How to Be Helpful? Everyone Pitches In!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, October 4, 2014

autumn road

How to Be Helpful? Everyone Pitches In!

Isn’t it wonderful when everything comes together? Especially when a big event—planned for some time—happens, and everything works out wonderfully? Yeah. That happened tonight.

Actually, this morning was really awesome, too. But more about that, first. I’ll briefly describe what happened this morning, as an appetizer to this evening’s festivities. I prepared for a Blessing of the Animals this morning. Yes, I had fliers with a prayer all printed up, but the weather did not cooperate.

Today was the coldest day of the fall so far, and the weather was threatening to rain all morning. (And, it finally did start sprinkling, just before noon. Just before I started to move things inside.) Lo and behold, I blessed nine animals. Several in-depth conversations happened. Plus, two more people came to the church and brought lists of their animals. The two dear people wanted their pets blessed long-distance. Of course, I did!

But, this evening? Better and better. It was marvelous to see so many people come out and support St. Luke’s Church. And like I said before, everything came together to create a lovely night. Excellent food, hard work by everyone involved. Even the student youth leader and his roommate came to the spaghetti dinner—both did yeoman’s service, helping out with the serving and whatever else was needed around the kitchen and the fellowship hall.

Such an example of service! Serving with love and caring to others, being helpful, loving and caring with no sign of anyone paying me back or doing something for me in exchange. And here, at St. Luke’s Church? That kind of attitude is what I saw. That’s the loving and caring attitude I find in the larger passage I’m preaching from tomorrow, from John 16 and 17. How wonderful it is to show others how important each individual is. Such a difference! And, each person is truly valued and cared for.

Everyone pitching in helps each one to be more and more encouraged and supported. And, the encouragement and support is circular, helping members of the congregation feel better about themselves. Which just encourages more love and caring to others. That is what I would like to show to everyone: our congregation truly is striving to be a congregation after God’s own heart. Difficult? Challenging? Are there setbacks, sometimes? Yes. Yes, and yes. What’s more, I think God is pleased and continues to bless our efforts. God willing, we’ll continue to try!

@chaplaineliza

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Be Kind? Bless Animals! Be of Service? Serve Spaghetti! (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, October 3, 2014

Cute-Kitten-and-Puppy-Wallpaper 2013-06

Be Kind? Bless Animals! Be of Service? Serve Spaghetti! (Feature Friday!)

Talk about a blockbuster weekend! Blessing of the Animals, tomorrow morning. Spaghetti Dinner, tomorrow evening. World Communion Sunday, Sunday morning. All happening at St. Luke’s Church in Morton Grove. A weekend full of activity, for sure.

Tomorrow is October 4th, the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. For the portions of the church that observe and honor the saints, St. Francis is the patron saint of animals and the environment. What more appropriate day to observe a Blessing of the Animals! When I did an animal and pet blessing in the spring several months ago, we had sixteen dogs and their human friends come to the parking lot of St. Luke’s Church. Great opportunity for our church to bless pets and communicate God’s love and caring to both the animals as well as their human families.

As I said to the St. Luke’s congregation, I will be out in the church parking lot from 10:00 am until noon. I will bless any pet that comes by, big or small. I will even bless pictures and photos of pets, if people choose to bring them by. I look upon this as a ministry. I love animals, and this will be a wonderful outreach and offering to our community and neighbors.

And then, tomorrow night! Believe me, almost everyone at the church has been gearing up for this Spaghetti dinner all month. At the midweek bible study, people were preoccupied with the dinner, and preparations, and lists. I heard a lot of excitement! That was great! However, I also heard some anxiety, and preoccupation with the details. Accordingly, I included a special prayer at the bible study. I prayed that the dinner might go smoothly, and that God be lifted up and honored by everything that happens tomorrow evening. I know several people at the bible study appreciated my prayers.

Isn’t that the way it is sometimes, when the schedule is too full? Loads of checklists and details and planning and forecasting. When a person isn’t able to squeeze in one more little thing? Too busy even to turn around. Yes, it can be a lot. Even too much, sometimes. It’s a good thing that the congregation only has this dinner once a year.

I appreciate the celebration and blessing of World Communion Sunday, the following day. I have prayerfully arranged the worship service for this special Sunday. I hope and pray that it will be a blessing for all who attend. As well as for the friends who will be at the church at different times on Saturday, too. God, I pray that You are lifted up and honored in many ways this weekend. With animals, with spaghetti, with fellowship, in celebration.

@chaplaineliza

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Be Kind? Oh, Bother!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, June 5, 2014

Pooh, Eeyore and Christopher Robin - illustration by Ernest Shepard

Pooh, Eeyore and Christopher Robin – illustration by Ernest Shepard

Eeyore - Stained glass from Delphi Glass

Eeyore – Stained glass
from Delphi Glass

Be Kind? Oh, Bother!

