Edition: June 8, 2015
Our Administrative Assistant, Martha Forlenza, has moved to Pleasant Hill, TN to tend to her parents and taking the position as church administrator of the Pleasant Hill UCC. She has been a vital part of our program over the last two and a half years contributing to the care of our pastors. We are happy for this great opportunity for her but will miss her in our Pastoral Care Office.
A Whole-Hearted Embrace: Finding Love at the Center of It All
by Patrick Dougherty
In A Whole-Hearted Embrace, Finding Love at the Center of It All, psychologist Patrick Dougherty shares the remarkable story of his experiences of tragedy and loss, healing and grace. Although trauma, death, and the burden of survival were a strong part of his life from early childhood, he also experienced "the light" in his heart. Through despair and deep longing for inspiration, he followed that light and found profound blessings, first in the Christian faith, then in Native American beliefs, and finally in Taoist meditation. In these three spiritual traditions, he not only found relief from his burdens and the answers to his questions, but also was shown that the limitless capacity to give and receive love that is in your heart is far bigger than any burden you carry or any tragedy you may have experienced.
“The year 2015 is being celebrated worldwide as the Centenary of Thomas Merton, who has influenced literally millions of lives. More than 100 international contributors, including well-known celebrities such as Richard Rohr, Parker Palmer, Cynthia Beaugeaut, Thomas Moore, Robert Thurman, Huston Smith, Kallistos Ware, Joan Chittister, James Forest, Matthew Fox, Roger Lipsey, Judith Simmer- Brown, and Seyyed Hossein Nasr honor Merton's centenary by reflecting on the monk and writer's impact on their lives and careers. These highly personal, rather than academic, reflections attest to Merton's continuing importance in the 21st century. Over a quarter of the reflections are by young people which shows that Merton still speaks to a new generation. These profound contributions are deeply thought-provoking, reminding the reader of much he or she has come to understand about life from Merton, and loved about him. This volume is a spiritual treasure, bringing so much full circle: what Merton had to say and how this came to enrich our lives in so many various ways.”
Our Spiritual Formation/Meditation Groups will not be meeting at our regular time this summer and will resume in September. Please take note and plan to take part in the two upcoming spiritual formation opportunities: Annual Conference Spiritual Formation Gathering and Luncheon and Summer Spiritual Formation Retreat. See details below.
Annual Conference Spiritual Formation Gathering and Luncheon
Tuesday, June 16, 2015 - Noon
Upper Room of the Dock Pavilion
Free Lunch, Fellowship and a Time of Meditation
Summer Spiritual Formation Retreat
Tuesday, August 18, 2015 - 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Sacred Silence 101- a 24-hour silent retreat
July 10-11 or October 4-5, 2015
Jesuit Retreat House in Parma, Ohio
Gift yourself with time and space to rest, renew and reconnect with God.
Do you long for a sense of stillness amidst the perpetual motion of your daily life? Take the first step and join us for a gentle and meaningful introduction to sacred silence.
This is offered by Belly of the Whale Ministries with Sharon Seyfarth Garner, Spiritual Director.
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
Sharon Seyfarth Garner – firstname.lastname@example.org
Thich Nhat Hanh on How to Sit
by THICH NHAT HANH
How to Sit
Set aside a room or corner or a cushion that you use just for sitting.
The sound of a bell is a wonderful way to begin sitting meditation. If you don’t have a bell you can download a recording of the sound of a bell onto your phone or computer.
When you sit, keep your spinal column quite straight, while allowing your body to be relaxed. Relax every muscle in your body, including the muscles in your face. Consider smiling slightly, a natural smile. Your smile relaxes all your facial muscles.
Notice your breathing. As you breathe in, be aware that you are breathing in. As you breathe out, notice that you are breathing out. As soon as we pay attention to our breath, body, breath and mind come together. Every in-breath can bring joy; every out-breath can bring calm and relaxation. This is a good enough reason to sit.
When you breathe in mindfully and joyfully, don’t worry about what your sitting looks like from the outside. Sit in such a way that you feel you have already arrived.
It’s wonderful to have a quiet place to sit in your home or workplace. If you are able to find a cushion that fits your body well, you can sit for a long time without feeling tired. But you can practice mindful sitting wherever you are. If you ride the bus or the train to work, use your time to nourish and heal yourself.
If you sit regularly, it will become a habit. Even the Buddha still practiced sitting every day after his enlightenment. Consider daily sitting practice to be a kind of spiritual food. Don’t deprive yourself and the world of it.
Stephen Hawking: Aggression, the Poison that Threatens Us All
by Rod Meade Sperry
“As the Washington Post reports, physicist Stephen Hawking has identified humanity’s aggression as one of the greatest threats to humanity itself. Quoth Hawking: ‘The human failing I would most like to correct is aggression. It may have had survival advantage in caveman days, to get more food, territory or partner with whom to reproduce, but now it threatens to destroy us all.’ (Likewise, the quality he ‘would most like to magnify is empathy. It brings us together in a peaceful, loving state.’)
“Aggression is all too familiar to us all, of course, but it has an especially notable place in Buddhist thought. Sometimes rendered simply as ‘anger,’ or ‘hate,’ aggression is referred to as one of Buddhism’s ‘Three Poisons,’ along with passion (alternatively rendered as greed, or desire), and ignorance (or, delusion). So it follows that there’s no shortage of Buddhist wisdom on working with aggression.”
The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere
by Pico Iyer
A follow up to Pico Iyer’s essay “The Joy of Quiet,” The Art of Stillness considers the unexpected adventure of staying put and reveals a counterintuitive truth: The more ways we have to connect, the more we seem desperate to unplug.
In The Art of Stillness—a TED Books release—Iyer investigate the lives of people who have made a life seeking stillness: from Matthieu Ricard, a Frenchman with a PhD in molecular biology who left a promising scientific career to become a Tibetan monk, to revered singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, who traded the pleasures of the senses for several years of living the near-silent life of meditation as a Zen monk. Iyer also draws on his own experiences as a travel writer to explore why advances in technology are making us more likely to retreat. He reflects that this is perhaps the reason why many people—even those with no religious commitment—seem to be turning to yoga, or meditation, or seeking silent retreats. These aren't New Age fads so much as ways to rediscover the wisdom of an earlier age. Growing trends like observing an “Internet Sabbath”—turning off online connections from Friday night to Monday morning—highlight how increasingly desperate many of us are to unplug and bring stillness into our lives.
The Art of Stillness paints a picture of why so many—from Marcel Proust to Mahatma Ghandi to Emily Dickinson—have found richness in stillness. Ultimately, Iyer shows that, in this age of constant movement and connectedness, perhaps staying in one place is a more exciting prospect, and a greater necessity than ever before.
The Art of Stillness
The place that travel writer Pico Iyer would most like to go? Nowhere. In a counterintuitive and lyrical meditation, Iyer takes a look at the incredible insight that comes with taking time for stillness. In our world of constant movement and distraction, he teases out strategies we all can use to take back a few minutes out of every day, or a few days out of every season. It’s the talk for anyone who feels overwhelmed by the demands for our world.
Life Itself is Grace
Frederick Buechner’s Blog
“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”
Concluding ministry in one setting.
-Maintain good successor relations
-Approach the move with a generous and graceful spirit
-Provide good records and administrative wrap-up
-Plan for appropriate goodbyes, grief, and closure rituals
-Clarify your new relationship with the church
Beginning ministry in another setting.
-Learn about the new church and community
-Spend time with people and build relationships
-Be cautious about making immediate changes
-Honor your predecessor’s ministry
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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