We’re talking with Lisa Colón DeLay in this episode about her journey of physical and spiritual integration. It’s a journey where she discovered that we are dualistic beings who are part spiritual and part material. We’re both/and. And recognizing that opens us up to utilizing spiritual practices that impact our physical states as well as physical practices that impact our spiritual health.
Lisa Colón DeLay is an author specializing in teaching spiritual growth, healing, and transformation as weekly broadcaster on the Spark My Muse podcast. Lisa also provides spiritual companionship. Her most recent book is "The Wild Land Within".
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Notes and links
Lisa started a project for compassionate assistance to Puerto Rico, where inflation has hit especially hard due to U.S. production and import practices. You can help support the mission.
Also, check out the latest episodes of Spark My Muse and more writings from Lisa at her website.
Ryan Dunn (00:01):
This is the compass podcast pointing us to the divine presence in work in our everyday lives. We're talking with Lisa cologne delay in this episode about her journey of integration. It's a journey where she discovered that we are dualistic beings who are part spiritual and part material. We're both. And, and recognizing that opens us up to utilizing spiritual practices that impact our physical states as well as physical practices that impact our spiritual health. Did that trigger some ideas or reactions for you? We're gonna explore together how contemplative practices specifically will impact our lived experience in the physical world. Let's find out how spiritual practice helps us deal with internal hurts helps us in the struggle for justice and helps us stay grounded in our physical selves with Lisa Colón DeLay.
New Speaker (00:57):
We're talking with Lisa Colón DeLay, who is an author specializing in teaching spiritual growth, healing and transformation, as well as a weekly broadcaster on the Spark My Muse podcast, and on livestream events. Lisa also provides spiritual companionship.
New Speaker (01:14):
And Lisa, we're talking about your book, the "The Wild Land Within" which focuses on spiritual formation and the landscape of the heart. And I love this line and a disruption of white centered solutions because we love to cause holy disruptions on this podcast. But in looking at your bio, one of the things that sticks out is that, that word, spiritual companionship, what is a spiritual companion?
Lisa Colón DeLay (01:39):
Yeah, that's a great question. Sometimes people use the word spiritual director. Okay. And I actually prefer companion because a director is a little bit of a misnomer, a companion. If you think about a person trained to be a friend to walk alongside you, but without all the baggage that a friend or a family member might have where they have some real stake in the game. So emotional stake in the game, and this is a person to just walk alongside you during the ups and downs that is trained to listen and train, to ask good questions and making a space for the holy spirit to work. So a lot of times spiritual companions will just ask good questions so that you can discover for yourself with the help of the holy spirit making room for where do you see God in this circumstance or in your life right now.
Lisa Colón DeLay (02:31):
And oftentimes it's also paired with using spiritual practices to kind of pull from more inner resources, if you will where God is moving and to align with God's will and to feel often feel comforted by the spirit, if someone feels disconnected or it really helps to kind of create a safe space and a nurturing space to feel loved and held by God and not in always a crisis. So I should say that it's not therapy, it's not counseling, it's not based in pathology or problem solving and problems. This is just in the good and the bad. And if a spiritual director or a friend or companion senses that there's trauma involved in healing and therapies needed, they, they are supposed to refer directly to professionals trained in that those matters trauma informed people. And they're supposed to just again, just companion. And so it's not a substitute at all for therapy and any kind of clinical practice, but it can work alongside some of those things where sometimes people in our lives are dear friends, but maybe they're too busy sometimes. Or we don't live in a, with the luxury. Sometimes that people always have time to walk with us, with the patients needed or the listening ear needed. And this person is completely dedicated for that hour or so maybe once a month to be completely open and ready. And the whole time is yours.
Ryan Dunn (04:08):
Yeah. And what are some of the circumstances in which people are reaching out to you? Are there, you mentioned that trauma is not the necessarily the right case. Are, are they coming from different spaces which are looking for spiritual companionship?
Lisa Colón DeLay (04:22):
I find that it's almost always a kind of crossroads period in life could be a stage change from going from college to career or an empty nest. Your, your children are finally leaving now, what do you do? You've had <laugh>, you've had all this time with your kids and now it's your own time, or maybe something's happened like a divorce or a miscarriage. Sometimes it's, it's just these crossroad periods that we all encounter for different reasons. And I find that sometimes people need to kind of take an inventory of their life and their inner world. Sometimes it is sort of trauma related, but it's not something it's something that they might wanna process through with a, with a friend situation, but they might be already working on the therapy part with someone else, but they want to just kind of process through the spiritual part with someone who is more trained than a friend.
