Being Kind to a Sleeping Stranger (#BestOf)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Thinking about the homeless, and those in need: our church provides donations (both monetary and physical gifts) to a local food pantry. I just finished the pastor’s article for the December church newsletter. I mentioned our holiday donation to the food pantry. We are going to give personal care products—soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and more. Greatly needed, to be sure! I pray for this dear man, and for countless others like him.

Being Kind to a Sleeping Stranger

thank-thank-to-god

Posted on November 28, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, November 26, 2014

Being Kind to a Sleeping Stranger

Happy Thanksgiving, to one and all. Today was a quiet, down day. A day to catch up on some needed rest and relaxation, a Sabbath day for me. I particularly needed a Sabbath, after going full bore for almost three weeks.

Except—my husband and I went out for a cup of coffee this afternoon. Yes, we were actually able to find an open Starbucks. My daughter, home from college for Thanksgiving break, decided to go out with her distinctly un-cool, fuddy-duddy mom and dad, at the last minute.

My daughter is such an interesting person. So is my husband. (I must say, I am not so bad at conversation myself.) We had the rare opportunity to sit and talk with each other for over a half an hour, with no computers, DVD players, smart phones, MP3 players, or other gadgetry to distract us. I very much enjoyed finding out more about what my daughter was learning in several of her classes, as well as her experience at a recent lecture with a visiting professor. Amused, I did more listening than talking. She and my husband were getting into it in rapid-fire fashion, concerning the subject of the lecture (a fascinating aspect of medieval literature).

While we were engaged in conversation in the rear of the coffee shop, a tall man came up and sat down about ten or twelve feet away from us, on the booth-type seat along the wall. We didn’t notice him at first, but then, I saw him begin to nod off. And, he did not have any coffee. I felt compassion towards the man. I caught my husband’s eye, and gestured towards the sleeping man. I smiled, sadly.

My husband saw him, too. And immediately registered what his probable backstory was.

My husband was a volunteer at our former church’s homeless drop-in shelter, on Monday afternoons. During the weeks between November 1 and March 31, the church we used to attend had (and still has) a drop-in place for the homeless and indigent, from 3 to 7 pm. First Presbyterian Church took Mondays out of the week. He was a regular volunteer there, most Monday afternoons, for about five years.

So, we both suspected this man needed a place to get in out of the cold. Especially on this cold day, with the high temperature of about 20 degrees.

I was not about to complain to the Starbucks employees about this man. No way! With compassion, my husband and I watched him sleep, and did not disturb him. I mentioned that I hoped he had some other place to go when the Starbucks closed. I finished my coffee, and left along with the rest of my family.

I never did find out what happened to this man, afterwards. I don’t think he had any place to go on Thanksgiving. I hope and pray for him. Lord, have mercy on this dear man. I don’t even know his name—but You do. God, bless this man.

@chaplaineliza

(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a PEACE journey through Eastertide and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

 

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Of Being Kind and Keeping Quiet! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Thursday, May 12, 2016

I re-read this post, and reflected on it. On how countercultural it is to follow this advice. Really, not speaking up? Keeping quiet? Strange, but true.

Of Being Kind and Keeping Quiet!

Posted on May 14, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, May 13, 2014

quiet--more you can hear

Of Being Kind and Keeping Quiet!

Ever get the feeling that you said too much? That you should have kept your mouth shut? That you would have been much better served if you had said nothing at all?

I got that message today, several times. Loud and clear!

First, as I met with a colleague, we had a regular, periodic meeting where we updated each other on the state of the workplace, the people we work with, and any coming events both of us need to be aware of. As we talked, I asked my colleague (an older and wiser person!) for some advice. And, I got some! Ears open, listen hard, and keep quiet! (It could very well have been “Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves,” but my co-worker did not say that. Not today, at least.)

Wise words. I listened to them, filed them away, and thanked my co-worker!

Again, later in the day, I ran into a friend of mine. We talked about a number of things. Lo and behold, I got the same (unsolicited) advice from my friend. Slightly puzzled, but still very much open to the advice, I considered what had been mentioned to me. Hmm.

