Tag Archives: gentle

Praying Through a Blue Christmas Service

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, December 19, 2016

blue-christmas-tree

Praying Through a Blue Christmas Service

Tonight was cold, bitter, and generally a rotten evening for driving. Especially given the cold weather and horrible traffic.

However, the Blue Christmas service at my church served as a small, gentle, quiet island in the general holiday rush-rush and busy-busy.

Ever read Psalm 77? Not usually read in services during the lectionary year. It talks a lot about how frustrated—even angry the psalmist is. (God knows. But, God can take it.)

Knowing the pain, hurt, even grief of living through another holiday season, seems so poignant. Readings to light each of the Advent candles, plus brief times of silence. All meant to allow a place and a space for quiet reflection.

All of this Blue Christmas service was made easier by Pastor Kevin. I appreciate him so much. He co-led the service with me. Thanks to him for his kindness, especially since an elderly relative of mine died last week. (Come to think of it, I particularly could use a Blue Christmas service right about now.)

In one of the leader’s parts tonight, I invited those present a time to offer up the loneliness, the sad and dark memories, and the anxiety and fear to the one whose birth we quietly await…Jesus Christ. I wished those present a time to find hope and peace in this service and comfort in knowing that we are not alone.

Whether we grieve, have pain, or have difficult memories, whether we celebrate or not—dear Lord, in Your mercy, be with us all this night,.

@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

Gentle Prayers, Remembering Prayers

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, October 31, 2016

lord-teach-us-to-pray

Gentle Prayers, Remembering Prayers

When I was small—four, I think—my grandmother moved in with us. I remember feeling badly that my sweet grandmother could not live on her own any longer. My mom and her siblings agreed that Grammy ought to come to live with us. Except—I did not really know how to pray. Yet.

I was the youngest of a large family. I remember Grammy trying vaguely to teach me to pray. Gentle prayers were a possibility, but Grammy was not in the kind of mental frame to teach anyone how to pray. Looking back on the next few years of my childhood with an adult’s point of view, I think they are hardly positive, considering the sad downhill journey of my grandmother.

Gentle prayers helped me, eventually. And, I know writing helped, too. After my Grammy died of complications from stroke, I remembered her with great fondness. I wished so much that we could have a relationship. Not a full one. Gentle prayers, remembering prayers kept those things about her in my mind

Here is a poem by Ray Bradbury. More of the same sadness.

O dear sweet dead, come home and welcome here.
Lost in the dark but always dear.
Do not wander,
Do not roam.
Dear ones,
Come home, Come home.

~Ray Bradbury

Remembering my loved ones. May they experience God’s comfort, encouragement and love. May those who have passed into God’s presence rest from their labors.

@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

A Very Welcome Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, October 17, 2016

pray-praise

A Very Welcome Prayer

When I read this prayer several days ago, I was struck by it. Almost, charmed. I love Fr. Thomas Keating, certainly. But this prayer, in particular?

I see the Welcome Prayer as healing. Also, nurturing. I see the Welcome Prayer as cleansing and almost abrasive (in a steelwool cleaning pad kind of a way). And, I see the Welcome Prayer as humbling and gentle; when I pray it for myself, I mean.

Here it is:

The Welcome Prayer as written by Father Thomas Keating, a Trappist monk:

Welcome, welcome, welcome. I welcome everything that comes to me today because I know it’s for my healing. I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons, situations and conditions.

I let go of my desire for power and control. I let go of my desire for affection, esteem, approval and pleasure. I let go of my desire for survival and security. I let go of my desire to change any situation, condition, person or myself.

I open to the love and presence of God and God’s action within. Amen.

Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

 

A Very Welcome Prayer  #matterofprayer #socialjustice

In Which I Visit Hospice

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, June 29, 2016

hospital bed

In Which I Visit Hospice

I paid a visit to a dear, senior friend today. He is in a care center. He is in hospice care. The time is short. It won’t be long, now.

Even though I had not seen him often in the past eight or ten years, he and his wife lived in the same area my husband and I live in. We would run into each other on occasion. I haven’t seen him for almost a year. He has changed markedly.

We have a number of mutual friends and acquaintances, too. I understand—from the nurses’ station—that he has a number of visitors each day, trooping in and out of his room. A well-liked man, and a man with a definite sense of humor. I will miss him very much.

I feel odd, seeing my friend in hospice. He isn’t supposed to be there, in that hospital bed. He is supposed to be hale, and hearty, and making wise cracks. His wife would laugh, except when he made bad puns. (As would happen on occasion.)

He is not making wise cracks any longer. Sadly.

I know the drill. I was a hospital chaplain for almost ten years. What the heck, I have seen relatives and close friends in the hospital. I’ve been a pastor for more than two years, and I’ve seen parishioners in hospital beds before. But, somehow, this patient is somehow different.

When I spoke to him today (softly, but not too softly—in a gentle, reassuring voice), I identified myself. I let him know that I was there, at his bedside. He actually smiled at me, and squeezed my hand. For a while.