Ryan Dunn (05:16):
Gotcha. Okay. Well, the, the wildland within you go into process quite a bit, and I would love to kind of get your story in terms of how you came to really embracing spiritual formation through contemplative practice. But first I feel like we need to set the table a little bit in talking about the idea of dualism, which you bring up very early in the book you ground quite a bit of the spiritual formation and contemplative practice and being a means for overcoming dualism. So can you describe for us what, what dualism is and why it actually might be unhelpful or harmful?
Lisa Colón DeLay (05:52):
Yeah, I think dualism is a word that kind of gets thrown around and, and people, especially in more maybe conservative or evangelical circles might think like, what is that? Is that like a Buddhist thing? Is that, does that have to do with yoga or who knows? You know I think it generally refers to this notion. That's also kind of a full on paradigm that influences our society's actions and even our laws and even our courtrooms. And it assumes that the mind and the body are separate. And we, I just kind of act that way. It's a, it's a complete like physical fallacy and we don't operate in life that way at all. In fact, and it's a very incomplete picture. More and more evidence is coming out through science and F MRIs, learning about neurons that we are, of course, whole organisms, our neurons go into all kinds of places in our body.
Lisa Colón DeLay (06:42):
Our, our gut is our second brain. Our brains are kind of plastic and they adapt quickly and our brains are our bodies <laugh>. So this idea that the brain and the body is different is an unhelpful structure for understanding ourselves. And it keeps us separated and there's all sorts of other false dichotomies, what a child would characterize as dualistic that there's these kind of spiritual, physical, like this physical is derivative of the spiritual. And we know this now from physics and quantum physics. And, and we actually are knowing this in the math and science areas that are proving this out, that, that people have known really from Millennian kind of ancient wisdom, but what happens in these, in these dualistic ways, and this was happened in, in the west and ex was just incredibly accelerated during the enlightenment and everything that's material is real and everything else is maybe just belief or, you know, you can't prove, you can't see it, you can't prove it. That really made things falsely dualistic and into dichotomies that are actually not helpful or true.
Ryan Dunn (07:55):
You talked about there, how the I guess the spiritual can impact the physical, and I really appreciate it at some points in the book. You like give the scientific description. So for example, when talking about mantras, you were noting like, Hey, the sound impacts this specific nerve and that right, right. It is wrapped around the spine and it helps unwind the whole body. And so there is this spiritual practice that of course is informing us in a spiritual way, but is also impacting us in, in a very physical way. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>. So what brought you to the place where you were curious about things like dualism and then consequentially spiritual formation and contemplative practice?
Lisa Colón DeLay (08:36):
Yeah, I, you know, like, I think I've mentioned before, I'm, I'm just a nerd. I love neuroscience. I also have a son with a neuro divergent brain and he has autism and I've just dug into neuroscience. And I love knowing about how actually the brain works and is the mind the brain, or is the mind part of which is actually more fundamental reality than our physical and material world, which is, this is where I'm kind of going into in my nerdiness, but yes,
Ryan Dunn (09:04):
Lisa Colón DeLay (09:04):
Love it. <Laugh> what actually drew me to contemplative practice was that I not so much dualism, not so much this interest in dualism, but I was exhausted from my Christian background and I was pastor's kid. So I was from the crib, you know, I, I was praying as a little tiny girl, you know I was never not exposed to spiritual things. So I, I had this affinity for this right away, but it was also extremely about doing instead of being, and it was prayer was about talking to God and kind of this combination lock to maybe get God to do what you might want God to do. And so when I was exposed to some of these more contemplative writers in the Catholic tradition at first, just of course, just white male clerics. And that's why I wanted to write this book about more than just that tiny section of people in the world.
