Beliefnet
Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicIt seemed so far away. Until now. As I type this, a second person in Dallas has been diagnosed with ebola, and more are being monitored.  People are talking about it on the news and elsewhere, and asking the question, “How bad can this get?” And those of us with chronic illness, and especially those who are immuno-compromised, are probably paying even closer attention to reports and, yes, even rumors. Some, maybe many, are beginning to feel uneasy at the thought of an incurable, usually fatal, horrible illness spiralling through the United States and elsewhere. Others might be scared already.

I’m in the second month of taking a very powerful immunosuppressive drug to combat the autoimmune processes caused by lupus and my other serious illnesses. I know that, as this medication builds up in my system, I will be less able to fight off germs, and so will have to take more and more precautions. In fact, I’ve already begun to take them, to fold them into my life and become more at ease about control I can take to try to stay infection free.  “Crunch time,” that is, cold and flu season, will soon be here, and I hope by then to be fluent in taking protective measures as much as I can and, then, relying on faith to help me manage any uneasieness about the “what if.”

As the news of ebola has become louder and closer to home, I’m reminded about how fragile life is, how much medical science has yet to learn, and how, with travel as easy and rapid as it is today, things far away can arrive closer to home. But I’m also reminded about how courageous so many people are – healthcare workers, family members and friends, and others rendering aid. I’m hopeful that the right measures will be taken to protect them and others as much as possible. And I’m confident that the human spirit can rise to this, as with any, challenge.

In that spirit, I’m lifting up in prayer all those who are trying to unravel this puzzle of the ebola virus, and the other viruses that are hitting people far and near (such as the entero virus). I’m also praying that those who fear will be comforted and those who mourn will be met with compassion.  I’m also trying to stay informed and measured, keeping my doctor-prescribed course as usual.

And if I come across someone who is trying to stir up sensational fear, or trying to point to all humanity as being punished for their sinfulness by being struck with ebola, I point to heaven, and our heavenly Father who loves us and is there for us with strength, light, and other abundant blessings.

Yes, our loving Father – our all in all, through it all!

Joy and peace,

Maureen

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Maureen Pratt Author PicAll too often, we race through our day and barely notice the wonderful things about the “basics.” How we move, how we talk, what we see, touch and taste.

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,

Maureen

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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,

Maureen

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Image courtesy of Franky242/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Franky242/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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,

Maureen

 

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