July 30, 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 ...
Author Damian Mark Smyth says, “We’re One, we’ve always been One, we’ll always be One, until we think we are not.” And herein lies our challenge, we are one but we think we are separate; we have forgotten our Oneness.
As a result of forgetting, we create an illusory world of duality, which leads to suffering. All disagreements, conflict, and wars are due to the mistaken belief that we are separate. When we realize we are one, who, or what is there to fight against? On a cosmic level, two people fighting is as ridiculous as if your hands decided they didn’t like each other and started fighting.
Being part of a harmonious community helps to foster the principles of Oneness. Community supports us on our own journey and allows us the opportunity to serve others. Community helps us open up to new and different ideas; to begin to dissolve our barriers and limiting beliefs. Community can connect us with a sense of Oneness.
Politics and Religion
by Richard Rohr
Rohr’s daily meditation summary for the week of July 15-July 20, 2018 is rich with inspiring passages from a variety of socially conscious activist that help lead us to more social responsibility.
When we forget that politics is about weaving a fabric of compassion and justice on which everyone can depend, the first to suffer are the most vulnerable among us—our children, our elderly, our mentally ill, our poor, and our homeless. As they suffer, so does the integrity of our democracy. —Parker Palmer (Sunday)
Contemplative Christians can model a way of building a collaborative, compassionate politics. I suggest we start by reclaiming the wisdom of Trinity, a circle dance of mutuality and communion. (Monday)
Three words encapsulate a new way of being political as we strive to come home to ourselves as a planetary, cosmic and spiritual species: interdependence, sustainability, and justice. —Diarmuid O’Murchu (Tuesday)
We are beginning to understand, amidst the horror and suffering of our divisions, that we will be well to the extent that we move back into relationship with one another, whether as individuals and families or as nations and species. —John Philip Newell (Wednesday)
The human heart is the first home of democracy. It is where we embrace our questions. Can we be equitable? Can we be generous? Can we listen with our whole beings, not just our minds, and offer our attention rather than our opinions? —Terry Tempest Williams (Thursday)
Finding a way to not vilify or divide into “them” and “us” in today’s federal politics goes against . . . current custom. . . . So my contemplative practice is to attempt to sit open-handed and listen to the “wee small voice” that sometimes whispers ideas and ways forward. —Simone Campbell (Friday)
Prayer that Makes Hard Hearts Softer
by Peter W. Marty
July 20, 2018
Composing “prayers of the people” for Sunday worship is a tough assignment. Deciding what to include is the first big challenge. Then there is the tendency to gear such prayers more to worshipers’ ears than to the heart of God. We all know prayers that use fancy language to soft-pedal life’s cruelest realities or that dance around the plight of people in dire straits.
I have to admit that I’ve contributed a number of anemic prayer petitions of my own over the years. Knowing how daunting it can be to address God on behalf of an entire community, I now ask questions of myself like these: Are enemies receiving more than vague mention in these communal prayers? Is physical sickness really the most exciting thing that happens to us, or are we simply allotting generous prayer space to our bodily concerns because we consider illness to be some kind of injustice? Do our references to “the poor” substitute an abstract economic category for actual people whose individual lives hang by a thread?
It’s this last concern that has my attention today. When Speaker of the House Paul Ryan briefly dismissed Patrick Conroy this spring from his position as chaplain of the House of Representatives, it was Conroy’s praying that did him in. He prayed that there wouldn’t be winners and losers under the new tax laws but rather “benefits balanced and shared by all Americans.” That was too much for Ryan, who admonished Conroy to “stay out of politics.” In the end, liberals and conservatives together rescued Conroy’s chaplaincy.
I don’t know Father Conroy’s general prayer habits. But it’s not unrealistic to think he was trying to converse with God about a legislative strategy that essentially delivers a large tax cut to corporations and wealthier Americans, which in turn causes the federal deficit to spike, which then creates the argument that there’s no choice but to institute savage cuts to social programs. In a way, such a strategy scapegoats the have-nots for our country’s deficit woes.
