April Showers, May Flowers

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by Rev. Rob Banaszak, Pastor, ISD-DC

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WHO STOLE MY APRIL???

Okay I’ll admit it. No one stole it. I used it all up. I gave it away. I lived it until I had squeezed every bit out of it, and tossed it aside like an empty toothpaste tube.

And I’d do it all again!

I mean c’mon how could it not be an epic month when April 1 was Easter Sunday? How much more fresh, open and free can you be than when day one of the new month begins on day one of our church week, and on day one of our church week we are celebrating our Resurrection and Renewal revealed by our brother Jesus,  the Wayshower for Humanity?

As Winter and Spring brazenly battled out their quarrel of which one would have the last word, our Spiritual Community maximized our “30 days of April,” to sow the seeds for a Magical May that I have no doubt will be blooming in all their vibrant glory throughout the summer and beyond.

I don’t want to take up valuable May focus by waxing nostalgic about our previous month which is gone and done, but I don’t want to miss this opportunity to acknowledge what I think were some noteworthy highlights. Our beautiful Easter Sunday Celebration — both the English and the Spanish language service — gave us the opportunity share our message of renewal. Our powerful and moving Message Circle offered us the opportunity to share messages from Spirit even more intimately than we are usually able to do, as our volunteer mediums were able to take a seat with attendees in the pews and infuse their messages with more conversation and connection. Our closing Inner Authority workshop with Ava Barron Shasho rounded out a four-part series, and focused on applying our history and our values as a context from which to access our True Voice, which speaks from our Inner Authority.

Our Board of Trustees came together with our Ministerial Staff for our first Leaders In Love retreat, taking place on April 20 and 21. The gathering was a time to reflect, share and hone our vision for our Community in the next year, and to commence the plans to manifest that vision. I was humbled by the commitment, dedication, determination and LOVE of each of my Spiritual colleagues, whom I also consider my dear friends. You can be sure that your Spiritual Well-Being is the best of hands with this talented and collegial group, and I encourage you to get to know them better so you can see this for yourself. Our monthly board meetings are held the third Sunday of every month and after the service and are open to all members.

Okay, May…it’s all you now. Don’t hold back…Give us as much Life and Aliveness as we can handle, and then give us an extra helping to be sure!

We have lots coming up at ISD-DC so be sure to read about some of those events in this week’s ISDetails…and then check our website and Facebook page often for the most news and announcements.

Let Magical May begin!

Pastor, Institute for Spiritual Development

Resurrection Reflections

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by Rev. Rob Banaszak, Pastor, ISD-DC

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I am dizzy in a post-Easter vibrational whirrrrrrrrr!

I know some of you who work closely with me may read that last sentence and think I was calling myself “ditzy…” And, well, perhaps you wouldn’t be wrong. But if our energy-soaring Easter Week experiences have made me ditzy AND dizzy, then so be it!

Actually, I think all of March was magically dizzying. Or dizzyingly magical! Our second Spirit Fest on March 10 was even more successful than our first in November, with our volunteer healing, reading and massage service providers logging in over 20% more sessions. Then came the “sparkly” Angelic Heartlink workshop presented by our good friend David Gleekel the following day after service, and our Vernal Vibrations Spring Festival that consisted of our powerful Spring Equinox Ritual on March 19, and our field trip to the Washington National Cathedral for the awesome Equinox Drum Circle at March 20. We celebrated Palm Sunday with our special, beautiful Service of the Roses on March 25. We brought our already-moving Service of the Shadows Service to an amazing NEW LIFE with the live musical and sound stylings of vocalist Lisa Schwanger, pianist Rev. Theresa Del Grippo, and Gong Maven Rosemary Peters. Both our English and our Spanish Easter Services were inspiring celebrations of the uplifting Renewal we have been awaiting and preparing for. And it has all been so much FUN!

