God, Grant Me the Serenity . . . to Be Kind (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, May 1, 2017

Today’s weather was rainy in both the afternoon and evening, which followed a very rainy, gray and chilly weekend. I found I needed some serenity today. It’s difficult for me to be cheery and bright when the weather outside has been so gray and dismal for a number of days in a row. (*sigh!*) I wanted to pass this along. Perhaps someone out there needs some peace and serenity, too.

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

Posted on May 1, 2014 by chaplaineliza

serenity prayer coin

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

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

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

(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!)

Advertisements

Be Kind with a Smile (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I have a friendly face. Or, so I am told. Others have more sour or sad expressions. I feel badly about that, and would like to ask them why. Why their faces are so sad, or expressions so hurting, or eyes so full of fear. As for me, I often smile, easily and readily. Here’s a blog post about exactly that.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, April 22, 2014

blooming_bike1

Be Kind with a Smile

It’s good to be with friends. I had several opportunities to visit with friends in the past few days. Some friends and I got together tonight. We talked, laughed, and generally had a great time together.

I could talk further about that get-together, but I thought another encounter more significant.

On my way home from my visit with friends, I decided to stop by the grocery store. (We needed a few things from the store. Especially milk!) So, I swung by the grocery store I used to go to, on the other side of town. A much denser side of town, with a number of larger apartment buildings and condos, as opposed to the neighborhood where I now live. More single-family homes in our present location.

On the other side of town, fascinating people, places and things. Always an interesting trip, going to that particular grocery store. The time was later in the evening. The dinner rush had long passed, and things around that store seemed to be winding down. I went into the store, and didn’t exactly hurry, but didn’t dawdle either.

As I came out of the store, who should I see getting off his bicycle but an older man I had seen for the past few years. A number of times before. I don’t see him every single time I go to that store, but about half the time? He’s there. Sitting or standing at the entrance/exit to the store, greeting all passersby. Dreadlocks and all.

He got off his bike and met my glance. I acknowledged his look with one of my own, as well as with a friendly smile.

That took him by surprise. “You’re the first person today who smiled at me. Thank you, lovely lady, for the beautiful smile.” (If you’ve seen photos of me, or me in real life, you know I have a nice, friendly and open smile.) “Why, thank you for noticing,” I responded. I also said I was sorry I didn’t have any money to give to this man. “Oh, that’s all right. I appreciate your lovely smile. That’s enough for me.”

How about that? I didn’t mean to give my smile to this dear man as a gift. No, it was unintentional. It just happened.

I rejoice in the fact that I can give away smiles to pretty much anyone who walks or drives by! Smiles don’t cost anything. They don’t take up room, they won’t rust or wither or fade. But, they brighten someone’s day, even lift them up out of sadness or depression, or even awkward or embarrassing things. God, what are You going to send me tomorrow? I can hardly wait to see!

@chaplaineliza

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

(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!)

(the Best of) Kindness through Connection (As in People)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Today is Ash Wednesday. But I’m not going to concentrate on ashes in my post. Instead, I’m going back to a situation where I was not simply kind (as in, ‘nice’), but I may have helped out in a material way. I hope so. I pray so.

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

 

friends drinking coffee credit - courtesy of the BBC

friends drinking coffee
credit – courtesy of the BBC

Kindness through Connection (As in People)

Some days ago, I happened to run into a friend of mine. I hadn’t seen this friend for a number of months, and was very happy to reconnect with him. Someone was with him, someone I had never met before. I smiled my friendly smile and stepped towards this second man. He seemed a bit hesitant and taken aback, almost as if he was unsure exactly why I’d even smile at him. My chaplain antennae started twitching. I detected something, some way of being that concerned me. I softened my voice and manner and started talking to him and our mutual friend, both together.

After seating ourselves and after initial uncertainty, my new friend opened up. He and I made an instant connection, too. He told me he had been out of work for a number of months. As the months began to pile up, he became more and more discouraged. I recognized the plight and problem of the long-term unemployed: employers hesitating even to consider people who have been unemployed for a long period of time. This wasn’t under-employment, but instead unemployment, pure and simple. Feelings of uselessness, self-pity, anger, despair, depression. (Sadly, I could relate, since I have gone through similar times in my own life and experience.)