I felt more than a little like Eeyore today. I did not feel one hundred percent healthy, so right off the bat I was dealing with a body that was in slow motion. A few aches and pains, and a slight headache. Yes, I still have the cold my son so generously shared with me. So yes, I had a ways to climb just to get to my normal starting point for the day.

It’s not that terrible things habitually happen to me, but I found today I was more pessimistic than usual. (Oh, bother!) It’s not that the world is a rotten place, or that it’s always raining when I go outside. No, I know that’s not the case. But today, it seemed that I had to run extra hard just to keep up. Bob and tread water just a little faster just to stay on top of the water.

The administrative assistant at work was so helpful today! Sunny got some things ready for Saturday, when I am going to have a Blessing of the Animals. I really appreciate teamwork. I’ll be picking up the animal treats from the large pet supply store near the church, tomorrow afternoon. And, I was able to get some bottled water for the pets’ families, too. I am looking forward to a great morning on Saturday!

But meanwhile, I still need to get through this common, garden-variety cold. And I still feel like Eeyore. It isn’t that I think happiness is out of reach, somehow, but happiness seems further away when I’m not feeling well. Even though the weather outside is beautiful and sunny. I’m reminded of one of the workers at the nail salon this afternoon. (Yes, I did get my nails polished. I do, periodically. Just a basic manicure, with some neutral polish.)

This worker was really an Eeyore, if ever I saw one! Sad, downhearted, mouth in a straight line. She did not make eye contact with anyone. Hardly said a word all the time I was there. I don’t like to compare myself to anyone, but I was only an Eeyore-wannabe, compared to her!

Something inside of me wanted to connect with her. I was friendly, I talked a bit. I smiled at her, complimented her. Nope. (At least she did a lovely job on my nails.)

I didn’t think about it until afterwards, but she might habitually be like that. Always thinking the world is grim, always pessimistic. It is sad to think that—for some people—they might think that happiness is something just out of reach. God, I am so glad that I know that You are right by my side! And when I take the opportunity to be kind, to smile and be helpful? It helps so much for me to connect to people! Or, at least to try to connect. That gets me out of my own pessimism. Out of my own head, and makes me available to serve! To offer to help, to be kind. Even when I do feel like Eeyore!

@chaplaineliza

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Doing the Footwork for a Blessing of the Animals

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, May 15, 2014

dog and kittens

Doing the Footwork for a Blessing of the Animals

Who remembers this past winter? January . . . February . . . March. Driving snow! Slippery ice! Whipping wind! Freezing cold! Polar Vortex! (Or should I say, vortices? I don’t know what the plural of “vortex” is.) How much winter could we take, anyway? My 80-something-year-old father-in-law, who grew up on a farm in Iowa and has lived all his life in the upper Midwest, said this past winter was the absolute worst in his memory. And that’s saying something.

Even though spring is here, and May is verdant with abundant flowers and plants popping out all over the place, I still hear people talking about the challenging winter we just came through. And—that’s why I would like to have a Blessing of the Animals at the church where I work, on the first Saturday in June. June 7th, from 10:00 am until noon, in the church parking lot.

St. Francis is the patron saint of ecology, animals and the environment. Pope John Paul II wrote in 1990 that St. Francis “offers Christians an example of genuine and deep respect for the integrity of creation . . . . As a friend of the poor who was loved by God’s creatures, Saint Francis invited all of creation – animals, plants, natural forces, even Brother Sun and Sister Moon – to give honor and praise to the Lord. . . . when we are at peace with God we are better able to devote ourselves to building up that peace with all creation which is inseparable from peace among all peoples.” (“World Day of Peace 1990”. Vatican.va. Retrieved May 15, 2014) What a positive, affirming way to show our fellowship and friendship with animals, as well as the rest of creation.

I know that the Blessing of the Animals is usually associated with St. Francis of Assisi, and is usually timed to correspond with his feast day on October 4th. I am so glad for churches that celebrate our animal friends during the first week of October. However, I think that our animal friends have gone through this challenging winter, too! They might need some additional blessing. Accordingly, we printed up some flyers, and today I went to some local businesses to see whether we might be able to have these flyers posted in the windows or on community boards inside. Plus, I started to develop some positive, continuing relationships with store managers in the area. All good things!

So, I continued to do some footwork to get the Blessing of the Animals going today. It is a great chance to get together with people from the community and to make some new friends. (Both two-legged and four-legged!) I love animals, and I am so excited to be able to offer this simple, yet heartfelt opportunity to families and their animal friends. Dear God, be with me and the rest of St. Luke’s Church community as we prepare for this community Blessing of the Animals. Thanks, God!

@chaplaineliza

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