Here’s my word regarding our most vulnerable brothers and sisters: it shouldn’t be a crime to be poor and need public assistance. Yet the current effort to sharply stiffen work requirements for those seeking food stamps does just that. It penalizes poverty. Most working-age adults on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) already work, but at low-wage jobs with unreliable hours, no benefits, and little or no access to living-wage jobs. Threatening to cut off critical food assistance to people who face multiple logistical and educational barriers to gainful employment is mean and brutish. It only leaves people in deeper poverty.
The Bible is littered with reminders of the privilege of meeting needs for those who struggle. Sklerokardia is the term used frequently by biblical writers to describe the inelastic condition of the human heart that hardens toward God and others. If the very pronunciation or appearance of that word brings to mind the medical term arteriosclerosis, it’s probably doing its job. Hard-hearted indifference is a chilling idea. So is waging war on the poor.
The next time I’m assigned to write prayers, I’m going to pray for enough honesty to locate words that aim to soften calcified hearts (including my own) and that encourage them to beat in tune with the pulse of God’s own heart.
Practicing the Now Moment; Savoring
by Laura Vanderkam
Feeling like you’ve got all the time in the world is a wonderful sensation; too bad it occurs so rarely. But by developing the skill of savoring, you can maximize your moments — and your experience of time.
Actively savoring the present stretches your experience of time. To savor is to feel pleasure, and also to appreciate that you are feeling pleasure. It takes normal gratification and adds a second layer to it: acknowledgment.
One way to raise our vibration is to be fully present in the now moment. Nothing says “All is well,” like just being here and not worrying about the past or future. Just be here now as Ram Dass advised. Besides meditation there are some things we can do to enhance and reward our presence in the now moment.
TED Talk: How to Gain Control of Your Free Time
by Laura Vanderkam
Laura Vanderkam shatters the myth that there just isn’t enough time in the week for working professionals to live happy, balanced and productive lives.
There are 168 hours in each week. How do we find time for what matters most? Time management expert Laura Vanderkam studies how busy people spend their lives, and she's discovered that many of us drastically overestimate our commitments each week, while underestimating the time we have to ourselves. She offers a few practical strategies to help find more time for what matters to us, so we can "build the lives we want in the time we've got."
Track your time! The first step to spending your time better is knowing how you’re spending it now. Download a log (30-minute or 15-minute versions) from Laura Vanderkam's website and write down what you're doing every few hours in as much detail as you think will be helpful. Try to keep going for a week (168 hours) to get the full picture of your life. After you're done, add up the major categories: work, sleep, time with family, housework, TV, exercise, volunteering, commuting. Then ask yourself what you like about your schedule and what you'd like to change.
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Dealing with Negativity: Thinking is Where to Start
by Yoga of Positive Thought in Practice
Q: When I feel like I am under pressure I get more negative. It’s harder to focus on positive things. How can I deal with that?
First of all, it is a very good thing that you recognize that your thinking and the feelings that result from those thoughts are making you uncomfortable. You have a strong enough connection with your Inner Being and your own emerging creations that you realize that your thoughts are taking you in a direction you do not want to go. Secondly you recognize that it is your thinking that is responsible for the divergence taking place. Those who do not recognize those two things tend to blame their outward circumstances for the way they are feeling, literally making themselves into the victims of circumstance.
But you have absolute control over the thoughts you think and the vibration that you emit when you recognize they are separate from your circumstances. We don’t mean that you have to make yourself feel good about anything but that you can always find something to feel good about regardless of seeming circumstances.
The circumstances that you find yourself in—the ones that are giving you pressure—are a secondary illusion. They are like a movie on the screen and the process that created them goes back to that projector with the film running through it, and to the actors and producers and camera operators who created the film. The pressure that you are feeling is because you are there in the middle of that movie that is on the screen and there’s just not enough physical action that you can take to change the direction of that.
To change what’s on the screen you have to let go of your reaction to what is happening and create something new and different. You have to step back to the projector and stick in another piece of film, one that feels good. And you have to step back to the original creation process and envision some outcomes that you would prefer. After it’s on the screen there’s not a lot you can do about it. There’s no replay button. But because everything is always moving forward, always changing, there is the opportunity to create anew.
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