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Posted: June 03, 2005

Spiritual Caregiving

Living Fully: Ways to Nourish Your Soul

My 20-something friend Dinie, one of nine children in a Lubavitch Jewish family, once told me, "Spirituality is like a switch. Everybody has one; it's just that not everyone has it turned on." I immediately understood her wise observation. My switch is turned on when I live from a willingness to see a loving God in the everyday. I am fully alive, and the most ordinary moment can feed my soul. But I'm human and my switch sometimes feels stuck -- or worse, nonexistent.

For me, one key was finding the spiritual practices that are right for me. I practiced my faith in community; I watched and listened to those whose switches seemed to be in the on position. I noticed the simple yet elegant ways people connected with the Divine. I began to borrow the practices that appealed to me.

For instance, years ago a friend suggested that I write a daily gratitude list. Night after night, I grumbled as I tried to even remember what had happened during my day, much less write it down! But it was right for me. Over time, my struggle to find things for the list has grown into a nightly practice that lets me see the abundance in today and make room for the gifts and challenges of tomorrow. My focus shifted from what I don't have to the multitude of blessings in each day.

What broadens your perspective and deepens your faith? What calms your fears and brings you peace? What deepens your connection to your essential self, to other people, to the world, and to God?

We asked Spirituality & Health's readers those questions two years ago. Their diverse and thoughtful replies became an article called Fifty Ways to Nourish Your Soul. So many readers told us they appreciated those practices that we decided to ask again.

Here are some of the responses. Feel free to borrow the ideas that might reset your switch.

Find the Gift
While driving to work, I often find myself dreading the day, because my job can be very stressful. I didn't want to continue this way. So now I ask God to open my eyes to His beautiful world and He does -- the ice-encrusted branches with sunlight filtering through, the first spring robin twittering as I get into my car. When I get to work, I note that morning's gift in the margin of my work calendar to refresh me all day long. My drive has a new dimension and so does my day!

Sharron G. Uhler
Shawnee
 Mission, Kansas 

Speak What Matters
Our family was blessed to spend a weekend away together last summer. Just before getting into our cars to return home, we held hands in a circle, making sure each child was next to an adult. Each of us named one thing they loved and enjoyed in the person to their right. We all left with a little more love in our hearts, looking forward to our next weekend away.

Lindsay Miller
Indianapolis, Indiana 

Tend Your Garden
Back in 1984, a devastating illness left me disabled and unable to work. Over the next couple of years I discovered gardening, first in an allotment garden; then, as my body deteriorated, in containers on my patio, as well as gardening at a nearby hospital in the rehab department. I find a daily visit to one of the gardens rejuvenating. My wife bought me a card that I framed with a quotation from Minnie Aumonier: "When the world wearies and society ceases to satisfy there is always the garden."

David Stobbs

Rekindle Hope
When fear and self-doubt threaten to overwhelm me, I light a candle. This simple act helps me recognize a downward spiral of thoughts and kindle a hopeful flame, to acknowledge my need to worry less and trust more. The flame is a tangible reminder of what is available for the asking -- divine wisdom, strength, and love to illuminate the darkness.

Susan C. Brown
Lexington, Kentucky 

Take a Stroll with Pure Joy
A
stroll around the block with my two-year-old granddaughter feeds my soul. She teaches me to "be in the now" with each squeal of joy at seeing things I overlook. "Twees," "buttyfies," "birdies," and "fowers" take on new beauty with her exuberance. I pray that she and I will never outgrow these precious times.

Carolyn Carpenter
Tulsa, Oklahoma  

Experience the Moments
Considering every action, choice, and reaction as feedback, I tend to analyze contexts and sub-contexts to death, even pathologizing not only myself but others. I find laptop journaling every morning a way to get the analyzing over with, so I can experience the rest of the moments of the day Just as They Are, not Just as I Think Them to Be.

Martha Eistrup
Edgar
, Idaho
  

Look Up
I stop and look at the sky, no matter what the weather, day or night. Often I see snippets of a rainbow, often clouds or stars or a glorious moon. The best time is while walking but anytime will do. I am always grateful for the opportunity.

Pamela A. Beamon
Winston-Salem
, North Carolina 


This article originally appeared in Spirituality & Health magazine, www.SpiritualityHealth.com. For subscriptions call 1-800-876-8202 or see www.SpiritualityHealth.com/subs. Editor Stephen Kiesling and his staff contribute weekly columns, features and articles published every Friday as "Spiritual Caregiving" at www.caregivershome.com. Contact staff directly via email at ASKspirituality@spiritualityhealth.com.

© 2005 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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