December 2017: The Greatest Gift—Seeing The “More”

 
In this Issue


Opening Remarks

In this edition of Transforming Challenges, Senior Consultant Maureen Gallagher offers her insights regarding Seeing The More in her article, “The Greatest Gift-Seeing The More”

Is there someone you know who could benefit from receiving Transforming Challenges? Forward this edition to them and encourage them to subscribe for themselves. They’ll thank you—and so do we!


The Reid Group News

  • Maureen Gallagher has been contracted again by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious Region 9 to help the Wisconsin Religious Collaborative develop their new organization to serve the ten participating religious communities and help them accomplish together what they could not do alone.
  • Tom Reid is engaged as a life coach with an increasing number of women and men who are focusing on achieving their key goals – with support. 
  • John Reid facilitated the December Retreat for the Seattle University Cabinet.
  • Maureen Gallagher facilitated the December, United States Provincial Council meetings for the Salvatorians Priests and Brothers, in Milwaukee, WI. The focus was on preparing for their 2018 Chapter.
  • Tom Reid and John Reid completed their 31 months of work with the Diocese of Trenton in helping to revitalize all their parishes through the Faith in Our Future project.
  • Maureen Gallagher and John Reid have been hired by The National Shrine of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini in Chicago, IL to help develop a 3-year plan with the Shrine community. 
  • Tom Reid, Maureen Reid & John Reid continue working on the Planning Project with St. Monica’s Catholic School, Mercer Island. Survey feedback as well as Focus Group input has been analyzed. The Steering Committee is now preparing for the Catholic School Summit Meeting on Sunday, January 21st.
  • The Reid Group is a strategic partner with Tryon Clear View Group, a cost reduction company that specializes in Purchase Services Audits where they identify, verify and recover billing errors, vendor overcharges which are refundable to organizations.  They then secure these reimbursements from the vendors.  In addition to telecommunication, copiers, waste management and utilities charges, they also audit postal services and credit card processing. The only fee paid by the client is a percentage of the actual savings.  The first two contracts secured by this strategic partnership are a college and a Catholic parish; we have received the first report of savings for one of these contracts which showed savings of $60,000 over the next five years in telecommunications alone.   If you are interested in this service, contact us at info@TheReidGroup.biz.

So as you look at your individual or organizational future, what are your challenges? Could you benefit from skilled support? Give us a call at 206-432-3565 or send us an e-mail to start transforming those challenges into opportunities.


  THE GREATEST GIFT—SEEING THE “MORE”

Maureen Gallagher 

We reflect on the Scriptures, we note the crib scenes and hear in the lyrics of the Christmas carols the stories of God’s love for humanity in the birth of Jesus.  The focus is on a wonderful divine-human person who lived and died so that we might have “life to the full” (John 10:10).  The story can be traced back 4,000 years, if not longer, with humanity searching for “more” in the account of Abraham (Gn, 17:10), encountering God’s promise and gift of many descendants…and then 800 years later Moses’ searching in the desert and being led by God with his people to the Promised Land,  (Ex 19:1ff).  Twelve hundred years later

 God’s continual unfolding presence revealed the “ultimate more” in Jesus C

hrist, whose birth we celebrate on Christmas and whose definitive goal was to assist people in knowing they were united and one with a self- gifting loving God (John 17:21).  There is “more” to the Christmas story than meets the eye.

The Context

Throughout history, the Spirit has responded to the yearning of humanity for the “more” based on the readiness of humanity to accept and appreciate the reality of God’s unfolding Presence.  Stories in Scripture before the time of Christ show how God led people to see that what they sought was not to be found in animals, or rocks or things.  The “more” was not an entity to be pleased by slaughtering animals or worshiping elements of nature.  Rather, what was sought, the Spirit of God, was a creative, caring, loving personal presence who wanted people to enjoy the blessings of life and be a united caring people who reflected “more” the Spirit’s presence in daily life and in creation. 

The basic revelation of Jesus is God’s desire to share life and love with us and all creation.  This reflects essentially who we are–created in God’s image and given the energy of the Spirit’s unifying presence to be connected to all creation.  Pope Francis reminds us:

Everything is related, and we human beings are united as brothers and sisters on a wonderful pilgrimage, woven together by the love God has for each of (God’s) creatures and which also unites us in fond affection with brother sun, sister moon, brother river and mother earth. (Laudato Si #91)

A Theologian’s Reflections

Teilhard de Chardin, SJ, has given us insights on the interconnectedness of all creation which enhances our understanding of the “more.”  He wrote from both a scientific and theological perspective.  His works, especially his book The Divine Milieu, describe in various ways the interconnectedness of all of life.  He did not separate out “spirituality” or the “more” from life or see it as one aspect of life—but rather he saw the integration of all life.  He said: “By reason of creation and even more the incarnation, nothing is profane for those how know how to see.”  His insights help us avoid the dualism of “body and soul,” “natural and supernatural,” “nature and humanity.”

Teilhard also saw Christ as a “cosmic Christ”—“a cosmic body that extends throughout the universe.”  This idea expressed in contemporary language, builds on the traditional concept of the “mystical body of Christ,” and keeps us from making our faith “too small.”  The evolutionary nature of the universe was at the heart of Teilhard’s vision.  He also understood how the diminishment of ego-centeredness was necessary in seeking “the more,” and being united in Christ.

