Here’s a thoughtful piece from Health writer and colleague Eric Nelson of Petaluma, California, writing about what he’s thankful FOR and what he’s thankful TO.
Thanksgiving: An attitude of gratitude that inspires health
It was a moment that literally stopped me in my tracks.
As I was walking through San Diego’s Balboa Park — the Spreckels organ pavilion to my back, the Museum of Art to my front — I found myself suddenly overcome by an almost overwhelming rush of gratitude…
Even better than having so many things to be thankful for, however, was having something to be thankful to.
Karla Hackney, writing in Hillsboro Patch in Oregon, probes how treks in green spaces can be more deeply healing.
The author really caught my attention when she referred to a friend’s pilgrimage in Spain on the Camino de Santiago trail.
Recently, I enjoyed watching a movie entitled, “The Way“, in which the main character, played by Martin Sheen, hikes this trail when he goes to Spain to claim the body of his estranged son, who was killed while hiking the same trail.
On this trail, Hackney’s friend finds deeper meaning in favorite Bible verses and with this comes freedom from infection and pain. Hackney includes a link to a 7 minute audio account by her friend.
Another friend reached out “for a connection with God’s infinite love” while summiting Mount Washington.
Hackney says, “In hiking, the important part is to ‘summit,’ to get to that place where, in our heart, we rise above everyday challenges and we don’t allow information from the five physical senses to cloud the pinnacle of God’s beautiful, spiritual creation. We don’t have to locate ourselves in a forest before we can find spiritual peace!”
“On the night before his assassination, Martin Luther King said in a speech in Memphis, “We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop…”
Self-syndicated health columnist Tim Mitchinson in Illinois, writing on Fit for Life, applies this idea of a mountaintop view to taking a higher, broader view of freedom that includes freedom from disease – aka health!
A new class of graduates is heading into summer and then very likely college or career. Here are two articles with some helpful ideas applying spiritual perspectives to this exciting time in their lives.
“In an era in which so many people slip off the rails during adolescence, we don’t have the luxury of ignoring a resource that, if cultivated, could see them through,” says columnist David Brooks. “Ignoring spiritual development in the public square is like ignoring intellectual, physical or social development.
Obviously the various facets of love described by Paul—patience, unselfishness, humility, courtesy and so on—aren’t restricted to a particular religious practice but can and should be utilized in every avenue of life, including academics, athletics, social situations, throughout college and even into the business world.
When a graduation speech in rural Alabama produced a spontaneous prayer to a healing God I wanted to stand up and clap, too.
As graduates walk the stage and accept their diplomas, I hope they will consider their spiritual ability to be “right thinkers” by helping their neighbor, choosing honesty and integrity in their daily interactions, and looking to a Higher Power for truthful answers on life’s toughest tests.
“As we decide what to give to others for Christmas this year, why not consider the gift of forgiveness?”
This from friend and colleague Tim Mitchinson writing in the Peoria Journal-Star in Illinois about the benefits – including to health – of forgiveness.
He quotes Christian healer Mary Baker Eddy, who met wrongs with kindness and forgiveness and said, “I would enjoy taking by the hand all who love me not, and saying to them, ‘I love you, and would not knowingly harm you.’ Because I thus feel, I say to others: Hate no one; for hatred is a plague-spot that spreads its virus and kills at last…If you have been badly wronged, forgive and forget…”
Mitchinson says, “Let’s bring more peace and health on earth, by giving the gift of forgiveness this holiday season.”
Hieroglyphs, those pictorial characters that the Egyptians used for language, were the way Mary Baker Eddy, 19th century pioneer in spirituality and health, described flowers. She said, “The floral apostles are hieroglyphs of Deity.”
What an interesting connection. Flowers communicate – or picture – to us something about Deity. In their beauty, color and symmetry we see something of Deity’s expertise as Creator. In the tenderness of their petals, each in its place, we may see Deity’s tender care for creation.
