April 1, 2019
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 ...
Pastoral Care Day Apart: May 16, 2019
Wellington Reservation, Lorain Co. Metro Parks
“Be Peace: A Retreat”
Watch for details
A Hidden Wholeness
by Richard Rohr
At the more mature stages of life, we are able to allow the painful and the formerly excluded parts to belong to a slowly growing and unified field. This shows itself as a foundational compassion, especially toward all things different from us and those many people who don’t fit society’s standards. 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.Find out more ...
Resistance to GC 2019 Spreads
by Sam Hodges
The Rev. Ole Birch of Denmark estimated that 90 percent of the United Methodists in that country oppose the Traditional Plan. “Some are sad, some are angry,” he said.“ The annual conference will look at a proposal to set up a ʽCommission on a Better Way Forward’ to investigate how we can become a nondiscriminatory church inside or outside the UMC.”
What Does the Word “God” Mean?
by Joshua Kennon
Several years ago, I found myself surrounded by a group of devoutly religious Midwesterners from different denominational traditions, spanning a fairly large socio-demographic range. In the middle of the conversation on the role of religion in politics, my curiosity was piqued because I had a suspicion. I politely interrupted and asked them to indulge me for a moment. I asked each of them to raise their hand if they believed God existed. Nearly all did. I then asked them to write down, on a piece of paper without discussing it with anyone else, their definition of the word “God”. Pens down, papers collected, practically none of them defined the word or concept the same way. The answers included things like:
The result was shock. “Wait… you actually think…”, “You can’t possibly believe…?”. It was fascinating to listen to the half hour that followed because they just assumed the word they were using for this package of ideas – in this case, God – was the same between all of them. They never checked. They took it for granted.
The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature
by Steven Pinker
One of the world's leading experts on language and the mind explores the idea of human nature and its moral, emotional, and political colorings. With characteristic wit, lucidity, and insight, Pinker argues that the dogma that the mind has no innate traits, a doctrine held by many intellectuals during the past century, denies our common humanity and our individual preferences, replaces objective analyses of social problems with feel-good slogans, and distorts our understanding of politics, violence, parenting, and the arts. Injecting calm and rationality into debates that are notorious for ax-grinding and mud-slinging, Pinker shows the importance of an honest acknowledgment of human nature based on science and common sense.
Joan Klagsbrun and Psychotherapy Networker
PSYCHOTHERAPY NETWORKER: Do you think that your experience as a therapist has given you any special insight into the challenges of aging?
KLAGSBRUN: I’m aware of how lucky we are as therapists [or pastors] to have a front-row seat to watch the theater of life unfold. Even early in our careers, we get to interact deeply with people of all ages and at all stages of the life cycle. We get to step into their experience of what moves them, how they see the world, how they struggle. And with older clients, we bear witness to how they cope with aging and illness—some with bitterness and regret, others with integrity, dignity, and courage. We can learn from their struggles and their resilience. Several of my clients have been role models for me in facing illness and dying.
PN: Do any particular lessons stand out?
KLAGSBRUN: I had a middle-aged client, with teenaged children at home, who was critically ill and didn’t know how much longer he’d have to live. He said one day, “Feeling good about the life you’ve led really helps you face death, even when you’re dying before you thought you would.” That was a wake-up call to me—that living authentically and well could be a prelude to accepting our dying. Another client, the head of a big company, was aware that everyone who worked for her was witnessing how she was handling her illness and her dying, and that she’d become a mentor for them in facing this final chapter. She reminded me how we’re all teachers for friends and family when facing illness and death. Remembering that imbues the last chapters of our journey with even more meaning.
PN: Not everyone has such an easy time with growing old. What have you noticed about people who really struggle with the aging process?
