Weekly Reflection (NEW!)
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
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Please read this passage in your Bible or follow it as a link: Psalm 37:1-8
A receipt is a brief list. It's a record of what was bought or received. This one is from an Eckerd's drug store in Tarentum. Tarentum is north of Pittsburgh. On a weekday morning it can be a very long commute from Tarentum to Pittsburgh. Day after day of driving back and forth takes it toll. Add to that being unfamiliar with the Oakland area, just one week of classes completed in long semester ahead, a long syllabus looking like a deep, dark well, and a Labor Day Weekend with little sleep. It's enough to make someone sick. It's enough to make a person need a little comfort food.
Our commuter was exhausted last Thursday. All the stress of the first week of classes and lack of sleep finally caught up with him. He grudgingly climbed out of bed, had his Lucky Charms, got ready and headed out the door. Everything took so much effort: walking, starting the car, and concentrating on the road. Our commuter's throat burned. His nose was plugged up. His head was heavy with fluid-filled sinuses.
Before braving the highway traffic, he pulled into Eckerd's. Our commuter knew exactly what he needed: Afrin Sinus for the cold, Cherry Coke for the caffeine to help with the driving and the headache, two Butterfinger pumpkins fit the bill for comfort food. It was only the first week of September, and the Halloween candy was on the shelves. He always liked Halloween with the costumes, running around the darkened neighborhood and mounds of candy. He made his purchases. The cashier put the receipt in the bag.
He swallowed two of the Afrin with the Cherry Coke as he drove to Pittsburgh. After finding a parking space on Dithiridge St., he walked down Forbes Ave. eating his Butterfinger pumpkins. Our commuter didn't notice when the receipt fell to the ground. He was looking at the life-size Diplodocus dinosaur statue outside of the library. The medicine and the caffeine had kicked in. He wondered how he could make a Diplodocus costume for Halloween. Our commuter was feeling better and just a little less stressed.
Stress is unavoidable in life. Feeling the effects of stress is equally unavoidable. Beginnings and transitions cause stress. Endings and changes cause stress. Unfamiliarities and uncertainties cause stress. Cherry Coke, Butterfinger pumpkins, and over doing it on the weekends may not be the best way to deal with stress. Although some indulgences in moderation temporarily relieve the stress.
Living with constant stress can cause you to lose focus. It can seem as if you are rushing all the time and accomplishing little. You might want to down some caffeine or grab the chocolate, but you won't find your center. In order to feel centered again you need silence. You need to sit and breathe quietly, gently praying. You need to be still and know God. The psalmist tells us that we need not fret. We need not let the stress cause us to be filled with anxiety or filled with anger. Fretting leads to evil. Fretting leads to despair. Instead we are to trust in God, take delight in God, commit ourselves to Godís ways, and be still before God.
In order for these qualities to replace the fretting, we need first to be still before God. We need to worship God in silence, in prayer, in song and in community. Each week I look forward to attending Choral Prayer at the Close of the Day at Heinz Chapel (Sunday Evenings at 8:30 p.m.). That service provides the stillness I need to pray and to open myself to trust, commitment, and patience toward God and life. In the songs, prayer, and silence the stress of the week is exhaled from my body and replaced with peace. I still fret from time to time. Well, I fret practically everyday; however, if I take time to breathe and reclaim the peace, I regain my center and I donít feel as stressed. We all need to have a time to be still before God waiting patiently in prayer for the fretting to be replaced by peace. Find a community with whom to worship and be diligent about carving time out of your busy life to just be still before God.
Pray and be still exhaling stress and breathing in the Spirit of peace.
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