Archive for the ‘self care’ Category

Otis Moss, III and Marriage Equality

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, III had this to say on Sunday there at Trinity United Church of Christ about marriage equality.

Let the church say “Amen.”

You’ve Got A Friend, A Spiritual Friend That Is…

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

We’re doing 5:30-6:00am Lenten Devotional meditation series at the church right now.

This morning’s devotional lesson talked about the importance of having and nurturing spiritual friendships.

We have different friendships for the different sides of our personalities. We have friends we go out with. We have friends we work out with. We have friends we keep up with online. We have friends we talk to about books. We have friends who knew us back in the day. We have friends we trust with certain secrets. But what the ancients called spiritual friends are different. Spiritual Friends are people who pay attention to the presence and movement of God in your life. Their friendship brings focus to your spiritual life. When you hear from them, their queries about how you’re doing come down to one thing, “How goes your soul? Is it well within? Are you any further along on your spiritual path?”

In a general way, all true friendships are spiritual in the sense that they involve our spiritual faculties — the emotions and the will. Obviously this is not what is meant by spiritual friendship in the ancients’ mind when they wrote about spiritual friendships. They called those friendships spiritual which are created, sustained and nurtured by the Holy Spirit. A friend is someone who helps me get by. But a spiritual friend is someone who goes deeper, and helps me get by to another place … a place closer to God. In all honesty, some seasons you don’t want to hear from your spiritual friend. But those are precisely the times when you need most to talk and share with your spiritual friend. It is when you don’t want to be around your spiritual friend is when you need to hear most from her. You know she will be honest. You depend upon her honesty. You know she sees.

In a spiritual friendship we share about our spiritual lives in a way that encourages each one’s growth in God. More importantly, it’s with a friend of your spirit that you feel comfortable enough to admit to feelings of spiritual emptiness, sadness, anger, or nothingness. And your spiritual friend listens without judgment. After all the key characteristic of a spiritual friend is her ability to engage in “holy listening.”

Those of us who are great talkers often make lousy listeners.

According to Kay Lindahl, founder of the Listening Center, “most of us spend about 45 % of our waking hours listening, yet we are distracted, preoccupied, or forgetful about 75 percent of that time. Marketing studies indicate that the average attention span for adult is 22 seconds. When someone has finished speaking, we remember about half of what we heard. Within a few hours we can recall only about 20%. The number of adults who have had training in listening skills is less than 5 % of our population. Most of us listen just enough to prepare for what we want to say in response. Lindahl concludes, “Deep listening is a forgotten art.”

Think of who might be a possible spiritual friend for you. If no one immediately comes to mind, ask God to help you find a person who can help you grow spiritually. Write down in a journal what you might want and need in a spiritual friendship. Write down what qualities you think are important in a spiritual friend.

And now comes the hard part. Make an honest appraisal of yourself. Ask yourself: Are I capable of being a good spiritual friend to someone else? Are there aspects of my self that might need to change before I can be an authentic friend to another person’s intimate journey with God?

Name 3-4 friends that help you connect with God? Can you name 2? How about 1?

Rest is A Radical Notion

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

onvacation

If making sure there’s spotty Internet service in my room here in Hawaii is God’s way of seeing to it that I rest from my labors, I am not impressed.

But how do I explain the fact that for the five days I’ve been here on the Big Island in a room overlooking mountains and beach, five time zones away from my normal routine, I haven’t been able to compose one intelligent paragraph? Evidently I write better when I’m pissed. Or feel passionate. Neither of which I feel here in Hawaii. Everything’s surreal to me here. I feel awful about what’s going on in Iran. I was sad to hear about the train derailing in DC.  And I had meant to write here on the blog about fatherhood and masculinity for Father’s Day.

Nothing.

But still I can’t say that I’ve entered that place of sabbath rest our biblical ancestors had in mind in (Gen. 2:4): “God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it and abstained from all the work which God created to make.”

