April 2010

Coherence: Making Sense of Life (and Death)

Making things coherent means imbuing them with meaning - weaving each new experience into our personal narratives, insights, or spiritual sensibility.

The Rev. W. Joseph Mann kicked off this series of meditations on the Leading Causes of Life, Gary Gunderson and Larry Pray's fresh look at what makes life worth living. We’ve touched on Hope and Blessing.  Here's the next installment – Coherence.

Making things coherent means imbuing them with meaning - weaving each new experience into our personal narratives, insights, or spiritual sensibility. 

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John M. Crowe: 15 Lessons From the Caregiver of an Elderly Parent

This advice comes from my own experience over the last year and a half plus being part of the agingcare.com online support group.

Our guest blogger, Dr. John M. Crowe, offers this advice to pastors who are caregivers for their own parents, recipients of care from their own family members, or counselors to congregants in the caregiving role.  
 
 This advice comes from my own experience over the last year and a half plus being part of the agingcare.com online support group.

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Leading Causes of Life: Christian Hope

When a colleague asked me to write on the topic of Christian hope as a further exploration of Gary Gunderson's Leading Causes of Life, my thoughts quickly turned to Dusty Springfield...

When a colleague at the Divinity School asked me to write on the topic of Christian hope as a further exploration of Gary Gunderson's Leading Causes of Life, my thoughts quickly turned to Dusty Springfield, the British pop singer from the 1960’s (confession: I am a card-carrying Boomer).

Norman Wirzba: Reconciling Yourself to Food

Have you ever had to say “I am sorry” for the food you eat? I mean sorry not because you took the last piece of cake, but sorry for the food itself?

Have you ever had to say “I am sorry” for the food you eat? I mean sorry not because you took the last piece of cake, but sorry for the food itself?  The more we learn about today’s industrial food systems the more we discover how much there is to be sorry for. So much of what we eat, so much of what we feed each other, is manifestly unhealthy for us. Rates of obesity and diabetes among our children are reaching SuperSize proportions. Roughly 70% of Americans are overweight.

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Blessing: or, A River Runs Through It

Blessing comes from outside us: we can ask for blessing, or bestow it on another, but we cannot seize it for ourselves.

Benita Walton was a reconstructive surgeon who saw many cases of breast cancer in her practice. The women she treated were reeling not just from the physical insult of malignancy and surgery, but also from fear and isolation. They had trouble finding post-operative care that would bring emotional and spiritual healing. One survivor remarked, “I kept receiving letters from my hospital informing me of the support groups I could join… I envisioned dark rooms, gray folding chairs, and women crying. I didn’t want that.”

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Time Management: Tools for Mental Health

Wow! There are plenty of people devising software and gadgets to help other people organize their time...

Wow!  There are plenty of people devising software and gadgets to help other people organize their time. This is a topic that could fill many posts – there are whole blogs devoted to the subject – but below are some suggestions that I’ve found useful (and a few I plan to try).
 
Prioritize. "Do-lists" only work if they really help you organize, as opposed to totally overwhelming you with how much you have to accomplish.  I found a simple tool for helping prioritize tasks on Slideshare that involves assigning tasks to a spot on a four-box grid.  The point is to focus on fewer, high-impact tasks, and only tackle one task at a time.

The Rev. W. Joseph Mann: Is Your “Health” Cup Half Empty or Half Full?

I recently attend a remarkable summit on health and spirituality hosted in Raleigh by the North Carolina Council of Churches...


I recently attend a remarkable summit on health and spirituality hosted in Raleigh by the North Carolina Council of Churches. Some 200 people from various communities and communions in North Carolina gathered to talk about how churches can contribute to health. The keynote address was given by Gary Gunderson from Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare in Memphis. Gary has worked for years in the general area of public health and its intersection with faith, and is renowned for his achievements. He addressed the group on the themes of his book, Leading Causes of Life: Five Fundamentals to Change the Way You Live Your Life (Abington Press, 2009), co-written with The Rev. Larry Pray.

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Online Support Networks for Chronic Disease

Online support groups for the chronically ill and their caretakers can be a lifeline for reducing isolation and enabling us to connect to resources that we might never find on our own.

This month, our regular Tuesday health resource posts will introduce readers to useful tools or online resources.  

Online support groups for the chronically ill and their caretakers can be a lifeline for reducing isolation, enabling us to connect with a community that really understands what we're going through (especially when symptoms or finances make travel difficult) and enabling us to connect to resources that we might never find on our own. Some of the most frequently visited sites -- Health Central, Patients Like Me, Healing Well -- serve as hubs.  From there, users can access discussions on any of a broad spectrum of  chronic diseases.  Others are disease-specific, such as Diabetes Daily and the arthritis support site on About.com.  Many users of these sites like the breadth of information they find; the availability of other voices who share their experience, day or night; and the non-judgmental attitudes of their online friends.

Nathan Kirkpatrick: Dare to Weep!

Brother Roger of Taizé, in one of his most stirring reflections, tells of a young priest who had come to the Taizé community feeling overwhelmed by ministry.
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. – Philippians 3.10-11

Brother Roger of Taizé, in one of his most stirring reflections, tells of a young priest who had come to the Taizé community feeling overwhelmed by ministry. In his few years in the parish, he had seen too much suffering, witnessed too much pain in the life of his people, and he had tried to hold all of that pain at bay. He came heartbroken, wondering -- if this was what ministry was supposed to look like -- how he could continue on in it, if he could continue on at all.