5 Resources to Help You Flourish: September
September 28, 2018
Reservoir exists to help people connect with Jesus and flourish. We think the right church can be a good part of that happening, so we enjoy being a church that can help you discover more of the love of Jesus, the gift of community, and the joy of living. But we’re also aware that there’s a lot more to a flourishing life than church and that at any given time, church isn’t for everyone.
So each month, we’re sharing a few resources we’ve been enjoying and finding contribute to a flourishing life for us. This month’s top 5 is from me, but in the future, I hope to feature contributions from others in our community as well.
Getting outside in New England
It’s Fall now, and that’s my favorite season, partly because Greater Boston and New England really shine this time of year. If you haven’t yet, you need to get outside and enjoy it. Three really great spots for Saturday walks among the changing foliage, all just a bike or MBTA ride away, are the Arnold Arboretum, the Middlesex Fells Reservation and the Blue Hills Reservation. Run on the trails, take a walk, hike a bit – you’ll be so glad you did. If you have access to a car, and want to get outside the city, there are hundreds of amazing places to go. Personally, I recommend a half day on an apple farm (Russell Orchards and Brooksby Farm are my childhood picking grounds) or a day’s hike in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. The closest spot along Rt. 93, the Franconia Notch area, is just stunning. More and more research suggests you’ll be less anxious, more grounded, and happier if you get outside in natural environments. What are you waiting for?
Rising Strong as a Spiritual Practice – Brenee Brown
Late this summer, while driving about with our two teenage and one preteen child, my wife started playing a sociologist’s lectures for the family. A surefire way to put everyone to sleep or start a rebellion, you’d think, but no, they were gripping for everyone. This sociologist is the very famous Brenee Brown, and the lectures were from her work Rising Strong as a Spiritual Practice. This material, in any form, is just stunningly good and is helping save my life right now. I’ll give at least one talk this fall that’s rooted in some material that landed really well for me. There are loads of great stories and ideas around belonging, resilience, forgiveness and more of the elements and experiences of being a whole-hearted person. You can buy the audio, listen to it for free like we did on the hoopla app, or check out the book the material started in.
Geoffrey Owens and the dignity of work
An interesting story I followed in the news this month had to do with the former Cosby Show actor Geoffrey Owens, his part-time job at a Trader Joe’s, and a public dust up on what does and doesn’t constitute meaningful work. People assumed that his entry level employment meant he had wasted his money or was a vocational failure. I love the way the story turned to validate Owens and all forms of honest, decent work. In his Good Morning America interview, Owens said, “People are rethinking what it means to work, the honor of the working person, and the dignity of work.” Perhaps you have or have had a job that seemed beneath you. Perhaps your pay or job status has frustrated or humiliated you. Or perhaps you’ve looked down on someone else’s work or career accomplishments. All this has been true for me at some point. To me, this story is a great reminder that job status and pay do not measure meaning and that there is value in all kinds of work and contributions to our greater flourishing.
Bob Marley throwback
Speaking of how we measure flourishing, wealth, and meaning, this very old and short clip of an interview with Bob Marley has been stirring me as well. Just after Marley has become an international sensation, an Australian television interviewer asks him whether or not his music has made him rich. In seconds, Marley manages to confuse the interviewer, upend the meaning of the word “rich”, and start a whole new conversation on meaning and life. Rich in life forever – ask yourself what will give you that today, and see where that trail takes you.
“My Rapist Apologized” and similar stories
In my first draft of this blog, #5 was one of my favorite novels I read this summer. That can wait, though. This week, as the Brett Kavanaugh hearings have brought teenage sexual assault into the news, I’ve been moved by two different stories of sexual assault that included some measure of apology or amends. The Atlantic published Deborah Copaken’s essay “My Rapist Apologized,” and The New York Times podcast covered a related story from Caitlin Flanagan. Both pieces explore the impact of implicit or explicit sorrow, regret, and apology for the survivor of sexual assault. Don’t get me wrong; neither woman says an apology makes everything right, not at all. But for people interested in a faith that centers the teaching and practice of amends, confession, forgiveness, repentance, and the like, both women’s voices stir powerfully. Feel free to skip these if you’re overdone or over-triggered by this topic in our year of #metoo, but I wanted to pass these on.
I hope you enjoy some of these resources for your own flourishing life. If you have ideas for things we should include in future lists, send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Top 5” in your message.