This sort of thing does not happen to me all the time, or even most of the time. But making an instant connection does happen sometimes. And when I get the feeling, the urge to talk with someone, I usually listen to that urge. And, I listen to the person, too. As I was taught, I try to journey with the person for a little while. And, I try to actively listen to the story the person brings to me, too.

After I found out what my new friend had been doing before he was “downsized,” I realized I was acquainted with an older man who had worked for decades in the same industry before his retirement. Accordingly, I told my new friend. It was marvelous to see him perk up and tentatively begin to blossom. He asked me whether I could give the retired fellow his name and number. “Certainly!” I again smiled my friendly smile at him. I cautioned that I might not see this retired man for a number of days. My new friend said that would be okay—he had been unemployed for so long, a few more days (give or take) wouldn’t matter.

So, I ran into the retired man yesterday. He was interested in the story of my new friend’s long-term unemployment, and readily gave me his telephone number. However, he cautioned, my new friend needed to call him. (Excellent strategy—make the unemployed man need to do something.)

I called my new friend today. I gave him the cell phone number, and boy, was he grateful!  For him, this phone number was a lifeline, a connection with an industry that had been holding him at arm’s length for months. He said thank you to me, several times.

All because I made a connection, introducing two people who otherwise might never have met. What a way to be kind. What an opportunity to show caring and encouragement, in God’s name.

@chaplaineliza

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. Thanks!)

Showing Love and Kindness—On a Bus!

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

Sometimes a smile can do a world of good. It can lighten someone’s day. Just take a look at this conversation I had, a year ago.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, February 4, 2014

City bus - credit Marin Dobson

City bus – credit Marin Dobson

Showing Love and Kindness—On a Bus!

I can get into the most intriguing conversations with people I meet, at a moment’s notice. My family rolls their (collective) eyes, sighs, and says, “Oh, Mom.” (Or simply sighs, in my husband’s case.)

I took the opportunity of a day off from work to go to the YMCA this morning, after bringing my son to school. I went into the women’s locker room to change into my workout clothes. Many of the same people were there, the usual denizens of the gym and the pool on a typical weekday morning. I took my time to change, relishing the extra time I had at my disposal.

A woman I had met a number of times before bustled up to a locker near me. We hadn’t seen each other for some days. After we said hello, she was reminded—internally—of the blog I’ve been writing. (Yes, this blog.) She turned to me as she changed and asked how the blog was going. “Fine!” I said, with a smile. She is involved with a non profit organization that assists women and children, and she wanted more information about the blog. So that some of the women could post suggestions about acts of kindness they are familiar with. I said that would be great, and thanked her so much! We talked a bit about how people could contact me. (Reminder: anyone can always contact me at the Facebook page A Year of Being Kind, or through my Twitter account @chaplaineliza, or through wordpress.com—just in case anyone was wondering.)

Another woman, a few lockers down, happened to be listening to us as we spoke about intentional acts of kindness and service. My friend went off to the gym upstairs as I began to talk to the second, older woman. She apologized for eavesdropping on my conversation, but I told her that was perfectly all right. Introduced myself, and the two of us immediately engaged in conversation, also! She told me about an act of service that instantly came to her mind, as soon as she heard about people being kind. “Giving people a smile. Just that simple action can help so much.”

I agreed, and told her about my smile (and I showed it to her, too—my smile just-sort-of happens, you understand). She smiled back, and we exchanged a few words about smiles. But then she went back to her story. She used to ride the bus here in our suburb to work. A bus driver on the route greeted everyone who got on his bus with a big smile, friendly and cheerful. As the woman told me about this driver, she obviously remembered him with fondness. A big smile came across her face. “I used to tell him that his bus ought to be called ‘the Happy Bus.’”

What a happy memory! And what a kind thing to do. A smile and a positive attitude may seem to be little things, but they can brighten a person’s day. They changed this woman’s day, this morning, just remembering. Thank God for small things—like smiles.

@chaplaineliza

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. Thanks!)

