Vocation and Sustainable Support Structures

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Lorna Smithers

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Vocation and Sustainable Support Structures
« on: May 10, 2019, 12:16:11 PM »
A couple of months back I wrote a blog post* about the lack of conversation on vocation and support for folks with a religious calling to some form of service in the Pagan communities.

As a result I was invited by by Debi Gregory from the Pagan Federation to give a talk on the topic of 'Vocation and Sustainable Support Structures' at the Beltane Online Conference.

To create dialogue I asked the following questions in four different Facebook groups**: 'What does vocation mean to you? What are the benefits and pitfalls? How do you think people called to a Pagan vocation can work better to support each other?'

I received some thought provoking and inspiring answers suggesting that the potential exists for creating sustainable support structures for folks called to a vocation online and physically if we are prepared to work together and put in the effort.

The video can be viewed here - https://bit.ly/2Vbvhkd

I would be interested to hear your responses to the questions, particularly in relation to how we might toward building sustainable support structures for polytheist monastics. As I asked at the end, 'If other religions can do it, why not us?'

*https://lornasmithers.wordpress.com/2019/03/05/on-vocation-and-the-mystical-collage/
**The Pagan Federation, The British Druid Order, Awen ac Awenydd, Pagan and Polytheist Monastics.

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Danica Swanson

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Re: Vocation and Sustainable Support Structures
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2019, 03:58:27 PM »
Thanks for sharing this. It's nice to have a chance to 'meet' one of our moderators on video!

If other religions can do it, why not us?

There are many ways to answer that question, but even if I run through a quick list of what I've heard most often as the typical reasons (we don't have enough money or wealthy donors, there are too few of us, we're too fractious, we don't have any precedents to follow, etc.), as a polytheist the question nonetheless remains unanswered in my mind.

Why NOT us?

The main reason we started this platform is to provide a focused online space to support the building of "real-world" polytheist- and animist-centered religious infrastructure so we can have full-time monastics one day, so clearly I do believe that we can. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't have invested all the time I did in building this platform in the first place. Will it be easy? I doubt it. But is it possible? Yes. Definitely. And I've seen some encouraging developments.

One hopeful development I see, for example, is the growth of interest in "revivalist" polytheistic religious groups. I think Pagan as an identity is too broad and ill-defined to serve as a suitable foundation for the kind of organization monastics need. But I could certainly see clearly defined polytheist groups like YSEE or TEMPLVM eventually developing enough support through their online and in-person work to provide for at least a few monastics, if that were of interest to them. It wouldn't happen overnight, to be sure, but I do think it's possible over the long term.

I also see some hopeful movement in the direction of talking openly and straightforwardly about the financial and business aspects of these ventures. I think, for example, of Stevie Miller's brilliant blog post on the influence of Puritanism on attitudes about money. Also, notably, quite a few polytheists have backgrounds in accounting, finance, or business.

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barefootwisdom

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Re: Vocation and Sustainable Support Structures
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2019, 07:17:23 PM »
Thank you for sharing this, Lorna! I finally had the chance to listen last night. There is a LOT here.

Only if it's easy, and not too much trouble, is there any chance that you could share the written document with the various responses you read out?  There were just so many things there that I'd like to come back and reflect on, and I have a much easier time with the written work than starting and pausing and starting and pausing a video.  So it would be really helpful, but only if it's not a burden on you!

Thanks!

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Lorna Smithers

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Re: Vocation and Sustainable Support Structures
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2019, 12:57:42 AM »
Danica Swanson, thank you for your positive response. I found it interesting that you noted that you consider Paganism to be 'too broad and ill-defined to serve as a suitable foundation for the kind of organization monastics need' whereas you see a potential for 'clearly defined polytheist groups'. This is my intuition too.

I see that TEMPLVM have managed to buy land (although it doesn't say how) and have a temple and are planning to expand. That must have taken a lot of effort from a committed membership.

I'm not sure how many polytheists there are in the UK but there are not very many. We didn't have the 'polytheist boom' you had in the US and most Pagans here identify as Druid or Wiccan. I don't know an exact number for Brythonic polytheists in the UK. We had quite a few members when I was part of Dun Brython but only 4 of us were active - hence it ended up closing down.

