Love Mercy – Day Four

Wow, what a quote… and reflection!

Eirene

Mercy anne lamott

On this fourth day into contemplating turning 50, desperately resisting the compulsion to take the easy route and apply the term angst (though it is likely more akin to ambivalence—but, more on that later), I am drawn to consider mercy. A recent entry to a blog I follow reviewed Anne Lamott’s book, Hallelujah Anyway, with a beautiful hand and great wisdom, but mostly leaving Lamott’s words to speak for themselves. She calls mercy “radical kindness” and it occurs to me that kindness is the last thing I give myself when I begin the long spiral down the chute of “what ifs” and “too old now fors.”

I resist the good-natured counsel I often hear to “be gentle” with myself and to call it “grace” without any sense of doing something about it. How can I be kind to myself, radically or no, and not get stuck binge-watching Netflix with cumin…

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Endure, Stand, at the Pace of Grace – Day Three

Good words from Nicole here and she even gives me props! 🙂

Eirene

endure with grace

On this day, fifty years ago, Katherine Switzer began the #BostonMarathon. The problem was, women were not allowed to participate. Two miles into the contest, the race director, Jock Semple, fully angered at the realization that a woman had somehow slipped in attempted to physically force her out. Tom Miller, her boyfriend at the time, fought Semple off and Switzer went on the complete the marathon. On Monday, at the age of 70, she again ran the Boston Marathon, this time comprising 45% women.

I am a runner, though I will never run a marathon. Still, it is women like Katherine Switzer who, in the year I was born, had courage to do what she was capable of doing despite the arbitrary social conventions that would prevent her. She helped to forge a path for those of us who were born that year, and enable and encourage us to…

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A Case for Faith

Really good word here from my wonderful wife and her physical struggles and having faith in the midst of it all. And she says a good word about me too! 🙂

Eirene

IMG_1536

Today’s Ignatian reading is taken from Jeremiah 17:5-10, and the question was asked, “Do you extend your roots to the streams of water? where do you find it hard to trust God?” I have an autoimmune disease that is beginning to show more outward obvious signs of its nefarious campaign against my body. It has been a decades-long journey making the rounds of specialists in each city in which I’ve lived (10+). Disparate symptomology coupled with negative test results makes an overarching diagnosis problematic. While I currently see a wonderful physician who understands there is a definite rheumatologic factor underlying my condition, “proof” as sine qua non pervades my psyche.

Faith is a quality of being human.

And proof does not indicate that which we often expect it to. That is, proof does not mean that something is indisputably what one purports. Rather, to offer proof is to provide a…

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The Healing Dust of Ash Wednesday

I’ll be talking about this Prayer Guide and being a part of this tonight at the Ash Wednesday Service at 7pm at Downers Grove First United Methodist Church.

Eirene

heal-ash-wednesday

. . . “then the Lord God formed hā ādām (the first person) from the dust of hā ādāmāh (the earth), into whom God breathed the breath of life; and hā ādām became a living being.” (Gen 2:7) Shaped from the same particles that make up the cosmos, the first person was fashioned—and will return. The first two people made in the very image of this same God. What does it mean, then, for the fullness of God’s healing to be accomplished?

This is what the ancient tradition of Ash Wednesday is all about: confession and forgiveness. And what is confession, really? It is recognizing the presence of God and acknowledging that I have not acted, not aligned my thoughts with the truth and character of who I am most truly—formed by the dust of the cosmos in the image of the Creator God. It is a return to my true self…

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2017 Lenten Season Prayer Guide

My wife helped me out with this project by doing an amazing job on this Prayer Guide. Lent ends with Easter on April 16, which is one week prior to our Confirmation Service. So this is a vital time to be praying for the youth who are in our Onward Bound Confirmation Program. If you are an adult of our church (First United Methodist Church of Downers Grove) and would like to be paired with a student to pray for, please private message, text or email me to let me know. We’ll provide an opportunity to volunteer for this at the Ash Wednesday Service as well. If you are a student and would like to be prayed for over the next 40 days, please let me know as well. Excited about this Lenten Season and anticipating God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit in our midst in this time!

Eirene

lenten-season-2017-reflect

My husband, Howie, as youth pastor is asking the adults of all ages to consider committing the Lenten 2017 season to pray specifically for one student involved in the church community. To this end, I developed a prayer guide meant to assist that process by directing the one praying in centering prayer and then focusing prayerful attention on one of the teenagers.

This Lenten prayer guide will also be modified so that it can be used across multiple social media and can be engaged piecemeal or in its entirety.

If Lent is not a feature of your faith tradition or current practice, I still welcome you to participate in the mindfulness spiritual practices of inward centering prayer and outward graced attention toward another.

