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Issue 10-5

Torschlusspanik: Gate-closing Panic

Recently, the Reader’s Digest listed “eight expressions that ought to exist in our native tongue but don’t.” A friend sent me the list with the 7th word, torschlusspanik, highlighted in pink. The word is German and translates literally as “gate-closing panic,” but its contextual meaning refers to the “fear of diminishing opportunities as one ages.”

It’s not so much a fear of diminishing opportunities that haunts me, as the fear of not finishing well. Of course, none of us knows the date or hour of our own demise, but I can’t think of anything more satisfactory than to rest my head, take a deep breath, and sigh, It is finished. How wonderful that would be.

This Soulish Food eNewsletter is an appeal for friends who want to step forward and help me finish well. Hungry Souls is an organization that has been built on the amazing abilities of a wealth of volunteers and in the nine years of its existence, much of what has been accomplished is because many, many of you stepped forward to lend a hand.

So here’s where I am before the torschlusspanik sets in (if it does).


Going on the God Hunt:

Beginning at the end of May, I will begin to blog almost daily the God Hunt Sightings I experience in my ordinary, daily life. You may want to check that blog out, but I would love to have you begin going on a daily God Hunt and sending us comments as to how you found God through answered prayer, through unexpected evidences of His care, through any help to do God’s work in the world and through any unusual linkage and timing. We’ll give you the blog address in the next Soulish Food.


A Yearly Retreat of Silence Schedule:

The Rev. Heather Ann Martinez is our new office manager. Heather Ann is an ordained Anglican priest and as part of her responsibilities will take over establishing a regular cycle of daytime, 24-hour and three-day retreats of silence. Volunteers (many of them trained spiritual directors, ordained clergy or experienced retreat leaders) with specialized expertise have already developed templates for these days away.

Tiffany Stamen is heading up the Rockford, IL annual Advent Retreat of Silence. We now need volunteers to help us establish cycles of retreat schedules so that people wanting to go away into silence and stillness will have a variety of opportunities from which to choose.

Will you administer and help plan a retreat at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House, for instance? Will you do the contact work to set up a retreat at Cabrini Retreat Center in Chicago, or LaSalle Manor in Plano, IL? Our small staff cannot do this work, but Heather Ann is gifted as an administrator and can oversee a cycle of retreats if volunteers with a heart for the spiritual work of silence will rise up to take on the planning initiatives.

The 2012 cycle will begin with this year’s Advent Retreat at Bishop Lane Retreat Center in Rockford, IL, which is scheduled for Thursday and Friday, December 1 and 2, 2011 (the beginning of the church calendar).


Writing the Listening Group Book

Two Listening Groups have formed with the purpose of developing a Listening Group Leaders’ Training template. My goal is to write one chapter a month, give it to members of the group to take home, read and then bring back the next month with comments and additional ideas. The whole Listening Group enterprise has been run with volunteers. I will begin to harvest comments from those of you have been or are now in listening groups of some kind. Tell me what you think, what you learned, what kind of listening you are doing now, and what resources have furthered your understanding of a sacred listening process.


Establishing a Model of Hospitality Saturation for the Local Church

In the book Widening the Welcome of Your Church: Biblical Hospitality and the Vital Congregation, authors Fred Bernhard and Steve Clapp make the point, “The practice of hospitality won’t transform your congregation if it is viewed as only one more in a series of programs to strengthen the church. The majority of the congregation must, at a fundamental level, come to feel that hospitality is a core part of our responsibility as Christians and come to share a vision of the congregation as a truly welcoming place.”

I am working with staff from Hinsdale Seventh Day Adventist Church to attempt to discover how to create a church where the DNA of the place is marked by the kind of welcome spoken of in Romans 15:7 “Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”

This May through August I will begin leading group studies from the guide book, Opening Our Hearts and Homes, with the purpose of teaching trainers how to lead other small groups in the church on this same topic, looking deeply at the hospital heart of God

In a few months, Hungry Souls will introduce the Good Neighborhood Project, a scheme that leverages Christian families and homes to create an environment of neighborliness on the local level. We will let you know how you can help us


The Global Bag Project

In our first full year, the Global Bag Project helped seven women in Nairobi, Kenya support themselves. This year we want to maintain a monthly bag sales quota of 100 bags per month, then push it to 200 bags. I will be contacting many of you personally to see how you can help. Can you set up a home bag party in your home? Can you find the US office some corporate sponsorship so that we can begin to underwrite Carla Boelkens salary? (This will allow her to work in the office more and free us to send funds from the sales of bags back to Kenya without needing subtract anything for US administration costs).

We would love to take nine concerned, creative, passionate people to Kenya in October 2-11, 2011. This is a trip for both men and women, which has been rescheduled three times!—but I think we have finally determined the best dates and the best package. The cost, not including airfare, is $3,500. A large part of that fee is a two day and two night safari—we feel strongly that people should not just focus on slum or orphanage projects but should see the beauties of the places and the people they visit. August to October is the time when the Great Migrations take place across the African savannahs.

That said, this will be a working trip. We will ask you to bring your specialties to bear in dialogue with the Global Bag Project Kenya team. How can we create a sales and marketing system in the US that will have an impact? You help us figure it out and help us put feet to it. Mary Ogalo, Global Bag Project Kenya Manager, has a dream of employing 1000 women. How can you help us make her dream a reality?

Write or call and we will send you a brochure for yourself or for a friend.


Torschlusspanik may or may not be close for me. But I keep hearing that “Well done, good and faithful servant...” in my ear, and a companion sigh sounds in my heart, a longing in the soul, It is finished. It is finished.

If you are intrigued by any of these possibilities, contact Karen Mains at Our phone still works as well. The Mainstay Ministries office phone is: 630-293-4500.


Karen Mains




The Soulish Food e-mails are being posted biweekly on the Hungry Souls Web site. Newcomers can look that over and decide if they want to register on the Web site to receive the biweekly newsletter. You might want to recommend this to friends also. They can go to

Karen Mains

Karen Mains

“It’s not so much a fear of diminishing opportunities that haunts me, as the fear of not finishing well. Of course, none of us knows the date or hour of our own demise, but I can’t think of anything more satisfactory than to rest my head, take a deep breath, and sigh, It is finished. How wonderful that would be.”


Nothing to Envy

Nothing to Envy
By Barbara Demick


Karen says:

Our Read & Intercede Book Group just finished Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick. A National Book Award Finalist it is a study of six North Korean citizens over fifteen year. The journalist’s capacity is to take the reader into the lives of these people who slowly realize that the leaders of their country have betrayed them.

The San Francisco Chronicle review writes, “Excellent...humanizes a downtrodden, long-suffering people whose individual lives, hopes and dreams are so little known abroad.”

John Delury remarks, “The narrow boundaries of our knowledge have expanded radically with the publication of Nothing to Envy...Elegantly structured and written, [it] is a groundbreaking work of literary nonfiction.”

“At times a page-turner, at others an intimate study in totalitarian psychology.”

–The Philadelphia Inquirer

This was a painful reading assignment, but the average American’s ignorance about most other countries, and particularly those enclosed behind the insane walls of repressive regimes, begs to be enlightened by excellent journalistic attempts such as this.

For next month we are reading, Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent by Eduardo Galieano. Our discussion will be lead by Javier Camboni, economics professor at Wheaton College.

Torschlusspanik or not, it is good to be forced to think!

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