Welcome to the Virtual Caring Corner! We have placed all of our resources in one convenient location for you to enjoy.
October 22, 2020
The Sabbath Practice of Blessing: A Celtic tradition based in deep hope and kindness
Irish poet and teacher John O’Donohue writes that “a blessing is a circle of light drawn around a person to protect, heal, and strengthen.” The Celtic act of blessing people - and even the most mundane of daily tasks - is deeply rooted in gratitude for the sacred in everyday life.
In these days, if kindness and hope seem lacking, consider a blessing practice: Find a candle that holds meaning or beauty for you; set aside some time to say a simple prayer of blessing for someone (or yourself), light the candle, and take a few mindful breaths. Reaching deep within to extend your soul’s light can be a force for healing and transformation.
October 15, 2020
Sabbath Practice: Connecting with God in Nature - Being present in nature surrounded by God’s creations
In his article, Nature Reflects God’s Goodness, Richard Rohr says, every day we have opportunities to reconnect with God through an encounter with nature. Whether an ordinary sunrise, or a cloud in the sky, this spirituality doesn’t depend on education or belief. It almost entirely depends on our capacity for simple presence.
This can be hard to do when our minds are swirling with things that need to get done. Allowing ourselves time in nature as a Sabbath practice has significant benefits. Immersing ourselves in nature calms us and allows time to renew ourselves and our relationship with God. Below is a step-by-step guide for this Sabbath practice. Try incorporating it into your life:
- For 20-30 minutes, walk slowly in silence outside without trying to get anywhere.
- Let your senses guide your walk, if you are drawn to a colorful leaf, a tree or a fragrance, stop and linger, allow the moment to be in nature, just observing.
- Do not hurry; follow your own timing and curiosity.
- When you are called to begin again, move on.
Practicing this three to four times a week has allowed me to feel grounded. Walking and feeling the heat of the sun on my face; listening to the birds; smelling the fresh air; and seeing the large trees surrounding me brings me a sense of peace, feeling nourished by all of God’s creations.
“The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship.”
~ Psalm 19:1
With prayers for your wellness during this time.
Renee Malnak-Giansiracusa and the Caring Ministries Team
October 8, 2020
The Sabbath Practice of Unplugging - Turning off distractions to tune into God’s calling
As the noise of the outside world gets louder, our need for self-care increases. Sabbath is a time, a practice, an intention to step away from what distracts and turn toward God. There are many Sabbath practices that can aid this turning and quieting.
Sabbath can only begin if we close the factory, turn out the lights, turn off the computer, and withdraw from the concerns of the marketplace. Choose at least one heavily-used appliance or device – the television, computer, cell phone, washer and dryer – and let them rest for a Sabbath period. Whether it is a morning, afternoon, or entire day, surrender to a quality of time when you will not be disturbed, seduced or responsive to what our technologies have to offer. Notice how you respond to its absence.
As Michael Lerner wrote in his book, Jewish Renewal, “The weekly choice to dedicate one day not to the shopping mall, not to the television or telephone or computer, not to the consciousness of the market, opens the possibility for sacred time in which the call of God can be heard.”
Living amidst all the distractions, the constant bombardment, and the volume can be overwhelming. Being able to stop and tune into God’s peace and presence can allow us to live in safety and security, even in the center of the storm.
Psalm 46:10: Be still and know that I am God.
With prayers for your wellness in this time,
The Caring Ministries Team
October 1, 2020
Just for Today... How a cancer patient's survival kit can help us now
During my years as an oncology nurse, I encountered Tom McDermitt’s Daily Survival Kit for Serious Illness. McDermitt, a Villanova University graduate and longtime cancer patient, shared 10 intentions to read every day, some of which are:
- “Today I am going to try to live through this day only, and not dwell on or attempt to solve all my problems at once.”
- “Today I may feel the need to complain a great deal; I may have little tolerance; I may cry; I may scream. That does not mean that I am less courageous or strong. All are ways of expressing anger over this mess, of rightly mourning my losses. Endurance itself is courage.”
- “Just for today, maybe I can take heart that we are all connected.”
Reading these today, I find a model for managing the increasing list of things that overwhelm – a pandemic, fires burning out of control, racial strife, a contentious election. Setting my own intention “just for today” looks like this:
- Today I will limit exposure to current news to one hour.
- Today on my morning walk I will focus more on the wonder of God’s creation than the number of political yard signs.
- Today when I feel stressed, I will recall Psalm 62:5: “In God alone is my soul at rest. God is the source of my hope.”
With prayers for your wellness in this time,
Carol Cherry and the Caring Ministries Team
September 24, 2020
Flu Shots Protect You and Me
BMPC is partnering with Main Line Health to help us care for ourselves and one another by offering a flu vaccine clinic on Wed., Oct. 14 from 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Getting a flu shot this season not only protects you and others, but it can reduce the burden on healthcare systems as they care for COVID-19 patients. Here are the details:
- You must be age 19 and older.
