community of Baltimore. Those have been wonderful for our residents, but are almost always a one-time event. Partnering with the Well gives us a new opportunity that I trust will be a blessing to the residents and also to the Well.

 What do the residents think about having classes at Oak Crest?

Oak Crest has for many years had classes on campus every semester from the Community College of Baltimore County, so there is an established track record for this approach. Greg Cochran, Mabeth Hudson, and Franklin Adkinson were kind enough to come on campus and have an exploratory meeting with a group of residents. We’ve taken their feedback and set up an initial series of four workshops, every other month, starting in September. I’ve already had one resident email me to tell me she can’t wait for the first one! I think this represents a new opportunity for spiritual growth, and the residents will respond favorably.

What are your favorite hobbies/leisure activities?

Pretty much anything outdoors gets me refreshed and renewed – even working in the yard! I read constantly, go for jogs, and love family time. And any day at the beach is a good day!

The Blessing After the Meal

By Sara Eisenberg

When I was in my thirties, I was avidly reconnecting with my Jewish roots, and attended  a sequence of weekend retreats. I noticed that by Saturday afternoon, I regularly – and completely uncharacteristically – developed a stomach ache. The fourth time this happened, I went to Rabbi Zalman Schachter, who led the retreats, told him my dilemma, and asked his advice.

With his customary twinkle, he said, “Well, you have two choices. You can go out and get a hamburger, maybe that will agree with you more. Or, you could learn the blessing after the meal.” I have never regretted choosing to learn the blessing, and not only because it banished my stomach aches.

The Blessing After the Meal is a lengthy affair – about five 6”x9” pages. The series of prayers – made easier to learn because they are sung to a variety of lively melodies – are in response to the biblical command to “eat and be satisfied, and bless” God (Deuteronomy 8:10).

To call this a “connection” rather than “command” illuminates what is for me a vital aspect of reciting a blessing: it connects me to the endless cycle of giving and receiving, the basis of all relationship. Reciting a blessing nourishes relationship, the essential dynamic of human life, and of the whole of the material world.

Reciting a blessing brings us into an awakened relationship with life. Jewish prayer practice offers special blessings for countless occasions. For bread, of course: we bless You for bringing forth bread from the earth. For seeing a rainbow: We bless You for remembering your promise to Noah – that You will never flood the whole earth again. For going to the bathroom: We bless You for the proper function of the openings of the body. For death: we bless You, the True Judge.

A friend who was another retreat participant went to Reb Zalman, troubled that he didn’t understand anything at all about blessing. Reb Zalman had him stand at the door to our meeting room as we returned from lunch, and bless each of us as we crossed the threshold. My friend’s knitted brow and troubled face relaxed and filled with light as he found a few words, a touch, a smile to offer each person.

The practice nourished him. He appeared to be giving the blessing, yet he was receiving. Relationship. Giving and receiving. The blessing path.

Sara Eisenberg is a wisdom guide and healer. She will facilitate Be a Blessing: Insight from the Jewish Tradition at Well for the Journey on November 17 (10 am-12 pm). Sara has studied Nondual Kabbalistic Healing with A Society of Souls’ founder Jinen Jason Shulman since 1995, and holds an M.S. in Herbal Medicine. She is in private practice at Ruscombe Community Health Center, teaches at the MD University of Integrative Health (formerly TAI Sophia Institute) and she is the founder of A Life of Practice, her online home where she integrates her work in Nondual Kabbalistic Healing, Herbal Medicine and Creative Inquiry.

Filling the Well Update: Campaign Ends at Midnight, June 30

Thank you to our 202 generous donors who have given $113,701 to the Filling the Well Campaign. With just three days left in our fiscal year, we are still $11,299 short of our $125,000 goal. You can help us fill our Well to the brim!

If you haven’t made a donation, we hope you will consider making one by midnight, June 30 at www.wellforthejourney.org/giving/donate

Why is reaching our $125,000 critical for 2016-17? Your support helps us do what we do — from developing and offering programs, and producing our quarterly Quench newsletter and Well-come program booklet, to funding staff salaries, day-to-day expenses, and rent for our beautiful space (we do not own the house at 400 W Pennsylvania, so rent is an essential part of our budget).

We can’t do it without you!

You can make a secure donation on our website now at www.wellforthejourney.org/giving/donate.

If you’d like to write a check payable to Well for the Journey, it needs to be dated and mailed by June 30. Our address is 400 W Pennsylvania Avenue, Towson, MD 21204.

