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.
December 5, 2016 Edition
The Last Promise: A Tender Story of Love and Caregiving
by Louise Penny
Mystery writer Louise Penny becomes a caregiver and prays that when her husband’s death comes, she is holding his hand.
The doctor did not bother with niceties or try to cushion the blow. My husband had dementia. Of course we knew. I think many families are in the same situation. The medical diagnosis just confirms whet we live and see every day.
Entering the Stream of the Faithful, Faith and Leadership
by Nadia Bolz-Weber
You have to be really deeply rooted in tradition in order to innovate with integrity, says the founding pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints.
There’s very little in our visual field, generally in our lives, that’s more than 50 years old. And so to be connected to something that’s ancient speaks something to us, because everything around us is new. Since the age of progress, new is better, right?
Now we go, “Wait a minute -- that’s not always true.” When new is always better, we’re not tethered to anything. I think I see a longing in people to be tethered to something, and I like to say that you have to be really deeply rooted in tradition in order to innovate with integrity.
I really like to have those two things going on at the same time all the time -- tradition and innovation. We’ll call that ancient/future church and different stuff like that, but I find that’s what people are drawn to.
Imaginative Prayer - Among other forms of prayer, the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola presents an imaginative way of placing yourself within the biblical stories. Our Spiritual Formation groups will be using this meditation through December adapted for us by Bruce Batchlor-Glader. You can join us at any of the times and places listed below.
A Meditation Based on St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Second Week Meditation: The Birth of Jesus
To the leader: As you lead this meditation, pause at the indicated spots for approximately the times that I have suggested; feel free to adapt as you see fit. I have lined this out for simplicity, adapting several different versions of this meditation to create today’s Advent exercise.
The total time for this meditation is about 25 minutes. You may choose to have meditative music or soft sounds in the background. Just be sure not to use anything that might be too busy or recognizable as a familiar tune. Silence is fine, as well.
Relax and allow yourself to enter into this time of reflection. (5 secs.)
Place your hands in your lap or rest them at your sides. Close your eyes. (5 secs.)
Take a deep breath in. (5 secs.)
Now exhale slowly. (5 secs.)
Take another slow, deep breath. (5 secs.)
Exhale. (5 secs.)
Be still in the presence of God. (5 secs.)
Feel God’s gaze upon you. (5 secs.)
Offer yourself to God wholly, inviting the Holy One to guide you in this journey. (20 secs.)
First, image a young girl, nearly nine months pregnant, on a journey from Nazareth, seated on a donkey. (15 secs.)
Walk alongside of her on the road with her husband Joseph and a servant girl. (15 secs.)
They are on their way to Bethlehem to register their family and pay tribute to Caesar. (30 secs.)
Now imagine the road that you are travelling on. It appears to be flat for a while.
The trip is long; you travel over hills and through valleys.
Stay on this road for a few moments. (2 minutes)
Now you are at the cave where you will find rest for the night.
See how big this space is, how high and how wide.
Find a place to rest and observe. (3 minutes)
Imagine now that the baby Jesus is born and you are there with Mary, Joseph and the servant girl. (1 minute)
You are a poor, unworthy servant yourself and you are there with them.
Serve them with reverence and respect. Do whatever they ask you to do. (3 minutes)
Think about what it means to serve such a holy family. (3 minutes)
Now watch and notice what they are saying to one another.
Listen to them speak about their journey. Listen to them speak about this birth.
Listen to them speak (4 minutes)
Now think about the sacrifices that the Holy Family is making.
Their long journey and their hard labor so that Christ is born into extreme poverty. (1 minute)
At the end of His journey he will face toil, hunger, thirst, heat and cold, insults and indignities, finally dying on the cross. (1 minute)
All of this is for you.
Reflect upon this for a few moments. (2 minutes)
Now share your reflections with Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus. Listen to what they have to say to you. (4 minutes)
We will now pray The Lord’s Prayer.
When you are ready, open your eyes and find rest for your spirit.