For my Easter Sunday homily I read the following passage from The Last Battle, which is the final book in The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis:

It is hard to explain how this sunlit land was different from the old Narnia as it would be to tell you how the fruits of that country taste. Perhaps you will get some idea of it if you think like this.You may have been in a room in which there was a window that looked out on a lovely bay of the sea or a green valley that wound away among mountains. And in the wall of that room opposite to the window there may have been a looking-glass. And as you turned away from the window you suddenly caught sight of that sea or that valley, all over again, in the looking- glass. And the sea in the mirror, or the valley in the mirror, were in one sense just the same as the real ones: yet at the same time they were somehow different-deeper, more wonderful, more like places in a story: in a story you have never heard but very much want to know. The difference between the old Narnia was like that. The new one was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more. I can’t describe it any better than that: if you ever get there you will know what I mean.

It was the Unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling. He stamped his right forehoof on the ground and neighed, and then cried:

“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this. Bree-hee-hee! Come further up, come further in!”

I read this passage when I was very young, and yet, even then,  I felt like I had a full grasp on this “truer” Narnia that C.S. Lewis described; that his characters were experiencing. I could see in my minds eye the deepening vividness of the scenes and the expanding brightness of the colors. I “got it.”

I felt especially blessed that I discovered this passage again, and that I had the opportunity to share it with our Community. And it wasn’t until I was actually reading it from the podium that I understood why I really “found” it again. And that the reason I “got” it so very long ago was because I “remembered” the very feeling the passage described — in my own life NOW. Deeper Narnia. Truer Narnia.  More vivid. More real. More beautiful.

Now, at the Institute for Spiritual Development, – Washington, D.C., we are celebrating the Resurrection of the Wayshower and our Brother Jesus…and revealing our New Life as a luminous Spiritual Community of Adventurous Souls. Together, we are claiming our birthright of joy, enlightenment, love and peace, as we share our gifts with each other and our world to manifest even more magic. This is Our Narnia! Deeper than we imagined, truer than we thought, more vivid than we expected, and more real than we conceived.

“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now.”

Yup. I may be dizzy, ditzy or even downright daffy. But Narnia feels pretty awesome right now.

My Deeper Love and my Truer Gratitude —

–Rev Rob Banaszak
Pastor, Institute for Spiritual Development

Humming Along…

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by Rev. Rob Banaszak, Pastor, ISD-DC

RevRobBanaszak_InstagramHave you felt the HUMMMMM at ISD over the last couple of weeks?

The energy? The excitement? The expectancy?

Perhaps you felt it when special guest minister Rev. JoAn Dawkins’ presented her magnificent homily about infinite possibilities. Or when Savitri Khalsa wowed us with the “participatory preview” of her upcoming “Playful Heart” workshop.

Did you feel it during the first ever Healers Circle on January 28?  We all definitely felt it in the final Guided Meditation class, when our closing meditation came to life with our spontaneous surge of collective creativity. I also heard folks say they felt it during the SuperBlueBlood Meditation, as we centered ourselves in preparation for the effects of the rare celestial occurrence.

And I felt it bigtime during the fresh new Imbolc Ritual, as we — celebrant, musicians, and congregants — co-created a reverent and magical experience that perfectly concluded our week of energizing spiritual activities , and propelled us right into another!

We are IN it now, Friends. We’re In the zone. We’re in the flow. We are present and we are alive and our Spiritual Community’s truth is stirring in our hearts and souls, awaiting its full and expansive awakening.

Can we keep this momentum going? Yes we can! This week we launch our Inner Authority Series, a four-session series demonstrating a mix of practical spiritual modalities,  exercises and rituals we can use to realign with our personal power and “act” on our inner knowing.

Rev. Kathy Kerston’s residency will include two more stand-alone classes on February 13 and February 15, each giving us more tools to “get with ourselves.” She’ll also be offering a limited number of private readings, so be sure to email her right away at kathykerston@gmail.com to schedule yours (and to give her your birth information).