Thank you for all the ways you support the Well.

Six Questions with… the Rev. Scott Slater

 

The Rev. Scott Slater is an Episcopal priest and has served in the Diocese of Maryland since 2001. Following nine years as rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Baltimore, he began serving on the bishops’ staff as the canon to the ordinary in July 2010. He was a founding board member of Well for the Journey and former board chair, and he currently serves as “listener” for the board. In addition, Scott is a facilitator at the Well, and most recently, as a Certified Daring Way facilitator, he co-leads programs based on books by Dr. Brené Brown. Learn more about and register for Gifts of an Imperfect Faith (June 15 & 22), a program based on Brown’s Gifts of Imperfection.

How/when did you become involved with Well for the Journey?

In 2001 I had just been called to Church of the Good Shepherd where a small group of people were in a discernment group looking at their individual call to mission. Mabeth Hudson was part of that group and out of that discernment process came the idea for the Well. Mabeth then asked me to be part of a more focused discernment group to listen for how this idea would take on flesh and bones. I have been connected ever since.

What do you wish more people knew about the Well?

I wish more people knew how spiritually safe and nurturing the atmosphere of the Well’s offerings are, especially for people who are recovering from negative spiritual encounters in their past. The Well offers experiences that challenge individuals to stretch themselves spiritually without it feeling forced or overly institutional.

What’s a great event for newcomers to check out?

I am completely biased toward promoting any creative class or workshop that my wife, Becky Slater, leads. Creativity is a powerful and fun way to exercise one’s spiritual muscles and Becky’s approach allows even the least creative to find a path for creative exploration. (Check out Becky’s Mixed Media Summer Fun workshop on June 29 – no art experience necessary!)

Why did you decide to become a Certified Daring Way Facilitator and what is it about Brené Brown’s work that resonates with you?

As an addiction survivor, I was intrigued by Dr. Brown’s research on shame which is a huge issue for many who struggle with addiction (including those in recovery). As a priest I have observed a significant correlation between shame and forgiveness and so I continue to explore how her work impacts spiritual growth and formation.

What Well events are you looking forward to attending or facilitating this year?

I look forward to offering more facilitation of the Daring Way curriculum and I also hope to someday help organize and lead another pilgrimage, like I one I co-led to New Mexico in 2007. And maybe a spiritual hike or two co-led with Greg Cochran, the Well’s executive director and one of my favorite hiking buddies.

What are your favorite hobbies/leisure activities?

I love to be on the move in the great outdoors. I’m an almost-daily runner and also enjoy hiking and walking. I have recently led a series of prayer walks around Baltimore City and am soon planning to walk the El Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain this fall. I also enjoy gardening and completing any kind of puzzle (especially crosswords and sudoku).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Filling the Well Campaign Update April 2016

We want to thank our 146 Filling the Well campaign donors for your generous gifts. To date, we’ve raised $91,962 of our $125,000 goal to support innovative programs and resources at the Well.

Our deadline is June 30! If you have not made a donation yet, we hope you will prayerfully consider making a contribution so we can reach our goal.

Programs pay only 20 percent of our entire operating budget; 80 percent of our budget currently comes from private donations and grants. While we now have a plan in place to increase the proportion of program revenue, this year’s Filling the Well campaign will provide critical funding for the Well.

Your donations support program development and resources, our quarterly Quench newsletter and Well-come program booklet, as well as staff salaries, day-to-day expenses, and rent.

Please join us in “Filling The Well” so that we can continue to offer and expand our programs. You can make your donation on our secure website at http://wellforthejourney.org/giving/donate/

Donations of any amount are appreciated.

Questions? Please call us at 410-296-9355.

Thank you.

Filling the Well Campaign Update March 2016

 

We want to thank our Filling the Well campaign donors for their generous gifts. To date, we’ve raised $91,697 from 142 donors to support innovative programs and resources at the Well. Our goal is to raise $125,000 by June 30.

If you have not made a donation yet, we hope you will prayerfully consider making a contribution.

Programs pay only 20 percent of our entire operating budget; 80 percent of our budget currently comes from private donations and grants. While we now have a plan in place to increase the proportion of program revenue, this year’s Filling the Well campaign will provide critical funding for the Well.

Your donations support program development and resources, our quarterly Quench newsletter and Well-come program booklet, as well as staff salaries, day-to-day expenses, and rent.