One possibility might be creating a multi-trad group but I guess that would lose the focus and to be honest I don't know that many polytheists from other traditions who are interested in monasticism!

As mentioned on Roger's dream post the best way forward I can see right now is trying to start something small in my own home (when I've saved enough money to move out), reaching out to folks who may not identify as Brythonic polytheist but would like to learn more about the Brythonic deities and come to rituals, meditations, devotional writing workshops etc. and see how that goes.

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Lorna Smithers

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Re: Vocation and Sustainable Support Structures
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2019, 01:01:53 AM »
Barefootwisdom, sure, here is the text of the talk:

Hello, my name’s Lorna and I have been invited by Debi Gregory to speak on the topic of ‘Vocation and Sustainable Support Structures.’

Vocation is a concept central to Christianity, the religion that I grew up with. It derives from the Latin vocātiō ‘a call or summons’ and until the 16th century in Western Europe primarily referred to ‘a call by God’. It is now used more broadly to refer to ‘a strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation.’

If you look at any Christian website you will find a section on vocation.

On the Church of England website: ‘Vocation means what you are called by God to be and do.  For some, this is a specific calling to ministry. For others, it could mean serving God through faithful discipleship in everyday life. Everyone has a vocation. Find yours.’

The Roman Catholic Church has a whole website dedicated to vocation in the UK called ‘The National Office for Vocation: Helping people hear God’s call.’ They even have an app for a mobile phone named ‘God Calls’ (which takes the concept of a ‘god-phone’ to a whole new level!).

I rejected Christianity when I was very young, as a Brownie forced to go the church parade, disliking the patriarchal presence of the Christian God. I believed myself an atheist for a long while as I did not believe there were alternatives even though I could sense and occasionally see the spirit world.

A couple of years after discovering Paganism, at the age of thirty, I experienced a call by a Brythonic god to serve him both on a personal devotional level and by sharing his stories and those of the other Brythonic deities and the spirits of the land in my communities. As I attempted to make sense of this I was surprised by the lack of guidance and dialogue on vocation within Paganism.

Christianity has tried and tested support structures for people who are called to a vocation. This often involves working through certain processes of questioning, discernment, prayer, meditation, and retreat, (for example the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius in the Jesuit tradition). I haven’t come across anything like this in the Pagan traditions. In Christianity there are pathways by which a person can live their religious vocation, by becoming clergy or a monk or nun. As Paganism is a new and developing religion and is, largely, unfunded, we don’t have such structures.

For these reasons I have found living my vocation difficult and often found myself looking with envy at other religions. The toughest thing has been balancing serving my deity as an awenydd ‘person inspired’ by sharing inspiration from the land and the Otherworld in poetry and making a living.

As I’ve started to reach out into the Pagan communities I have realised I am not alone and others are also struggling with these problems. To bring this much neglected topic into the light and open dialogue on how we can work together to build such much needed support structures I posted the following questions in four different groups on Facebook: 

'What does vocation mean to you? What are the benefits and pitfalls? How do you think people called to a Pagan vocation can work better to support each other?'

The groups I posted in were the Pagan Federation, the British Druid Order, Awen & Awenydd, and Pagan and Polytheist Monastics.

I’d like to share some excerpts of the replies:

What does vocation mean to you?


Janet Munin - To me, vocation means the work that someone feels called to at a deep level. It's the work that's more than just a job. For those of us who feel/have discovered that our spiritual path/work is our calling, it takes on the more specific meaning of living centered on our spiritual work.

Adam Sargant - I would see a vocation as a calling... some folk feel called to use their particular skills and abilities towards certain ends in life, and I see this as vocational if being frustrated in doing so results in deep negative emotional responses. A vocation is a need... failure to meet it is, in the broadest holistic sense, a health issue.

Jules Farrer - Vocation for me is an unavoidable, compelling and fulfilling drive to not only seek answers but to dedicate one's life/time journey to communion with Creator, Deity or that which is greater than oneself. To accept and enter into a spiritual vocation seems to demand discipline, focus, hard work and less focus on the self with most focus on 'other'.

