Updates on Our Gatherings

Hey Mosaic-

Our hearts were hopeful about meeting this Sunday, but due to the ongoing air quality risks, we have decided to cancel our Gathering for this Sunday, November 18th.

As many of you may know, there are members of our community whose families have been directly affected by the fires. If you would like to help these families, please consider giving online here. Choose the Renewal Fund in the drop down menu and those funds will go directly to the fire victims in the form of gift cards.

As Thanksgiving approaches, we have so many things to be grateful for and we encourage you to take time to pause, breathe deep and sit with those thoughts of Thanksgiving.

We will not have a Gathering on November 25th due to Thanksgiving weekend. We have reserved this weekend for our Meals groups. If you’re not a part of Meals, we encourage you to spend time with your family, friends and neighbors to celebrate life together.

Our next Gathering will be December 2nd at our normal time of 10:45am. Kevin will be sharing so we hope you will make plans to join us. We have “adopted” foster children for Christmas and will be doing a gift drive on their behalf. Please join us December 2nd to take part in this Common Good outreach or you can email [email protected] for more information.

We look forward to seeing you on December 2nd.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Powerfully Packed

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October at Mosaic was full of exciting stuff.

We hosted a successful Brunch and Discussion with Albany Vice Mayor Rochelle Nason. She encouraged voting and gave us some points to discuss over breakfast. Don’t forget to vote on November 6th. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Our community also had the opportunity to help Stege Elementary School in Richmond. We had about 25 people show up to help. We cleaned up their garden, put up bulletin boards, arranged library books and painted a “Cultivate Gratitude” sign for their yard. Thank you to everyone who showed up to love on Stege.

We ended October with a potluck brunch and discussion regarding our transition moving forward into 2019. We had a great turn out and answered these questions together: What is essential for a spiritual community? What communities do you participate in? What spiritual practices do you have outside of Mosaic? This was a great time of sharing and hearing one another. We’ll be having another opportunity to talk about the transition for 2019 at our Town Hall Meeting, this Thursday, November 1st at 7pm at Mosaic. We hope you’ll join us.

Coming soon…our Block Party on Talbot Street. We’ll have food, games, music and fun. Mosaic is providing the meat to grill and the neighbors and our Mosaic community will be bringing side dishes to share. If you would like to help us love on our neighborhood, please consider donating to the Common Good Fund. You can click here and choose Common Good in the drop down menu. Every little bit helps.

Lastly, we hope you can join us this Sunday, November 4th for our normal Gathering at 10:45am. Kevin will be sharing the message this Sunday.

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Summing Up September

In September, at Mosaic, we began to explore a different rhythm. All year we’ve held high the Message, Life Together and the Common Good and we wanted to see how we could support these ideals even more in our community.

We began the month with the Message. Kevin started a series on Courage and if you missed hearing him live, you can check out the podcast and get caught up.

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We dedicated the third Sunday in September to the Common Good. Our community came together to make blessing bags for the homeless. We filled these bags with water, socks, personal hygiene items and a granola bar. Kids Mosaic joined us and we also made cards for each bag. We then challenged our community to take several bags and pass them out to the homeless people they see each week. It was a great day of sharing and serving.

The fifth Sunday was dedicated to sharing a Mosaic Story. This week we heard from Nikki Knox. If you missed her story, you can check it out on the podcast. It was awesome to see the world of Mosaic through Nikki’s eyes.

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Finally, we ended the month by celebrating with the Albany community at the Dinner with Albany event held by the city. They shut down Solano street, hung lights, and played music. There was an awesome set up for the kids and dinner tables were decorated in crazy and creative ways. We ate together and got to mingle with the city. We enjoyed being a part of the greater Albany community and we hope to join in the festivities again.

Mosaic has more exciting events coming in October so be sure to explore the website for dates and event information. We hope you had a chance to join us this month and we invite you to take part of our different rhythm as we continue to explore more possibilities in the months to come.

True, Courageous Life

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We came together on Sunday to talk about how far we’ve come in 2018 and where we’re headed. To talk about what kind of community we’re hoping to be in 2019 and in the years to come.

