Definition of God

(Jean Houston) – It varies from day to day. When I was a little girl, it was a very personal person. As I got older, it became the universe — the universe in us. But mostly I think it is the wonderful words from Dante: “The love that moves the sun and all the stars, and moves in my heart and in yours.”

Author: Jean Houston Contributor: innergreatplainsInterfaithSourcePermalink

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In the Eye of the Storm

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Bruce Springsteen fights the stigma of depression


I think it is courageous of such a famous musician to go public with his struggle with depression. I don’t know that it is safe for everyone, though. As a musician he is basically self-employed, but those with “bosses” may not have as much freedom to be honest as “the Boss.” It may give celebrities a bit more cache to have “issues;” for us ordinary folks it remains a stigma. But, yet, the more people like Bruce make it seem acceptable the more it will become so, hopefully.


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The normalcy of anxiety

hamsterstress“We should never exacerbate our suffering by trying to push our disquiet aggressively away. Our lack of calm isn’t deplorable or a sign of weakness. It is simply the justifiable expression of our mysterious participation in a disordered, uncertain world.”

In other words, anxiety is a normal state and part of the adventure of being human. Read this article in full and it will make you feel less crazy – I promise. In general I am enjoying reading articles on the Book of Life site and I recommend signing up for their newsletter if the book seems like too much information. That’s what I did and I am finding very useful insights.

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Praying up a storm!

prayerchangesthingsI have profound respect for UMC and Baptist ministers who can pray in such uplifting and deeply personal ways with patients and families. Coming from an Irish Catholic background I am genetically non-disposed to utter Amens and Thank you Lords during prayer. Catholic prayer is formulaic and stoic, though not less holy for being so. But I am learning from my Christian family to let go and let God, to speak out words of Amen and Yes, Lord, when the context calls for it as it did last night.

A man in his fifties had died after a ten year battle with cancer. The wife was waiting for her own UMC minister whose praying her husband loved. But meanwhile, as chaplain on call, I supported the family and offered a scripture reading. I committed to staying until their minister arrived and was greeted by a diminutive black woman with a clerical shirt and collar and a black and white skirt and fashionable black heels. She graciously acknowledged my presence and gave me the title minister which I didn’t correct- it not being the time for pedantic title swapping. She waited for the family to voice their feelings and then she signalled to join hands and began to sing in a crackly soprano, “It is well with my soul.”  I don’t think I would have the humility it takes to lead a song when singing isn’t your forte. But it was perfect. She moved into a reading of the 23rd psalm and then she began to pray.

Her prayer was simple with repeated use of phrases like Dear God, and Dear Lord and many, many thanks for God’s blessings. I am doing better with praying extemporaneously but I am not nearly as competent as she. For her it came naturally like water from a spring; with me I still feel I am stumbling and tumbling with rocks in my mouth and in my soul. I wish I could have recorded her prayer and studied it. her prayer went on and on but never felt too long. She gave voice to the faith of the family, to the love of the family, and to the pain of the loss. And the family and I gently added our quiet Amens.

So tonight, as I face another 12 hour overnight shift, I pray for the grace of prayer and the humility I need to stumble if that is what it takes to kearn to let go.

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Becoming an artist of loss

When I have spoken at memorial services I have often used the image of a tapestry or cloth for the human story and spoken of how the person who has died is nonetheless part of that tapestry for all time. A form of eternal life; being forever a part of the human story.


Loss makes artists of us all as we weave new patterns in the fabric of our lives.

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The grass isn’t always greener

I received a wonderful quote the other day:

The grass is not, in fact, always greener on the other side of the fence. No, not at all. Fences have nothing to do with it. The grass is greenest where it is watered. When crossing over fences, carry water with you and tend the grass wherever you may be.


As I move on to the next stage in my career, I take these words to heart and pray for the grace to bring water with me. I want to focus on what I have to offer and how I can continue to make a difference.

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