Being Kind by Cracking a Joke

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, September 1, 2014

Ruddy duck (male), as identified by my friend Tom Russell. photo credit - Kevin Jones, Chicago Botanic Garden, 9/1/14

Ruddy duck (male), as identified by my friend Tom Russell.
photo credit – Kevin Jones, Chicago Botanic Garden, 9/1/14

Being Kind by Cracking a Joke

Today is Labor Day! The “official” end of summer, and a day for holiday festivities, picnics, barbeques, and all manner of outside activities. I spent a quiet holiday with my husband. Quiet and enjoyable! My husband wanted to go to one of our favorite places in town, the Chicago Botanic Gardens. Even though the day felt muggy, the overcast sky helped the weather seem a bit cooler. So, there we were. Traveling northward, taking our time. It was a holiday morning, I reminded my husband.

When we arrived at the Botanic Gardens, my husband (once again) commented on the fact that we have a Garden membership. (My father-in-law is very kind! That’s been his Christmas present to our family for quite a few years now.) “Yup. We can go right ahead, in the members’ lane. Don’t need to wait in line to pay. Yes, indeed.” I shook my head at my husband for his ridiculousness, and commented that he sounded quite a bit like Don Knotts in “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.”

It was a good thing that my husband took his large umbrella along when we left the car. The overcast sky threatened rain all morning. Lo and behold, the rain started while we were quite some distance from the entry gate, in the middle of the garden. As I said, good thing. In fact, it was a novelty for us to walk around the garden in the rain.

And the flowers! The colors! We saw a riot of color! Explosions of flowers! Absolutely gorgeous time to go to one of the most beautiful natural places in the Chicago area.

All that leads up to the being-kind part for the day. After having my fill of beauty and lovely flowers and restful greenery, I stopped at the gas station just west and north of the Garden. Very large gas station. Lots of gas pumps, and roomy interior to the building. As I went into the building to pay, I noticed the young man behind the counter. He looked glum. I mean, really sad. I paused, a number of steps away from the counter, and watched him carefully as he waited on another customer. I could just feel the sadness in him: a palpable thing.

As I stepped up to the counter, I gave him my signature smile. (I do have a friendly smile. I’ve mentioned it before.) “Good afternoon!” I pushed my twenty dollar bill across the counter, slowly. He watched it slide towards him for one second, and then two. He picked it up as I said, “I’d like twenty dollars,” and paused. Grinned wider—“on lucky pump number thirteen!” The cashier was a bit taken aback at my comment, and then instantly recovered. His whole appearance transformed, his face lit up. Nodded. He opened the cash register, and continued to smile at me. I waved as I turned to go.

Such a little thing. Off the cuff. I didn’t even think before I made that comment to that young man. But I suspect I made a difference to him, today. I hope so. I pray so. God, please be with that young man! Today, and every day.

@chaplaineliza

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

Kindness to a Senior

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, August 11, 2014

micah 6-8 framed

Kindness to a Senior

I don’t often go into department stores. It’s not that I don’t like shopping. (I do!) But, I try to find what I need and can use at resale shops (first) and outlets (second). And, I am sincerely trying to reduce what our family purchases. We live in a small condominium, and it’s filled with stuff as it is. We do not need more stuff. (My husband heartily agrees.)

As I posted yesterday, my daughter and I went to a mall we do not ordinarily go to. We also went to a bona fide department store to purchase some things to take to college. As we came down the escalator from the second floor to the first, I saw a frail-looking senior sitting in a small, fold-up wheelchair. She was about twelve feet from the bottom of the escalator, near the corner of the jewelry counter.

I am still thinking about her, today. My conversation with her stuck in my mind, and I keep playing our brief interaction over and over. So, I thought I would blog about it today.

My daughter and I rode down the escalator, my daughter about two or three escalator steps ahead of me. I saw the senior from a distance, as I descended. She caught my eye. Sitting still, waiting patiently, while everyone else in my eyesight seemed to be busy—moving, doing, going, bustling around. I initially approached her because her thin knit shawl was all bunched up, lying in the crooks of her elbows. The position of the shawl looked uncomfortable. Plus, there was no one accompanying her. At least, not anywhere nearby.

