The Waters Between Chalkboard Science and the Metaphysical Soul

 

Replies to:  A Bridge Between Chalkboard Science and the Metaphysical Soul

By The Rev. Dr. Jerry F. Smith, S.T.D., WPCA President

 

Question: “How do you maintain that free, respectful, and non-judgmental discussion within yourself?” 

 

The recent events of 2020 have brought me more and more into reflection, observation, and in some ways have produced a minor figure/ground shift.  Watching the events of the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the Earth I could feel change coming.  I knew in no uncertain terms this was going to facilitate a paradigm shift both for individuals and the collective whole.  Our worlds would be forever altered and the foundations of what we value, believe, and find meaning in would shift.  As I experience this in my own life, I notice the very intricate, subtle, and nuanced ways currents in my lifestream are changing.  The material, psychological, and spiritual boundaries are starting to dissolve, and new information is being revealed that probably was there all along but in this moment, conditions are more favorable, and I am particularly perceptive of them.

 

My hope for this article is to hold a space of sharing and witnessing.  I view my role here as a shared member of a community committed to the preservation of soul and that connection to what is nourishing and essential to the human element.  As I aspire to maintain that open space for non-judgmental, compassionate, respectful, and free dialogue internally within the sanctuary of my heart. I hope that my efforts can bring us into the waters that touch both the shores of chalkboard science and the metaphysical soul.  The place where we discover the experiential lived-life, the rhythm and tempo of being.  A place familiar from long ago in our ancestry, a place so part of us that it is ever-present in our dreams, intuitions, and transcendent experiences.  A place that is calling out to us from the caves of the ancients.  A place that in these troubling times is as essential to our being as breath is.

 

 

Science has given us wonderful tools to explore, understand, and transform our world.  It is the creative arm of our understanding and intellect.  However, the metaphysical soul is the generative, inspirational, and imaginative powerhouse that fuels our being.  When brought together in a balanced harmonious way they (science and soul) enable us to grow, discover, and transcend.  When we begin to inhabit our lives from this soul place, we come into contact with what is essential.  Soul is the source, the marrow, of our truest belonging.  It is from this place that we can access our own true authentic powers of creation, transformation, meaning, and connection with our highest Truth.  Bringing these two arms of the human experience together to inform and reflect upon each other births a more complete understanding of our own personal power, purpose, and passion, as well as opens up the world to be more generous, participatory, and interconnected.  Cultivation of this ability, namely the ability to create, connect, and remain open to the spiritual or soulful aspects of our experience is a central part of self-realization and more engaged, enriching life experiences.

 

What I have found is that this journey unfolds naturally within the scope of our lives.  The only thing that seems to change for me is my awareness and participation with it.  As I move through this pandemic, I am called to work with my ability to surrender.  Surrender plans, expectations, certainty, and control over my health or life.  To be aware, to notice, and then to trust and just surrender.  Not in a way of non-caring but in a way that is light, hopeful, and accepting.  To do all this requires a willingness to stand in relationship to the world around oneself.  To interact from a place that can clearly interpret the data and intuit a response that is appropriate for the situation and not overly influenced by our growing edges, reactions, or triggers.  It is to allow the world to be a mirror and to stand naked before it to witness the dance and interplay with life.  Cultivation of this comes from that space within.

 

The problem is that most of us are cut off from this part of our being.  Our culture and social structures like capitalism and consumerism have drowned it out or watered it down for the purposes of control, power, and influence.  Our elders are reaching the horizons of this life and one by one step over that horizon line into the Great Mystery.  It is up to each of us to begin that process of cultivating, questioning, discovering, and finally connecting with our Truth.  One way of doing this is with guidance from someone who is familiar with the landscape, the paths, and the pitfalls.  This is where psychology originally stepped in to fill the void between the two questions of ‘What is real” and “What are the properties of that reality?” Psychology is the water between the shores of science and the metaphysical Soul.  It is the elemental medium that we must wade into to connect the various realities around us and ultimately dissolve into and become part of.

