Tag Archives: painful

Praying, Sharing Humanity

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, October 13, 2018

compassion, word cloud

Praying, Sharing Humanity

Compassion. That’s what today’s section of Henri Nouwen’s book With Open Hands is all about. Amazing insight with such brevity. Father Nouwen says such sensible things, I cannot believe they never crossed my mind before. Like, “Compassion grown with the inner recognition that your neighbor shares your humanity with you.” [1]

I cannot help but compare Father Nouwen’s words here with the basic outlook and principles behind Fred Rogers’ treatment and attitude towards everyone he dealt with. It did not matter what sort of person Mister Rogers met—age, height, ability, ethnicity, status (or lack of status), or any other kind of difference or separation. Those differences did not matter to Fred Rogers. I do not think those differences or separations mattered to Father Nouwen, either.

Fr. Nouwen clearly states “Across all barriers of land and language, wealth and poverty, knowledge and ignorance, we are one, created from the same dust, subject to the same laws, and destined for the same end.” [2] I don’t know how Fr. Nouwen was able to do that, but there was an equitable, caring, open attitude he had towards everyone he encountered, just as there was with Mister Rogers. That kind, caring attitude and openness are what I strive for, God willing.

Yet, compassion—according to Fr. Nouwen—is not only a positive, warm, fuzzy kind of expression and emotion. Compassion “also means sharing in joy, which can be just as important as sharing in pain.” [3]

Yes, we are human; yes, we all have the experience of pain. Some people experience pain more often than others. Yes, I have sat with individuals who go through painful episodes in their lives regularly. I know some have inner anguish, others have physical pain. Those painful emotions and situations did not make Fr. Nouwen care for those people less. Those negative experiences caused Mister Rogers to care even more for children and adults alike.

Dear God, when I grow up, I want to be like Fred Rogers. I want to have the attitude of Henri Nouwen. Help me—help us to offer others real support and comfort from our hearts. For real, not with false faces or fake feelings. Thank You for giving us such excellent examples as Henri Nouwen and Fred Rogers.

@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] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 2005), 92.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 93.

Professing in Prayer, Together

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, October 8, 2018

LordHearOurPrayer

Professing in Prayer, Together

Yesterday was World Communion Sunday, the first Sunday in October. I love World Communion Sunday. I love bringing elements from all over the world into our Sunday service, and reminding our congregation that people in different places do things in different ways.

Whenever a congregation joins together n worship and prayer, they are a bunch of separate individuals coming together. Even if they have worshiped together for a good amount of time, sometimes certain members of that congregation do not worship well or pray well with others. This reminds me of what Father Nouwen said in today’s short reading. “For in prayer, you profess not only that people are people and God is God, but also that your neighbor is your sister or brother living alongside you.” [1]

How difficult it is to overcome the separation and loneliness of being separate individuals! Of course, idiosyncrasies and differences between people challenge many of us in the neighborly art of getting along. Except, Fr. Nouwen suggests that prayer is the common ground, the place where all can meet.

We all can acknowledge that people are people, and God is God. Then, the following statement that our neighbor—we all know our neighbors, right?—I’ll say it again, our neighbor does live alongside of each of us. Our neighbor is, indeed, our sister and our brother; regardless of what kind of food they eat, where they go to worship, who comes over to their house or apartment, or how old/young/tall/short they are.

What a marvelous example for anyone who reads this short little book. It is filled to the brim with gems like this. We are, indeed, brought to the “painful acknowledgement that [we] are not alone, but that being human means being together.” [2]

Dear Lord, help me realize that I am brothers and sisters with everyone. Help us not only pray like we are one big family, but worship like it, and especially live like it. Help us to live in one big neighborhood (just like Mister Rogers would dream of). This is my earnest prayer. Amen.

@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] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 2005), 91.

[2] Ibid.

Prayer—No Easy Matter

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, April 20, 2018

honest definition

Prayer—No Easy Matter

When I read this first reflection on prayer by Henri Nouwen, his words penetrated me deeply. (Again, I might add. I have a feeling this will happen to me again and again as I read through this short book.) I am unashamedly a fangirl of Fr. Nouwen. His profound writing and superb choice of words consistently hits home. Now, if I could just get his words to remain in my brain and imprinted on my heart…

He speaks of a deep relationship, a no-holds-barred relationship between me and the other. (Or, should I say the Other? I have always honored God with capitalization, as much as possible.) In any case, Fr. Nouwen talks of a deep resistance, as well. Giving the illustration of a woman admitted to a psychiatric center [1] who absolutely refuses to open her fist until it is pried open to reveal a coin…makes me think hard. How much am I trying to hide from God?

