About Teresa B Pasquale

Teresa B Pasquale is a contemplative prayer advocate, ecumenical and interfaith conversationalist, yoga teacher, and trauma psychotherapist. She leads contemplative prayer groups and facilitates contemplation workshops. In addition, Teresa is a lay leader in ministry for 20's & 30's discussion/worship in the Episcopal Church at www.seekersdelray.org. She is the founder of "The Society for Young Christian Contemplatives" (ts4ycc.org) which she created in an effort to give a voice to the need for cultivating silence in the everyday of our contemporary world. Teresa has written articles/posts for The Ooze, Burnside Writer's Collective, The New Social Worker and America Magazine. She just completed a memoir of trauma and recovery titled MENDING BROKEN(www.mendingbroken.com). Teresa lives in South Florida with her husband and three dogs. She can be found at www.crookedmystic.org, teresabpasquale.org, @tbpasquale on Twitter, or www.facebook.com/tb.pasquale. She can be contacted at tbpasquale[at]gmail[dot]com.

Bridging the Divide Between Tragedy and Grace

Online Vigil Image C/O nlennet.ipage.com

The tragic events Friday in Connecticut bring with them a panoply of emotions; everything from grief to anger to fear to shock. As humans we want to understand and we often think that means dissecting the life of the shooter to either find some shred of humanity and some emotional resonance so that we can relate in some small way or find something defective in his chemical makeup that makes him so far from us that we don’t have to imagine someone like him sitting on our continuum of humanity.

But horrors don’t have a logical origin point; there is no way to make it make sense. The topography of our human landscape is altered by these tectonic rumble. We can repair and heal but we will always remember the rumble.

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Weathering Storms + Finding the God In Everything: A Hurricane Sandy Sermonette

Hurricane Sandy Image c/o Huffington Post

This month has been one of personal, professional, and national shifts, storms, and graces. So much so that I can think of no better way to represent this conflux than by sharing my “sermonette” from last night’s worship service in my young adult ministry program.

In the last 30 days I turned 33, I found some beautiful progress and graces in the world of my ministry work, and struggled at a distance with the pain and tragedy of my home state, New Jersey and our neighboring adjacent-hometown of New York City. I spent my life, at different points, wandering the coastline of the Jersey Shore during summer vacation, hopping through the subway and wandering around the Lower East Side when I cut school as a high schooler (oops!) to sitting in Washington Square Park in between graduate school classes at NYU. Now my middle school in Summit, NJ is a “heating station” and crisis center, the YMCA is where mass showers are being taken, and no one is hopping on the subway to anywhere.

From my personal heart to yours I share the “sermonette” I gave last night to my spiritual seekers in Delray Beach. Blessings and prayers to all who suffer and are lost–in this tragedy and in the world at large. This essay was written for all of you. Continue reading

Considering the Micro-Church Model: When Bigger Isn’t Always Better in Faith

OK, so “Micro-Church” is a term I made up (unless it is out there somewhere being used in which case let me know which of my fellow spiritual journeyers I can connect with, in such a like mind) but it depects not necessarily an antagonistic or pejorative response to the “Mega-Church” model and phenomenon but rather a counterbalance.

For every action there must be an equal and opposite reaction. Many people today take that concept to a place that is so polarized there is no balance at all (and you need balance in the alchemy of physics and faith). What I am suggesting is an equal and opposite action which is not creating an intenable adversarial stance but rather a suggestion that if the “megachurch” exists and serves a purpose to feed certain people in a certain way then, it would make scientific and cultural sense that the “micro-church” might be able to provide a very different kind of worship that feeds certain people in a different way.

I would even argue that the “megachurch-goer” could also transition, or fluidly move back and forth between the mega and the micro experiences and gain something new and fullfilling in both arenas.

What I suggest, I realize, calls for a number of paradigm shifts. One being a return to the small, organic, grassroots and intimate worship experience first found around Jesus’s dinner table, much the same way (Jesus’s origin) the Sabbath meal and rituals served as intimate and personal time with family and God.

The other suggestion that causes core shaking movement in the earth of current religious practice is the idea that a person can worship here and also worship there–and that if we don’t build a faith focused on membership we inherently create an environment where people want to become community members.

I love my one, catholic (lower case catholic–meaning all-inclusive), apostolic church, but as the word “catholic” indicates, I can also make that faith expand beyond the walls of my one congregation, or town, or even model of worship.

Imagine a world where the kingdom of God and the dinner table feast we share with each other is more of a buffet around one large table rather than a made-to-order choice where I sit at my small table next to yours, but never even look up from my meal long enough to see you–let alone notice what you are eating.

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Weathering Storms and Yearning For Deserts: How to Prepare for Hurricane America

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Hurricane Isaac Image c/o NASA

The Desert Fathers and Mothers of Christianity existed in a time in flux. The cultured society was now under the reign of Constantine who had legalized Christianity and taken the religion out of a space of persecution and into the mainstream. With that freedom came complication and often compromise–out of the shadows, now, Christianity had access to things like hierarchy, power, and wealth, for better and, most usually, for worse.

The Desert Fathers and Mothers were persons who saw no way to keep the purity of faith inside the construct of a “civilized society.” They moved away from the cities, into the desert land of Egypt and formed a monastic culture based on the tenets they felt their religion was built on, and which they were seeing less and less of in the empire. Out of this alternate society and faith community came some of the most intimate and profound texts of Christianity–and some of the most unknown or forgotten.

It is hard to exist outside the walls of society and still contribute to it on a large scale–but sometimes big is not always better and profundity has value which fame can never quite capture.

