Thursday, September 12, 2013

Meet our Fall Intern Rev. Dr. Lyle Schlundt

A long time ago, a friend told me a story that I realized was my own. She said that, before I came to earth, I planned out what I was going to experience and learn while here. Just as I was being born, an angel put their finger between my upper lip and my nose, and said, “Forget everything!” That is why we all have this little cleft between our lip and our nose. I have come here to remember who and what I really am. I came here, as a diamond in the rough. My mission is to explore and see within me, the diamond that I really am.

One side of the diamond is that of family origin. I grew up in N.E. Mpls. and am the eldest of six children born into a German Roman Catholic family. I was born in 1958. I am currently living with both parents as I put myself through school.

Another side is that of speaking my truth in this world. I have done that through Toastmasters, speech and debate, performing weddings and funerals, teaching classes and workshops. For 12 years I taught a number of classes in a few different locations for Sister Rosalind’s School of Massage. I have been trained as a Healthy Congregations Facilitator and am in training to be an Advanced Care Directive Facilitator. I am a life-long explorer of learning and love teaching.!

Yet another side is that of walking the spiritual healing path. I am a Shiatsu (Japanese Acupressure) Practitioner and a Reiki Master Teacher. I love exploring different spiritual practices and disciplines, as all spiritual paths lead to God. This might take the form of attending a Sweat Lodge, participating in a Sufi prayer dance, chanting Buddhist chants, telling stories from the Jewish tradition, and many others.

Since 1997, I have been doing Shiatsu and Reiki with private clients as well as The Aliveness Project. The Aliveness Project is an agency that works with people living with HIV. Many of my clients, besides being HIV+, have dealt with addiction and mental health challenges. This has been such an honoring and humbling ministry, and I have learned so much about addiction and mental health challenges. We in society might call them “unsanctioned illnesses”. I am there to proclaim the love that God has for all people, regardless of their station in life!

Another side is that of listening and dancing to music. I played the drums in the High School Marching Band. I love dancing, all the way from Square Dancing, Schottish, Polka, Fifties, Techno, Trance, and of course Disco! I love listening to music from Gregorian Chant, all the way through the Classics, up to Rock and Roll.

I was called to ministry at an early age. I always wanted to be a Catholic Priest. I attended The University of St. Thomas (B.A. in Theology, 1981), then went on to St. Paul Seminary. I finished two years there before I realized that I was called to ministry, but not as a Catholic Priest.

I was blessed to be introduced to Religious Science in my mid-thirties. I became an ordained Religious Science minister in 2008.

Religious Science represents a correlation of philosophy, religion and science. It is a religion in the sense that it explores and teaches Universal Principles defining the spiritual nature of the universe and our relatedness to God. It explores these Universal Principles with all the other spiritual paths around the globe and throughout time.

It is a science in that it asks us to experiment with these Universal Principles and accept only those which we can prove, demonstrate, or experience in our daily lives. It is open to the ongoing discussions of science and the ever-exploring adventure into truth.

It is a philosophy where ideas and ideals are brought together into a system of concepts about God, the Cosmos, humanity, and the human potential.

My future path is to be a Hospice Chaplain and be a non-anxious presence in helping people cross from this life to the next.

I look forward to learning from you as a congregation, and to share what I have learned as well.
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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A thousand words…

Whatever the heading says, I’ll write but 700 words today! Still, pause now to look at the picture accompanying this letter and you’ll catch the reference.

Beautiful, amen? I picked this up in Bosnia, or rather, had it commissioned. Before I left for sabbatical, you see, a Plymouth Creeker gave me a check and said, “Shane, while you’re traveling, will you use this money to buy something fine for our church?” I thought that a lovely request. Rather intimidating, though. I mean, I’m no interior decorator. “Hope I don’t mess this up,” I thought.

Besides, so many options would’ve been available in Sarajevo, a town famous for artists and multiple faith traditions. Should I buy a grand Bonsian rug for our walls? A gilded Orthodox icon or Catholic crucifix? Islamic calligraphy- brilliantly wrought Quranic words- adorns many mosques throughout the country. Any of these could’ve worked well. Making the decision more complicated.

But several days into my journey, I learned that my guide’s daughter had recently graduated from Bosnia’s top arts university. Though her primary medium is sculpture, she’d also received the highest marks in her class for painting. Plus, unemployment is ghastly in Bosnia-Herzegovina, particularly among young adult artists. “Would she paint an original for our church,” I asked. Over three weeks, she did.

That’s what you see. I’m impressed with the painting and hope you will be too. Since it may be unfamiliar to many, however, I figured a description was in order. For starters, I asked that she paint this particular scene, a famous sight in that city. The octagonal, domed structure in the foreground is called the “Sebilj,” which translates to “fountain.” But it’s no ordinary watering hole. Situated in the middle of Sarajevo’s Old City, this wooden edifice dates to the 18th Century. The neighborhood surrounding is centuries older, reflecting Islam and the Ottoman Empire’s influence. Something I loved about Sarajevo is the proliferation of public spigots and fountains. This one, in my humble opinion, is the most magnificent and worthy.

The reason is that vast mountain ranges and several pristine springs surround the Sarajevo Valley. From the 1400s on, the city’s Islamic patrons diverted those clean mountain streams toward the city, principally to neighborhood mosques. Something faithful Muslims must do before five-times-daily prayer, after all, is wash up. But in many cases, the builders put these water sources on the mosque’s walls’ exterior, allowing any and all to find refreshment. Many a day, I walked through Sarajevo’s streets, afternoon temperatures reaching 100 degrees. My hot limbs swelled and mouth parched needy, so I’d beeline to a mosque or, especially the Sebilj, where hospitality bathed my soul in the form of cool hydration.

So when I see this Sebilj, I think of God’s call that we love our neighbors, offer to meet their needs, whoever they may be. I didn’t have to take a theology test to drink its waters. I simply needed to wait in line.
And in the background of the painting, a minaret lifts above the fountain, surrounding square and many pigeons which gather nearby day after night after day. That mosque has served the residents of Sarajevo’s Old City since the 1500s. I wanted that icon in our painting to reflect something I think Plymouth Creek shares with this charming city. We’ve grown accustomed, I think, to honoring the diverse ways God has revealed Godself to humanity. Not every church recognizes the profundity of Islam and Catholicism, Judaism, Orthodoxy and more besides. But we do, praise God. And in Sarajevo, diverse faith communities have found refuge and common purpose for hundreds of years. Should we hang the painting in our sanctuary or narthex, then, visitors will see this statement about our joy in the vastness of God’s Love. Perhaps we’ll take regular moments to reflect on that too, Sunday after Sunday, and so be moved to create God’s Kingdom anew in our daily lives. 

That, at least, was my hope for this painting. Inshallah (God willing), as my Muslims friends might say, it will be so. Whatever the case, glad to back Plymouth Creek! Let’s get to work. God’s Kingdom tarries but for us.

Grace and Peace,
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