After dinner, I went to a get-together. A group of friends and acquaintances met tonight near downtown. I greeted a good number of people I knew tonight. Including one person who told an interesting anecdote. She had taken a cab today, downtown. A work associate was in the cab with her. She was amazed to observe her associate tell the cabbie exactly how to drive. With great precision. Exactitude. And demanded that the cabbie comply.

As she watched the drama unfolding beside her, my friend felt something—inside of her—was the matter. Bubbling over. She didn’t know quite what it was, so she prayed. Asking God to help her calm down and stay in the moment. Not get all bent out of shape. She realized she was getting upset at how ridiculous her fellow rider was being. It was a victory for her (yay!). Previously, even a few years ago, she would have wanted to tell her associate exactly how ridiculous she thought their words and actions were! But now, it just stayed a want, a desire. Nothing came out of her mouth! Nothing that she might have wanted to take back. (Thank God!)

God, that’s three times today that You brought communication to my attention. Or rather, lack of communication. (I know, I know. “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”) As I said before, these are wise words! God, please help me to listen, and follow them. Help me to be an active listener AND a responsive, caring person. One who doesn’t let her mouth flap in the wind. Wise words, indeed!

@chaplaineliza

(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a PEACE journey through Eastertide. #PursuePEACE. Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Can We Encourage Others—Can We Pray?

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Looking back at this post, this was just one day before I heard about the position I now have. On this particular Sunday, I was attending church, singing in the choir, and talking with someone after the service. Or, was it listening? Regardless, God was in it.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, March 2, 2014

BK only kindness matteres

Can We Encourage Others—Can We Pray?

As I brushed off the car this morning, I groaned. Internally, I mean. Will this snow and wintry weather ever stop? I drove to church down the half-deserted streets. Despite my grumbling about the cold and the snow, I grudgingly had to admit that the glistening white coating of snow did help. It helped the trees and grass to shine as the sun peeped through the clouds. Such a sight helped raise my spirits, too.

True, I did dash into church late. Late for choir practice, due to a minor waffle iron malfunction this morning. My son had a friend sleep over. I made waffles in a hurry before I left, but the first waffle stuck in the (older) waffle iron. I couldn’t very well run off and leave the waffle iron full of half-burnt pieces of waffle, so I did scrape and clean it off. (sigh)

I enjoy singing in choir! I like singing, period. Especially singing in parts. The morning service went well, too. I really worshiped, most of the time. (It’s a challenge to keep my mind on worship at all times, to tell the truth. I suspect most people would acknowledge that. At least, part of the time.) Since this is the first Sunday of the month, our church celebrated Communion. That was good, too.

Benediction said, church service over, congregation dismissed, sanctuary cleared. I went downstairs with the other parishioners to the memorial room (under the sanctuary). But—another worshiper caught me before I entered the large room. “Do you have a minute?” Sure, I nodded. “How do I get a prayer request in the prayer chain?” was the follow-up question.

Instantly, my chaplain antennae started to vibrate. “You came to the right place. I keep track of the requests and email out the weekly prayer list.” All of which are true. But I still had this intense feeling that something was going on with my fellow church member.  The two of us stepped into a little out-of-the-way area, and I asked for more information about the prayer request. It turned out, there were two requests. I wrote down both of the requests on a scrap of paper I had in my pocket. I used active listening. I pitched my voice to be soft and gentle. And—I used my less-anxious presence to help my fellow church member feel more calm and

After I wrote down specifics on the person we were praying for, I continued to listen closely to what the fellow parishioner was saying. I was moved to relate a couple of my views and spiritual insights concerning suffering, pain and death. And afterwards, we both teared up, and almost cried. I felt that my presence was appreciated! Not only by my fellow church member, but by many at worship today. But specifically, the situation regarding the prayer request after service? That’s my act of kindness today.  I am so glad I was at the right place, at the right time. Or—perhaps I was in the place God intended me to be today.  Regardless, I wonder what God will send my way tomorrow?

@chaplaineliza

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(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Being Kind? Long Distance.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, October 13, 2014

LOVE never fails 1 Cor 13

Being Kind? Long Distance.

A dear, lovely older friend of mine let me know something serious and significant several days ago. She told several others of her acquaintance, too.

