Saturday, July 31, 2010

Mindfulness and Gratefulness

I like what the words "mindfulness" and "gratefulness" bring to my thoughts. Some of you may recognize that the word "mindfulness" is attributed primarily to the Buddhists. It probably didn't originate with them although I really don't know either the concept or word's origin. Nevertheless, I like the word and the concept it brings to my mind. It seems to me that mindfulness means that I cause my focus and attention to be full of whatever I'm doing at that moment. It is practicing the discipline of attentiveness. I googled "mindfulness" to see what I might learn. I discovered several web-sites where they wrote about how mindfulness helps you relax, do better work, etc. I suspect that is all true but, I like mindfulness just for itself. The mind is full of whatever is present at the moment.
I'm not very good at multi-tasking and I really don't want to attempt the development of it either. I've been in conversations where the other person seemed to be looking over my shoulder for the next person and conversation. I like conversations with people who look at me when we are talking.
Gratefulness, at least to me, means a similar thing as mindfulness. It means that I give attention so that my mind is full of thankfulness. I not only want to be fully focused on the present but, also, grateful for the moment. I've liked the web-site for several years, especially the video.
Several years ago I remember being on an island bus from the airport to the hotel and overhearing a conversation between several tourists who were talking about the next time they come to the island. I recall thinking that it was a real loss that these excited folks weren't able to "be" at the island and grateful for it's beauty when they were already on the island and driving past beautiful scenery in delightful weather. I think they were not seeing or experiencing what they were looking and hoping for. I think mindfulness and gratefulness would be a helpful prescription for this malaise.

My, how things have changed!

This morning Judy and I will take a friend to the airport here in Lexington. She is traveling to Charlotte then Munich and finally to Moldova. She will be joining a group of other women on a "mission trip" to work among women who have been victims of human trafficking. Flying to Moldova doesn't seem unusual to me. I've flown to Europe or the middle East several times. However, I've begun to think about my parents and grandparents. If they were still living, flying to Moldova would sound like an impossibility. My how things have changed! I'm not even certain that my folks would understand what "human trafficking" really means. Not only this concept of flying across the ocean but I'm also developing an on-line class for the Lexington Theological Seminary which I will teach in January. I'm having fun learning this new technology and it isn't as difficult as I had imagined. However, my folks would not have never dreamed that someday a Professor could teach a class and the students not be physically present in the classroom. Yes, I know, neither could they have believed that the Professor could have been me but, that's another story or blog. My how things have changed.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Counselor

On the side of my office file cabinet is a finger puppet of Carl Jung. I suppose I tend to follow his concepts in my counseling practice more than any other psychological theory. This means that I ask individuals to give attention to the source of meaning or purpose which they are seeking in their life as well as that meaning or purpose that seems to be seeking them. I also suggest that they may want to give some attention to their dreams. Psalm 16 was my reading this morning and verse 7 grabbed my attention. "I will bless the Lord who has counseled me: indeed my mind instructs me in the night." (ASV) How about that--was it just a coincidence? I think God frequently counseles with "divine hunches." I also think God uses some of my dreams. There are many significant dreams in the Bible. I'm pleased that God is a Counselor.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sitting on the front porch swing and wondering about church

There was early church, i.e., contemporary worship music, this morning since we were saying "Goodbye" to one of our music ministers. After church, there was a visit to the Farmer's Market for a dozen ears of sweet corn. I was at the Abbey yesterday and missed the Saturday Farmer's Market. For me, the Farmer's Market is about supporting local farmers and merchants. It is also about a sustainable economic system that doesn't depend upon fossil fuels transporting goods across the country. As I sat in the front porch swing shucking those ears of corn, I got to wondering how much difference there might be in our community if folks were members of and participated in their local neighborhood churches. Sort of a 'Farmer's market' type of church membership. That's the way it was when I was growing up but that's another blogging story. This neighborhood church would probably be small enough that we would get to know each other. The minister would live in the neighborhood. Children's and youth programs would be neighborhood programs resulting from churches working together rather than competing with each. We wouldn't have to use so much fossil fuel to drive across town for church. All of this came to mind just after noon as I sat on the front porch swing shucking sweet corn. I watched a neighbor and her daughter walking down the sidewalk. They were coming home from the neighborhood Christian (Disciples of Christ) Church. When they got in front of our house, they stopped and talked for a little while. The daughter is four months away from getting her driver's license and so excited. I don't know of a Baptist Church within walking distance in our neighborhood, but there is a Pentecostal and that Disciples church within a couple of blocks. I'm thinking about walking around the corner to that Disciples Church some Sunday.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I Like Saturday evenings

