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Posted: June 24, 2005

Spiritual Caregiving

More Soul Nourishment -- Through Whimsy, Writing and More

(Editor's Note: Can we ever get enough nourishment for our soul? We think not, and are pleased to present your thoughts to provoke you to take better care of your caregiving self. These thoughts are compiled in our book Fifty Ways to Feed Your Soul. Read on -- and be inspired.)

_____

Invite Whimsy
The written word has graced my life, and I give thanks for it daily. In my home office, where I write, is a shelf of my favorite children's books, including those I read to my son. They are surrounded by small toys and memorable characters from some of the books, including Seuss's Thing One and Thing Two. These icons never fail to make me smile, and inspire my gratitude for the stories that shaped my childhood and made me reach higher than I thought I could, like the little engine that could. The shelf, in its whimsical way, is an altar.
Cindy La Ferle
Royal Oak, Michigan

Listen and Be Listened To
Reading Bible stories, hearing other people's stories, telling my story . . . stories help us understand each other and God.
Barbara Epley-Shuck
Whitesboro, New York

Be Nurtured by Nature
Every day I connect to nature in some way. I might look at the sky filled with puffy clouds or twinkling stars, stand barefoot in cool grass, play in the snow, walk in squishy mud, smell newly mown hay, listen to frogs in spring and summer, taste sweet strawberries from the field, or feel the wind and sun on my skin. These small meditations remind my soul that there is something bigger than the thoughts that fill my mind throughout the day.
Vicki L. Dury
Westborough, Massachusetts

Feed the Birds
Often, when I need to renew my spirit, I seek out my little feathered friends. I sit quietly near my bird feeders in the backyard. After my intrusion into their world, the birds take some time to come back, but I feel the shift as nature returns to normal around me, and they come flying in to resume their feeding. It thoroughly delights me to become a part of their world for just a little while, and at the same time, it connects me with that deeper, divine part of myself.
Janet Tebo
North Ferrisburg, Vermont

Write -- and Write Some More
I see writing as a religious craft, not only because of the subject matter of my books but because there is so often inspiration in the process. At times in the course of writing, I suddenly find myself knowing something I did not know I knew. The right phrase, the perfect example, pops into my mind. Where was it before it occurred to me? It is an eerie experience, and I can think of no word for it other than "inspiration." 

To honor the holiness of the writing process, I do a few things. First, for many years, when I sat down after breakfast to write, I would begin by writing a check to some charitable organization. My wife noticed the pattern before I did and asked me if it was some sort of ritual, perhaps invoking a benign muse or spirit. At first I assured her that it was no more than clearing a distracting envelope off my desk. But as I thought about it, it became clear to me that it was a ritual. At some level, I must have felt that if I opened my heart to someone in need, my heart would remain open to inspiration as I began to write. 

When I am working on a book, I write every morning except the Sabbath. But some days the writing simply will not come, and I feel stumped. When that happens, I go for a walk (weather permitting), leaving my study and emerging into God's world. It almost always happens that by not thinking about my problem, I find the solution.  

Rabbi Harold Kushner
Author, When Bad Things Happen to Good People

Keep an Open Heart
Sometimes my workday is so intense that I forget my higher priorities amid the storms of to-do lists and mini-crises. To remember to feed my soul, I chose the one action sure to happen many times a day: answering the phone. Each time I lift it to my ear, I take a conscious breath, open my heart, and greet the unknown caller with love.
Mary Beth Conlee
Sedro Woolley, Washington

Make Art with Friends
A few of us have what we call "spirit art play dates." We gather on the last Sunday of the month to share talents, materials, and each other's company while creating spiritually inspired works of the hand and heart. We use a free space at a local nature center, bringing bag lunches and snacks to share. We have worked with beads and gemstones and made soft sculptures and dolls. Conversations flow in many directions while we work, from technical difficulties to spiritual subjects to personal experiences and community concerns.
Sue-Ryn Burns
Wellesley Island<, New York


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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