Lisa Colón DeLay (10:01):
I was exposed to this kind of way of resting in God God's presence. And the contemplative practices are not based in words and concepts and images and doctrine and dogma. They're just about experiencing the presence of God and being found in God and waiting on God. I found it so restful and I really needed a rest. I felt exhausted and burned out and that I couldn't do enough to be I mean, this was a, this was a trick of my mind, not understanding God that God wanted me to perform and perform. And mm-hmm, <affirmative>, you know, do a good job and be a good girl. And the contemplative practices said, no, you can just lay down here rest and do nothing. I love you just the same. And I found it was like finding a spring of water in the desert places. And so my soul was refreshed later on reading more. I was got into some of the, the dualistic stuff and then reading the differences between the Eastern and the middle Eastern and the Eastern Christians and the Western ones. I was like, whoa, the difference is enormous. This is really interesting cuz it plays out then in the lives of the devoted in very different ways.
Ryan Dunn (11:12):
Hmm. Tell me about the difference between the Eastern and the Western a little bit. I, I kind of geeked out on that. It was so informative because it wasn't a lot that I had realized that there were kind of these, I don't wanna say fundamental differences, but understanding differences between kind of a, an Eastern Orthodox understanding of the mind and the spirit and the, and what for most of us would be the Western understanding.
Lisa Colón DeLay (11:38):
Yeah. And we have a very Western influence being in the United States here. We have a very Western influence stuff and I'm not saying, Hey, throw that out. That's garbage. What I'm saying is add the Eastern part because if you don't, you don't have what the Jewish mind understands, what Jesus was, Jewish Jesus, wasn't a Christian and he wasn't a Western Christian. So the, the apostles were not of a Western modern American mind. They just, it just wasn't part of their purview at all. And so we should add that in to make sure we're really sort of understanding the Christian life, which is a way of being and a way of being like Jesus and not just knowing our, our beliefs or these thoughts or these bullet points and, and a specific doctrine. Not saying that's bad, it's just not primary. Which, which is becoming Christlike as primary.
Lisa Colón DeLay (12:29):
And we can understand that through reading about the kingdom, through the sermon on the Mount. And we can understand what the kingdom of God is about by understanding the fruit of the spirit and these things. Before we even understand all those doctrinal points, which can usually cause the fights <laugh> usually cause problems. And so what I noticed in the earliest the earliest Christians, which were of course all in the, you know, Syria and Egypt and you know, these places near and around Jerusalem to the east. And, and, but not really that far west yet these people were praying in silence, praying in quietness. They were not always saying a lot. They were going out to the desert fathers and mothers decided to go out to the desert because in the, in their time period Rome had become co-opted with Christianity.
Lisa Colón DeLay (13:30):
They had taken it on as a state religion and this church and state problem, it's been a long problem for humanity for, you know, in modern times, this has been a problem when you attach power and, and wealth and religion together. At least the devoted people were very alarmed because it stopped looking like this, this way of Jesus. It started looking like a corrupt system of power. And so they fled to the desert and fled all the luxuries and the trappings and the upward mobility and career prospects that they had in this new Christian empire superpower. And up to half a million people were out in the desert, living there in sparse conditions, just trying to lead a simple devoted life and become more like Christ and both men and women served as teachers and guides to people who would sometimes just visit the desert for a short time, ask for prayer, be taught, ask for advice, and then maybe just go back into their regular lives. But, but actually up to a half a million people just decided to live in the desert for a while. And that's an incredible part of Christian history. Most Protestants are, are either very, you know, just a tiny bit aware of, or not aware of at all. And that's a, yeah, that's a very formative part of Christianity that we could learn a lot from
Ryan Dunn (14:55):
You know, they separated themselves in a way to remove themselves from, from busyness. But also I hope that you note that it's to remove themselves from power and contemplative prayer itself is, is really a relinquishing of power. Isn't it? Because it's like I have to let go of the agenda and just spend this time. And,uthat can be a barrier for entry for a lot of people. I, I struggle with it myself that in terms of like, just giving control, like I want there to be an outcome. U<laugh> feed me through this time. Right. So how did you kind of start to break down some of those barriers as you started to engage in contemplative practice, was, was there like a, a training program that you went through?
Lisa Colón DeLay (15:42):
Well, I, I did take a lot of courses in seminary that had to do with, with learning spiritual practices and, and stuff like that. But I would say that probably we're coming at it from a little bit different, cuz I was sort of coming from a place of sort of exhaustion and burnout and I felt like I needed something and my walls were sort of broken down and where I would, I would say that it's not that I didn't have ego and pride and faulty puffed up images of myself. I'm sure I did like hubris, like anybody else <laugh> and delusion, you know? So I did have to break through the idea of you know, if I'm, if I'm smart enough, you know, I'll, I'll be more impressive and know all these, all these silly little trappings that we have in the spiritual life.
