Find your sacred space

overloadThe fast paced world that we inhabit is hard to navigate. There are so many things that we no longer do. Just sitting on a porch in the evening and rocking back and forth is so calming. Time to rest, greet neighbors and feel the breeze. No sounds except crickets and the wind in the trees. Heaven.

Instead we enclose ourselves in our homes avoiding silence and simple thoughts with electronic noise. Continuing to clutter our already overloaded minds so simple thought is overwritten. I wonder if this era in time will be known as the over-stressed era?

So many of us suffer from the results of this lifestyle. We have irritable bowel, high blood pressure, acid reflux, depression, anxiety and a host of auto-immune disorders. We were not created to live this way. The rise in emotional and mental disorders in frightening. Our inability to grasp why this is happening and acceptance of our mental stress is appalling. Mental disability still has its stigma. If we are going to survive without either killing each other, committing suicide or staying forever in the darkest of places something has to change. We are in the midst of an epidemic.

sacred spaceEach of us must start by finding that quiet space where peace can be found. A sacred space. Whether it is found in meditation, prayer, nature or wherever our safety lies we have to make a beginning. Things can be changed one person at a time, one day at a time, one life at a time.

For me the safe space is prayer and meditation. My peace comes from the Lord. But if I turn away from him there is no peace. It is up to each of us. Seek sacred space.

Isaiah 55:6
Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near;

Center down

day

I often think about the song “what a difference a day makes.”  The song is not talking about all of life but it is so true. One day everything can be fine and in 24 hours your life can be totally different. That happened to me at the beginning of 2017 when my job was done away with. The problem for me was it wasn’t a job but a ministry. I lost my identity.

A lot worse things have happened to others. Loss of a loved one among many things. When this kind of thing happens we are blindsided and have to restructure our thinking. I am beginning to realize how long that takes. I know that at some point the pain of this will lessen. It already has some.

god-in-the-middle-of-itThere are people who seem so strong that nothing can rock their world. I am not so sure that they aren’t vulnerable as well. It is possible that nothing has ever happened to reach their core. There are some people that I am sure have strength that doesn’t come from themselves. People like Gandhi and Mother Theresa. They are what Quakers call “centered.” This is kind of strength that we all need. This comes from seeking something more than ourselves. My only experiences with this kind of centering have been fleeting. I know that the way to connect in that way with God (or whoever works for you) is to spend time with him. In the kind of rushing world that we live in it is so easy to do other things. It requires the kind of life change that (for me) started this thinking.

Now, again, I am focusing on the things that matter. I have no idea what the future will bring but my only way forward is with God. I have to reach out and seek the connection that never fails.

Sadness and Joy

sad bearThis week has been sort of up and down. For me it wasn’t a normal week. This week we celebrated Thanksgiving. I used to love this time of the year with Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now I find myself with mixed feeling.

As we grow older things are not the same as when small children were around and there was a sense of excitement building. My children and even their children are grown and flown. Don’t get  me wrong. This is what parents want. My children are gainfully employed and some of their children are beginning careers. However, it is an adjustment. The Christmases from those younger days are past. Family doesn’t all live near and other priorities prevail. I am blessed to have loving children but they have priorities of their own. My husband and I encouraged them to form their own traditions. We do see the nearest ones during the holidays but one daughter and her family are far away and can’t always be here. We do go there when we can.

I guess the bottom line of all of this is that time moves on and our lives change. Change is the only constant. Even though the changes can make me sad at times I am still grateful for what I have. So many people really suffer through the holidays. Grief crops up in a big way for those who have lost a loved one or if life has had some bad turns during the year. There are so many pictures of happy families and perfect Christmases that hit you in the face and remind you of your losses. The ads begin earlier and earlier each year.

Sully, Thomas, 1783-1872; Old Stables of the 'Dolpinn' Inn, LincolnI am not sure there is such a thing as a perfect Christmas. At least not like the ones in the ads. The problem is that the perfect Christmas happened 2000 years ago and the conditions would never be shown in an ad. What we are longing for is right in front of us. It is the birth of Christ. It was not in a beautiful home but in a stable. If we can spend our time with that in focus it changes everything. Celebrate that Christ was born to show us the way to God.

You don’t eat what?

mark twainNot too long ago I belonged to a circle of women who met once a month for dinner and a program. We held the meetings at someone’s home and a light dinner was provided by the hostess. After a while ideas about diets began to be popular and things changed with the group. It was expected that the hostess would try to accommodate the dietary requirements of the members. One person became a vegetarian and that was pretty manageable. Then someone become a vegan and it got a little more difficult. Then someone didn’t eat carbs and another went gluten free. It began to feel as if water was the only choice for dinner. The group decided to eat out and let everyone make their own choices. Strangely enough, people who were on restricted diets seemed to eat whatever when eating out.

