Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Exploring How We Gather
Category:
Mind

As a Ministry Innovation Fellow at Harvard Divinity School and now as a contributor to the popular public radio show and podcast On Being, Angie Thurston is exploring the boundaries of meaningful community. She will be a featured speaker at Esalen’s unique lecture series Conversations on the Edge: How We Gather—The Rise of the Unaffiliated Community, taking place August 8-10.

Joining Angie are Jerónimo Calderón—an Ashoka fellow with ties to innovative organizations including the Wellbeing Project, Amanitas and Tierra Valliente; Harley Dubois—a founding member of Burning Man’s Black Rock City LLC; and Vipin Thekk—a director at Ashoka who leads Changemaker School Districts.

We recently spoke with Angie about how she first became interested in her work and where her research is taking her.

Esalen News: What sparked your curiosity in how people, and specifically millennials, gather as a community?

When I graduated from college, I moved to New York City and worked as a playwright. The closest thing I experienced in terms of a community, a spiritual community, was in the arts. We were co-creating something bigger than ourselves; there was something transcendent and profound in our work.

Yet there was also a longing among my peers — many unaffiliated with an organized religion — for something more sustained. I started wondering, “Where do people like us go to find meaningful experiences of belonging?” So I started a spreadsheet to identify homes for the spiritual homeless. And in the meantime, I discovered I was really part of a national phenomenon in that a third of my generation is not affiliated with a religion. I was so fascinated by the question of what was going on in terms of transitions in the religious landscape of America that I uprooted my life to attend divinity school.

Esalen News: Please tell us more about this spreadsheet of the spiritual homeless!

In my very first semester in divinity school, I met Casper ter Kuile, who I now refer to as my work husband. At that time we exchanged our spiritual autobiographies and I knew we should collaborate together.

So in an act of millennial intimacy, I shared my Google spiritual homeless spreadsheet with him. It includes places like Crossfit, maker spaces, gaming communities, justice movements, artists groups, and more. We started mapping these communities and speaking with their leaders.

What we discovered was despite their outwardly different appearances, they were using the same words to describe the experience of gathering: personal transformation; social change; purpose; and coming from a mindset of abundance not scarcity. I thought to myself, “These people have the same script!”

Esalen News: What was the catalyst behind your work, How We Gather?

We (Casper ter Kuile and Angie) wrote How We Gather because we couldn’t believe it wasn’t already written. All these people from different communities aren’t talking to each other and don’t seem to know they’re doing shared work. They are lonely in their leadership, which is ironic given that they are leading communities. Unfortunately they are cut o from any infrastructure or ecosystem to be held in their work.

Esalen News: Where do you envision your work and research taking you?

I think we’re beginning to see leaders gathering to cross the sacred and secular divide. And what we are finding is that this work that they are all doing — we’re learning to call it ministry. It feels like we’re at a fascinating inflection point. I don’t think it’s too hyperbolic to say we’re moving from one paradigm to the next.


My hope is to begin to nurture the fledgling sprouts of this emergent spiritual ecosystem. How to bridge the ancient with the emergent — this is the next area where we’re focusing our energy.

Hear more from Angie during Conversations on the Edge: How We Gather—The Rise of the Unaffiliated Community, at Esalen August 8-10.


“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

Exploring How We Gather

About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Category:
Mind

As a Ministry Innovation Fellow at Harvard Divinity School and now as a contributor to the popular public radio show and podcast On Being, Angie Thurston is exploring the boundaries of meaningful community. She will be a featured speaker at Esalen’s unique lecture series Conversations on the Edge: How We Gather—The Rise of the Unaffiliated Community, taking place August 8-10.

Joining Angie are Jerónimo Calderón—an Ashoka fellow with ties to innovative organizations including the Wellbeing Project, Amanitas and Tierra Valliente; Harley Dubois—a founding member of Burning Man’s Black Rock City LLC; and Vipin Thekk—a director at Ashoka who leads Changemaker School Districts.

We recently spoke with Angie about how she first became interested in her work and where her research is taking her.

Esalen News: What sparked your curiosity in how people, and specifically millennials, gather as a community?

When I graduated from college, I moved to New York City and worked as a playwright. The closest thing I experienced in terms of a community, a spiritual community, was in the arts. We were co-creating something bigger than ourselves; there was something transcendent and profound in our work.

Yet there was also a longing among my peers — many unaffiliated with an organized religion — for something more sustained. I started wondering, “Where do people like us go to find meaningful experiences of belonging?” So I started a spreadsheet to identify homes for the spiritual homeless. And in the meantime, I discovered I was really part of a national phenomenon in that a third of my generation is not affiliated with a religion. I was so fascinated by the question of what was going on in terms of transitions in the religious landscape of America that I uprooted my life to attend divinity school.

Esalen News: Please tell us more about this spreadsheet of the spiritual homeless!

In my very first semester in divinity school, I met Casper ter Kuile, who I now refer to as my work husband. At that time we exchanged our spiritual autobiographies and I knew we should collaborate together.

So in an act of millennial intimacy, I shared my Google spiritual homeless spreadsheet with him. It includes places like Crossfit, maker spaces, gaming communities, justice movements, artists groups, and more. We started mapping these communities and speaking with their leaders.

What we discovered was despite their outwardly different appearances, they were using the same words to describe the experience of gathering: personal transformation; social change; purpose; and coming from a mindset of abundance not scarcity. I thought to myself, “These people have the same script!”

Esalen News: What was the catalyst behind your work, How We Gather?

We (Casper ter Kuile and Angie) wrote How We Gather because we couldn’t believe it wasn’t already written. All these people from different communities aren’t talking to each other and don’t seem to know they’re doing shared work. They are lonely in their leadership, which is ironic given that they are leading communities. Unfortunately they are cut o from any infrastructure or ecosystem to be held in their work.

Esalen News: Where do you envision your work and research taking you?

I think we’re beginning to see leaders gathering to cross the sacred and secular divide. And what we are finding is that this work that they are all doing — we’re learning to call it ministry. It feels like we’re at a fascinating inflection point. I don’t think it’s too hyperbolic to say we’re moving from one paradigm to the next.


My hope is to begin to nurture the fledgling sprouts of this emergent spiritual ecosystem. How to bridge the ancient with the emergent — this is the next area where we’re focusing our energy.

Hear more from Angie during Conversations on the Edge: How We Gather—The Rise of the Unaffiliated Community, at Esalen August 8-10.


“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Exploring How We Gather
Category:
Mind

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Exploring How We Gather

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