Erin Rose - Vocation is a curse as well as a blessing. Mine is tucked into the crannies of my life, and is shaped by my paid work—I am here to tell the story of this wonderful, terrible, pivotal time we live in, and the way we are all bent around the requirements of making a living is the way the roots of trees flow around rocks in the soil, or their branches by the winds.

Caroline Wise - For me it means accepting that we have chosen this, not some supernatural force, and that having chosen it, we tread the path with integrity and not expect special treatment or status, and support genuine people we find in the community.

Jo Fitzpatrick - I think it implies work, which certainly resonates with me, I do feel like this is hard work and more boots on the ground are needed.

Alexa Duir - When I was a Christian I followed the pietist and mystical approach. In Christian terms, vocation can be contemplative, practical or a mix. I've done a mix in the past. These days, the active element is my writing. Mainly my novels, which feature gods from a range of pagan beliefs.

Vyviane Armstrong - It means that there are thin liminal lines all over my spiritual path and career that I am both blessed and challenged with. Part of both my spiritual and career path is to be constantly looking for and building up those lines where it's helpful and taking them down when they are not. But in short I feel like a constant map maker.

Hilary Wehrle - I have found my vocation and true happy place as being a support to others. I actually like planning, marketing, supporting, developing spiritual programs for others.. it allows me to be creative and still stay in a community I enjoy. I tend to be an "empire builder" but its always pushed from a spiritual standpoint. Basically I think the gods and ancestors realize I will do the work.

Some of the main themes are that vocation is a calling to some form of spiritual service that is deeper than an everyday career. A vocation may or not bring one into conflict with making a living in everyday life and this can be incredibly painful particularly when, because of this conflict, the calling cannot be fulfilled. Yet resolving this conflict is not impossible.

What are the benefits and pitfalls?

Adam Sargant - In many cases, it is not readily feasible to make a living (or at least a secure living, which family may demand for example) from vocation. So it becomes necessary to balance the activity of breadwinning with the activities of ones vocational work.

Jo Fitzpatrick - I think it also implies a sort of suffering, so you'd get little reward from this work, aside from the fact you just love it and wouldn't necessarily need any other reward in order to feel like it's worth it.

Alexa Duir - The pros are that I feel in intimate contact with gods most days. I don't think I could live without that. The cons are many. There are so many other things I could be doing with my time. I spend too much time at the keyboard. Writing can interfere with other forms of devotion... I'll never make a living from what I do… Oh, and it's a lonely life.

Hilary Wehrle - People-ing is actually hard..I get very vision focused and need to get the free rein for it. So its a contradiction in what I actually enjoy. The benefits outway the pitfalls, I feel blessed, esp when I can get paid.

Caroline Wise - I don't think there are particular benefits, except perhaps an interesting life experience, pitfalls - when ego takes over, when the person thinks that as a priestess/teacher, they are somehow spiritually superior to, and more 'contacted' than anyone else.

Janet Munin -  I feel like having a spiritual vocation connects me to my gods in a very deep way that most people will never experience. I love the passion and intensity of it. The pitfall is that it can be very painful and confusing to feel like my "ordinary life" isn't going the way it should be. And… most of us can't support ourselves financially through our vocation and so we're always in tension between needing to earn a paycheck of some kind while maintaining a focus on serving our gods. A religious vocation… also carries with it the dangers of delusion, self-aggrandization, lack of discernment, etc.

Jules Farrer - The benefits are finding a peace, love and balance within oneself which comes from dedicating oneself to a path which flows in line with one's soul, Ancestors, beliefs etc. The pitfalls can be many in today's world of distraction. Lack of support, both financial and mentoring, structure, discipline and focus can be difficult to maintain alone. Even within groups, there are rarely any patrons who can support someone to follow their vocation indefinitely. However, much like mainstream vocations, everyone has to work to live whilst also following their vocation.