As Fr. Nouwen says, “When we are invited to pray we are asked to open our tightly clenched fists and to give up our last coin. But who wants to do that?” [2] This can be such a painful process. Even though some may cry out of that deep place of pain and anguish, the whole process can be painful. Just deciding to begin to pray can be filled with anguish. “You feel it is safer to cling to a sorry past than to trust in a new future. So you fill your hands with small clammy coins which you don’t want to surrender.” [3]

Dear Lord, how difficult it is to be totally honest. Even though You know everything already, just like a wise, benevolent earthly parent, I feel awkward, and shy, and ashamed, and resentful. Disappointed, jealous, sad, and angry, too. Why is it that deep emotions get in the way of my relationship with You so readily? Clutching these yucky emotions to my chest as if they were treasures is not in my best interests. Lead me to understand this deep truth that Fr. Nouwen brings to my attention.

Let us pray. Gracious God, loving Heavenly Parent, You are patient and merciful. You are also all-knowing, so I cannot hide from You—as much as I want to. As the psalmist reminds me, even if I flee to the depths of the sea or the highest mountain, You are still there. You are still with me, no matter what happens. Help me to be honest with You. You love me. Help me emblazon those words on my heart. In Jesus’s precious name we pray, amen.

@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] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 1972), 3.

[2] Ibid, 4.

[3] Ibid.

God’s Commands and Psalm 119

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Psalm 119 word cloud

God’s Commands and Psalm 119

It amazed me, some years ago, that Psalm 119 could have so many things to say about God’s Word, the Bible. It still amazes me. When I think that—at this time in the continuing writing of the Bible—there wasn’t all that much written at this particular stage or date, it amazes me still more. No New Testament at all (obviously). And, whole books in the Hebrew Scriptures that still weren’t composed, either.

Our author talks about being put to shame, in verse 6. (Rather, not being put to shame.) Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s take on that? “To be put to shame is the opposite of happiness. My life is ruined if that on which I relied collapses;” [1] Bonhoeffer mentions several sentences later that the world has absolutely no compunction at mocking one of its own. I know how difficult it can be to be laughed at and mocked today. I suspect it was just as painful and hurtful at the time of the writing of this Psalm, too.

Bonhoeffer’s understanding at how he is able to succeed? He mentions that he no longer regards “other human beings, honor, or possessions, but God’s commandments alone, then I will not be put to shame, because God’s commandments cannot fail.” [2]

Wow. Wow, again.

As you and I are putting our total faith and trust in God, Bonhoeffer reminds us that God’s power holds those commands fast. The God who made heaven and earth is the guarantor of the Word of God. The faithful, merciful God is the God who regards you and me as beloved children, too.

Dear Lord, gracious God, thank You for Your marvelous words. Thank You for causing Psalm 119 to be written down, and transmitted. Even for me and others across the world, who receive comfort and encouragement from this psalm’s straightforward words and actions.

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000, 109.

[2] Ibid.

@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 of Comfort and Support

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, December 6, 2016

god-wrap-your-arms-around-all-those

Gentle Prayers of Comfort and Support

An elderly loved one is coming to the ending of life. So sad. Yet, it has been a long, full and fruitful life. A life well-lived.

I have been at many hospital and care center bedsides, professionally, as a chaplain. Many end-of-life situations, some sudden (like, from a massive heart attack), and others—not so sudden. Some more painful, and a few even excruciating for me to watch. Each one is unique.

When I know the person involved, or know the loved one sitting by the bed, that changes things. Makes it different. (I probably could come up with some words to describe this difference, but I am feeling my own personal feelings right now. I am not very fluid with the words at this time.) Regardless, whether I know the person, or loved one, or not, it is still a difficult situation. Painful, and sorrowful, to say the least.

Sometimes there are complicated emotions tied up in various relationships (for example, with the person dying, or with loved ones, or with some others who have died—or even with all three). This heightens the difficulty, the emotions: the fear, anger, anxiety, dread, and overwhelming grief. Or, sometimes, flattens out the emotional response.

Right now, I have the option to retreat into my professional demeanor, as a chaplain and pastoral caregiver. Or, I can do the human thing, and feel. I think I will feel my feelings right now.