It happened quite suddenly. A close family member entered hospice. This is overwhelmingly a matter of great concern, I know. But with my friend, even more so. She told me, because she is flying overseas. Or rather, she flew overseas yesterday to be with many in her extended family at this terribly sad time. And especially with this dear one, in hospice.

She told me, because she asked me for prayer. “Of course!” I said. She knows that there is nothing—medically—that can be done, other than comfort measures. But I certainly will lift her and her whole family in prayer. I have, already, and I will continue to do so.

From time to time, there is very little that can be done for patients. Medically speaking. This can be when the doctors and other medical staff start talking about hospice. I know, because I’ve sat with patients right after they have been told it is recommended that they enter hospice. Or, I’ve been called to a room when a family member has been told that there is nothing else that can be done, medically. If they did not want to see me, I did my best to understand. If the or the patient acted out, or showed some big display of strong emotion, again—I did my best to understand. And, I tried to walk or sit with them for a little while, and to be a quiet, calming, less-anxious presence.

It can be difficult enough if loved ones are close by. Family and other loved ones, coming to the hospital, care center, or home can be, indeed, difficult. But just imagine if you were half a continent away from your loved one in hospice. Or, what is even worse, half a world away? This is the case with my dear friend. This is why I said “Of course!” when I was asked to pray. And—this is why I am providing the kind service for this dear loved one in hospice. Long distance.

Let’s pray. Dear Lord, gracious God, I pray for my dear, sweet friend. Help her to be a blessing for her family. Assist her with caring for her very ill family member. Come along side. Act as a holy Comforter to the whole extended family. Calm anxious, worried hearts. Provide times of awareness and friendship for all who wait, including this beloved one in hospice. In Your mercy, dear Lord, we pray.

@chaplaineliza

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Rain Washes Me Clean—to Be Kind and Quiet

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, June 24, 2014

purple flowers

Rain Washes Me Clean—to Be Kind and Quiet

Some days are quiet days. Days to sit and think. Days I would prefer to be by myself. Days like today.

Upon reflection, I didn’t do anything super-awesome today. Sure, I came to work. Did some worship planning and sermon preparation. Made some telephone calls, got the final bible study ready for tomorrow. Talked with a couple of people briefly, and made pleasant conversation. But, I didn’t have any significant, in depth interaction today.

True, I try to find an opportunity to be kind each day. On second thought, perhaps the pleasant, low-key conversations were God’s way of showing me that I can be kind and loving in a quiet way. (I don’t need to do something significant every day. Even though, I admit it would give me a big ego-boost if I could.)

All right, God. Perhaps that’s what You wanted me to do today. Show my care, kindness and love to others—quietly. I can see how this way of being kind was also a way to display the verse for June, too: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16 )

I do strive to be honest, open and willing in all of my affairs. I also try to let that light God has placed within me to shine before others, as much as I can. Another way to think about that light is the shining example of Jesus Christ. I know I fall short, but I can keep striving to live up to His example. After all, it’s continued progress, not perfection. God is pleased with me when I try my honest best, even if I do stumble and fall sometimes.

Stumble and fall? That’s the way I feel in conversation sometimes. I stumble over my words at times, and trip up on choosing the proper words or phrases to communicate what I mean. Of course, I had a stroke that attacked my language center when I was a teenager. Robbed me of the regular ability to finish sentences for several years, and it still gives me occasional difficulty. I’m still frustrated—even decades later—when I occasionally lose my words and feel awkward about my speaking ability.

Upon reflection, it’s a good thing that I have downtime, sometimes. That means that I can rest up, and not need to verbally communicate. Maybe it’s a good thing after all that I had a low-key day. A humid day that morphed into a hard thunder shower. Yes, I had to run out to the car in a downpour when I left to drive home.

God, thanks for the rain, to cool off the hot, humid weather. And thanks for the rain, to wash me clean. Wake me up. Get me ready to work for You. Thanks again!

@chaplaineliza

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Of Being Kind and Keeping Quiet!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, May 13, 2014

try to control, can't enjoy anything

Of Being Kind and Keeping Quiet!

