QUESTION: We raised two children, both now married and have children of their own. Our concern is they don’t take time to relax and enjoy life. They seem to be rushing here and there. We don’t remember life being so harried when we had our family. We took family vacations and spent a lot of family time together.
The reason we’re writing is we have asked our children to join us on relaxing vacations at our cabin in the mountains several times and they always seem to have something they just have to do. We’ve even asked them for dates they are available because we’re retired and our time is open without schedules.
Would you please give us some ideas on how we can help our children “stop and smell the flowers?”
~ Concerned Parents
Dear Concerned Parents,
I fully appreciate your concern for your children. I understand how frustrating it must be for you, after reaching out and showing a willingness to be accommodating with your time to fit their schedules, that you feel somewhat at a loss as to what else to do. I see two issues here. The stress issue you are concerned about and the issue of also being able to spend quality time with your children and their family. Since directly asking them has proven ineffective, it is best to turn to that which is always effective, and that is affirmative prayer.
Affirmative prayer is not a “begging” prayer. Affirmative prayer is a “knowing that the thing we ask” is always accomplished through prayer. It is the prayer of faith that Jesus talks about. It is simple and the power behind that prayer is available to everyone.
Here is a simple little affirmative prayer for a healing in this situation. Say it whenever the situation you are concerned about comes to mind. Not only will it bring you peace of mind, but it also will positively change the situation you are concerned about. It is one of the great metaphysical truths, taught by Ernest Holmes (founder of Religious Science) that all outward change begins in our minds, within our own consciousness. If you wish to change anything on the outside, you must first change the inside. In other words, change how you look at it. Life is a mirror that reflects back to us what we think into it.
“God’s perfect peace surrounds myself and my family. There is no stress or strain, trauma or drama or anxiety over the unnecessary affecting our lives. Our lives are filled with love and caring and God’s perfect peace of mind for all concerned. There is always time for the Good in Life. I give thanks for this blessing of understanding, and release it to God the Great Giver for its perfect accomplishment.
Anthony Kelson, Practitioner
Dear Concerned Parent,
It is a very different world today than it was for you, as you say. I hear that you simply want some quality time with your children and grandchildren and you feel they are missing out on a wonderful opportunity themselves; missing leisure time and, more importantly, connection with you, not just for themselves but for their children. I’m going to suggest you do an old world thing to communicate from your world to theirs: write them a letter.
Take time to compose this letter. In this letter, let them know what is in your heart; express your love, your wish to spend time, and for them to relax. Let there be no judgments of their choices or lifestyle in this missive, no edge of accusation or neediness, just a really genuine heartfelt offer of your precious time and love. And time is precious as the years go by so quickly. In the end it’s the moments of love that we treasure most. Remind your children of happy family times from their childhoods that you all spent together. Seal this letter with a kiss and send it.
Then let it all go, for you have done your part. God gave us all free will and we must give that same freedom to each other. Release now any idea of how you think things should be; this is the cause of suffering. Whatever your children decide love them anyway. I invite you to sit quietly for three minutes daily and pray thus, “May all beings know love and peace.” Using this same phrase throughout the day name your children and yourself, “May_____know love and peace.”
Then live well by taking joy in your retirement and all the pursuits of your own. Continue as you seem to always have, embracing your good life, setting a great example of how to live. And when you feel peace about having expressed what was in your heart and let it go, remember by doing so you have sought first the Kingdom of Heaven, which is unconditional love. You have honored yourself and honored the freedom of others. Then as the Scripture promises, all things will be added on to you.
And maybe, just maybe, your kids will come around. Either way you win by embracing and embodying peace and happiness.
Joan Doyle, Spiritual Guide with Centers for Spiritual Living
QUESTION: Is there such a thing as peace in these times? I know we pray for peace and I hear many people talk about it and then in the same breath make hateful remarks. I’m concerned about the many shootings we have in this country, racial injustices and negative attitudes about law enforcement. Every day I pray for peace in this country and peace in the world, but sometimes I think I should just save my breath because I don’t see my prayers being answered.
