Mindful Availability For All

mindful availability

Writer Sue Monk Kidd authored a lovely article on mindfulness way back in September 1997. It appeared in a Christian quarterly journal called Weavings.

She said that when she began to observe her interactions with others to discover just how available she made herself, she was surprised at the lack of true attention she provided.

Kidd wrote, “I watch my restless heart, the mercurial way my mind sweeps from one thing to another, the way my ego holds forth, keeping me abreast of my own expectations, wants, and preoccupations—criticizing, comparing, competing, imposing views. I realize that I can be with someone, but on a deeper level, I’m not available to them at all. I have attention deficit disorder of the soul.”

Distraught in what she found in herself, she took up mindful availability as a spiritual practice. It was hard! Yes, it IS hard!

When I teach mindfulness as part of public speaking, I come clean with my students and share my own failings. When I worked and led a team of people, I seemed to be always so busy, busy, busy. Why, there was no time to stop typing an email or crunching numbers for a report when a team member would pop her head in and ask, “Do you have a few minutes?” Even if I did remove my hands from the keyboard or lift my eyes from the monitor, I would (surreptitiously, I imagined) sneak looks at work to be accomplished. I offered people who certainly deserved more just a fraction of my attention.

There is a Zen practice called meticulous attention. I’ve seen it also referred to as undivided presence. Simply stated, it is the giving of undivided attention to whatever is before us. If we’re eating, we would be focusing on the flavor, texture, and aroma of the food before us and not mindlessly cramming food into our mouths while watching TV or talking. Or if we’re soaking in a bathtub, ideally, we would be paying attention to the warmth of the water and noticing how it soothes our aching muscles and relaxes us. We shouldn’t let ourselves get distracted in the tub by checking Facebook likes on our phones or watching Adele parodies on YouTube. (Guilty.)

So the mindful availability we give to others is likely a work in process for most of us, me included certainly. But it’s a worthy goal to work toward for the rest of our lives.

Kidd says, “When you practice mindful availability, you are simply there with your heart flung open. Being such a rare quality of presence to another human is, in itself, a healing and transforming gift…One cannot be the recipient of mindful availability without being affected.”

~~~~~

Meticulous Attention article

NOTE: The Weavings Journal mentioned was taken out of print in 2017. There is still a website and you can find it here.

Weavings has been described as “committed to exploring the many ways God’s life and our lives are woven together in the world.” Each issue featured articles by various authors with a combined focus on a singular topic.

It Never Hurts To Ask

ask

It’s been nearly four years since I shared with my readers in “A Permanent Mark” that if asked for a motto that is important to me, it is this:  It never hurts to ask.

Because if you ask and the answer is NO, you’re no worse off than before you asked.

Singer/songwriter Zach Williams has a great story that truly illustrates this point.

Zach went down the wrong path when he hit sixteen. Drifting away from his Christian upbringing, he got involved with drugs and alcohol which cost him a Division 1 college basketball scholarship offer. He dropped out of high school and went to work for his dad’s construction company for a year. Then he moved away to attend a junior college and made the basketball team there. Unfortunately, he drifted back into drugs and alcohol. Then a foot injury took him off the team, but the downtime led him to pick up a friend’s guitar; thus began his music life.

Moving back home to work with his dad again, he was a functioning addict worker by day and musician by night. In a moving interview (link is below) he shares that he used drugs every day just to get through.

Living this life for years (working by day to pay the bills and partying like a rock star at night), he met the woman who would become his wife when he was 30. They married and, as the bad choices continued, his wife finally issued an ultimatum: Get clean or the marriage would end.

Just after that conversation, Zach went on a European tour with his rock band. Not wanting to lose his wife, he says that while on a long bus ride he prayed for God to send him a sign that God cared enough to help him. The bus driver had been scanning radio stations and he stopped on a contemporary Christian station where the song I am Redeemed by Big Daddy Weave was playing.

The song struck Zach as being just what he needed to hear. He continued to listen to the song over and over on his phone. Zach called his wife and told her he was quitting the band and coming home. They spent some time repairing their family’s relationship.

Eventually returning to music, he started writing and performing faith-based songs.  The turning point came as he understood that, “God spoke to me and said these are the songs, these are the people, these are the places, this is the music that I have for you to write.”

Zach reflects on the seasons of his own life to write from the heart. He says when someone tells him, “Your song saved my life,” that is better than any music award he could win.

When he recorded the demo for There Was Jesus, a woman sang the duet with Zach. Listening to the demo with his producer, he remarked that the woman had a sound similar to Dolly Parton’s. “Wouldn’t it be really cool to have Dolly Parton sing with me on this song?” He says they had a good laugh over it because, come on, Dolly Parton?

But his record label reached out to Dolly’s people and she said she would listen to the song. The words and music had such an amazing impact on her, she listened to just a part of it before she removed her headphones and agreed to the duet even though she had never even heard of Zach Williams!

And the rest is history. The song went on to reach #1 on the Billboard Christian Charts. The two performed a portion of the song on the 2019 Country Music Association awards show which impacted an audience the song might never have reached otherwise.

But what if they hadn’t asked?

What if?

