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Issue 15-7

Daring to Dream Again


Because a close friend had come down with shingles some years back, I recognized the early symptoms when a small itchy red streak appeared on my hip. My friend had shingle-sensitized me. I had read somewhere (I seemed to remember) that treatment within the first 24 hours of outbreak could be effective, so the morning after identifying this slight rash, I hiked myself to the nearest walk-in clinic and reported, “I think I may be coming down with shingles.” My intuitive layperson’s diagnosis was verified. I went home after picking up some antiviral medication, put myself as instructed to bed and thought, “Thank goodness. I have a legitimate reason to rest.”

One of the suspected activators of the varicella-zoster virus, which lurks for a lifetime in the central nervous system after a childhood bout with the chickenpox, are stressors—events in our lives that cause high stress. Certainly, during this period of my life, we were under inordinate stress—accused by an ultra-conservative group of being heretical. There is no stress quite like facing into the gale-force winds of a collusive aggregate of angry, unfair and apparently not-rational accusers. And though stress, as such, doesn’t cause shingles, it lowers the effectiveness of the immune system to fight off enemy encroachments. In addition, David and I had just returned from a “pilgrimage” to Spain, where I helped to plan, coordinate and lead 36 eager travelers on a 10-day tour advertised as “A Visit to the Sites of the Spanish Mystics.” Stress piled upon stress.

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Early shingles symptom—a little unsuspecting rash.

Thanks to early detection and welcome bed-rest, the rash never developed into the ugly pus-filled blisters spreading along some neural pathway, leaving a line of scarlet inflammation on the skin as it advanced. Within a few days I was up; thankfully the rash never spread beyond that narrow path midway down the right side of my back crossing my waistline and coming to rest just below my hip. When I get tired, however, overworked or anxious, this little remnant signal begins to ache, the gift of what a medical person would call “post-herpetic neuralgia.” In fact, I can feel it this morning.

However, I was in bed long enough to hear that word coming from the deepest center of myself, an insistent nudge from what I take to be the prodding of the Holy Spirit: WRITE OUT. WRITE OUT.

That was some 22 years ago. I have lost most of my contacts within religious publishing; the drive to frame thoughts for that constituency is no longer a motivator for me. Acquisition editors are ignoring my door. In fact, an agent couldn’t find any group that wanted to joint-venture with Mainstay Ministries in the publishing of our Tales of the Kingdom project, and I don’t really know if I have the creative “stuff” anymore to spend five hours a day for months, sometimes a year, to turn out a fresh, original work, even an unsuccessful attempt at brilliance, particularly if no one is interested in publishing what I write.

Recently, in moments where I assess my past life, I've found myself thinking, Oh, I just wish I had gone into mainstream journalism. My passion, it appears, is still what it was when I first started writing: I want to take spiritual realties and show how beautiful, how attractive, how good and true they are in a way that entices people to investigate them more fully. I laughingly remark that much of the distresses in religion that angered the journalist Christopher Hitchins, the slashing polemicist who wrote a best-selling book God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, also anger me. So why am I so passionately a woman of faith, and this brilliant combatant was a man determinedly, outspokenly anti-faith? I'd like to have been the kind of writer who would be able to counter-poise answers to people who read furious atheists. Alistair McGrath, for instance, the Anglican theologian with a PhD in molecular biology as well as an academic holding teaching positions at Oxford, along with his wife Joanna, have written a kind rebuttal (but also a brilliant exposť of the unscientific approach) to Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion. Their book is titled The Dawkins Delusion? Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine. (Yes. You can understand this—at least most of it.)

Yet, here is where ageism creeps in, a self-imposed stereotype: I am 73, after all, with no contacts in the secular writing world, no New York literary friends to advise and open doors and no idea where to start. What does one do with desire? Is it too late to resurrect dreams that have died because of a variety of stressful life passages?—no sooner did I recover almost from one but another came rolling down threatening to crush any D & Ds (dreams and desires). I still have to breathe deeply as a calming analgesic when I think back on these bruising events, one battering ram after another.

So 22 years after hearing, as I gratefully rested while recovering from a light case of shingles, WRITE OUT, WRITE OUT, I had a vivid dream. David and I were in a room full of people. Cory Booker, the former mayor of Newark, New Jersey, now a junior senator in the U.S. Senate, was present. I was chatting with Peter Jennings (I had to look up his biography the next morning; he was the ABC anchor on World News Tonight and died in 2005 of lung cancer). Obviously, I was in a room full of people out of the ordinary sphere of my acquaintance and influence.

