Posted by: AJ the Irish Lass | January 5, 2020

A Little Announcement

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You might be seeing slightly fewer original posts here for awhile – there’s nothing to worry about, it’s just that the non-blog pages of this site have been in need of some updates.

The liturgical/Episcopal Church-related pages, as well as the hymn-related pages will be getting an overhaul. I’ll also be adding to the Oasis of Hope and Healing section, as well as creating an Anthropology section.

There isn’t a specific timeframe, as I’ll be working around work/academic and caregiving schedules. However, look for continued regular contributions to my blog on Spiritual Abuse’s website, as well as Beyond Crossposting and the blog for CelticAnglican Shop.

I’ll post an update as each area is revised.

 

Posted by: AJ the Irish Lass | December 15, 2019

MAKE TIME TO MOURN. MAKE TIME TO GRIEVE

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This ritual for those having difficulty “getting into” the winter holidays and was written by author June Maffin. Links to both her site and Facebook groups follow (I highly recommend them).

—-

Before you begin, I encourage you to find some matches and candles.

As each candle is lit (hopefully in a darkened or semi-darkened room to get the effect of the light emanating from the candle), you may want to have some quiet music playing in the background. Or, you might want to do the ritual in silence. Try not to have the tv, loud music on, or do this at a time when children/family/friends could make demands on you.

If you want some symbolism, choose your candles accordingly. I prefer to use royal blue (the colour of hope), but you may find that white (the colour of wholeness), red (the colour of Spirit), green (the colour of new life) offers deeper significance for you. Use whatever coloured candles you like or have on hand. Speak / think / pray each phrase slowly, reflectively. There is no need to hurry. This is your time.

To begin … take a few slow, deep breaths from your abdomen, inhaling a sense of peace and exhaling that which brings anxiety.

When you find your breathing has slowed down, light the first candle.

LIGHT FIRST CANDLE AND SAY/THINK/PRAY …
I light this candle to remember those who have been loved and lost. I pause to remember them … their face, their voice, their name.
GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO DO THIS.

THEN SAY/THINK/PRAY
I give thanks for the memory and circumstance that binds them to me.
May Eternal Love surround them.
[Silent time for reflection and simply “be-ing”]

LIGHT THE SECOND CANDLE AND SAY/THINK/PRAY
…I light this second candle to redeem the pain of loss: the loss of relationship, the loss of job, the loss of health, the loss of finances.
GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO THINK OF WHATEVER YOU ARE EXPERIENCING AS ‘LOSS’ THIS DAY.

THEN SAY/THINK/PRAY:
As I gather up the pain of the past, I offer it, asking that into my open hands the gift of peace, of shalom, of wholeness be placed.
GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO DO THIS

THEN SAY/THINK/PRAY:
May I be refreshed, restored and renewed
[Silent time for reflection and simply “be-ing.”]

LIGHT THE THIRD CANDLE AND SAY/THINK/PRAY…
I light this third candle to remember myself. I pause and remember the past weeks, months (years): the down times … the poignancy of memories … the grief … the sadness … the hurt … the anger … the numbness … the shock … the pain of reflecting on my own mortality.
GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO DO THIS

THEN SAY/THINK/PRAY:
May I remember that dawn defeats darkness. May I remember the words written on a wall at Dachau prison — “I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining. I believe in the stars even when I see them not. I believe in God even when I don’t see God.” (OR FOR A FINAL SENTENCE: “I believe in hope even when I don’t feel it.”
[Silent time of reflection and simply “be-ing.”]

LIGHT THE FOURTH CANDLE AND SAY/THINK/PRAY …
I light this fourth candle to remember the gift of hope. I lean on the Holy One who shares my life, promises a place and time of no more pain and suffering and who loves unconditionally.
GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO DO THIS OR SUBSTITUTE ANY PHRASING THAT WILL BE MEANINGFUL FOR YOU.

THEN SAY/THINK/PRAY:
May I not forget the One who shows the way and Who goes with me into my tomorrows – or substitute any phrasing of gratitude that will be meaningful for you. [Silent time of reflection and simply “be-ing.”]

