As I came down the escalator at the library, the man in front of me apologized when he saw that I had stopped behind him. He gently moved his cane-carrying companion over to one side, apologized again, and motioned me past.
Years ago, I might not have thought twice about it. Now, having a family member for whom movements such as standing up can be painful because of degenerative arthritis has made me more aware—perhaps nowhere more so than at church.
Growing up as a cradle Presbyterian and a preacher’s kid, Presbyterianism was my sociocultural world. When my father got angry with me or my sister, he would often preface his remarks with the exasperated endearment, “Child of the covenant!”
Accumulation of wealth beyond meeting our basic needs doesn’t make us more content, studies show. Dr. Michael Finkelstein says that contentment takes practice. Think back on a time when you felt a sense of contentment, he says—it likely didn’t come from material possessions. “Our task is to simply discover where [contentment] resides” and focus on those times and places. It helps to “practice thinking, believing, and saying that you’re grateful and thankful for what you’ve been given” (excerpt from Slow Medicine: Hope and Healing for Chronic Illness in Utne, July).