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Leavening and The Oneness of God: Spiritual + Cultural Paradigm Shifts


In my last article I discussed The Wild Goose Festival as a paradigm shift. Now I want to explore the shift in a greater, and lengthier context as I lead into describing (in coming articles) the way it is informing and being informed by a larger global culture, a larger spiritual and religious culture, and shifts within all which also lead to increased conversations within and outside of all current contexts of identity. We are restructuring the world, in tiny steps so small that it is often hard to see at the micro-level.

I think the greatest piece of this is the understanding that there is something bigger and better in God than we ever before conceptualized. We are beginning to see that within “my Christianity,” “my Judaism,” “my Islam,” “my Buddhism” there is a small sliver of God we are allowed to see, illuminated both through our own personal sacred texts and our visceral experiences of God in relationship to the faith we have learned (or as I sometimes call it, “faith of origin”). The second half to this is that we are realizing that my sliver of God-light and your sliver of God-light emanate from the same source and that saying that is no longer easily poo-pooed as heretical within my tradition but enhancing the basis of my traditional understanding with a God greater than we have ever been able to see or frame in our world-view before.

We are able to see that God can be many things to many people and to say that doesn’t make me a heretical Christian but makes me a Christian able to see God’s light from many different angles–like a prism refracting and dividing the sun’s light and sending it outward in millions of different directions. Continue reading

The Wild Goose Festival + A Spiritual/Cultural Paradigm Shift


Left to right: Richard Rohr, attendees dancing, Brian McLaren. Credit: Wild Goose Festival Website (www.wildgoosefestival.org).

I have been watching, with rapt envy, the many blog posts, articles, photos and videos filling the virtual airwaves since the Wild Goose Festival closed its second year this past June. A conglomerate of issues (scheduling, funding, timing) kept me from attending but next year it is already locked in on my calendar.

The Wild Goose Festival launched last year, after five years in the planning and making of it, with over 1,000 attendees camping out in Shakori Hills, NC, for an event meant to intersect faith, justice, art, and music in a very particular way. While there are great teachers from all faith traditions (predominantly Christian but increasingly more persons from other faith traditions and no faith tradition are joining the conversation) who present in their own faith areas of expertise the festival is also an organic grassroots experience where speakers step down off their stages and into the crowds for community discussions on the subject matter. It is a live thing, this festival, not just entertaining but engaging and creating in each moment of the community experience.

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The State of a Nation + A Great “I Am”

“We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal.” ~The Declaration of Independence, 1776

On the Sunday proceeding July 4 each year, the Rector of my church reads the Declaration of Independence. In truth, usually I find it boring, laborious, and sometimes a conflicting hybrid of church and state. This year I felt something unfamiliar–sadness.

As the priest read the words that founded this strange thing called democracy, which has been our American experiment these last 236 years, I began to see how far off the course we have come. All nations comes to that point–where the mechanisms that made them great in terms of equality, strength, intellect, ingenuity, bravery, and righteousness begin to falter under the weight of their human bearers.

This is just the first year I felt distinctly part of a period in history which represents a painful faltering.

There is no perfect system–religious, political, sociological–because they are all made of people. People who, even when we have aspirations to be better, more Godly, and decent human beings wespend our existence fighting an element of our human nature which calls us to something far more momentary and survivalist. Continue reading

The Temple of Want: What Do We Worship?

image by samantha celera on flickr

The Social Experience of Coveting

Thinking about politics and wars and the big systemic problems always leads me back to thinking about human behavior, and social behavior. Maybe it is the psychotherapist in me — always analyzing the world around me from a psychological and behavioral stance. So, thinking about leadership and the things we bow down to lead me to think about the human psychology of want, envy, fear, and power and the spiritual and psychological question that comes when we pause to get a distance view of Western culture. Which I think, also, ends up being a spiritual issue of Western culture.

What do we want? What do we bow down to? What do we covet?

Even biblically the answers to these questions come up on passage after passage of scripture and in the parables of religious history, as well as social history, bowing down to things of power and decadence with little genuine authority always gets us into trouble. Continue reading

Nuns In America: Voices From the Margins

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“Hope in a Prison Of Despair”, a Public Domain Image c/o Wikimedia

I have been watching the crisis between the nuns or “women religious” (as they are known) and the Catholic Church in Rome I am confounded–and I am not easily made to confound. It seems as though the people who have made Catholicism more appealing and friendly in the last couple of decades are the people being denigrated for those appealing characteristics of loving and caring for others. I kept wondering what I wanted to write my first Tikkun Daily post on, as the Huffington Post crowded my overstuffed mailbox day after day with of headlines containing the words “nuns” and “Vatican.” So with a smile and a shrug I said, “Ok, God, I get it. I’ll write this blog post.”

I am a born and raised Catholic (currently practicing Episcopalian) carrying the spiritual heritage of my namesake St Teresa of Avila in my passion for contemplative prayer, and as an orphan in a Colombian orphanage I was given that name by the Grey nuns–an active caregiving order. Additionally, my aspirations for living missionally in the world came out of a childhood experience in the height of Mother Teresa’s influence in the Catholic world and the world at large. I have a great affinity for the communal lineage of caring done by these saints in habits; some recognized as such, and many others just quietly doing the good work of God without any hopes for recognition.

I am saddened by the kind of systemic breakdown that causes the tops of hierarchies to become so detached from the living, breathing essence of their community that they create edicts to shrink the size and shape of love into tiny boxes. This can happen in any system, and any religion, and seems to be happening in a huge way, presently, in Catholicism. Continue reading