Tag Archives: generous

Meditate, in Mindful Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, January 8, 2017

bench-sun-mindfulness

Meditate, in Mindful Prayer

It’s cold outside. Boy, the wind is wicked! Plus, there’s the difference I feel after sitting in prayer, quietly. All kinds of wintry weather. Just perfect to continue my prayer blog.

But, I have a few questions, first. How should I start to meditate? I’ve been practicing the prayer part, for years. (With varying degrees of success.) But, how to meditate? Is it three easy steps? Or, five definitions for silent meditation? Is that how to figure it out? How should I start? Walking? Sitting? Eyes shut, or open?

As I read the book “How to Sit,” by Thich Nhat Hanh, he gives some great advice. Wonderful, and open-ended. As I understand, however I am most comfortable, that’s what he suggests. Walking? Yes. Sitting? That, too. Inside? Yes. Outside? Yes, again.

It’s more of an inside job. Meditation, that is.

Paying quiet attention to whatever crosses my path is a good start. Looking deeply from a point of quietness, I “can begin to see the true nature of what is in front of [me].” [1]

What a generous, enlarging attitude of meditation. Simple and straightforward, really.

Dear God, thanks for such a teacher. And, thanks for such good advice. Help me to follow it regularly. In earnest prayer, I appreciate You so much. God, thanks!

@chaplaineliza

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

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 19.

Everyone is God’s Beloved

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, December 19, 2015

God loves you, nothing can change that

Everyone is God’s Beloved

When I think about my fear, my anxiety, my insecurity, my anger at myself and at others, what can possibly take those negative feelings away? God. More specifically, God’s love. And, knowing that God loves me. Me, myself. Exactly the way I am. I don’t have to change. I don’t need to become something different. God loves me exactly the way I am right now.

Once I start getting used to this earthshaking idea (Imagine—God loves me! I am God’s beloved!), I can start to explore the idea that God also loves other people. Perhaps just as much as God loves me.

Can God really and truly love everyone? Can each person be beloved by God?

That’s what Henri Nouwen says, in the reading for Saturday. “ … When you discover yourself as being the beloved son or daughter of God, you suddenly have new eyes to see the belovedness of other people.[1]

The Advent Action for Saturday is: “Make a list of the blessings and benefits that have been given to you by God, your Savior. Take a few minutes today to give thanks for one of these undeserved blessings. If possible, pass this blessing on to others.” [2] What a marvelous way to express this feeling of being God’s beloved.

Dear Lord, loving God, thank You for Your love. You are so generous with Your love, mercy and kindness. You shower me with undeserved blessings each and every day. What’s more, I am not even aware of many of these blessings. Forgive me for being so oblivious. And, thank You for being willing to overlook these flaws and faults. Thank You so much for loving me.

@chaplaineliza

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), 42.

[2] Ibid, 43.

Wounds Too Deep for Us to Heal

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, October 24, 2015

compassion heart

Wounds Too Deep for Us to Heal

Dear Lord, I feel so inadequate.

Just looking at this prayer for today, I do not say I chose it. Instead, it patiently waited for me to read it, and captured my heart, my soul. Pulled my heartstrings, to boot.

The prayer for today from The Oxford Book of Prayer concerns “Deliver Us from Evil” (Prayer 454, page 135) [1] The prayer is in a section entitled Compassion. It is taken from a collection entitled Contemporary Prayers for Public Worship, edited by Caryl Micklem.

“Lord, the wounds of this world are too deep for us to heal. We have to bring men and women to You and ask You to look after them—the sick in body and mind, the withered in spirit, the victims of greed and injustice, the prisoners of grief.”

O gracious God! My chaplain’s heart breaks, just reading this first section. Such a number of dear ones come to mind from mention in this paragraph alone! I know You know each name that comes to mind. I know You know each situation so much better than I can possibly know myself. Dear Lord, gracious God, I lift my deep and earnest cries to You.

“And yet, our Father, do not let our prayers excuse us from paying the price of compassion.”

Oh! Piercing me in the heart, God! How often and how many times do I allow surface, peripheral prayers to salve my wounded pastor’s heart? Forgive me, dear Lord.

“Make us generous with the resources You have entrusted to us. Let Your work of rescue be done in us and through us all.”

Dear Lord … when I realize what bounty You have given to me and my family, how can I help but be generous? Sure, I can feel inadequate, comparing myself and our small apartment to others who live in this community, in a generally well-off suburb of Chicago.

