Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday Five: A Healing Space

Thank you thank you thank you to RevGal Deb for the prompts for today's Friday Five.

I am an enthusiastic newspaper reader. Lately, however, world events have made it hard to read and process the pain in the world around me. Perhaps you have struggled with this, too.

So, with the events of the violence and tragedy from the Boston Marathon fresh in our memories, I thought it would be good for us to focus on where as RevGalBlogPals, we find healing, peace and strengthening. As a chaplain, there are days where I never seem to catch my breath, and invariably, those are the days that I need it the most! So with all this in mind, share with us these healing things

1. A piece of music
There are so many pieces of music I could name: the Brahms Intermezzo Op.118 #2; the Bach Air "for the G-String" (no snickering please); "By Way of Sorrow" by Julie Miller, the Cry Cry Cry version; the Girlyman version of "My Sweet Lord" by George Harrison. But I will share a song that never fails to slow my pulse, and steady my breathing, and fill me again with hope: Ani DiFranco's "Everest."

2. A place

If you know me, you will have heard me say this many times: the ocean. I grew up at the beach. It comprises my spiritual geography. It is the place where I learned things about God: Its immensity, its endlessness, the way it is powerful yet comforting; the way it throws me around and yet holds me tenderly; the way it chills and/ or refreshes; its sound, in any weather... still lapping sounds, powerful windswept sounds. The ocean is my healing place.

3. A favorite food (they call it "comfort food" for a reason)

Oh so complicated. I take "comfort" from certain foods that remind me of childhood, I supposed. My mother's recipe for spaghetti and meatballs! Chocolate chip cookies. But today, truly, I am taking comfort in having had a healthy breakfast that makes me feel good and gives me energy for the tasks and joys of the day.

4. A recreational pastime (that you watch or participate in)

Of late I have been watching an awful lot of TV. "Castle" falls in the category of "visual comfort food" for me: a good (often silly) story,  interspersed with interesting arcs for the main characters. But I am really looking forward to getting back to the pool. Swimming in the morning gives me such a profound feeling of  being centered, alive, and ready.

No pictures of me in the pool. :-) Here are Castle and Beckett. They're like family now.

5. A poem, Scripture passage or other literature that speaks to comfort you.

Those who know me well are sick of this  story. I was in seminary, in New York City, on 9/11, though far, far uptown and thus out of the immediate danger that took so many lives at ground zero. I was also participating in Clinical Pastoral Education, a 400-hour program as a chaplain at Beth Israel Hospital (the branch that has since closed, in Yorktown, right near Gracey Mansion). As I took the train and the buses I would pray Daily Prayer from the Presbyterian Book of Common Worship, and on Wednesday September 12, the psalm for the morning was Psalm 46. It made my hair stand on end, it felt so powerfully like God reaching to humanity in that devastating moment with words of solace and promise. I prayed that psalm along with the Kaddish for the dead, for a year.

If you decide to pray it, notice the  "Selah's". Modern scholars aren't a hundred percent sure what "selah" means exactly. It might be a musical instruction,  since all psalms were written to be sung. It might mean, "stop, listen." I recommend taking it as a sigh, a moment to breathe. Breathe in the reassuring, loving presence of God for you. Breathe out God's love for the whole world. The Whole World.

1God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
3though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. Selah
4There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.
5God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns.
6The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
8Come, behold the works of the Lord; see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
9He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10“Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.”
11The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
BONUS: People, animals, friends, family - share a picture of one or many of these who warm your heart.

There she is. You can see her arm, as well as her spinach croissant.


  1. I am also a huge Castle fan. And thanks for the reminder of this Ani DiFranco song.

  2. Love me some Ani. And praying you find that Deep Peace that the Spirit sends. Blessings to you and yours...

  3. thanks for the song...great play!

    and, seriously: do you make designs in your own coffee, or are both of these pictures out someplace?

  4. I understand the food conundrum so completely, and when I have eaten wholesomely through the day, there is so much comfort in that. I almost said Castle and Bones for my recreational pastime.

  5. LOL... Teri talented baristas in Wyoming and Oberlin made the lovely designs in my latte! The ones in Oberlin can actually make a squirrel. I kid you not.