Tag Archives: journal

Integral Church Turns One Year Old

Carl Sagan Birthday Meme

On November 13, we will celebrate our one year anniversary, and I wanted to say thank you to everyone reading this for being a part of this community / organization / mission and also take some time to honor those* responsible for getting us this far. Looking back at this year, it’s truly amazing what we’ve accomplished with little to no resources, and it’s an honor to have been a part of it, to watch it be co-created — something new, alive and evolving.

With all of that said, we are not impervious to change, and there are currently a few open seats on our Board of Directors. If any of you are willing to step into those leadership positions in 2014, please let me know.

One of the primary areas in which we need help is the reviving of our community outreach programs. This involves researching and/or developing ongoing programs that give back — including community service, helping families in need, volunteering at local gardens, etc. We’ve had some really great ideas in this area, and have made inroads with other local non-profits (who could definitely benefit from our help) but we need someone compassionate and skilled at managing other people to really breathe some life into this and move it forward.

Another area we need help in is the planning of our monthly interfaith services — this would include coordinating with the city on our calendar, and the scheduling of future speakers and musical guests. We also need committee members for the planning of future events and workshops, including the upcoming Religious Literacy series and our 9th annual Alchemy Fest fundraiser.

We also need to hear from you. We need your input and ideas. The friend-sourcing journal was originally instrumental in guiding us toward the types of projects our community members would like to participate in and what our community might be able to sustain. But we need to continually build feedback loops and structures (virtual or otherwise) that will allow us to nominate, vote on, organize, implement and execute these projects — as well as solicit ideas for new ones — so that we may actually serve the community in a greater and more effective way. This will not happen without your voice.

Most importantly, as we continue to unfold (as Spirit-in-Action), we must remain committed to living a life that is mindful, optimal, meaningful and sustainable.

Thank you again for participating (even if you’re just following along on the blog) in everything that’s happened this past year. I look forward to growing our reach, deepening our relationships and continuing to do meaningful work — including the small things like spreading goodness, beauty and truth wherever we go.

If you have any questions or if you feel that you might be ready to get involved, please reach out via e-mail, phone, Facebook, Twitter, telepathy or smoke signal.

Looking forward,
Joran Oppelt
Integral Church

* Joey for planting the seed and starting the argument (and the Google Doc); Rev. Russell Heiland for the encouragement; Lorrie for inspiring us to give in greater ways; Christa and Jessica for an amazing Alchemy Fest; Kevin, Max, Nimo and Ivan for energizing the men’s group; Los, Catherine and Shanna for stepping into their roles as board members; Shannon for watching the kids; Denise for her huge and powerful heart; Jacqueline for sharing; Jake for always being there; Jason Sowell for his friendship and guidance; Lynne McTaggart for showing up; Stephen Prothero and Howard Rheingold for their work; Paramahansa Yogananda for pretty much everything; Amir Ahmad Nasr for his story; Fr. Richard Rohr for his wisdom; Rev. Temple Hayes for her wing; Chris at Palehorse for seeing and hearing it; all the volunteers at all of our events … and Jennifer for her infinite patience.

The Seven Day Media Cleanse: How and Why?

“Everyone can perform magic, everyone can reach his goals, if he is able to think, if he is able to wait, if he is able to fast.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha



It wasn’t even my idea.

It was my seven-year-old daughter, Alchemy, who suggested it.

“Daddy, let’s go a week without watching TV!”

Her mother, Jennifer, and I had just finished our second juice cleanse of the year, and I think Alchemy was just caught up in all the cleansing and fasting and wanted somehow to be a part of it all. She got no argument from us. In fact, we had just been commenting on her ability to lose herself for hours in the ridiculous time-suck that is the “EZ Bake Oven” app on her iPad.

Recognizing the opportunity to break myself of that nasty texting-and-driving habit, I suggested we also incorporate devices and apps (like Facebook and Twitter) into the mix. Since she didn’t have access to these services, she was totally cool with it.

So, here were the fast and not-so-loose ground rules for our Seven Day Media Cleanse:

1) No TV
2) No apps
3) No internet

This meant no Facebook, Twitter, Netflix or Hulu and (voluntarily) included iTunes and streaming audio services (we have a family plan on Apple Music). For seven days, we would listen to vinyl at home and only have work-related access to e-mail and Google Drive.