Mosaic’s great aim for 2018 is to foster true, courageous life–to be fully alive–as Brian McLaren writes:

What we all want is pretty simple, really. We want to be alive. To feel alive. Not just to exist but to thrive. To live out loud. To walk tall. To breathe free. We want to be less lonely, less exhausted, less conflicted and afraid. More awake, more grateful, more energized and purposeful. We capture this kind of mindful, overbrimming life in terms like well being, shalom, blessedness, wholeness, harmony, life to the full and aliveness. The quest for aliveness, this desire to find these peak experiences explains so much of what we do. It’s why readers read, and why travelers travel. Why lovers love and thinkers think.

So two questions for us:

     1. Has your participation in Mosaic this year fostered greater meaning in your life? How?

     2. Has Mosaic empowered you toward aliveness and courageous living in 2018? How?

We invite you to take time and answer these questions on your own, with your family or even your Meals groups. 

How You Can Help The Cause This Summer

Hey Friends,

A head's up & an invitation...

We're going to be doing a bit of fundraising during the month of July: for Kid's Mosaic, for staff development, and for the Common Good. We don't talk enough about how you can help the church financially, and I'm genuinely excited to share more about our needs and how you can participate.

Yes, so many of you have already contributed to our vision by leading, serving, and participating in many of the projects we’re about as a community.

During the next 5 weeks, we're also asking you:

Would you also help the cause by giving to Mosaic?

You can give online at mosaicbay.org, via text by texting ‘mosaicbay’ (all one word) to 77977, or in person at a Sunday gathering. All your gifts are tax-deductible and go a long way in helping us do what we do.

Thank you for partnering with us, for living out our vision so far this year, and for being Mosaic.

Grace & peace everyone.
There's so much ahead of us!

Kevin

Together We Rise

This past Sunday we held another Service Day at Mosaic and it was a huge success. We partnered with the organization Together We Rise, advocates for children in Foster Care. We put together 'sweet bags' and bicycles for children in the foster care system. It was a lot of fun and equally as touching to know how our efforts were going to affect the community. 

If you were unable to make it, but would still like to be a part of this amazing service project, you can give to the Common Good fund online by clicking here. When you give, choose the Common Good in the drop-down menu and what you give will go directly to the Together We Rise Project. 

Take a look at some of the pictures from Sunday. We've got some amazing talent in our community! Big thank you to those who showed up and decorated, stuffed and built! 

 

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Location Upate: Service Day April 15th

Join us for a day of Service on April 15th at Stege Elementary School. Alicia Harrison, who is a part of our Mosaic Community, works at Stege. They need some TLC. We will be working the grounds of the school doing planter building, painting, trash clean up and much more. Bring the family. If you have a child 3 and under and would like to leave them with childcare, you can drop them off at Mosaic and Jeanne will be takin care of the kids for the morning. We will NOT be meeting at Mosaic but will meet at Stege Elementary in Richmond for our gathering.

Upcoming Events!

Easter Sunday, April 1st.

Bring your friends, family, neighbors and join us for our Gathering at the normal start time, followed by a block party. The Common Good is hosting and there will be food, games and an egg hunt for the kids. There's a sign-up sheet to bring hot dog fixings, so get your name on that. We hope you'll be able to join us next Sunday!

 

The Common Good, April 15th

The Common Good focuses on service outside of Mosaic and they will be hosting a work day on April 15th. That is a Sunday and we will NOT be having our normal gathering. Instead we will be meeting at Wilson Elementary school and helping them pack as they are moving locations. There will be things for the kids to help with as well, so make this a family event and join us as we bless Wilson Elementary School. There will also be childcare provided here, at Mosaic for ages 3 and under. You can drop your kids off here then head to Wilson. 

Beloved

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This past week I have felt like a kid in a candy store, all giddy and excited with anticipation.

Before coming to Mosaic, I’ve never really been a person of religion. I did believe in God, and would be my peace and comfort when I was out hiking in nature with Abbie. I would say that I am a spiritual person, and while I was looking for something, I was not looking for a church. In fact. Patty does NOT go to church, ever.  I have never been comfortable in any church, and always felt a bit of an outsider.

