F-R-A-G-I-L-E Not a welcomed assessment as one grows older. How would you describe your health? Many view well-being as an elusive balance, easily fractured by age, accident, heredity, or other circumstances beyond their control. That appraisal can be detrimental to health and undermines the robust peace we desire.
If you have ever watched the venerable classic, A Christmas Story, you can’t forget the image of the exotic leg-lamp in the front window of the Parker home. The “major award” was the pride of the Old Man, whose feelings of accomplishment were soon dashed by the “accidental” destruction of the infamous neighborhood attraction.
“Oh, life is like that,” adult Ralphie comments in his narration during the movie. “Sometimes, at the height of our revelries, when our joy is at its zenith, when all is most right with the world, the most unthinkable disasters descend upon us.”
Anxiety over the perceived vulnerability of our own welfare is a lousy motivator for maintaining a healthy life, Read more…
Where does one find comfort amid the hardships of day-to-day living? Perhaps there is something in Tiny Tim’s innocent observation, “God bless us, every one,” that iconic message of hope and confidence that points the way through the disheartening moments of gloominess.
Many succumb to a bah-humbug mood during the Christmas season. It’s a contagious response to the plethora of holiday activities as they overwhelm, and even deaden our sensibilities. Or others might be experiencing debilitating sadness and depression caused by loneliness, ill health or unemployment. The sharp contrast between the resulting anguish and the desired joy of the season is a recipe for tension.
An old tale of transformation, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, resonates in today’s culture. Set against the backdrop of Victorian England, the Christmas favorite immerses the reader in images of darkness and despair only to be liberated by the light of healing and restoration.
“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies.”
Abraham Lincoln’s gracious assessment of 1863 is immortalized in the opening line of his first Thanksgiving Day Proclamation.
Over 150 years have passed since Lincoln’s establishment of an annual, national observance of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” In 1863 that day came just one week after the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg where Lincoln gave his celebrated two minute address. The War Between the States would go on for another year and a half.
What prompted Lincoln to articulate such a “healthful” outlook, where many saw only servitude to gloom and despair, was an intensified appreciation for blessings and their origin. He saw “bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come.” He writes in his Thanksgiving Proclamation that these abundances are “so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.”
Such an attitude as Lincoln’s serves as a timely example for all of us. Read more…
The effects of thankfulness on health are measurable, according to researchers who have been studying the connection with great interest. One example: Robert Emmons at the University of California-Davis with Michael McCullough from the University of Miami have deduced that people feel better physically and mentally when counting their blessings. Their study (Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life) was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
The two psychologists open their report with a Charles Dickens quote: “Reflect on your present blessings, on which every man has many, not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” The researchers conducted three separate studies. “In each study, inducing a state of gratefulness through the self-guided gratitude exercises led to some emotional, physical, or interpersonal benefits,” according to their findings.
Counting our blessings instead of inventorying our troubles is sage advice that promotes added benefits. Mary Baker Eddy once asked a thought-provoking question, “Are we really grateful for the good already received?” Read more…
Tuesday, November 11, marks the observance of Veterans’ Day in the U.S. This is a reprint of a column that appeared last year.
“Nothing can separate you from the love of God,” she gently spoke to him. With all the confusion surrounding them, she continued to pray with the man she was kneeling over. It was September 11, 2001.
One of the first female chaplains ever called to active duty, Retired Colonel Janet Horton has had some pretty intense experiences. In her distinguished career as a Christian Science Military Chaplain, she has seen duty around the globe helping the men and women who serve in the military to keep soul and body together.
Returning to the States after her overseas deployment, Horton was hoping for a post in Georgia. She was assigned to the Pentagon. At the time she considered it a questionable assignment at best. “I thought this was a big mistake” she said when I spoke with her, but through prayer she came to the conclusion that God doesn’t slipup. She eventually came to realize that she was at the right place at the right time.
The morning of September 11, 2001 saw the World Trade Center in New York under attack and United Flight 93 crashing into a Pennsylvania field. Then at 10:10am American Flight 77 hit the Pentagon.
The nose of the plane that struck the building hit the rear of the personnel area. There was an explosion and fireball. Read more…