It’s taken me me three days to stop checking my email. Four days to stop checking my cell for texts. This morning a co-worker wrote asking for some information I promised to send while on vacation. The information he needs is sitting there on my desktop computer. Another one of God’s jokes, I suppose.

I’m lying around not doing much here in Hawaii, but it’s not like I’m resting. More like just not doing anything productive. Which, believe me, is not the same as resting. I go to the fitness center and work out every day which is no fun. Definitely not resting. More like “working” out.

The beach where we’re staying is beautiful — and baby I do mean beautiful– but, unlike the the many pale faces here with us at the resort,  laying out in the sun has never been my cup of tea. There’s a luau tonight which the young ones will enjoy, and snorkeling later in the week which my baby’s daddy looks forward to. But me? Nothing. It would help if I liked the book I’m reading (recommended by a reader). But I don’t. Heading back to Borders when I finish this post.

Resting is work, that’s for sure. It’s taken me five days to unwound from my normal routine. In this age of 24 hour Internet and 24 hour cable news and constantly charged cell phones, where the lines between work and home have become blurred, where it’s possible to always be on, available and accessible, it takes some time to shut off. Unplug. Chill.

I like 12th century Nachmanides interpretation of the Genesis 2:4 verse better which says:  “God ceased to perform all His creative work.”

But God I’m a blogger. Readers forget you if they click on and see that you haven’t written anything fresh in three days!

The notion of resting from one’s labor was a radical idea when it originated centuries ago. (So was the idea of tithing, mind you, but that’s another post.)  Demanding sabbath rest was the slaves’ way of saying to the Empire, to slavemasters, to landowners, to supervisors, “enough is enough.”  Slaves are not machines.  Even the poor deserve time to themselves, with their families, to breathe in God.

Rest is a radical notion because it says, “the world has already been created. There’s really nothing more that can be added. Everything else is tinkering.” Sit down, be still, and observe God’s creation.

Rest is a radical notion because it says to all,  employers and family alike, “you are not the boss of me.” While I have obligations to you I don’t belong to you. I belong to myself and to my Creator.

Here’s something to consider. The Hebrew word for rested, vyenafesh, can sometimes mean rest, ensouled, breath, to catch one’s breath, sweet fragrance, passion, and inner being. A living being is the more popular translation. Each of us has a nefesh — a soul. Meaning, we are not machines.  Rest is taking the time out to gather the bits and pieces of our self that we’ve given away to others– whether for money or out of  love– and to put our self/our soul back together.

I leave you for now with a story found in a book about renewal.

In the deep jungles of Africa, a traveler was making a long trek. Laborers were engaged from a tribe to carry the loads. The first day of the trip the tribesmen marched rapidly and went far. The traveler had high hopes of a speedy journey. But the second morning these jungle tribesmen refused to move. For some strange reason they just sat and rested. On inquiry as to the reason for this strange behavior, the traveler was informed that they had gone too fast the first day, and that they were now waiting for their souls to catch up with their bodies.

A Body Prayer

Monday, March 30th, 2009

For every woman and girl who looks in the mirror and wishes she could change this or that about her body:

God, this is MY BODY.
She is an expression of Genius.

This is MY BODY.
She is more than fatigue, infirmity, soreness, cellulite, estrogen loss, and drooping breasts.

Lord, I want to LIVE in my Body.skeeping woman
Cleanse me of every thought that makes me
shame of my body.
Help me to experience LIFE
in my heart,
fingers and toes,
bosom and legs
arms and thighs
buttocks and uterus
lungs and belly
ignite a quickening fire in every cell of my body.

For I am
a woman in a Body.
My body.

I am the bird of Paradise.
I am consort of the Lion of Judah.
I am a 12 winged accolade to African women who died while trying; cried beyond tears; and loved when it hurt

There is Life in my Body.
Holy
Free
Creative
Beautiful
Life

May I never again be ashamed
For this is My Body which is

A Gift of God
A Sanctuary of my Divine Purpose, and
an Expression of the mystery of God.

This is My Body.