As I’ve been getting older, I’ve been searching for something in my life but didn’t really know what. One day I would say, “Hey, Susan, I’m going to read about Judaism or Buddhism,” or “I’m going to explore meditation at the Ashram.” The things that I tried never felt quite right. Church, or traditional church, was still not something that I wanted to explore, even as I was in limbo.

Shortly before Easter this year, my niece Bassett said, “Dot(that’s what Mel’s kids call me), you should come to church with us, it’s a lot of fun. There are lots of families that go and I want you to come too.” Because I love Basye so much I told her that Susan and I would come for Easter, but no promises that I’d ever go again. Easter Sunday we got to Mosaic and for a split second after I walked in I had that feeling of “oh no! What am I doing here? It’s Church!” This feeling only lasted for a second. We sat down, music started, and then Kevin started talking. Inside, I was like...this is ok,I’m liking this...he’s pretty cool. I laughed and felt ok. And in that moment, I wanted to come back.

I can’t remember if it was the first or second time we came to Mosaic that Kevin mentioned the word “Beloved.” I sat there in awe. I couldn’t shake that word off...Beloved. What a beautiful word. When we left and were driving home, I looked over at Susan and said, “Beloved. What a word. I am beloved and nobody in this world, no matter what happens or what anybody tells me, I know that I am beloved!” I was really happy in that moment, beyond happy. I’ve never really hear those words “you are beloved” before. I’ve heard a lot of negative words directed my way (and that’s a whole other story), but this one word has changed me and with that one word I started getting curious. I started wanting to explore the Bible, started wanting to explore everything more. I started setting the alarm on Saturday before bed so that we’d get up on time and go to church on Sunday. Meanwhile, Susan is looking at me thinking where has the Patty she’s known for almost 25 years gone? I’m sure she was thinking “what’s gotten into her?” Seriously, I wasn’t sure myself at that point.

I suddenly started to feel really happy, a deep inside happy. I started talking to God, chatting to him during my walks with the dogs. This past Friday I was driving listening to Klove radio station and I’m singing at the top of my lungs-the cars around me must have been wonder if I was crazy- but I couldn’t help myself, I was so happy and feeling the love of the Lord big time.

My happiness this past week is because I knew the big day was coming. I have been excited to be baptized and to continue my journey and explore where my relationship with God takes me. This, apart from officially marrying Susan 2 ½ years ago is one of the biggest steps of my life. God has changed me and I’m forever grateful and humbled for my Mosaic family for welcoming me in and making me feel part of a community that is something bigger than me.

I’ll close this with a really interesting thing that actually happened. I had a dream a few months ago. I dreamed that I was getting baptized, and I didn’t see anybody in that dream but myself and how I felt blessed. The next morning I told Susan about the dream and how wonderful it made me feel. A few days later an article on baptism popped up on my Bible app. Then shortly after that Kevin mentioned baptism. I’m sitting there all perked up, thinking my goodness...can it get any more clear of what God wants me to do? I knew in that minute exactly what my next step would be, that I was being somehow called to be baptized, that now was the time.

So here I stand today, ready to take the plunge. I will continue to explore my relationship with God, and am very excited to be taking this journey with you.

Patty Munoz

When You Think About God

About this time Jesus was informed that Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were offering sacrifices at the Temple. “Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?” 

Jesus asked. “Is that why they suffered? Not at all! And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God. And what about the eighteen people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them? Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem? No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too.”

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In today’s Lenten reading, Jesus is told of some Galileans being killed by the government. It’s not clear who Jesus’ audience is at that moment, but they ask him, “Did these people die because they were great sinners?” Jesus responds, “Not at all.” And later, “No.”

Now, if you’re like me, you read this passage really quickly because you’ve still two whole chapters to go in today’s reading. And a story like this doesn’t necessarily stand out because Jesus doesn’t heal anyone or offer a new teaching. But, let’s not miss what’s going on here.

A bunch of people die.
A bunch of people ask why.
And the assumption is God let them be killed because of their sin.
Jesus responds, “Not at all…no!”