~~~~~

The music video There Was Jesus

Big Daddy Weave’s I am Redeemed

Interview of Zack Williams on Jesus Calling podcast

Another version of the song There Was Jesus with Riaan Benadé and Demi Lee Moore (I love the dog who sleeps throughout the recording session! Apparently, the dog is an electric guitar fan.)

Lifted Up Post “A Permanent Mark” from Nov 1, 2016

From Similar Root Words

words

Some meaningful words harbor negative connotations.

Consider the word “humility.” From the Latin “humilitatem” meaning insignificance, humility isn’t an aspect to which very many people aspire to these days.

Anther similar root word, “humus” (earth), means “on the ground.” Since most of us have been encouraged since birth to aim for the sky, shoot for the moon, and reach for the stars, who wants to be grounded? Grounded is another word with two opposite meanings; the positive spin on the word means steady and stable, and the negative spin means being punished or unable to fly. (Presumably unable to fly to the sky, moon, and stars!)

Even Wikipedia says, “Dictionary definitions accentuate humility as a low self-regard and sense of unworthiness.” That’s certainly not healthy for us.

But the Christian sense of humility provides a different view of it. “A New Introduction to Moral Theology” written by the Church of England clergy says we can’t exist without a sense of selfhood and self-awareness; they’re essential for us to fulfill the gifts of our personality and talents.

Their further definition says this: “Humility is not an attitude which denigrates the self improperly; that is a false humility which can be dangerous. Humility is the virtue which we see in Jesus Christ, a true understanding of his own relationship to God and to others, a sure sense of perspective and proportion.”

Brother David Steindl-Rast includes humility as one of the blessings of life. (See a link to my prior post below.) And he admonishes us to never confuse humility with humiliation. The Latin “humiliare” is the root word of humiliation.

A person who attempts to humiliate another is trying to reduce that other person’s own self-view and/or reduce the person in the eyes of other people. A person who uses humiliation is attempting to shame others, hoping they will lose their self-respect and the respect of others.

In a business blog from six years ago on Leadership Freak, Dan Rockwell shares twelve tactics that foolish leaders use to humiliate others. He says that “showing disrespect invites disrespect.”

Of Rockwell’s twelve examples of the destructive heaping of humiliation on another person, (link is below) I believe the four I’ve noted are key for ALL of us to avoid because no matter what our position is in life, we are EACH a leader. (I’ve kept Rockwell’s original numbering.)

#4 “Innocent” sarcasm. Sarcasm is a coward’s way of saying what they really think.

#6  Interrupting while someone is speaking.

#10 Over-generalizing issues by using terms like “always.”

#12 Stealing honor that belongs to another.

The Church of England clergy reminds us that humility “is the light of God shining in the human person.”

Yes, I agree that (in the words of singer Jackie DeShannon) what the world needs now is love, sweet love.

And we also are in dire need of an ample portion of humility.

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Prior post on Brother David

Leadership Freak blog on Humiliation

A portion of MICAH 6:8 says: What does the Lord require of you, but to seek justice, love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God? Listen for these words in the song “Courageous” by Casting Crowns

What the World Needs Now

Love Stories At The Park

love story

If we’re Facebook friends, you’ll already know from my posts that I spend some part of every day at a local park named Rady. Besides the children’s playground and covered gazebo with picnic benches, there is an oblong paved path around an open grassy area and the baseball field.

In addition, there is a dirt path through a garden section alongside a creek. So, it’s no surprise that Rady is a draw for walkers and runners, children, families, couples, and friends.

Not only do I walk there daily to exercise the dog and myself, but also to replenish my soul. Because love stories happen all around me.

If I visit the park mid-morning, I often see the young father who places his not yet 18-month old son by a stone bench and then moves 20 or so paces away. The dad says in an excited voice, “Are you ready?! Are you ready?! Get set, go!” And the child wobble-runs as fast as he can move those baby-fat legs toward his daddy who scoops him up into the air as soon as the boy is within catching distance.

