View Charlie's Message About His Sabbatical
In May 2014, I am embarking on the experience of a lifetime – a four month Sabbatical from May 4 to September 7. I have been at Metropolitan for seven years, and am tremendously excited to have this opportunity and grateful to Metropolitan for submitting a grant to support my Sabbatical through the Lilly Endowment 2013 Clergy Renewal Program Grant (see story on page 3 for an explanation of this Program). I wanted to let you all know something about my summer plans, and also talk about the exciting opportunities that the grant has made possible for you over the summer.
As many of you know, two of the disciplines that have fed my soul over the past 10-20 years have been playing a Japanese flute called the shakuhachi and practicing a martial art called aikido. Our Lilly grant is giving me the opportunity to richly explore both of those disciplines. My Sabbath will begin with a month in Japan, the core of which will be a two week trip with my shakuhachi teacher, grandmaster Ronnie Nyogetsu Seldin and several fellow students. I will be in Tokyo a week before this trip, practicing with two other grandmasters, and will stay an additional week in Kyoto after Ronnie leaves, practicing with a third grandmaster. Throughout this month, I will also practice aikido at dojos around the country, including the birthplace of aikido – Hombu dojo in Tokyo.
There will be other shorter excursions throughout the summer. I will have two weeks in a shakuhachi meditation retreat at a Buddhist monastery outside Vancouver led by shakuhachi maker and player Al Ramos. There will be a week of aikido camp at Catholic University, and a week of shakuhachi camp in Philidelphia, as well as traveling to NYC for some shakuhachi practice with my teacher. And, of course, there will be some wonderful family time throughout the summer, which will include a family vacation in Vancouver (following my retreat), and possibly London, and lots of time hiking and playing with Julia and Joshua! So I am very excited about this time and very grateful to you for providing it.
What is happening at Metropolitan while I am on my sabbatical? I am also very excited about the plans that we have prepared for the church, and funded by the same grant. Highlights include:
Rev. Chris Holmes (son of former Senior Pastor at Metropolitan Memorial, Rev. Dr. William Holmes) will be leading a preaching series on Spirituality and the Arts from June 15 to July 6. On the Sundays of June 15, June 22, June 29, and July 6, Chris will explore with us the intersection of Spirituality and the Arts, Art and Architecture, the Art of Movement, and the Art of Pottery. On the Wednesday nights following these Sunday sermons, Chris has planned some wonderful, hands-on programs that will reflect the theme of spirituality and the arts. These are intended to be intergenerational and interactive, and will include the creation of a mural of creation on moveable panels. No artistic skills are required and all are welcome!
In the weeks following Chris’s time with us, we will have programs led by three international leaders in mindfulness, meditation, and contemplation. Sharon Salzberg will do a program at Metropolitan on the Foundations of Mindfulness (maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and the surrounding environment) on Saturday July 12 and she will be in our pulpit on Sunday, July 13. Sharon is a co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA, has more than 40 years of experience in this field, and is internationally recognized as a powerful teacher. She has blessed us here at Metropolitan with her teaching several times.
Tara Brach will lead a workshop on Freeing the Heart on the afternoon of Saturday, August 9, from 1 to 5. Tara will lead us in an investigation of the ways we habitually cut ourselves off from feeling connected, compassionate, and at home with ourselves and others. Tara is an acclaimed meditation teacher, clinical psychologist, author, and leading western teacher of Buddhist meditation, emotional healing and spiritual awakening. She has more than 35 years of experience and is the founder and senior teacher of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington.
Dr. Jack Kornfield will lead a one day training in Buddhist Psychology for Westerners on August 16, from 9:30 to 5:00, at Metropolitan. This will be a day of teachings and mindful meditations on love, consciousness, healing, and the nature of the mind. The day-long training combines practical examples, teaching stories, and case studies. Jack has taught meditation internationally since 1974 as one of the first American teachers to introduce Buddhist mindfulness practice to the West. Jack is one of the co-founders of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA, as well as a founding teacher of the Spirit Rock Center in Woodacre, California.
All of this is to emphasize: this is not intended to be a summer off for anyone! I am going to be exploring and growing, and urge you all to take full advantage of the opportunities that we are providing for your own growth and exploration. I would like us all to join together in September as richer, more centered, and rejuvenated disciples!
I want to underscore my gratitude to Metropolitan for this extraordinary opportunity. I will miss being in ministry with you over the summer, but look forward to hearing your stories of learning, growing, and practicing a wonderful spectrum of spirituality practices. I also look forward to sharing stories of ways in which I have reflected and grown in my time away. It is a privilege to be your pastor and I am excited about the many creative ways in which we will all be in a period of reflection and renewal. I am confident that these renewal experiences will be transformative for our church family and for me.
Rev. Dr. Charles Parker