Posts Tagged: Community

Summer May Be Sneaking away, but Our NOW is Here to Stay!

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Summertime, and the livin’ is easy…

Okay, if that’s the case, why do I feel like I have been left in the dust? Wasn’t it just our annual retreat time mid-May? Or Summer Solstice on June 21? Or July 4???

I suppose that I am destined to always mention how fast times flies as we get older. This means you’ll be destined to be on the receiving end of that mentioning in my columns or homilies or general conversations  — please bear with me! You’ll see that my constant refrain of time moving quickly is only a call for us all to realize the preciousness of our lives NOW.

Revs Rob and TheresaYou know who realizes the preciousness of her NOW moments? That would be our very own Rev. Theresa Del Grippo, that’s who. Rev. Theresa became sanctioned as an ISD minister in May, and was on the podium as the M.C. for this past Sunday’s Service. She hit it out of the park! Rev. Theresa continues to inspire me. Not only did she jump in with both feet to be our regular accompanist on Sunday mornings, but she has answered a Call that is even greater — to fully express herself as the minister she was ordained to be when she graduated from the New Seminary in New York City, years ago. She not only embraced ISD-DC as her Spiritual Community, but sought to become a leader with and for our Community. All while continuing to evolve, and grow and expand her personal horizons as well.  I am so grateful she is on the team, and am so proud of her for the grace with which she launched her ministry with us. If you don’t know the story of how Rev. Theresa fortuitously, miraculously arrived at ISD-DC, I encourage you to ask her.

AJanet Podiumnd I have had not one, but TWO Sundays in a row to feel like a “proud papa” this month! On July 15, Rev. Janet Johnson, one of ISD-DC’s first ordained ministers (back in the 90’s and that’s as much as I say about that!) returned to the Sunday Service podium as MC, for the first time in several years. It must have been like riding a bike for Rev. Janet, because she, too, was both effortless and energetic! Rev Janet’s also been leading our Spanish Services since February, and is teaching two classes on our fall schedule. You can definitely say that Rev. Janet is back…and better than ever! She definitely is realizing the preciousness of her NOW moments, and helping others to do the same.

New member Debra Davis is leveraging her NOW moments by agreeing to chair our annual Back(Pack) to School program! Debra, whose stylin’ and smilin’ is becoming a Sunday morning “must-have,” comes from a longstanding commitment to community outreach, and is a natural to spearhead our ISD-DC’S annual campaign to outfit the kids of Douglas Knolls Community Center with the school supplies they need. And you can help the kids AND help Debra by sponsoring a backpack for $35. See her or me on Sunday, or make your donation online to this wonderfully worthwhile program.

And the NOW moments just keep getting better. I have just begun receiving applications and essays from our community members who are answering their Call to serve Divine Humanity by seeking the ministry at ISD-DC. I know from my own experience that once you hear The Call, you can’t un-hear it (though many try), so I also know the courage and the inner peace that they needed to summon from within to speak or write the words “I want to be a minister…” These Seekers are our Community’s Hope and my Inspiration, and I plan to do whatever I can to make their journey sacred and sensational!

What NOW moments are you grabbing on to as the Summer whizzes by? Would love to chat about them! Drop me an email or send me a text. I love to hear from y’all during the week.

Keep cool, Cats. I love ya!

Here I Am.

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On the last Sunday in June, 2008, I walked up to a lovely little chapel , neatly nestled between two private homes in the unabashedly residential DC neighborhood of the Palisades.

RevRobBanaszak_InstagramI had a feeling I was going to find what I was looking for — a spiritual home that I felt as connected to as I was to the Science of Mind church I had joined during my brief time in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Which, incidentally, was a lovely little chapel nestled among private homes in a residential neighborhood.

So when Rev. Steve Eveland, who was the M.C. that day said those magical words “Welcome Home,” I knew I was indeed home.

Ten years later, I’m still here! And what an adventure it has been. And I humbly ask you to indulge me some reflections on my ISD adventure, as they have been pivotal in the deepening of my love of our spiritual home, and the unfolding of my devotion to ensuring its legacy through a rich, joy-filled experience of spiritual community.

My ‘origin” story here is pretty epic and synchronous, and I hope you allow me to share it with you sometime. And, while I am humbled, honored and proud that I am “still here,” I do not claim to have been — or to be —  a perfect congregant, member, minister or Pastor. I have had my share of “growing pains” as I settled into what various roles I thought I might play here.

I served as a volunteer in many capacities, but with giant parameters around doing so. I answered the lifelong call to become a minister, but hadn’t really grasped what that meant here, at ISD, serving our members, and helping to usher in a space and place of peace.  I had several “church pals,” in my earliest days here,  but often left them in the dust as soon as any church event was over, to get back to my “friends.”

But I kept to my commitment to myself to change things up and do things differently than I had done in the past. Which meant choosing new behaviors like turning down the “forcefield” around me a bit — maybe even letting some people through! Or rather than wait to help someone until they give me a reason I am comfortable with, I’d help just because they earnestly asked “would you do this for me?”  Or being vigilant about my my moaning and groaning about stupid stuff, and trusting that the Universe had in fact, guided me to the perfect place for me right now.

