Somewhere Between Now and Never

Dear Folks -

If you are in the Houston area I highly encourage you to attend one of 
the Christmas Eve services at St. Paul's. There will be services at 
noon, 5 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Details can be found at

http://www.stpaulshouston.org/

PLEASE NOTE: There will be no Ordinary Life gathering on Sunday, 
December 28. We will resume meeting on January 4, 2009.

Before giving the summary and text of this past week's Ordinary Life 
talk, there are a couple of things I'd like to share with you.

There was no text of a summary sent out last week because the 
presentation was made by six of our members who have been involved in 
our work in Bolivia. It was a most moving presentation. When the audio 
is posted I urge you to listen to it.

First, after that presentation Maxine Fantini who does such a good job 
of keeping up with the money you contribute to various causes call to 
inform me that since 2000 when this group first got interested in and 
involved in the work in Bolivia, you have given $34,400 to this work. 
You are amazing.

Second, as a way to make a difference in the larger world and to deal 
with the face that three billion people on this planet live on less 
than the equivalent of two American dollars a day, we decided to 
become involved in various micro-financing projects. Two are in 
Bolivia. We also decided in December 2007 to donate another $500 for 
making microloans. The finance committee chose Kiva.org as the vehicle 
for distributing the money and Marcy Boyd has overseen this project. 
Last week she made this report:

Of the $500, we donated $50 to Kiva and lent $450. Our first loans 
were made in January, 2008 and we relend the money as it is repaid.

Thus far we have made 14 loans, 9 to individuals and 5 to groups, for 
a total of $950. Our default and delinquency rates have been 0%. The 
original loans were for $75 to $100. We now lend $25 at a time to turn 
around the repayments quickly. Our loans have touched 73 people in the 
following countries: Peru, Tanzania, Tajikistan, Dominican Republic, 
Iraq, Nicaragua, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Paraguay, Moldova, and Senegal.

These loans are our loaves and fishes to the world.

I thank Maxine and Marcy and all of you for your generosity. You are 
amazing indeed.

This week I concluded the four part series I've been doing on for what 
and how do we wait during Advent. This talk focuses on the need to 
surrender our addiction of thinking that our opinions and our feelings 
are "the truth." The only way we can do this is by learning the 
discipline of "just noticing."

This talk concludes with some wonderful words by Joan Chittister on 
the legacy we leave and with a poem by Vassar Miller titled "Ambiguous 
Advent."


Much love,

Bill Kerley

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Bolivia

Dear Folks -

Little Johnny asked his mother, "Is it true that we are here to help
others?" His mother assured him that this was indeed the purpose of
life. He thought about this for a moment and then asked, "Then, why
are the others here?"

The fact of the matter is that often the world seems divided between
those who have and those who don't, between the powerful and the
powerless. In approaching the Christmas event this year I've been
raising before you in my talks two questions: What are we waiting for?
And, how shall we wait?"

Most of the time most of us are shielded from the dreadful conditions
of those on this planet who suffer from extreme poverty. We seldom
bring into our consciousness the fact that we live in a world where
three billion people live on less than two dollars a day. All of them
live in less than sanitary conditions. One billion of them have no
sanitary drinking water to drink at all. One statistic I found said
that a child dies every 15 seconds from lack of water to drink. We
have no idea what this is like.

Surely, one of the ways we are to wait must address this or whatever
claims we can make to be loving and compassionate people are hollow.
Saint Francis is alleged to have said, "Preach the Gospel always and,
if necessary, use words."

This week in Ordinary Life I want to talk about going beyond words in
how we are to wait. I've asked some of our class members who have been
directly involved in "doing" to join me. I hope you will as well. I
look forward to seeing and being with you this week in Ordinary Life.

Much love,

Bill Kerley

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Waiting for Truth

Dear Folks -

What is it that we wait for in the days before Christmas. If it isn't, as I suggested last week, the birth of a baby; what is it. That's what this talk is about. It is also about how we can allow numbness, a feeling of entitlement, shallow living and fragmentation to distract us from our spiritual work. We can also allow petty moral judgments to blind us to how power, prestige and possessions are the real things that keep us from seeing "what is." What we wait for is just that - what is or The Truth.

Much love,

Bill Kerley

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Do Not Be Afraid

Dear Folks -

I don't know if our "technical people" were able to capture what the 
Joyful Noise Choir did at the Ordinary Life Gathering this week or 
not. I know Richard Wingfield took pictures and I'm guessing they will 
make it to the website. What a treat.

I am choosing the take a smidgen of a diversion during this time 
leading up to Christmas to talk about what it means in spiritual 
practice to wait. What is it we are waiting for and how are we to 
wait. This week, in summary, what I said is that we can receive what 
we wait for unless we are empty and we can receive what is at the 
heart of spiritual reality if we are frightened. We live in fearful 
times where the cultural message to us is to fill out lives with a lot 
of worthless food of all sorts. I called the talk "Do Not Be Afraid." 
What follows is the full text from which I spoke.


Much love,

Bill Kerley

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