Today’s TLC Tuesday suggestion is to take a bit more time with one or more of your senses. Instead of just seeing “a bird,” watch in awe at how it flies. Instead of giving your cat a perfunctory pat, really feel the softness of the fur (and hear the gentle, rumbly purr).
There is much in our lives with illness and pain that we take for granted. Today, really stop and smell the proverbial roses, and let your senses connect with your spirit to renew your joy at being a part of this miraculous, marvelous world!
Joy and peace,
Could you forgive someone who had killed someone you love? Could you find healing for your pain and a purpose for your life?
In her new book, “Knitting, Praying, Forgiving: A Pattern of Love and Forgiveness,” Cheryl Wunsch weaves together her personal story of a difficult journey through grief to a unique way to bring what she has learned and done to others. Part witness, part spiritual craft guide, and part devotional, Wunsch does not sugarcoat the tragedy that propelled her life onto a different and God-directed path. But she does not merely describe the facts and certainly does not expect the reader to think, only, “oh, the poor woman.” Rather, she shows in word and action how she found her way through the tragedy’s aftermath and, amazingly, found grace and purpose, a ministry to help others and the inspiration to tell her story so that it, too, can be of assistance to anyone experiencing tragedy.
Wunsch has a solid – and professional – perspective on psychology (she is a licensed psychotherapist and is certified in contemplative spiritual direction), and is well-learned in theology and, in particular, lectio divino. The devotional and journaling parts of the book are helpful tools for the reader who seeks guidance as he or she navigates through a way to forgive, and the knitting (Wunsch is a founder of a Prayer Shawl Ministry at her local parish) that strings all together is a unique and refreshing way to approach working out the “knots,” and reaching out to others.
“Knitting, Praying, Forgiving: A Pattern of Love and Forgiveness,” is available through online booksellers. Wunsch’s website is: www.knittingprayingforgiving.com
Joy and peace,
Sometimes, our prayer needs to go beyond word to a place in the heart and soul that is undefined, untethered. Instrumental music can help get there, and we can enhance our prayer by inviting music into our prayer habit. Here are a few tips on how:
Choose different styles of music to reflect the heart of the prayers you wish to lift up. Begin a prayer session with one of these pieces.
Have at hand music without words, and allow your mind to relax as the melody and harmony form and rise.
Use humming or other sustained sound to shut out other distracting noises and focus your prayer – banish the jangle of phones and hear the constant river of song.
Consider birdsong, the breeze blowing by, and other natural sounds as part of the music that can lift the spirit. Be mindful of these, even if you are far from a wooded path or other completely natural environment.
Listen to your breath as life sustaining sound and song, and let it draw you into God’s presence, in prayer and in life.
Joy and Peace,
Sometimes, a chronic health condition requires us to relearn what we thought we already knew how to do. And it can be mighty frustrating, not to mention embarassing.
I remember when, after a long series of tests, I was diagnosed with several esophageal problems and had to work with a “swallow therapist.” Before then, I had no idea that such a specialist existed! I also could not imagine that I was “eating incorrectly.” Hadn’t I been eating – and swallowing – all of my life? What could be wrong?
Turned out, it wasn’t so much what was wrong, but what needed to be tweaked due to the developments brought about by my health problems. I had to learn new ways to approach eating because of them. It didn’t take a long time to do this, but as I “studied” and incorporated the very helpful suggestions give to me by the therapist, I realized how important it was that I relearned what I thought I already knew how to do. Not only did it enable me to adapt to my esophageal problems, it also gave me a lot of self-confidence and tools to take with me, back into my daily life.
Other people I know have benefited from physical therapy sessions, revisiting daily activities and learning to walk, lift, or move in ways that adapt to new physical problems and, thus, cause less discomfort or limitation. Speech therapists can help with vocal difficulties. Breathing specialists can help with lung function.
When a basic skill becomes problemmatic, it’s really important to keep in mind that we’re not “failing at life.” It’s just that sometimes, at various stages of our lives with chronic pain and illness, we’ll need to “tweak” or “retool” our approach. If there is something you used to be able to do easily, but are having problems doing now, I encourage you to see your doctor and talk it over with him or her. We might not think we’ll ever have to learn to walk, talk, breath, or eat again, but sometimes we need a bit of expert help to enable us to journey on. Far from being an indication of failure, taking these positive steps is a display of insight, courage, and determination!
Joy and peace,