I hope I was encouraging. I pray that my visit was a support and a help to my friend. God willing, it was. God bless my friend, and my friend’s wife—also my friend. God, give them both strength, to continue. God, give them both encouragement Allow them to feel the love and caring from so many. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

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

Pray for Peace (in a Contemporary Way)

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, February 9, 2016

meditating Jesus - unknown artist

Pray for Peace (in a Contemporary Way)

How fascinating to contemplate peace. Interesting? Much more than that. Truly mind-altering.

When I consider peaceful thoughts, and meditation on peaceful subjects, my mind slows down to a more manageable speed. My breathing slows to a deeper in and out—slowly, in—slowly, out. I can feel my shoulders and back becoming less tense, more relaxed.

My yoga instructor, Ine, is a retired nurse. She regularly tells her class that the deep breathing and calming relaxation of yoga is beneficial in several important ways—including lowering the blood pressure, assisting in opening up the airway, and allowing the diaphragm to move freely.

That’s how I felt as I read through this prayer from The Oxford Book of Prayer.[1] It is taken from Contemporary Prayers for Public Worship. It’s short enough that I will quote it in full:

“Show us, good Lord,/the peace we should seek/the peace we must give,/the peace we can keep,/ the peace we must forgo, and the peace You have given us in Jesus our Lord.” [2]

Differing aspects of peace, yet all of them can be said to be gentle and quiet. Peace is not often loud and boisterous! Often quiet and unassuming. Take, for example, this short prayer. If prayed slowly, earnestly, from the heart, it will have a good chance of having those calming benefits my yoga teacher talks about. (Try it, and see!)

Dear Lord, gracious God, thank You for the benefits of pursuing peace. I can see the wonderful reaction peace has on my tense, stressed-out body. Thank You for allowing me to learn more about many different aspects of peace, calm, prayer, and meditation. Help me to be able to practice these several actions, regularly. I know You are pleased when I do! In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

P.S. Watch this space for Pursuing PEACE. A Project that is also a listening tour. Listen. Share. Pursue PEACE. Coming TOMORROW for Lent!

@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), 80.

[2] Ibid.

Listening to My Higher Power

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, November 23, 2015

prayer to God as I understand God

Listening to My Higher Power

I used to be a people-pleaser. I would do my best to be everything or make myself into whatever people wanted or needed. I would run, do, speak, or not speak. Almost always at half my acquaintances’ beck and call. When I was a teen and in my twenties and thirties, my poor sense of self-esteem kept me going overtime. (And then some.)

I gradually learned how to navigate my way through the awkward conversations, extra-long telephone calls, home visits and play dates. (Fearful of running afoul of the modern-day Pharisees, though.)

As my reading today from Keep It Simple tells me, trying to be a people-pleaser will get me exactly nowhere. Nowhere except hurt or angry, and feeling taken advantage of.

How on earth am I to stay centered and focused? Ah, ha! My reading gives me two good ways: by listening to my internal voice (“To Thine Own Self Be True”), and listening for my Higher Power’s voice. I do have wisdom inside of me. I have dreams and aspirations. I am worthwhile. What’s more, I also have God as I understand God. My Higher Power has my back. My Higher Power will never leave me nor forsake me.

So, I thank God that I no longer am a people-pleaser. (Well, hardly ever, that is.)

Let’s pray, using the prayer for today from the reading. “I pray that I’ll listen to that gentle, loving voice inside me. Higher Power, help me make my ‘conscious contact’ with You better.” [1]

@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] Keep It Simple: Daily Meditations for Twelve-Step Beginnings and Renewal. (Hazelden Meditation Series) (San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1989), November 23 reading.

Slow Down—Find Our Center

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, November 3, 2015

prayer - hands

Slow Down—Find Our Center

What does my heart have to say today?[1]

This little daily meditation book hit the nail on the head for me, today! Yes, I need to examine my words. Yes, I need to slow down and take the time necessary to even think about examining my words! And, yes, “we can also hear our spirit in the tone of our words.” [2]

What am I hearing as I examine the words I say to others? How are others receiving my words? Are my words gentle, peaceful, cautious, or hurtful? Do I offer them with love? Or, with anger? Do I say them quietly and slowly, or all-in-a-hurry?

When I intentionally slow down, I find myself listening better. Listening more closely. When I intentionally slow down, I view life with more clarity. And, I view life around me with less in the way. When I intentionally slow down, my breathing becomes deeper, more regular. My breathing helps me to relax and let go of tension within.

And—we arrive at meditation. Isn’t meditation part of Step Eleven? (Yes, I think it is. In fact, I know it is.) Meditation is a fancy word for listening. Not only listening with my body, but listening with my heart, mind, and soul. Listening for what my Higher Power—God as I understand God—has for me, today.

Today’s reading suggests to me that I slow down today. That sounds to me to be excellent advice for any day. Slow down. Then, all of the possibilities I just listed above become opportunities for me and my life. Today.

I can speed up again later. Maybe, tomorrow. Just for today, I’ll slow down. Breathe.

Meditate. Breathe. Listen to God.

Thank You, God.

@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] Keep It Simple: Daily Meditations for Twelve-Step Beginnings and Renewal. (Hazelden Meditation Series) (San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1989), November 3 reading.

[2] Ibid.