In recent weeks, I’ve argued that what we think about when we think about God is the most important thing about us. I’ve said this because our ideas of God shape us. The angry pastor has an angry God. The overbearing father worships a strict, judgment-prone Deity. The generous, grace-filled aunt sees God as love itself. And in the story above, a group of people assume God allows other people to be killed because of their sin. Put another way, they think God punishes sinners, even to the point of death.

We should note Jesus’ immediate response, “Not at all.” He basically says you’ve missed the point entirely. But before we go there, let’s recognize that these people think God punishes sin with a sort of death penalty. Now, what do you think this belief does in them? How do you think they treat other people they deem as “great sinners”? What did they ultimately do to Jesus?

If your God kills, you’re going to kill.
If your God punishes, you’re going to punish.
If your God is a monster, you’ll be one too.

Jesus pushes back, and says, “No, not at all.” He flips the conversation around, and says, “Unless you repent, you’ll perish too.” He’s not contradicting himself; he’s saying that if these people don’t stop judging, killing, and scapegoating one another, they’ll surely die.

Let me ask you: do you think God kills people because of their sin?
If you do, how has this belief shaped you? (it has)
How has this belief shaped our society?
How is it shaping our world?

What we worship, we become. The God we imagine, we embody.

One more time: did God kill these people because of their sin?
Jesus responds, “Not at all…no.”

- Kevin Knox

(The image is 'The Return of the Prodigal Son' by Rembrandt)

The Slow Work of God

“Above all, trust in the slow work of God.” - Teilhard de Chardin

In today’s Lenten reading, Matthew 8 and 9, there are at least eleven instances of Jesus healing people. He heals a leper, he heals a paralyzed man, he gives two blind men their sight, he casts out four demons, and to top it off, Jesus casually brings a dead girl back to life. Oh, and in the middle of it all, Jesus rebukes a storm, “Even the wind and waves obey him” (Mt 8:27).

When I read passages like this, I wonder why my back is still hurting me. How after back surgery, three months of physical therapy, and hours of prayer asking God to heal me, am I still suffering from this injury? Why doesn’t God answer my prayers? Am I doing it wrong? Did I need to be there in person to receive that kind of healing? Perhaps you need healing in your life too. I know of many who have prayed more fervently than I for God to bring that healing and have yet to experience it fully. So, how does it work?

The temptation in reading isolated stories from the bible is to ignore the greater story of what’s going on. Jesus’ healing power in the New Testament, especially early on in his ministry, brought legitimacy and authority to his teaching. Jesus the Healer gave credibility to Jesus the Christ. This logic is something Jesus himself talked about,

“Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to a paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” And the man jumped up and went home! (Mt 9:5-7)

Jesus had compassion on people, and he healed them, sure. But, Jesus’ purpose in ministry was to announce the Kingdom of God and the forgiveness of sin. Everything he did was in service of these two aims. He often healed people to prove his authority in these matters. The same is true today. God does heal people, but God’s great aim is to save people, to bring about His Kingdom and to forgive sin. If I’m honest, God is saving me by not healing my back. God is slowing me down. God is inviting me to trust Him, to live daily in what Teilhard de Chardin calls, “the slow work of God.” My prolonged back injury is, in no small way, God's way of announcing the Kingdom in my life all over again. It's God's gift to me, to be patient and wait. God's gradual movement of healing is infuriating and beautiful. It’s precise in its purpose but measured in its unveiling. And it's what I've needed, reluctantly so, but yes, I've needed it.

Where is God taking his time in bringing healing to your life or the lives of those around you? How is the slowness of it all saving you?

As we read stories of Jesus together, may we have the courage to be honest about our frustrations. And along with it, may we have the wisdom to see the greater story at work. May that story offer us hope. May it heal us.

Here is the full prayer of Teilhard de Chardin,
an Ignatian Prayer of Trust: 

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.”

- Kevin Knox

(The image from Johan Jaeger is called Glacier Painting)

A New Definition

“You need to hit pace on this one, Caitlin,” my swim coach would yell at me from across the pool deck.