Vyviane Armstrong -  Benefits: I get paid to do what I love. I don't have to try to find time for my spiritual practise as most of my work is also my Work (capital W) Cons: I can't put either work or Work down for any real amount of time, things get blurry, it's hard to ever "call it in" at work or just have a good whine and a moan about work stress. Benefit and Con: Money, on one hand I have alot of financing to promote and back up my Work and the other hand I have to keep all my Work accessible and on-point in right relationship. It's hard to set straight up financial goals. (Vyviane runs Land Sea Sky Travel running pilgrimages and the Year of our Gods conferences).

For many vocation is a struggle but on the whole the benefits outweigh the cons both for people who are managing to make a living from their vocation and those whose rewards are non-monetary.

How do you think people called to a Pagan vocation can work better to support each other?

Vyviane Armstrong - Support networks, building one another up instead of down, talking openly and honestly about money and business, promoting good folks doing good works and not tapping the same few people constantly because they are popular or you think they will make you money or draw a crowd and finally PAY YOUR HELP, pay folks with cash money and exposure.

Hilary Wehrle - Networks are always key. I think people can be more successful when they worry less about money coming only to them. Like, let it go, and it will grow.…

Adam Sargant -  We need to move beyond the mindset that people should do spiritual work for no monetary return but at the same time we need to move beyond the transaction paradigm and move into a relationship paradigm... the example I would give as a parallel would be education... an educator/student interaction, historically, was relational rather than transactional, although the educator was financially supported in the role.

Jo Fitzpatrick – (We) could do more to support each other, it feels like a lonely road, but what that would be I've no idea.

Alexa Duir - For me, support comes from spending time with friends talking about the gods and wights. Also from being part of the land and watching its seasons. I don't think there is generic support. There may be differing types of support required for differing types of vocation. A contemplative may not normally require as much as someone engaged in practical work in a community. The latter needs protection from burn-out and so needs a debriefing and mutual support network. The former needs protection from retreating inside and falling prey to one's own will-o'-the-wisps.

Jules Farrer - Support within the Pagan community - honestly I don't know. It would appear to require a structure or framework which is adaptable to each different belief system and which outlines and offers the support required, how it can be delivered and what the necessary steps are to create a longterm foundation for a person's vocation. Most of this would seem to be a 'council of Elders' kind of paper exercise regarding finances, mentoring, events, uniformity of standards, education, insurance etc but for anyone wishing to simply follow their vocation on their own, then the onus is on them to provide for themselves and make their own way in life within the confines of their path.

Janet Munin – Having online forums is a good way to connect and support each other. I think we should consider creating regional associations which can meet at least quarterly for face-to-face fellowship, mutual support, sharing experiences… it might be helpful to find ways to share our monastic work with the wider community in ways that highlight ways we are of service to it… (she gives examples of prayers, rituals, spiritual direction, pastoral counseling, classes, and retreat guidance) and suggest talking to our gods about it.

Erin Rose - I think that building communities where we can cut expenses, as many different spiritual communites such as monasteries and convents do, is a great way to carve out more time to serve that which we are called to do. In this way we can support each other as well as gain the space and calm to do our work. Balancing our resources and our time is the challenge of this age.

The main theme that has come up here is that building support networks is the key, both online and physical. Also that spiritual work should be paid, although interestingly Adam suggests moving from beyond the transaction paradigm to a relationship paradigm, which he admits would not be easy within capitalist society (and the need to overthrow capitalism is a whole other topic!). A greater ambition would be the creation of physical multi tradition pagan monasteries that hosted prayers and rituals for the community, meditations, classes, and retreats, which unfortunately raises the question of finances. Yet this raises the question of, if other religions can raise funding (and this does not mean the general public should pay but perhaps we, who are interested in setting them up, and those who would use them) then why can’t we? I’d be interested to hear your opinions.


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barefootwisdom

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Re: Vocation and Sustainable Support Structures
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2019, 03:55:29 PM »
Thank you, Lorna!  This is so much easier for me to really spend some time with!

Re: Vocation and Sustainable Support Structures
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2019, 12:21:52 AM »
One of the things my Goddess has been trying to get me to do is become more of a listener. The value of silence has recently been made clear to me. I think, perhaps, whatever I have to contribute is worth less than the value of my silence. If so, I have no doubt that will be brought home to me quickly and with definition; my Goddess is nothing if not faithful.

