COVID has been a longer marathon than most any of us could have imagined.  We may be seeing the impact that separation and isolation has had on us mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  The way senior adults have been impacted by the past 13 months is heartbreaking.  If we do not see them, we need to keep aware of the daily challenges life brings (whether working in person or from home) for parents, teens, and children.  The impact of COVID, racial violence, social and political conflict, and environmental crises can have deep impact upon us all even as these collective traumas can significantly effect the first years of adulthood for young adults.  Imagine trying to start college, launch a career, or figure out who you want to go through life with during these days.

Current studies on mental health are reporting a common experience among many that is being called languishing.  Be sure to read more by clicking here.  As your pastor, I’m concerned about any who may be in the fog of mental and emotional languishing.  And I’m equally as concerned for those who may be experiencing spiritual languishing, spiritual stagnation, or a general sense that you no longer are connected with God or your community of faith.  I invite you to consider where you might find yourself in reference to spiritual languishing.  (0 being THRIVING SPIRITUALLY, 10 being 100% languishing like rotten fruit that has fallen from The Vine). 

It’s the season of Easter.  Why not try at least one of a few suggested things:
1.  Read through the Psalms (1 a day or a few at a time) — the full range of human experience is captured there!  As you read, allow a word or phrase to capture you.  Keep that word or phrase with you throughout the day and hear that as God’s message to you.  If the New Revised Standard Version Translation of the Psalms doesn’t contain accessible language for you, try this version (The Message) — it even has a feature to read the Bible to you!
2.  Learn a new way to pray — not familiar with Lectio Divina, click here.  Wonder what Sleeping with Bread is about, click here.  Think an act of creativity might deepen your connection with God, click here or click here.  Want to pray, but not a lot of time, click here for the Pray as You Go app (available in your app store too — for a different form of daily Examen).
3.  Like to read?  Consider a few inspiring books that may open your spirit in a new way.  Matthew Fox’s has written a beautiful relevant connection to the life and work of mystic Julian of Norwich, who lived through the 14th Century’s devastating bubonic plague:  Julian of Norwich:  Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic – and Beyond.  Christine Valters Paintner’s new book Sacred Time:  Embracing an Intentional Way of Life is a gift on everything from Breath to Sabbath Rest to Seasons of a Lifetime.  Or, in honor of Earth Day, check out another inspiring book by Paintner entitled:  Earth, Our Original Monastery:  Cultivating Wonder and Gratitude through Intimacy with Nature.  
4.  Listening more your thing?  Why not check out the audible of Walter Wangerin Jr. The Book of God:  The Bible as Novel.  Or try out a  podcast:  The Sustainable Ministry Show, Brene Brown’s inspiring series Unlocking Us (available on Spotify).  Or delve into our beautiful National Parks for deep connection with our Creator by listening to the new pop-up podcast series of Science American at:  National Park Nature Walks: A New Pop-Up Podcast Series – Scientific American.  And don’t forget D365 (linked below) and the above mentioned Pray as You Go app and HPC’s Ministry of Music Playlist — or Max’s TikTok too (see details below).
4. Call an ole’ church friend who you used to catch up with weekly at worship.  HPC loves and values YOU!!!!  Do not muddle through alone!  And if you are new, or do not know that many people of HPC; click the directory link below and call the first name you see to connect!
6.  Consider returning to in person worship — if it’s safe for you and you’re not currently feeling symptoms of, have, or know you have been exposed to COVID.  Though the youngest among us still do not have access to a vaccine, many of us have been vaccinated.  The sanctuary is ready and waiting for you!  
7.  Contact Pastor Jule — I’m here to pray with you, listen, encourage as needed, and explore various ways to re-connect you!

Be sure to read this article!  Feeling Blah During the Pandemic? It’s Called Languishing – The New York Times (nytimes.com).  Share it too with any friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers who may be needing it. 

Tend yourself well, beloved of God!
And blessings for the week!!!

Pastor Jule  

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