Peter Jennings and I had a cordial and fascinating conversation. Out of my eye I could see David was engaged with various people in the crowd. After some time, Jennings paused and said, “You know. I’m trying to find a way to spend more time with you.” That was complimentary, to say the least; then he repeated, “You know. I’m trying to find a way to spend more time with you.”

The man leaned back a little where he was sitting and began to grill me. “Are you able to stick with a task? Stay faithful to the job at hand? Are you capable of perseverance and fidelity? Can you be trusted to carry out an assignment?”

I replied, without giving it thought, that I was perfectly capable of all those things.

OK. OK. Without going into dream analyses, let me say my initial understanding of this message from my subjective self was: Well, that was a room full of powerful people. Jennings was a communication fixture, not happy just to sit at a desk in a television studio, but eager to be out in the world where the news was happening. Maybe I need to think a little more about my ageism: Is it really too late to start another career at 73? What is the message that’s rising out of my subjective self? I no longer have a drive for fame; considering what I know about public life, anononymity seems pretty fine to me. The artistic neurosis that often drives a creator’s ego has pretty much been tamed in me through these 70 years of living. What I care most about now is the message … just the message of beauty and goodness and hope and truth given to those who are searching for beauty and goodness and hope and truth.

It wasn’t until I sat in church during the often powerful quiet of the Eucharistic celebration several days after this dream that I understood. Peter Jennings, now dead, so little a part of my past life that I had to look him up on Wikipedia; nevertheless, a figure in the national media communication industry, a journalist par excellence, was somehow a picture of another Communicator who had, using this human symbol, asked very pertinent questions regarding commitment: “Are you able to stick with a task? Stay faithful to the job at hand? Are you capable of perseverance and fidelity? Can you be trusted to carry out an assignment?”

More than that, this “Peter Jennings” God-figure had said—TWICE—“I’m trying to find a way to spend more time with you. I’m trying to find a way to spend more time with you.”

So, in case I’m right in my interpretation, I’m heading into spending those five hours every day putting thoughts down for others, someday perhaps, to read. I’m saying, “OK, ‘Peter Jennings.’ I’ll do the work the best I can, try to capture these embryonic thoughts bumping around in my mind, give a go at writing out, but it is You who will have to make a way in a world where I have no connections, no instincts as to how to proceed, and no mentor to guide me.”

In short, the little white-haired woman that I am, I’m daring to dream again. Pray for me.

Karen Mains

NOTICES

2016 Advent Retreat of Silence

If your soul is longing to bask in the presence of Divine love, please consider joining us for our intimate 2016 Advent Retreat of Silence. This year's theme will be "The Gift of Divine Love Made Alive in Me." This guided 8-hour retreat will be held at Turtle Creek Acres--a fully renovated 1920s dairy barn home in a peaceful farm setting. For more information and/or to register, click the link below. Know that space is limited to only 20 guests per retreat. Would love to have you join us!

http://doug-timberlake.squarespace.com/2016-advent-retreat-of-silence


Memoir-Writing Classes

In January 2017 I will offer two memoir-writing courses going forward for seven months to this Soulish Food list and to my “friends” of some 5000 folk on my Facebook page.

Opportunity 1: Teleconference Memoir Class
One will be a teleconference course so people from all over the States can participate. (Heads-up: We had trouble during last year’s cycle plugging Canadians in remote geographic areas into the teleconference system. If you want to join, we’ll do a teleconference test to see if you are in a compatible zone.)

There is room for eight people, time for me to coach two groups—four participants per group, and we will continue through August 2017. I must know your intentions by November 15 (before the holidays). At that time, a payment of $500 for the course must be made or a payment plan defined. To register, email Heather Ann Martinez, heatherm@mainstayministries.org. If you have further questions, contact me at karen@hungrysouls.org. Somehow, we find compatible meeting times and days after everyone has joined! This class will begin in January 2017.

Opportunity 2: Face-to-Face Memoir-Writing Class (November 2016 – July 2017)
The second class will be face-to-face meetings for those in the West Chicago, IL, area who would like to work on a memoir project they’ve had in mind, either outlined, or for which they’ve written some pieces.