I have been swimming competitively since the age of seven, so when I hear the word “pace” I think of a certain speed that I have to maintain in the pool. I haven’t been in the pool in eight months now, but that word “pace” brings me back.

I can picture myself with my Cal cap on, one hand on the wall, watching the red numbers on the pace clock ticking down till zero. I can feel my breath deepen and my muscles tighten as I think about surging off the wall and feeling the water flow all around my body. I can almost feel the familiar, and oddly welcome, sensation of lactic acid surging through me because I am pushing my body to its limits in order to hit that pace. I can still hear my coach’s voice ringing in my ears as she calls out times, and that great satisfaction I felt when I hear “35” instead of “36” after my hands had touched the wall and my head popped up.

I realize I have tears streaming down my face thinking of this memory. I miss that sensation of finding my rhythm in the water. So what does “pace” mean if it doesn’t refer to me swimming at a certain speed? The short answer, I am not sure that I know. I don’t actually feel I know much of what many words mean, apart from the swimming definitions that I held onto for so long.

Just like the sets I did in the pool, my pace of life when I was swimming, was concrete, predictable, and automatic. On Monday, wake up, swim two hours, eat, sleep, wake up, eat, back to the pool for three hours, come home and eat, go to sleep for the night. Repeat on Tuesday.  

But now, instead of knowing the pace I am suppose to be holding, I am moving fast and slow and in all directions, to find where I am suppose to be going. I’ve moved slowly and enjoyed vacations at times. I have overbooked myself setting up coffee dates with friends or informational interviews with potential mentors or employees. I worked really hard and fast to get my applications in for business school and now am just sitting and waiting. I applied to an internship, thought I was accepted and made plans for it, and then slowed to a halt when that opportunity fell through. It’s like learning to drive all over again--I step on the gas too quickly and then find myself slamming on the breaks by accident.

I am actively searching for a new meaning of “pace” in my life. One thing I am realizing is that sometimes moving slowly is okay. I don’t have to have all of life’s answers or know exactly what job or opportunity will come next. I just have to be present in the pace of today. Today, I am grateful to sit at lunch with a friend for much longer than intended, just because I can. I am enjoying the idea of being with friends past my regimented bedtime (thanks Tim and Mel). I am embracing the idea of being in a place in life where I don’t have say, “I’m so busy” all the time.

I am working on slowing down to process my past and allow tears to come to my eyes when I think about my swimming career. Equally, I am allowing myself to pause when I am filled with excitement of the potential of what is to come.

-Caitlin Smith

The Summer I Ran

I'm not much of a runner. I often think about it – how cool would it be if I could run like Forrest Gump?!  

There was one summer though – I was a runner. It was the summer of 2005, the only time in my life I've run consistently for months. I was kicked out of a Christian volunteer program for starting a relationship with one of my male housemates. And since fraternizing was frowned upon, the Program Director removed us from the program and city, as soon as he found out. The very next day, I was put on a plane to return to my family in NY.  

You see, I'm a good girl who follows rules. Growing up in a conservative church didn't allow for anything but perfection. I was hard on myself. This incident was the first major time I broke the rules. Needless to say, I had all this emotion and energy I didn't know what to do with.  

Knowing I wasn't much of a runner, I had to figure out how to keep a pace that would allow me to run for a good length of time. I would drive to the local park to run on top of the nearby dam's flat surface. Not too fast, just a steady jog. I was easy on myself. I knew if I pushed too hard, I wouldn't keep going. And I needed to run. I needed to sort out everything that had just happened – it went down so quickly. I didn't even know how to articulate my situation yet. So, I started my running journey.

Shortly after, my partner-in-crime and I made plans to meet back up in Atlanta. After a few weeks in ATL, he asked me to move with him to his hometown of Spokane, Washington. With plans to get engaged, I said yes, packed up all my things, and drove across the country with him. Long story short, he broke up with me two weeks later. I thought I loved him, but turns out – he took advantage of me. So, I continued running.

I had already landed a very cool job in Washington, and decided I wasn't going to run home with my tail between my legs. Pride kept me there. But humility saw me through. And thankfully, I kept running, almost daily, right through the fall. Then, the Spokane winter was just too freezing for a novice runner to keep going outside. But by that time, I was able to talk about what happened with a lovely circle of support. Turns out my mom had a cousin living nearby who ministered and mentored me. It was transformative.