You may wish to follow this guide to help center yourself during Lent. Perhaps, there is a justice concern or family member or particular group of people that…

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Mindfulness and the Car Radio

Love this song by Twenty One Pilots. Love this blog by Nicole. Love the connection. Love to rest and breathe and contemplate, though harder to do when things seem to be terrifying within…

Eirene

writing-is-lonely

Writing can be a very lonely vocation. The struggle to craft words that faithfully describe thoughts, an epiphany, musings, a deeply formulated conviction . . . and effectively communicate even an approximation of the idea to the reader . . . well, it can be excruciating and exhausting. The process does not even begin to cover the vulnerability exposed of the words just lain in wireless space; that space where the radio waves of Wi-Fi tech make all information—good or bad—available anytime anywhere.

A writer has to write. Thoughts and ideas must get written and dispersed. But those thoughts and ideas are a part of the person who writes—they are a part of what makes me, me. So if the reader flippantly comments with a criticism, replies out of anger, or (even worse) doesn’t like my writing, it hurts. Here is where I must engage the mindfulness practice of holy…

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Mindfulness and Parenting

Good words! I love the “Breathe” things at the end too! 🙂

Eirene

mindful-parenting

A recent study showed that adolescents are influenced by parents’ prejudices—toward immigrants, specifically, and concerning difference, in general. Behavioral research is famously unsuccessful in clearly demonstrating causality. Still, a strong correlation is valuable for insight and consideration. This research happened to be well constructed (consistent measures, valid data, accounting for confounding variables, etc.) Being intuitive that young adolescents tend to express similar attitudes to their parents’ toward others augments the findings.

The effect seems to shifts, though, in older adolescents, particularly if teenagers are in a setting that includes immigrant teens (e.g., public school). In this case, prejudice tends to decrease. Interesting were the lower scores for markers of empathy prevalent for those expressing greater prejudice. And empathy markers in adolescents were clearly correlated to the same trajectory as for their parents.

Now, it is important to note that while empathy is other-perspectival it is much more comprehensive than the put-yourself-in-her-shoes…

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Mindfulness and Power

So good, so good…!

Eirene

power-dynamics

In an isolated system, according to the second law of thermodynamics, entropy always increases. That is, the energy contained in that system becomes increasingly less available to do useful work. When power is contained within a system, entropy always occurs, and usually to disastrous effect. For example, if a room is not tidied or cleaned, it will become increasingly messy unless an outside force (effort) is made to clean it. If no energy crosses back into the boundary of the system, there will be entropy. Increasingly. Forever. Think: 2008 stock market crash.

In a similar way, energy is neither created nor lost. Consider Newton’s conservation principles that describe how an object gains the momentum lost by another. The principle does not perfectly translate to human behavior, but does suggest a perspective on how we view leadership and power. When we speak of empowering others it is implied that they will…

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Mindfulness Versus Polarity

My son’s army figures have overtaken our bathroom! But, I thought it a fitting (ironic?) backdrop for this quote. “To celebrate the particularity of individuals and cultures is to see and understan…

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Banks more Predatory than Payday Loan Agencies?

I loved this wonderful blog post by Dr. Oliver-Snyder, Words and Creation. The focus of being quiet and mindful with one another in order to have understanding, peace and grace is wonderful and well put – along with the meditative picture that she created with the wonderful quote.

I also like this quote:

Much of the criticism that is made in Zechariah (and the reason for Israel’s demise) surrounds the unfair treatment of the underrepresented such as the use of manipulated weights for measuring the worth of merchandise, or taking advantage of another’s setback. The oracle understood that if a few possessed a great deal of wealth while others in the community were destitute, there was something very wrong with the manner in which the society functioned.

It made me think of this Fresh Air interview I recently listened to: Why More Americans Are Giving Up On Banks. In this interview, author Lisa Servon, author of The Unbanking of America, shares how a growing number of Americans are finding alternatives to traditional banks such as using Payday Loan or Cash for Check Agencies. I’ve always looked at those places with disdain and viewed them as predatory to middle to low income people. After listening to this very informed author, I don’t see it quite this way anymore and was just flabbergasted to learn that in 2011, Americans paid $38 billion just in overdraft fees! Servon shared how banks now make most of their money and use tricks to increase these kinds of fees that basically target lower-income customers. I look at all the things like these, that are somewhat a result of deregulation, and see how there are those in society who find ways to focus on taking advantage of the middle to lower-income demographic for financial gain and in a sense keep them in that place by continuing to a cycle of fees and dependence and create an unequal burden for those less privileged.

Which brings me back to Dr. Oliver-Snyder’s quote above that when those with wealth take unfair advantage of those without, that there is “something very wrong with the manner in which the society functioned.” And this message is seen repeatedly throughout Scripture in both the Old Testament and in the words of Jesus in the New Testament.

I see this as a moral issue. But we often ignore this as a moral issue and call other things as vastly more significant on the moral standing.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.

Matthew 25:34-36

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