Cheryl Woelk's blog

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The Narrative of Holy Violence

I agree that narrative is a major part of human reality. As Paul Loewen said here, the stories we tell make up our worlds. This can be "our" story which shapes our identity and ties us to God and the faith community. Yet, just as easily, humans seem to be able to adopt stories which justify the evil and sin in our world in which we participate.

Seeing the Other Side

How resilient are people? Do we really fall apart in every situation of grief? How is it that we can recover from horrendous trauma to life normal lives again?

In his book The Other Side of Sadness, George A. Bonanno explores mourning and the nature of human resilience in the face of grief. He suggests that the idea of people getting stuck in grief and overwhelmed by loss to the point of being unable to function over time is actually less common than people may think. The norm is actually resilience.

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Prayer and a Paper Shredder

I just read through my "morning pages," looking for nuggets to blog about and ripping out pages to shred.

"Morning pages" come from a class I took last year. It focused on "Disciplines for the Peacebuilder" and maintaining balance, and emotional and spiritual health when involved in the intense work of peacebuilding. The instructions were to write three pages every morning of whatever came to mind. It should be handwritten freewriting - not putting the pen down until the three pages have been filled.

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The Attraction of Community

A couple who had been a part of our church community in the past and who had moved to Ohio to become part of an intentional community, returned for a visit and shared about their experiences.

Hearing the words "intentional community," my ears perked up. I'm both attracted to and challenged by the concept of living together, sharing possessions, and reaching the point of connection in which extreme learning cannot help but happen.

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Reflection on Listening

Three times in one day, I was reminded of the need to listen. Worship in the morning focused on listening for God's voice, trying to calm our own voices and chattering to hear what God says.

Later, a social gathering with voices overlapping in a crowd of people needing to talk told me the importance of having someone to listen and the human need to express one's voice and be heard.

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A Prayer Week Reflection

To start off the school year, I decided to make the first week a personal prayer week. Although I usually prefer this kind of commitment together with others, like Will's efforts with reading through the Bible, the crazy-ness of getting back to Harrisonburg, starting a new semester teaching, and trying to finish off data collection with my research project make meeting with others regularly a challenge, and creating space for my own time of re-centering a must.

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Quitting the Blame Game

Reflecting on international students and culture the other day, a colleague commented on how a group of students who had been struggling in classes refused to blame anyone for their failing grades, took responsibility, and made no excuses. He was surprised because U.S. students usually go on and on with excuses, blaming roommates, teachers, the school, society, but not accepting their own part in not meeting the expectations for the class.

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Stereotypes Written Over with Faces

Last summer, we were camping at Crabtree Falls in North Carolina. It was a new experience for us. We'd been through the state before, but had never spent a night and had never tented in that area before.

One night, after a relaxing evening around the campfire, I was peacefully dreaming, curled up in my sleeping bag. Suddenly, a strange sound broke the stillness and woke me from sleep. In half-conscious confusion, I tried to identify the source of the sound. An animal? But I couldn't tell what kind.

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Recent Korea Reflections

Recently, I've been asked a lot of questions about "things" in Korea. It's hard to know what to think about the recent violence on the peninsula from the English and Korean media I read and the comments from friends and family around Seoul. I may write more in the future, but I wanted to share an article that was in the Washington Post several weeks ago. Carlin and Lewis, two U.S.

Spreading Positivity...

I'm trying to be less critical.

Lately, I've noticed my tendency to critique everything. From the beginning. Often before I even have enough information to properly critique. I come in to a situation looking for things I disagree with, things that I want to argue. Overall, it leaves me feeling kind of blah and less than optimistic about things in general.

It's not just affecting me.

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Schools of Caring

I first heard of Nel Noddings in a class on "Social and Ethical Issues in Education." Her comments on the ethics of care, that is, putting caring first in ethical decision-making as essential for education, caught my attention.

She came to EMU last spring to speak on caring and attachment theory. As her ideas provided foundations for EMU's education department, people were excited to say the least.

Eating Together for Peace

For anyone following U.S. media, it would seem that there is a divide between Christians and Muslims that has lead to violence in the past and will inevitably lead to more. This is a disturbing narrative reinforced by the media coverage of isolated extremist groups.

More comments I've heard recently are the need for the voices of peace to speak up and to act for peace. On the Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) campus and in the community of Harrisonburg, I experienced the strength of voices for peace this week.

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