CLOSE BY SAYING/THINKING/PRAYING
Amen. So be it. Amen. (“Amen” means is “So be it.”)

[Silent time of reflection and simply “be-ing” in the darkness]

When you’re ready, transition back to your regular activities by doing something for yourself if you’re able: a long leisurely hot bath, a hot cup of tea/hot chocolate, listening to some gentle music … and know that there are people who care and that even though you may feel alone, you are not alone.

© june maffin www.soulistry.com
www.soulistry.com/blog
www.facebook.com/groups/soulistry www.facebook.com/groups/soulistrychurchyear

Posted by: AJ the Irish Lass | November 29, 2019

Christmas is Coming – Let’s Chill, Okay?

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This is sort of a confession from a “reformed liturgical cop” who has had a love/hate relationship with the holiday season. Bear with me, as this is one of my “ramblings”.

Christmas is coming, and people need to chill. The weeks leading up to Christmas are a time of lots of stress and needless drama for a lot of people. Two different Facebook discussions in the past couple of weeks proved remarkably thought-provoking.

A brilliantly-stated meme made an important point about how the same people who relish in calling others “snowflakes” the rest of the year get needlessly uptight about the acknowledgment that people celebrate holidays the other than Christmas (Christ’s Mass, IOW).

FYI, other holidays that fall around this time include:

  • Diwali (occurring in October or November)
  • Hanukkah (can fall between Nov. 28 to Dec. 26)
  • Las Posadas (December 16 to 24)
  • Winter Solstice (December 21)
  • Kwanzaa (December 26 to January 1)
  • Chinese New Year (Between the end of January and the end of February)

In a bit of irony, I’ve also seen people rightfully call for others to respect those that celebrate holidays other than Christmas, then criticize the fact that secular radio stations and retailers don’t follow the liturgical Advent and Christmas seasons.

Part of tolerating others’ traditions means accepting that not everyone who identifies as a Christian observes or is even aware of Advent. If this is not a part of some Christians’ celebrations, there is no reason non-Christians should be expected to observe it.

On a personal note, I think it would be nice if more non-liturgical churches were willing to adopt at least parts of the liturgical year. The holiday season, in general, is a difficult time for a lot of people and a more “countercultural” way of celebrating this time of year might be just what some with hurting hearts need.

Tolerance & respect is a better way to encourage observance of Advent than belittling or denying the importance of others’ practices. The reason for this whole season is about light and joy, so let’s try to bring these to the world!

Related posts:

A Bit About Advent

Advent Conspiracy

Advent Conspiracy: Give More

A Nice Summary of Advent (HuffingtonPost)

Keep Calm, It’s Only Advent

Light and Hope

Remember – It’s a Season!

Rowan Williams’ Advent Meditation

St. Martin’s Lent

Yeah, Someone Who Understands!Yeah, Someone Who Understands!

Posted by: AJ the Irish Lass | November 9, 2019

The Siren Call We May Miss

AJ the Irish Lass' Ramblings

Scream and shout

Originally published July 1, 2016 and some revised info appears in the text.

First of all, I’d like to thank Sister Gloriamarie (knitternun) both for inspiring this post and for her support of the Facebook page I’ve created that offers help and hope to veteran families and others often overlooked in a mental/emotional health context.

My hope is that my Oasis of Hope and Healing Facebook page will be a safe refuge for children, spouses, exes, friends and others who want to help a veteran in their lives or need healing from the trauma inflicted by one no longer in their lives as well as others whose struggles are often forgotten about.

One of the things that many unfortunately have to cope with is people treating their troubled loved one as an exalted being who never did or was even capable of wrongdoing. In their eyes, the vet’s status as…

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Posted by: AJ the Irish Lass | November 3, 2019

Changed, Not Ended: Some Thoughts on All Saints Sunday

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“Through Jesus Christ our Lord; who rose victorious from the dead, and comforts us with the blessed hope of everlasting life. For to your faithful people, O Lord, life is changed, not ended; and when our mortal body lies in death, there is prepared for us a dwelling place eternal in the heavens. (From the Preface for the Commemoration of the Dead, Book of Common Prayer 1979).

