Nicola Coombe writes: It’s been a long-time love and focus. As I release the focaliser role, and the years in the seminary leader space before that, I’m pulled into a myriad possible reflections. For now, in this space, gratitude, passion and faith stream in and say…
I invite us to send fireworks of thanks to the synergy of influences and support that birthed this that we now call OneSpirit. To Miranda, our founder, may fireworks of gratitude shoot across the Atlantic to you now, sending you the surest note of validation for what you enabled and poured your life into for a powerful decade. To all that and those that championed and cheered for this to arise, further fireworks of appreciation shoot across the skies. In my mind I see the swathes of pioneers, across centuries and recent decades, bringing a message of oneness within difference, now known as surely in scientific as in mystic inquiry.
In this I think of the work of all that gave rise to our brother and sister schools in the USA, and to Rabbi Gelberman and to Diane Berke. I think of Tom Carpenter and Robert Holden’s founding presence, and of Elaine Walker, Fay Barratt, Mike Steward, and Peter Dewey, our ‘early days’ faculty. I think of the many other teachers and stewards who surround and hold this work now with the deepest love and wisdom. May we send songs from the angels to all our staff and faculty over the 21 years of this journey. To all our mentors and trustees and elders in this time, we send radiant rainbows of gratitude not only for your dedication but for your volunteering it too.
I recognize OneSpirit as part of the wave of hope that Paul Hawken’s book, Blessed Unrest, describes. We’re one small organization, but one of an unstoppable movement across the planet, focusing on animating the forces of grace, justice and beauty for sentient life’s continuity. OneSpirit trains ministers and spiritual counsellors. Every one of our ministers is a lightning conductor for love and a bridge between many worlds. Our vows instantly awaken integrity, inner listening and courage. In this we are each a radiant star. Together we form the OneSpirit constellation — a being of intensity, grace, resilience, vulnerability, ancient wisdom, and intensely bright promise. Remembering our vows together at 11.58 every day creates an energy surge to lean into and participate in. Let’s keep doing this.
The paths to healing, joy and connection that our OneSpirit curriculum holds are profoundly challenging, as much as they are the only things worth pursuing. OneSpirit’s presence is itself an act of leadership in the world, and will inevitably reflect and go through the storms of challenge and the cycles of grace that we see in every other part of the world. In the last 12 months OneSpirit has staggered in aspects of its experience, has flourished with other ongoing and new streams of life, and has worked deeply to seek the learning from all of this.
If unity is the reconciliation of differences, then, to quote Richard Rohr, “those differences must first be maintained — and then overcome by the power of love! You must actually distinguish things and separate them before you can spiritually unite them, usually at cost to yourself. ” In quoting this I am wanting to say to the minister body that OneSpirit is not seeking to reject you, and we understand it might feel like that. We are instead seeking to bring clarity to what the relationship is between the charity and its graduates, so that we can go forward towards a healthy, clearly contracted, differentiated and mutually supportive future.
We can see from aspects of the year past that this relationship has confusion within it. We can see how the organization has contributed to this, and we apologise. Know that it is our desire to be in partnership that is leading this stage of seeking a clearer differentiation of the parts, so that the relationship can be contracted on firm ground, and grow in health and beauty. I quote Richard Rohr again for he continues: “God is a mystery of relationship, and the truest relationship is love. Infinite Love preserves unique truths, protecting boundaries while simultaneously bridging them. While these two tasks seem initially like opposites, and impossible to reconcile, oneing is God’s essential task and the goal of all authentic spirituality.”
Those who step into leadership roles know that the torque increases closer to the centre. This is true for every one of us ministers in this field of transformation. It has been a privilege, and one that has inevitably also tested me deeply, to be in leadership roles in our organization. I am grateful to continue as part of the faculty. I will continue to listen, together, to what it is that we are called to offer in service of awakening, and the urgent call of spiritual education.
I deeply affirm my support and trust in those who are stepping into holding this leadership transition, including Jackie Amos Wilkinson and Alan Briscoe, who continue as our executive/ focaliser team, and Cathy Slow, our chair of trustees, her board, and all of our faculty and staff. I know OneSpirit’s determined life-force and creative brilliance, and I have such confidence and joy in that which is arising.
May we all know our wholeness. May we know the power of our hands in each other’s. May we practice the art of listening to the Mystery that guides us, together.
With love, Nicola