April 2, 2018
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 ...
Video: The Christ Hymn: In Whom All Things Hold Together
Human Development in Scripture
by Richard Rohr
It is helpful for us to know about the whole arc of life and where it is leading. Walter Brueggemann, one of my favorite scripture scholars, brilliantly connects the development of the Hebrew Scriptures with the development of human consciousness.  Brueggemann identifies different stages in the three major parts of the Hebrew Scriptures: the Torah, the Prophets, and the Wisdom literature.
The Torah, or the first five books, correspond, Brueggemann says, to the good and necessary “first half of life.” This is the period in which the people of Israel were given their identity through law, tradition, structure, certitude, group ritual, clarity, and chosenness. It’s helpful and easiest for children if they can begin in this way. Ideally, you first learn you are beloved by being mirrored in the loving gaze of your parents and those around you. You realize you are special and life is good—and thus you feel “safe.” Loving people help you form a healthy ego structure and boundaries.
The Prophets in the Hebrew Scriptures then introduce the necessary suffering, “stumbling stones,” and failures that initiate you into the second half of life. Prophetic thinking is the capacity for healthy self-criticism, the ability to recognize your own dark side, as the prophets did for Israel. Without facing their own failures, suffering, and shadow, most people never move beyond narcissism and group thinking. Healthy self-criticism helps you realize you are not that good, and your group is not the only chosen people. It begins to break down either/or, dualistic thinking as you realize all things are both good and bad. This makes idolatry of anything and war against anybody much less likely. The prophets do not have much good to say about Israel, and thus seem to have all been killed (Matthew 23:31-32). Thus the “charism” of prophecy in its deepest sense has never been much sought after by most Christian groups.
The leaven of self-criticism, added to the certainty of your own specialness, will allow you to move to the third section of the Hebrew Scriptures: the Wisdom Literature (many of the Psalms, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, Wisdom, and the Book of Job). Here you discover the language of mystery and paradox. This is what the second half of life is supposed to feel like. You are strong enough now to hold together contradictions in yourself, others, and the universe. And you can do so with compassion, forgiveness, and patience. You realize that your chosenness is for the sake of letting others know they are chosen too!
I call this classic pattern of spiritual transformation “order-disorder-reorder.” Paul calls it “the foolishness of the cross” (see 1 Corinthians 1:18-25). There is no nonstop flight from order to reorder. We have to go through a period of disruption and disordering. What we first call “order” is almost always too small and too self-serving. The nexus point, the crossover moment, is one that neither conservatives nor liberals like or even understand. It will always feel like folly.
Fearless Compassion in the Face of Violence
by Frank Ostaseski
The willingness to face suffering can give rise to compassion.
The school shooting at Marshall County High School in Kentucky was our nation’s 11th this year. It happened on January 23rd. And now our hearts break again with the horror of yet another school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
I remember when school shootings were rare. Now, it seems we have become numb to these kinds of unthinkable events.
Compassion arises as a direct and appropriate response to suffering.
Now, there is no shortage of human suffering in our world. Disease, war, famine, poverty, fear and now school shootings. Each of us experiences pain. And, so it is reasonable to ask: if compassion arises as a response to suffering and there is so much suffering, why isn't there more compassion?
Perhaps because we rarely allow ourselves to actually face the suffering directly. We are "masters of distraction". To a great extent, this is our primary human practice. A large portion of our day is consumed with activities that are attempts to protect ourselves from discomfort, pain, and suffering.
Compassion has a direct and integral relationship with suffering. No contact with our suffering, not much compassion.
The willingness to face suffering can give rise to compassion. Sometimes then, reading the newspaper is an act of compassion.
We usually only learn of the devastation caused by school shootings. And this is the most common outcome. For me, it is one of our worst national horrors. Still, I have made a point of reading the reports of the incidents—all that I can find.
Back in 2006, Jencie Fagan, a Nevada gym teacher, risked her own life to stop a fourteen-year-old boy who came to school one day with a handgun. He walked into the school and fired three shots. The first bullet struck another boy in the upper arm. A girl was hurt when the second bullet ricocheted off the floor, burying itself in her knee. The third shot thankfully did not hit anyone.
Jencie calmly approached the boy, walking right up to face him and his gun. After talking with him for a while, she persuaded him to drop his gun. This is where the courage of the warrior would have stopped with an undeniably brave act, and one that almost certainly saved lives.