Similarly, other pictures found in nature or portrayed in artwork may draw thought to the nature of Deity and His creation.
And it turns out that this is beneficial to our health.
Eddy explains, “…the right understanding of Him restores harmony.” And the Bible puts it this way: “Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace.”
Now picture this. Years ago, I was visiting my childhood home to help care for my mother who was ill and immobile. Once, while others cared for her, I walked down to the nearby lake, walked out on the dock and sat down on a bench there. Winter was yielding to spring. I was alone. It was mid-day but the water was perfectly still with a stillness usually reserved for the early morning or evening hours.
Looking around the lake, I was struck by how everything on land above the shoreline was perfectly reflected in the water. Hold on to this, and I’ll come back to it in a moment.
This summer, I visited the Healing Arts Gallery at MidMichigan Health in Midland while it was displaying artwork by Jennifer Cook of Herron, Michigan. Her abstract paintings and terracotta pots are full of bright and warm colors that encourage, inspire, and comfort.
It’s interesting to me how her artwork communicates something about Deity, as in her painting entitled, “God Heals and is the God of Restoration.”
Also interesting is how the very process of painting the artwork involved learning more of spiritual things. According to the Gallery’s flyer, Cook found that as she allowed God “to guide each stroke and choose each color” she gained “insight to greater freedom and spirituality.”
Painting #001 in the Gallery especially piqued my interest. It is entitled, “God loves you! He made you. You have a purpose!!! Embrace it!” It is a painting of a person standing on the shore of a small lake out in the woods, surrounded by trees, with sunshine coming through, and the trees – and the clouds above them – reflected in the lake.
Naturally, it reminded me of my earlier experience. The reflection I saw in the lake moved me to ponder the connection that I have – that we all have – with the Divine, with Deity. I thought of the Biblical statement that God made man in His own image and likeness – or, in other words, as His reflection. All around the lake, with each house and each tree, I could see the exact likeness that the reflection in the lake had to its original on land.
It was clear to me that there is a similar relationship between Deity and all of His reflection – all of us. Each of us is really an individual exact likeness expressing His qualities, such as beauty, tenderness, goodness, life, and health.
This reflection in the lake acted as a hieroglyph that conveyed to me a deeper understanding of Deity. This reduced stress and anxiety, enabling me to better care for my mother. And my mother, who was receiving prayer-based spiritual treatment and learning more of Deity herself, improved and was able to get about on her own again.
It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. If hieroglyphs such as these lead to better health, then perhaps they warrant our attention.
Note: this article was first published in print in The Midland Daily News August 3, 2014.
Writing in the Huffington Post ‘Healthy Living’ Blog, Sharon Frey McElroy examines how abuse victim Ben Bosinger learned to let go of years of resentment toward his father. And she shares how she was able to forgive a couple of fellows at a cafe that upset her by talking about women in a derogatory way.
McElroy then shares some ideas that can help anyone find peace through forgiveness. She writes, “…heading down the path of forgiveness can be as simple as knowing we each have this spiritual sense that can identify the good that’s present even where it seems far from obvious.”
Want a more peaceful day? Need a “Ben Bosinger moment”?
I heartily recommend this Huffington Post article, originally published in PlainViews, a publication of the HealthCare Chaplaincy Network: Want Peace? Try Forgiveness.
The Oakland Press reports that Michigan ranks 7th in most heroin deaths by state for the period from 1999 to 2010, at over 1,500.
Health Writer Ingrid Peschke in Massachusetts tackles this difficult subject in a recent MetroWest Daily News article, identifying ways a focus on spirituality can help. She quotes Charles Faupel, a professor emeritus at Auburn University in Alabama and coauthor of “The Sociology of American Drug Use,” who told The Christian Science Monitor that he feels part of the solution begins with “more spiritual grounding among young people.” She discusses the need to go from “E” for empty to “F” for fulfilled and that “lasting fulfillment begins with glimpsing something of our spiritual nature.”