Social Media? Or a Kind Conversation? (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, June 19, 2018

So much attention to what has been going on recently is posted on social media. Sure, it’s an efficient way to get out the message to many, many people with a minimum of effort. (And, I must say I use social media for exactly that reason, sometimes.) However, the intimacy of a personal, one-on-one conversation can be so nurturing and healing. It can provide feelings of warmth, wellbeing and connection, which are sadly falling to the wayside in today’s rush-rush, hurry-hurry, fast-paced society. May God never allow me to shelve this intimate, personal touch of a kind, one-on-one conversation.

kindness,create

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Social Media? Or a Kind Conversation?

Have you noticed? People pay so much attention to social media today. Smart phones, computer laptops and tablets. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Reddit and Tumblr. So many choices! So many ways to further fragment individuals and their communication. Even when I see several people sitting in close proximity to each other, chances are that they will be staring down at some electronic device, focused on that, instead of focusing on each other—sitting at the same table, or even on the same bench.

Call me old-fashioned, but I actually enjoy the art of conversation. I may not be the best at this dying art, but I do enjoy talking with people. In a small group or tete a tete. Intimate, joy-filled, heartwarming, sometimes even heartwrenching. But all the same, there is nothing quite like it.

I have been trained as a chaplain. I’ve done several extended internships as a chaplain intern, and served as student pastor for one year. I was employed as a part-time director of pastoral care, and then on call chaplain at a hospital in Chicago for almost seven years. And this was all in the past eleven years. Extensive, specific training. A great deal of spiritual, psychological and emotional understanding of people in highly volatile, fearful, or extended situations. Challenging, anxious experiences. Lack of hope, grief, trauma, end of life concerns. Yes, I’ve seen a lot.

Looking back on it all, I can see how many of these formative experiences have prepared me for what I’m doing and where I find myself, right now. God is awesome—how God fits this all together never ceases to amaze me.

Take this evening, for example. I happened to meet an acquaintance of mine. (I don’t think he knows about my new job.) He and I fell into conversation, and he started talking about how he used to be all caught up in the church, and went through years of parochial schooling. Then, he stopped church attendance some years ago. Now, he has recently started to consider God, and spirituality from a whole different perspective. In turn, I told him a little about my experience with God and spirituality. I encouraged him to continue to explore this! (And, no, I did not bash him over the head with the fact that I am a professional, in the “church business.”)

I looked on this friendly conversation as part of my being kind. Helpful. Making positive suggestions. And perhaps, when we meet again next time, my acquaintance might remember my kind words and ask me about my perspective—my experience, strength and hope. Please God, help me be ready to be kind, and to be of service!

@chaplaineliza

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(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a meditation journey through Pentecost and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!) (also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Of Service? Naturally!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, September 25, 2014

people with whom our hearts are knitted

Of Service? Naturally!

I had the opportunity to be kind, helpful and of service today.

It was like this. Someone called the church some days ago, and wanted to know whether she might be able to rent out the church for an event in a few months. We arranged to meet this afternoon, at a time that was convenient for all of us. The office manager, Sunny, and I showed the woman around the church, answered as many questions about the facility as we could, and were genuinely as helpful as both of us could be. Sunny even let the friendly woman know that she could make herself available as photographer—since that is another business that she has. The woman laughed, and mentioned something about the full services our church provides. We all agreed on the humor in that situation.

The woman seemed to be both pleased and touched to see the preschool children, as well as the babies and toddlers. The children were taking their nap right after lunch, when the two of us peeked into several spaces where the children usually made their presence well known. But, not at this time. It was nap time, and we were especially quiet, even while checking out the facilities.

I had a good day before that, too. I grabbed a quick lunch with Pastor Gordon, my former fellow pastor at St. Luke’s Church. Gordon and I always have a wonderful time together, and he is so helpful and wise on top of everything else. He and I periodically meet together to talk, since he has so kindly offered to mentor me and give me some handy tips for church administrative and procedural matters. Of course, I was tickled to death at this prospect. Gordon has several decades of solid experience, and he is one of the best people I can think of to mentor me. Solid stuff he communicates, and so helpful, too.

After that, meeting with the cheerful, pleasant woman at church was the main event of the day, as far as I am concerned. It felt good to be responding to someone who was asking genuine questions about our church, and had real interest in our building. I know St. Luke’s Church building is a modest facility, but I certainly appreciate its many good qualities. And, I hope I highlighted them today. God willing, yes!

@chaplaineliza

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How Can I Be Kind? Be Present for Others!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, March 8, 2014

Saturday morning - Monmouth College Fall retreat, 2005 - Painting Prayers

Saturday morning – Monmouth College Fall retreat, 2005 – Painting Prayers

How Can I Be Kind? Be Present for Others!

My family took a trip today to Michigan and back. Not particularly a nice day for travel, but we had a luncheon appointment planned for this particular day. We went to a fine restaurant in a small town in Michigan and met two older relatives for lunch. Comfortable eating place, wonderful view, excellent company. I think I can safely speak for us all if I say a fine time was had by all of us.

One of the relatives has done a good bit of (lay) work for the church, for a number of decades. I had the opportunity to seriously listen to him and glean some wisdom from him and his vast experience. What an opportunity! I was very glad I could do that. I could see that he felt good, sharing his expertise. And I? I was listening with both ears open—and pen in hand—taking down all the information I could.

On the way back to Chicago this afternoon, I reflected upon the serious discussion the two of us had over the coffee cups, after lunch. Since I’ve worked as a chaplain for most of the past ten years, I could say that I am also a professional-listener. I listen to people with several aural filters: first, spiritual. Since I often act as a chaplain, I have a primary focus on people’s spiritual orientation (and I don’t mean “religious!” but instead, spiritual, internal focus). Second, emotional. I am naturally intuitive and a feeling/perceptive person, so I can actively listen to individuals and their feeling/emotional orientation.

So, I used my active listening skills at lunch today. (It was automatic—they just sort-of switched on. I found myself in the middle of this significant conversation, and I felt my internal, active listening just being there. Fully operational.) Meanwhile, something was going on under the surface inside of my head while I was cogitating on this conversation. I also reflected on something I recently heard at a gathering of friends. A new acquaintance was speaking. She said quite a number of excellent things. However, what was the most significant thing I thought she said? The most important thing she could do for people besides showing up for them was being fully present with them. I truly appreciated that, and took that thought home with me. The zinger for me? I somehow connected the two trains of thought.

I guess I could say that I was fully present with my older relative today. I listened attentively to him after lunch, with appreciation for his wisdom and expertise. I guess I could also say I took the opportunity to be kind today. Actually, the act of service was a two-way gift this afternoon—both for my relative and for me. I think it is just superb how God sovereignly acts in disparate situations and ties them together in my mind—like at lunch today, and in my remembrance of this recent conversation. Awesome job, God! Thanks so much!

@chaplaineliza

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