But Jencie demonstrated the courage of the strong heart when she then surprised everyone by hugging the shooter. She reassured the young boy that she would not leave him alone. She would accompany him to the station and throughout his legal process to make sure that he was safe and to ensure that the police didn't hurt him.
Later, when asked why she had acted so compassionately toward the shooter, Jencie, who is a mother herself, replied, "I think anybody else would have done it. I look at the students as if they're my own."
The Importance of Sadness
by Susan Piver
Sadness isn't necessarily something to be avoided. In fact, Susan Piver says despair can be the consequence of fighting it. Compassion is what happens when you don’t.
When we leave room for sadness and other difficult emotions, rather than trying to push back on the pain they inflict, it’s a way of showing loving-kindness.
Discovering the Magic of Fear
by Kalia Kelmenson
Fear exists for everyone. For some, it derails, making what they most want seem impossible. For others, it’s a beacon, a light on the path towards your heart’s true desire. Finding your way to move forward with fear involves a certain kind of magic.
The fears that surround us are innumerable. We have close-up fears: of being seen, of not being seen, of being vulnerable, of failing, and of succeeding. We also have bigger fears: our place in the world, the state of the world, forces that whirl beyond our control. Fear can be a paralyzing force, it ignites our primal instinct to freeze, or to fight. It can also, when understood, become a force for good, a sign post that will lead you to what you want most in life.
Meera Lee Patel writes, “Fear is someone who knows me well, who knows each dream and longing and what prevents me from going after them. Fear knows who I want to be and what keeps me from being that person. Fear is my closest friend. I have said the words aloud to myself many times.”
Step onto the path of becoming friends with your fear with the following practices:
Monthly Live Online Spiritual Practice Groups are being provided by East Ohio United Methodist Program in Pastoral Care and Counseling using ZOOM. The ZOOM format is very easily used by just responding to an invitation email and following the links; no subscription or downloads needed. These groups will be limited to 8-10 participates and will be added as they are populated. Current groups are meeting 1st Thursdays at 1:00 p.m. and 2nd Thursdays at 2:00 p.m.
The purpose of these groups is to create space for our souls to be nurtured by exploring a variety of spiritual experiences, spending time in meditation and through the fellowship and encouragement of other sojourners. We use the term “Practice” to indicate that these are groups engaged in the practice of spiritual formation.Please contact the Office of Pastoral Care for any questions and to be added to one of the groups. Phone: 330-456-0486. Email: 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
Joyce Gordon - firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Hollingsworth - email@example.com
Liz Nau – firstname.lastname@example.org
Hazel Partington – lakehavenministries.com
Jennifer Olin-Hitt – email@example.com
Judy Ringler -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharon Seyfarth Garner – email@example.com
Valerie Stultz - firstname.lastname@example.org
Carol Topping - email@example.com
Laura Tradowsky -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Laurie Tucker - email@example.com
5 Ways to Deal with Difficult People
by Kathryn Drury Wagner
Feeling like you might throttle someone? Try these tactics instead.
Ah, difficult people. There are passive aggressives—the ones who “forget” and put pork in a vegetarian’s dinner. Then there are the grumpy misanthropes, the abusive yellers, the self-centered narcissists, the Debbie Downers or Woe-Me-ers. If we’re being honest, we are all difficult in our own smaller ways, with our human foibles and sometimes prickly personal preferences. But assuming you’ve encountered someone actually difficult, with a capital D, and that it’s stressing you out. For this week’s Healthy Habit, let’s look at Five Ways to Deal with Difficult People.
Need more? Try 4 Affirmations For When You’re Around Someone Negative.
How to Break Up With Your Phone
by Catherine Price
The moment I realized I needed to break up with my phone came just over two years ago. I had recently had a baby and was feeding her in a darkened room as she cuddled on my lap. It was an intimate, tender moment — except for one detail. She was gazing at me … and I was on eBay, scrolling through listings for Victorian-era doorknobs.
I’m not going to try to explain this particular personal passion. The point is that a good 15 minutes had probably passed before I finally caught sight of my daughter looking at me, her tiny face illuminated by my phone’s blue light. I saw the scene as it would have looked to an outsider — her focused on me, me focused on my phone — and my heart sank. This was not the way I wanted things to be. . . .
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