Is there any sound more joyous than a child’s exuberant laughter?

Then dad sets the boy down with an instruction to go back to the starting point. And another round begins. “Are you ready?” Are you ready?”

They play this game half a dozen times or so. While the child physically tires out, I do not tire of watching them. I told the dad recently, “Watching you two makes my day.”

In the late afternoon, a man around my age gently leads his wife around the paved path. I don’t know if she’s a stroke survivor or has some other illness, but she doesn’t seem able to participate in the exchange of greetings. His tender patience in helping her around to get exercise in the fresh air is as sure a sign of love as I see.

In the early morning (my most typical time to be at Rady) a group of older gentlemen socially distance themselves around the center of the gazebo in chairs they bring from home. Usually, there are four who meet every weekday morning. Grace the beagle and I walk around the outside of their circle so they can give Grace a pat and inquire as to how her squirrel chasing is going.

It’s obvious that these men are good friends who honor the commitment to get up and out to visit for an hour. And if I happen to arrive after they’ve dispersed for the day, why, the next morning they tell me they missed us. I feel like an extension of their group. For this reason, I once took the guys some of my homemade chocolate chip cookies.

Frank, Milton, Joe, and Bill may not profess love for each other, but camaraderie is surely a form of love!

So yes, walking in the park is good exercise, and immersion in nature is good for the mind and body. But noticing the love feeds my soul.

~~~~~~

Health benefits of walking

Yale article on health benefits of immersion in nature

Interesting article on mindful walking

Going To The Chapel

Chapel

Photo by Norma Thatcher, October 2017

The tiny brownish-red chapel sits as a focal point against a massive rock formation, towering evergreens, and (when in a season of flowing) a waterfall. A photo of the church in a calendar many years ago intrigued me, and I added it to the bucket list of places I wanted to see with my own eyes.

And so it was on my first visit to Yosemite National Park that I visited the Yosemite Valley Chapel.

Built in 1879 with initial funding from the California State Sunday School Association and other contributions, the building costs were around $4000. It seats about 250 people.

The church was originally situated in a busy community referred to then as the Lower Village. As activity fell away from that area, a decision in 1901 had the church dismantled and moved to the upper Yosemite Village. (See map in the link below.)

In 1966 the interior was restored, and the foundation was raised several feet as a means of coping with spring flooding. However, that wasn’t enough to overcome record floodwaters in 1977 that caused damage. But repairs were made, and improvements continue in order to ensure the chapel will remain open.

The Yosemite Valley Chapel was recognized for its simple architecture in 1973 when it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Noted as “a particularly fine example of the early chapels constructed in the Sierra Nevada Mountains,” that recognition helped put the chapel on the map, so to speak.

The chapel is typically open year-round for non-denominational worship services, but the entire Park is temporarily closed due to the smoke-filled unhealthy air from the wildfires.

The chapel is also a popular wedding destination. Renting for $850 during the peak season, it makes for a lovey minimalist venue. In order to maintain the pristine beauty of the building and surrounding area, there are, understandably, strict rules such as no throwing of rice or birdseed or flower petals or anything else. And your reception will need to be held elsewhere!

Here is a snapshot of a postcard I bought the last time we visited Yosemite in October 2017. The original photo was taken by Dan Warsinger.

chapel

But the calendar photo that originally piqued my interest is glued to the inside back cover of my blog idea notebook. Here it is:

chapel

The quotation accompanying the calendar photo is by Paramabansa Yogananda:

“You should be thankful for everything at all times. Realize that all power to think, and speak, and act comes from God, and that He is with you now, guiding and inspiring you.”

 And standing there at that church, gratitude and awe come quite easily.

~~~~~

Chapel of Love by the Dixie Cups

Map showing the Lower Village location

For more photos and information, here’s the official chapel site

 

A Gym With A View

gym with a view

When did you last touch a tree? Or scooped up acorns from the ground? Maybe you recall the most recently you picked up an unusual rock or stone from the dirt.

If your answer to the above prompts is, “I don’t know,” then you need to get out more. And by out, I mean outside to a park or the woods. OUT as in out of the car, off the paved sidewalks, out in the open.

When Laura was in her teens, she enjoyed working out to a VHS video called Your Personal Best, led by fitness expert Karen Voight. The film co-starred (then) supermodel Elle Macpherson. Released in the mid-90s, the video was filmed in the Hawaiian Islands. The cinematography of the beautiful scenery is breathtaking. The video is split into eight segments and each one displays a different stunning background.

