Reflecting on her experience in Las Vegas after the shooting, Cheryl recalls: “Transparency was key,” I said ‘I’m not associated with any organization.’ I just showed up “naked and empty,” as I’d learned to do at ChIME.”
As an interfaith chaplain to the homeless, Rev. Jeffery Logan '15 sometimes needs to lend support to those who have been incarcerated; read more below
An acupuncturist, an Interfaith street minister, and a Shakespearean actor walk into a bar. How many characters are in this scene? Actually, only one, the Rev. Jeffery Logan (ChIME 2015).
“ChIME trains people for weird kinds of ministries,” Jeff says with characteristic humor. “Because ChIME’s training is not for a settled ministry, it’s a good match for a world that's fluid, too. In ChIME you take the Internal journey first. It tears your heart open, and then you go out into the world with that ripped open heart and see what happens.”
For three years now Rev. Logan has been known as “Pastor Jeff” to hundreds of people who are homeless in Portland. Actually, Jeff says, the streets, the shelters and the soup kitchens are home to this ever-changing community of women and men, and he is their guest.
Jeff says that the homeless community is quite strong and mutually supportive in Portland. Although he is an outsider, because he’s not trying to fix people they share their stories with him – stories of shame, failure, and small triumphs. “I try to remember names, and people remember mine. It’s about mutual respect, and longevity. I just keep showing up. When it’s snowing. When it’s raining. When I don’t want to be there. And I listen.”
Over the years that Jeff has been working with Grace - Street Ministry, only a handful of the same people remain homeless in Portland. Some find housing. Some leave town. Some die in snowbanks, on park benches. Jeff offers prayers and communion, performs weddings and funerals. He gives out socks, warm hats, gloves, Dunkin’ Donuts cards, the occasional bus ticket, application fee for housing, co-pay for meds, or other low-ticket item that makes a big difference. And sometimes people seek him out to share the good news, such as “I got a place to live!” or “You got me a bus ticket to see my Mom when she was sick and she’s rallied.”
The mission of Grace-Street Ministry, co-founded by two United Church of Christ clergy in 2006, is to “offer a consistent, compassionate, pastoral presence to the homeless and marginalized in downtown Portland, Maine.” Jeff joined Grace as a ChIME intern, supervised by co-founding Pastor Mair Honan, then a ChIME teacher and now a member of ChIME’s Advisory Board.
Jeff had only been ordained a few months when he got the call to serve. Rev. Elizabeth Peterson (ChIME 2010) was leaving, and it was “moderately terrifying,” Jeff recalls, to start walking the streets on his own. But Mair reminded Jeff that ‘This isn’t about you. Just give it over to whatever your belief in the holy is. It will be interesting to see how they accept you.”
Although he loves his work, “I really can’t wait to get put out of business,” Jeff muses in response to a question about ending homelessness. “I’d love to show up and nobody’s there.” Through the Poor People’s Campaign and other social justice initiatives, Jeff bears witness to the economics of homelessness and the urgent need for affordable housing. As a rotating preacher at a Bailey Island chapel, he teaches about the gospel of Jesus the Christ, whose own ministry was to the outcasts and people on the margins of society.
With homeless people, Jeff notes, there are no distractions from the basic necessities of life --food, shelter and love. “It’s all a little twisted,” Jeff says, “but people are open to the message because they have so little else. They understand suffering, and aren’t afraid of it. Some people even say that ‘being homeless is the best thing that ever happened to me. It’s taught me compassion, understanding, and that this could happen to just about anyone.’”
“In a time of increasing poverty in the richest country in the world,” Jeff concludes, “when a full time minimum wage job doesn’t pay for a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the country and one in six Maine children live in poverty, there will always be work to do. Worship is easy, work is hard. Or to quote another Shakespearean actor, Edmund Kean, on his deathbed, ‘Dying is easy, comedy is hard.’ There but for the grace of God go I.”
Spirit is everywhere!
On Valentine’s Day 2017 my husband was suddenly let go from his job and the world shifted. We tried to see it as the crisis that was to become an opportunity but it wasn’t easy.
On June 29th I left my job at ChIME as planned back in January with very mixed feelings. Trying to stay open to new possibilities.
On July 1st my husband’s youngest brother was killed by a drunk driver in Jackson Hole, WY, and the world turned upside down.
We spent the summer and early fall grieving, helping his 86 year old mother and attending a Celebration of Life service that will forever stay in our hearts.
Late fall we decided that we would rent our house and the Universe opened for us the opportunity to live on a friend’s boat in the Caribbean for 7 weeks and then head to St. Croix to stay with another friend. We wanted to be of service to hurricane damaged islands and “give back.”
It has been an opportunity to reflect on how Spirit shows up.
