Find tips and resources for self-care, material to assist you in providing pastoral care, and general information to help you in your practice of ministry. Information will be updated every two weeks concurrent with the East Ohio E-news.
January 11, 2016 Edition
Heal the Healer – A Day of Renewal for You
with psychologist Tom Holmes of Winged Heart
Friday, February 19, 2016
North Canton Faith UMC
More information and registration here.
Confronting Racism As A Social Disease
by Deborah Peterson
When you talk about mental health and racism, bear two things in mind. One is the obvious harm that racism causes to the black and brown people who are the objects of racial discriminatory behavior, but the other part—never really talked about—is the harm that comes to white people from living in a racist society and the way in which it distorts their perspectives of themselves. Knowing that the conversation you have about yourself is inconsistent with what’s true, and feeling a constant need to preserve that image by obfuscation, projection, and denial, generate a permanent inner sense of shame. Our national narrative is that we’re a country established by people fleeing religious persecution in their home countries, people who came here to experience freedom and generate prosperity. But that’s only slightly true: many colonists who came early to the land that came to be called America were religious fundamentalists whose intolerance of others caused them to become personae non gratae in their home countries. It didn’t take long after their arrival for them to begin imposing their beliefs on others and severely punishing those who refused to cooperate.
As a country, we’ve been doing that for a long time. One of the major contributions that the psychotherapeutic community [and the Church] could make now is to begin to engage with racism as a social disease that affects everybody in the society. From that frame, it doesn’t matter so much how people acquired the condition of racism. Instead, the relevant questions are how we contain it and how we prevent it from being passed on to the next generation.
United Methodist bishop shares stories of Syrian refugees
by Kathy L. Gilbert and Linda Bloom
In the midst of calls to cast out refugees, United Methodist Bishop Sally Dyck traveled to Capitol Hill to add her voice to those of other national faith leaders and three U.S. senators calling for lawmakers to show mercy.
by Frederick Buechner
The lovely old carols played and replayed till their effect is like a dentist's drill or a jackhammer, the bathetic banalities of the pulpit and the chilling commercialism of almost everything else, people spending money they can't afford on presents you neither need nor want, "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer," the plastic tree, the cornball creche, the Hallmark Virgin. Yet for all our efforts, we've never quite managed to ruin it. That in itself is part of the miracle, a part you can see. Most of the miracle you can't see, or don't.
Greetings and Happy New Year! The spiritual health of a church leader can be measured by her/his own spiritual practice. How’s yours? As in most areas of ministry, the support of others is extremely helpful. If you would like to incorporate some stillness in your demanding schedule, you may be interested in gathering with peers in a Spiritual Formation Group. The groups meet monthly for an hour and a half to create soul space, explore a variety of spiritual experiences, spend time in meditation, and encourage one another in our own spiritual practice. See below for details of meeting times and places. Please respond to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 330-456-0486.
Look forward to hearing from you.
Program in Pastoral Care and Counseling
The Spiritual Audacity of Abraham Joshua Heschel
Interview of Krista Tippett with Arnold Eisen
The passing of a year is an opportune time to reflect on the many splendid things that have come our way and to be thankful for all the wonder that's bestowed upon us. But, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel also reminds us of the work yet to be done:
"It became clear to me that in regard to cruelties committed in the name of a free society, some are guilty while all are responsible."
Rabbi Heschel marched alongside Martin Luther King Jr., famously reporting that he felt like his legs were praying. Heschel practiced what he called “radical amazement” in his work with religious others. “The opposite of good is not evil,” he said, “it is indifference.”
The 75-Year Study That Found The Secrets To A Fulfilling Life
by Huffington Post, Carolyn Gregoire
It may seem obvious, but that doesn’t make it any less true: Love is key to a happy and fulfilling life. As George Vaillant, the Harvard psychiatrist who directed the study from 1972 to 2004 and wrote in his book (Triumphs of Experience: The Men of the Harvard Grant Study) puts it, there are two pillars of happiness. "One is love," he writes. "The other is finding a way of coping with life that does not push love away."
Vaillant has said that the study's most important finding is that the only thing that matters in life is relationships. A man could have a successful career, money and good physical health, but without supportive, loving relationships, he wouldn't be happy ("Happiness is only the cart; love is the horse.").
“Your inner journey only has one [step]: the step you are taking right now. As you become more deeply aware of this one step, you realize that it already contains within itself all the other steps as well as the destination. This one step then becomes transformed into an expression of perfection, an act of great beauty and quality. It will have taken you into Being [God], and the light of Being will shine through it. This is both the purpose and the fulfillment of your inner journey, the journey into yourself.”
- Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
by Richard Rohr
This is what you are to do. Lift your heart up to the Lord with a gentle stirring of love, desiring him for his own sake and not for his gifts. --Anonymous, The Cloud of Unknowing, Chapter 3
In the 1970s, drawing from The Cloud of Unknowing and other Christian mystical writings, three Trappist monks--William Meninger, Basil Pennington, and Thomas Keating--developed a simple method of silent prayer. This method came to be known as Centering Prayer, referencing Thomas Merton's definition of contemplation as prayer "centered entirely on the presence of God." (You can learn more about Centering Prayer through Contemplative Outreach.)
Centering Prayer is simply sitting in silence, open to God's love and your love for God. This prayer is beyond thoughts, emotions, or sensations. Like being with a very close friend or lover, where words are not required, Centering Prayer brings your relationship with God to a level deeper than conversation, to pure communion.
Because our minds are so attached to thinking, Father Thomas Keating sometimes suggests choosing a sacred word, with one or two syllables, "as the symbol of your intention to consent to God's presence and action within. [Then,] sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly, and silently introduce your sacred word. . . . When you become aware of thoughts, return ever-so-gently to your sacred word. At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes." 
Two sessions of 20-30 minutes of Centering Prayer are recommended each day, but if that is too much for you, begin with five or ten minutes. Let go of all expectations or goals during this time. It is not about achieving anything, whether emptying your mind or finding peace or achieving a spiritual experience. There is no way to succeed at Centering Prayer, except to return again and again to love. Allow thoughts to come and go without latching onto them, without judgment. "Ever-so-gently" bring your sacred word, the symbol of your intention, back to mind and return to resting in Presence.
Seeing the Divine Image
by Richard Rohr
You cannot earn God. You cannot prove yourself worthy of God. Knowing God's presence is simply a matter of awareness, of enjoying the now, of deepening one's own presence. There are moments when it happens. Then life makes sense. Once I can see the Mystery here, and trust the Mystery even in this piece of clay that I am, then I can also see it in you. I am able to see the divine image in myself, in you, and eventually in all things. Finally the seeing is one. How you see anything is how you will see everything.
Jesus pushes seeing to the social edge. Can you see the image of Christ in the least of your brothers and sisters? He uses that as his only description of the final judgment (Matthew 25). Nothing about commandments, nothing about church attendance--simply a matter of our ability to see. Can we see Christ in the "nobodies" who can't play our game of success? In those who cannot reward us in return? When we can see the image of God where we are not accustomed to seeing the image of God, then we see with eyes not our own.
Finally, Jesus says we have to love and recognize the divine image even in our enemies. He teaches what many thought a leader could never demand of his followers: love of the enemy. Logically that makes no sense. But soulfully it makes absolute sense, because in terms of the soul, it really is all or nothing. Either we see the divine image in all created things, or we don't see it at all. We see it once, and the circle keeps moving outward, widening its embrace.
The Christian vision is that the world is a temple. If that is true, then our enemies are sacred, too. Who else created them but God? The ability to respect the outsider is probably the litmus test of true seeing. And it doesn't stop with human beings and enemies and the least of the brothers and sisters. It moves to frogs and pansies and weeds. Everything becomes enchanting with true sight. One God, one world, one truth, one suffering, and one love. All we can do is participate. I hope you enter the New Year with this awareness and an intention to join in with all your heart, mind, and body!
Meet: monthly 1 ½ hours
Where and when:
Alliance: Christ UMC, 470 E. Broadway – Second Tuesdays, 2:00 PM
Ashland: Christ UMC, 1140 Claremont Ave. – Second Wednesdays, 1:00 PM
Medina: Granger UMC, 1235 Granger Rd. – Third Wednesdays, 1:00 PM
Painesville: Painesville UMC, 71 North Park Pl. – Third Thursdays, 12:30 PM
Sandusky: Trinity UMC, 214 E. Jefferson St. – Second Thursdays, 2:30 PM
If you are interested in being part of one of these groups, it would be helpful if you let us know for planning purposes. For questions and to receive information about a particular group, please call our office 330-456-0486 or email us at email@example.com
The Program in Pastoral Care and Counseling encourages the spiritual formation of our pastors believing a strong spiritual base is the greatest resource a church leader can possess. It helps us weather the many storms of ministry and deepens the incredible joys ministry provides. Following is a list of Spiritual Directors in our area. We encourage you to take advantage of this rich resource. This listing will appear in each edition of our bi-monthly webpage updates and new names and contact information will be provided as we learn of them and have permission to include them. If you are a director or know of a director that is not included here please let us know.
Debbie Baker - firstname.lastname@example.org
Bruce Batchler-Glader – email@example.com
Harry Finkbone - Finkbone1@gmail.com
Liz Nau – firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer Olin-Hitt – email@example.com
Sue Palmer - firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharon Seyfarth Garner – email@example.com
Valerie Stultz - firstname.lastname@example.org
Carol Topping - email@example.com
Relationship Year in Review
by Eve Hogan
As the year closes [and a new year begins], it is a great time to review and evaluate how things are doing. Most of us are familiar with assessing our productivity, grades, health, weight, or finances, but do we assess our relationships?