In fact, I am experiencing another transformation today. For many years, this story has made me feel shameful and embarrassed. I have told people in person, but have never written about it publicly. Thinking about Kevin's recent messages at Mosaic, I find comfort knowing God is not looking for private perfection, but a journey of Divine union and transformation. And that truth has set me free. I don't need to strive to be that "good" girl anymore or feel shame when I make mistakes. I just need to be in union with God. And sometimes that union looks like running on a dam, in the middle of nowhere.

I might never be a runner again. But keeping the pace - like with running or in my relationship with God - is what helped me through the hardest time in my life.

-Jennifer Pelham Lawrence

Keep Up The Pace

I love to run on trails throughout the Bay Area. It’s amazing how many beautiful vistas overlook the San Francisco Baythe Berkeley Hills to the Marin Headlands. Every trail is a fun adventure, not knowing what ridge, mountain, valley, or creek will meet me around the bend.

I also love to run because it keeps me healthy and gives me a noticeable boost of energy. I started running in 2008, when my son Jordan was a freshman in high school. When he decided to join the cross country team, I decided to take up running, primarily so that I could keep up with himI didn’t want to be left in the dust!

After having run several thousand miles over the past 9 years, I have to admit, running never gets any easier. In fact, my average pace has slowed down noticeably over the years. When I first started running, pace or average minutes per mile, was very important to me. I used to monitor my pace for every race that I ran in. I still keep a record of every race so that I can measure my progress from year to year. With the passage of time, I have changed my priority of improving my pace to setting annual mileage goals. That takes the pressure off of me to go faster. This allows me to focus more on God's creation and take notice of the beauty of my surroundings.

There are some days when I’m just not feeling it, and training is a grind. On other days, I marvel at the beauty of my surroundings. There is one stretch of trail, in the Oakland Hills, that reminds me of Jurassic Park. It has towering redwood trees and luscious ferns that grow alongside the trail. When I come across amazing stretches of trail such as these, I can’t help but think, “this is why I love to run!”

-Don Wong

Be Decisive in 2017

The New Year is a great opportunity to reset and refresh our lives.

I have experimented with a number of different ways to approach the new year. I’d love to share what has worked best for me, my life, and my business.

One of the things I love to do the most is to do a full inventory of my time, finances, and thoughts/mindset - so I am intimately acquainted with where I am investing my time and money.

From this, I break my time, money, and thoughts into categories.

For example, what % of my money do I spend on food, charity, art, mortgage, etc. When it comes to time, who do I spend time with, how often, and what is the quality level of that time. This is incredibly important to me. Our time is our greatest resource, and so I am intentional about where I invest it. For my thoughts, I want to look at the % of thoughts I allow to stay in my mind that get me closer to my goals and the % of thoughts that take me away from my goals.

From there, I can look at the inventories I have created and decide where I need to focus my transformational efforts in order to increase my life’s impact and make sure it aligns with what I say I want it to.

The reason for all of this is that I find so many people (myself included) can slip into a rut of just going through the motions year after year because that becomes comfortable. The challenge is, some of us then look back after 5 years and not much has changed.

The New Year challenges me to make sure that I’m growing, learning, and increasing my impact year by year, and I love that. I find it so refreshing. It’s like God is inviting us into something new.

-David Gerber

Core Desired Feelings

It’s amazing how much of our true desires are hidden under our goals.

For much of my life, I wanted to be seen. I thought being important would give me that, so I completed a degree that gave me the title Dr. and became a professor by the age of 24. Ten years into my career with lots of accomplishments and several awards, I didn’t feel any more recognized.

What really made me feel seen, was when I started a blog after my son was born. Sharing my vulnerable truth over and over, while being witnessed by others. Writing healed me, and sharing my truth made me feel alive.

The reason I never acknowledged this before was because it went against so much of my cultural conditioning. Being Indian is all about looking good on the outside without any attention to what one is feeling on the inside. We go to great lengths to hide pain.

