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Posted: June 17, 2005

Spiritual Caregiving

Time Again to Nourish Your Soul -- and Live More Fully

(Editor's Note: We are pleased to share more "food for the soul" excerpted from a new book, Fifty Ways to Feed Your Soul, produced by Spirituality and Health and published by Red Wheel/Weiser. We hope you enjoy them -- and that they provoke thoughts of your own "nourishment.") 

Share Your Passions -- and Relax
One of my dearest friends and I started a top 10 list ritual. Through the darkest times in our lives (her husband died at 38; my mom was sentenced to 25 years in prison), it has helped us keep our perspective on how graceful and elegant life is when you pay attention. When we are downtrodden, we pause and send each other a blank greeting card in which we write our top 10. Past top 10s have ranged from "Top 10 fictional characters I would love to meet" to "Top 10 things to buy at the grocery store." We keep it silly and whimsical to give each of us a moment to relax and remember that life is full of good, simple pleasures.

Marcia Lynn Alvis

Share Your Gratitude
Every July, a friend of mine has a Gratitude Dinner. Each of us brings part of the meal and writes a list of things to be grateful for to drop into a hat. After dinner, the hat is passed and someone else reads their gratitude list aloud -- to cheering and applause! It does make a difference to the soul to hear what others are grateful for.

Dianne Bayley
, South Africa

See with New Eyes
The last few years have been difficult for me, but because of that they have been a time of spiritual growth. I have for the first time become seriously involved with my church, and I receive the greatest satisfaction and nurture for my soul by volunteering with others to deliver furniture to people in need. Traveling to areas I previously avoided, and speaking with people I previously shunned, I have learned much about gratitude, God's love, and our need to love all our brothers and sisters. My problems pale into insignificance as I see the many people who live from day to day. After each move, I thank God for letting me make a difference, however small, in someone's life.

Jerome Tracy
, New York  

Notice Things
At 57, I notice things I never did before, and I'm surprised by how much there is to see, like yesterday when the late-afternoon winter light gave the living room a golden glow that I had to sit in. Or the trace of my daughter's dimples when she talks fast, or the crunch when I bite into an almond. My time is getting shorter, but my moments, when I notice things, are getting richer.

Helen Ayers
Omaha, Nebraska  

Immerse Yourself in the Divine
As a family law judge and a single mother, I multi-task to accomplish as much as possible during my day. I exercise my body, relieve stress, and nourish my soul by combining my daily run along my community's green belt with a spiritual practice. I immerse myself in the sensory experience of the Divine around me. I taste the sweat from my exertion, smell the fresh air and rich earth, listen to the singing birds and chattering squirrels, feel the wind on my skin, and see God in the smiles and friendly nods of my neighbors as I pass. I end each run with a prayer of thanksgiving for my strong body, quiet mind, and peaceful soul. Afterward, I feel relaxed and connected to the universe.

Lisa A. Beebe
, Texas  

Practice Saying Thank You
Each day I look for one person to thank -- the crosswalk guard who smiles at me, the grocery checker who looks me in the eye, someone from the present or past who has made a difference, however small, in my life -- and I write a thank-you note to that person in my journal. This has helped me notice small gestures of goodwill and learn to take the time to say thank you to the givers of such gifts to let them know they made a difference in my life.

Nancy Campbell
Minden, Louisana  

Let the Love In
I have a dog, cats, and fish, and the unconditional love they offer touches me. Sometimes I'll sit quietly to watch the fish and their colors and swimming patterns and listen to the sound of the water. Other times, I'll watch the cats play and savor the innocence and simplicity of what's fun to them, or snuggle up to one of them to hear a soothing purr. I'll walk my dog and enjoy the fresh air and movement, and watch him take in every nuance of what goes on around him. They remind me of what there is to appreciate when I just slow down.

Donna Lange
Spokane, Washington

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

© 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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