And, yet. And, yet, when I look at poverty around this country, especially around the world, I shudder. I realize how much stuff I have. I realize how blessed I am. I bow my face to the floor to thank You for so many things. Like a job I enjoy, good health, a loving husband and family, wonderful friends, electronics at our fingertips, food in our kitchen, abundant clothing to wear.

Gracious God, help me to be generous with all You have entrusted to me. Lord, in Your mercy, hear my earnest prayers.

@chaplaineliza

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] The Oxford Book of Prayer, edited by George Appleton. (New York: Oxford University Press, reissued 2009), 135.

What Thou Wouldst Have Us Do

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, October 15, 2015

clock - old vintage watch

What Thou Wouldst Have Us Do

I write this post on a computer laptop, in my post-World War II apartment in the Chicago suburbs, sprinkled with a few late-20th and -21st century contrivances. (Moreover, I am certain there are people living in my area who pride themselves on being up to the minute, in terms of the latest technological devices.) The Oxford Book of Prayer? So many of my contemporaries in the Chicago area are so not on this particular wavelength. Some would wonder why on earth I was reading such an esoteric, paper-bound book.

Yet—the words of the prayer I chose for today seem to me to be timeless, whether we are talking about the 1st century, or the 21st. This prayer by William Bright (1824-1901) in Ancient Collects concerns “As It Is In Heaven.” (Prayer 286, page 93) [1] Today’s prayer is about Guidance.

O God! You are so willing to guide us, to dispense Your light on any who ask of You! Yet, my way seems so dark, so often. Gracious God, I ought to remember Your generous offer much more frequently than I actually experience it.

Now, here is the real request and action-word of this collect. (Not to mention, my doubts and uncertainties … dear Lord, that’s my low self-esteem rearing its ugly head once again.) Grant us—grant me!!—grace to ask You what it is that You would have me to do! I remind myself not to go haring off on some wild goose chase, or to summarily ask You to rubber-stamp something I’ve cooked up on my own.

Ah, the Spirit of Wisdom. I am not as familiar with that as I ought to be, Lord. Yes, Wisdom is mentioned in some detail in Proverbs, and I pored over those chapters some years ago. But—that was some years ago. My first inclination is to say, “Forgive me for not staying current.” But then, I remember You understand me better than I do myself.

God, this collect asks that You “save us from all false choices.” (!!!) That phrase, alone, is a worthy prayer! That phrase, alone, is something for me to take, chew upon, ruminate over, and thoroughly pray to You. And, lastly, perhaps my favorite phrase of this whole prayer: that “in Thy straight path [we] may not stumble.” Ah, especially in my circuitous paths and mental meanderings, I so need the reminder of Your straight path.

I fall at Your feet, in a humble tumble, gracious God. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, we earnestly pray.

@chaplaineliza

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] The Oxford Book of Prayer, edited by George Appleton. (New York: Oxford University Press, reissued 2009), 93.

Day #40 – Freely, Generously. Undercover, Too,

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, April 4, 2015

BK be kind 1 Thess

Day #40 – Freely, Generously. Undercover, Too,

Today is the 40th day of doing Lent generously. Today’s suggestion was to be generous, under cover. (Or, undercover. Whichever you want it to be.)

I can’t talk about what I did today, other than to say that I did something which was unlike me. Generous, yes! Kind, yes! But, it was stepping outside of my usual way of doing things. Stretching myself, going out of my way.

I did something else today that I have done before, but not for a while. It was a generous, kind thing, too. And—I can’t talk about that, either!

Except to say that I hope and pray that the two very different people involved are blessed by God in a special way today.

Can you pray with me for these two people? Dear Lord, gracious God, we come to You on behalf of these two dear children of Yours. In two widely different situations. Lord, help them. Encourage them. Give them good, positive opportunities. Lift them up and do not allow anything negative to gain a foothold in either of their lives. Dear God, I pray for the friends and families of these two dear ones. Thanks so much for the chance I had to come alongside of each one. Not only for these two people, but for our efforts during these past 40 days. Thank You for helping each of us to make our corner of the world a little more generous, a little more kind. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

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

(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

Day #33 – How to Scrap the Schedule

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, March 27, 2015

now clock

Day #33 – How to Scrap the Schedule

I saw today’s suggestion, and I immediately knew what I was going to write about. In fact, two situations popped into my head.

The first is a recent visit I made to a shut-in. I cleared my schedule for most of the day, and went on a visit. This shut-in and I talked together for quite some time. I opened my ears and listened, and I offered my friendship. In the same way as I offer my smile and friendly conversation to many people, I realized I gave my time, freely.

