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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Friday, June 03, 2005

Steps in the right direction

I've been thinking about addictions lately and just how pervasive they are in the population of this country.

Addiction. The word sounds matter of fact. The seductive, self-destructive slope of addiction seems less ominous, less harsh, once you've begun a trip into that territory.

Who is likely to be or become an addict? Science has leaned more toward a biological basis for addiction: Jane is more likely to become an alcoholic because, for generations, the very roots of her family tree were, more likely than not,habitually inebriated. Then why is it that some members of the family are far more susceptible than others? That word alone is the clue; susceptible: able to be emotionally affected by. Addition in my heart is inextricably connected with interior pain and the addict's quest to cover or avoid that pain or lack of control of their world.

If you have sustained some interior pain - often in childhood - you realistically have two option of dealing with that pain: get to the bottom of it (with help), vent, give it critical examination, decide to let it go, forgive,heal... or avoid it/cover it at all costs. Unfortunately, when we are younger we don't have much power over our environment and fewer skills in doing this hard work. Instead, we develop ways to cope with the pain. Sometimes we overachieve, sometimes manipulate. Rarely will these skills translate well in adult life.

The cost of avoiding revealing that initial pain in a lifetime is a diagram of the addictive process. Layer after layer after layer of additional problems, complications, disasters, losses that the addict heaps upon her/him self instead of going to the seat of the pain.

Oh, we can use any number of substances to dull the pain: alcohol, illegal drugs, prescribed medication, tobacco,food. Or turn to certain behaviors: gambling, lying, irresponsible sexual activity. The list goes on.

In there sophisticated days, we have many tools to address addiction, including therapies of many varieties and occasionally particular controlled medications.

Yet there is one tool that has has enormous success and has been around from 1935. Noone has become rich because of the technique; no one has become singularly famous. In fact, they would rather remain anonymous.

Two addicts met in Akron, OH in 1935. Bill W. and Dr. Bob started talking to each other then about the trainwreck of their lives. Dr. Bob had heard Dr. Sam Shoemaker, an Episcopal priest from NY, speak about a program to incorporate universal spiritual values into daily living. The end result of developing and applying these points, values and principles to the daily life of an alcoholic: Alcoholics Anonymous. In the 70th year since that fateful meeting there are over two million estimated members today.

The radical truths of AA gave alcoholics somewhere to turn, some healthy framework for daily life to replace the fragile, makeshift illusion they had constructed for themselves. Since that time and place, the message of AA has spread and been adapted for those who suffer from other addictions.

AA has been misunderstood as a 'cult' or a religion. It is neither. Go to Type in "12 steps" under search. Read the steps and come back here.
>>> Wow!!<<<

Even if you are not plagued by addition in the truest sense, is your life out of balance? Do you think you are in complete control? Do we depend way too much on the admiration, attention, approval of others? Does your emotional life resemble a lake or the newest ride at Six Flags Great Adventure?

There is an incredible amount of stability that comes when you invite God/Your Higher Power to be an integral part of your life. I have thought - at times - that our churches would be full to overflowing if we intentionally applied a version of the Steps and the Traditions to our spiritual practices.

I try to apply them to my life and I do fail from time to time, but both my God and my fellow pilgrims support my efforts and dust me off when I fall short back into the muck of my past ill-conceived behaviors and self-centered schemes.

Try them - they may be exactly what the Divine Doctor called for. If nothing else, they will be steps in the right direction.

Copyright © 2005 K.L.Joanna Depue and Deacon J

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Feedback on RETREATS

Thought I would pass along a short article written for a parish newsletter. It's written by Sue B, business owner and spiritual seeker, who had never before been on a retreat. She attended a guided retreat entitled "Love your Enemies". Let her - in her own words - give you the flavor of one woman's experience of investing in a retreat.

Incidentally, she is speaking of Kirkridge, a retreat and conference center in Bangor, PA. Beautiful in its surroundings set on in a hill not far from the Delaware Water Gap, it has been - for years - a place where people have spoken peace or dedicated ground on which to speak of it, embraced ecumenical dialogue and practiced intentional conservation of natural resources.

For further information on Kirkridge, contact them at

Thanks, Sue for sending this to the Farm for sharing.

To Retreat or Not to Retreat!

Back in March I took a desperate action. Desperate for me that is. I went
on a Retreat. Alone. Well, alone with what became a group of 12 other
people who were struggling with many of the same feelings as I was. It
cost a whopping $250 for the weekend, which I thought was an awful lot of
money to spend on me. I should be able to handle my problem alone. I
should be able to cope. I should be bigger and better and stronger than I
am. But I have struggled for several years and the problem was only
becoming bigger and stronger as time went on.

So off to the Kirkridge Retreat Center I went. Alone, and $250 poorer. I
wasn't scared, I was desperate. Kirkridge is beautiful. It is a mostly
Christian, but not entirely, spiritual retreat center which has been around
for more than 30 years. It is on Route 191 south, halfway between
Stroudsburg and Bangor. My group was in the Nelson Lodge which is at the
top of a very large hill. It is also about 30 yards from a section of the
Appalachian Trail. Friday night through lunch on Sunday, no tv, no radio,
no computers, although my cell phone did work, probably because we were at
the highest point for miles around. The views were spectacular.

It was a time of listening and sharing, crying and laughing, solitude and
companionship. And there was also the food! Kirkridge is for the most
part vegetarian, but the food was wonderful!!! I had the best Eggplant
parmesan that I've ever had. Even Hank wouldn't have missed the meat.
Fruit, nuts, crackers, snacks, coffee, tea, and other beverages were always
available. All you can eat. And I didn't have to cook it or clean it
up. It was heaven!

I met 12 wonderful people ranging in age from 27 to 79. One Priest, two
deacons, and an assortment of others. All happened to be Episcopalian,
except for the Baptist who said that I cry even more than his wife
does. He hadn't thought that was possible.

I came home relaxed, refreshed, and with many new perspectives. Just what
I was hoping for. My problem is still there, but I now have some new ways of coping and faith that God will help me to deal with what is. $250 was a bargain.

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