Tag Archives: hopeless

Building Blocks for a New Way of Life.

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

live one day at a time

Building Blocks for a New Way of Life.

“Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by day, in all the thousand, small, uncaring ways.” Stephen V. Benet

The Twelve Steps promises a new way of living. A departure from unmanageability, hopelessness, loneliness and despair. But, only if a person works for it. Decides to go for it.

Ah, the key of willingness. It just takes a small amount of willingness to begin the way of new life, to begin the way of Twelve Step living. Very small. But if willingness is present, all kinds of possibilities open up!

Today’s meditation from the book Keep It Simple has a remarkable insight: “The more we use a tool, the easier it is to use. The same goes for the Twelve Steps. We need to depend on the Twelve Steps, just as carpenters depend on their tools. If we only wait for the new way of life, it’ll never come.” [1]

Oh, too true! Sitting back on your hands and waiting for the Twelve Steps to start working (almost by osmosis) is pretty stupid. I have rarely heard of anyone who sat twiddling their thumbs and had the Program of the Twelve Steps work in their lives. Work well, that is.

Although, just from attending meetings, that still is worth something. But for the whole nine yards? The whole shmear? That takes some work. “If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it—then you are ready to take certain steps. … Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery.” [2]

Yes, it takes work. And yes, it is worth it. The Promises say so. God as each of us understands God says so, too.


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 http://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 27 reading.

[2] Alcoholics Anonymous (New York City, Alcoholics Anonymous World Service, Inc.: 2001), 58-59.

Is Mindfulness Soulful?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, June 18, 2015

mindfulness - stone and leaf

Is Mindfulness Soulful?

Meditation. Mindfulness. Soul work. Soulful.

Not—as Jon Kabat-Zinn might say, “spiritual.” In today’s chapter in Handbook for the Soul, Kabat-Zinn shies away from that word. He prefers the term “truly human.”

Spiritual, soulful. Regardless of exactly how and why a person does soul work, Kabat-Zinn considers that work nourishment for the soul. (He says that he isn’t sure about how or why it does whatever it has been found to do. But—it does!)

Kabat-Zinn was fortunate to work for the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. He has found something that greatly assists many who come to the clinic. Or, perhaps I’ll let him tell you himself:

“We train people in formal and informal ways to cultivate greater nonreactive, nonjudgmental, moment-to-moment awareness—what the Buddhists call mindfuless.” [1] This manner of meditation is so beneficial. Instead of spacing out, or depression, or hopeless and helpless thinking, the author of the chapter thought we could generate positive thoughts and commends. Lo and behold, he was correct, in the best possible way.

How to reduce stress, anxiety, worry? Meditation–mindfulness. Take advantage of this positive method, and get rid of frustration, anger, sadness, and a whole host of other negative feelings and emotions. God willing, we have an opportunity to be free of whatever prison is locking us in.


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] Handbook for the Soul, Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield, editors. (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1995.), 109.

Clean the Clutter from My Soul

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, June 12, 2015


Clean the Clutter from My Soul

Oh, boy did I need this chapter! Not just for today, but for a lot longer than just today. “Spiritual nourishment,” which is what I understand Sydney Banks to describe as “soul thinking,” seems to me to stem from “compassion, love and wisdom.” [1]

I resonate so deeply with today’s chapter from Handbook for the Soul. Yes, for sure I can get all caught up in negative thinking. I can easily get stuck on that hopeless, helpless hamster wheel in my head, where all I doing (thinking!) is coming up with negative expectations. Going down into that deep pit of useless self-pity. Or even worse.

I love the example Banks gave, where he mentions an imaginary person he names Martin. [2] Just a crooked mental detour on the way home can cause Martin to go down a dark, miserable path, ensuring he has a dark, miserable night.