It was really hard to share stories about my raw feelings. I felt like I was betraying my family and my self-esteem had been built on image not vulnerability. However, through my blog, I finally started to feel free. I no longer needed to wear these masks and this gave me a lot of inner-peace.

So when it comes to New Years, we don’t set goals in my house. Instead, we dig deep on what it is that we really want. We use the support of Earth based wisdom, to guide us through various rituals, because there’s something to Nature’s rhythm.

The week of Winter Solstice, at a time when it’s darkest, we do a year review and let go of what did not serve us that year. This creates space for something new to come in. For example, last year, what didn’t work for me was trying to help people who did not want to be helped. I wrote a letter to my savior complex and burned it. Interestingly, as I was doing this, someone sent me a text message. They asked me to MC a writing event at my favorite cafe. Hosting open mic’s to support people sharing their creativity is a desire of mine and it came to me. I didn’t have to push to make it happen.

This is the power of letting go, and there is even more in naming what you REALLY want. We do this by tuning in to our desires. We don’t do this from our mind, we do this from our heart. We use the audio workbook, Desire Map by Danielle Laporte. She does Mind Yoga, by asking questions. This helps you drop into your feelings because that’s where you discover soul desires. Most people set goals to feel a certain way. This process flips that, by feeling first and then making plans.

We are still working through this process for 2017 because according to the lunar calendar, the New Year is at the end of January. I love spreading it over a few days as it gives more time for authentic desires to drop into your consciousness. For example, the other night I woke up in the middle of the night with the word trust.

Last year my core-desired feelings were:

Whenever I feel off, I look at these feelings and ask myself, which one do I want to feel now? This gives me clarity, so I can make a conscious choice instead of reacting on autopilot, with unhealthy habits.

Depending on how you were raised, desires can feel like the opposite of being holy. However, it is my experience that authentic desires are divine desires. I believe these desires are placed in your heart by the all-mighty because through your joy and peace and creative expression, God is served.

-Sweta Chawla

We're Not Afraid Of You

To the immigrant, we welcome you.
To the refugee, we receive you.
To the woman, we honor your voice.

To the disabled, we love you.
To the homosexual, we stand with you.
To the minority, we see and stand with you too.

To our brothers and sisters of other religions, we learn from you.
To the foreigner, we recognize our shared global citizenship.
We do not claim a Divine right to what’s yours.

We don’t worship a flag.
Our allegiance isn’t to God and country.
Our allegiance is to God and God alone.

Loving God means loving our neighbor.
Following Jesus means loving ‘our enemies.’
The Gospel is a gospel for all.

And so, to the racist, we are curious: why are you so?
To those afraid of the ‘other’, tell us your story.
May we listen and hear what you have to say.

To the jobless, we consider you.
To the ignored, we pay attention.
To our political foe, we commit to work with.

We aren’t superior.
We aren’t right and you’re wrong.
‘Us and them’ is a lie we refute.

Jesus was an immigrant, a refugee.
He honored women.
He healed the disabled.

Jesus stood up for the sexually despised.
Jesus paid attention to those on the margins.
He was a ‘friend of sinners’ and his mission was to ‘comfort the brokenhearted.’

May we ever do the same.
May we stop demonizing and vilifying.
May the day soon come when we stop throwing one another away.

May we be instruments of God’s peace.
May we live with faith and courage and love.
May we stand with Jesus, among the poor in spirit, the mourning, the meek, those seeking justice and mercy and purity of heart.

May we love our neighbors.
May we love our enemies.
And may we move into the future as one.

by Kevin Knox
Photo by Thomas Hawk, used with Creative Commons License.

Intrepid Delegation

 I used to have a New Year’s tradition. It was back in college. I would write down things I wanted to happen in the new year and write about what was going on at that point in time, more like a mini journal entry. I would seal the letter and not open it until the following year. It was fun, but I’m impatient, so that tradition didn’t last very long.

I’ve never been one to “set goals” per say, there’s always the generic ones….generic to me anyways because they weren’t new or exciting. Lose weight, eat healthy, work out, pray more, get closer to God...none of those are bad, they just weren’t challenging.

