The relationship between spirituality and mental health has long be an interest of mine. There are times when mental health professionals and the religious community seem to be at odds with one another. But it is always exciting to me when I see studies which reinforce the belief that spirituality and mental health are closely connected. So you can imagine my joy when I recently came across an article titled, "7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude."
A little friend has been hanging out at our house recently. It is a little frog who we usually see in the evening (around dusk) at various places on our front porch. He loves to hang out on the hood of our porch light. When it is turned on at night it draws all sorts of insects and bugs and I guess he sort of thinks of it has his "evening buffet." But several days ago we began missing him. We looked for him but he was no where to be found. We thought perhaps he had moved on. But, the other day my wife got her water bucket and filled it so she could water the porch flowers. As she tried to begin watering, for some reason the water wouldn't come out; something was blocking the flow. After emptying the bucket of water and examining the spout, to her surprise, she found "froggy." He was stuck in the spout; so she quickly rescued him. He was still alive and seemed to be doing ok. But apparently he had gotten into the bucket and couldn't get out. Had he stayed there he would have surly died. When she got him out she placed him on the handle of the bucket, and with no apparent fear, he sat there as she took his picture. It also most seemed as if he was saying, "Thank you. I was in an awful spot. Thank you for rescuing me!"...
Our daughter, Beth, recently spent five days in the hospital with abdominal pain, vomiting, and dehydration. The picture above was taken on the day she was released (the heart of the problem was finally determined to be the gallbladder which was removed a week later.) As we gathered her things and prepared to leave the hospital she exclaimed, "Don't forget my flowers!" These were very special flowers indeed...
Recently my daughter, Beth, spent a week in the hospital. She was admitted on an emergency basis following a visit to the doctor's office for abdominal pain and vomiting. While in "emergency" her white cell count was discovered to be 26; antibiotics and fluids were administered immediately. The picture above was taken as she was being released. As you can see she is smiling; but this return to health came only after five days of treatment, tests, scans, and a considerable amount of anxiety and worry....
It is always good to see "old friends." Every year my wife, daughter, and I enjoy visiting the Tulsa state fair. We don't go to ride rides; we mostly enjoy seeing various exhibits and shows. But every year one of our highlights is visiting the petting zoo. For the past several years I have shared attention with one particular llama. Over the years we have sort of become friends. Honestly, I doubt, from year to year, that he actually remembers me; but I remember him and always enjoy saying, "Hi," and petting him for a while. Friendships can be meaningful in so many ways....
When our grey Honda Odysee reached 250,000 miles we decided it was time to buy a new one and we gave the old car to our son and his family. My son and daughter-in-law have two small children and we thought this would be a good "run around" back up vehicle for them. To my surprise they used this vehicle a great deal and kept it for several years. They also continued my practice of regular oil changes and regular preventative maintenance. Well, this approach apparently paid off. The other day my son sent me a picture of the odometer: the car had just reached 400,000 miles. These miles were all achieved with the original engine. Although there are no guarantees, preventative maintenance seems to be a strategy, in many cases, that works.
Recently my wife got a splinter in her hand. It was very small (difficult to see) and impossible for her to extract on her own. Still, this small object caused her some pain and great annoyance. She finally summoned my help to do some "surgery." Once we got it out she said, "I can't believe how much this small splinter has disrupted my day!" Her experience, however, confirms a principle that proves true in many areas of life.
While at the circus recently, I watched in amazement as 5 motorcycle riders zoomed around inside a cage doom. While the performance was going on I texted my son (along with a picture) and said, "these guys are crazy!" Obviously timing was essential. Each rider had to make his way around the doom at exactly the right time. I later asked someone, "how do they practice this?" I never got an answer to that question but one thing is clear: whether it is motorcycle doom riding or life in general, timing is important.
I recently attended the circus with my wife, daughter, and two grandchildren. I love the circus and enjoy watching the many displays of courage, talent, and skill. In most of the "acts" it was human talent that was on display, but several of them featured the skills of various animals. As I watched a giant elephant sit "gracefully" on a stool with a young lady riding on it's back, I wandered to myself, "How did they teach him (I guess it was a him) to do that?
Finding balance is essential to almost every area of life. I heard someone once say, "It is easy to go off on a tangent, but finding balance is truly a challenge." This is true in many areas of life...
Dr. Allen Schneider is a United Methodist pastor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist presently serving the Sapulpa and greater Tulsa communities.