There’s a popular poem about JOY, which you may have heard before. It’s an acrostic.
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A few years ago a student was referred to me, the college chaplain, because he was getting in a bit of trouble. He was drinking and partying too much and making some poor decisions. This behavior was out of character for this student and his professors thought it had something to do with the fact that his mother was dying of cancer. When we sat down together in my office, the first thing this young man wanted to tell me was that he was not very “religious.”
I was swimming along just fine, regularly going for a mile or more, several times a week. I felt strong and sleeker than usual. Then, one day, I just didn’t feel like it and had to argue myself into going to the pool.
One significant difference between Eastern and Western perspectives is how we treat the elderly. Although modern society is eroding some of our Chinese traditional values, in general, there is still more respect and honor for the elderly than our Western counterparts. I hope this is an instance where the global church in the North can allow other cultures to speak prophetically into its faith community.
Most nights, my bedtime prayer with our two oldest boys begins like this: Be still and know that I am God.
There is much that we hope for, we who have cast our lot with Jesus of Nazareth. We hope for mercy, forgiveness, new life, eternal life. We hope for the promise of a new heart that—against all odds!—beats in sync with our Maker, as promised by the prophet Ezekiel. We hope for the relief from pain, for relational wholeness, for freedom from the burden of crippling doubts and unmanageable burdens. We hope for heaven, whatever that might mean.
My friend Bill died recently. A brilliant scholar, he had suffered a number of strokes, and was being cared for in a facility that catered to patients with dementia and brain injuries. He decided that it was time to let nature take its course. He refused most food and medications, and died in short order, but he died fully confident in the resurrection life that lay ahead. A few weeks later I was in the ER with a man in his mid-to-late nineties who had also suffered from a number of strokes.
I'd never planned on growing flowers. Oh, I think flower gardens are a lovely way to spend one's time. They add a little beauty to our world, and make for a wonderful visiting place for our beleaguered pollinators. I can see the delight in that. But that's not my goal, as I plant.
I’ve been leading a meditation group on Fridays at 4 p.m. for the past three years. It never really took off, though, until this year, when I became serious about my own meditation practice.