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.    

John Muir: Nature’s Visionary

Gretel Ehrlich’s John Muir: Nature’s Visionary is a fascinating account of a premiere environmentalist in America’s history.  This biography traced Muir’s life from his birth and upbringing in Scotland, conflicts with his family, and decision to venture out on his own in the wilderness.  This environmentalist’s adventures took him on a thousand-mile walk to the Gulf of Mexico, having experiences in the Sierra Nevada, and on explorations in Alaska.

Ehrlich showed that Muir endured childhood beatings, near death experiences, bouts of malaria, and near starvation during his life.  Most of these trials came in the wildness where he often slept in the snow, was without a coat, and had worked at odd jobs.  But Muir’s love of nature propelled him in the wildness to be with trees like the giant sequoias, mountains, lakes, valleys, rocks, and the flora and fauna of these regions.  He also made notes, sketched images, and observed glaciers.

Muir’s vision eventually bore fruit, and because of his activism on October 1, 1890, a bill in the United States senate made Yosemite a national park.  More success followed when national parks were set aside for 55 wildlife preserves and 150 national forests.  His twilight years saw him as an accomplished writer, an advocate for parks, and undertaking travels to Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and Australia.

Muir lived in the Martinez ranch with his wife Louie and daughters.  Eventually, he suffered setbacks in his evangelistic mission of preserving more open spaces when big business won, and the waterway Hetch Hetchy was dammed.  At an older age he was suffering from a respiratory illness that got worse and killed him.

Storms in Nature

What causes a lightning strike?

What brings thunderstorms?

Lightning flashes when positively

And negatively charged particles interact

Grow large enough to form a giant spark

But thunderstorms form from an unstable air mass

When warm and usually cold air collide

Yet, some sacred texts reveal this is how God speaks

God explodes, brings judgment, and condemns

But how did the ancients believe these were acts of God?

Scientists, prophets, theologians tend to agree

That there must be “cause and effect”

So, they determine God possesses this power

For, the Eternal Spirit exists in nature

Other phenomena are just as revealing –

Tsunamis are sudden movement of the ocean by earthquakes,

Volcanoes are formed from the buoyancy of the magma,

And pressure from absolved gases,

Hurricanes are due to intense low pressure areas

That forms in the summer or fall over warm waters

Some religious, view these eruptions as acts of God

“God, help us to be cognizant of nature’s phenomena.  These manifestations often cause devastations that are based on the mysteries of your omniscience.  So, protect us from these storms of life.”

Amen

On This Valentine’s Day

On this Valentine’s Day

Not too often there’s a day

When so much love is shared

Today is such a day!

It’s a day for caring!

And being open to love!

It’s a day of joy!

As people reach out to those they love

I extend blessings to my family, friends, colleagues,

The humble, weak, and people of good will

I thank them for the good they do.

For making the earth a safer place

Praising them for their efforts

To bring joy and peace in this divisive world

I thank them for sacrifices that are often overlooked.

For being themselves when life seems impossible

I especially like to lift up my wife Mary,

Our son Matthew,

And daughter-in-law Shannon,

For being the world to me! 

Forgive Others

At all times try to forgive others. It’s a choice because you wish to move forward in a liberated way. As you embrace this gift, you will become whole.  You are taking the pain out of your own heart, and mending what was broken.  Believers in God, Allah, Brahma, Dao, and secular humanists know the benefits of forgiveness.  By forgiving you are setting a prisoner free, and doing so, you will heal.  This stage is found by the peace people find within their hearts.  In taking the high road you should never consider yourself weak, but as being a paragon of strength. Free yourself of bitterness, but if you continue to be angry, you will be robbing yourself of happiness.

Take forgiveness. Two levels here. One level: forgiveness means you shouldn’t develop feelings of revenge. Because revenge harms the other person, therefore it is a form of violence. With violence, there is usually counterviolence. This generates even more violence — the problem never goes away. So that is one level. Another level: forgiveness means you should try not to develop feelings of anger toward your enemy. Anger doesn’t solve the problem. Anger only brings uncomfortable feelings to yourself. Anger destroys your own peace of mind. Your happy mood never comes, not while anger remains. I think that’s the main reason why we should forgive. With calm mind, more peaceful mind, more healthy body. An agitated mind spoils our health, very harmful for body. This is my feeling.

The Dalai Lama, The Wisdom of Forgiveness (2004) by the Dalai Lama and Victor Chan, p. 234.