Lisa Colón DeLay (16:31):
Sometimes I think what, what did it for me really was just kind of like the place that some people come to when they're, that are addicted. And in my case it was sort of like addicted to performance of not even religion, but just kind of like, oh, I hope I can just be very impressive before God. I want God to love me. I wanna be accepted. I, I, and that is so exhausting. So I was at kind of, I felt like at my wits end and in certain respects. And so I felt like coming back to God as a child with nothing to give just empty and some people you know, when, when Jesus says kind of like a child, I felt like I was, I was doing that. Not even on purpose. It was just where I was. And for people who aren't really, at that point, it might be something that does a little harder to work through. They might, it might be more bar, there might be more barriers and things like that. And so, you know, contemplative practices and putting yourself in a place where you feel like you're surrendered, you know, it could be a bit by bit sort of thing, but I, I don't think it's, it's not, it's not really something to be afraid of. You're not really, you're not really losing anything. It's so refreshing that you, I don't think you feel this giant loss or something like that.
Ryan Dunn (17:57):
Okay. So what if I try it and nothing happens <laugh>
Lisa Colón DeLay (18:01):
Yeah. Right. And I'm glad you asked this, this question because we are really we wanna be entertained, right? We <laugh> we're consumers and we wanna be entertained. Please let this be an experience that's worthwhile and why did I put all this time into it? And I think we do have to disabuse ourselves of that in the first place. But the idea that, you know, I hope God shows up in this felt way, or maybe it didn't mean anything or maybe it wasn't good for anything. And sometimes this ministry of, of the inner life that the holy spirit does. Isn't, you know, isn't this loud and noticeable thing. And I think people will also forget even when they pray that silence is also a language. Silence is also an answer. God does speak in silence and we should just kind of reframe this communication differently.
Lisa Colón DeLay (18:56):
But in, in terms of someone trying a new practice and it doesn't work, air quotes doesn't work, or you don't feel anything. Yeah. You know, you can keep, you can keep at it. But I usually say that to people that I wind up working with or walking alongside a little bit is that start with a practice that you already naturally have an affinity for. That already means something to you that already connects with you. Don't go for something like that seems really spiritual that you're not sure you can be like, I think I'll fast for a week. You know? Like if you think that that sucks already, <laugh>, don't do it. Yeah. At least don't do it yet. You know, work, work up to something that, you know, start with the, start with the, the things you would like the most, if you think of it as just a relationship with God and comparing that to a relationship with a person, if you think that you know, going to I dunno, a hardware store where a person would be boring, but going to a meal where a person would be exciting will do the meal, you know, <laugh> and it's kind of, I feel like that's kind of, we're talking about building an intimacy with a being that can respond to us.
Lisa Colón DeLay (20:06):
A being that wants to let us know, pardon me, let us know that it knows us that he, she knows us, and this is a, a dynamic relationship and we should consider that, that God wants us to enjoy the relationship. And so it doesn't happen. We don't have to slog along. Right. So I just expect that every experience will be different each time, just like it is with our friends. So we go out with our friends. Sometimes it's surprising. Sometimes it's kind of a bummer. Sometimes it's a little boring sometimes it's, you know, super exciting and who knows, you know, we're just kind of, we don't know. And we will often just in our heads, think of God as this static. Like, but this wasn't fun. Like, did I do it wrong? Is something wrong? And I don't know if that's really, you know, maybe that's a little juvenile of us to think that God is sort of like a, you know, a magician or genie that kind of will just, you just gotta rub the lamp the right way and you'll get the thing you want <laugh>, you know? Yeah. So,
Ryan Dunn (21:09):
Oh, I'm glad that you noted that because it, so often we can think, oh, I'm doing it wrong. Right. And <laugh>, maybe we just need to give ourselves permission to admit that it, it's not wrong. <Laugh> right. How we're doing it is not wrong. It's adapted. And and there's space for, for growth in that. So
Lisa Colón DeLay (21:26):
Yeah. And there can be, I wanna say too, that spiritual practices, I believe have different seasons, just like we're organic and you know, the trees are organic and they'll have different seasons. They'll need different things at different times and we'll need different things at different times, spiritually speaking, spiritual practice, speaking, what, what might be really a great fit for you in one season might really kind of not work out in another season. That's not a, that's not shameful. That's just seems perfectly normal to me. So I, I like to get people moving away from thinking, oh, I did it wrong. Or this went badly. I'd just be like, just whatever happens. Just receive it as a gift. Even if nothing happens. Like if nothing happens, you're like, okay, nothing happened. I'm just gonna make a note. Nothing. Yeah. Okay. Nothing is sort of something and not think of it also as like you're moving like in some linear way to somewhere, because again, we don't really know you have to be ready for some surprises.
