Tag Archives: community

Through Two Women

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, December 12, 2015

Icon of the Visitation

Icon of the Visitation

Through Two Women

It’s true. The Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament are heavily male-centered. When I think of the events listed in both testaments, the bulk of the activities involve men (with the occasional boy). Even the few women listed are almost always spoken of in relation to a man: Abraham’s wife, Sarah; Judah’s daughter-in-law, Tamar; Samuel’s mother, Hannah; Mordecai’s cousin, Esther; Aquila’s wife, Priscilla; Jesus’ mother, Mary.

Today’s reading in this Advent meditation is about Mary, though. Mary and her cousin Elizabeth. Henri Nouwen says, “God has come to [these two women] to begin the salvation promised through the ages. Through these two women, God has decided to change the course of history.” [1]

Not only does God shake the earth and change history through these two women, but God does it in a way that lifts up community, togetherness, and friendship.

Yes, Mary helped Elizabeth become more understanding of what it meant to be the mother of “the prophet of the Most High.” (Luke 1:76) And, Elizabeth not only aided Mary in learning more about what it meant to be the mother of “the Son of the Most High,” (Luke 1:32) but also to draw together in community. In friendship. In relationship, one with another. Yes, both were pregnant. And both assisted each other in a positive, encouraging, helpful way.

Today is the feast day of our Lady of Guadalupe. Whether we observe this feast day with special thanksgivings or acknowledge it as a day to remember Mary, the mother of Jesus, I suspect Fr. Nouwen would encourage us in carrying out the Advent Action of today’s meditation. “Offer gentle assistance to someone in your environment who is in need: of praise, of a good word, of day-brightening laughter.”


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Advent and Christmas: Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen (Linguori, Missouri: Redemptorist Pastoral Publications, 2004), 28.

Prayer and the Discipline of Community

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, December 4, 2015

people diverse fellowship in the church

Prayer and the Discipline of Community

Everyone needs someone. I don’t care who it is, each person needs some other person (or, persons) to relate to. To be with. To give and express love, caring and sharing. Henri Nouwen calls this the Discipline of Community.

I was previously unfamiliar with this particular Discipline. The more familiar, general Spiritual Disciplines I am familiar with, true. (To a greater or lesser extent, depending on the Discipline.) Except, this one was new for me.

The concepts of talking and walking with others, spending time in each other’s company, and especially of physical contact—free hugs, anyone?—all of these have been studied in recent years by research studies on both the social science and public health sides as well as the medical side. Physically, socially, emotionally, psychologically? Even spiritually. In every way, as Fr. Nouwen says, “I need people to love me and care for me.” [1] [emphasis mine]

Yes, while He was here on earth, Jesus gathered a band of people around Him. The named disciples, but more than that. Mary, Martha, their brother Lazarus, Mary Magdalen, the other Mary, Salome. Even some of the healed people, the formerly demonized, those with their sight and hearing and full range of motion restored to them, miraculously—some of these came into Jesus’s circle. All kinds of people, from all different walks of life, gathered around Jesus.

This reading today makes me wonder: are my friends diverse? Or, are they all monochromatic? All white-bread? Do I “reach out and touch” my friends and acquaintances? Am I open to their touch? Do I welcome their smiles, their words? Difficult thoughts, and hard words, indeed.

Dear Lord, thank You for convicting me and bringing this important challenge to my attention. For, it is indeed a challenge. Encourage me to be a good small group member, and good member of my congregation. So, help me, God.


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

[1] Advent and Christmas: Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen (Linguori, Missouri: Redemptorist Pastoral Publications, 2004), 12.

Balance Between Solitude and Activity

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, December 1, 2015

winter road at night

Balance Between Solitude and Activity

Today’s reading talked of the delicate balance between solitude—what I call “alone time,” and activity. I used to like very much being in a crowd, and become energized by a group of people. In my twenties and thirties. That would most often be where I would feel the most alive.

But, now? I see the sense of being alone. Seeking solitude. Craving alone time. I am developing my introverted side. Being surrounded by introverts in my family, I appreciate another way of looking at life, and dealing with what life brings my way. Appreciating diversity.

