March 6, 2017
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. Archives Here ...
Media Fatigue and Technological Stress:
“‘Scientists say juggling e-mail, phone calls, and other incoming information [the latest news, tweets, etc.] can change how people think and behave. They say our ability to focus is being undermined by bursts of information.
“‘These play to a primitive impulse to respond to immediate opportunities and threats. The stimulation provokes excitement—a dopamine squirt—that researches say can be addictive. In its absence, people feel bored. The resulting distractions can have deadly consequences, as when cell phone-wielding drivers and train engineers cause wrecks. And for millions of people these urges can inflict nicks and cuts on creativity and deep thought, interrupting work and family life.
“‘In 2008, people consumed three times more information each day than they did in 1960. Computer users at work change windows, check email, or switch programs nearly thirty-seven times an hour.’” (p. 111)
Our experience of the barrage of current political drama is causing enormous stress that is affecting our mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being like never before.
What to do? Jen Hatmaker, 7: And Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, says a fast from media will help.
Leadership and the Discipline of Silence
by C. Kavin Rowe
We are awash in words. Never before in the history of the human race have so many words been so widely thrown about and with such remarkable reach. The advent of the digital age began the age of words, words, words. Of the making of books there has always been no end, but never before have we had the chance -- and burden -- of words 24/7/365. Email, text, Twitter, TV and everything else. Words are always with us.
What should leaders do with words? Leaders have known from times long vanished that they need to be careful with what they say. All the ancients knew well that words do things. They thus educated themselves in rhetoric from beginning to end. Modern thinkers, too, have reflected on the indispensability of words, on the importance of the right words for the right thoughts, on the slippery nature of politically intentional ambiguity and so on.
But there have also been those who have considered the danger of too many words.
In his 1851 work “For Self-Examination,” the Christian thinker Søren Kierkegaard wrote that “everything is noisy; and just as a strong drink is said to stir the blood, so everything in our day, even the most insignificant project, even the most empty communication, is designed merely to jolt the senses or to stir up the masses, the crowd, the public, noise!”
We seem, he continues, “to have become sleepless in order to invent ever new instruments to increase noise, to spread noise and insignificance with the greatest possible haste and on the greatest possible scale.” The result is that “everything is … turned upside down: communication is indeed … brought to its lowest point with regard to meaning, and simultaneously the means of communication are indeed brought to their highest with regard to speedy and overall circulation; for what is publicized with such hot haste and, on the other hand, what has greater circulation than -- rubbish!”
Kierkegaard’s remedy to the noisy and speedy spread of rubbish is silence: “Oh, create silence!”
But it’s also the case that the significance of silence rests in the fact that once said, words cannot be taken back. We can never unsay something we have said. Indeed, the political spin doctors and damage-control experts make their living off this remarkable fact about words.
The trouble is that more speech sometimes turns out to be received as just more noise. And even leaders have difficulty reining in the tongue. Where we have emphasized the need for leaders to move into the digital age with ever more dexterity and speed, Kierkegaard reminds us that we should also counsel the development of disciplines that cut against the hasty production of words and more words.
Truth telling in difficult situations, for example, often requires silence. This is so not only because it can be just plain hard to get the truth out but also because it can be even harder to tell the truth wisely. Silence is the name for the time it takes to see the path of wisdom when truth is hard to tell.
Reclaiming the Power of Lament
by Dominique d’Gilliard
Somewhere along the way, we modern Christians got lament wrong: we began thinking of it as optional instead of a required practice of the faith. A strange word to modern ears, “lamentation” feels inherently ancient. It brings to mind images of an overwrought demonstration of mourning -- sackcloth and ashes, “wailing and gnashing of teeth” of biblical proportions.
More than the mere expression of sorrow and regret, however, lamentation is a powerful act, one that the church desperately needs to reclaim. In our world of nonstop news and social media, lamentation is an essential and even revolutionary act.
Scripture suggests that lamentation is a liturgical act that reorients and transforms us. Lamentation is uncensored communion with God -- visceral worship where we learn to be honest, intimate and humble before God. Lamentation is both an acknowledgment that things are not as they should be and an anguished wail, beckoning the Lord to intervene with righteousness and justice.
When we lament, we confess our humanity and concede that we are too weak to combat the world’s powers, principalities and spiritual wickedness on our own. When we lament, we declare that only God has the power to truly mend the world’s pain and brokenness.
Why is that so relevant to our times? Tragedy, after all, has always existed. But today, we are bombarded by an unprecedented, unceasing stream of media that exposes us to the world’s pain and brokenness as never before.
We not only hear about the tragedies in Ferguson, Baltimore, Charleston and Waller County, Texas; we now also routinely see traumatizing video of unarmed civilians being killed -- Tamir Rice, John Crawford, Walter Scott, Sam Dubose.
Nevertheless, before we truly grieve one tragedy, another occurs. So in our rush to keep up with our newsfeeds, with the latest scandal, the newest tragedy, we move on before processing the trauma we have just witnessed. We move on to stay up to date -- and in part, because we believe that our minds and our hearts, like our smartphones, can hold only so much.
Lamentation, however, forces us to slow down. In the midst of daily tragedy, lamentation requires us to stay engaged after the cameras and publicity move on. It summons us to immerse ourselves in the pain and despair of the world, of our communities, of our own sinfulness.View online ...
by Cynthia Bourgeault
Cynthia Bourgeault shares the simple method for practicing Centering Prayer as taught by Thomas Keating. I hope you’ll try it and stay with it for a while!