Living on a 42’ boat, Spirit is evident in the wind, the waves, the sunrises and sun sets. The natural elements are key to living on the water and one learns quickly to respect her power and her gifts.
Spirit shows when being woken at 3:00 in the morning by unfamiliar noises on deck caused by extreme gusts of wind and seeing, in all her glory, the Southern Cross. A constellation only visible in the southern sky.
Spirit is in the eyes of the shy ten year old girl who when asked about her experience of hurricane Maria replied: “ I can’t talk about the hurricane because I wasn’t traumatized like my friend who’s roof was blown off. She has anxiety and PTSD, I am fine”.
Spirit shows in the face of the Librarian who shared that she thought the storm was winding down when suddenly “the noise grew to deafening sound and everything started flying”.
Spirit is in the determination of every one who said we WILL rebuild and Dominica WILL be beautiful again. Dominica STRONG.
Spirit guides us to meet amazing people who are doing incredible work… Harriet Lansky, Founder of Hands Across the Sea, a literacy program for the islands; Mr. Teddy Wallace, Principal of Roosevelt Primary School who told of surviving not one but TWO hurricanes as he traveled to St. Martin before Irma struck; (where we painted the entryway with other cruising families and local kids who were eager to help.); and the boat boys who greet sail boats as they come in and assure them they WILL be cared for.
Spirit finds clever ways to remind me that I am never alone…when walking the beach feeling challenged, because wherever we go life goes with us, I look up to see a dinghy named: “bless up” and as I contribute to stroll chuckling to myself I see: “wisdom and patience” on the side of another small boat. (see photo).
And when I am challenged, scared or at my wits end due to extreme winds, Spirit is there to remind me to breath, let go and trust. The present moment is always the best place to return and She is always there to greet me.
“It’s a great journey going through ChIME,” says the Rev. Jon Gale, a 2017 graduate. “I’ve been challenged more academically, such as during my six years in a doctoral program at Boston University, but I’ve never come out of a program more changed than by ChIME.” Many philosophers, going back to Lao Tzu, have described the distance from head to heart as the longest journey of all, and Jon credits ChIME with allowing him to make that descent.
“When I’m asked to choose a slice from one of three pies, I always want a slice of each,” Jon says, describing the path that has led him to study speech pathology, counseling, biology, and curriculum theory, as well as becoming an Emergency Medical Technician and an Interfaith Chaplain after retiring from a school career that included 12 years as Superintendent of Schools in Pownal and being a school principal in Waterboro, Maine. Jon now serves the town’s Fire Department as both chaplain and EMT, while volunteering two days a week with Hospice of Southern Maine. Recently he had an opportunity to conduct a funeral and a house blessing in the town. People who knew Jon mostly through his superintendent role, or his stint as a town Selectman, now see their gentle giant in his most tender role.
“Often at the end of a four-hour shift at Gosnell House in Scarborough, where many people come to die, I’m walking out into the parking lot with tears streaming down my face,” Jon says. “It is such a privilege to be able to sit with someone in their last moments. Often there’s nothing that needs to be said. I recently held the hand of a priest as he died. What a gift.”
Starting out Catholic and coming to see himself now as a “secular Buddhist,” Jon says that the ChIME faculty and fellow students gave him the spiritual companionship he needed to go deeper into his lifelong pull towards serving people. “As a Buddhist meditator, I think about my death every day,” Jon says. “However, many people coming into hospice care haven’t thought much about death before getting a terminal diagnosis. As a hospice volunteer, I can hold space for them to have their reactions and their questions. This is a powerful time for them, and my mantra is to not take their power away.”
Recently Rev. Gale also completed an 8-week training as an End of Life Doula through the University of Vermont. Based in part on the work of Canadian psychiatrist Harvey Chochinov, author of Dignity Therapy, the program includes an opportunity for the doula to ask key questions of someone nearing their end of life, record their answers, and present them with a document that they can leave to their loved ones. “Through the doula program I’ve come to see myself as a ‘dying coach,’” Jon says. As I sit with my clients I ask myself, “How am I like you?”
Of all the paths ChIME graduates have taken to fulfill their callings, Marie Eastman’s stands out for her investment of time and treasure in becoming a board-certified chaplain affiliated with the APC (Association of Professional Chaplains). She serves a community hospital in Siddell, near the City of New Orleans, Louisiana. Since graduating from ChIME in 2008, Marie has obtained her Master of Divinity degree from Earlham School of Religion in Indiana, and has completed 7 units of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE).
The yoga tradition offers a profound formula for realizing your heartfelt desires—without asking you to change who you are. It’s the practice of sankalpa (resolve).
Almost every New Year’s resolution starts with two words: “I will.” We summon our willpower and pledge to change not just what we do but who we are. We set goals and imagine how happy we will be when we get what we want.