Please join us in “Filling The Well” so that we can continue to offer and expand our programs. You can make your donation on our secure website at  http://wellforthejourney.org/giving/donate/

Donations of any amount are appreciated.

Questions? Please call us at 410-296-9355.

Thank you.

 

Six Questions with… Franklin Adkinson

Franklin Adkinson established group spiritual direction programs at the Well afterAdkinson.jpg participating in and then facilitating group spiritual direction at the Shalem Institute for 10 years. He also leads Cosmos, Creator, Connectedness: Science Meets Spirit, based on Judy Cannato’s Radical Amazement. Franklin is a professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

How/when did you become involved with Well for the Journey?

I was looking for a venue in Baltimore to offer Group Spiritual Direction(GSD), at a time when the Well was in its 2nd or 3rd year under the leadership of Mabeth Hudson. After some discussions with the Board and discernment on both sides, we agreed that GSD was the type of small group spiritual experience which fit the Well’s mission. I’ve facilitated one or two groups each year since then, and at least two from my groups are now also facilitating GSD at the Well. The Well continues to be wonderfully supportive of this contemplative spiritual discipline.

What do you wish more people knew about the Well?

The Well is essentially a community of seekers, not just a place to find small group programs. The overlap enrollment among programs is broad so there is the opportunity over time to develop spiritual friendships and support among a group of individuals who want to focus on “what is important” in their lives, and the life of the world. This can become the transformative experience I believe we all seek. And the Well welcomes all who thirst for spiritual satisfaction regardless of religious background or beliefs. “Not knowing” is considered liberating here rather than shameful.

What’s a great event for newcomers to check out?

For a single session, the “mystics” series allows a newcomer to enjoy a poetic reading of a bit of the spiritual insights of one of the world’s wisdom sources, along with personal reflection and prayerful discussions which are characteristic of the Well. I am told that the “Women at the Well” series is a mind and heart opener. And for a deeper introduction, one of the Well’s day or weekend retreats allows time away from “busi-ness” which is always a fruitful investment. (For program and registration info, visit the Well’s events calendar.)

How did you become interested in cosmology and the idea of harmonizing science and faith?

As a medical scientist this has always been on my radar screen. But only after I had read Judy Cannato’s two remarkable books did I come to realize “integration” rather than harmony is the goal, and  not only possible, but essential  to a true spiritual understanding. Our vision of God and purpose for the Cosmos (and our lives in it) must begin with the modern story of the universe and come to grips with the glory of the evolution, not only of life itself, but of the unfolding Cosmos. I felt I had to share Cannato’s gifts with others and try together to understand her message and where it leads us. That’s the origin of five groups the Well has assembled to address these issues.

What are your favorite hobbies/leisure activities?

I enjoy walking in natural habitats on weekend retreats away, or around local parks and streams. This as much as anything seems to refresh my body, mind and soul.    Travel to new places around the world has always given me insight and wonderful memories. Recently my wife and I have been enjoying trips with our grandchildren as they become teenagers.

 What Well events are you looking forward to attending or facilitating this year?

Together with Mabeth Hudson, Greg Cochran, and others, I am looking forward to offering a new experience for “elders” (those over 50!) called Conscious Aging. In eight two-hour sessions we will offer a self-reflective and interactive program to invite shifts in consciousness toward wholeness, connection, and compassion as we grow older and embrace our own wisdom and that of others. (Note: The Well will offer Introduction to Conscious Aging as a single session in July. The eight-session program begins this fall.)

Personally, my wife and I are looking forward to attending the Well’s weekend Mindfulness Retreat at the Claggett Center this spring.

 

 

 

Filling the Well Campaign Update 2/5/16

The Well is grateful for our many generous donors. To date, we have raised $82,885 from 137 donors for our Filling the Well campaign.

However, we still have a long way to go to meet our $125,000 goal. If you have not made a donation yet, we hope you will prayerfully consider making a contribution.

Programs pay only 20 percent of our entire operating budget; 80 percent of our budget currently comes from private donations and grants. While we now have a plan in place to increase the proportion of program revenue, this year’s Filling the Well campaign will provide critical funding for the Well. Your donations support program development and resources, our quarterly Quench newsletter and Well-come program booklet, as well as staff salaries, day-to-day expenses, and rent.

Please join us in “Filling The Well” so that we can continue to offer and expand our programs. You can make your donation on our secure website. Thank you.


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