Dear healing Savior, I pray that You come alongside of all who mourn and grieve this night. I pray for my relatives and loved ones who are near and far away. I ask you to come alongside of this beloved one, nearing the end of life. I pray that You may be preparing a place at Your heavenly banquet table, even now. I know You and Your angels will welcome this loved one home. Thank You for loving us, even when we can’t say the words, ourselves. Thank You for caring for us, even when we go astray or wander in a far country. And, thank You for welcoming this dear one home to You, after a long journey here in this world. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.r

@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

Come Alongside, Come Together, Com-passion

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, July 5, 2015

compassion heart

Come Alongside, Come Together, Com-passion

Compassion. Coming alongside. Of course this word can be painful, occasionally a fizzle, and sometimes rewarding beyond all measure. Those particular times when it was particularly rewarding seem like “forever faithful,” to tell the truth.

I thought this word was perfect for this book Praying the New Testament as Psalms. When I think as someone whom God has gifted with this emotion, does it show too much? Sorry if it does.

One verse of this New Testament psalm echoed and re-echoed in my heart tonight: “God, You are compassionate and merciful./Make me Your mercy, Your compassions.” [1]

Lord, I know sometimes I am not mindful of how I treat people. Sometimes (even most of the time) I am selfish. Sometimes I do act in an unkind way. Lord, please forgive me.

Thank You for forgiving me, and allowing me free and generous access to Your mercy, and Your compassion. In Jesus’ dear name we pray, amen.

@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] Praying the New Testament as Psalms, Desmond O’Donnell, OMI, and Maureen Mohen, RSM, (United States of America: ACTA Publications, 2002.), 46.

Doubting? Who’s Doubting What? Who? (Me?)

matterofprayer blog post for Friday, May 23, 2014

Michelangelo_Merisi_da_Caravaggio_-_The_Incredulity_of_Saint_Thomas_

Doubting? Who’s Doubting What? Who? (Me?)

I preached on John 20 a few weeks ago, where the disciple Thomas couldn’t (wouldn’t?) believe that the risen Jesus had appeared to the other disciples. About that time, I happened to read a blog post of an Internet acquaintance of mine, Barry, featuring Caravaggio’s intense painting “Incredulity of Thomas.” He gave some indepth analysis of the painting, which shows the risen Christ baring His side to Thomas, inviting Thomas to touch and see that it was indeed Him. In the flesh.

My acquaintance used some excellent Ignatian prayer principles, through inviting his readers to look at the expressions on the faces in the picture. Consider the placement, the movement of hands in this poignant scene. And especially—wonder where you—where I—would be in the picture.

I suspect Thomas was one of those sorts of people who needed concrete proof. Who wanted to know why. Who wanted most (if not all) of the answers.

Using Ignatian prayer and these questions, I could meditate on this picture for a good long time! But my acquaintance Barry didn’t stop there. He ended the post with several thought-questions, to consider. Meditate on. Pray over. One significant question was “How do you feel when you don’t have all the answers?”

Regarding this question, I prefer to have all the information I can. However, after several decades of being an adult and living life, I realize I can’t have all the information! Sometimes, not much information at all. And that’s okay to me, now.

One of my usual explanations I’ve used for some years refers to this concept, precisely. In my journey through life, I sometimes find myself walking through a broad, wide-spread expanse. It’s really foggy. I mean, a pea-soup type fog. I’m holding a lantern. Even with the light, I can’t see more than a step, maybe two, in front of me. But as I said, that’s okay. I know God is right next to me. Even when I can’t see God, I know God’s there. So of course I feel okay about things! (some of the time, at least)

But—what about when the lantern goes out? Darkness. Absence. Unknowing. (What then?)

Periodically, I have been through the wringer. However, I have come out the other side. I don’t know whether you are familiar with 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, but those are two verses that have come to mean much to me. The pain, difficulties and challenges I have experienced are/have been transformed as God has quietly been with me, through them. I can therefore journey alongside of others who are currently or have recently been going through challenging, painful experiences of their own.

Is it easy? Simple? Walk in the park? By no means!! But just as God is with me, in quietness, in that still, small voice, or even in the blessed silence, so I can be with others in their pain.

Let’s come to God and pray. Dear God, One who knows each of us intimately, You understand our hearts. You understand our doubts, our fears, just as much as You understood Thomas. Thank You for Your abundant, forgiving love. Help us—help me to come to You with a trusting heart, and put my hand—our hands in Yours. God, in Your grace and mercy, hear our prayer.

– See Barry’s posts at: http://turningthepage.info/who-are-you-jesus/#sthash.bh6fBLND.dpuf

@chaplaineliza

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net