Lisa Colón DeLay (22:27):
And sometimes the surprises are that nothing happened even <laugh>, you know, so we're just kind of building this intimacy with God. We're not one of the things that drives me crazy with, with sometimes leaders or they will be thinking, how do I appear before people instead of how do I appear before God who am I to God and in, but in my own mind, like not, we know how God sees us, but who am I to God, to me. And that's because that relationship is a pleasure is and it doesn't happen overnight. It happens through the regular intimacy. And not that you won't have your ups and downs, you know, you'll have these dry periods, you'll have these spats <laugh> even, but that's part of it. That's also part of it. And so I want to, you know, make people realize that this, this relationship that we, we delve into with the holy one, with the source is pretty comparable to our other relationships with conscious agents. It's just more intense. Maybe <laugh>
Ryan Dunn (23:41):
In recognizing that there are seasons to these practices. What's a practice that you were kind of first adopted and what's a practice that you're leaning into now.
Lisa Colón DeLay (23:54):
Ooh, that's a good one. Well I think I, one of the ones that made the most profound impact on me that was new to me was Lexio Davina. The I don't know if you've talked about, I think you probably talked about this on your program before, but it's, it's reading scripture and there's four movements to it where you first read the scripture, then you meditate on a piece of it that stands out to you that has some meaning to you. And then you pray with that scripture to God. And then you end in a kind of restful waiting. And as you're praying, you sort of leave more space between your words and your prayers and you kind of let that space enlarge until you're just in a place of waiting kind of the BOM of God, just it's supposed to be peaceful and <laugh>, it's supposed to be enjoyable.
Lisa Colón DeLay (24:46):
And for me, starting off with the scripture, which is where in my, in my tradition, growing up, everything was about the scripture. Everything was there. It was like almost like a fourth person of the Trinity <laugh> or something. But it was so important and I memorize so much of it and hold it in such high regard. I loved starting there and I still do, and it was that grounding. And then it was, it could kind of unfold from there and kind of be really devotional and personal and intimate. And then also leave me with not a sense of, okay, like I, I have to do something I have to, I have to action ha has to be action oriented. I could just be like, oh, I could just let this soak in and rest. And it, and for me that was kind of like a, a, a quantum leap or something in my spiritual understanding that God wants God enjoys when I enjoy something, God enjoys when I have pleasure in the things of God and I can just rest.
Lisa Colón DeLay (25:50):
And that's that, you know, is a good thing. And so Lex Davi made a huge, huge impact on me. And I did this whole nine week study where I did it every single day and I recorded everything. And this was for a, this was for a paper, but I, I could tell too that it, it kind of got boring and there was a part where got boring and doll and did nothing. And it kind of went back into a more mature sort of phase. And I, I still, I don't do it every day by any means, but I, it's a really regular part of a spiritual practice for me. And I, I do really deeply enjoy it. And I'd say the, the one that I I'll actually give you two silence is the one that's has been very hard, but maybe the most nourishing real silence, internal the internal kind, which is very, very difficult.
Lisa Colón DeLay (26:39):
<Laugh> if you're not used to it, it's like really building a muscle because your brain is always chattering and coming in with incoming thoughts. And if those can ever settle down, which in my experience takes quite a bit of practice, then you really can almost operate on a sort of a different level, at least for a, at least for a short period of time. And and then the final one I'll mention, which I find extremely challenging when I'm in stressful times is called the welcoming prayer. And that is a prayer of like total relinquishment and surrender. And I find that incredibly, incredibly challenging to do and mean it <laugh>, you know, IM maybe not that advanced and happily admit that. But I, I find that the welcoming prayer is one of the most dynamic calls to us to say that I will be done. Everything's okay, it's in your hands. I give it freely. I give everything freely to you. And I'm very inspired by it, but I'm, I'm nowhere near a full commitment, you know, in all honesty, I'm nowhere near a full commitment when I'm at my most trying times, or if there's some kind of personal interpersonal issue, I'm like, oh, okay, I'm gonna hang on it. I'm gonna try to fix that. You know, I really feel vested fixing myself.