The celebration of All Saints’ bridges any divide between the commemoration of those the Church specifically commemorates as examples to remember, and our departed loved ones who aren’t “official” saints, but no less important to those left behind.

This preface used during the Eucharist/Mass for the departed shows how life’s continuity is important to us as part of the human race. Are we really correct in talking about the end of mortal life as we happen to know it, or how it’s changed? I’ve often thought that it’s no coincidence that commemorations involving the end of the year in many cultures (such as Halloween/Samhain in Celtic cultures) fall at a time of year when the days get shorter and many things in nature “die” off.

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians in 1:11-23 serves as an effective reminder that our places in life’s story don’t end here, and our remembrance of the saints is perfect proof. Life changes all the time, and no one is more aware of that than someone who’s gone through a difficult health challenge or faced exclusion for doing what’s right.

Those of us in the Western world aren’t likely, thankfully, to experience the persecution that’s common in the Middle East and other areas with minimal or no religious freedom. However, that doesn’t make Paul’s words any less timely for the rest of us.

These promises aren’t, or at least shouldn’t be seen as, pie-in-the-sky promises. They are real for us in the here-and-now, too.

The most important thing to remember is that our Redeemer lives – no matter whether we’re facing opposition for what we believe (or don’t believe), a personal crisis, or the loss of a loved one. We have an inheritance to be happy about!

Posted by: AJ the Irish Lass | October 31, 2019

So, What Can You Do with an Anthropology Major?

 

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APhoto by Andreea Ch on Pexels.com

Anthropology: It’s Not Just About Digging Up the Past

 

When many people think of anthropology, the first thing that comes to mind is its famous subset: archaeology. The lines between archaeology and treasure-hunting are blurred so much in pop culture, it’s easy to see why some people have the wrong idea of what this field is about.

What IS Anthropology, Anyway?

Even though some use the terms archaeology and anthropology interchangeably, archaeology is a type of anthropology. IOW, all archaeologists are anthropologists, but not all anthropologists are archaeologists. So, what are the different anthropological fields, anyway?

Here’s a list:

  • Archaeology – Studying cultures and people from humanity’s past, the type of anthropology that is most familiar in popular culture. Bear in mind that real archaeologists aren’t out to collect treasures, they’re out to document what they discover.
  • Biological/Physical Anthropology – A subfield that specializes in human genetics, evolution, and health, often working in tandem with medical researchers. A background in this type of anthropology is helpful for professionals involved in forensic work.
  • Cultural Anthropology – The subfield that specializes in society and cultural life, with a broad range of further subfields (such as urban studies, sustainability, etc.) People whose interests lie outside of physical anthropology often prefer this subfield.
  • Linguistic Anthropology – A subfield with a focus on language and its use in society. Linguistic anthropologists

This All Sounds Interesting, But What Can You Do With It?

The most obvious thing that you can do with an anthropology degree is teach, although you’ll need to go beyond four-year degree level. However, there are other jobs perfect for anthropology majors you might not have thought about:

  • Journalism and Writing – This type of job can work out nicely with an anthropology degree since the subjects studied help provide a good foundation for a broad range of well-paying writing positions.
  • Social Media/Marketing Specialist – Understanding people is an important part of being a successful marketing pro, so anthropology helps
  • Translator – Although thought of as a job that is 100% about languages, this type of position also involves a solid understanding of the culture involved.
  • Nonprofit Administrator –  The skills taught in sociological academic programs provide a greater foundation for problem-solving.
  • Public Health Specialists – A greater understanding of cultural issues makes it easier to tackle some of the most pressing health issues affecting communities.

Such a background can even help in museum or historical attraction-related jobs. Regardless of what job you’re seeking, there’s a good chance that anthropological training will help.

Posted by: AJ the Irish Lass | October 3, 2019

Welcoming Visitors: A Healthy Balance

Always worth revisiting

AJ the Irish Lass' Ramblings

First, I wanted to welcome all new and returning readers who have posted comments in recent weeks. Things have been absolutely crazy for me job-wise, and I appreciate your hanging in there 🙂

Another blog that I happened across recently brought up the issue of making visitors to a church feel welcome, while not coming on too strong and possibly pushing people away.