It’s a well-rounded 50-minute workout that includes a warmup, some strength training, cardio, and stretching. The music is, of course, dated, but not blasting or overpowering. And I have long admired Karen Voight’s patient teaching methods.

I still use this video occasionally. (Don’t roll your eyes; yes, my basement holds an old television that plays both VHS and DVD. It weighs about 300 pounds so when we eventually sell this house, the tv may convey with the property.) And when I play the video, I relish the background scenery. From swaying palm trees to green pastures complete with grazing cows, it’s so gorgeous that I used to offer up this lame excuse for being lazy. “Well, sure, if I had a beautiful outdoor place like that to exercise, I’d be out there every day.”

Well, guess what? I DO have a beautiful outdoor place—my yard. While there are no palm trees or grazing cows, I have plenty of trees, flowers, moss, and rocks to look at.

So, for the past several months, I’ve spent my first half-hour of wakefulness each day moving to various spots in my yard doing dynamic stretching while the dog beats the bushes looking for frogs or toads or other hoppity thingies.

I feel almost stupid for not recognizing what has been available to me all this time. Starting my days moving in the outdoors has been a tremendous mood booster, especially during these pandemic times.

My favorite easy move is a standing pushup (also called a wall pushup) that improves upper body strength. My “wall” is a flowering plum tree with a Y trunk. The tree is located at the top of a hill so when I’m pushing myself away from the tree, gravity increases resistance. (Top photo)

In an earlier post from March 28, I wrote about Dr. Daniel Levitin’s advice to skip the treadmills and go outside and walk off the beaten path. Combining that with the outdoor workout and varied indoor regimens, I have accomplished my goal to be physically stronger than I was last year.

If you’re looking for an opportunity to get stronger, don’t wait for the gyms to reopen. Start now by going outside to play.

~~~~~~~~

Your Personal Best workout video – YouTube

Post on Mind Over Body March 28, 2020

Writing About Writing

writing about writing

My friend Betsy Anderson is part of a group that runs grief writing workshops. Her own daughter Caroline died in 1995 at the age of 16 from a sudden illness, so Betsy is an inspiration of healing to workshop participants.

In November 2012 I encouraged a new friend Denise (who had lost her son Zane ten months earlier) to attend the local workshop with me. Hoping that Denise would find pathways of recovery in the experience, I wasn’t expecting much for myself. After all, I was already four years into the grieving process for my son Tim, and I believed that I was doing OK.

Ya, right. As the women began sharing their stories of the deaths of children, sisters, brothers, parents, and friends, I felt my composure slipping. Some losses were months old, several a few years, and one (a young child who had died from leukemia) was just five weeks. I felt the deep grief of all those women as if it were my own all over again. I sobbed nearly throughout the six-hour class. I had thought I would help Denise through the class, but it was she who patted my hand.

There was one poignant statement from a mom that was nearly a tipping point for me. She said, “I have closed doors that I might peek through but never open again.” I was embarrassing myself with the crying, but thankfully, I decided to see it through.

I learned the health benefits of writing on deeply meaningful experiences: a lowering of blood pressure, an increased production of T cells (immune warriors) and help in coping with chronic pain.

There were various methods of grief writing. One was sentence completion. The leaders provided prompts to certain aspects of our lives such as growing up.

  • As a child, for me home was…
  • When I was little, I was expected to…
  • My first experience with death was when…

A second component of the program was writing short lists.

  • Write three fears you presently have.
  • What are four things you miss about your loved one?
  • Name five things for which you are grateful.
  • Because of the death of your loved one, what are three things you have lost?
  • Because of the death of your loved one, what are three things you have found?

A two-part exercise instructed us first to make a list of words or phrases signifying what our lives had been like before the death of our loved one, and then a list of words or phrases that defined what our lives were like after the loss. Some examples from our group that day were:

Before: noisy, music, joyful, laughter, in control, safety, future, confidence, companionship, smiles

After: broken, never again, powerless, dazed, empty, rage, raw, lonely, questioning faith, tears

When the words and phrases of the group’s “after” were read out loud, it was as if a collective sigh echoed through the room. A community had been built because the feelings and emotions were so common. We weren’t the only ones! We weren’t strange or bizarre. We weren’t crazy. We were mourning.

The second part of the exercise was to choose one of the group’s Before and one of the After words/phrases and make an acrostic poem. For my After phrase, I chose Never Again.

Normalcy is difficult to find—thoughts of pre-drugs

Eventually is what I choose to recall.

Vivid images of the larger-than-life Tim

Entering the house, calling out “Hello Mama!”

Rich in spirit and love, Tim was.

And I know he is at peace in

God’s loving arms,

Always loving his family,

Interested still in the whole world,

Never to be forgotten.

After the workshop ended at 2:30, I went home and straight to bed. I was spent. But the experience was so meaningful to me that here I am, eight years later, writing about it. Writing about writing.

You don’t have to be in mourning to take advantage of the benefits of writing or journaling. You can be in any situation that is deeply meaningful to you. And I have good news: You don’t need to write every day, be a perfect speller, or know the proper use of a comma. You’re writing for yourself, for your own mental and physical health benefits.

I’ve included a link below that shows how beneficial writing is. Go buy yourself a beautiful notebook and begin.

