The Serenity Prayer

Reinhold Niebuhr was author of this prayer.

Since its inception in 1943,

The prayer has had an interesting history.

It was hijacked in Germany,

The country where Niebuhr’s parents were born

Before settling in the United States.

Niebuhr’s life was as a preacher, writer, professor,

And ambassador to European countries

Especially Germany and England.

He met with the World Council of Churches,

And shared his thoughts on ecumenical ventures

Of various denominations – Episcopalian, Methodist,

Congregationalist, Reformed, and Evangelical Lutherans.

For 40 years Niebuhr has been prolific.

At the Union Theological Seminary in New York

He ruffled feathers with his opposition to American neutrality

During World War Ⅱ, beliefs in racial equality,

And outreach to the poor in the ghettos.

Niebuhr served as a guest on panels, and was welcomed internationally.

On the lecture circuit he was known for his correspondence

With Church leaders, and lived to see Europe liberated.

The serenity prayer captured life’s vicissitudes.

He did an amazing job in responding to the challenges of his era.

“Loving God, you have blessed mankind with the loving spirit of Reinhold Niebuhr.  Grant that his legacy will live on as people utter the serenity prayer known worldwide through the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings, and its many renditions on postcards, placemats, and souvenirs.”

Amen    

God in Nature

The 17th century Jewish philosopher

Of Dutch origin, Baruch Spinoza viewed religion

In Theological-Political Treatise as superstitious

He considered nature and God ubiquitous

Nature encompasses everything Spinoza considered Providence.

Every aspect of its essence is reflected in good and bad experiences.

Miracles described in the monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity,

And Islam could be explained through the varieties of ever-changing nature

These are natural occurrences that surprise people when they occur.

The first rainbow that humans saw must have struck them as a miracle.

But science later showed this resulted from scientific evidence.

Prophecy could be viewed as another of these phenomena.

In ancient times people were uneducated and had vivid imaginations.

Many of their delusions were motivated by vivid dreams and visions.

In modern society these ancients would be seen as having psychotic episodes.

But these visionaries appear to the Israelites to be filled with gifts of a Creator.

Therefore, God was perceived as being human and personalized.

Nature is all good and bad things that exist in the vast Universe.

It’s therefore more realistic to think about the Divine as nature.

God in nature is material and immaterial.

God doesn’t have human characteristics that are alluded to in sacred texts.

This spiritual essence is universal and governs all things.

So, putting a human face on God of nature is an error.

The Golden Rule

Every religion has a golden rule.

Treat others as you want to be treated.

How marvelous are those words!

They show the depths of love and compassion.

So, what should you do if your neighbor offends you?

Some may say like the bible verse “an eye for an eye.”

But this will only make the whole world blind.

Instead, it’s better to practice forgiveness.

But suppose the hurt is quite great.

What should you do to soothe this pain?

It’s better to pray and be in the right frame of mind.

Talk your situation through with a loved one that you trust.

If that doesn’t work, seek the help of a trusted counselor.

Suffering a painful hurt could be devastating.

So, it’s better to know that two wrongs don’t make right.

Why rub salt in a wound that’s already deep?

Instead, endeavor to ease the pain and find peace.

Always remember to look for a ray of sunshine.

This is better than the disastrous consequences.

So, let’s live by the golden rule.

Human Rights

How would you like to be a human rights defender?

What does this mean?

Where do you work?

And what could you expect?

These answers are challenging.

A human rights defender fights to protect people’s rights.

He or she promotes the welfare of citizens.

Their work is local, national, and international.

They are the defenders of  diverse cases.

These range from employment issues, health care, life’s problems,

Food, water, executions, torture, indigenous, and women’s issues

These individuals fight for rights for all.

Problems are everywhere in our world.

They exist in democratic and non-democratic nations.

Challenges vary from HIV/AIDS, the coronavirus, migration,

Structural adjustment policies, and political upheavals

Defenders monitor regional and worldwide conditions.

They collect and disseminate information,

And work to bring reports to key political and judicial officials.

These organizations publish reports about their findings.

And they ensure accountability with respect of legal standards.

“Loving God, help the human rights defenders to work in the interests of their countries.  By doing so, give them wisdom, and the will to be effective change agents in their communities.”

Amen  

Aging Wisely

What does it mean to age wisely?

Have you been preparing yourself?

You better grab the steering wheel

Because sooner or later you’ll be older

Aging well is about people’s attitude.

You could be a couch potato or active.

But, being active is beneficial.

It helps keep one’s mind sharp.

Having confidence brings joy.

So, it’s imperative to love what you do.

People could participate in a variety of sports.

Others might spend their time exercising, dancing,

Learning a new language, going to a coffee hour,

Or, playing music, games, and doing crossword puzzles

As people age they often face challenges.