One of the obvious, and possibly frequently overlooked, aspects of a calling is there must be someone to issue the call. I have always viewed spiritual transformation as a receptive process of openness to Spirit. It is Spirit who sets the goals and does the work; we merely cooperate, or not. I was much taken with Hopeful Hermit’s story about taking her vows and wanting land with certain characteristics in order to start her hermitage, then being relocated to just such a plot of land and not realizing it for several months. Spirit provided.  This is in direct contrast to the way that most people would undertake the process of setting up a Hermitage; it would become a “project,” involving careful studies, negotiating with realtors (and possibly lawyers) and maybe even fundraising. Spirit bypassed all that. I think there’s a lesson there.

While not a spiritual undertaking in the usual sense, the LGBT center where I live is highly dysfunctional. I spent some years with a loose connection to this center, and it seemed to me that what they had done was decide they needed to have an LGBT center and created the structure, after which they looked for something to do with it. The result was intense internecine squabbling and politicking amongst the Board members and very little actually being accomplished. After I came out to myself, I dropped into the center to volunteer some time; and the person there was taken totally aback. He had no idea what to do with me.

All this to say, it seems to me that structures should evolve naturally, and of necessity. We are all familiar with what happens to a spiritual institution when form takes precedence over function. I have always been taken with Franco Zeffirelli’s film about St. Francis of Assisi. I haven’t seen it in many years; but one of the things that has stuck with me was the image of St. Francis going into a meadow and starting to rebuild a ruined, abandoned chapel. He did this on his own initiative, with his own two hands. He didn’t seek helpers or donations. And the brothers appeared. And when the chapel was rebuilt, the worshippers appeared. I am reminded of Psalm 127:1: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.”

I don’t know how everyone here sees their vocation. My own vision is one of total surrender to the care and will of my Goddess, to be used as she sees fit. If there are projects to be accomplished, she will accomplish them. She will establish the road for me to walk, and give me clear vision of where to place my steps. If at any time I lack vision, I will try to be patient and wait for it to come. The work is hers to accomplish. If I’m not doing my part, she will let me know. My job is fundamentally to be open to her. Everything else flows from that dynamic. That relationship is the beginning, the end, and everything that comes between; all value begins with her, and any good work I accomplish is only as an instrument in her hands.

I hope these comments aren’t presumptuous; please tell me if they are, and be honest.  As I said, I am learning the value of silence – perhaps not soon enough.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2019, 12:31:19 AM by Ann Williams »

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Danica Swanson

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Re: Vocation and Sustainable Support Structures
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2019, 02:44:05 PM »
I see that TEMPLVM have managed to buy land (although it doesn't say how) and have a temple and are planning to expand. That must have taken a lot of effort from a committed membership.

Indeed, and no doubt it's a committed membership that lives in fairly close proximity to one another. I know their temple is in the Ukraine, and I think I recall reading somewhere that they chose the location because of its affordable land. It certainly seems like they've received a fair bit of funding support from their community through donations, which is excellent. But yeah, it would be nice to hear the story of how they managed to acquire the land in the first place, because that's a pivotal factor, and some groups seem reluctant to talk openly about it. I'm also curious about how the closest neighbors and the wider community feel about what they're doing, as that too is a key factor in longevity for ventures like this.

I have a lot more I want to write about funding polytheist monastic infrastructure, but I'm going to save most of it for the Votary (Inner Hall) boards.

...the best way forward I can see right now is trying to start something small in my own home (when I've saved enough money to move out), reaching out to folks who may not identify as Brythonic polytheist but would like to learn more about the Brythonic deities and come to rituals, meditations, devotional writing workshops etc. and see how that goes.

Starting something small where we are, in our own homes, seems appropriate to me. It's low-risk, and it gives us a chance to further develop our publicity skills. With the right mix of skills, we can do a lot with basic hearth cultus + online outreach from our homes through digital publishing: blogs, podcasts, videos, social media, etc. If there are other polytheists nearby who hear about these efforts, they can then reach out online, and eventually meet in person.

