Tag Archives: kindness

Meditation, by Thomas More

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, March 1, 2017

man-praying-silhouette

Meditation, by Thomas More

Today is Ash Wednesday. Yes, I have ashes on my forehead. Today is also the beginning of Lent, and I was trying to decide what I am going to do for a Lenten discipline for the past number of days. Nothing seemed right. Nothing—until—I rediscovered this book over the weekend.

I absolutely love Richard Foster, and I greatly appreciate Renovare. So, what is not to like about this edited book of selected readings on the Spiritual Disciplines? That’s what I thought. Nothing, indeed.

I read the first reading, by Thomas More. Richard Foster set up the reading wonderfully, which was entitled “A Godly Meditation.” [1] The words just kept flowing out of his pen (and of Thomas More’s pen, too), and line after line went straight to my heart.

I was also touched to find out that the sentence I most appreciated was the same one that Richard Foster remarked upon.  For one line in particular: “To think my most enemies my best friends.”

God, if only I could behave toward all people I meet in such a way. I know, I realize I might run into people who believe very differently from me. And—the best part is, according to Thomas More, to consider these people (who believe very differently, again) with the utmost respect, even kindness. Read this, please. Warms my heart.

I love other countries, I appreciate people’s organization. Dear Lord, help me to find bits of this poem in other places and give me a new appreciation of Thomas More.  Lord, in all of our understanding, please send me new insights about Thomas More. Please, God.

@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] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 6

Peace and Social Justice, Part Two

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, June 15, 2016

act, do, walk

Peace and Social Justice, Part Two

Yesterday evening’s panel discussion at the Muslim Community Center in Morton Grove was a wonderful opportunity to gather together and share insights into different faith streams. Yet, five similar viewpoints on Social Justice. How each of these faith streams—forms of spirituality—religions—has an impact on society and the outworking of kindness, mercy and justice.

As someone invited to be the representative of the Christian point of view, I had specific understandings of Social Justice (from my faith stream). I was fascinated to see how much overlap there was between all five forms of spirituality.

This goes to show how much diverse people of different ethnicities, various cultures, and widely scattered nationalities all around the world have so much in common. All faiths seek to better society, whether in small ways or large, whether dealing with one person or many.

I do not mean to be political. Jesus did His best to steer clear of politics. I really strive to follow His excellent example. I quote from my remarks made yesterday. “Different rabbis or teachers had different opinions on what was the greatest of all commands. Some of these teachers wanted to know what Jesus considered the “most important” of the laws in the Mosaic law code, which was (and is) the official Jewish rule book.

“In the Gospel of Mark, chapter 12, Jesus does not name one of the “big 10,” the Ten Commandments. Instead, He responds with the Shema. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength,” from Deuteronomy 6:5-6.

“Jesus does not stop there! No, He makes another definitive statement. “31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Did you follow that? Jesus made “the greatest command” into a two-part command.

“Love God, love others. Two sides of the same coin.

“’When we hear these words, we know that we are close to the center of Christianity, that we are close to the heart of God. The cross of Christ, the most important symbol of the Christian faith, has two dimensions: a vertical love to God and a horizontal love towards our neighbors.” [1]

“The simplicity, truth and wisdom of love is at the heart of the Good News of God, the message of Social Justice. Think about it. If we truly love, what else is necessary?”

@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 Hinge, The Two Great Commandments,” Gospel Analysis, Sermons from Seattle, Pastor Edward F. Markquart, Grace Lutheran Church, Seattle, Washington.

PEACE? Contentment and Kindness.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, April 20, 2016

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PEACE? Contentment and Kindness.

As I reflect upon my discussions with the young people at St. Viator’s High School in Arlington Heights, I am grateful I had the opportunity to engage with anyone who came up to the table I had set up on one side of the large lunchroom.

I’ll be featuring two personal definitions of PEACE today; a great chance to talk with young people and get their viewpoints on PEACE.

First, a personal definition from Maya: “PEACE is being content in your mind and soul.”

