Fr. Boyle: Whenever the desert fathers and mothers would get absolutely despondent and didn't know how they were going to put one foot in front of the next, they had this mantra and the mantra wasn't God and the word wasn't Jesus, but the word was today. That's sort of the key. There's a play off-Broadway right now called Now. Here. This. It's Now, period, Here, H-E-R-E, period, This. And that's kind of my — that's become my mantra. Lately, I'm big on mantras. So when I'm walking or before a kid comes into my office, I always say "Now. Here. This, Now. Here. This." So that I'll be present and right here to the person in front of me.
I wake up to NPR every morning. Lying in bed, my brain is often coaxed awake by thoughts inspired by the morning news, commentary on the congressional budget process, or reviews of new books and films. Sunday mornings, though, I wake to On Being with Krista Tippett. This engaging show tackles "big questions at the center of human life, from the boldest new science of the human brain to the most ancient traditions of the human spirit."
Recently, I heard the comments from Fr. Boyle above and have returned to them again and again: "Now. Here. This, Now. Here. This."
Recently there has been a lot of discussion about the use of cell phones in church and encouraging parishioners to use social media during services. I must admit, I tend to agree more with a recent article entitled "Being Quiet in a Clamoring World." I find it more and more difficult to find peace and quiet in our modern society. I have not been to a movie theater in years where someone did not check their cell phone or text messages during the movie, despite numerous on-screen pleas to the contrary before the film's start. If you have been to a concert or any type of public performance lately, you probably had to fight your eyes not to pay attention to the brightly lit screens in front of you as others (or you) photographed and filmed the event. I wonder how many people now watch the majority of live events through their screens instead of with their own eyes.
I am not some Luddite yelling at the kids to get off my lawn. As those who know me will attest, I love technology. I freely admit to being a gadget geek. I spend far more time than I should using some combination of a smartphone, computer(s), tablet, Kindle and Playstation 3. However, I must admit I really enjoy the break from technology that I receive during worship. Could I impose my own break at home? Of course, and I do. However, the thought of being surrounded during worship by those encouraged to access Facebook and Twitter during services makes my stomach churn.
In many ways, the devices that allow us to access social media are not unlike secondhand smoke. If you are in a place where others are smoking, it is hard not to notice or be affected by it. Likewise, a brightly lit screen in your proximity demands your attention and changes your focus. Even if you consciously ignore it, the effort you expend to ignore it prevents you from paying attention to other things. Encourage people to turn their phones on and you will be besieged by phones ringing and chiming with notifications and messages that would otherwise have been silenced.
"Now. Here. This, Now. Here. This."
We often talk in health ministry about the ministry of presence and its importance to all who experience it. I think the sentiment to reach out beyond the church walls is admirable and we should explore new and innovative ways to do so. That said, I do hope we leave the tweeting during services to the birds outside our windows.
Matthew Ellis is CEO of National Episcopal Health Ministries
Well, in a manner of speaking, anyway. We received this note from Fr. John Wagner:
I just wanted to thank you for your "Walk to Anywhere" program from 2006. We had used that locally several years ago to walk the distance from Nazareth to Bethlehem during the Advent Season. This year, five parishes from the Diocese of Bethlehem, as well as several other "independents" have joined together to collectively walk the distance from eastern Pennsylvania to Jerusalem to arrive in time to walk the Via Dolorosa on Good Friday. We're 533 miles ahead of schedule as of last Saturday, so should arrive in that Holy City in time for the first Eucharist at the Passover Feast! Additionally, the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania is interested in joining with Bethlehem parishes over the summer, to keep the "walk" going.
You may have read the story in ENS a few weeks ago about this event and, since the program was your idea, I wanted to thank you for making it available! I've just been contacted by the Episcopal Journal who wants to do a follow-up story at the conclusion of this walk. The participants will be meeting on Good Friday afternoon, to collectively walk that "final mile" together.
Thanks again for a wonderful program, and for our improved physical and spiritual state!
I'd like to thank Fr. John for this wonderful note. It's wonderful to see this resource in action. The article in ENS linked above is a really fun read to see how others in the church are being creative about incorporating wellness into worship activities. Zumba dancing to Jerusalem? Love it!
Don't forget to share your story with others. Communicating your successes is an important part of ministry!
**Photo by reborg.
Note: Matthew Ellis and his wife Karen recently went on a mission trip to Kenya. This post is from Karen about one of her experiences there.
Our trip to Kenya has been more fantastic than I could have ever imagined. Our group has met so many kind souls and been involved with such fulfilling projects. That makes it very difficult to pick just one event to share; however, here we go.
We toured the village that houses a lot of the children that attend the Dickson Montessori school. The villagers were kind enough to invite us into their homes which were made out of sticks, mud, and water. The hut I visited consisted of 3 small rooms: a bedroom, kitchen, and a general area. The bedroom contained 4 pads which were used as beds and lying on the floor. The kitchen consisted of a place for a fire and a kettle along with a chicken clucking in the corner. The general area held a few belongings such as clothes, but it was more like an entryway with no furnishings.
Just at the back of the village was a meadow that connected to a second village. Many children from the second village saw us and traveled up the hill to see the strange visitors. The children were frightened and nervous, but curious enough to take a closer look. While most of children hung back a bit, a little girl about 2 years old bravely walked right up to me and grabbed my hand. She wore a little green dress with a large hole in the side of it, no undergarments, and no shoes, and yet there was so much beauty. Her name was Bonnie and she stole my heart.
Karen Ellis is married to NEHM CEO Matthew Ellis.
Just a quick note that we're continuing to add new resources to the website. Today, we added new items for the issues of gun violence and bullying. We also added some great Health and Human Services resources for Health Care. Do you know of a great resource we should have listed? Let us know!
We are really excited to unveil NEHM's new website today! While we like the basic design, we also know there are lots of improvements to be made. For one, the Resources section has been a mess for some time. Not any more, though. I'm confident you are going to love the way this section is organized now. We have worked hard to address to make it much more searchable but also a lot of fun to browse.
So What's New?
- Pretty much everything here is new. We have worked hard to think through how people access this information (or would like to) and have reimagined how this whole section works.
- Categories: These are broad sections that help you narrow down your selection by the type of resource.
- Tags: Click on the blue link for Tags and you will see a list of all the tags used for resources. Each resource has at least one tag and most have multiple tags. Click on a tag will pull up all resources that have been labeled with that tag. In the left menu, a larger font size indicates more resources use that tag.
- Search for Resources: On the left menu under 'Submit a Resource' there is a search box. Entering a keyword will search just the Resources section of the website.
- New logos for resources and information should help you quickly identify organizations and make the site easier to use.
- Media: This section features links to Episcopal blogs and media outlets, as well as other health-related blogs.
- Click on an individual event, such as the National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS. In the left menu, you will now see blog posts and resources related to HIV/AIDS.
- We have the ability to add links of this nature throughout the site. In fact, look to the left and you will see past blog entries relating to website updates!
- The content management system has received a major upgrade to version 3.0. While we don't expect you to notice major differences, it will be a tremendous help to us as we continue to manage the site, add new information, etc. on an ongoing basis.
- In general, we hope the rest of the site will work the way you would expect., although you may notice some buttons or sections have been moved around some to accommodate the new behind-the-scenes structure.
Be sure to comment here on the blog or on our Facebook page and let us know what you think! Also, make sure you share the news with others!