Thank you for posting the transcript of your talk, Lorna! I'll probably come back to it several times, as there's a lot there to chew on. This bit stood out to me, and had me nodding vigorously:

Vyviane Armstrong - Support networks, building one another up instead of down, talking openly and honestly about money and business, promoting good folks doing good works and not tapping the same few people constantly...and finally PAY YOUR HELP, pay folks with cash money...

I could probably write a whole essay about every one of those, but for now I'll simply applaud. Thank you, Vyviane.

I was much taken with Hopeful Hermit’s story about taking her vows and wanting land with certain characteristics in order to start her hermitage, then being relocated to just such a plot of land and not realizing it for several months. Spirit provided.  This is in direct contrast to the way that most people would undertake the process of setting up a Hermitage; it would become a “project,” involving careful studies, negotiating with realtors (and possibly lawyers) and maybe even fundraising. Spirit bypassed all that. I think there’s a lesson there.

I had a similar reaction to her story, and appreciated her sharing it here. I agree that there's a lesson to be had, and it happens to be a timely one for me, so thank you for calling attention to it.

As it happens, this week I realized I've reached the outer limits of what I can do on my own with my ten-year (!) quest to move to Sweden to find a long-term home for the Black Stone Hermitage (which is now Black Stone Abbey). I've given it my best effort and then some, but to no avail.

So I finally threw up my hands. I surrendered the entire "project" to Those I serve. If They actually do want me to serve in Sweden, it's completely and utterly up to Them to get me there. I'm prepared to go (or stay) wherever I'm needed for Black Stone Abbey to take its proper form.

This means, of course, that I may not get to Sweden at all.

As soon as I surrendered the quest, a weight lifted from my shoulders immediately, and the difference is remarkable. It's a positive thing for me to give up the "project." Wish I'd done it long ago, in fact. Black Stone Abbey is its own entity, with needs of its own; the space is consecrated to Those I serve. It will find its way in the world, and I'll serve that way.

I mean, at some level I always knew I'd need to surrender completely to "the Ways of Non-Contrivance." But my intellect is devious. It's shockingly good at convincing me that I have surrendered, when in fact I'm still clinging to my mind's agenda, only in subtler ways. I have to dig through layers upon layers of "stuff," and sometimes be pushed to the limits of my tolerance, in order to get to a place of real surrender.

All this to say, it seems to me that structures should evolve naturally, and of necessity.


Agreed, though it can be tricky to navigate that territory because it's so easy to convince oneself that something is evolving "naturally" when in fact one is imposing a misleading mental script over what's happening.

I don’t know how everyone here sees their vocation. My own vision is one of total surrender to the care and will of my Goddess, to be used as she sees fit. If there are projects to be accomplished, she will accomplish them. She will establish the road for me to walk, and give me clear vision of where to place my steps. If at any time I lack vision, I will try to be patient and wait for it to come. The work is hers to accomplish. If I’m not doing my part, she will let me know. My job is fundamentally to be open to her. Everything else flows from that dynamic. That relationship is the beginning, the end, and everything that comes between; all value begins with her, and any good work I accomplish is only as an instrument in her hands.

Beautifully articulated, Ann. Thank you for that.

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Danica Swanson

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Re: Vocation and Sustainable Support Structures
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2019, 05:53:08 PM »
I also meant to comment on this bit of what you wrote, Ann, but forgot to include it in my previous reply.

...it seemed to me that what they had done was decide they needed to have an LGBT center and created the structure, after which they looked for something to do with it. [...]

All this to say, it seems to me that structures should evolve naturally, and of necessity. We are all familiar with what happens to a spiritual institution when form takes precedence over function.

There's a similar underlying principle that applies in creative work. It plays out in my writing processes.

When I shifted from formally planning out my articles in a "top-down" fashion to a "bottom-up" approach, my creative output improved tremendously. Now I collect ideas, quotes, etc. in my Scrivener files by topic, and over time a pattern emerges. When I see the pattern, I start fleshing out and filling in gaps, and eventually I've got a full piece.