Ryan Dunn (28:02):
Can you can you give us a little bit of an outline of what the welcoming prayer looks like for you?
Lisa Colón DeLay (28:08):
Yeah. Let me actually wanna try to go to the page where I have this in the book, and this was I had read this about this before, but as I was working on the book, I wanted to include it. And so then I delved more deeply into the history and it wasn't from typically you hear that this was from father Keating, Thomas Keating, but actually he, it wasn't, it was from Mary Mrozowski,
New Speaker (28:46):
And, and she was, this force sounds like a force of nature and she, through her, through her teaching through her I guess just listening intently and, and sucking up what Thomas Keating was talking about. And then she was part of this, not like a, it was like an intentional community. She came up with the welcoming prayer, which is essentially a surrender. Now it's really first, you, you take an inventory of all the commotions and the sensations in your body. So it's really something that you would use. And again, I would say this would need a lot of practice to, to do it well. So say something kind of horrible happens. And at first you, you need the presence of mind and the practice, I believe to be able to reflect and take kind of an inventory on what's happening, bodily.
Lisa Colón DeLay (29:36):
What we tend to do in trauma is we do separate. We like for the sake of self-preservation, we sort of separate ourselves from our body in a sense, and we kind of go into our brain. And so this is kind of purposely reintegrating saying, what am I feeling like, am I feeling attention in my chest? Am I holding my breath? Am I squeezing my toes together? You know, what are all the commotions and the sensations in my body and the thoughts and emotions, and just kind of assessing that right away. That takes a, quite a, a great deal of presence of mind. If you're going through something really, really challenging, and you might not be able to do that, right. Then you might have to wait a little bit and reflect a little later, but Mary was able to do this when she was hit by a car and pinned to a wall, and she was able to do this prayer and just enacted.
Lisa Colón DeLay (30:32):
And, and everyone was horrified because she, she shattered both of her legs as she was pinned to this wall. And she, she said in everybody's presence, she said, I welcome the pain. I, I, I welcome. Not that she was saying, yes, good pain. But she was saying, I'm not going to try to pretend what's happening. Isn't happening. I'm not gonna split off. I'm not gonna try to escape it. She's like I, whatever is here is here. And I accept it. It's like a prayer of accepting reality as it is a few of us dare to do that. You know, that's, that's, what's so sort of stunning. We love fantasy escapism. We because then we, in some way choose to keep it our will and our, to ourselves. And this way it's kind of like, it, it is exactly as it is, Lord, I give it to you.
Lisa Colón DeLay (31:24):
I'm not gonna fight it. I, it, everything is yours. And so so at that point you say different sort of welcoming statements that pertain to what you're going through, and you bring your thinking mind down into your heart and your body. So you're kind of keeping those things together and integrated. And she would say like, this is a general one. I welcome what is I let go of the desire for certainty, for security, for affection, for control. I let go of my desire to change the situation. And that doesn't mean you're passive and you will just take injury, but the, the desire to control the situation is that kind of my will over your will Lord. So it's, it's a, just a kind of a relinquishment of our will, which is to say that will be done. It's a different way of saying that will be done. That it kind of involves our whole organism, our whole self, which is quite <laugh>. That is really really high level spiritual stuff. Yeah. So which is to say, I, I don't feel like I can do it except in the tiniest ways for the tiniest things. And maybe someday I, I will get there. But I admire greatly someone who can say, yes, this has happened. I don't like it, but I, but as well with my soul.
Ryan Dunn (32:47):
Hmm. That embracing of the reality, it, that can be a disruption in mindset, especially in terms of faith, because a lot of times we retreat into faith as sort of a a way of escaping a reality, right? You you bring up contemplative practice as a, as a disruption to the mindset that would have us escape and begin to kind of embrace our realities. And especially in the way that we look at the world around us, in terms of, of justice and equity and, and equality even saying that, well, this can be a, a disruption to white centered solutions. Can you talk about that a little bit? Like how, how does contemplative practice disrupt that kind of mindset?