 

Pastoral Psychotherapy allows space for the conversations, connections, experiences, and intuitions of the soul as we move through our material and scientific reality.  It honors our uniquely human attributes that don’t lend themselves to the scientific lens, while at the same time offering something of intrinsic value to the individual.  From my own experience doing this work, I have found my life open in widening circles and the freedom to be more authentic and confident in my own being. Both in my practice as a psychotherapist and in my personal life I have found moments of such clarity, completeness, and wonder that not only inform but guide me along my life’s trajectory.  As I venture into deeper waters between the shores, I find it hard to differentiate between the boundaries of myself and that of the water.  In these moments there is no doubt, anxiety, fear, or hesitation and I am just part of the current.  A current open and calling out to all of us to remember our ancestry and the power and potential of our inner soul and its journey toward ever-widening circles of transformation.

 

With warmest blessings,

Aaron Pascoe MA, LMHC-A, RMT

 

 

 

 

 

Letter from Rev. Jon Nestor

May 17, 2019

Dear WPCA Members and Friends,

I understand that tomorrow (Saturday, May 18), many of you are meeting to officially close AAPC-Northwest. I’m saddened that this is necessary. Ever since I became associated with AAPC in 1989, AAPC has been a significantly meaningful part of my life. I began attending AAPC-Northwest’s semi-annual meetings in the Fall of 1990. At that time, we were meeting every Fall at the Alton Collins Retreat Center in Sandy, OR, and every Spring in various Retreat Centers (e.g. Dumas Bay) in Western Washington. These semi-annual retreats became a regularly anticipated, regularly occurring, and formative part of my professional life. During that decade, Kristie and I were living in Tacoma, and had no way of knowing that she and I would be abruptly forced to leave the State of Washington to literally flee for our lives in April, 2001.

We wound up on the Central Oregon Coast, where we did our best to put our lives back together. A year earlier, almost to the day, Paula Hoyt and I had begun our study of Clinical Supervision in the brand-new Supervisor Formation Program offered through Pastoral Therapy Associates. At the time of Kristie’s and my untimely and unanticipated departure from Tacoma, we had to leave everything. Because AAPC-Northwest included the State of Oregon, as well as the States of Washington, Idaho, and Alaska, along with the Canadian Provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, AAPC-Northwest was the only part of Kristie’s and my life that we did not have to give up. As I continued to actively participate in AAPC-Northwest as a resident of Oregon throughout the first and second decades of the twenty-first century, AAPC-Northwest served as a bridge – and in 2001, the only bridge – between what was so familiar to both of us in Tacoma (WA) and what was to become familiar to me decades later in Yachats and Newport (OR).

I could share a lifetime of stories about my association with AAPC-Northwest. To this day, these stories remain in my memory. However, now the organization that served as a linchpin for me as I experienced the trauma of those opening years of the twenty-first century is fading away. Perhaps it will live on for many of you through the Washington Pastoral Counseling Association. As I began to recover from the trauma that Kristie and I both experienced, I tried to form the Oregon Pastoral Counseling Association. For a little more than a decade, I made repeated and concerted efforts to form and cultivate relationships among pastoral and counseling organizations in Oregon. With rare exceptions, I was either mocked by the
pastors or written off by the counselors. Whenever I consulted with pastoral counselors in Oregon to see if they were interested in gathering for purposes similar to what I had experienced in AAPC-Northwest, and joining me in forming the Oregon Pastoral Counseling Association, those whom I approached to join me in this purposeful and intentional venture were either not interested or didn’t have the time. Especially after having been saturated in the spirit of AAPC – and in particular, in the spirit of AAPC-Northwest –experiencing all of this has been an immense heartache for me.

While the idea of an Oregon Pastoral Counseling Association is still attractive to me, I cannot form this organization by myself. I’m aware that I might have taken the wrong approach to forming – or at least helping to form – this organization. Therefore, I’m open to learning from others what a better approach might be, as well as how to execute it. However, ever since I recovered from my heart-valve replacement surgery in September of 2012, the teachings of Carl Jung have deeply affected my life and work. In January, 2014, I began reading many of his writings, including his Collected Works on a daily basis. I maintained this discipline for four years, as I tried to find a PhD program in Depth Psychology in which I could further explore Jung’s writings while incorporating a depth psychological dimension into my practice of pastoral counseling. Finally, in August, 2017, I began work on my PhD in Psychology at Saybrook University. My specialization is Consciousness, Spirituality, and Integrative Health. This specialization makes my PhD program a Depth Psychology program. I’m fully invested in this PhD program. I’m about to complete my second year in this program, look forward to completing its class component in 2022, and to completing my Dissertation in 2025. I have already completed and submitted my Research Proposal to the Institutional Review Board this past January. For my Dissertation, I will be using Case Study Research Methodology to investigate how Jungian individuation impacts the clinical supervisory relationship. As a by-product of this investigation, I will be essentially testing my Model of Clinical Supervision that I developed en route to becoming a Diplomate in AAPC.