Saturday evenings are pretty consistent at our house. I got into this pattern when I was Pastor of Trinity Baptist Church. I wanted Saturday evenings to be very quiet and restful in preparation for Sunday's responsibilities. That pattern has held its place even after I'm no longer the Pastor. I still like easy Saturday evenings. After supper, the radio is turned on and tuned to the National Public Radio station for Garrison Keillor's "Prairie Home Companion." I really like that title because it says the truth so well. His music followed by stories about Lake Wobegon are really home companions. He is a wonderful story teller. After his show leaves the National Public Radio station, the Cincinnati Reds are on the television or the Lexington Legends are on local radio. I like listening and/or watching baseball. It isn't my favorite sport, that would be football, but baseball is made for a slow summer evening. I do baseball until the British Comedys come on Public Television. "The Last of Summer Wine," "Keeping Up Appearances," "Waiting For God" and "As Time Goes By" are on the schedule with our Kentucky Educational Television station. These British comedys are my favorite television shows. Unless I'm out of town, I don't miss them. I watch while snacking on a variety of cheeses, grapes, different types of crackers and a flavored sparkling water, usually Black Cherry. Sometimes I even stay up late and watch Masterpiece Theatre and the detective work of Miss Marple. She's so subtle and wise. I like watching a quiet, wise, older woman solving mysteries that confuse all others. Saturday evenings at our house are easy, enjoyable and restful. I like Saturday evenings.

The Farmer's Market

This morning we went to Lexington's Farmer's Market. The farmers and vendors set up their booths and tents around the old courthouse while their trucks are backed up to the sidewalks. There are a variety of individuals and small groups playing instruments and singing, with their musical cases open for donations. We saw and visited with several friends. This is a regular Saturday morning journey, and it is one that is greatly enjoyed. It is a delightful effort to support the local economy. We came to the house with homemade pasta and bread, which were made by a young couple both of whom have Spanish fathers, Italian mothers and who grew up in South America. We also brought home a baker's dozen ears of corn, some squash and a Casey County cantalope. Tonight we enjoyed the homemade pasta with just a touch of olive oil, fresh bread, along with a couple of ears of sweet corn. Doesn't get much better than times such as these.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


On my desk there are several special items that remind me of significant events and people. There is a fossilized portion of a sea animal about the size of a plum. That animal evidently lived in an ocean that is now Kentucky. I was given this memento by a young couple at whose wedding I officiated. I had known the wife's family a long time. I now use it as a paper weight but, when I pick it up my mind returns to their personalities, the wedding and the bride's family. On my desk there is also a pen and pencil whose cylinders are made of wood. I keep it in a special place. I was given this pen and pencil set perhaps 30 years ago by a young father and mother after I officiated at the funeral of their daughter. The daughter had a long period of illness and I tried to be at her hospital or home regularly. After the funeral, her parents came by the office and gifted me with the pen and pencil set. Any time I see it or pick it up, I'm reminded of her young life and her wonderful parents. There is also a pen set in a wooden base which is engraved with the word "gratitude." It was a gift of a long time friend who named me the god-father of her son who is now a young man. I cherish these mementos because they are far more valuable than anyone would know by looking at my desk. They are reminders of special people who have been very important in my life.