Lisa Colón DeLay (33:40):
Well, it, it only disrupts it if we're willing to listen to other voices and seek out other perspectives that aren't the dominant one that's actually quite hard to do because algorithms don't promote that are mm-hmm, <affirmative> speaking as a, a Latina that is white presenting. I kind of walk in both worlds, not, I, I get all the privileges of being white and people speak poorly of Puerto Rican people in front of me. And and, and they don't ne they don't even realize it, you know? So I will, I feel like I have to build these bridges where people understand about their white centric often. And I don't even think it's malicious. It's just, when you're on top, when you're on the top, you don't have to think about a lot of things. That's what privilege is. And that's what also what I have.
Lisa Colón DeLay (34:34):
But since my dad was a dark skinned brown person, I could see what he directly see the things he went through not being the preferred looking kind of person. And that's what this breaks down to is like racism and or sexism even breaks down to what you look like. What's your body parts are what you look like, what people prefer. It's not even sophisticated. That's how silly it is, but that's really what it is. And so when we listen to, you know, if as white people listening to white people, it's just a default. It's just what happens. So you have to seek out that other those other voices, but when you do, you find that you get the good news, the good news comes from the margins. It always has. Jesus came from the margins. Jesus came, tell us the good news from the margins as a dispossessed, poor person of color who had no status who had no money, you know, it's just, it's just how it works.
Lisa Colón DeLay (35:33):
And so that's why this empire influence, we have an empire kind of Christianity in the United States takes for granted that the margins are the people from the margins are the teachers. And so I, I wanna reverse that. I wanna say like who's, who's on your panel. Is, does everybody look the same? Why disrupt it? Because it's, it's an automatic tends to be an automatic thing. Unless you have leadership, that's diverse, you will get the same results over and over. So you have to have people representing you. I mean, this is kind of the beauty of democracy that we don't particularly like to enact in our country, but democracy means that the voices count from all over. So we start democracy off in this country with just kind of landowners that are white <laugh> that are male mm-hmm <affirmative> and we call it democracy. It's like that sort of doesn't seem like democracy though.
Lisa Colón DeLay (36:24):
Are we missing some voices here a little bit? So if we actually believe in the beauty of voices counting, well, let's make sure that they're there. And so in spiritual formation and contemplative practice, everything that I learned from the people like I did start learning from Thomas Keating Henry. Now, Thomas Merton fantastic changed my life, but they're all white clerics in mm-hmm <affirmative> vocational life educated white males who I adore, and that's just one tiny little piece, and there's so much more. So I wanted to learn like Howard Thurman, fantastic mystic contemplative. Really if, if people haven't read him, especially white people, and this is the thing, when you ask people of color and other people, they have different reading lists and we don't bother <laugh>. We don't bother saying who's someone that you love recently that you've read, you know, be interested in what other people are reading that don't look like, you just ask, what are some of your favorite books then read the books <laugh>, you know, then put them on your library and actually do it instead of saying, you know, don't make the other people make the book list for you, search them out yourself and actually become educated in a more rounded way than the, than this one tunnel vision, because we're so impoverished for not having these other voices.
Lisa Colón DeLay (37:53):
I couldn't, I can't even tell you the difference it's made, but you do have to do the work because again, it's publishers tend to not more recently, it's changing, but publishers tend to publish what they think will sell, which guess what that is. <Laugh>, you know, mm-hmm, <affirmative>, what's already been selling. Right. So, yeah, so we just have to do due diligence to make sure those other perspectives come into our awareness and also promote them. So tell your friends, I read this fantastic thing. You need to get this book and you know, promote the work of other people. It's just really important. We we've gone way too long. There's no excuse. We've gone way too long without hearing other voices. And I'm kind of here to go like, all right, let's do this. Come on. What did I <laugh> let's let's mix this up. Not in any kind of antagonistic way, but just a kind of a we're better than just listening to one tone every single time we're reading a book.