Teilhard’s insights motivate us to focus on love — the “unending miracle of love: that one loving person, through love, can embrace God, whose being fills and transcends the entire creation.” Teilhard is realistic in his understanding of love noting that by acknowledging and surrendering ourselves to suffering we are unleashing the energy of love.  By identifying “generously and tenderly” with and in Christ, Teilhard recognizes that we “sympathize with all suffering” and move toward “cosmic compassion.”

Grace can be another way of talking about “the more.”  Grace is the concept often used to deepen our understanding of who we are, our relationship to one another and the Spirit of the living God.  However, we must avoid the temptation to see “grace” as something added on the top of our lives.  It is not the enticement of a scoop of whipped cream on top of the sundae.  Rather, it is the energy of the incarnation which began with creation.  Grace, the ever-present Spirit—has been integrated into all of life—like the air we breathe.  Grace is the force that gives us hope, courage and the ability to deal with suffering and struggles.  In his Christmas message in 2015 Pope Francis reminds us, “the grace of God can convert hearts and offer men and women a way out of humanly insoluble situations.”  These situations may be very grave or very simple everyday situations where we have an opportunity to concretely be that living incarnate presence of the Spirit of God.

The Challenge

Seeing the “more” is a critical step in recognizing how the “Reign of God” evolves in the world.  However, “seeing” is only the first step.  The challenge is three-fold:  to see the “more;” to name the “more;” and to act upon the “more.” 

Seeing can involve three areas:  looking at areas of blessings, (these can be shared); discovering places of suffering (these may be alleviated); and exploring fields of possibilities (these may lead to unfolding creativity).  For instance, one might observe (see) a young mom in a doctor’s waiting room with three young children, each more active than the other.  The mom has her hands full and you observe (name) that she could use a little help, so you volunteer (act) to play a game with the two older children as she feeds the baby.  It can be that simple.

How do we go about seeing the “more”?  Seeing in terms of becoming more aware of both blessings and needs is often enhanced by taking regular time to be quiet each day, reflect on scripture or meaningful writings or elements in nature and our life’s purpose or goals.  The contemplative prayer may be accompanied by journaling or other written reflections.  Becoming attuned to the more hidden or quiet part of life, those elements that fit into “there is more to life than meets the eye,” takes discipline and commitment.  Faithfulness to a daily reflective practice will yield abundant insights into the “more” of life.

Why is naming the “more” which we are experiencing or yearning for important?  While there are many mysteries associated with the spiritual life that are difficult to define, naming can bring some clarity to aspects of our reflections and help in understanding transitions.  Naming is also important because it provides opportunities to share our spiritual insights and experiences with others.  It helps us connect with others and realize more deeply that we are not the “center of the universe.”

Where does acting fit in?  As human beings we yearn for the “more,” and find it in such a simple and personal everyday example as the one named above.  These unassuming events, unite us with our brothers and sisters and reflect the presence of the Living Spirit.  Besides these important neighborly actions, there are also systemic areas where we need to be the “more.”  In living out the Gospel we are called to put “more” grace-filled-energy into social ills such as diminishing racism, sexism, consumerism, etc. and positively caring for all of creation, which embodies the incarnate Spirit. 

When we realize that the “more” is in our midst—the Spirit of the Living God is in the air we breathe—we become conscious that we are the “more” who are ever-creating an enhanced peaceful and just existence for all.  This Christmas let us celebrate that we embody the incarnate Spirit of the God and continue to be the Spirit’s living presence, creating a world that more deeply reflects this “Interconnecting Creative Spirit.”

Maureen Gallagher is a Senior Partner with The Reid Group, a national consulting firm helping leaders and organizations transform challenges into opportunities to create a better world in the areas of Strategic Planning, Leadership Formation, Leadership Search, Fund Development, Conflict Resolution and Meeting Design and Facilitation.  For more information about The Reid Group, its programs and services, visit our website:  www.TheReidGroup.biz.

© 2017 The Reid Group 


The Reid Group webinar series

  • Webinar Offering
     

    Living Whole Life Webinar 

    Experience Tom Reid & Living Whole Life

    Invitation to follow

At The Reid Group we help leaders and organizations transform challenges into opportunities to create a better world.  We are proud to be celebrating 20 years of service to our clients as consultants, mediators and coaches.  

Products

The Art of Change: Faith, Vision and Prophetic Planning

Think about what your organization could do if the process of planning met the inevitability of change head-on—and it resulted in significant success.

bookcoverweb2Organizations large and small, religious and secular, for-profit and not-for-profit, successful and unsuccessful, go through change. John Reid and Maureen Gallagher of the Reid Group have been instrumental in helping many groups discover the power of Prophetic Planning. This book presents a complete overview with detailed information that any organization will find useful in understanding how to plan for change.

The Art of Change: Faith, Vision and Prophetic Planning, and its companion CD are now available from Liguori Publications as well as from Amazon.com.

The Reid Group E-Letter is © The Reid Group, 12535 15th Ave. NE, Suite 211, Seattle WA 98125; 206-432-3565.
Any part of this newsletter may be reproduced with full attribution.