Daily Advent Devotional: Day 17 – Dec 15

As we consider the connection between spirit, mind, and body as a way to nurture joy, consider nutrition, movement and sleep as building blocks. Healthy eating habits, engaging in fitness and movement, and getting enough sleep all contribute to healthy bodies and brain chemistries.
            Give your body the resources to support spiritual wellbeing. Nutrition provides the essential elements for health as a foundation for joy and other spiritual states. Human bodies are designed for movement: so if your body permits these activities, then movement might remain as simple as standing, stretching, and walking. Movement might also involve more intentional forms of fitness and exercise such as dance, yoga, contemplative and expressive movement, swimming, running, hiking, skiing, recreational activities and playing games. Meanwhile, sufficient sleep promotes neurological and emotional equilibrium.
            By caring for your body’s basic needs, you foster the conditions for healthy spiritual states such as joy. — Rev Gail

You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy. — Psalm 30:11

If you reach for food when you’re under stress or gulp your meals down in a rush, try eating mindfully … focus your full attention on the meal … Eat slowly, taking the time to fully enjoy and concentrate on each bite. … the aspects of your health that are in your control. Exercise and sleep are particularly important … It doesn’t really matter what kind of exercise you do, so long as you do it regularly … Getting quality sleep every night directly affects your happiness, vitality, and emotional stability during the day. — Melinda Smith & Jeanne Segal

Any kind of movement will shift your energy into a more positive one … all forms of movement allow energy to flow more freely through the body. All the better if you create a practice out of it. — Tania Tyler

Wed, Nov 25 Gratitude Reflection

Give thanks for fear and anger. What do these emotions reveal to you?

            Often our spiritual teachers, our advisors and guides and mentors, suggest that we speak to our difficult emotions such as anger and fear. This may be a time for journaling as an alternate form of conversation with one’s self. Or start a dialogue by imagining these parts of yourself — the self caught up in fear or the self in the grips of anger — sitting in a chair opposite to you.

Begin a conversation. Learn, from yourself, about yourself. Interview yourself. Be willing to be surprised.

We can ask questions of these states of being: fear and anger. Where do these feelings begin? What do they need from us? How do we feed and fuel them? If we speak with tenderness to fear and anger, and appreciate its presence as part of ourselves, what would we say to it? What would it say to us?

            We can be victims of these emotions. Or we can accept them as guides. We ought not to allow ourselves to be motivated by them, but to be instructed by them. They are present as part of the human experience, and they tell us that we must pay attention when we notice them.
            Give thanks for fear and anger, and what we learn about ourselves, and how we may grow, because of them.
— Rev Gail

O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol,
    restored me to life
from among those gone down to the Pit.
Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones,
    and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may linger for the night,
 but joy comes with the morning.
            — Psalm 30:3-5

You will say in that day: I will give thanks to you, O Lord, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, and you comforted me. Isaiah 12:1

Love takes off the masks we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. — James Baldwin

I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers. Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure. Oliver Sacks

True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not. Seneca

The Psalms are, in a sense, God’s way of holding space for us. They invite us to rejoice, wrestle, cry, complain, offer thanks, and shout obscenities before our Maker without self-consciousness and without fear. Rachel Held Evans

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