~~~~~~~

Powerful Health Benefits of Journaling from Intermountain Healthcare.org

One Of These Is So Not Like The Others

One is enough

One of the flower boxes on the back porch was filled with tangerine-color geraniums. Facing southwest, they received the full blessing of the sun’s encouragement to flourish. They were quite the sight…until a single stalk of something else started sprouting up in among them.

Was it a weed? I’m not the gardener in the family so I had no clue. I considered just lopping it off since it detracted from the uniform height of the other flowers.

But then I decided to wait it out. Like the beanstalk in Jack’s tale, the stalk seemed to get taller every day with more leaves extending upward. Then a tight star-like bud formed.

Yep, it was a single sunflower. We figure the seed had been dropped into the planter by one of the many birds we feed.

The site FTD.com explains the life cycle of a sunflower. It begins when the seed is planted. The germination phase, lasting up to eight days, is when roots develop and a shoot bursts through the dirt’s surface. That shoot, like most living things, is searching for sunlight. That second phase of vegetative emergence lasts nearly two weeks.

The sunflower then goes through vegetative states called V1, V2, V3, etc., so named when one leaf grows to 4 centimeters, then two leaves grow to the same length, and so on.

The reproductive phase occurs next when a bud forms within the cluster of leaves. It takes a month or so after that for the sunflower to bloom. The blooming period lasts a little less than three weeks.

The final phase of the sunflower’s life cycle is the harvesting one. After the flower droops and turns brown, the flower needs to dry out if you plan on having sunflower seeds to munch on or feed to the birds. You can follow the link below to learn more about harvesting the seeds.

Sadly, sunflowers are annuals which means you need to plant new seeds each year; they don’t revive themselves from the cold and snow as perennials do.

A sunflower is heliotropic; in the early phases before the flower is too heavy with seeds, the flower turns to follow the sun’s movement from East to West, returning to the East at night, ready to follow the first sun of the morning and soak up its life-giving energy.

Since sunflowers are tall and gangly and can topple over in the wind, gardening experts suggest planting sunflowers low and slightly sheltered, such as against a house or garage. Since I live on the side of a mountain, the back porch where ours exists is about fifteen feet off the ground in the open air.

So, against the odds, I have one beautiful sunflower. One is not enough to cut for a bouquet. One is not enough for the neighbors to admire as they walk or drive by. One is not enough to post on social media to gain bragging rights.

But one is enough to remind me to follow the light each day from dawn to dusk, returning at night to face where I fully believe the dawn will arrive again tomorrow.  That means one is enough to offer hope.

One is enough.