We are still in plPledgeToMoveForwardLogoedge season, and many of you have already “Pledged to Move Forward.”  This is a significant component to building our momentum! If you haven’t, what are you waiting for?  Renew your membership and indicate your monthly pledge.  Then you, too, keep us moving forward. Look for your pledge card in the mail in the next few days or download a pledge card here. Fill it out, and return it:

  • Mail it
  • Sign it, scan it and email it to revrobb@isd-dc.org
  • Drop it off at Sunday Service

As metaphysicians, we know that we won’t BE big unless we DREAM BIG. Let’s join together in the coming months on an exciting, exhilarating adventure. Let’s share our experiences, respect each other’s unique gifts and ideas, and manifest an ever-evolving Spiritual Community, revealed in Joy and expressed in Love.

Oh, and let’s have LOTS of fun along the way!

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…Onward, Ho!

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Okay. I just can’t hide it any longer. I am GIDDY with delight and excitement these days. Our Spiritual Community has claimed its 2018 with a confidence — almost audacity — that I have not seen since my earliest days here.

And why wouldn’t we? We had a pretty rough ride in the last couple of months of last year. And that’s not to say that the year was a “bust” at all! In fact, during our most challenging times, our members and congregants took an interest in — and then claimed responsibility for — the vision of our Community, and how we as a team are manifesting that vision.

From ashes of our 2017 has risen a passion, dedication and optimism from those who have shown up and said, “I’m here for you. Whatever you need.”

And “whatever you need” included stepping in as a last minute homilist, usher, reader or healer, for a Sunday Service; taking down holiday decorations; climbing into our “secret crawlspace” in the supply closet to store those decorations, playing Sunday hymns for a gazillion Sundays in a row; taking over our gift boutique’s operations; attending board meetings; accepting board leadership nominations or appointments; folding and stuffing the membership renewal mailing at the restaurant while enjoying post-church brunch; and making time for countless back-to-back phone conversations about meeting agendas, workshop ideas or spiritual consequences. “Whatever you need” has certainly been ISD-DC’s unofficial  theme for January 2018.

And, as I said in my homily last week, the rubber is hitting the road now. Do we maintain this amazing momentum or do we retreat in defeat. Do we bravely claim our metaphysical principles and move forward into the future WE desire for the community, or do we retreat and hope others take us where we want to be?

PledgeToMoveForwardLogoLast week, for our “RE-Dedication” Sunday, I pledged to move forward into 2018 and beyond. By cultivating teamwork and trust. By seeing the best in our Community’s members. By nourishing myself with positive people, thoughts  and actions that inspire fellowship and collaboration, and by making (and fulfilling)  my financial pledge to ISD so we can keep our flow going!

We are hoping you too, will “Pledge to Move Forward!” Download a pledge card here, fill it out, then return it by mail, email, or at Sunday Service.

All of these “rededication” thoughts and actions bolster my faith in my message from Spirit about the vision of our Spiritual Community’s future. We are exactly where we are supposed to be so that we can become who we are meant to be! And we ARE moving forward. Individually. Together. As a Community.

And in the words of everybody’s favorite toy spaceman, Buzz Lightyear:

“To Infinity! And Beyond!”

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The Christmas Cheer is All Right Here!

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by Rev. Rob Banaszak

Pastor, ISD-DC

I do love some good ol’ holiday cheer, don’t you? I have to say that I had become spoiled over the last 20 plus years living away from my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA, because my mom was always the one who “held Christmas” for the family. Not being home for Christmas was NEVER an option. So I really never decorated at my home, because I would go to Mom and Dad’s without exception, and enjoy all of the decorations, and none of the decorating!

