Tag Archives: kindness

Meditation, by Thomas More

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


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.



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?”


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


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.”


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

Easter Sunday – Gift of Generosity. Freely Given.

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

BK wherever there is a human

Easter Sunday – Gift of Generosity. Freely Given.

Today marks the celebration of Easter.

However, three days ago, we remembered the torture, trial and sentencing of our Lord. We remembered the way to the cross, the Via Dolorosa, as well as the Seven Last Words spoken from the cross. As the words of the Apostles Creed tell us, “He was crucified, dead, and buried.”

But that was Friday—this is Sunday. In churches and other sanctuaries around the world, we celebrate the blessed fact that Jesus is no longer dead. Death is conquered, and He is risen!

Christ is risen, indeed!

Today is also the end of the 40 acts of Generosity, the end of doing 40 generous, kind acts for Lent. In this effort, we were instructed to do generous acts, even small things of kindness, to try to change our surroundings. Change our homes, schools, workplaces, neighborhoods. If each of us who signed up for #40acts did even 20 generous, kind things (not the whole 40, but only half that many), just think of what a groundswell of good feeling and positive energy will be generated. Has been generated, already!

In the short video put out on the www.40acts.org.uk website (and Facebook page), a brief celebration of the #40acts of generosity was posted. At the end appeared the catchphrase “Do Lent Generously.” Except . . . with a difference. The phrase read, “Do Life Generously.”

What a marvelous opportunity to make a regular difference in my home, my workplace, my community. Even, making a daily difference! What a challenge to me. To us. To strive to be a kind, generous person, thinking of others before I think of myself.

Dear God, help me to think in this way. Encourage me—encourage each of us to think of good, kind, generous activities and words and even thoughts for others. What a way to continue being generous and kind! Thanks, Lord.


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 #28 – Roll Up My Sleeves? Yesss!

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, March 21, 2015

My A Year of Being Kind t-shirt!

My A Year of Being Kind t-shirt!

Day #28 – Roll Up My Sleeves? Yesss!

When I read the #40acts post for today, I couldn’t have been more pleased. This blog post was right up my alley. I don’t know if you know, but I am intimately acquainted with this idea. I wrote a daily blog in 2014 called A Year of Being Kind: 365 Days of Service.

In this blog, I tried to focus on being kind, being helpful, and being of service. In most blog entries, I tried to write about how I tried to be kind. Each Friday, I focused on someone else being helpful or of service. (Yes, a Focus Friday!) I was successful in writing every day in 2014. What a wonderful offering to God! And, what an opportunity to show my friends, family, church, and strangers that God loved them, too. (I am still highlighting my Being Kind posts, at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com . )

Yes, I immediately connected with #40acts back in February, when I saw that they were offering the opportunity for people to do 40 acts of generosity and kindness. When #40acts asked people to think about how much they could affect their neighborhood, their church, their friends, their workplace, their school. This is a marvelous chance to truly change the world! One generous, kind act at a time.

Practical generosity. The kind that gets things done, one act at a time. One day at a time.

Before I even saw today’s suggestion for Day #28, I saw an older woman trying to open a door at a coffee shop, later last night. The woman had mobility issues, difficulty with her feet, and walked with a cane. Without even thinking about it, I held the door open for her. (Second nature, I suppose.) I smiled at her with my friendly, cheerful expression, and waited for her to slowly make her way through the doorway.

After getting my coffee, I proceeded out the other way. I saw the older woman again, near the bathroom. She had dropped one of her gloves, and was trying to scoot it up the wall with her cane. (She had difficulty bending over.) She wasn’t doing very well, and I could see her start to get frustrated. I stooped to get the glove and gave it to her on my way out. She was so grateful!

I don’t mean to pat myself on the back, but that is typical of what I often do. I help people. I’m often kind and of service. Of course, having the spiritual gifts of helps, mercy, discernment and spiritual nurture makes it easier. (Note I did not say “easy!” No. Just easier.) I wonder how much I have affected the world? The world? Nah!! Too grandiose. My neighborhood is enough for me.

God willing, I can express God’s love. And I can preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, I can even use words. Thank You, Lord!


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.  I also have Being Kind t-shirts at my blogs, too. @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.


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 .