I recently had the pleasure of listening to Jack Canfield speak, when he suggested that we check in with our partner or spouse every week with the question, “On a scale of 1-10, how am I (how are we…) doing this week?” He then told us that whenever he suggests this practice, someone in the audience invariably asks, “Why would I want to do that! I don’t want to hear about it!” He then, half in gest, but fully in truth, said, “I’ve found if I don’t ask the question, I’m simply the last guy to know. My mother-in-law, housecleaner, best friend, even the lady at the nail salon will know the answer before me!” We all laughed knowingly.
20 Things You Shouldn't Do Before Bed, Sneaky Sleep Saboteurs
by Amanda MacMillan
Getting a good night's sleep is important for your mood, your energy levels, and your overall health. It's also dependent on what you do during the day—how much physical activity you get, what you eat and drink, and how mentally stimulated you are—especially in the hours before you crawl into bed.
"When people suffer from insomnia or other sleep issues, it's often because of something they're doing, probably unintentionally, when they should be preparing for rest," says Michael Grandner, PhD, a psychiatry instructor and member of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the University of Pennsylvania. Here are 20 things you might want to avoid at night, especially if you're suffering from a lack of shuteye.
A New Start – The Concept of a New Beginning
by Craig Lounsbrough
What would I do with a new start? I mean a really new, ‘new’ start? Not something that looks new because we’ve vigorously spit-shined something that’s old to a new luster. Not some radical make-over of something that’s radically old so that it looks convincingly new. Not a meticulous restoration that’s going to erase the footprints of time and grant something old a few more years of life. I don’t mean any of that or anything even remotely close to that. What I’m asking is, do I really want a new, ‘new start? If I do, then I’d be terribly wise to seriously consider a few things:
First, A New Future is Not a Face-Lift
Our tendency is to take the raw material of the past and recast it into something supposedly new. Whatever we end up with when the recasting’s complete often looks strikingly and convincingly new, when in reality it’s often nothing more than a creatively altered version of the past. In far too many instances, what we’ve recast is nothing more than another rendition of the raw material that we started with. Yet, we celebrate these new goals thinking that they are actually new, when they are nothing more than an historical facelift.
Second, a New Future Demands Risk
Sometimes we don’t want a new future, even though we think we do. We find the idea of a new future as a bit electrifying, but we begin to hem and haw when we start realizing the risks involved in developing a new future. We do that at the point where we begin to realize that the further the future that we’ve planned is from the past that we’re leaving, the greater the risk and higher the cost. Once this shell-game has played itself out, the future has often been muzzled to the point that it’s anemic, hamstrung, and little more than the past in rogue disguise.
Third, a New Future Will Demand Something New
If we want a truly new ‘new’ future, something about it must be new. ‘New’ implies something that does not possess any of the elements that we already possess. Something must be added that has not been added before. Some place that we have never been must be some place that we’re now willing to go. Some direction that we’ve either avoided or never thought to consider needs to be considered and embarked upon. Some decision that we may have avoided out of the fear that it may rock our world may need to be made and given permission to do exactly that.
Fourth, a New Future Means Grieving What We’re Leaving
Leaving something behind is one thing. What we don’t consider is the grieving in the leaving. Yet, when we leave something behind it will naturally leave a hole of some sort. Whether that hole be large or small, disorienting or desired, painful or painless, it is the now vacant space that was once occupied by whatever it is that we’re leaving. Creating a space creates a measure of discomfort because we’re not used to a hole being where something else used to be. On top of that, we’re naturally prone to fill empty spaces for the simple fact that they’re empty. Leaving the past means grieving.
Fifth, a New Future is Not Building a Museum
We have this hoarding tendency. So, we want to keep a few mementos. However, too often keeping a few mementos turns into keeping a whole lot of mementos. Eventually we want a museum. This is not to say that we shouldn’t preserve our past as a sacred part of our journey. However, when we set about creating museums, the task becomes so monstrous that we end up living in the museum that we’ve created. When we do that, our future has become about preserving our past. We need to understand that honoring the past is far different than living in it.
A New Future
We are not born into a world of immense and improbable possibilities to be chained to finite possibilities. We have a God who says that the impossible is entirely possible. If we want a really new ‘new’ start, we’d be wise to realize that the idea of ‘what has been will always be’ will only ‘be’ if we choose it to be. And in the oddity of life, we have the power and privilege to decide either way. May this New Year be ‘new’ in an entirely new way.
If you have any questions or issues you would like for us to address or would like to get email alerts when new reources have been posted please contact Howard Humphress at firstname.lastname@example.org or use our quick contact form.
The East Ohio Conference Pastoral Care Office:
1445 Harrison Avenue NW · Suite 301
Canton, Ohio 44708
Toll Free: 866-456-3600
Office Hours: Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
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