But if there’s one thing yoga teaches us, it’s that there’s a world of difference between “I will” and “Thy will.” Most New Year’s resolutions spring from the misguided desires of the ego, senses, and conditioning.
There is a Hindu proverb that states “they who give have all things, they who withhold have nothing,” and from the highly spiritual program of Alcoholics Anonymous we get the phrase “You have to give it away to keep it.” It is a truth, as Mahatma Ghandi expressed it so eloquently, “The fragrance always remains in the hand that gives the rose.”
Where grace happens: How a corporate recruiter found meaning helping people in recovery.
"I couldn’t believe there was actually a place where you could show up and be absolutely
broken and be welcomed,” she says.
Photograph by Joanne Arnold
Nearly 20 years later, Margo Walsh still remembers the moment, sitting in a rehab facility in Portland, Maine, like it was yesterday. Walsh was smoking a cigarette and thinking about her life — about the bruises on her body that came from falling down the stairs drunk, about her liver count, which she just learned that at 32 was that of an old man, and how it was finally time to admit, after drinking for more than half of her life, that she had a problem.
A tiny window in the room looked out on sky filled with steel gray clouds, and it had just started to snow. Suddenly, a shaft of light came through the window and flooded the room with a bright glow, and Walsh was overcome with a feeling she had never felt before. It was a feeling of great calm and of letting-go.
“I have never felt that absolute a sense of peace,” she recalls. “Christmas Day 1997, was my moment of absolute clarity.”
That’s when Walsh’s recovery truly began. It would be a long road, one that would involve her leaving a high-powered corporate recruiting career on Wall Street and finding her calling by starting a business helping people in recovery get back to work.
The men Walsh employs at her company, MaineWorks, are an entirely different clientele than the Ivy League graduates she used to recruit when she worked at Goldman Sachs. They are convicted felons and drug addicts, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I would rather work with the intensity of the broken place. The vulnerable. The outcast,” she says. “Because that’s where grace happens, at the absolute bottom.”
WHERE IT BEGAN
Walsh grew up in Cumberland, Maine, one of six children. Her parents were Irish immigrants who drank a lot. They were also medical doctors who cared about others.
“Both of my parents were very kind and altruistic,” she says. “I have an incredible sense of connection to humanity.”
From a young age, Walsh knew she wanted to help people. On family trips, she used to press her face against the car window and imagine the lives of the people inside the houses she passed. She read psychology books and dreamed of becoming a psychologist.
Her addiction also began in childhood. Sweets were forbidden at home, but she used to cram sugar cubes into her mouth and binge on candy.
“That is the basis of my alcoholism,” she says. “Stuffing an incredible amount of sugar, needing it desperately, and then going home and lying about it.”
At 15, Walsh discovered wine. She drank for the next 17 years, through college, during her time at Goldman Sachs and into her next role as a recruiter for a management consulting firm. She drank in the beginning of her marriage and after she had her first son, right up until one terrible drunken night landed her in rehab.
BUILDING A BRIDGE
After her moment of clarity in 1997, Walsh stayed sober and returned to her husband, young son, and corporate job in Connecticut. But she was a changed person. She had worked for years to create the life she had, but she was filled with feelings of shame and of being an “imposter” everywhere but in her recovery support meetings.
In 2000, Walsh and her husband moved their family to Maine so she could be closer to her ailing father. She spent much of the following decade as a stay-at home mom and as a volunteer leading recovery support groups at the local jail and at a shelter for alcoholics.
One day, Walsh heard a famous lawyer give a talk about the importance of hiring convicted felons, and she had the idea to use her recruiting skills to help felons and addicts transition to a more stable life.
She started MaineWorks in 2011, and chose her company’s logo very intentionally. It’s a bridge.
Walsh meets with
U.S. Senator Susan Collins to discuss the MaineWorks mission with her MaineWorks colleague
Kelly Murphy Luce in July.
Image courtesy of Margo Walsh
“I feel like my role in life is to facilitate transition,” she says.
And every weekday, Walsh fulfills that role by rising at 5 a.m. to drive those attempting to better their lives to work at construction sites. It gives her purpose and belonging.
“It replaces church,” she says.
Work in Progress story produced by Mio Adilman.
ChIME curriculum has several Required Reading books and assignments over the 2-to-3-Year Program. But we also have accumulated a Suggested Reading List for our students, over and above, since there is always more to learn. How many of these books have you read? Let us hear from you as you explore your spiritual reading this summer!
ChIME SUGGESTED READING LIST (click to view or print)
Newly ordained ChIME graduate Nonie Freeman discusses "Soul Matters" with her classmates and ChIME founding abbot Jacob Watson. Please watch and tell us what you think!
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