I have noticed that this is a growing phenomenon in society today. People are choosing various eating methods in order to be healthy. For people who have allergies or celiac disease or diabetes or other serious problems,  it is logical to avoid certain foods. We have long known that most of us eat too many carbs and too much sugar. But we seem to have reached the ridiculous.

(How many of you have seen the movie Notting Hill where a dinner guest objects to eating carrots because they were murdered?}

I have friends who have been vegetarians or vegans for many years. They manage their diets well and usually manage at dinners without any fuss. I also know people who claim to be one or the other and really don’t understand how to manage it well.

Just as recent converts to a faith are the most stringent so the most recent converts to a diet are rabid about maintaining it. This kind of thinking makes me decide to not have people to dinner as they have few manners about pointing out their restrictions. As the group decided, it is easier to not do it. We have become picky eaters and outspoken about our desires. Others are often left feeling that they are not in step if they don’t follow.

garfieldEating healthy is important for many reasons but let’s not be so obsessed as to make others uncomfortable. Everyone is entitled to their own choices. There is some implication in one of the two Genesis stories that vegetables should be our primary choice but it is up for interpretation. (Have you realized that there are two stories?) I have felt for a long time that moderation in all things is the key to living. Extremes cause problems. It’s up to you.

new-habits-new-me-socialIt is not easy to shake a problem that has plagued you your whole life. For the last week I have been battling mild anxiety. I have no idea why. It has, however, kicked up my IBS which is very aggravating. There doesn’t seem to be any specific thing that I can blame this on. Everything seems to be fine. So,,,I am striving to continue on and just accept that it is what it is. I have not worked on my strategies for handling this enough and now I can see the result.

It is clearly evident to me that habits are hard to break even if the habit is to do nothing. That may be the hardest habit of all to break. To go from doing nothing to doing something pushes me way out of my comfort zone. I am determined to struggle with it each day and take one day at a time.

The events in that small Texas town have brought home to me the crisis the US is in. I am so sad to see the nation I grew up in at the brink of disaster. Are we all living in a mental health crisis? It certainly begins to look that way. When one person takes a gun and shoots random people to solve a problem it tells others with problems that this is a viable solution. How do we stop the ball rolling downhill?

values

Throughout my lifetime this has been a wonderful country to live in but I am very afraid for us. So many people have turned away from a moral life. When the ethical ground of a country is eroded then it seem the country itself is also eroded. May God be with us.

While waiting….pray

waitingSome days are just plain harder than others. Today was not a bad day it’s just that I couldn’t stop thinking. I worked in the yard this morning and did some housework and can’t stop thinking is this all? Most of my life has been spent helping others. My job as a parish nurse was so fulfilling. Now I seem to be in limbo. I know that there will be more coming for me……something to do that lets me help others but today waiting seemed forever.

I think one of the hardest things to do in life it wait. Frequently I talk with friends who have medical issues. They have been to the doctor but are having to wait for the results of the tests before they know anything. WOW! Talk about creating anxiety and stress! The system is not good about getting information to those waiting. I wonder if anyone thinks about the fear that can arise just waiting.

We are impatient people. We want everything done right now. We don’t want to wait. How often do we wait in medical offices for appointments. By the time we are seen our blood pressure has risen to a dangerous level. We don’t wait well.

It seems to me that this inability to tolerate waiting is a result of society’s current lifestyle. It goes right along with the inability to tolerate silence. We don’t remain calm for long and can feel the stress rising.

We have to learn to take a deep breath and relax into the situation. I once heard a story about a man who stressed over every red light that he encountered on his way to work. Someone suggested that instead he should pray for the people around him at the light. Pray for anyone walking by, other drivers, cars passing by. He started doing this and really prayed at every light. After a while he began to be upset if he encountered a green light.

while waitingMaybe when we have to wait prayer is a good response. I can imagine myself praying for all the people in the doctor’s office. Prayer for others while working in the yard or doing housework could make the experience much different. I think I will give this a try and see if it curbs my impatience.

planToday is another day. A day when I haven’t followed through on my plan to do the things I need to do to be ahead when another crisis causes anxiety. This is the problem. When things are going well it is so easy to do nothing. I have planned to meditate, do yoga and spend time with helpful reading. All of which I have not done.

You would think that having dealt with this my whole life I would be willing to get tough and follow through with the things I need to do. I am reminded of Paul in Romans 7:15-20: 1I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. 17 But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.

Paul nailed it. I really don’t understand why I can’t stick to it. It is complacency with the status quo. Everything is on an even keel for the moment. I keep forgetting that it won’t stay that way. Life is always interesting and often challenging.  The only thing to do is to start again and work to change my habits. I have learned that if you can develop a pattern or habit then you are home free. The reverse is also true. Habits are hard to break and at the moment my habit is to not follow the plan.

hope 3

Oh well, tomorrow is another day with another chance to make changes. I will keep on. There is still hope.