one is enough

~~~~~~

Life cycle of a sunflower from FTD.com

How sunflowers follow the sun

Harvesting sunflower seeds

An earlier post from July 2016 about reaching toward the light

What’s On Your Path?

rose petals path

Like a warmup act for the main performer, a flower girl precedes the bride down the aisle. She typically scatters rose petals on the bride’s path.

It’s thought that the custom began in ancient Rome but instead of spreading rose petals, the young girls showered the bride’s walkway with seeds, grains, and herbs to represent a blessing of fertility on the soon-to-be-married couple.

The concept of walking on a rose-strewn path is a lovely one. If someone offered to lay out a path of rose petals for me, why yes, I’d take them up on it.

We have numerous paths to follow in life. As we age from children to young adults, the first path may be the pursuit of higher education.

Since the 1970s, the four-year college plan was what many high school students aspired to. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 1960 approximately 54% of males and 38% of females who graduated from high school had enrolled in college. In 1965 those numbers were 57% and 45%. For the first time in 1988, more women than men had enrolled in college: 61% of women compared to 57% of men.

For those students in the 1960s and 1970s who preferred working with their hands, vocational training (now referred to as career and technical education) was an option. At the time, that training focused mainly on options such as carpentry, car repair, and plumbing. Now community colleges offer a seemingly endless range of interesting career paths such as culinary arts, healthcare, graphic arts, and heavy construction.

A second life path is finding a job or establishing a career. While the baby boomers’ parents (and some boomers themselves) often spent all or most of their entire working life with one company, that’s practically unheard of in 2020. (Unless you’re self-employed, of course, because who would want to leave such a great boss?)

After many years of working, we get to retire. In years past the stereotypical portrait of retired people was of men golfing or fishing and women drinking tea with friends or keeping busy around the house. Ah yes, taking it easy, living a life of leisure.

But the path of retirement, just like those of education and work life, can really be whatever you decide it will be.

For instance, I literally just ran out to my driveway and waved to my husband who was on board a Stearman World War II-era biplane flying over our house. This morning he learned a new wood-working skill. Earlier this month, my about-the-same-age friend Judy went skydiving for the first time. And next week I’m meeting with an illustrator to determine the possibility of finally bringing to life a children’s picture book I wrote some years back.

Using my own life as an example, sometimes we block our own life paths by placing barriers on them. The barriers might take the form of excuses as in, “I’m too old.” Or “I’m not smart enough.” And the one I hear most often from friends my own age, “I’m technologically challenged.”

We barricade our own path with boulders labeled, “What if people don’t like my idea?” Or “I’m just not sure it would work.” Or “It’s too late to start something new.”

I’m not saying everyone needs to go skydiving or write a book. But there is something each one of us has been thinking about doing. Admit it! So, start small if you must, but each day do something out of your comfort zone.

Shove those barriers and boulders out of your way or go around them. I’m willing to bet you’ll find some rose petals not far away along your path.

rose petals path

~~~~~

Interesting article on the technologically challenged excuse

Hit The Pause Button, Would You?

pause

My feedback to the student was a tad out of the ordinary. “That was an absolutely perfect use of a pause!”

The adult student was part of a group who delivered their final presentations last Thursday in one of my public speaking classes. Weeks ago, as they were preparing their finals, I had encouraged them to incorporate most of the new knowledge they had gleaned over the past seven units of instruction.

The power of a well-placed pause was part of that training.

Rookie speakers are uncomfortable with pausing. If they’re nervous, they want to rush through the speech and remove themselves from the spotlight. Those who suffer from Imposter Syndrome (see my post from September 8, 2018) hurry through the presentation before someone asks a question they can’t answer. Egotistical speakers don’t like to pause because, well, they’re just so absolutely fascinating they question why should they stop even for a moment?

Admittedly, when you’re the speaker and an audience’s attention is focused on you, a 3-4 second pause can feel like a really long time. But it’s a wonderful tool to add to your repertoire of speaking skills.

A pause gives an audience time to catch up, to process what you’ve said, to take a breath, to consider how a speaker’s words are impacting them. Famous speech coach Patricia Fripp says, “Pauses allow your audience to interact mentally with your words.”

A number of years ago, I remember a guest organist at our church who played hymns differently than the regular organist. At the end of each numbered verse, the guest organist paused a moment before beginning the next verse. We had been so accustomed to our regular organist who just BOOM! started verse two while the congregation was still on the final note from verse one.

When I told the guest organist that I appreciated that time to take a breath, he shared that he had long ago learned the value of a pause. He said, “The larger the congregation (or audience), the longer the pause needs to be.”

This is excellent advice for those on social media where the audience appears to be an endless stream of incredibly angry people.

Go ahead. Take a stand on any issue on social media. Be FOR something or AGAINST something, and I can guarantee it won’t be long before you’re the recipient of narrow-minded, hate-filled spewing of “comments” and then more replies to those comments. It is as if people are engaged in worded fistfights.

I have a deep concern for people who cannot pause for a few moments and reflect on how or why someone may feel or think differently than themselves. The instant negative reactivity unsettles me to the point where I just turn it off. After all, I wouldn’t let people into my home acting like that. So why allow them into my space (and into my head) via my laptop?

Pause is actually defined as a temporary STOP. If we temporarily stop before we react to something and consider our reaction, I’d like to think this would reap amazing benefits to our world.

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Patricia Fripp on the value of a pause

Ways a pause can benefit the speaker