Archives for posts with tag: prayer

tightrope

Image courtesy of Vlado/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I am fortunate enough today to have a friend visiting this morning to share coffee and conversation. One of her comments caught my attention. She was looking at my “Mother-in-law’s Tongue” plant, and she commented, “You’ve got babies—- your plant is doing really well.”

I was shocked. I never remember to water plants. Only two of five plants are currently surviving in this house; one is oregano and the other is this plant. I haven’t watered it in at least two months. My friend told me the one she has is not doing well because she waters it too often.

I know there is a message in this somewhere I need to pay attention to for some reason. Is it that procrastination can sometimes be healthy? Much as I’d like to think that, I am not comfortable doing so.  I think the message I am supposed to get is probably more like “some things are better left alone giving them their own time and space to grow.”  Sometimes giving too much support and nurturance can suffocate people or at the very least impede their growth. I need to learn to know when to back off so that I won’t make things worse for my friends by not giving them the space they need to learn to face their own challenges independently. I have other friends that are like the plants that have died in my house…..they need more support, nurturance, and direction than I am comfortable giving unless I am acting in a professional capacity providing care to a patient—–which is never appropriate outside the boundaries of that role.

Then there are the lessons about learning what I need from others. When do I need help and support? When do I need others to step back so I can learn to conquer my own challenges with God’s help? Examples that quickly come to mind are the two gentlemen who came and shoveled snow and ice off my driveway. That was help I definitely needed; I also needed help from my friend who picked up and brought my prescription refill to me. Beyond that, I needed to learn to overcome my own challenges. I slipped on ice a couple of times walking to and from my care  in my travels out and about after that, but one friend reminded me I could buy “Stablilicers” (advertised as “studded snow tires for your feet”) so I can be more independent with less threat of falling.

My slip-on cleats were delivered to my door yesterday. I just opened them up and tried them on my shoes; they fit perfectly. This detail reminds me that there is a magic “perfect” point  between being too dependent and healthily independent. The same goes for how I relate to my friends; there is a perfect “independence/dependence” fit that is different for each individual. I need to remember to  ask God for knowledge of his/her/Creator’s will and the power to carry it out——-not only in how I water my plants but in how I relate to others in the dance of friendship. May God bless and keep you.

winter wonderland

Photo, courtesy of Joshua Burgard

Today’s quote:

“Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone.”

—-Paul Tillich (1987)

               Days of Healing, Days of Joy, meditation for March 12, San Francisco, Harper & Row.

Somehow, it seemed appropriate to approach this topic on this the sixth day of my self-imposed solitude. I’m not sure I am counting correctly since a friend drove me to and from a meeting last night where I got to spend some quality time with “my people” talking about a spiritual approach to recovery.

Being around people who were smiling and laughing as well as sharing profound and serious insights integral to  their recovery was a well appreciated break from being with just my four dogs. And, thankfully, I have not been totally isolated.  After all, I have had my mobile phone and the Internet to keep me in touch with friends and family. Plus, I was lucky enough to have friends drop by two or three times.

My biggest reason for my self-imposed solitude was to avoid venturing out into the ice and snow. Some might call my reasons just plain fear; others might even go so far as to call them a phobia. I just remember driving down hill on ice in Kansas City and sliding off the road—-finally stopping only inches from a telephone pole. That was back in the seventies, and I’ve had several successful “snow and ice” driving escapades since then, but I prefer to remain at home if possible when ice is involved. This is especially true since I have been diagnosed with osteopenia, which means  I have bone density lower than normal but not low enough to be considered osteoporosis. I am naturally a klutz with little or no balance and have intermittent vertigo, so when I throw those things into the equation,  I do tend to be overly careful about avoiding ice.

Enough about why I have experienced self-imposed solitude voluntarily for so many days. I really want to focus on what, for  me, is the difference between solitude and loneliness. When I experience solitude, it means that I am happy in my own skin doing what I am doing and am totally comfortable in my surroundings. I can experience loneliness in the exact same environment, doing the exact same activities—-the only thing that has changed  when I am lonely is my emotional status and/or attitude. When I am lonely, it is like there is this big void deep within myself that needs filled, and no matter how busy I stay or how much or often I eat, or how many video Internet games I win, I still feel restless and driven. In the old days I would have lit up a cigarette and poured a drink, but those behaviors are long gone from my repertoire,  by the grace of God.

So, how do I alter my attitude when I am aware I have shifted into loneliness? Prayer helps, both the speaking and listening kind. Listening to calming music helps. Talking to friends helps. Mostly, for me, it takes realizing the enemy is “desire”—-especially since it is a free-floating non-specific, restless desire. At those times I have to talk to God and to listen to God. I need to realize all that really matters is being in relationship with God. Then everything else falls into place. I can live life on life’s terms in solitude as long as I realize God’s love and compassion are always present. Some would say that is not solitude because I am in relationship with God. I won’t argue that, but I know when I don’t allow God to be there with me to fill the “restless void” I get stuck in being lonely and restless.

I will close with a quote from the same source and page as the one this evening’s blog began with: “It may be said the road that runs between loneliness and solitude is the highway of recovery.”  I think I agree with that, and I am grateful my recovery has gifted me with solitude and the ability to  return to it whenever I choose to do so.

Please comment and share your thoughts about being the difference between being lonely and being comfortable in solitude. May God bless and keep you.

Kitten

Image courtesy of Tina Phillips/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Cat’s Meow

My mind this morning is fixated on the love shared between person and pet(s). Perhaps it is because my best friend just lost a beloved four-legged from among the many she has saved and is saving with her rescue mission. Whatever the cause, the bond between people and animals kept being brought to my attention this morning as I worked on finding a bible reading and prayer for my church’s Facebook page and again when I randomly opened a couple of meditation books this morning.

First, in Proverbs 12:10 (NLT),  I encountered this message: “The godly are concerned for the well being of their animals, but even the kindness of the wicked is cruel.”  Next, the meditation written about this verse ended with a prayer by Ashley Kappel: “Thank You, Lord, for friends and family, both human and those of the fur-covered variety. Experiencing their love allows us a glimpse into the abundance that awaits us in heaven. [Amen.]” (Editors, Guideposts, 2012-10-01. Daily Guideposts 2013 (Kindle Locations 5104-5106). Guideposts Books. Kindle Edition).

Next, my Higher Power sent me to a mediation in a 2008 volume of Daily Guideposts to a meditation written by Rick Hamlin (pp. 262-263) in which he describes how his cat kept demanding his attention one day by constantly meowing. He checked her food and water, and it was found to be adequate. He followed his cat all around his house. The cat kept meowing. In desperation, he finally set down on his kitchen floor and just cuddled with and loved  his cat. Both were happy at that point. The author of the mediation saw this situation as a metaphor for how we can wander restless, wanting something, looking for something, and feeling anxious until we allow ourselves to stop, relax, and feel God’s love.

I found this simple metaphor very comforting after being embroiled in countless theological discussions of what is God, where is God, how does God manifest, what do theologians say, what do the experts say, what do different religions and authors say, etc. I have less and less patience for such discussions at times—perhaps because I had to suffer through years of similar discussions while I earned my doctorate and later countless faculty meetings where hardly anything was ever said succinctly.

I am surrounded by and filled with God’s love. When I let myself be still and connect with this love my “free-floating” anxiety ceases to exist. I know I am one with the one eternal truth—God’s love.  Once I connect with this love, I am relaxed and energized. This allows me to “be active” in God’s love by compassionately sharing it with others. Thank you, God for making this possible.

Please comment and share your thoughts about how the pets in your life connect you with God’s love. May God bless and keep you.