A powerful, thought-provoking insight....

Give me a well-trained tongue that has been borne out of silent listening in the sanctuary of my heart.

~ sevensacredpauses by Macrina Wiederkehr

Friday, September 9, 2011

Pulling It All Together: Putting Our Spiritual Practices into Action

Over the last year and a half, in The Caregiver's Newsletter* we have been talking about a lot of different spiritual practices that caregivers can utilize to stay connected with the Holy: to gain perspective, to receive guidance, to be fed spiritually.  When I was thinking about what to share this month, I decided it was time for some “applied”  learning.

How can we use what we have learned about spiritual practices to help us when we find ourselves faced with a situation where we are angry or frustrated? In our roles as caregivers, we come face to face often with such emotions, and how we decide to sit with them determines our response.

Some of the spiritual practices we have discussed are prayer, listening, journaling, humor, Sabbath-keeping, examen, spiritual reading, fasting, and submission. Wow. Quite the toolbox. Within these spiritual practices, we have the resources to weave a tapestry of sorts that can support us when dealing with our more difficult emotions, especially those of anger and frustration. 

The first practice, one which we have touched on briefly here and there, is breathing.  Yep, pure air.  Step back and take a very deep breath, maybe even two or three.  Oxygenation is a good thing.

While breathing, a prayer for calm and clarity in the situation would be appropriate. A breath prayer, such as Peace. Be still. can be helpful. Then, asking a question of ourselves (examen) around the why of our anger or frustration.  Listening to our hearts when the answer begins to form.  One thing we have learned is that our hearts never really lie. 

Next comes a sometimes difficult practice...speaking the truth in love.  How can we address the issues which brought us to this place of anger and/or frustration in a loving and compassionate manner—loving and being compassionate with ourselves and the others involved.  Perhaps the combination of a little humor, a little submission, and a lot of forgiveness is needed in the situation.   There are times when observing a Sabbath rest or taking an extended respite break provides a much needed time in which to gain perspective.

Keeping in mind that we are all broken and wounded in some way and in need of God’s healing and mercy provides us perspective on the actions of others.  Perhaps that perspective will help us gain some distance from the issue at the heart of our anger or frustration, giving us time to breathe, pray, question, and listen. 

When in any stressful situation, remember to breathe in the Breath of God, full of grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

*The Caregiver's Newsletter is a publication of the Caregiver Spiritual Support Ministry of First Christian Church of Decatur (Disciples of Christ).  Editors are Rev. Daphne C. Reiley and Mrs. Mary Ellen Fountain.  Rev. Reiley writes a "Spiritual Practices for Caregivers" column each month.

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