This group will meet twice a month in my home. I will need a written description of your idea, or if you’ve read a memoir by someone who has stimulated your concept. I’d like to have an initial meeting in November, at which time you’ll make a written covenant with me, then convene twice a month starting in February. The fee for this will also be $500, to be paid in October. Register your intentions with Heather Ann Martinez, heatherm@mainstayministries.org. If you have questions, contact me at karen@hungrysouls.org.

Life being what it is, we will, of course, refund payments if unforeseen contingencies prevent you from participating. Usually, there is a waiting list, and we can advance someone else into the class to take a vacated spot.

Global Bag Project Christmas Donations

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Would you (or your family, or your small group) consider making a Christmas gift this year of $100 toward the women in the bag-making cooperative in Nairobi, Kenya, who have been our partners in this micro-enterprise venture? Some 30 gifts of this size will enable us to underwrite the New Year capitalization of the purchasing and sewing cycles so that our friends will have work and we will have stateside products to sell.

Due to the use of volunteer hours, we attempt to return all margins from bag sales to the seamstresses who work to support their families through this bag-making cooperative. The Global Bag Project has its own Kenyan board and directs its own enterprise. Our approach is to support them in their efforts through bag parties, direct sales, the GBP Web sites and an annual fundraising campaign to underwrite capitalization.

Donations to Mainstay Ministries and directed to the Global Bag Project are fully tax-deductible and will be receipted.

If you’d like to arrange a holiday bag-party—a gift-buying two-hour venture with a social enterprise goal—email Heather Ann Martinez at heatherm@mainstayministries.org. For Chicagoland-area parties, we can arrange for a Global Bag Project “friend” to lead the party, or we can mail out a Party In A Box to those who are at other points in the country.


Reminder!

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 www.HungrySouls.org.

Hungry Souls Contact Information

ADDRESS: 29W377 Hawthorne Lane
West Chicago, IL 60185
PHONE: 630-293-4500
EMAIL: 
karen@hungrysouls.org


Karen Mains

Karen Mains

My passion, it appears, is still what it was when I first started writing: I want to take spiritual realities and show how beautiful, how attractive, how good and true they are in a way that entices people to investigate them more fully.
BOOK CORNER
Never Too Late to Dream
by David R. Mains

FREE for a donation
of ANY size


We are undergoing a massive house-purging (5 bedrooms, 2 attics, 1 garage, 1 Mainstay Ministries products storage locker—another has been emptied and retired), I came across this mass paperback-sized copy of a book David wrote to go with one of our 50-Day Spiritual Adventures. Obviously, with the above thoughts pushing their way into my mind, the title intrigued me, Never Too Late to Dream. When God tries to get one of His thoughts across, He often shoves obvious messages my way. Ever have this experience? In fact, interwoven into this copy that uses examples from the lives of Bible characters as well as testimonies and thoughts from contemporary Christians, are quotations from my own book, Tales of the Resistance.

As I read through the chapters, all challenging me to dream again, the thought occurred to me that some of you may have lost your sacred dreaming capacities. If you would like to dream again, you could also be part of my private and personal WRITE OUT campaign. I will send you a FREE copy of Never Too Late to Dream for a donation of any size. If I am going to begin by writing out, I am going to have to get my website up to speed, get the blog going again. Editors will use the digital platforms to check out the biography and references of an author whose name they don’t know. Some of this is going to cost money. Frankly, there is next to nothing in the Hungry Souls account. Provision is often an indicator of God’s leading: i.e., Where God guides, He provides.

Most of all, I need your prayers. Cindy Sue Barnes, who has prayed for us and been a friend through the years, wrote this letter about the same time I had the Peter Jennings dream: “Two years ago the Lord brought a prayer into my life and asked me to adapt it and pray it regularly.

"Lord, wake Karen up and get about writing again. She does not even know how many people she touches, let alone the way she has blest me. Encourage her and bless her and shake her up and help her to keep at it. Amen.”

So if the Lord lays my little WRITE OUT campaign on your heart (and if you are thinking you need to begin dreaming again), as a thank you, we will happily send you a copy of David’s Never Too Late to Dream as a thank you, thank you gift.

- Clean up Karen Burton Mains and Hungry Souls websites: $2000
- Re-institute and redesign blog: $200
(Website and blog maintenance is provided by a very faithful, very astute friend)

Note: We are also working on setting up a Hungry Souls PayPal account through which donations can be received. More info on this when that has been set up.



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