Professionally, I would like to become a Jungian Analyst, and combine my interests in Pastoral Counseling and Jungian Analytic Psychology in a variety of professional activities, such as teaching, and professional writing, in addition to my clinical practice of Pastoral Counseling and Clinical Supervision.

Tragically, Kristie died at the end of August, 2016 after battling a host of auto-immune diseases (including leukemia) for much of her life, but especially in the past two decades. Her death left a huge hole in my life, for we were truly soulmates in every sense of the word. However, through the help of many people, as well as through my own practice of spiritual disciplines, I have learned to internalize Kristie. Of particular help to me were the men in the Cancer Support Group that I joined two years before Kristie’s cancer came out of remission. I joined that group first because Kristie had leukemia (which was in remission at the time I
joined). I wanted to learn more about cancer, its treatment, and the effects it had on peoples’ lives. I had no idea when I joined that, two, years later, these men would – along with other people – basically carry me as I grieved Kristie’s death. With the help of many support systems, I have learned to cope with my physical loss of her. Today, I know that she is still a spiritual part of me, and the two of us continue to dialogue with each other on a daily basis. In this regard, I know that she continues to support what I’m doing today, just like she supported my activities and involvement with AAPC-Northwest.

So, while I’m saddened by the closing of AAPC-Northwest, I will be carrying my memories of it, as well as its teachings and experiences forward into my future life and work. In this sense, the spirit of AAPC-Northwest will live on in my heart, life, and work. In order to stay in touch with as many of you as possible in the coming months and years, I’m actively planning to join the Washington Pastoral Counselors Association. I look forward to maintaining and further cultivating our relationships with each other now and in the future as opportunities present themselves.

With deepest thanks and blessings,

Rev. Jon Nestor, MEd, LPC, LMHC, NCC

Honoring AAPC’s Formal Ending & Jerry Smith’s Contributions

At a gathering Sunday, May 19th, 2019, former members and friends of American Association of Pastoral Counselors and AAPC Northwest met to acknowledge the formal ending of both organizations. About thirty people came to the home of Marcia Matthaei, who hosted the gathering. Counselors and friends shared stories and spoke of the profound importance of AAPC to them in their professional growth and spiritual journey. Together we grieved this ending, this turning of the times. Read AAPC Oregon member Jon Nestor’s reflections regarding his experiences with the organization.

Paul Shoup represented AAPC NW. Jerry Smith represented Washington Pastoral Counselors Association, the group that remains, and will continue to be the vehicle to gather people desiring to fellowship together and support each other, to deepen and to grow.

Former members of AAPC desiring to maintain membership in a comparable professional organization may explore joining the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education:  https://www.acpe.edu/ACPE/Psychotherapy

 

Also at this gathering, The Reverend Dr. Jerry Smith, Th.D. was honored for his many years of elegant
contributions to the craft of pastoral counseling in this region. Stories and much love were
shared, a reading presented, (see below) and a plaque given to Jerry.

Quote from Teresa of Avila

“There is a secret place.
A radiant sanctuary.
As real as your own kitchen.
More real than that.
Constructed of the purest elements.
Overflowing with the ten thousand beautiful things.
Worlds within worlds.
Forests, rivers.
Velvet coverlets thrown over featherbeds, fountains bubbling beneath a canopy of stars.
Bountiful forests, universal libraries.
A wine cellar offering an intoxication so sweet you will never be sober again.
A clarity so complete you will never again forget.
This magnificent refuge is inside you.
Enter.
Shatter the darkness that shrouds the doorway…
Believe the incredible truth that the Beloved has chosen for [Her] dwelling place,
the core of your own being, because that is the single most beautiful place in all of creation.”