Wisdom from Del: Cultivating Daily Stillness

Wisdom from Del: Cultivating Daily Stillness

We are so often told what we ought to do, but so seldom told how. As athletes of the Spirit, we are the ones that need to train and condition ourselves in preparation for growing into Christ’s likeness.

In cultivating the stillness of mind, in communing with God, we may emulate the activity of the sower in the parable – preparing the ground – as we practice and cultivate the habit of living in the present, “being present where we are.” By focusing our attention on the ordinary small acts of daily living, we resist the temptation to live with a background of incessant noise and outer distractions. Cultivating the habit of giving our attention to what we are doing creates a pattern of focusing our attention on the present. Little by little we thus habit and train ourselves that when in the Silence to still the mind and give God our attention.

We need a time apart daily to prepare our hearts and still our minds. If we plan to become proficient as a swimmer, or in any athletic adventure, we need to condition the body and practice, practice. There is, likewise, a period of preparation in attaining spiritual maturity and an effective prayer life. No skill is attained without steady focused interest, some understanding of and response to the Will of God.

A moment of quiet in the farmland around Samro School and the Ukweli Training Centre in Eldoret, Kenya

A moment of quiet in the farmland around Samro School and the Ukweli Training Centre in Eldoret, Kenya

There is a need for us to be aware that we need not pray to God to do something for us when God has already created and provided us with all the potential to empower us to do for ourselves what we are asking God to do. “God will not do for us what we, as co-creators and junior partners of God, can do for ourselves.”

Our responsibility and awesome privilege is to recognize and affirm that the Power and Divine Grace to attain union with God resides in the All Wise, All Powerful, All Loving and Ever Presence of this Creator, “in whom we live, move, and have our being.”

God will not (cannot) do for me what I think I can do for myself. “It is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom.” However, until we recognize, acknowledge and affirm, “It is Christ in me that is my hope of glory,”  until we recognize God as the Source, Center, Essence and Creator of all, then our lack of awareness blocks in us the flow of God’s Ever Present Activity which has been, and is, provided for us by our Creator. When clarity of vision and faith are present, the Power of Life resides in each of us, ready to respond to our summons.

We cannot, however, continue to talk of doing the works of God and ignore our part, an awesome privilege, for self-preparation and self-mastery which God’s Divine Grace makes possible for us to draw upon. He has given us the tool of prayer, but the great power of prayer consists not in asking but in learning how to receive.

~Del Anderson

Click here for more inspiration from Del.

20 years of Spirit in Action, 1996-2016

20 years of Spirit in Action, 1996-2016

(Del Anderson in the SIA Office in 2004.)

Save the date! You’re invited to join us for Spirit in Action’s 20th Anniversary Celebration!

Saturday, June 25th, at 2-4pm at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church in Oakland, CA.

We decided against the traditional china, rejected the modern platinum, and chose instead to host a great party! We will be celebrating past, present, and future, with special guests Samuel and Rhoda Teimuge, from Eldoret, Kenya. (More details and invitations to come soon.)

Past

Did you know that Del was 90 years old when he founded Spirit in Action? SIA was part of his vision and passion for serving the whole person – body, mind, and spirit. Serving the spirit without acknowledging the needs of the mind and body was incomplete to Del.

In his 1997 Christmas letter, Del introduced his friends to Spirit in Action, “My intent to continue to assist some of the wonderful, dedicated persons in developing countries who are effectively helping people to help themselves as they serve the hungry and the poor has encouraged me to share this news with you.

“I have put in motion a non-profit corporation to continue to carry this work on after I have made the transition to a new life. Incorporated in California, “SPIRIT IN ACTION” is alive and serving, with board members committed to assist in helping people to help themselves.

“I am excited with the real probability of the continuation of this ministry to effectively help our world, through assisting people to become serving, productive, responsible, growing persons. I feel very privileged to be participating with our Creator and with persons desirous of bringing forth a world of the people, by the people and for the people, where caring and acting for the common good is the way of life.” (Read more about Del.)

Del and Tanya at Del's desk in 2006

Del and Tanya at Del’s desk in 2006. Del was 100 years old and still sending letters to friends in the US and abraod.

Present

Since 1996, and the early days of figuring out how we were going to operate, SIA has grown into a strong network. We have granted over 650 Small Business Fund grants in Kenya, Malawi, India, Uganda, Nigeria, Rwanda, and the DR Congo. We have supported over 35 community-based organizations across Africa and in Sri Lanka, India, Peru, and Philippines. And these programs are on-going and growing!

Samuel and Rhoda and their Samro School were some of the first SIA grant partners and they continue to inspire us with their passion for educating and encouraging the next generation of Kenyans. It will be wonderful to be hear from the Teimuges about their partnership with Del and their experiences of building a successful school and agricultural development training centre in Kenya.

Samro Students performing at the 8th grade graduation in October, 2015.

Samro Students performing at the 8th grade graduation in October, 2015.

Future

I am excited about Spirit in Action’s future! We are poised to enter a new stage of our organization and we are moving forward with a broad base of support. As we grow and expand our programs, we rejoice in the strength that already exists in African communities, and we serve as a catalyst for local solutions to help communities thrive.

I celebrate that the SIA network is strong with passionate donors and dedicated partners – and I hope you will be in Oakland on June 25th to celebrate with me!

Local organizations like the Manyamula COMSIP savings and loans cooperative is a SIA partner that is serving the mind, body, and spirit of its members.

Local organizations like the Manyamula COMSIP savings and loans cooperative is a SIA partner that is serving the mind, body, and spirit of its members.

