Spiritual disciplines, and the practice of spiritual formation in general, is a very personal thing. The types of spiritual exercises that benefit one are not necessarily the ones that nurture another. I have even found that in different seasons of my life different approaches to devotion and piety are often required. Still, there is an aspect of "ancient wisdom" that I keep coming back to: it is the "sandwiching" of my day between a time of morning and evening prayer.
I was in a state of panic the other day; I had just awakened from a nap and was preparing to take my daughter to work when I realized I couldn't find my wallet. I looked everywhere: living room table, stand next to the TV, reclining chair, couch, the car, desk drawer. It was no where to be found. About two hours earlier I had made a purchase at the Quick Trip in Broken Arrow. I was dialing their number to see if I had left it there when my wife exclaimed, "Oh my gosh! Your wallet is in the kitchen garbage pale." She had opened it to see if it was ready to empty and noticed the wallet setting on top of the rest of the trash. We have no idea how it got there but concluded that I must have inadvertently scooped up my wallet along with some papers I had picked up from the table and unknowingly thrown it away. The wallet contained a good deal of money (I had just gone to the bank that morning), a credit card, a number of debit cards, drivers license, and health insurance card. These were things that all could eventually have been replaced, but not without a lot of effort and grief. Still, they were on the verge of being thrown away with the trash.
Father's Day is always a little bit different since my dad passed away. He died 19 years ago but I still miss him (especially on holidays such as Father's Day.) He passed away in October and at the time I felt that I was coping with the loss fairly well. His death was expected and followed a three battle with cancer. I knew I had to be strong as my mother would need comfort and encouragement. But as Father's Day rolled around that next year I realized I was beginning to feel a bit ill. After eight months his loss was all beginning to "sink in." Father's Day, that year, marked the beginning of about 5 months of depression for me. It wasn't until I approached the anniversary of his death that I felt the depression beginning to lift. That whole experience was a new lesson for me in the process of grief.
I just can't help myself; when I see a turtle in the road (as long as it is safe for me) I almost always stop my car and help the turtle to the other side. "Why bother?" some would ask; and that's ok. You see I really don't care if someone else doesn't understand. For me, it is simply a way of being a friend.
Dr. Allen Schneider is a United Methodist pastor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist presently serving the Sapulpa and greater Tulsa communities.