And you know what? With or without my protective “layers” and in spite of my best efforts to keep my life compartmentalized and in boxes, I became more and more aligned with ISD and the people who bring her to life. I became a brightly colored thread among many other brightly colored threads that make up the vibrant tapestry of ISD. I became ONE with this community. Our history. Our triumphs and our trials.

I can honestly say that in the last 10 years, that I have been an integral part of some of ISD-DC’s highest vibrational moments! And yes, I have certainly been a part of some of our lowest ones as well. If you are truly involved and engaged in any thing worth your energy, that is likely to be the case. We can get hurt, and we can hurt too.

And wouldn’t you know it…with all of the“stuff” over the last 10 years, the good, and the not-so-goodm I have fallen IN LOVE! With our Sanctuary, where the veil between the dimensions is so beautifully fluid, and where Magic is the flow between them. With our Ancestry, who continue to be the deep and solid roots from which our diverse branches reach high to our limitless future. With our People — longtimers and newbies, who entrust us with their individual journeys and support us with their incredible generosity.

Yes. It has been quite the adventure to get “here.” And “here” today is not the “here” of yesterday and will most definitely not be “here” tomorrow.

What about you, my ISDelights?  Are you here? If not, what can we do to bring you here? What will you do to get you “here?” Who can you be, and what will you become when you are “here,” to help you be the very best person you can be when you are out “there”?

We’ve got a lovely summer and a busy fall coming up!  So if you have been teetering or wavering what your role is; or hem-hawing about how much you want to do or give, or when should you be making that decision about volunteering or  becoming a minister: here is that SIGN that you’ve been asking for:

“GET, HERE. NOW.”

Oh and here is the follow up sign that you also asked  for to determine if the first on was real:

“DO IT!!!” 

I’ll be here when you get here…

…oh wait..here you are!

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The Best Experience EVER! Until tomorrow…

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I have a thing for hyperbole, in case you haven’t noticed. I describe most of my best experiences in superlative language. Shocker isn’t it?  If I love a movie it is the “GREATEST movie ever made…” or my favorite TV show is the BEST EVER or my favorite new song is the “BEST song  I’ve heard in my LIFE!”

AnRevRobBanaszak_Instagramd, really, isn’t that the way everything in life should be? Shouldn’t today ALWAYS be the BEST DAY EVER? And here’s a secret — today being “best day ever” does not preclude tomorrow being even better. Because no matter how awesome things may be today — we can EXPECT even more awesomeness tomorrow!

I say this all now because before it gets too absurd to do so, I am about to share some reflections about our amazing retreat a couple weeks back. And — you guessed it — I have a few superlatives I’m gonna use. Like, for me, our Spring Awakening was a magical experience…and the very best experiences at ISD I’ve ever had. And also, one of the best SPIRITUAL experiences and one of the best LIFE experiences I’ve ever been a part of.

Yep. There are those hyperbolic, superlative words again. I assure you I mean them. I am so proud of being a part of the small but mighty team of souls who brought so many special spiritual “ingredients” to add to the delightful magical “stew” that nourished us with a deeper, richer “flavor” of what being awake means in our daily lives, and how that “state of awake” naturally flows into a more secure and meaningful alignment to the Spirit Within AND Without.

Nearly three weeks after Spring Awakening, I find myself more grateful than ever for the touchstone that ISD has become for me as I move through life. I marvel at the energetic shifts that are occurring as our Community begins to feel — and claim — the hypnotic buzz of the new vibration that is, for me, palpable as soon as you walk into the Sanctuary.

Never ever did I imagine (there goes the hyperbole again) finding myself in a life experience as superlatively wonderful and awesome and enriching as my experience of ISD has been in the last five months. Each week I truly experience the “best time I have ever had at ISD,”  which almost immediately afterward becomes bested the following week by another fantastic experience, and so on and so on!  I have learned in a very real way that things really do just keep getting better and better and better…as long as we KNOW they do.

So I ask you, then, what better time is there to join this exciting journey to Community, or to deepen your longtime dedication to it? If not now, when?

We’ve got a busy June ahead of us, and plenty of opportunities to catch this wave or hone your gifts. Scroll down this message, or check out our calendar page for the latest listings of our upcoming events. Write down the dates and times of those events that pique your interest and spark your imagination.  Then check back to the ISD-DC website often for updates to forthcoming days and times. Most importantly SHOW UP at the events you have decided you wanted to experience! In body, mind and spirit, SHOW UP and BE PRESENT. Do that, and you’ve already elevated your deep self.

So let GO of your worries! The Source has your back! Trust in this simple and sublime Power. Trust that your unique gifts are being revealed and released NOW — at the perfect place, and in the perfect time.  And, without ever “looking down” at how far up we have raised our vibrational vitality, we’ll be BUZZING as we realize just how aligned, inspired and enlivened we have always been, and we’ll know beyond doubt that our Divine Nature is manifesting our tomorrow as an even better today!

Off we go! On we stay!

Rob

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

…Onward, Ho!

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RevRobBanaszak_Instagramby Rev. Rob Banaszak, Pastor, ISD-DC

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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