KLAGSBRUN: For many people, the biggest struggle is letting go of who they were and accepting who they are now. A lot of the stress of growing older involves living in the past or fearing the future. I see the struggle elders have with retirement, with finding a new purpose for their lives, with accommodating new physical conditions and illnesses. It’s challenging to be slower in body and mind, to hear and see and remember less well, and to accept these limitations gracefully. People who can’t do that really struggle. I had a friend who played basketball through his 60s. As a younger man, he was so identified with being a basketball player who played for hours every week. But now that he’s in his 70s, he can’t do that anymore, and it’s a big adjustment for him. I think aging is a lot about letting go of old identities so you can discover new ones.
PN: What have you learned about how to help people make the kind of transition you’re describing?
KLAGSBRUN: As we age, I think it’s important to find contemplative practices that help us slow down in a way that feels positive. It could be meditation, qigong, breathing practices, Focusing [a technique developed by Eugene Gendlin in the 1980’s at the University of Chicago], gratitude practices, or using guided imagery. Any practice that helps us settle the mind and accept what is will help us to better tolerate the losses that come with aging and appreciate all that’s still there to be enjoyed. Whether we’re facing hip replacement surgery or dealing with Parkinson’s disease or cancer or any of the myriad challenges that often come with growing older, mindful practices can help us cultivate acceptance and resilience. We all need to have tools that help us be with things as they are, even when they’re unpleasant or painful or simply uncertain.
PN: Can you tell me more about the role models who’ve helped you as you’ve gone through your own aging process?
KLAGSBRUN: I’m thinking about a client of mine who came to understand that there were important lessons to learn in the illness phase of his life. He was a natural helper in his congregation, but he was really terrible at receiving help himself. Then he was diagnosed with cancer and saw it not as a tragedy, but as a graduate course in learning to receive from others. He told me, “Sometimes I’ll be sitting with people for hours, waiting for chemo or during chemo, and we’ll have these profound conversations, where it’s hard to tell who’s giving and who’s receiving.” He felt like he’d finally learned how to take in love.
PN: What do you think are the biggest pitfalls people experience in the aging process?
KLAGSBRUN: One pitfall is holding on too tightly to what’s familiar and habitual, and not moving toward what’s new, fresh, and beckoning now. The former could mean not letting go of long-term friendships that feel obligatory but aren’t nourishing anymore, or continuing work that’s no longer meaningful, or not taking the opportunity to mend fractured relationships with family members where forgiveness may now be possible. Another pitfall is staying in denial about the changes that are here or coming soon. Sometimes that shows itself on a physical level, where people end up getting injured because they overdid an activity. Sometimes it’s a reluctance to plan for the future, thinking, Oh, that’s so depressing, let’s not deal with that. But talking about both the fears and the gifts of aging can be rewarding if we do it together. A new role for therapists that I think is exciting is to facilitate groups for aging, both for individuals and for couples. Participants can hear how others are dealing with the challenges of downsizing and retirement, and they can articulate the gifts, highlights, and even the regrets of their lives. These groups also offer an opportunity for people to talk frankly about their fears of getting old, as well as to share their hopes and plans for facing death as best they can. I think it’s important to see where the aliveness is in the aging process, to find the positivity even as we lose some of our physical and cognitive capacities. Stasis is really the basic pitfall, doing the same thing rather than saying, “I need to transition to this new phase. So what are the practices I need to have? And what are new interests that will enrich my life? And how can I include others during this transition in a meaningful way?”.
by Richard Rohr
Social psychologist Diarmuid O’Murchu writes: Creation cannot survive, and less so thrive, without its dark side. There is a quality of destruction, decay, and death that is essential to creation’s flourishing... And the consequence of this destructive dimension is what we call evil, pain, and suffering. Obviously, I am not suggesting fatalistic acquiescence. Indeed, I am arguing for the very opposite: an enduring sense of hope, which it seems to me is not possible without first coming to terms with... the great paradox. It is... the unfolding cycle of birth-death-rebirth. And it transpires all over creation, on the macro and micro scales alike. Yes, I know, sisters and brothers, suffering is and will always be a mystery, maybe the major mystery.