Pastors Post banner largeComing to ISD in 2008 helped to re-ignite a Christmas Spirit that I hadn’t even realized I had allowed to fade. We would kick off the season by hauling in a huge tree and standing it up in the fancy tree stand before the start of our Tuesday night class. Then we’d have the famous Decorating Party on the first Sunday of December. We were a flurry of decorating dizziness!  ISD-DC member heroes Tom Landon and Arthur Morton would climb mile-high ladders to precariously staple what seemed liked miles of artificial garland to the beams inside the Sanctuary. Lyriel Claire would spearhead the ever-so-messy task of “flocking” the tree with artificial snow and we’d all pitch in to string lights on the tree and hang hundreds and hundreds of ornaments and bows and doves and wreaths and lights. All of it helped get me into the Season and relieved me of the obligation to decorate my own house.
My mom passed in 2014 and my dad in 2016, so the Christmas Cheer I experience at ISD-DC’s has become more special than I ever imagined it would. And this year, what happened in our community over the last two weeks can definitely be considered, in my humble opinion, a Christmas miracle. In short, a potential disaster with a 12-foot broken artificial tree became inspiration for a brand new Christmas display in the Sanctuary. Thanks to the steady stream of help from several creative “ISDecorators…” everything was hung, strung and twinkling in time for our annual ISD Family Service and Celebration last Sunday.
And oh! The Celebration itself! Our brand new Fellowship Hall, which after the renovation had about 20 more square feet than before, was filled with more than 40 ISD family members, some of whom hadn’t been to the church in awhile, some relatively new folks, and of course, the “long-timers,” all enjoying a delicious meal together (prepared by attendees) and even more delicious discussions. The Spirit of Christmas was unquestionably present over the past weekend. You can check out our entire Family Christmas Service online, and see pictures of the Fellowship Celebration on the ISD-DC Facebook page.
Let’s keep sharing our Joy! We’ll celebrate the seasonal transition of Darkness into Light at our beautiful Winter Solstice Service tomorrow evening at 7:30 p.m. And then we’ll present the story of the Nativity from a metaphysical perspective at our gorgeous and peaceful Christmas Eve Candlelight Service on Sunday, December 24 at 8 P.M.  THERE WILL BE NO SERVICE ON SUNDAY MORNING.
On behalf of ISD-DC’s Ministers and the Trustees, I wish all of our ISD-DC community a season of ever-increasing Magic and Miracles.
Forward in Gratitude and Grace —
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Triumphs Just When Ya Need ‘Em

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Well, if there was a week that we needed to score some triumphs, last week was it. And score triumphs we did. First, Rev. Jim offered a FREE class on ISD’s powerful Declaration of Principles, and the discussion was informative and lively. Drumming with RoyOn Wednesday, November 8, special guest communal drummer Roy Brown Eagle led an intimate group of spiritual adventurers through our first-ever drumming circle in our our newly-renovated Sanctuary. Talk about RAISING THE ROOF with amazing tribal percussive energy, and with his special Light Blessing on the space.

Registration Line webThen Saturday, we debuted SpiritFEST, our first-ever “supersized psychic fair,” with rave reviews from just about everyone who walked through the door that day. ISD-DC Board member D’Lynne St. Pierre shared a vision several months ago of our church building abuzz with the energy of many spiritual offerings taking place from a diverse, talented and enthusiastic team of intuitive readers, healers, spiritual artists and volunteers. And boy, did that vision come to LIFE! The picture at the top of this week’s ISDetails is our newly-renovated Fellowship Hall, which was a cozy, warm, inviting, and healing little “getaway” from the chilly weather of the day. Congrats to D’Lynne and to everyone who made that day a truly special and beneficial day for our Spiritual Community. Click here for more photos of SpiritFEST on the ISD-DC Facebook Page.

Rev. Jim’s homily put a hefty exclamation point on the week’s successes, and also posed a challenge for each of us. His message of “What’s Next Now?”  was a message that our Spiritual Community took to heart last week, more determined than ever to BE the Strength, Peace, Healing and Love that we are seeking. And all we need to do to begin that process of BEING that which we seek is to ask ourselves “What’s Next?” Because, as Rev Jim says, the Universe is waiting to answer that question...if we listen.

