Engaged Spirituality With Gerry Straatemeier

For some time now, I have been casting about for a way to re-brand myself with ONE online identity instead of… I think it’s up to six now if you include blogs and FB pages. It had to be something that encompassed my entire purpose and the truth as I understand it today. This became really clear as I tried to re-write my WU home page, and after some months of being stuck (and creatively challenged) I have settled on “Engaged Spirituality” as a “something” that seems to fit my deepest lifelong values, even during the years I thought I was an atheist.

I don’t know that this “branding” helps me know what to “teach,” since in some ways I do more “preaching” than I do teaching…but hey, I am a minister, a therapist, a social worker through and through and a life-long social activist. I guess I’ll figure out how it translates into projects later, but this fits me comfortably in all the places that count. 

What is “Engaged Spirituality?”  I need to flesh it out in another post, but to me it means “Living Love” personally and also socially by helping to build a global Culture of Caring.

I have seen a lot of misery in my lifetime.

I grew up playing in bomb-holes in a shattered The Hague, Holland in the early 1950’s, just after the war. We had gone from New York to live with my paternal grandparents, whose home had been occupied by Nazis – they had had to flee. My father had come to the US in the late 1930’s to fight with the US Army. He marched up the Italian peninsula to drive out the Germans after Italy’s dictator surrendered. From these grade-school days come my lifelong peace activism.

For many years I worked as a therapist to people who “no way” could benefit from the simple “self-help” recipes I share on FB from the insights of my own recovery from deep depression, or even the spiritual truths that help me to stay centered. Some were incarcerated, some were mentally ill, some had lower IQ’s, some suffered addictions they could not shake, some had all of the above at the same time, most with no family ties to speak of as many had grown up in serial foster homes. They were the world’s castoffs, the children no one had wanted, now grown.

My very first client, while still in graduate school, was a little girl whose PTSD was so profound, she had not spoken a word for several years, although she had the capacity to speak. It took months of individual sessions with toys and drawings before she spoke her first word. I was “over the moon.” My later clients were just as vulnerable and trapped in homelessness and jails, finding love and connections (our most basic human need) where they could. They had hearts and dreams just like anyone else, but no way for most to ever find anything near a normal life, especially as the social services that gave them some modicum of dignity and hope started being cut in the 1980’s. This is still a problem which is about to become a LOT worse here in the US. Anyway, they stole my heart, every one of them, and this morning I am remembering them with Love.

There exists a need beyond the deep satisfaction of spiritual contemplation, hanging out with Source, to the urgent calling for that spiritual nourishment to translate to Good for the world you live in. You can’t just load your heart up with Love and Peace without your “cup flowing over” into service of one kind or another. Love unshared is Love unfulfilled, no matter what form of Love we are discussing.

Engaged spirituality moves beyond individual service, as with my clients, into the realm of social values, to work to create a world where all children are wanted and cared for, because they are all our children, and all people are able to live lives of dignity. This involves, As Dr. King said, a shift from a “thing-centered” social consciousness to a person-centered” one.

So, thence “Engaged Spirituality.”  Any thoughts? What are my next steps with all I’ve been doing?  Love, Gerry #WUVIP

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  1. Heather Corinne Lang

    Love “Engaged Spirituality” Gerry! I totally get it! You are teaching & leading others into LIVING their true Spirit, their true SOUL…which is Love…Living Love. I have a “name” I wrote down last year which I haven’t yet utilized…I like it, and am waiting on my new logo to perhaps launch it with the new logo. When Spirit moves me…when the logo is ready…Divine timing. Love & light to you my shining friend!

  2. Gerry Straatemeier Post author

    Thank you, Heather and Anna, cheerleaders extraordinaire. I truly appreciate your words…I was a little tentative about sharing my process publicly yet…at the same time, I work alone and I needed to get it out of my own head and bounce it off of people I love and trust. YOU.

    Heather, my seasons for Peace and Nonviolence page motto is “We are here… to live love and build peace.”
    Anna, I am humbled by your loving words.
    You have both given me a needed boost in confidence. Thank you! <3