Friends and Colleagues in Ministry,
First, I [Douglas] will have a new email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, beginning immediately, though my old email addresses will work [forwarding] well into this new year. I will, at some point, probably in July, cancel the current [and now old] cfdm.org website, through which my old emails are channeled.
Second, a reminder for you to connect with your local CFDM Affiliate, whose websites are listed below:
Central California: http://holeintherockministries.org
Southern California: http://cfdmsoutherncalifornia.org
Third, a reminder that our transition from a single overarching CFDM to five independent affiliates of CFDM is now complete; a wonderful thing—God has blessed CFDM with growth and deepening spiritual practice. This means Douglas is now no longer the President of CFDM, but, through 2019, will be the President of CFDM-Nevada, at which time he will finally [and fully] retire, passing on leadership of the Nevada CFDM affiliate to others. The current cfdm.orgwebsite will close in the middle of 2019. Note that the cfdmnv.com [south] website includes lots of Douglas’ stained-glass art, including a gallery of his recent work. Just scroll down the home page to a link that says “Art,” and click on that to open a way to the gallery. Please check out all the websites, particularly if you are in the region of one of the affiliates, for local information about spiritual director training, quiet days, retreats, conferences, etc.
Fourth, I’m needing to increase financial support for this last year’s budget. If those of you who are currently supporting me thorough CFDM-Nevada can continue to do so, and if those of you who haven’t been able to provide financial support in the past can begin to do so—just for this year—that would help me immeasurably.
Fifth, and finally, future issues of this Newsletter [mostly about what’s happening to the Gregg’s and CFDM in Nevada] will only be sent to residents of Nevada, family, personal friends, and financial supporters. If you would like to continue to receive this newsletter, and aren’t in one of the categories above, please let me know and I will continue to include you in the contact list for future Newsletters.
What’s happening for the Gregg’s:
I [Douglas] closed our fall Newsletter by mentioning that “love is actually all around,” including in a state prison visiting room! I said then: “I’ve returned to this moment often in the past few weeks, as I’m wanting to be more present to what’s happening right in front of me—the flowers in our garden, the sunshine on my cheek, the love of my wife, the gift of still being able to walk, choices I still have, stained glass art. I’ve always been so future oriented that I used to joke that ‘I can’t enjoy today because I already enjoyed it last week’. No more! In the face of our bitter partisan cultural battles and my aging process, I’m choosing to be open to the new possibilities that life brings, instead of turning into a bitter and cynical old man. I must say, some days I do better than others at my choosing.”
Since then I’ve been reading [and re-reading] Parker Palmer’s collection of essays in his latest published book—ON the BRINK of EVERYTHING: Grace, Gravity & Getting Old.” It’s his writing on “getting old” that I’m finding both helpful and encouraging. [from his Prelude and Chapter 1, p 1-30]. For example, Palmer challenges those of us facing the inevitable, that “Old Age is no time to hunker down… Old is just another word for nothing left to lose, a time of life to take bigger risks on behalf of the common good.” And he speaks eloquently of the blessings and benefits of growing old, that it is a privilege to simply be alive and relatively healthy at his age [and mine]. We have choices to make as we approach the inevitable. He quotes a Leonard Cohen song [a favorite poet/song writer of ours], “’Well, my friends are gone, and my hair is grey/ I ache in the places where I used to play.’” Palmer says, “I don’t want to fight the gravity of aging. It’s nature’s way. I want to collaborate with it as best I can, in hope of going down with something like the grace of the setting sun. For all the wrinkles and worry lines, it’s a lovely thing simply to be one of those who’s lived long enough to say, ‘I’m getting old.’” Now that’s encouragement for my aching bones and joints, and with levity and humor mixed in! [Quotes from pages 2, 6, 4]
We are both thankful for the energy and health to stay in the rhythm of our current ministry assignments. Douglas is set to retire at the end of 2019. Catherine’s work as the Canon for Church Vitality will continue for at least another two years as the Diocese continues the search for a new bishop. She is currently Chief of Staff and will be working with a part-time provisional bishop to keep the Diocese going. We both hope to stay active with CFDM Affiliates as we are able, and Catherine is having increasing invitations to do workshops and seminars, especially around Celtic Spirituality. We continue to wait, as patiently as possible, for the future to come to us, instead of trying to make something happen.
One other thing caught my eye in Parker Palmer’s book. He writes: “Books about ‘tips, tricks, and techniques’ tend to leave me cold; telling your story truly and well is more than enough for me. When you share your story of struggle, you offer me companionship in mine, and that’s the most powerful soul medicine I know.” [p 97]. For me, that’s an apt description of what happens in the spiritual direction relationship. Catherine and I have been blessed and privileged to have trained several hundred women and men in the “art of spiritual direction” over a nearly 20-year period, 10-16 students in each of more than 20 cohorts—it has truly been transformative, for us and, we hope, for most of the students as well.
Douglas & Catherine Gregg