Prayer is Good Medicine
by Beth Howard
Duke University’s Dr. Harold Koenig examines why people who live spiritual lives are so much healthier. Koenig’s latest project is a $1.5 million study comparing the outcomes of secular and spirituality-based therapies.
What are the health benefits of spirituality and religion?
Religious involvement, particularly if there is a strong spiritual component, is associated with less depression and anxiety, greater well-being, and less drug and alcohol abuse. Research using MRIs suggests that it actually alters the structure of the brain in people at high risk for depression. It’s also linked to better physical health and health behaviors—less smoking, more exercising, a better diet. Religious people have less cardiac disease and hypertension and better measurable immune function. Many studies show religious and spiritual practices delay the onset of memory loss associated with aging and slow dementia related to actual memory disorders like Alzheimer’s. They also confer a longevity benefit—an extra seven years of life among whites and 14 years for African Americans.
Spirituality means different things to different people. What aspects of a person’s spirituality or religion matter most when it comes to health outcomes?
It turns out that belief itself doesn’t mean much. It’s whether the belief is carried out through some sort of action, such as gathering with others in a faith community, spending time in prayer or meditation, reading scripture, or volunteering—generally conforming your life to the teaching of your faith. That’s where the biggest benefits are.
Focus of the Year: “Being Peace"
Considering the conflict and lack of civility in our world and communities, our churches and families, and within ourselves, the focus for the year is: “Being Peace.” Following Jesus’ practice of going into a quiet place to spend time alone with Abba, we will seek to find our center and listen for what God is calling us to, so that we may emerge as agents of transformation in the world.
Ashland—2nd Wednesdays, 1:00-2:30
Canton—3rd Thursdays, 1:30-3:00
Solon—2nd Thursday, 1:00-2:30
Vermilion—3rd Friday, 11:00-12:30
Please indicate your interest, including location preference, by email: email@example.com, or call the Office of Pastoral Care: (330) 456-0486.
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
Joyce Gordon - firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Hollingsworth - email@example.com
Liz Nau – firstname.lastname@example.org
Hazel Partington – email@example.com
Jennifer Olin-Hitt – firstname.lastname@example.org
Judy Ringler - email@example.com
Sharon Seyfarth Garner – firstname.lastname@example.org
Carol Topping - email@example.com
Laura Tradowsky -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Laurie Tucker - email@example.com
Gift of the Present: How Mindfulness Strengthens Relationships
by Eve Hogan
I wondered if my extremely multi-tasking life could really handle mindful living on an ongoing basis. How would I drive, talk on my cell phone, navigate, drink water, plan the next day, and make my “to-do” list if I paid true and mindful attention to everything I did? How much of our lives are we missing while we unmindfully do so much? I realized it isn’t the mindfulness I should sacrifice for the multi-tasking; it is the other way around. I can’t help but wonder how a multitasking lifestyle impacts relationships. What if we were really present with each and every person we spoke to? I have few regrets in life, but the thing I will always regret is not being more mindful when my mom called to talk. I remember that I was always happy to hear from her, but I also remember doing a lot of other things while I talked with her, not giving her my full attention nor giving myself hers. That is the one thing I am not sure I will ever forgive myself for, now that I can no longer have phone conversations with my mom. But am I still guilty of doing the same thing with other people that I love! I have been known to be talking to my husband while simultaneously opening email, instant messaging with at least two other people, and watching TV at the same time. Do we “multitask” because we have so much to do, or because we are consciously or unconsciously avoiding being truly present and mindful with someone else? What is so important that we don’t have the time to be truly present to love and communication?
Ten Top Tips for Aging Well
Simply living longer isn’t enough. What we really want is to live longer well, staying healthy enough to continue doing the things we love. While having good genes certainly helps, a growing body of research suggests that how well you age depends largely on you and what you do. Fortunately, research also finds that it’s never too late to make changes that can help you live a longer and healthier life.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or use our quick contact form.
Or contact our office at email@example.com or call (330) 456-0486.
The East Ohio Conference Pastoral Care Office:
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Canton, OH 44708
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