Ryan Dunn (38:53):
Yeah. Jamar Tisby brings up a great point and I've got my little statuette of John Wesley sitting back behind me there on the video. And like when John Wesley does theology in our worldview, we call that theology. But when Anthony, the Monk, the contemplative who we're building all these practices on does theology. Like we call that, oh, that's Eastern theology, right? There's this sense of, of separateness. And you know, maybe our goal should not be to to kind of label that as being separate. But embracing that as, as part of our tradition, because, well, as you mentioned, Keating and Merton and all those, they all built on that tradition. <Laugh>
Lisa Colón DeLay (39:33):
Yeah. Yeah. And they're coming, they're coming from a specific place and a specific time, very valuable stuff, but it is specific to their position it's specific to their privilege and their access to education and where they come from. I mean, I, I love Merton, but I've read a few things and I've thought only a guy would say that <laugh> like, if he ever had, if he had ever asked a woman that would never cross their mind, like that is just so strange, you know, stuff like that. And you'll hear this a lot of times with, with pastors that are male, they'll say something and it is never, it it'd be like, yeah. When you think da, da, da, da. And I thought, oh my goodness. If he had, if he could have gone over this message with a woman first, he would realize how absurd that sounds.
Lisa Colón DeLay (40:20):
Mm-Hmm <affirmative> and like, like the horrendous mother's day sermons, I've heard, I thought oh goodness, like you just don't realize the blind spot. We don't, we have blind spots. We all do. Yeah. And, and that's the thing is that we can't see them cuz they're blind spots, but maybe someone else can, and we are so benefited when someone can say, I love you. I, I think you missed a little section here and then we're better off. And, and so I think collaboration, cooperation, it just, it just raises all the boats. And we don't have to be thinking of ourselves in competition with each other. We're we're brothers and sisters, we're siblings that, that are put here with different viewpoints and different gifts and abilities for a reason. And it, we all benefit from them. And I, I think what ha can happen is it can turn into this like competition, like, well, if they get more time, then I won't get my piece of the pie.
Lisa Colón DeLay (41:11):
And yeah, I don't, I don't think of it like that at all. As an author, as a podcaster as I, I just think that what we're supposed to do is be working together. And that's why when I when I speak with people, I like, they're just, we're just friends. Like there's no, there's no. Their victory is also my victory. And, and this is to me, the mentality that is reality. And we have to, we have to hold tightly onto this reality cuz when we make it something different, it, it really gets perverse
Ryan Dunn (41:49):
Truth. Lisa Colón DeLay, thank you so much for spending this time with us. What is what's a project that you're working on. What are you excited about next?
Lisa Colón DeLay (42:00):
Well, there's the stuff I'm trying to do in Puerto Rico, which is, there's a lot of need in Puerto Rico right now I visited recently and 52% of the population is below the poverty line. It's a us territory. It's, it's constantly getting kicked around where there's, if, if stuff is made there by a company based in the United States that for instance, Advil is made there. So Advil can't be sold there. If it's made there, it has to go back to Florida or somewhere else in mainland United States and then come back on us transportation. And then there's a 20% tax import tax. You can imagine that happening in Florida or New York, of course not. <Laugh> so there's a lot of <laugh>. Can you even imagine like Florida oranges go to New York to, to be sold in Florida and then tax 20% when they come back in?
Lisa Colón DeLay (42:54):
I don't think they would put up with that. So there's a lot of things in Puerto Rico that are just, just not right. So the poverty is, is much, much higher. They import 85% of what they need because they're in this kind of they've been through the policies of the United States and the federal government. They've been kind of squeezed into these dependency cycles that are really unhealthy. And they, their cost of living is 26% higher than it is on the mainland. So you can, I just bought a plantain the other day. It was 33 cents here. It was a dollar on the island where they grow them. And so it's, there's a lot of things upsetting to me there. And I would like to go down and help build help partner with other people and, and build up some of the more food sustainability. And there's no recycling at all in the island. So there's a lot of things that I would like to help with. So I'm, I have a GoFundMe that I'm working on to start things with that. And that's my main focus probably for the next year or two, I'm working on another book, but I'm, I'm kind of in flux with what it's about now. So I, I might change directions. So I probably won't even mention what that's about right now.
Ryan Dunn (44:03):
Gotcha. All right. Well that GoFundMe will link up to it on our website and that's available on your website as well. So thank you so much for spending this time with us and for you know, helping us to maybe look through some different perspectives in the future. I appreciate it so much.
New Speaker (44:18):
Again, Lisa Colón DeLay's book is "The Wildland Within". You can learn more about Compass and check out other episodes at umc.org/compass. If you were into this episode, you should definitely follow it up with a listen to our episode with Tyler Sit about how spiritual practices disrupt. It's good stuff.
New Speaker (44:39):
So glad to have this time with you. My name is Ryan Dunn, thanks to United Methodist Communications for making this podcast possible. And I'll talk with you soon. Peace.