Some suffer from arthritis, lung disease,

Cancer, heart problems, memory loss,

Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or Osteoporosis

But with medical care and medication

Seniors are able to control these setbacks  

“Almighty God, help people as they age to have productive lives.  Be with them as they explore about new ways to socialize and keep active.”

Amen  

Seniors at Coffee Shops

What it’s like to have a cup of coffee?

What does a coffee hour mean to seniors?

And where do they gather?

Seniors meet around the country

At their favorite coffee shops

You could find them any morning

At McDonald’s, Hardee’s, or Wendy’s

At these joints they assemble

To socialize with their friends

Many of these older folks

Talk about their families and friends

At times they discuss politics

And in their group are liberals and conservatives

As expected the exchanges often become heated

Other folks that aren’t political

Take pains to discuss their hobbies

And their love of America is displayed

As they dress casual as retirees

Some wear distinctive clothes

Reminiscent of years of service

In the American military

While others don the garb,

Caps, jerseys, and pullovers

Of their alma mater

“Loving God, be with seniors as they socialize in coffee shops around the country.  Help them to find companionship as they share their experiences about life to their group.”

Amen 

Preventing Senior Falls

Seniors could do much to prevent falls

They could update their home to be senior-friendly

And purchase a medical alert system

That saves lives if they fall accidentally

All they have to do is to push a button

To summon access for emergency care

Seniors could install lighting that’s motion activated

Such light will brighten their path as they walk

Motion light could also deter intruders from their home

If stairs are a problem the elderly could install a ramp

But they should make sure that the railings are secured

They must be certain the home has a fire extinguisher

As well as a smoke and carbon monoxide detector

And refurbish the kitchen so that shelves are accessible

They could cover corners with sharp edges to prevent injuries

And update the bathroom to be rid of slippery showers

Seniors could install safety devices for using the toilet

Making sure that in the bathroom there’s non-slip rugs

And using a shower chair to helps them take a bath

They could adjust their home’s hot water setting to avoid scalding

And clear clutter like books and magazines on their floor of the home

So as to reduce the probability of tripping hazards

“God, help the elderly as they senior-proof their homes.  Let them do so with the confidence that they will be protecting themselves from falls and having emergencies.”

Amen    

Eat Less Sugar

Are watching your weight?

Are you concerned about becoming obese?

Do you want to ward off disease?

Then, you should eat less sugar.

Sugar is in many foods and drinks.

It’s estimated that Americans

Eat up to 17 teaspoons per day

That’s twice what’s recommended for men

And three times that for women

So why do people eat so much sugar?

Sugar is known to cause disease.

It raises the risk of diabetes,

Cancer and Alzheimer’s

It’s the major cause of obesity.

Doctors say it turns

The body aging program on

The more sugar people eat

The faster they will age

So if you want to look younger longer

Be sure to limit the amount of sugar you eat

You’ll certainly enjoy a healthier life.

“Omniscient God, you have provided sugar that sweetens our foods.  Help us to use this gift wisely so that it doesn’t become a stumbling block to our health.”

Amen  

A Therapy Pet

A therapy pet can be one of a number of animals –

Dogs, cats, llamas, miniature pigs, mini-horses, or birds

But many people choose dogs.

Dogs could be emotional support dogs,

Therapy, and certified service dogs

But why are these dogs necessary?

Many people attest to the benefits of having such pets.

Because they lift their mood, relieve stress,

And help them recover from health problems

In hospitals and mental institutions

Classrooms are also a good place for such dogs

Students benefit during physical exercise

Interactions with these dogs lower blood pressure

And having them around are stimulating

For they assist students and patients with pain management.

But there’s a difference between a “therapy dog” and “service dog.”

A therapy dogs helps their clients physically and emotionally,

While a service dog perform tasks

Those individuals are unable to do themselves

“God, help us to use the pets of your creation in beneficial ways.  Teach us the best ways to use such animals to serve mankind.  And help us to treat these pets with love and kindness for the work they do.”

Amen  

Standing in the Light

Standing in the Light by Sharman Apt Russell is a true blend of the writer’s experiences of nature and spiritual growth.  Russell described her life as being a Pantheist, a word coined by John Toland in the 1700s.  In beautiful prose she captured the joys of nature especially with bird watching and banding.  In the text the writer reviewed the tenets of Eastern religions that she learned from books, companions, and during her travels as a younger woman in Asian countries.

Interestingly she puts into context the lives and experiences of Pantheists like Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Giordano Bruno, Baruch Spinoza, Henry David Thoreau, D. H. Lawrence, Walt Whitman, and founder of the World Pantheist Movement Paul Harrison.  Russell explained while being a Pantheist how she continued an on-and-off basis to have ties with Quakers.  She wrote glowingly about her husband and family’s love for nature, work as a creative writing professor, philosophy, and religious life. Russell lived in Silver City, and she and her friends were involved in conservation efforts in New Mexico.