The Birth of Jesus: Part of the Family Now
by Jurell Sison
This post is based on Week Four of An Ignatian Prayer Adventure. For this particular reflection, I’m sharing a raw journal entry. The following letter includes my thoughts right after my meditation on the birth of Jesus.
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In my reflection today I discovered that I have to enter into my imagination; otherwise I’ll just be sitting waiting for things to magically happen. Lord, help me to use my surroundings and my consciousness as a vehicle—one that carries me into the world of these stories.
Today I tried a technique that my old roommate had taught me. I began by sitting still, praying for peace and calm. I was breathing deeply. And then I imagined myself getting up out of my chair and walking out the door. I walked outside, into the streets, and then into the woods. I was imagining myself running into a different reality, as if I were on a journey into another “imaginative” world. I climbed up some steep rocks, and over the hill was the town called Bethlehem.
Growing into Belonging
by Richard Rohr
As we grow spiritually, we discover that we are not as separate as we thought we were. Separation from God, self, and others was a deep and tragic illusion. As we grow into deeper connection and union, the things that once brought meaning and happiness to our small self no longer satisfy us. We tried to create artificial fullness through many kinds of addictive behavior, but still feel empty and nothing, if we are honest. We need much more nutritious food to feed our Bigger Self; mere entertainments, time-fillers, diversions, and distractions will no longer work.
At the more mature stages of life, we are even able to allow the painful and the formerly excluded parts gradually belong to a slowly growing and unified field. This shows itself as a foundational compassion, especially toward all things different and those many people who “never had a chance.” If you have forgiven yourself for being imperfect, you can now do it for everybody else too. If you have not forgiven yourself, I am afraid you will likely pass on your sadness, absurdity, judgment, and futility to others. “What comes around goes around.”
Many who are judgmental and unforgiving seem to have missed out on the joy and clarity of the first childhood simplicity, perhaps avoided the suffering of the mid-life complexity, and thus lost the great freedom and magnanimity of the second simplicity as well. We need to hold together all of the stages of life, and for some strange, wonderful reason, it all becomes quite “simple” as we approach our later years. The great irony is that we must go through a lot of complexity and disorder (another word for necessary suffering) to return to the second simplicity. There is no nonstop flight from first to second naiveté, from initial order to resurrection. We must go through the pain of disorder to grow up and switch our loyalties from self to God. Most people just try to maintain their initial “order” at all costs, even if it is killing them.
As we grow in wisdom, we realize that everything belongs and everything can be received. We see that life and death are not opposites. They do not cancel one another out; neither do goodness and badness. There is now room for everything to belong. A radical, almost nonsensical “okayness” characterizes the mature believer, which is why we are often called “holy fools.” We don’t have to deny, dismiss, defy, or ignore reality anymore. What is, is gradually okay. What is, is the greatest of teachers. At the bottom of all reality is always a deep goodness, or what Merton called “a hidden wholeness.”Read online ...
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 - email@example.com
Bruce Batchlor-Glader – firstname.lastname@example.org
Harry Finkbone - Finkbone1@gmail.com
Joyce Gordon – email@example.com
Karen Hollingsworth – firstname.lastname@example.org
Liz Nau – email@example.com
Jennifer Olin-Hitt – firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharon Seyfarth Garner – email@example.com
Valerie Stultz - firstname.lastname@example.org
Carol Topping - email@example.com
Looking for a Christmas Gift to give your Relationship? Try this exercise of loving yourself and your partner:
Eye Gazing: See Your Soul Shine
by Alanna Kaivalya
Avidya, or the “lack of light,” is a symptom of not identifying with the deeper and greater part of our self. We all have an inherent light within us, whether we call it the soul, the atman, or something else entirely. We are each equipped with this light, but we struggle to see it in ourselves! We can easily see it in those we love, so it is worthwhile to practice finding it in others in order to see it in ourselves.