Is there anything else I can do to help promote peace in our cities, states, country and the world?
~ Peace Loving Grandma
Dear Peace Loving Grandma,
Your question is one we all wrestle with in our faith journey. Praying is sometimes a great blessing to us and sometimes it can be a puzzle. “Is God hearing our prayers?” is a question we can all relate to especially in this time when there is so much in the news that seem to indicate that God is not at work and our prayers are going unanswered.
Jesus in Mark 14: 32 prays for the cup to be removed from him, “yet not what I want, but what you want.” This is confusing because why wouldn’t God save his Son from the cross and the suffering? Why didn’t God answer Jesus’ prayer? Some theologians say that this is because Jesus had to go to the cross, had to endure the suffering for our sins. But another way to interpret this is to say that sometimes in life suffering happens, even to those who God favors, even his Son, and yet in the midst of this suffering and pain, God is working to redeem and resurrect.
In this interpretation is a God who weeps for his son and for us when we are suffering emerges. God aches for us when there is violence and killing, injustice and oppression. Yet, this is what we have chosen – well maybe not you and I specifically, but our world, our fellow citizens of the world, have. We have chosen to kill and to oppress. This is not God’s vision or hope for the world; quite the contrary, but through free will we make those choices.
So, then, what about our prayers? Does it matter what we pray if nothing can be done? Jesus prayed and he still had to go through the suffering. This was because in that time and place, people made the choice to put him through that experience, people decided to crucify him and so even though the prayer did not change them, it did Jesus. Jesus gained strength from prayer, Jesus gained insight and focus on what he needed to do and be, Jesus found courage to face whatever was ahead, and Jesus did not give in to the evil around him. He did not use violence to escape. All of this is for me a testimony of what prayer is for me; I pray for change, I pray for peace, I pray for strength, I pray for calm in the places of violence. I do so not because I see results in others, but I see the results in how I act, how I think, how I talk. I need prayer to keep me from sinking into despair about the world, from going off and doing stupid things, of gaining a perspective and for using each day to stand for peace, to bring peace if possible into the world. And by my being who God calls me to be, I can change how I act, and then help others to see how they can change their actions to bring peace as well.
Still, I cannot change the whole world, but I can change how I am in the world. I can be a part of how God is working in the world by resolving conflicts, by teaching others how to live as Jesus calls us to be, by bringing healing and caring into a hurting world.
Lastly, I pray even when I am confused, even when I don’t understand, even when I have no faith, because it is what Jesus did, it is what the saints did, it is what my grandmother did. She used to tell me when she was alive that she prayed every night for all the family. Then she would laugh and say, of course I fell asleep before I got to the youngest, but that is okay, the next night I start with the youngest and go up to the oldest! There was something about knowing she was praying for me then, and cares for me even still from heaven, that gives me peace, gives me assurance that someone cares and guides me in my life so I can care and guide others.
I hope this is helpful in your journey.
Blessings to you
Pastor Steve Marshall
CV United Methodist Church
Dear Peace Loving Grandma,
What a beautiful, heartfelt inquiry you have expressed with your note and I feel the same way! And if you and I feel this way how many more of us humans feel this way, too?! We see the violence, pain and destruction that we humans perpetuate on one another in the name of God, money, and power and feel so powerless to affect change in any meaningful way. It hurts and that kind of pain, emotional and spiritual pain, lives in our hearts and souls. This is a question I wrestle with often, especially when there’s yet another mass shooting or a picture is made public like that of Aylan Kurd, the boy whose body washed ashore after drowning from trying to escape war-torn Syria to Europe with his parents, or when another African American man is killed by the police or when a police officer is senselessly gunned down from someone who is full of rage and despair. Or any of the other horrible calamities that I hear on the news or read in the paper. Is peace possible? I don’t know. What I can do is what is asked of me in the St. Francis prayer:
“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.”
I can be the peace, light and joy I wish to see in the world. That I do know.