Sunday, October 13, 2013

Ireland II

The Making a Difference Workshop is about Transformation. Almost every other workshop I've been to--and I've been to many: being parish priest is about 'going to workshops'--was about 'change'. Those other workshops have been about 'important things'. But MAD (Making a Difference) is about things not even on the continuum between important-and-unimportant.

Most workshops are about how to 'do' something or another. MAD is about 'who we BE' in the matter.

Ontology is a great old Divinity School word, a word of graduate studies in theology--what 'ontology' means is 'the study of being'.

And the way we get there in the workshop--to the discussion of 'being', to transformation--is through two arenas--Centering Prayer and 'distinctions'.

Distinction, according the the Merriam Webster dictionary is 'a difference that you can see, hear, small and feel, etc: a noticeable difference between things....'

What we do in the workshop is 'make distinctions'. Here's a simple one. 'Something happens' and then 'we talk about it'. Seems obvious, right? But the thing is, we human beings blur the distinction between 'what happened' and 'what we say about it' to the point that what we say becomes what happened. There's really no way to avoid that since it is part of the being of human beings to collapse the domain of Presence with the domain of Representation. Just what we do.

But, in the workshop, we ask people to 'notice' the distinction between 'what happened' and 'what we said about it' in a way that gives us more 'choice' in the matter.

(All that just oozed out of me since I am so recently a part of a workshop.)

What I really wanted to write about is the workshop in Ireland that I was a part of.

Ireland is a breathlessly beautiful island. It's latitude and the influence of the seas all around it make it a place not unlike Connecticut, where I live, except that it snows 12-20 feet each winter in Connecticut and Ireland has a snowfall only every other year or so. And, I suspect, it never gets as cold in Ireland as in Connecticut since all the conference centers I've been in have what would be considered inadequate heating systems compared to what Connecticut requires. I've never been there in deep winter, but I think I'm on track here. Ten below Fahrenheit (-20 Celsius) happens several times each Connecticut winter. (Once when I lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts--only 90 miles north of where I live now--in the winter of 1971-72--it went below zero (-20 C) in early November and stayed below zero until early February. I don't think that ever would happen in Ireland, though I'm not sure.

But what I finally want to get to is the Workshop in Ireland last week.

Those remarkable people I wrote about in my last posting did themselves proud. They were on the edge of their seats from the get go and remained there. The workshop is challenging because it seeks to disrupt our normal way of thinking. Some people are more open to that than others, but most all of the folks in this workshop were ready to go. That makes it easy because 'the workshop works' and 'the participants will give the leaders the workshop if we only listen well enough.

And that happened.

Later I will talk about some of the participants and some of the leaders. But I'm through for now. Later, I promise.

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.