How to Meditate
by James Finley
There is no single way to meditate. There are, however, certain acts and attitudes inherently endowed with the capacity to awaken sustained states of meditative awareness that form the infrastructure of each specific way to meditate. Here are some suggested guidelines.
With respect to the body: Sit still. Sit straight. Place your hands in a comfortable or meaningful position in your lap. Close your eyes or lower them toward the ground. Breathe slowly and naturally. With respect to your mind, be present, open, and awake, neither clinging to nor rejecting anything. And with respect to attitude, maintain nonjudgmental compassion toward yourself—as you discover yourself clinging to and rejecting everything—and nonjudgmental compassion toward others in their powerlessness that is one with yours.
Compassion is the love that recognizes and goes forth to identify with the preciousness of all that is lost and broken within ourselves and others. At first it seems as if compassionate love originates with our free decision to be as compassionate as we can be toward ourselves as we sit in meditation. As our practice deepens, we come to realize that in choosing to be compassionate, we are yielding to the compassionate nature of God flowing through us, in and as our compassion toward our self as precious in our frailty.
When we practice meditation, we are like the repentant prodigal son returning to his father’s house (see Luke 15: 11-32). By the time we begin to meditate, we have probably come to realize how foolish we have been in the past. We are sorry about the suffering our foolish ways have caused ourselves and others. We are sincerely intent on not being so foolish in the future. But like the repentant son heading home to beg for his father’s forgiveness, we are still laboring under the illusion that our wayward ways make us unworthy in the eyes of God.
The idea that our weaknesses are obstacles to God’s love is bound up with our egocentric perception of ourselves as outside God’s sustaining love. Entrenched in the ignorance of our imagined otherness from God, we set out to meditate as a way of overcoming one obstacle after another so that we might succeed in reaching God.
The ego self struggles in its efforts to sit present and awake as a way of being open to God’s presence until the ego exhausts all its own means of overcoming its inability to realize oneness with God. Then, just as all seems lost, we look up to see God running toward us with open arms. Suddenly we realize there is no place within us that is not encountered, embraced, and made whole in a love that does not even care to hear our litany of shortcomings and regrets. We are profoundly loved by God without any foundations for being loved, except divine love itself.
Gateway to Silence:
Rest in God resting in me.
Meet: monthly 1 ½ hours
Where and when:
Ashland Christ UMC, 1140 Claremont Ave. – Second Wednesdays, 1:00 PM
Canton Faith UMC, 00 9th St. NW—Second Thursdays, 10:30 AM
Sandusky Trinity UMC, 214 E. Jefferson St. – Second Thursdays, 2:00 PM
Cleveland Hts Church of the Saviour, 2537 Lee Road – Third Thursdays, 1:30 PM
Medina Granger UMC, 1235 Granger Rd. – Third Wednesdays, 1:30 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 Batchlor-Glader – email@example.com
Harry Finkbone - Finkbone1@gmail.com
Joy Gordon – firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Hollingsworth – email@example.com
Liz Nau – firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer Olin-Hitt – email@example.com
Sharon Seyfarth Garner – firstname.lastname@example.org
Valerie Stultz - email@example.com
Carol Topping - firstname.lastname@example.org
Let It Be Kind To You
by Kerry Egan
“Whatever bad things have happened to you in your life, whatever hard things you’ve gone through, you have to do three things: You have to accept it. You have to be kind to it. ... And listen to me. You have to let it be kind to you."
The beautiful power of story and how we learn and heal as we listen to others’ stories.
Find Happiness by Embracing All of Your Emotions
by Stephany Tlalka
How the pursuit of happiness can hinder certain aspects of well-being—like building resilience when we experience setbacks.
Our culture places a high value on happiness—having the best job, house, the most friends, things in general. We’re constantly in a state of grasping for something—filling ourselves up from the outside.
And it’s totally bumming us out.
Susan David is a psychologist at Harvard Medical School and author of Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life. She says our obsession with happiness hinders our ability to do the hard work of living: being able to recover from setbacks when we inevitably make mistakes, or lose a job—you know, when that picture-perfect veneer we were working away at starts to erode.
It is really important that as human beings we develop our capacity to deal with our thoughts and emotions in a way that isn’t a struggle, in a way that embraces them and is with them and is able to learn from them.
—Susan David, Harvard Medical School
“It is really important that as human beings we develop our capacity to deal with our thoughts and emotions in a way that isn’t a struggle, in a way that embraces them and is with them and is able to learn from them,” says David in a recent video for Big Think. She continues:
What I worry about when there is this message of be happy is that people then automatically assume that when they have a difficult thought or feeling that they should push it aside, that it’s somehow a sign of weakness. And what that does is it actually stops people from being authentic with themselves. It hinders our ability to learn from our experience. And I believe that it is stopping us as a society, including our children, from developing higher levels of well-being and resilience.
David suggests we instead focus on what’s important for us, and happiness will become “a byproduct of that focus”:
If you have any questions or issues you would like for us to address or would like to get email alerts when new resources have been posted please contact Howard Humphress at email@example.com or use our quick contact form.
Or contact our office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 330-456-0486.
The East Ohio Conference Pastoral Care Office:
1445 Harrison Avenue NW · Suite 301
Canton, Ohio 44708
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Office Hours: Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
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