I asked her to explain further. She said, “Peace is not only being content, but your mind is calm. It’s also your soul. Content with WHO you are!” She was quite definite about being content in having an awareness of herself. (I suspect she had an awareness of her Self, too, although I did not have a chance to ask her further questions.)

Second, Grace’s personal definition: “PEACE is unification with kindness.”

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Intrigued, I asked her for more. She told me, “Peace is being together without violence. People can have nicer forms of approach.”

Grace, I suspect if more people are kinder to each other, there will automatically be a reduction in violence. I’m not absolutely certain, but I suspect so.

I am so glad I had the opportunity to talk with both of these young people. Such innovative thinking. Wonderful opportunity to find out what they have on their minds. May God’s blessings rest on both of these young people.

@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

PEACE: Different Peace/Different Situations

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, March 3, 2016

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PEACE: Different Peace/Different Situations

Earlier this week, I visited the senior group at St. Martha’s Catholic Church in Morton Grove to speak to them about PEACE. I talked about the growing feeling of division, conflict and animosity in this country, in several significant ways. And, I gave a few ideas on how to lessen that negative feeling. How to express kindness, respect, love, and peace, as much as we can.

I also gave them some background on my Pursuing PEACE Project, and asked if any of the seniors would be willing to give me their personal definition of PEACE. Several of them were more than happy to give me their points of view.

One senior did not waste any time. He came up to me as soon as my talk was over and engaged me in conversation. He had a different kind of definition! Joe Sebastian’s definition of PEACE: different kinds of peace in different situations.

“Peace is like a chameleon. There are different kinds of peace depending on the different types of situations. Peace is a relative term to me. I guess it is to live in harmony and accommodation.”

Joe has a unique point of view, since he was born half a world away. I need to listen especially closely to him. I so value his contribution to this continuing conversation on PEACE!

Just so, Joe uses a fascinating comparison and word picture: “Peace is like a chameleon.” I never would have thought of that, not in a hundred years. Yet, when he said that, followed by saying that different kinds of situations merit different kinds of peace, I understood immediately what he meant. “Chameleon.” Changeable! Adaptable! Matching its skin and appearance to its surroundings. What a superb comparison. Thank you so much, Joe.

Dear Lord, I appreciate Joe’s definition. I appreciate Joe’s point of view. Thank You for bringing Joe to the meeting this week. Dear God, I pray for Joe and the other seniors. I pray for their Lenten journey to the cross. Dear Lord, be with them just as much as You are with 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

Heart Open to Receive Anyone

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, December 14, 2015

Jesus Heart people

Heart Open to Receive Anyone

In recent weeks, I have been saddened to see such animosity and hatred. Such fear and anxiety. I want it all to stop. Desperately.

I could talk about my grandfather, a Jewish immigrant to America from a shtetl in the western Ukraine in the early 1900’s. And about many of his uncles, aunts and cousins who have been documented as dying in the Nazi concentration camps. Or, I could talk about myself, having one Jewish grandparent. That would have been enough to send me to the camps, if I had been there in that period of time.

I am so sad, shocked and sorry about Americans of Japanese ancestry who were torn from their normal, everyday lives in the early 1940’s and transported to concentration—I mean, internment camps. There are still those alive who remember this horrible deed. I thank everyone who wishes to make certain it never happens again.

I read the news and am filled with horror at the widespread disregard and in some cases, hatred for people of color. Or people who are LGBTQ, or who align themselves as allies. Or, most lately, hatred and open mocking of Muslims. Refusing to tolerate people who are “different.” Like my Jewish grandfather. Or people who happened to have the same ancestry as those who bombed Pearl Harbor. Or, the same ancestry as those in the Nazi party.

As someone who has been intensively trained as a hospital chaplain, I strive to uphold values of mutual respect and treating each person—ALL persons, regardless of color, ethnicity, national origin, creed, sexual orientation, or whatever other difference society raises as a barrier—with kindness and honor. Being willing to sit alongside of each one, walk for a little way with people who are willing to walk alongside of me.

