Edition: December 15, 2014
Learning to Walk in the Dark
By Barbara Brown Taylor, HarperOne, 2014
In Learning to Walk in the Dark, Barbara Brown Taylor confronts faith and the dark night of the soul. It is a meditation on darkness itself—more a journal, she emphasizes, than a manual. What does Taylor mean by darkness? Darkness, she writes, is “shorthand for anything that scares me.” That could include something as profound as the absence of God to the fear of dementia to the loss of family and friends, as well as that “nagging” question of “what it will feel like to die.” She recounts how she became impatient with church teachings that accentuated the light while denying the existence of darkness, and comments on the difference between faith and belief, certainty and trust. An elegant writer with the common touch, Taylor is always a wonderful guide to the spiritual world, and this book is no exception. Here she encourages us to turn out the lights and embrace the spiritual darkness, for it is in the dark, she maintains, that one can truly see.
— June Sawyers
Learning to Walk in the Dark, Barbara Brown Taylor interview with Oprah Winfrey on her Super Soul Sunday
After grand jury rulings, what is the church’s witness?
This article from The United Methodist News Service continues the conversation of the complexities of injustice we face around race in our nation and around the world. Read Bishop Hopkins’ remarks here:
Why We Can’t Breathe
By Jan Willis
“We can’t breathe! [See Matthew 25:34-40 I was desperate and you helped me breathe]
“In Buddhist meditation [Christian meditation or any spiritual practice], our breathing is essential. Anapana, meditation on the breath, was the Buddha’s first meditation instruction and the basis for all further meditative endeavors. Breathing is not only life-sustaining and calming; it is a foremost teaching aid. Breathing, we immediately sense our necessary connection to what is other than ourselves. Without the exchange of air - inner and outer - we would die. We are not independent. We are dependent.
“We are interdependent. We are connected with one another. We breathe the same air. That air is neither black nor white. We share the life-force of all.
“If one of us cannot breathe, none of us can breathe fully and deeply and we no longer experience our connection with one another.
“If Eric Garner cannot breathe, then we cannot breathe. If Michael Brown no longer breathes, we cannot breathe. If Tamir Rice does not breathe, we cannot breathe.
“Something is mightily broken. A hard rock of sadness and pain rolls itself up in our hearts and we cannot breathe. We must do something—swiftly and non-violently–to right the moral compass. Because, at this moment, none of us can breathe.”
Our Spiritual Formation/Meditation Groups have been using the Nativity of Jesus as our focus for meditation this month. Sitting before copies of icons and artist renderings of the event of Jesus’ birth, we listen for a word from God as we engage these images and share with one another. Emmanuel captures our spirit in the depiction of this incarnational event. We seek hope, we find peace.
You may find The United Methodist News Advent and Christmas Quiz meaningful to your holding sacred this holy season.
Did you know that meditation —
Sri Ravi Shankar of “The Art of Living” says meditation is a powerful de-stressor in that it prevents stress from getting into the system and releases accumulated stress that is in the system. He gives these specific benefits of meditation:
Physical Benefits of Meditation
With meditation, the physiology undergoes a change and every cell in the body is filled with more prana (energy). This results in joy, peace, and enthusiasm as the level of prana in the body increases.
On a physical level, meditation:
Mental Benefits of Meditation
Meditation brings the brainwave pattern into an Alpha state that promotes healing. The mind becomes fresh, delicate and beautiful.
With regular practice of meditation:
If you have yet to find your way into one of the regional Spiritual Formation Groups, the New Year would be an excellent time to do so. In the upcoming months we will continue exploring a variety of spiritual expressions and practices.
Meet: monthly 1 ½ hours
Where and when:
Alliance: Christ UMC, 470 E. Broadway – Third Thursdays, 1:00 PM
Ashland: Christ UMC, 1140 Claremont Ave. – Second Wednesdays, 1:00 PM
Cleveland: East Shore UMC, 23002 Lakeshore Blvd., Euclid – First Thursdays, 1:00 PM
Medina: Granger UMC, 1235 Granger Rd. – Third Wednesdays, 1:00 PM
New Philadelphia: First UMC, 201 W. High St. – Second Thursdays, 9:00 AM
Sandusky: Trinity UMC, 214 E. Jefferson St. – Second Thursdays, 2:00 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
Sharon Seyfarth Garner – firstname.lastname@example.org
What is Spiritual Direction?
"Spiritual direction is the contemplative practice of helping another person or group to awaken to the mystery called God in all of life, and to respond to that discovery in a growing relationship of freedom and commitment." – Father James Keegan, SJ
Give yourself the present for the Holy-days
By Eve Eschner Hogan
Depression is caused by dwelling in the past. Anxiety is caused by worrying about the future. Peace is accessed in the present moment.
Hogan give seven tips on how to turn the holidays into Holy-days.
Bulletin Insert - What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
As winter approaches and the days get shorter, many people suffer with a form of depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Although SAD isn’t totally understood, it is a real illness with real symptoms that vary in frequency and intensity.
Symptoms can include:
During the darkest nights of the winter, many faith traditions celebrate religious holidays that focus on light. With SAD, as with all chronic mental illnesses and normal holiday stress, our faith communities can be intentional about finding ways to encourage a healthy winter holiday season that focuses on our faith, our families and our friends. A bulletin insert/flyer, What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? is available on the Mental Health Ministries Home page.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; on those who lived in a land of deep shadow a light has shone. ~Isaiah 9:2
Find a PDF of this bulletin insert and additional resources for addressing depression and grief, Blue Christmas services here.
Natural Treatment for Seasonal Depression,
Scroll down to read about gluten free remedy for SAD.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Battling the Depression: Hope for the Holidays
10 Triggers for Holiday Blues
Find out what the triggers are ...
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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