Some important points that were brought up:

  • Don’t push people into committing to a specific group/ministry, etc. right off the bat. Some people need some space for whatever reason.
  • It’s better to err on the side of assuming somebody is new than to ignore a “new face” altogether.
  • Never assume that, when announcements are made and people are directed to “speak to so-and-so if you’re interested in whatever”, they automatically know who the person is.
  • One person mentioned how some new visitors aren’t comforting hanging around at…

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Everyone’s needs are different when dealing with a serious health concern. One thing that is probably true of most people with health issues is a desire to retain as much autonomy as possible. Assuming that everyone dealing with a given issue wants or needs certain types of help can be unhelpful.

Three examples of helps people I have talked to seem to have mixed feelings about:

Support groups can be helpful, for some who have no problems with opening up to others or aren’t bothered by being part of a group united mostly by a health issue. Introverts or private types, or who prefer not to make their condition a part of their identity might not find a support group setting helpful. In some cases, one-on-one care with a mental health professional might be best.

Having in-home support services or even having a family member act as a paid caregiver in states that provide such options can be very useful for someone who has very little ability to care for themselves. However, having a disability or health issue does not necessarily mean someone is completely helpless, and the person living with health issues may not want family members giving up their job for what may be a temporary situation. However well-intentioned, pushing this idea with someone who is not open to it may make it seem as though you don’t respect their ability to choose.

The decision to go on disability (or not) is one that each person needs to make for themselves. Some may prefer staying in the workforce and performing their duties with reasonable limitations. As with support groups and whether to enlist a family member as a paid caregiver, this is a personal decision.

All of these decisions need to be made carefully, and as some would put it, prayerfully. You can show the most support by being behind whatever decisions they ultimately make.

Posted by: AJ the Irish Lass | September 16, 2019

The Ups and Downs of Prayer Partners

AJ the Irish Lass' Ramblings

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Many prayer requests deal with very serious and often heartbreaking issues – cancer, serious injuries with a life and death struggle, divorce and other family issues. Sometimes, some of the difficulties you encounter come off the keyboards or touchscreens of your fellow prayer partners. However, there is a light side – you just have to find a reason to smile or laugh when you wonder why you even bothered embarking on being a prayer partner.

Here are a few of the “difficult” fellow prayer partners you may encounter and how to deal:

The Culture Warrior

You send them an email showing support when they request prayer – and so it begins. A simple email saying you’re praying without a single remark about your religious background or politics turns into a succession of forwards from religiously-oriented PACs, televangelists, and local religious leaders. The problem: It’s just…

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Posted by: AJ the Irish Lass | September 3, 2019

Finding the Holy or “the Good”, If You Prefer

Writer June Maffin recently shared a post to her blog about finding the holy. I think it qualifies as “required reading” for anyone struggling with a difficult time, especially in the light of what many in the US have been facing in recent weeks.

June’s post has resonated with me in a very real way in the light of the mass shooting that occurred in my current city of residence, Odessa, on Saturday. No matter where you live, I don’t think any of us expect this to happen in our cities or in our towns.

I think many of us have kind of trained ourselves to think of “holy” things as belonging  only inside the walls of a church or other house of worship. However, we sell ourselves short when we do this.

We can see the holy (or perhaps the good if you prefer to phrase it that way) even when the worst happens in many places:

  • In the outpouring of support from around the world
  • In people here stepping up to see what they can do to help
  • In the speed at which people decided to check in with each other out of concern
  • In the speed at which people raised funds to help with medical and funeral expenses
  • In the touching tributes, such as a piper’s rendition of “Amazing Grace” in front of one of the fire stations

In the midst of all the trauma and chaos of this world, we can strive to find the things that are holy or good. Maybe it’s an amusing pet, an encouraging word from a loved one, a beautiful spot in our daily commute that we take for granted.

Did you see the little dog dressed up as Paddington recently? The Facebook post where I originally found the picture included a caption about how the world seems to be a slightly better place than it was yesterday after seeing this.

Perhaps we need to keep these little things in mind. These things that can make the world seem better and good matter.

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