This is why I was so moved today to see Henri Nouwen’s Advent meditation. To read the words he wrote: “The Father … sent us You, dear Lord Jesus, with a human heart big enough to hold all human loneliness and all human anguish.… Your heart does not distinguish between rich and poor, friend and enemy, female and male, slave and free, sinner and saint. Your heart is open to receive anyone with total, unrestricted love.” [1]

I remember John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” I wonder. Who would Jesus hate? Who would Jesus exclude? Who would Jesus send to a concentration camp? Did Jesus come to gather the outcasts and those who wander into His arms? Hard questions. Even more challenging answers. Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus.

@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] Advent and Christmas: Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen (Linguori, Missouri: Redemptorist Pastoral Publications, 2004), 32.

Center on Lord of Lords—Forever and Ever.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, September 21, 2015

LORD OF LORDS Handel's hallelujah-chorus

Center on Lord of Lords—Forever and Ever.

“And He shall reign forever and ever. King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.”

That’s where I started with this Name of God. My word—Name of God for today is Lord of Lords. As soon as I began to center, I heard George Frederic Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” playing in my head. Not for too long. Only for a few minutes, but what a stirring beginning!

I transitioned into reflecting on the Name of God I chose. I almost chose “Lord.” Simply “Lord.” However, I know that “Lord” is not a name exclusive to God. It is also used in the Bible for people of a higher rank, or to whom people would like to show deference or even reverence. (Like God.) I wanted to choose a name that was used solely for God. That’s why I picked “Lord of Lords” for my Centering Prayer today.

Revelation 19:16 is the verse that is used for a portion of the “Hallelujah Chorus.” ‘On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, “King of kings and Lord of lords.”’ I was able to focus on “Lord of Lords,” and rest in that Name of God. Sporadically. My thoughts were still active, and still bounced around a bit from thing to thing. But all in all, I concentrated on—rested in the Name of God I chose for today.

Dear God, Lord of Lords, thank You for a good time of prayer. Thank You for Your kindness and grace towards 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

Nourish and Connect with the Soul

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, June 20, 2015

HUG - can I have a hug

Nourish and Connect with the Soul

Why not nourish our souls? Why not connect with that deep place inside each of us? (Those are rhetorical questions.)

I loved the way Richard Carlson opened our chapter today in Handbook for the Soul. He quoted Stephen Levine, and said, “If you had one hour to live and could make only one call, who would it be to, what would you say, and why are you waiting?” [1] Yes, I loved this quote.

I know I think about life one day at a time. This quote also made me think hard.

When it comes to thinking about my own death, I am certainly calmer, more at peace than some I have seen first-hand who received bad news in the hospital. However, I have never thought quite this thought before. Going one step further, I considered Carlson’s similar question, directed to the Soul: “Why wait a moment longer to connect with and nourish the Soul?” [2]

My connectedness to my Soul plays a big part in my happiness, my joy, contentment, graciousness, and kindness (to myself as well as to others). Any kind of disconnect is something that concerns me.

As I thought about the whole concept of connection to the Soul, my yoga class came to mind. (I know I’ve mentioned before that my yoga teacher is marvelous!) True, I have prayed, meditated, and done various other kinds of spiritual formation and exercises for years. However, I think the past year and a half (since I started yoga practice on a regular basis) has helped me to grow in a different way. Not as much up in my head, and more in my heart and in my body.

I can easily affirm Carlson’s words “that the primary purpose in life is to feel and appreciate the presence of God, to live from a state of love and compassion, to be of service to others, and then, instantly, like magic, I begin to feel at peace.” [3]

Just so.

Yes, I find yoga greatly assists me in this endeavor. Yes. Striving to do these three foundational things, and having peace by the natural result? Marvelous striving. And, wonderful happenings, along the way. Feeling nourished by my Soul? Fabulous. And, I feel that feeling on a regular basis, now. What a feeling! How wonderful to be more and more connected to my Soul. God willing, I can keep feeling this way.

[1] Handbook for the Soul, Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield, editors. (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1995.), 126.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 127.

@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