My colleague Valerie Minard, writing in Collingswood Patch in New Jersey, shared some helpful ideas when dealing with suicidal thoughts.
“But what about the teens who suffer in silence or are not ready to turn to a teen suicide prevention group or trusted adult? I can’t answer for others but in my case, I found my connection to the Divine was a life saver during a time when I felt there was no one in whom to confide.”
“The ideas that saved me went along these lines…”
“These negative thoughts are not your thoughts. They are lies about your worth and purpose for existing, and you don’t need to listen to them. The ideas God gives you are good. Destructive thoughts are not good. The Bible says, “‘For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the LORD. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.’””
“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.
There’s a reason they’re called man’s best friend.
If you’ve ever had a dog, then you already know something about dogs’ unconditional love. This warrants considering more deeply the divine source and nature of love and its healing power.
Health blogger Linda Ross in Connecticut shares a touching account on LinkedIn of a dog’s unconditional love reaching a soldier suffering with PTSD. It gives a glimpse into unconditional love’s ability to reach below the surface and melt away “difficult memories”. We might also consider how we all have a “divine friendship” with divine Love.
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.”
Remember that one? I was around when it was a popular saying.
Do these sound familiar:
Fighting the flu
Struggling with pain?
“Moving away from images of war or seeing our bodies as a battlefield can open up a new narrative for health.” This from Health Writer Anna Bowness-Park in The Vancouver Sun, discussing reframing how we talk about – and think about – health.
Bowness-Park shares a wonderful story of a woman who was “fighting” chronic back pain and found that the “back pain diminished and ultimately vanished” after she learned to feel loved.
Here is a guest post by Debby Kowit, a colleague of mine in Pennsylvania. She explores spirituality and wellbeing in her Keystone Health Connections blog carried by The Times Herald in Pennsylvania (under the LIFE heading).
Are you willing to be free from allergies?
The experience of looking a tiger in the eye is one that most of us would rather avoid. However, when we are forced to face our worst fear, we are sometimes driven out of our conventional ways to seek something that will neutralize it. Such may often be the case for those who battle with allergies.
55% of the US population tests positive for one or more allergens according to WebMD while FARE states that food allergies alone plague more than 15 million Americans. The angst associated with any allergic episode produces a memory that is not so easily forgotten. Many simply live with the anxiety which can persist even after an allergy management plan is employed.
But, how about banishing that fear rather than living with it?
Replacing fearful thoughts rather than dwelling on them can be as simple as choosing a food you like over one you don’t. As we focus on the good around us, we begin to see more of it and eventually experience it. Allowing ourselves to feel loved, safe, and cared for goes a long way toward neutralizing fear.
As a child, I was afflicted with a food allergy. But, as I aged, the symptoms went away and the family pediatrician said I “outgrew” it. However, as a young adult, a variety of environmental allergies began to appear. It was as if I was experiencing that food allergy all over again. The more I delved into the cause and possible treatments, the more frightened I became. Finally, I began searching beyond simply managing the symptoms and feelings of trepidation to seeking freedom from the stress of it all.
In a sense, I looked the tiger right in the eye. I shook off the fear by remembering the love, care and reassurance my mother had expressed during those childhood incidents. I reacquainted myself with stories and teachings from the Bible that I had once embraced and increasingly felt could help me find freedom and health. Joy and confidence returned. Stress vanished, and increasingly so did the allergies.
“What happened?” you may ask. To me it now seems simple. I was willing to try something outside of the bio-medical solution; to consider a spiritual approach. And, in my exploration of spiritual ideas that might be of use, I ran across this promise from the Bible in John: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear:” Stressful feelings about what we are eating or what allergen may be floating around in our environment can be replaced with this sense of divine love, and this can aid us in averting unhealthy thinking and reliving negative experiences.
That mental shift opened my thought to new ideas. Christian healer Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “Willingness to become as a little child and to leave the old for the new, renders thought receptive of the advanced idea”.
When I just glimpsed this advanced idea, I experienced better health.