- The high-dose vaccine for seniors will not be offered.
- Masks are required and physical distancing will be in effect.
September 17, 2020
“Breathe on me, Breath of God, fill me with life anew, that I may love the way you love, and do what you would do.”
The words from the familiar hymn help us focus on a simple coping tool we have at our disposal – our breath. Breathing intentionally, using the 4-7-8 breath, is a powerful way to decrease stress. To learn how to do mindful breathing, click here.
September 10, 2020
Our Refuge and Strength
Admiral Hyman Rickover, who offered the words from the Old Breton Fisherman’s prayer to new submarine captains – “O, God, thy sea is so great and my boat is so small” – gave this plaque to President John F. Kennedy who kept it on his desk in the Oval Office. In overwhelming times, let us cling fast to the words of the Psalmist, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.”
~ Psalm 46:1-3
September 3, 2020
Movement is medicine: for the body, mind, and spirit…
And yoga is an accessible practice for everyone. No time like the present to begin experiencing the benefits of yoga or deepen your practice.
For the past 11 years, BMPC member Karen Gagnier has been teaching a mixed-level yoga class at the church, and donations from class participants support our hunger ministries. And now, as we all continue to adapt to the present pandemic, Karen is offering her BMPC class outdoors.
If you would like to participate, the outdoor yoga classes begin Tues., Sept. 15 at 9:30 a.m. at Maybrook Mansion, 325 Penn Rd., Wynnewood. Classes will continue to support BMPC's Hunger Ministries.
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” - Arthur Ashe
August 27, 2020
A Moment for a Lovingkindness Meditation
Spend two minutes on a lovingkindness meditation with Spirit Rock teacher Sylvia Boorstein. This meditation was excerpted from Sylvia Boorstein’s interview with Krista Tippett for an On Being episode. View here.
August 20, 2020
Rhythm of Grace
In these virus-weary days, a simple centering prayer can be an anchor when our thoughts and fears take flight.
“Help me feel your rhythm of grace in the movements of this day.” Write it on a Post-it, affix to the dashboard or place where it can be a portable reminder that God travels with us. These words by Peter Traben Haas, Presbyterian pastor, are from Centering Prayers, A One-Year Daily Companion for Going Deeper into the Love of God.
August 13, 2020
John Lewis and Hearing the Call of Love
The Rev. Dr. D. Scott Stoner writes about the legacy of John Lewis and the lasting gifts of integrity and love. “So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.” From a final essay from Congressman John Lewis. Read more.
August 6, 2020
Reading so much information in these days can make us weary. We hope this image makes you smile.
This image and other artwork can be downloaded free from the United Nations COVID-19 Response Creative Content Hub
July 30, 2020
Signs of Mental Strength
What does it mean to be mentally strong and how does that look in this ever changing world? The Rev. Dr. D. Scott Stoner reviews Amy Morin's book, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do.
“Morin’s primary point is that we often mistake acting tough with being strong. Real strength, especially in times of extreme uncertainty, manifests in the ability to be vulnerable, flexible, and willing to change one’s mind in the face of new information and facts as they are revealed.” Read more
July 23, 2020
Zoom-In and Zoom-Out: Choices on the COVID Roller Coaster
As our world changes from day-to-day, we all need to be adapting and finding ways to manage the information overload. Michele Marsh, Council for Relationships and former Middleton Counseling Center therapist, talks about the roller coaster of COVID-19 and how we can manage self-care and the news cycle. Read more
July 16, 2020
Our Interconnected Spiritual Health
COVID-19 has emphasized the truth of humanity’s interconnectedness. No nation or community has been exempt from the virus’s spread across the globe. As we address this global pandemic, we also must pay attention to those scourges which flow through our interconnectedness of spirit. Racism and fear-based hostility, to name a few, threaten our spiritual health. In this meditation from the Center for Action and Contemplation, Brian McLaren urges us to use this opportunity to heal our spirit as well as our body. Read more
July 9, 2020
An Insomniac's Prayer Practice
Sleepless nights are an all-too-common experience for many of us. So much news, so many concerns. How do we calm the "monkey mind"? In this Christian Century article, the author describes a prayer practice that calls on God by names of several faith traditions. This brings a sense of calm in solidarity with others, helping us to know we're not alone. Read more here.
July 2, 2020
Rethinking Food During and After Quarantine
June 25, 2020
Graduation, Grief and Gratitude
June 18, 2020
How has the Pandemic Changed you?
As we begin venturing out into a post-quarantine life, are there habits or things you did during this time of "lockdown" that you want to keep in your life, post-pandemic? In the article "Quarantine has changed us – and it's not all bad," the author Sigal Samuel asked his readers at Vox this very question. He received responses from all over the world and discusses the eight habits people do not want to live without as we move into a post-pandemic world. You can read the article here.