Ever get the feeling that you said too much? That you should have kept your mouth shut? That you would have been much better served if you had said nothing at all?

I got that message today, several times. Loud and clear!

First, as I met with a colleague, we had a regular, periodic meeting where we updated each other on the state of the workplace, the people we work with, and any coming events both of us need to be aware of. As we talked, I asked my colleague (an older and wiser person!) for some advice. And, I got some! Ears open, listen hard, and keep quiet! (It could very well have been “Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves,” but my co-worker did not say that. Not today, at least.)

Wise words. I listened to them, filed them away, and thanked my co-worker!

Again, later in the day, I ran into a friend of mine. We talked about a number of things. Lo and behold, I got the same (unsolicited) advice from my friend. Slightly puzzled, but still very much open to the advice, I considered what had been mentioned to me. Hmm.

After dinner, I went to a get-together. A group of friends and acquaintances met tonight near downtown. I greeted a good number of people I knew tonight. Including one person who told an interesting anecdote. She had taken a cab today, downtown. A work associate was in the cab with her. She was amazed to observe her associate tell the cabbie exactly how to drive. With great precision. Exactitude. And demanded that the cabbie comply.

As she watched the drama unfolding beside her, my friend felt something—inside of her—was the matter. Bubbling over. She didn’t know quite what it was, so she prayed. Asking God to help her calm down and stay in the moment. Not get all bent out of shape. She realized she was getting upset at how ridiculous her fellow rider was being. It was a victory for her (yay!). Previously, even a few years ago, she would have wanted to tell her associate exactly how ridiculous she thought their words and actions were! But now, it just stayed a want, a desire. Nothing came out of her mouth! Nothing that she might have wanted to take back. (Thank God!)

God, that’s three times today that You brought communication to my attention. Or rather, lack of communication. (I know, I know. “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”) As I said before, these are wise words! God, please help me to listen, and follow them. Help me to be an active listener AND a responsive, caring person. One who doesn’t let her mouth flap in the wind. Wise words, indeed!

@chaplaineliza

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

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com Shortlink:

God, Grant Me the Serenity . . . to Be Kind

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, April 30, 2014

to-do list for today

God, Grant Me the Serenity . . . to Be Kind

I did a number of various kinds of things today. Practiced the keyboard for Sunday service. Handled some administrative matters in the office. Led an adult bible study. Wrote some of the encyclopedia article I’ve been working on. Went to two meetings later in the day. Bought my daughter a dress (she’s going to a special symposium as an invited guest tomorrow). Met with a good friend after dinner.

Not to mention all the other stuff that’s going on in my life. Any one of these things is a worthy topic for being of service. But I’d like to focus on the topic of serenity. And how much I need some in my life.

Reinhold Niebuhr wrote the original Serenity Prayer. It was more than twice as long as the prayer commonly known by so many today. The short version is also repeated in recovery groups all over the country—even all over the world, today. But the shorter prayer is one that I have memorized. And one I say to myself, from time to time. Even more often than that, on occasion.

The thing about this Serenity Prayer is that it urges me to accept people, places and things, as they are. If I have a degree of acceptance in my life, I am more likely to be open and willing to help others. To serve and to be kind. I also find I that much more likely to have joy and gratitude in my heart.

Since there is so much going on in and around my life, currently, I honestly feel the need for serenity. Peace. I would prefer a little quiet, which is more than I usually get around my house. (Thanks to my two teenagers!) I know what many people will say—in just a few years, there will be more than enough quiet, when my two younger children follow my two older ones. When I have an empty nest.

But I am not there, yet. I still need the Serenity Prayer. I am familiar with the idea of acceptance. Accepting the fact that there are many things (even most things?) in my life which I cannot change. Have absolutely no control over. And, I need to be okay with that. Today, despite feeling as if I did not control much in my personal and work life, I was still able to help others. I still made several people smile, even laugh. I still led a bible study. (the Road to Emmaus! Great material!) And, I especially had a wonderful time with my friend—we talked about all kinds of things. Just like we always do.

I’ll close with the Serenity Prayer, because any time is a good time for serenity. God, grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

@chaplaineliza

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