A few years ago I was introduced to the idea of selecting a word for the year, or a theme. What one word did I feel God speaking to me, or something that was going on in my life that I recognized needed changing. It started 4 years ago and I’ve been consistent (ironically the first word I picked) in continuing this tradition. It helps me stay focused and it gives me something I can fall back on if I’m getting off track.

Intrepid:  fearless; adventurous

Delegation: entrust (a task or responsibility) to another person

I am, by nature, not good at delegation. Some of you are gasping, I’m sure….while others are laughing to themselves and saying “No way”, in a VERY sarcastic tone. I like to get things done. I like to stay busy. I like things done my way (and yes, I’m working on that one too). It’s not that I think I’m superior, by any means, it’s that I don’t trust. Have people given me reason to not trust their abilities? Sometimes...yes. But most of the time, no. I have no reason to NOT trust people around me.

I’m the one who thinks it’s just easier if I do it myself. And god forbid if I have to show someone how to do something (exclusively my children), well this just wears me out and makes me want to do it myself even more.

Recently, this has been pointed out to me in more than one area of my life. It’s not a revelation, but when the people you love start telling you, you’re doing too much or this place would fall apart without you...well, there’s a problem there.

I want to be okay with asking for help. I want to trust people around me and realize they want to help as much as I do. I want to give people (my children especially)  a chance to learn things and have responsibility. I NEED to do this.

As hard as this is, and as much as I want to stand over people (my children) and make sure they do things the “right” way, I realize I have to let go. I had my first test two weeks ago, and I will report, with a huge smile on my face, it was successful.

My children have sporadically done house work. They aren’t new to the idea or how it’s done, I just haven’t required much of them in the past. But as part of MY New Year’s theme, I decided it’s time to give them one of their own (see how I’m working this). Every Saturday they will be responsible for a few chores around the house. They were not happy about my new theme of intrepid delegation, but they took to it and I sat back. I did it. I didn’t re-do what they did, I didn’t stand over them and make sure they did it my way...I let it go. And my dishes are clean, the bathroom looks great, the trash and compost are emptied and the floors are clean.

I have to say it took everything in me not to empty the trash and compost myself, because they were filled to the brim. But I did it. I held out, so that I could, in fact, intrepidly delegate. Insert big smiley face.

So for future reference, feel free to tap me on the shoulder if I’m not intrepidly delegating. I will need help to do this successfully (see I’m already asking for more help...baby steps).

-Dorynda Venable

New Year, New Provision, New Dreams

I don't know if there is ever a right time to drop everything and start the next phase of your life. Sometimes, life changes force you into a different trajectory and other times you make the decision. We realized, as we contemplated hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), that it was a decision that we were going to have to make. It was a decision that felt both exciting and absolutely nuts at the same time.

We knew that hiking the PCT would require us to give up much of what we knew and owned for an experience and a challenge that felt unknown.

So, in August, Martin and I committed to this crazy dream. We decided that we would give up our apartment in Oakland, sell all of our things, quit our jobs and head out for the trail in April. We knew there were things we would have to iron out like: Where will we stay when our lease ends in December? How will we pay our student debt? How will we prepare for the hike? 

Our story began to unfold and it became clear that the wrinkles would shake out. A room became available in my Aunt's house in Berkeley from December until March--the exact amount of time we needed. We could have never imagined that resource would become available. Then, a true miracle, my uncle gave me a call and let me know that inheritance money, that had been wrapped up in lawsuits for six years, had finally come through. With that very unexpected money, we were able to pay all our student debts. It was amazing to see all of these resources provided after we committed to a very unknown dream.

I am writing this blog post in the mountains of the Imperial Valley desert (December 28). We just finished a 15 mile hike today and a 20 mile hike yesterday. Our muscles ache,we are unshowered, our feet are blistered but we are enjoying every minute of this trip and are anxious to attempt a difficult, unknown and exciting goal/dream.

Thanks for letting us share our story with you. We will be keeping an Instagram and blog as we go and will share that information with you as the hike gets closer.

-Kelsey and Martin