This Sunday is ISD-DC’s annual Dedication Sunday. We’ll celebrate it a bit differently this year, by looking deep into our own dedication to Spirit, and to the community we are building to celebrate and express that dedication. I invite you all to join us for our special service, which will include a brand new dedication ritual, as well as a wonderful “Family Gratitude Luncheon, which we will enjoy right in our own home — our newly-renovated Fellowship Hall.

AllCards croppedOh and don’t forget to purchase your ISD-DC Holiday Cards! You can order online, or you can see ME this Sunday to get YOUR pack of 8 cards featuring beautiful images of ISD’s Sanctuary during the holidays, for the low price of just $10. Show off your Spiritual Home and support your community.

You know, we have come so far.  And yet, we have so much more to discover in our Spiritual Community. Will you join me in doing so? Let’s continue to listen —  and then take action — to see, and to create, the beauty everywhere in both our individual AND our collective Spiritual Journeys. And let’s choose to move forward, with truth,  not illusion; with inspiration, not apathy,  with compassion, not contempt; and with LOVE.

Grace begets more Grace, you know.

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Pastor, Institute for Spiritual Development

Grace on a Rock

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By Rev. Rob Banaszak

Pastor
Institute for Spiritual Development, Washington, D.C.

RevRobBanaszak_InstagramI grew up with lots of elephants making camp in the room. We moved around them so deftly that I now marvel at how we were able to have any conversation with so many topics being avoided. There is a short-term relief from the discomfort that avoiding those elephants may bring, but it really doesn’t serve the integrity of any relationship in the longterm to make avoidance the norm.

In the last couple of weeks we’ve had to leave that comfort zone behind and “keep it real” for our ISD-DC community by addressing some recent unpleasant bumps in the road we’ve been dealing with. You can listen to my homily from this past Sunday for more intel, but the point of THIS note is to affirm the unique, pivotal opportunity these — or any — bumps can be for us to re-group, reflect, and RE-DEDICATE ourselves to our Spiritual Journey, and our beautiful Community in which that journey can unfold.

In the New Testament, Matthew 7:24-27, we hear hear the famous passage about building a house on a rock foundation or a sand foundation, and which can withstand the elements that it will inevitably face throughout its existence. And now, we get to choose for ourselves…is our Spiritual Community built on a rock or on sand? And will we BE the rock foundation that it needs to withstand the elements, or will we disappear like sand?

When we accept our challenges instead of the denying them, then apply our metaphysical principles of consciousness and intention to them, we not only recover from “bumps along the way” more quickly, but we grow even stronger as a result of them.

Wonderful things are happening for our Community RIGHT NOW. In spite of our challenges AND because of our challenges, we ARE moving forward and becoming a better Community today than we were yesterday. And we will continue becoming better.

The world only moves forward. And so do we.

Let’s consciously choose GRACE as we do.

 

We don’t break…we MAKE!

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 by Rev. Rob Banaszak
Pastor, Institute for Spiritual Development
It doesn’t seem like we can bear much more, does it? Mother Earth and Her Children are shouldering so many burdens right now. We are confused, we are hurt, we are sad, we are EXHAUSTED.

But — decimated, or drowned, or burned, or worse — notice the healing process beings immediately, even from the worst devastation. Life can’t but help continue, for Life’s true nature is LIVING.

From the rubble, floodwaters, and ashes, we emerge.

We regroup. We restore. We rebuild.

Because it is our NATURE to create. It is in our very BEING to MAKE.

And that is what gives me hope, even when things seem hopeless. It is our nature to use all ingredients, components, materials we have at our disposal to MAKE something that is wholly greater than all of its individual components.

I’m not gonna lie. I’m with ya. I get anxious. I get scared. I despair. I’m human and becoming a minister does not mean I suddenly have bypassed these very human experiences and attained mastery over them. But as a minister it is my responsibility — my calling — to explore and encourage the ways we can most lovingly respond to these experiences with our very best self…our Divine Self.