This hadn’t even crossed my mind, before. I hadn’t thought about this, not until I read today’s post from #40acts. Wendy talked about giving the gift of time, and being generous with the schedule. I did this, too. Just recently. Some days I can’t. I have so much going on at my work. But on this particular day, I did. And this dear person appreciated my visit.

The second situation was with my daughter, recently. I know, my family is so important! However, in certain cases, the family gets short shrift. Again, I know I ought to make time for my family. My loved ones. Yet—do I go out of my way to make the time?

My college-age, youngest daughter and I randomly took off, several weekends ago. Just drove in the car for a ways, and stopped for coffee (for me, tea for her). Stopped at a store we found interesting, and talked as we drove. I know these times are becoming few and far in between. Bittersweet.

Yet, if I don’t take the initiative to scrap my schedule on occasion, I know I will look back with sadness. Wistfulness. Downright regret. Plus, being generous with my time makes people happy!

God, help me to scrap my schedule more often. Please. Thank You!

@chaplaineliza

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

(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

Day #24 – Chocolate for Everyone? Hmm.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Chocolate illustration Credit - Michael Toland

Chocolate illustration
Credit – Michael Toland

Day #24 – Chocolate for Everyone? Hmm.

Hmm. As I read today’s suggestion—giving out chocolate freely, to one and all—I had an initial reaction. And, my reaction was not all that positive. I grew up in Chicago. Yes, I grew up in a decent area on the northwest side, but still . . . some of those street smarts that I grew up with are still inside of me. Still active, when awakened.

Like when I read this suggestion. It has been drummed into my head to be cautious when traversing the city. When walking, or on public transportation. On buses or elevated trains or subways. On top of that, when my children were small, I used to take them trick or treating around the neighborhood, on Halloween. I would be careful where I went–which houses we went to.

So, while today’s suggestion seems a perfectly lovely idea, something deep inside me said, “Nope.” Sure, some people would happily take the chocolate. However, others would toss it. Either on the street, or in the nearest garbage can. (Sorry, but that‘s the way some folks are. Suspicious, anxious, and even mean-spirited.)

Good thing I was attending a conference today! Accordingly, I bought a small bag of chocolates, and passed them out freely. To those sitting at the table with me, during the morning keynote address, to those at the lunch table, and to several people at the afternoon session. Plus, I was able to share about Lent, and 40 positive acts of generosity, and how doing 40 acts of generosity and kindness will have an impact on my church, my workplace, and my neighborhood.

I think I covered it. (How am I doing? Was that accurate?)

So, I hope I communicated about #40acts well. I pray so. Lord, bring those chocolates to those dear people’s minds. Help them to remember about 40 acts. And most importantly, about You, too.

@chaplaineliza

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

(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

Day #17 – Buy One, Get One Free? Except When I Forget . . .

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, March 9, 2015

flowers in sidewalk cracks

Day #17 – Buy One, Get One Free? Except When I Forget . . .

I read today’s post with the suggestion for the day before I left the house this morning. I really did. And then, I promptly forgot it.

I did have some other things on my mind today, though. I needed to bring the car in to the car dealer for some maintenance. (With the help of the dealer, I actually caught one of the local car repair places in some shady business dealings—but I’m not posting about that right now.)

Hindsight is so often 20/20. Looking back over the day, I ordered and went through a coffee shop’s drive-through window. I could have paid for the person behind me! Simple enough. But, no. I completely forgot about today’s generous suggestion . . .

One wonderful thing about today? It was the first beautiful day of the year! Sunny, almost fifty degrees, soft breeze. The outside air felt almost like spring. I was so happy to be out and about, driving to the office from the car dealership.

As I stopped to pay for my coffee, I spoke with the employee. Young man, tall, curly haired. Pleasant looking, friendly to talk to. I struck up a conversation. He acknowledged that the weather outside was, indeed, beautiful! But, he seemed down in the dumps after he said that. I asked him what was the matter. (Just as I’d ask a sad parishioner what was the matter.) He hesitated, and then I think he saw I was truly interested in his response.

“Oh, work. I just work all day, and then go home. Go to bed, and get up in the morning. And then it starts all over again.” His face fell. He really seemed sad, almost resigned to his fate.

I looked at him and smiled gently in response. “I’m sorry you feel that way. Do you feel like that a lot?”

“Yeah, pretty much. Except I do get to talk to people in this job. A lot of people. That’s okay.”