This "bottom-up" method has done wonders for my creative non-fiction writing. It's changed the way I organize my work. It's even changed the way I think and manage my attention. When a project grows too unmanageable for one Scrivener project, I split it off into two separate projects, and suddenly I find I can think more clearly about it.

I'm really struck by the contrast between my writing processes "before" and "after" I made the switch from top-down to bottom-up methods. The top-down approach left me frustrated more often than not, and made it very difficult to finish articles. The bottom-up approach, by contrast, is conducive to deeper creative flow states, and ultimately produces better work.

I'm taking the lesson to heart and applying it to my approach with Black Stone Abbey. I'm pulling together segments of the work and the vision little by little, enjoying the process and waiting for patterns to emerge. When enough of the patterns coalesce into something more organized, then - and only then - the next stage of the work unfolds.

This, I think, is how the long-term home for Black Stone Abbey will be found. Instead of deciding in advance how to proceed, we'll continue to work right where we are "from the ground up." When the next steps become clear, it will likely be because a need emerges that we can't fill within the current constraints.

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Lorna Smithers

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Re: Vocation and Sustainable Support Structures
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2019, 10:57:24 AM »
Quote
it seems to me that structures should evolve naturally, and of necessity.

That's an interesting take, Ann. I definitely agree with your emphasis on the importance of listening, attuning to the will of the gods, rather than simply trying to to attempt to force our own ideas. I think it's important to find a balance between being proactive and using initiative and tuning into how things are evolving naturally and to what the gods want us to. Perhaps we're a little different in that my path isn't one of complete surrender but of initiating and exploring ways of serving within the context of my vows to my god.

Your words don't seem presumptuous at all and I appreciate your perspective. Silence is something I will admit to not being that good at and needing to do more.

Quote
As it happens, this week I realized I've reached the outer limits of what I can do on my own with my ten-year (!) quest to move to Sweden to find a long-term home for the Black Stone Hermitage (which is now Black Stone Abbey). I've given it my best effort and then some, but to no avail.

So I finally threw up my hands. I surrendered the entire "project" to Those I serve. If They actually do want me to serve in Sweden, it's completely and utterly up to Them to get me there. I'm prepared to go (or stay) wherever I'm needed for Black Stone Abbey to take its proper form.

This means, of course, that I may not get to Sweden at all.

As soon as I surrendered the quest, a weight lifted from my shoulders immediately, and the difference is remarkable. It's a positive thing for me to give up the "project." Wish I'd done it long ago, in fact. Black Stone Abbey is its own entity, with needs of its own; the space is consecrated to Those I serve. It will find its way in the world, and I'll serve that way.

I'm sorry to hear you have reached the limits of your quest to move the Black Stone Abbey to Sweden, Danica. Yet I'm glad to hear that with the surrender you felt a shift. Perhaps this will open the door to other possibilities?

From another post I recall you saying that you do not see the space as yours but as belonging to those you serve so perhaps it is fitting that they decide where it will take its proper form?

Projects... often don't go where projected!

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Danica Swanson

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Re: Vocation and Sustainable Support Structures
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2019, 07:26:02 PM »
I'm sorry to hear you have reached the limits of your quest to move the Black Stone Abbey to Sweden, Danica. Yet I'm glad to hear that with the surrender you felt a shift. Perhaps this will open the door to other possibilities?

From another post I recall you saying that you do not see the space as yours but as belonging to those you serve so perhaps it is fitting that they decide where it will take its proper form?

Well, let me clarify: I've reached the limits of my quest to move the Abbey there alone. With the right sort of assistance, sure, it's still possible that doors could open for that move one day. I certainly do have a lot of dear friends and professional contacts in Sweden, so one never knows. But for a variety of reasons, I don't think it's a good idea for me to keep spending my limited energy knocking on doors that have remained closed to me for a decade despite my best efforts. There are blessings to be found in accepting one's limits.

And yes, you're correct that I do not view the space as "mine." It is consecrated into Their service. I assume that if They decide it needs to be elsewhere, They will provide the opportunity for me to move there.

Projects... often don't go where projected!

Truth!