Lumunos helps you Reflect ~ Connect ~ Discover your gifts to find your call in life, through these stories and observations here, through our website, and through retreats. Help us help you continue to discover your calling in life. Donations are accepted through our Website.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What Are You (Not) Doing this Labor Day Weekend?

by  Doug Wysockey-Johnson

What Are You (Not) Doing this Labor Day Weekend?

Ok folks, time to plan ahead.  We have a holiday weekend coming up, and for most of us that means a little extra time off.  It is a golden opportunity to make a deposit in your spiritual wellness bank, a deposit you will need to draw from in the future.  It may be a day later or a month later, but eventually, life is going to get stressful.  That is what life does.

The good news is that you have lots of options. There is a growing body of research that provides data about the ways our bodies and our spirits are renewed. Here are just a few of the things that have been proven to increase our wellness:
  • spend time outdoors;
  • gather with good friends or family;
  • de-clutter your house;
  • rest;
  • do something for someone else;
  • worship;
  • exercise;
  • shut down the computer;
  • play with your dog;
  • laugh;
  • pray

These are all great ideas, not only for a holiday weekend, but for Sabbath in general.  Sabbath is that Judeo-Christian practice that emerged from the notion that even (and because!) God rested on the seventh day, so should we.  At the heart of Sabbath and spiritual wellness is the idea that there is nothing more you have to do or be.  As Walter Brueggemann writes in his excellent book “Sabbath as Resistance

On the Sabbath:
            You do not have to do more.
            You do not have to sell more.
            You do not have to control more.
            You do not have to know more.
            You do not have to have your kids in ballet or soccer.
            You do not have to be younger or more beautiful.
            You do not have to score more.

So be intentional about your spiritual wellness this Labor Day Weekend. Make a plan, block the time, place the call, think ahead, phone for a reservation, and generally do what you need to do (or not do) to make a deposit in your spiritual wellness bank this weekend.  It will not be wasted time.  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

If this is not a Place…

by  Paul Hettinga

Recently I have been listening to Ken Medema’s Podcasts “Inside the Songs” as I’m walking in the morning. Many of us know Ken and have seen and heard him in concert over the years. Like me, I’m sure most of you find him to be inspiring both in his life and his message through music.

On his podcast titled “Places” he plays this wonderful song “If this is not a Place” and for some reason this morning that brought me to tears. I should say that I get teary eyed pretty quickly these days, but that’s another story for another day.

It’s been nearly 9 months since I have retired – and during this time, I have tried to devote myself to answering the question of  “Who does God want me to be or what does God want me to do with this next chapter of my life?” I’ve read a number of things, I’ve kept a journal, I’ve tried to be quieter than normal and I’ve certainly prayed more fervently. I’m currently starting to meet with a spiritual director to give me a little life coaching with a spiritual perspective.

However, I don’t have much good news to report yet. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love all my free time and I use it to do things I’m interested in. But as for answering this question, I’m beginning to doubt the sincerity of my own questions at this point. I wonder if God is thinking the same thing.

And yet, I’m continuing to stay in this place and to be more present to God’s quiet nudges that come in many forms instead of filling up my life with lots of other places, responsibilities and activities. It’s a little threatening to my ego and there are days I just think I’m being lazy, unproductive and should get off my dead butt and get out there again.

But somehow deep within my heart, I know the place I need to be right now is this quiet listening place within the core of who I am, and it’s this place where God will dwell in me and gently transform me into the image he wants me to be.

Ken doesn’t answer the question “If this is Not a Place” – but he certainly suggests a whole lot of places that won’t help us to know ourselves and be known by God. Take a few minutes to listen to the You Tube of Ken performing this wonderful song.

May God bless you richly in your own pursuit of authentic living, 

If This Is Not A Place. . .
   Ken Medema

Click here to download a You Tube video of Ken performing this:

If this is not a place where tears are understood,
Then where shall I go to cry?
And if this is not a place where my spirit can take wings,
Then where shall I go to fly?

I don't need another place for trying to impress you
With just how good and virtuous I am.
I don't need another place for always being on top of things;
Everybody knows that it's a sham.

I don't need another place for always wearing smiles,
Even when it's not the way I feel.
I don't need another place to mouth the same old platitudes;
Everybody knows that it's not real.