So, I can well see how Fr. Nouwen lifts up that delicate, careful balance “between silence and words, withdrawal and involvement, distance and closeness, solitude and community.” Moreover, this balance “forms the basis of the Christian life and should therefore be the subjects of our most personal attention.” [1]

In my Advent journey, I am encouraged to balance both active moments (the more extroverted times) and moments of solitude (the introverted times). Lord, help me to examine, assess, and evaluate these things.


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Advent and Christmas: Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen (Linguori, Missouri: Redemptorist Pastoral Publications, 2004), 6.

Gratitude List

matterofprayer blog post for Saturday, January 4, 2014

forest and rainbow

Gratitude List

God, I haven’t intentionally written a gratitude list for some time. Several of my friends and acquaintances write gratitude lists on a regular basis. It’s definitely a worthwhile practice! However, I have never gotten into that particular habit.

Still, I have written them on occasion. A gratitude list came to my mind for some reason this evening. I will take advantage of my being at the computer. I’ll start writing my list.

I am grateful for good health—for me. Without that, life would be very different. I am grateful for my husband and family. My husband is a wonderful, interesting, intelligent, straight-forward person, and I thank God for him. My family—three lovely daughters and one good-looking son—is a joy and a blessing to me. (Even though the second two are still teens.) All are healthy, all inquisitive, all intelligent. I love my children and am so grateful for them.

I am grateful for friends, for acquaintances, even for people I see on an occasional basis but don’t know their names. These people are touchpoints and my foundation, and without them my life would be infinitely poorer. I am grateful for the varying places in my life, my community, my church, my workplace. These are all the scenery and backdrops for my life.

I am grateful for our snug condominium and the fascinating, diverse town where we live. I am grateful for the excellent public transportation system in our town (linking us to downtown Chicago—the big train is four blocks from our house, the Elevated train two blocks away, and a bus stops on the corner). I am grateful for employment—my husband full-time and me part-time. I am grateful for a working car and for money for gas and car expenses. I am grateful for computers (plural—we have several laptops).

I am grateful for food to eat, extra food in the cupboards, clothes and shoes to wear. I am grateful for enough. I am grateful for a piano (thank you, Grandpy!), for music—in general, and for the gift of being able to make and enjoy many different varieties of music. I am especially grateful for the endless inventive and creative nature God has given to humans so that they might compose music, write books and produce artwork of all kinds. I am grateful that I have the use of all of my limbs and my physical capabilities, and I show my gratitude by going to the gym on a regular basis. Sure, I have complaints. Gripes. Things may even be significantly wrong, or at least not to my liking. I wonder what God is doing, sometimes! But if I look at the big picture, my life is amazingly blessed.

Let’s pray. Thank You, God, for blessing me and my family with such abundance. Thank You for graciously providing for our needs, one day at a time. Forgive me for my gripes and complaints, even though You pour out your abundant blessings on us, new every morning. Thank You for the gift of Your grace and Your glory poured out upon us. I know I can never thank You enough, but I can try. Thank You again.


Comfort and Prayer

matterofprayer blog post for Saturday, December 28, 2013

Comfort and Prayer

I went to a funeral today. An elderly person close to me died recently. Today was a celebration of long, fruitful life as well as a grieving for someone who has passed beyond our immediate connection. Into God’s gracious hands.

As a chaplain and caregiver, I frequently am put in the position of communication with elderly individuals. I enjoy coming alongside of them, traveling with them for a little while. My heart goes out to these dear people. Each one has a story. Whether big events or little circumstances, whether traveling to far places for years or staying in one place for an entire lifetime—I always can listen to and learn from their personal stories.

This particular, much-loved senior had a full life. I heard many personal anecdotes today. Many remembrances, and a great deal of love and caring was shared from a long and blessed life.

I realize that some are less blessed in their lives, but each one has a continuing story. As I listen to each story, I can rejoice with the teller, or share their concern or pain. I can offer to pray, and bring their story before God—with or without words. That’s my privilege, to journey with individuals, couples, or families. Whether at a care center, a private home, or on the street, it doesn’t matter. God is still here. And I can come alongside people with the ministry of presence.

Let’s pray. Dear God, thank You for the opportunity to come together, in community. Thank You for the blessed, yet difficult, experience of grieving and mourning. I know You are with each of us, every day—whether we realize it or not. Forgive me, God, for forgetting You so often. Lead me—lead us—to a blessed understanding of Your presence by our sides, each day. Thanks for Your care, Your comfort, and Your encouragement. God, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

water and sunset