Wisdom from Del: “Life is not a destination”

Wisdom from Del: “Life is not a destination”

From the journal of SIA Founder, Del Anderson, Fall 2005. Even at 99 years old he was still learning, growing, and exploring.

I certainly wouldn’t have desired to break my hip, but now six months later, I’m certain that I’ve learned a lot that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise. I think it’s a little easier now to understand that “I of myself can do nothing.” I couldn’t take the next breath without the Spirit there to keep me going.

This experience has pointed me in the direction of growth. I am not the Del I was yesterday. My focus is to come forth as a new person each day and realize that I am an expression of God and that I’m here to let God be God in me, through me, and as me. I can’t eat yesterday’s stale manna. Yesterday’s manna is not good enough for today. Manna has to be fresh. It’s an ever-changing world.

As we accept each challenge, each change and seek God’s guidance, we open ourselves to receive the Allness of the God consciousness, expressing and coming forth through us.

Meditation, contemplative meditation, and prayer are three of God’s greatest tools. The major thing is to let go, be still, listen, and focus and focus. Let my meditation be to know that my purpose is to keep expanding my consciousness and to let God take over entirely. “God, each day give me a focused desire that wills to will to do your will.” God’s Kingdom is within us. We need to let it come forth, step by step here on earth even at our most challenging times.

Life is not easy. It’s a challenge.

Life is not a destination. It’s a process.

Read more inspiration from Del here. 

(Pictured above: A path in Manyamula Village, Malawi.)

A message of encouragement

A message of encouragement

In December, 200* girls from the Samburu tribe in Kenya celebrated an Alternative Rite of Passage, led by Pastoralist Child Foundation and witnessed by their parents and community members. The day-long celebration was an empowering ceremony of song, dance, and speeches, taking the place of the traditional genital cutting. Our partner Margaret Ikiara of CIFORD Kenya, who hold similar Alternative Rite of Passage celebrations in Meru (5 hours away), went to the event to represent Spirit in Action and share my message of encouragement with the girls. 

A message of encouragement from Tanya Cothran of Spirit in Action:

It is our great honor to celebrate with you today this important moment of your passage from childhood into womanhood. Today you go ahead empowered and knowledgeable about the power that you have as women, and the important role that you play in this community.

We pray for you: courage, strength, kindness, and love. Courage to stand up for your rights, and to stand up for honesty and respect in the home and in society. Strength to face the challenges that will come, so that even when you have a challenging day or week or month, you know that people around the world are praying for you and wishing you well. Kindness and a generous heart to promote peace and understanding between old and new ways of doing things. And Love to fill your days with a happy home and loving connection.

Girls from Meru and Samburu together; sharing their experience of the alternative rite of passage.

Girls from Meru and Samburu together; sharing their experience of the alternative rite of passage.

We wish to share this poem by Marianne Williamson with you – to remind you of the power and greatness that is within each of you:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.”

Though we are far away, we are with you and your families today in the spirit of friendship and solidarity, to celebrate you and to celebrate your life and future. Congratulations!

*Correction 2/17/16: 60 girls attended the December workshop and 200 girls who attended all of PCF’s workshops in 2015 (April, August, December) came together for the Alternative Rite of Passage celebration.

Am I too comfortable?

Am I too comfortable?

These are my own reflections and may not reflect the opinion of the SIA Board of Directors:

Sometimes praying for peace can seem like the easy way out. Picturing myself in the flow of life, as a Being of light, I feel the peace within me. But those prayers, I am increasingly realizing, are coming from a place of comfort, from a comfortable life.

Around New Year’s I was faced with a slightly unsettling question from Kayla McClurg in her inward/outward email reflection, “Will this be the year we move from ‘wishing for a nicer world’ to making intentional contributions and distributions of light?”

Is now the time to go from wishing and even praying towards making some concrete steps and intentional contributions to justice in the world?

That might be uncomfortable. It might shake me out of my peaceful prayer.

Philanthropy and charity can get pretty comfortable in its work to address the immediate needs of food, clothing, clean water. In that rush, it may never get to confronting the systems that are creating the poverty and inequality.

In an opinion piece in the New York Times Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, writes about giving to charities during the holiday season, “I worry that through these acts of kindness, I absolve myself of asking deeper questions about injustice and inequality. We Americans are a remarkably bighearted people, but I believe the purpose of our philanthropy must not only be generosity, but justice.”

Justice might be uncomfortable. It might mean that I have to give up something. It might mean that I have to do more than just pray for peace and give money.

Source: OutFront Minnesota

Walker continues, “Philanthropy can no longer grapple simply with what is happening in the world, but also with how and why.” We must ask: Why is it still so hard for people in rural Africa to access loans? Why is it still so dangerous for our local coordinator to visit the slum in Nairobi? How do we get more youth educated and then employed in stable jobs? And we will likely find that those answers take more than easy money.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was way more radical than the collective memory suggests. In a passionate lecture to the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly in 1966, King calls on those gathered to wake up to action. “One of the great misfortunes of history is that all too many individuals and institutions find themselves in a great period of change and yet fail to achieve the new attitudes and outlooks that the new situation demands. There is nothing more tragic than to sleep through a revolution.

There are the beginnings of a revolution now. A revolution of people demanding justice for black lives, demanding rights for women, demanding for their voices to be heard. Will this be our year to wake up and do more than throw money in the bucket, hoping for change, wishing for a nicer world?

*Pictured above: Working with local leaders in Malawi for economic justice through their savings and loans cooperative is part of SIA’s role in the revolution. Here I am pictured with the leadership of the Manyamula COMSIP Cooperative in July 2014.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...