This practice requires a willing partner, someone you know and love well enough to participate with you. Sit or stand in a comfortable position so that you are an arm’s length from your partner, facing him or her. Set a timer for five minutes (or longer, if you’d like), and close your eyes. Release all nervousness or tension from the body and soften any giggles or laughter, as it’s merely a symptom of the anxiety of bearing witness to one another.
At the same time, both of you open your eyes and look directly into the eyes of one another. For the duration of this practice there is no language—no verbal or body communication. Relax your physical form and commit to looking only into your partner’s eyes. Look nowhere else. Sustain this gaze for the entire duration of the practice.
When the time is up, both of you close your eyes and relax for a moment. Exchange no words or physical gestures. Take a few moments in silent gratitude to meditate on the gift you’ve each been given. In the hustle and bustle of daily life, it is rare that we make eye contact with others, let alone maintain it for any significant period of time. The eyes, however, are the windows to the soul, and when someone lets you look into their eyes for a sustained amount of time, you see—and connect with—the deepest part of them that is exactly like you. You see their frustrations and develop faith in their ability to overcome them. You witness their humanness and fall in love with their vulnerability. You see in each other a reflection of yourselves, connecting to the light in each of you that exists in all of us.
Once the moments of silent gratitude have ended, you both may open your eyes. At this point, please allow yourselves to do whatever is natural—hug, laugh, cry, embrace, or walk away. Follow your intuition in these next moments and allow whatever arises from this practice to be perfect and acceptable.
As you develop your practice of eye gazing with your partner (or several partners!), feel free to add in the following development. Halfway through the session, one of you (without words or dialogue) places your hand on the other person’s heart. With your fullest intention and attention, send through your hand all your love, gratitude, well wishes, and hopes for ease and grace in life. Maintain eye contact and keep your hand on their heart for an amount of time that feels natural. Once you are finished, the other partner may return the gesture. After the exchange, continue to eye-gaze until the time is complete.
This is a practice of mutual respect, intimacy, and vulnerability. It develops your ability to see and be seen, to witness without judgment and to understand that we are all infused with an impeccable light of being. To know it in others is to eventually know it in yourself.
What to Do When Everything is Broken
by Julie Peters
On Tuesday’s Election Day, I thought I would be celebrating the election of the US’s first female president. However imperfect she may be as a person or as a leader, the very fact of her existence would have empowered women to believe they could be president. She could have paved the way for a new wave of leadership that symbolized how close we are getting to equality. I had hope.
Then, Wednesday happened. . . It was like waking up on the wrong side of history, in the darkest timeline. On Wednesday, people dared laugh casually in public, and it shocked me. How could they do anything but mourn?
Still, though, a weight has lifted: the weight of hope. Hope believes in a future that is fathomable. It ties us to the life we think we are living. I believed I lived in a world that was trucking along towards progress, getting a little bit closer to equality every day. This election broke that illusion. It was a harsh reminder that progress isn’t linear, and sometimes comes with devastating backlashes. It’s also very clear now that many people in the US are calling for major change, on levels that people like me maybe just weren’t taking seriously enough. Those people do not want to live in my Tuesday’s world. My Tuesday’s world—my Tuesday’s hope—was oppressive to more people than I imagined.
On Wednesday, something broke. As painful as that is, the election revealed something we couldn’t see through our little bubbles of like-minded people sharing the same opinions over and over again on social media. Today we have the opportunity to acknowledge and imagine each other in a way that we couldn’t when our belief in a certain kind of world was blinding us.
So now that it’s no longer Tuesday, we must let the brokenness teach us. “There’s a crack in everything,” the poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen, who passed away on this of all weeks, has famously written: “that’s how the light gets in.” So we peer through the fragments and see what might be possible when the old hope no longer holds. Rather than insisting on finding a way to get back to Tuesday’s world, we must listen to each other with kindness and compassion and try to figure out what it means that, actually, it’s Wednesday. The future will not cease meeting us in the present.
Brokenness is painful, no question about it. But if we are willing to imagine what might exist after the shattering, we may see unprecedented possibilities.
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