We decided to start on a Sunday, as it seemed like a day we could easily keep ourselves occupied. However, I had forgotten, this wasn’t any normal Sunday. Jen had class all day, and I had the kids.

My morning routine usually consists of me opening my eyes, hopping out of bed, going to the bathroom, then getting back into bed and lying there for at least another half hour scrolling through my Twitter and Facebook feeds. Not so this morning. I got up, saw Jen out the door, made a cup of tea, put on a record, and started getting the kids ready for the day. I always find it easier to leave the house altogether when I have them. If we’re on the go, they can’t get bored, and they can’t make a mess. Do other dads do this?

We had plenty of books and records at the house to last us through the week, but we made a preemptive trip to Daddy Kool and Planet Retro to buy some records missing from our collection just in case (Jellyfish, Local Natives, Public Enemy, Tomahawk). This seemed completely justified and even proactive at the time. In hindsight, I guess I just like to shop for records.

Our dinner routine usually consists of sitting at the coffee table and watching TV while we eat. However, when Jen got home, we had dinner at the dining room table. Something we hadn’t done in a while. I said a short blessing before the meal, and we enjoyed all facing each other, talking and laughing.


Not being able to listen to music while driving kinda took some getting used to. The car is where I usually listen to the music I want to hear. I listen to entire albums at a time, and I listen to them loud. I most likely look like a fool to other drivers in traffic as I drum on the steering wheel and shred wicked air guitar solos. After I dropped the kids off at school, it was just me, my thoughts and the silence. The silence was deafening. My ears rang and my head throbbed. I talked to myself, and at times even noticed myself yelling – not in anger, just talking loud to fill the emptiness.

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Cultivating Spirit with the Natural World: A Bridge Retreat

This past Saturday, we had the pleasure of attending a nature retreat entitled, “Cultivating Spirit With The Natural World” hosted by The Bridge and led by Dr. Karen Mutter and University of Tampa’s Susan Taylor Lennon. It was a day-long intensive, and when it was over, we had thoroughly honored the Autumn Equinox through dance, guided meditation, a delicious community meal and a vision quest.

To guide us on our journey, we pulled an animal spirit card. Mine featured four birds (an owl, a crow, a hawk and a hummingbird) oriented to the four compass points. The card also contained the words “Life Lessons,” “Victory,” and “Courage” as well as the number 23. What follows are the photos we took while exploring the beautiful Northwood property, and the journal entry that I scribbled down as we were called back to the circle and were asked to share what we had learned.

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It has been said that the map is not the territory.

But in navigating our world – morally, geographically – we depend on the correct tools to stay the course. Magnetic north is only so because of the weight of the cosmos pulling at itself. We continually rely on signs, quadrants, polarities, spectrums, orientation and others to define ourselves, our position and our direction in this world.

And since the center is everywhere and the circumference is nowhere, these orienting energies and drives allow us as individuals to interface like a lens and open like a portal between worlds – aligning interiors with exteriors, the miscrocosm with the macrocosm, individuals in relation to collectives, wholes in relation to parts, the biosphere in relation to the noösphere, sometimes all while plugged into the technosphere.

Since our own face is the face of God, and since our own mind is the mind of God, every time we set our eyes (or even our thoughts) on this world, we face God, staring back at ourselves.

We are of the world. We are in the world. We create and destroy the world, and we only change the world by living in it.

Today, as the sunlight came from behind a tree, warmed my chest, stopped me in my tracks and opened my heart, I asked God, “What would you have me do?” And, God (my own mind) answered. Just as it did years ago when I was instructed to “be the needle” on the record player that is the universe – starting me on a two decade-long journey in the art of channeling melody and lyric and song, a journey and a celebration of the art of music.

Today, God answered, “be the compass,” and I am prepared to look forward to yet another two decade-long journey. This time in the art of leading by example.

The art of acknowledging and creating meaning in every moment.

The art of capture, and also of release.

The art of taking a machete to my insides every season and clearing that field for new growth.

The art of weaving a sustainable web.

The art of loving the world as I love myself.

The art of living.