Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pilot Dream Seminar Results

Posted: 28 Nov 2012
Updated: 30 Nov 12

On the week before Thanksgiving the two Bethlehem Lutheran pilot dream seminars came to the end of their scheduled tenure. Members of Group A asked to continue in order to keep continuity, which I was pleased to accept. In response to my request for their experiences of the seminar, the two ladies below are the ones who had the snake dreams at the beginning.

On November 25, Sue K of Group B wrote:
Dreams tell us so much about ourselves, especially those things that are not in our immediate consciousness.  Yet, it is hard to determine what we are "hearing" in them.  CREEI is a good starting place.  This processes helps to focus on the content of the dreams, and identify the characters that can speak to us.  Combining this with deep listening allows us to explore the various possibilities regarding the message contained within the dreams.  It allowed me to discover many inner strengths that I possess but did not previously acknowledge.  I learned to trust my intuition, and to accept the challenges presented to me in a straightforward and brave manner.  I see those challenges as opportunities for personal and spiritual growth.  Understanding my dreams helps me to make the most of the opportunities by understanding what I truly bring to a situation.
Earlier, Kate T of Seminar Group A wrote:
Okay - so I have been having these recurring dreams about snakes (yuck!) and a deeply wise person at our church is conducting a workshop on Dreams and how to analyze them as a spiritual practice.  AND you all know how "woo-woo" I am... So I have put myself in the way of this workshop.  
 What my analysis is showing me is that these snakes in my dreams are my friends, and they are telling me to write - that I am doing all sorts of things to avoid what I fear most, which is putting my thoughts out there.  I am knitting, making pottery, campaign work, building a labyrinth at our church, visiting family, exercising, & having fun w/my husband and friends. The thing is, I don't want to stop any of those things.... 
 It woke me up in the middle of the night, so I decided to get up and write rather than try to go back to sleep or read.  So, it's 3:36 a.m., and I've just finished my first essay...
This led to the above mentioned essay, which could only have been written by an experienced, dedicated teacher.  Kate calls it: 

The New World Order
Teachers know something about life that people who don’t teach, don’t know.  We call it that “ah-ha” moment, for want of a better vocabulary term.  The “ah-ha” moments make this world progress in such a sacred way. 
 At the beginning of the school year, a teacher is facing all new faces for the first time.  Throughout that sea of unfamiliarity, this teacher knows that many of these children will “get” the content & processes presented to them with seeming ease and success.  Some of them will engage and catch on at a higher level, almost defining the nature of the content and processes.  Teachers use the answers and responses of these students to model the concept or process as “best practice.”  Some of the students will struggle and perform all sorts of passive aggressive tricks to avoid learning and growing, almost saying, “I dare you to teach me...”  At the beginning of each school year, no teacher can be sure of where any of these young people will fall - s/he just knows that s/he is responsible for filling their toolkit with the tools that will move each child forward in knowledge and ability within the teacher’s subject area.  Students must leave her classroom knowing what these tools are, how to use them, and what they can build with them.  At the most successful, these students will be able to create something original with these tools. 
 The true art and craft of teaching lies in the intuitive work of struggling with a student so that s/he can perform successfully on highly challenging tasks, without the help of the teacher.  That is the true nature of self-esteem.  In rare cases, that means celebrating when a student is able to put his name on his paper without help.  In most cases, it is that moment when a teacher sees the light come on in the face of a child - no matter what the age.  Or the student asks a very penetrating question, which demonstrates that s/he is really connected to the flow of thinking required to master the content/process.  
Or the student performs work that demonstrates another way of looking at the content/process.  This means that the student has to understand at such a deep level, that s/he is able to take the information and change it to create something new and better or just different. 
Teachers learn tricks, patterns, strategies, questioning techniques, and tools that prod this mind-blowing brain work.  They learn how to tell when a child is ready for more or needs more repetition to “get it.”  They learn how to present the information in so many different ways that all students, with variant learning styles, are engaged - that something clicks in their minds that breaks the ice jam of thinking and allows the thoughts to flow freely.  Teachers know when to stop and let the information sink in - when to weave in visual or metaphoric strategies - when to use other subjects to help students learn the new information.  An English teacher can teach the Concept of Compound by using science and mathematics applications of equations:  balancing them on either side and making sure that the expression is equal on each side.  And that English teacher knows when a child is not ready for the math, science, or language information about the Concept of Compound.  That teacher then knows how to take it apart and reteach, so that the student “gets it” in English, Science, and Math - she probably spends 5-6 six of her lunch “hours” meeting with this student, eating sandwiches & Oreos while asking probing questions that move that student forward.  
That one student - that one child who is willing to put forth the effort to “come for lunch,” will suddenly throw his sandwich down on the desk, jump up and shout, “ I've got it!”  He’ll go to the board and work a problem or attack a sentence structure or write an original piece of thinking to demonstrate the new learning - the teacher and student will both laugh - and shout - and say things like, “whew!” and “I thought I’d never get it.” and , “I always knew you could do it - I did - I knew it...”  The feeling filling their hearts that day is so satisfying - it’s just not like any other good thing this world has to offer. It’s what teachers know that people who don’t teach, don’t know.

