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

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!)

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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

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

Can We Encourage Others—Can We Pray?

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

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

Showing Love? Self-Care, Of Course!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, February 17, 2014

winter_glow_-_etsy

Showing Love? Self-Care, Of Course!

The last few days have been tough. Really challenging for me, in several ways, including what I suspect is seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Makes me hardly feel like slogging through the day, right now. In addition, what do I think of the continuing wintry weather today and the snow coming down almost all day? It’s the cherry on top of an ice cream (or, if you prefer, an icy) confection. Or perhaps, the icing on top of an ice cream cake, with extra snowy sprinkles.

I met with my marvelous therapist this afternoon. (And yes, our conversation was private and personal, and I’m not sharing it with anyone in a public forum like this. Sorry about that.) What I would like to focus on is the self-care aspect of seeing my therapist. As soon as I walk into his home office, I feel myself begin to unwind and become less tense. Today was no different. Today, he and I together dug up some interesting and potentially valuable insights into my life and experience.  And yes, I felt cared for at the end of my session, both by my therapist as well as by me. Self-care.

I started thinking about possible verses in the Bible that might refer to self-care. Lo and behold, I found several! One that really hit home today was Matthew 11:28, where Jesus says “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Check, and check. I do feel weary and burdened. And, I also feel like hibernating and not coming out until spring. When I feel this way, acts of service to others are not the first thing that leaps to the forefront of my mind. Gosh, it’s a good thing I have that invitation from God to come into God’s presence every day.

But my day of self-care wasn’t over. After the session with my therapist, I went to the YMCA. For the past two months, I have started to go to a gentle yoga and stretching class. (That’s what it’s called—Gentle Yoga and Stretching. Not quite euphonious, but certainly descriptive.)  A major difficulty was the weather. Because of the blowing snow and the snarled traffic on the streets, not too many people came to the yoga class. But I was there! And, so was the teacher, and a handful of other students. The simple and straight-forward yoga poses we were urged to try made me feel alive and invigorated. And the teacher’s calm, soothing voice made me feel welcome and comfortable.

As I finished changing in the locker room and left the Y, I was much more centered and content. And just imagine, I am invited to access that same contentment and peace that I felt at the end of yoga. I can feel the same welcome that I did just be coming into the home office of my therapist. Self-care! And You’ll help me with that, too, God.

Dear God, thanks for the reminder that I need to slow down each day, and perhaps even stop outright. And try a little self-care, too.

@chaplaineliza

Buying A Street Newspaper, Kindly

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, January 30, 2014

newspaper vendor Lucy Dickens

newspaper vendor
Lucy Dickens

Buying A Street Newspaper, Kindly

It has been cold in the past number of days. And I mean, freezing cold. As in polar-vortex-cold. Too cold for people to safely stand outside for more than a minute or two.

At a grocery store not too far from my apartment, a street newspaper vendor has his territory marked out. Recently, the grocery store has been kind enough to allow him to stand just inside the outside doors, out of the bitter cold. (Immediately adjacent to where the shopping carts live.) Some kind of warmth comes from the inside of the store. It’s not quite toasty warm, since there aren’t any direct heat vents or other heat sources on the floor-to-ceiling window walls. But as I mentioned before, at least it’s not as freezing as being outside.

Occasionally, I go to this grocery store to do a little shopping. Maybe once a week. And as often as not, I see the same street newspaper vendor there by the entrance/exit. I sometimes buy a street newspaper from him. I’m not sure whether everyone knows just what these street newspapers and the vendors who sell them are doing out on the street. This particular street newspaper is “StreetWise.” As the inside cover proclaims, “StreetWise is published weekly and is sold by the poor and homeless of Chicago.” The vendors buy the newspaper at cost and sell it at a nominal mark-up. Then, they are able to keep the profit for themselves. It’s a way for people “facing homelessness to achieve personal dignity,” as the StreetWise mission statement says.

I’m a generally friendly, cheerful person. When I see this vendor, I sometimes speak to him. When I get the opportunity, even though I often pass by him at some distance, I try to smile and nod. Give him some sort of friendly acknowledgement, since many people will not even make eye contact with him. I’ve never asked him, but I think he has noticed. And I suspect he appreciates it. He certainly seems to perk up when I see him, even though I don’t always buy a newspaper from him.

But tonight, I did. I bought a newspaper on the way out of the store. The time was a little later than I usually had seen him, but he was still there. Since I had a little extra money, I bought one. I acted in a kindly way. I wished him a good evening, told him I hoped he would be able to stay warm, and gave him one of my smiles, too. (I do have a cheerful smile.) I am glad he is showing initiative and gumption, and get-up-and-go, too.

I hope he has a warm, safe place to sleep tonight. Even though the weather is warmer than it was a few days ago, it’s still winter! And it’s still well below freezing. Dear God, I pray for this gentleman. Bless him. Nourish him physically as well as spiritually. Help him in the daily routine of selling this newspaper. Prosper him, and I pray that he might stay in good health. God, in Your mercy, hear my prayers.

@chaplaineliza