Take Inventory. Number our Days. Be of Service.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, November 15, 2014

Autumn leaves  New York Botanical Garden

Autumn leaves
New York Botanical Garden

Take Inventory. Number our Days. Be of Service.

November. The year is winding down. Autumn of the year. With harvest time and thanksgiving, the growing season coming to an end, this can also be a time for quiet, introspection, and contemplation.

I read Psalm 90 recently. This reading from Psalm 90, verse 12, spoke to my heart. It seems even more appropriate today, as I think about the autumn of one of our older friend’s lives. A dear man, this wonderful, gracious, gentle soul always had a kind word for everyone. Who was so often able to turn a tentative or tense situation into a humorous one with his sparkling sense of timing and humor. This dear senior certainly walked closely with God, in the autumn season of his life, and all through, too.

I will remind us all of verse 12: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.” Practical advice, from this practical psalm. This psalm is the only psalm attributed to Moses, that great man of faith. Moses was a particularly nuts-and-bolts kind of guy, and it is fitting that the only psalm—or song—we have from him is an intensely practical one.

Ever have a bad day? A bad week? What about a bad year? Sometimes, that is what life brings our way. Sometimes, a bad day turns into an even worse season. Moses knew about times like that. Sure, Moses started life with a silver spoon in his mouth. Adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter, he had it made. For a while. Then, there was a change of direction. Talk about downward mobility. In Moses’ life, things did not go well—for years and years. And that was before he met God at the burning bush.

Yet, God was there.

God walked with him, right by his side, all the way. Through his difficult times, through the times when Moses felt he was all washed up. God did not leave him or forsake him.

What about today?

What about certain people you and I know, who find themselves at a difficult point in their lives? Health reversals. Unemployment. Loss of loved ones on whom we deeply depend. What happens then? Is God distant, or uncaring? There are some words in this psalm that could lead me to think so.

When I talk with individuals today, sometimes these people tell me about their rough times. How much of a challenge it is, even to get up out of bed in the morning. To continue, one more day, walking through chemotherapy. Sitting by a loved one’s side in an extended care center. Counting pennies, counting the days, waiting for that next unemployment check.

Remember, Moses was very practical, and I urge everyone to remember the words that reach out to others. As this psalm takes a final turn, we come across the words “Teach us to number our days.” Just as my dear senior friend did. Sometimes, in the painful, lonely autumn of some lives. Take stock. Take inventory. Take a step back.

I know I need a time of introspection sometimes, in order to be able to reach out and to serve.

What about you? Please, God, help us all to be introspective, to number our days, and to serve You.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

A Tiring Day. A Day to Be Kind, Too?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, October 12, 2014

What autumn is supposed to look like.  (Photo credit - Kevin Jones)

What autumn is supposed to look like.
(Photo credit – Kevin Jones)

A Tiring Day. A Day to Be Kind, Too?

Today was a good day. Enjoyable, busy, filled with hustle bustle. Greeting friends, acquaintances, and fellow congregation members. This was also the end of a hectic, week-long time of preparation. I did an enjoyable presentation yesterday morning, which was quite satisfying. But in terms of preparation and planning? I was running, running all week, doing both pastoral care and pastor-things, as well as preparation, planning and group facilitator things (for yesterday).

When I finally got home in the early afternoon, I was tired. Done in. Blitzed. Tuckered out. Even though everything I’ve been involved in for over a week has been enjoyable, worthwhile and rewarding, now that I am at the end of it, I still felt extremely tired. (Still am.) I put up my feet for a bit. That felt wonderful, to finally slow down and to relax.

Since the weather was so beautiful today (and it was! Simply gorgeous autumn day!), my husband and I went out later in the afternoon. We traveled to a park along the lake, and walked. Windswept, yet temperate day for mid-October. I enjoyed everything about our walk. The bright sun on the sand, the variegated color of the leaves. We even saw a newer park bench overlooking the lake under the trees with a plaque on it. The plaque read: “Honey, let’s go down to the lake” and the two names of the couple who gave that bench.

As we gazed at that plaque, I felt a whisper of sorrow, loss, yearning. My husband nodded when I communicated that feeling. “I think one or the other of that couple put that bench here with the plaque attached,” he thought out loud. “One of the couple passed on, and the remaining half donated that bench to the park district. That’s what I’m guessing.” I paused, next to the bench. I felt sorrow and emptiness for this couple. I truly did. And then, ran to catch up with my husband.

I smiled and nodded to a number of people who lived nearby that park. Including dogs, and their human companions. I looked forward to a low key evening, and decided then and there to strive to be kind as much as possible. Being particularly tired, I knew I would not be able to do much.

I wonder—do I still act in a kind manner, even when I’m tired to pieces? Interesting question. I wouldn’t like to find out anytime soon, though. God, help me to be kind, no matter what is going on all around me. No matter how exhausted I may be. Thanks for God’s help!

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.