So if this is not a place where my questions can be asked,
Then where shall I go to seek?

And if this is not a place where my heart cry can be heard,
Where, tell me where, shall I go to speak?
So if this is not a place where tears are understood,
Where shall I go, where shall I go to fly?

-- Ken Medema

artwork by Alicia Drakiotis, Marlborough, NH

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Laughter Pauses: Reflections on Robin Williams and Suicide

by Tom Pappas

I would be pleased to write something profound, and as yet unsaid, about the loss of comedic talent Robin Williams. This will not happen.

When I reflect on my exposure to Mr. Williams over many years, it will be like everyone else in his audiences. I have known him about the length of a movie here, the time it takes to watch a sitcom there, a talk show interview from time to time. One of the reasons I, the Alpha introvert, admired him was his relentless unfiltered imagination. Didn’t he love to perform? Didn’t he love to be ‘on’?

From the dusty files of my mid 20th century formative years I remember clearly this aphorism. “You are who you are when you’re by yourself.” There are moments when my solitary, tinkering, bumbling self doesn’t resemble who I present to the public, and never will; but all in all, being me is pretty fun.

It must be that Robin Williams had excruciating trouble when he wasn’t guy in the spotlight with the mike. I wonder if this source of fun for millions stopped being fun to his own self?  As a person with personal experience with three generations of mental/emotional illness, I can conjecture some impossibly difficult stretches, long, dark nights and endless, deep heartaches. How sad, how hard.

It must be excruciating to make an end of life decision that would effect so many.  A poster comes to mind along this line, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” Life sometimes disappoints.

I think God wants me to be kind to others .  .  . to energetically work for improved mental health services .   .   . to love and respect myself as I have been made in God’s image .  .  . to laugh more often and more easily.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Prayer for the Meadowlarks, and for the Children

by Angier Brock

My heart sank last Wednesday when I saw that one of the fields where I have been observing Eastern Meadowlark activity this summer had been mowed! Granted, that particular field had not been included in the original monitoring plans, but in the last two weeks I had documented nesting activity there, and so I had hoped—

For about an hour, I walked the mowed field, looking and listening and occasionally turning over clumps of hay to peer underneath, but I found no sign of the birds. I went home in tears, grieving for what I was sure had been lost.

There is some good news in this story. When I went back in the afternoon, I spotted four Meadowlarks there, two adults, I think, and two of their young. What a relief that they had survived the mowing! Still, their nest had been wrecked and their cover destroyed. Perhaps I am anthropomorphizing to say this, but they looked the way people do when they return to their homes after a devastating storm has struck their neighborhood. They seemed disoriented, stunned and confused.

The next day at the village post office, I happened to overhear a woman I have met only briefly at church on Sunday mornings say to someone else, “I know they are only children, but….” When she saw me, her words trailed off. I pretended not to have heard. She lowered her voice to finish her sentence. The only other word I heard was “aliens.”

Again my heart sank, for it was clear what she was talking about. The look of the displaced Meadowlarks came to mind—along with the recognition that it is a relatively simple thing to address the problem of Meadowlark habitat protection. You simply acknowledge the need and postpone mowing. How much more complicated it is to address the displacement of the children who are now stranded—disoriented, stunned, confused—on our southern border, caught between powerful systems they had no hand in creating. And yet, address it we must, for not only are they children, they are children who have fled horrific circumstances. Like the Meadowlarks, they need first to be seen and to have their needs acknowledged. Then they need help and protection so that they can not only survive but also thrive.

I wish I had an easy answer for the problems the children face, but I do not. I wish that our elected officials were working together on addressing the complexities of the matter. Alas, they seem to be doing little but lobbing accusations at one another—while some people are even yelling at the children themselves. The woefully little good news I have heard coming from this story includes this: To counter the angry voices, there is now a website where ordinary people can leave messages for the children, messages of hope and compassion. If you feel so inclined, you too can participate in that effort at www.theyarechildren.com.

“Do your little bit of good where you can; it’s these little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” Those words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu help counter the despair it would be easy to sink into in the face of the world’s great pain. Today, the little bits of good I feel called to do include posting a message for the children. And in the days to come, as I continue to watch and pray for the Meadowlarks, I will also watch and pray for the children.