June 11, 2020
Daily Prayer Practice
One way to care for yourself and maintain calm during turbulent times is to implement the following simple daily prayer practice. It can improve your outlook, set a spiritual intention for your day, and lift up those you love. It’s called the 4-2-1 program which can be done anywhere without any special books or equipment.
Simply list the following:
4: List four things you are grateful for.
2: List two people you would like to lift up.
1: List one thing you hope or pray for yourself.
Practicing gratitude daily for one week can lead to an increase in happiness that can persist for six months. This regular practice also has been found to increase positive emotions, reduce the risk of depression, and can increase resilience in the face of stressful situations. (Source: “Four Great Gratitude Strategies.” Greater Good Magazine-Science Based Insights for a Meaningful Life, UC Berkeley. June 30, 2015.)
June 5, 2020
In an episode of "Wisdom in the Pandemic," John Philip Newell, former Middleton Center Spring Symposium Speaker and Advent Sermon Series Preacher, speaks of the Celtic prophet George MacLeod, who challenges us to consider, “How shall we live after the pandemic?” From his garden in Edinburgh, his words on how to care for vulnerable matters is very relevant to life in the United States right now. We hope the video speaks to you during this time. Watch it here.
May 28, 2020
Living with Uncertainty
As a community and congregation we have been living with and balancing uncertainty since early March. As our local communities prepare to transition from the red phase to the yellow phase, we will continue to live with uncertainty. To manage our feelings of uncertainty, we must pay attention to two things: ourselves and others.
Attention to Self: How do we care for ourselves, manage our anxiety, and feel safe during times of uncertainty? You will find suggestions for each of these items in past Caring Corner posts, which included everything from breath prayers and finger labyrinths, to ways to understand our emotional reactions. Additionally, here is an excellent resource from NPR on dealing with uncertainty.
Attention to Others: In the yellow phase we will still practice social distancing, which is a misnomer: We don’t want to be socially isolated, but we remain physically distant for the safety of others. Please continue to maintain six feet of distance between you and others, but even as you do, reach out, re-engage, and find new ways to be present to others.
As we move into the yellow phase some things will change and other things will remain the same. We encourage you to continue to walk with faith through these uncertain times. You can do so with confidence, knowing that you are not alone on the journey. Caring Ministries, and all of BMPC, is here to walk with you.
May 21, 2020
Give Yourself a Break!
May 14, 2020
In this article from Christian Century, M. Craig Barnes, president of Princeton Theological Seminary, helps us to see that this is not the first time in human history we have faced widespread disease that leads us to prayer. The God who was so clearly faithful in our past is going to be faithful today, tomorrow, and through eternity. Read more here.
May 7, 2020
Deep Peace from Iona
Remembering the BMPC trip to Scotland one year ago this week, we offer this “movement as prayer” filmed on the island of Iona. In Celtic spirituality, Iona is considered a “thin place,” sacred because heaven and earth seem especially near to one another and God is known in the beauty of nature.
Deep peace of the rolling waves to you.
Deep peace of the silent stars.
Deep peace of the blowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth.
Let peace, let peace, let peace fill your soul.
May peace, may peace, may peace keep you whole.
For more on the artist Betsey Beckman, see The Dancing Word, Resources for Embodied Prayer, Liturgical Dance and the Arts in Spiritual Direction, in collaboration with Abbey of the Arts.
April 30, 2020
April 23, 2020
In recognition of Earth Day celebrated this week, we join with M. Courtenay Willcox, Chair of the Environmental Justice Committee, in considering how care of the environment and the earth's most vulnerable are intertwined. May we be inspired by nature and act to protect it and all inhabitants. Read here...
April 16, 2020
This past month has been a time of focusing on physical safety, physical wellness and physical distancing. We recognize that social isolation can be difficult emotionally as well as psychologically. Dr. Russ Harris, author of The Happiness Trap, recently wrote an article using the acronym FACE COVID for some wellness tools and techniques. We hope you find it useful.
April 9, 2020
During this time of compassionate retreat during Holy Week, walking a finger labyrinth provides another way to spend time seeking closeness with God. Using a finger on your non-dominant hand, trace the path of the labyrinth while connecting with your breath, praying, listening or simply leaning into the rhythm. The Labyrinth Society has many suggestions on how to create your own finger labyrinth, provides templates for printable finger labyrinths and offers a virtual walk. Also, there is a wonderful app called Labyrinth Journey that allows one to walk virtually.
Blessings on your pilgrimage,
Anne Montgomery Schmid, Certified Labyrinth Facilitator
April 2, 2020
During this time of self-isolation it is vital to take care of ourselves holistically. The article “How to Practice Breath Prayer” from the website “A Sacred Journey,” discusses how the daily practice of breath prayers can help calm our minds and bodies while deepening our connection with God.
March 26, 2020
Each week, the Caring Ministries team will share an offering to support you in mind, body and spirit. You are in our prayers as we journey this new path together. Two practices that can move us toward healing in these virus-weary days is to name our feelings and look for meaning in our daily lives. To learn more about these practices, we encourage you to read: "That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief.”