Each time a circumstance, situation or experience challenges us, is a call to MAKE SOMETHING OF IT. To make something that is greater than any of the pain or despair or fear that it may cause.

And watch. It is happening and will happen. New, life-altering relationships and connections will form as a result of the Las Vegas massacre. Stronger communities will emerge from the collaborative responses to the fires, earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural phenomena that have devastated so many around the world. And new voices will rise as to loudly proclaim our unwavering stand for the human rights and liberties we have fought for.

Because it is who we are. We live, so we will always MAKE our way back to LIFE!

And we don’t have to go it alone. We can connect, share, inspire and manifest with each other!

No one needs to make it on his or her own. Let’s MAKE OUR LIFE TOGETHER!

“ISD Is My Home”

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CANDACE

By Candace Ford

My name is Candace Ford. I am originally from Pensacola, FL and I am a veteran of the United States Army. I am the single parent of my one son Lanel, who also serves as an usher here at ISD from time to time.

I had my first exposure to psychic abilities when I was a little girl. My great aunt, who raised me until I was nine, had the ability to read playing cards. As I grew up, I went to Baptist and and Pentacostal churches. I always felt like there was something more, though. “Church people” all seemed to be intent on judging others and bashing them behind their back. I am not for bashing anyone for ANYTHING. I love EVERYONE. No matter what, I have always seen the good in, and loved others.

So by the time that I got stationed in Washington, D.C., I had absolutely no plans for joining a church. I began returning to my “psychic roots” and, when searching for places to buy sage, I discovered Sacred Circle bookstore in Old Town Alexandria. The store offered some classes that I was really interested in, and I ended up taking a psychic development class taught by longtime ISD member Lyriel Claire. She told me of several churches in the area, including ISD, that were from same spiritual perspective that I had begun to explore.

So I came to ISD for a Sunday Service, and never left! At ISD I felt the love, acceptance and warmth emanating throughout the building. ISD accepted me right away with twang, and all the “aint’s,” “cants,” ya’lls and everything else that comes with country me. I love you all and there is nothing you can do about it! If I am mad with you I still love you. If you call me I will come if you need me — I am there.

This is my first metaphysical experience and it is what I have been looking for all my life. ISD is my home. ISD is my family — I have my “mother,” “father,” “big brothers,” “aunts” and “cousins. I support ISD because it is my home. Just like when I think about keeping the lights on at my residence, I want make sure that the lights stay on in my spiritual home.

You will not find this knowledge and acceptance anywhere else, and I think that there needs to be an ISD in every city – like the WaWa convenience store on every corner!

 

The Magician

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David Waite and his lovely wife Claudia at the 2016 Metaphysical Magic retreat

by David Waite

a poetic reflection on the Metaphysical Magic Retreat

 

Life is filled with

Events – each with a measure of energy.

Some, seem to be more important…

Others, not…

Who determines that???

Who, me? … … … me.

Oh…

I’m the one always choosing events and their importance in my life…

 

Events…      have perspective-

They can be past, present, or future

Past events inform the new events

Present events are life unfolding (new)

Future events are the ideas yet to be…

All of this together is life being created.

 

Created…  Oh…

By my choices I am creating my reality

Each moment of each day.

Who am I…???   By my thoughts,

I am the one creating.

Therefore, I am the magician in this lifetime.

 

Clearly, this is who I was pretending not to be.

 

 

Life then is precious.

Each Life is sacred.

Each one of us is imbued with consciousness and desires

Gifted from God.

Moment to moment.

Our thoughts: a key to being…

Thoughts exist only in the present moment.

Now…

Gifted from God…

 

Other influences? Yes, there seem to be some of those.

Karma-

Lessons to learn/experience…

Environment-

Universe; Planets; Ecosystems;

As magicians, we interact daily with these –

Mostly, to understand them,

to learn from them;

to pay attention to them.

Ahh. Pay attention. How do we do that…?

Our thoughts…

are prayers.

Our prayers.