It’s why teachers, who never earn a bonus or are ever paid for all the hours they work, are not paid for their lunch hours or their after school tutoring or their late night grading, are willing to keep on facing new students every August after spending $500-$1000 of their own money to prepare their classrooms for these new people.  They know the secret of the New World Order - teaching someone to do something is more powerful than doing it for them or doing it themselves. They know it is hard work, not babysitting.  The true act of good teaching is an art and a craft, not a job.  It is a Profession because all those who teach well, Profess their ability and joy in their art and craft. 
Our Present World Order pays people huge amounts of money for singing songs, playing sports, knowing how to put numbers in the right place to make the profit line grow, or solve scientific problems necessary for human progress.  It pays money to individuals who are “experts,” or “talents,” or “geniuses.” 
 In the New World Order, a teacher would be paid a huge amount of money for the ability to move this world forward by teaching someone to write a song, play a sport, put numbers in the right places, or create new discoveries.  It’s one thing to be great at something - it’s a New World Order skill to be able to teach these tools to someone else.  I can’t imagine a world without people who are so willing to give of their minds, hearts, and spirits to the youth of this country.  I can’t imagine a World Order: New or Present, without these people we name as Teacher.
To be continued...

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Thanksgiving Gathering that did and didn't happen!

Posted: Day after Thanksgiving 2012
Updated: 24 Nov 12

A close friend in Europe, who knows well my Mormon family story (including in-laws!), sent this today (23 Nov):

"Thanksgiving is all about having your entire dysfunctional family under the same roof and hoping the police don't get called!"
Ah, how well he knows!!  :)  

Birgitta and I did attend a morning gathering with about 30 Bethlehem Lutheran friends at their newly dedicated Labyrinth.

(click on pictures to enlarge)
Thanksgiving walk on the Labyrinth
As we completed our thoughtful, meditative walks, we gathered at the entrance, joined hands and expressed what we felt prompted to share of what we felt thankful for. My immediate thoughts served up my late refugee father and his example an honest search for meaning. My own search seems a continuation of his. During the last month of his life (April-May 1964), he and I went on a sentimental journey, the first such trip together before his unexpected death only a week or two later. I will always treasure having "hung out" with him during his last days. (See also here.)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Birthday card for #79 from Birgitta

Posted: 17 Nov 2012
Updated: 20 Nov 12  :)

Bottom half, which was too long for scanner
(most important part)

And then came a belated  original mini painting from Birgitta's sister Ginny! Her talent always moves me....
Original Ginny Brownfield

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Ivan's daughter

Posted: 15 Nov 12
Updated: 26 Jul 17

My deceased son's first born:

Newly born


Learning to make decisions

Learning to read

Learning social skills

Hanging out with big girls

This lovely girl is now 24 years old...


Her adoptive mother sent this recent letter shortly after Devon first contacted me:
I'm sorry it has taken me so long to start this communication with you. I just typed a LONG letter to you and apparently lost it...maybe it's somewhere in cyberspace. Thank you so very much for being receptive when D... contacted you. We love her so very much and provide all that we can, but she's always wondered about her biological background...and that is something we couldn't give her. I should have asked Ivan more questions when we met him.  
contemplated contacting you when I saw Ivan's obituary. Part of me thought that if I lost a child, I would give anything to know that part of him lived on. On the other time, I knew that you were going through a horrible time, and didn't want to add to it by adding that information. I trusted that God would provide the proper time.
Ivan didn't even know that E... was pregnant until sometime in August. D... was born September 10. To his credit, he never doubted his paternity. He stepped right up, coming to E...'s next doctors appointment. We met and my husband did an Ultrasound where D... swam right up and showed us her little face! He was concerned that she would be raised in family that would provide a religious background and a good education. We've strived to fulfill his wishes. 

He was out of town (working on an investment property) the day she was born, but came the next day to the hospital. He spent quite a while holding her and checking our her parts. He seemed quite proud of his "product."
E... didn't tell her own mother that she was pregnant until she told Ivan. She had a 5 year old daughter at the time who started school on the Monday after D... was born. As far as I know, she never told her daughter about D.... I quite certain that she still lives in the area, but has never contacted us. We would be very easy for her to find. Because of that, I'm not sure how receptive she would be if contacted. 

I hope you understand how grateful we are to Ivan and E... for this beautiful girl. I do have a picture of her in her Baptism gown I'd like for you to see. To me, she looks so much like Ivan that I was certain that even if you knew nothing about her, you would believe her story after one look at the picture!
I will try to figure out how to put it on the computer so you can see it.