“That sounds great! You have the opportunity to give them smiles. Say ‘good morning,’ or ‘good afternoon.’ Being cheerful and friendly could really help someone who is down or sad. Listening to someone can help, too.”

He looked closely at me. I could almost see the wheels turn in his mind. He thought about what I said as he gave me my coffee.

“Have a great day. Really and truly.” I waved as I got ready to drive away into the lovely afternoon. The young man’s face brightened. He smiled at me and waved back.

God, be with this young man. I honestly tried to encourage him. I hope it helped. Please, help him find a good opportunity, a good fit. Thanks, Lord!

@chaplaineliza

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

(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

Day #9 – Melting Pot? Salad Bowl? Point of Prayer!

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, February 27, 2015

children heart illustration

Day #9 – Melting Pot? Salad Bowl? Point of Prayer!

Multi-cultural America is sometimes called the melting pot. This imagery resonates with me especially well because my grandfather emigrated to this country in the early years of the twentieth century. He and his family arrived on a steamer, entering New York City through Ellis Island. (I remember him telling me how vividly he remembered seeing the Statue of Liberty from the deck of the steam ship.)

But, what about another image? What about a big salad bowl? How different flavors “swap around,” as Mark Twain might say. Especially in a large city like Chicago, such diversity becomes second-nature. Automatic.

I think of the hospital where I served as an on-call chaplain for seven years, on the north side of Chicago. That hospital was located in a ZIP code (60625) that was one of the most diverse postal codes in the country. And, that was according to the United States Census Bureau. Multi-cultural, yet also diverse in just about every other way that comes to mind. In terms of ethnic origin, languages spoken, faith traditions celebrated, as well as economic basis. And more. I never knew who would be in that next room I visited. It was an exciting place to work.

In terms of a diverse population, the Chicago suburb where I work is another miniature United Nations. The preschool housed at our church has children from a number of backgrounds and nationalities. And—I love it! As the email from #40acts mentioned today, “we all want a safe, clean and happy environment for our children and elders; decent, affordable homes and satisfying jobs; respect and freedom, peace and health, physical as well as spiritual.” Yes, these are wonderful goals, things to strive for and make a reality.

I try to be friendly to most everyone. I really do. Whether it’s a cashier at the grocery store, the man behind the counter at the gas station, or someone in line at the post office, I do try to be pleasant and courteous. I went out of my way to make conversation at lunch time. I ate at a restaurant near my home. It’s owned by a family of immigrants from Greece. I had a good sandwich with really excellent cole slaw on the side. I complimented the owner as I paid my bill, and told her how much I enjoyed it. I think she appreciated the compliment.

Such a simple thing. Being pleasant, kind, and complimentary. What a way for me to be generous! God willing, I’ll continue tomorrow. I hope so. I pray so.

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

(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

Day #3 – In the Garden? In Prayer!

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, February 19, 2015

fresh vegetables

Day #3 – In the Garden? In Prayer!

As I read today’s suggestion, I remembered something I had been thinking about, a few months ago. Having a community garden at our church.

Let me back up. In today’s reading (in 40acts: Act #3), I read about an empty lot at the end of a road. Formerly a dumping ground, a forlorn piece of useless property, it has been transformed. Cleared out, cleaned up and planted with some fruit trees, this community orchard is now a lovely area! All because some people got together, cared about the property, had a viable plan, and carried it out.

That’s what this 40acts of generosity and kindness is all about! Each day, a generous suggestion is put forward. Today, the suggestion is to 1) clean up an outside area and 2) plant!

Today’s act is, as the Day # 3 post says, being generous to our environment. Helping the world to be a more beautiful place in which to live. What a wonderful thing to do! Just as God gave humanity the world at the beginning—in Genesis—for humans to tend and take care of, so I am urged to be a good steward and clean up, clear out a little area. Even a larger area, and see whether I can make the area more beautiful.

As I mentioned when I began this post, I had been thinking about doing this exact thing: starting a small community garden at our church. We have a good amount of land, and this could be a great thing for the area food pantry! The vegetables grown in the church’s garden could go to support the food pantry.

I’ve seen similar, raised box gardens in my area, with chicken wire around the perimeter of the boxes. (So rabbits and other varmints won’t be as likely to munch on the growing vegetables.) The garden spaces are three feet by six feet, or four feet by eight feet. Sounds like a great possibility! Pray with me, that I can get some interest in the box gardens.

I hope so. I pray so. God, may it be so!

 

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

Why not visit my sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net