I slowed my steps as I stepped off the escalator and turned her way. Yes, an aged senior, for sure. But one who was quick on the uptake. “Good afternoon, “ I said, stooping slightly. (That way, I could look at her face more directly, instead of towering over her.) “I saw your shawl. Are you comfortable with it where it is, right now? Or could I help you rearrange it?”

“Oh, aren’t you sweet. No, my shawl is fine where it is.” We exchanged smiles. She panned the area, as best she could. Her head was pitched slightly forward, and even in the wheelchair, her shoulders were stooped. “Are you looking for someone?” I asked. She transferred her gaze to me, trying to look up, in my face. “I don’t see my family. They’ve gone, I suppose.” She sounded a bit wistful, but still patiently waiting. “Oh.” I smiled again. My daughter was fast disappearing, down the aisle of the store. I quickly sent a glance at her, and then looked back at the senior.

“Bye,” the elderly woman said. She raised her hand, and almost smiled at me. I gave her one of my bright, friendly smiles in return, and wished her well. I hurried, and caught up with my daughter, who rolled her eyes at me for stopping to talk with the elderly woman in the wheelchair.

As I continue to reflect on this brief meeting, I can’t help but think of Micah 6:8, my verse for the month of August. The questions that come to my mind are: how can I live justly? To whom do I show mercy? How may I walk lovingly with my God? God willing, my interaction with this dear senior provided an example of how to fulfill this verse. Please God, help me live in this just, merciful, loving way.

@chaplaineliza

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

Be Kind, Take Every Opportunity to Smile!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, June 23, 2014

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

Be Kind, Take Every Opportunity to Smile!

Have you ever had the experience of meeting someone for the first time, and somehow knowing that this person was not going to be your best friend? Or, any kind of friend at all? I know I have. I’ve met a few people who did not have a positive attraction for me. I describe these people to myself as ‘cat-people.’ When they meet a dog-person like me (yes, I just love dogs!), their ‘fur’ automatically goes up. Negative reaction. When I meet them, the hair on the back of my neck sometimes stands on end.

(In the interest of rigorous honesty, I need to insert this qualification. I grew up with a dog, and had another dog for ten years until I was in college. Yes, I love dogs! And, I love cats, too! My two older daughters have cats. Sadly, I am allergic to these four-footed friends. I really enjoy them, and they often come straight to me for petting, rubbing of ears, and tummy rubs. But my eyes water, and I start sneezing if I’m around them too long. Drat that cat dander!)

One particular situation came to mind today. Or, one particular person, I mean. Again. But I’ll say more about that in a minute.

I had a wonderful exercise class today! Yoga is so beneficial for me, especially the gentle yoga and stretching class I attend. A really positive experience. On my way out of the Y, I went through the large lobby, with several employees at the front desk, and another at the scanning station. I’ve been a Y member for several years. Almost all of these people know me, by sight if not by name. I smiled at them as I walked through the lobby.

In case you don’t know what I look like, I have a friendly, natural smile. My big smile just sort of happens. Automatically. My dear friend, retired Pastor Carl, gave me some excellent advice some years ago when I graduated from seminary. He said I had a lovely smile, and I ought to use it, often. I’ve taken that advice to heart. I do smile, as often as I can! It was especially useful when I was working in hospitals as a chaplain. I often had patients or their loved ones tell me my smile brightened up their whole day. That warmed my heart! And, made me appreciate Pastor Carl’s excellent advice, too.

But for some reason, as I smiled at a whole bunch of people today, a situation from a number of years ago came to mind. Then, I attended a preliminary, adjudicatory meeting. One of the panel in the meeting appeared all buttoned up, somber, almost as if the panel member had sucked on a lemon. This member did not say a word all meeting long, until I rose to get up at the end of my portion of the meeting. Then came the zinger: looking directly at me, “You smile too much.”

God, this situation periodically plays over and over in my mind. I know I need to evict this person from renting space in my head. How much more mental space I would have for things that are pleasing to You! Dear God, I pray for this person. Again, I pray all good things for their family, too. Dear God, help this member in every aspect of their life. Amen. So be it, God!

@chaplaineliza

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