In the meantime, take care,
Warmly, S/S

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Swedish Grandsons

Posted: 14 November 2012

(click to enlarge)
From left to right: Johannes, Samuel, Ruben & Ezra
(October 2012 in Uppsala)

Are these sons of Birgitta's daughter not handsome indeed? Ruben 27, Ezra 24, Samuel 21, Johannes 16. Fine young men, all!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Romney's defeat: Blessing in disguise??

Posted: 13 Nov 12
Updated: 4 Dec 12

Romney concedes

The recent national election was a shock not only to Mitt Romney and his people, but to conservative Republicans (such as Karl Rove, Dick Morris, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Mike Huckabee, Peggy Noonan, Charles Krauthammer), who had boasted a certain victory.

But was that all bad? I don't think so. At least it wasn't a revolution. Not yet. It is not all bad especially for those who must now reinvent themselves. Rather, it is an opportunity to self-renew by learning to tell the truth in a way that most of them had gotten used to not telling.

It is also an opportunity for Romney's Mormon Church top leadership to embrace an honest dialogue with the country and to tell their truth in a way that they have gotten used to not telling...

Yesterday (Nov 12) I received the following invitation from a close Mormon friend, former bishop and early editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought:

Change in the Church 
"Liberations come from some strange region where the imagination meets change. . . . We need to re-imagine change itself, else we labor to confirm all our errors." --Ihab Hassan (Egyptian scholar)
Most of us have lived through periods in which we have witnessed changes in LDS doctrine, policy or practice. Some of these have been small but nevertheless significant (e.g., the recent lowering of the age for missionaries) and some have been large and consequential (ordination of blacks to the priesthood). 
If you were in a position to affect change in the Church over the next decade, what changes would you identify as the most important? In the space below, please be as specific as possible in describing the changes you would like to see in the Church (these can be related to doctrine, structure, systems, policies, etc.). Below each desired change, briefly identify any obstacles that would need to be overcome for the change to be effected, and any suggestions you have for overcoming them. 
What should guide you? There is an old saying, “Over the door it is written three times, ‘Be bold, be bold, be bold.’ Only once is it written, ‘Be not too bold’!” In other words be imaginative, even visionary, but stay somewhat in the neighborhood of the ultimately possible.  
Desired change: 
Possible obstacles:  
Strategy for overcoming obstacles:

This is an important opportunity for regular church members, if not others, to contribute from a grass roots level! How would you have responded to this invitation?

Here are my first three suggestions:
1. Desired change: Overhaul or eliminate the excommunication process.

Possible obstacles: There are at least three: a) Spiritual conceit (pride) of hierarchical ecclesiastical decision makers. b) Idolatry (such as 'my church right or wrong' or 'my country right or wrong', etc. I.e., lack of respect for individual conscience as the ultimate decision making authority; and c) Impatience (See Arnold Toynbee commencement address to U of Utah June 1967).

Strategy for overcoming obstacles: Approach them with the Creative Deep Listening (CDL) dreamwork process. [CDL = CREEI + IDL (Integral Deep Listening) interview technique] Explain its origin, application and results with various groups, institutions and churches (beginning with 1976 UCLA course Creative Dreaming and Spiritual Awakening). Refer also to Arnold Toynbee’s two papers delivered at the U of Utah in June 1967: a) Three Generations in a Crisis, U of U commencement address; b) The Role of Creativity in History, Fifth Annual Creativity Workshop, U of U. [See also my 2005 and 2012 Sunstone Symposium papers (respectively: 'Arnold Toynbee in Salt Lake City' and 'How the Bomb corrupted the world and how Mormons and American Indian Shamans can help save it'.

2. Desired change: Eliminate seniority as THE de facto criterion for choosing leaders and reinstate an authentic revelation process.

Possible obstacles: Same three above plus lack of knowledge, understanding and respect for personal and collective dreams and how to value and/or evaluate them.

Strategy for overcoming obstacles: Invite a knowledgeable dream worker to demonstrate the CDL process and reveal the 'Potential Creative Energy' (PCE) evident in any group of honest, open-minded participants. 

See these two blog posts: ...

3. Desired change: Review and pardon past excommunications, beginning with the September Six.

Possible obstacles: Same as above.

Strategy for overcoming obstacles: Same as above.

On Thursday, 15 Nov, Joseph Dillard wrote:

I saw just this morning that Romney explained his loss to his big donors yesterday in terms of Obama giving gifts to the 47% - extended health insurance to young adults; reduction of college loan interest repayment. So he bribed the "takers" and the "makers" lost.
 How's that for a unifying narrative? I hear it as a continuation of self-validating delusion. I see no sign from the Republicans that the real problem is that the majority of the country sees them as the Party that fights for inequality. 

To be continued...