How much better to think positive thoughts, which will lead a person down nourishing, even uplifting paths. “This moment—now—truly is the only moment you have. It is beautiful and special. Life is simply a series of such moments to be experiences one right after another.” [3]

This kind of mindset, learning to live in the NOW, is what I need to strive for. This living for TODAY (not yesterday, and certainly not tomorrow!) is what One Day at a Time living is all about. This is the way of life I try to live. Just for today. I find this One Day at a Time life to be quite sensible, not to mention described by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.

Jesus urges His followers to concern themselves with one day at a time—today. Each day has concerns of its own, as He says at the end of Matthew 6. I take the words of Jesus to heart. And, I find echoes of His encouragement all over the place, like right here.

The present moment is the most important moment for me, helping me to stay connected to the NOW. Plus, living in the present moment helps me to be encouraged, urges my heart to stay positive, and nourishes my soul. All wonderful things! God willing, I may continue on this path.

[1] Handbook for the Soul, Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield, editors. (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1995), 74.

[2] Ibid, 75-76.

[3] Ibid, 76.

Third Sunday in Lent – Excuse Me, Fr. Nouwen. I Am Praying For Myself.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, March 8, 2015

pray pray pray

Third Sunday in Lent – Excuse Me, Fr. Nouwen. I Am Praying For Myself.

I love Fr. Nouwen’s writings. Really, I do. I read something from Fr. Nouwen’s book A Cry of the Heart in the devotional book I have. Yet, my thoughts kept going back to one of the scripture readings for today.

Yes, Fr. Nouwen wanted to alert his readers to prayer. Being led to pray to God, and even taught to pray by God. Yes, dear God. Teach me to pray.

A very good brief reading, but my mind kept wandering away. Wandering toward Psalm 42.

I connected with verses 3 and 4a. “My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’  These things I remember as I pour out my soul.”

Suddenly, vividly, as I read these verses I remembered several times in my life when I was so very sad. So disappointed. Submerged in anguish. Including, one fairly recent time when I was in the ocean depths of despair. Lord, where were You? It’s so dark. I felt all alone. Almost . . . worse than all alone. Such despair and hopelessness.

I knew, intellectually, that You were with me. True, I could not feel it. Not for some time. I still am not sure quite how, but I got through that horrid time of depression and dire despair.

A key feature to continuing through the Slough of Despond? One day at a time. One hour at a time. Even, ten minutes at a time. If I can just make it through the next little while, then I’ll be okay. I hope I can. I think I can. I pray I can.

I guess Fr. Nouwen was right after all. Teach me to pray, dear Lord. Reach out to me. Teach me to pray.

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 .

Solstice Observation–Midwinter Celebration?

Centuries ago, in the time before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, this time of the waning year was a time of darkness. And a time of light. The darkness comes from the lessening of sunlight each day (here in the Northern hemisphere). The light comes from the varying celebrations that many cultures, tribes and language groups feature, throughout the world. Different religions have different expressions of the death and rebirth of light and life. Different understandings recognize the death of the old year and rebirth of the new.

On this Midwinter day, I know several people here in my town who are observing the Winter Solstice. This weekend is their celebration, instead of Christmas. The origins of the Midwinter festival reach back to pre-Christian times, and are seeing a resurgence in some places today.

God, You’ve implanted this deep desire for Light, for Hope, for blessing and celebration. I think it is counter-intuitive for God to send Light and Hope into the world as a little Baby. (It just doesn’t make sense!) Yet, that is just how God decided to work. The Old Testament book Isaiah also mentioned Light. Isaiah 9:2 reads: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness on them light has shined.” As Advent draws to a close, the time of celebration of the Light and Hope of the world draws near, too.

Let’s pray. Dear God, thank You for this deep desire implanted in so many. Not only is there a desire for Light and Hope at this time of darkness and little hope, but You provide an answer for those searching. Not only have You placed a God-shaped void in the human heart (as Augustine said), but You have followed through with the promise of Someone to fill that empty place. Thank You for the coming of the Light of the world, the Hope of all nations. Amen.


(also posted at http://www.matterofprayer.net)