New Year Resolutions

Contributed by the Rev. Edward M. Cardoza

Ah yes, the New Year is upon us. Many people will do a year in review. Others will set resolutions. I always like to set an intentional practice around New Year’s Day. I usually like to find some quiet time during the day itself. It may be near my fireplace, or in my favorite comfortable chair or—if the outdoors beckons—along my favorite wooded path. I settle in with some breathing, focus and silence—and I ask myself: what were the things I really enjoyed in 2016. Sometimes these come easily. I suspect this year—it may take a little more focus. As each of those moments comes up—just take a moment to savor them and be thankful for them. You can also write them down on a piece of paper or place them in your journal.

Can you make a resolution to commit to doing some of these things again in 2017?

Next, I like to ask what were the issues or situations that caused the most stress, anxiety or disappointment over the year? Again, it might be good to list them down. As you review the list—allow them to be taken in by you. What was out of your control? What could you have taken more responsibility for within yourself? What remains unresolved? What needs healing?

For those situations out of control—can you let them go and cast them away? For those needing you to take responsibility—can you make a commitment to do that in 2017? For those needing resolution or healing—are you able to commit to that in 2017? Write down an action plan—of things you want to let go of and things you want to do in the New Year.

Breath! Delight! Take a look at your lists—New Year’s resolutions shouldn’t just be wish list of things you know your probably won’t do—they ought to be about repeating places of joy, fulfillment and happiness. And, they ought to also be about letting go of what we can’t control and taking responsibility for things we can do something about.

I find when I do this practice—it leaves me with a commitment to live life more abundantly by committing to do those things that went well and to repair those areas that are disconnected or in need of healing.

Best wishes to you in the New Year!

An Answer

Interfaith Banner

Submitted by Board Member, The Rev. Sarah Person

“Prayer cannot bring water to parched land, nor mend a broken bridge, nor rebuild a ruined city, but prayer can water an arid soul, mend a broken heart, and rebuild a weakened will.”   Abraham J. Heschel

Five years ago, on the tenth anniversary of September 11th, I gathered with fellow clergy and laypeople to wager our hopes on an indifferent city.  We called ourselves the Connecticut Council for Interreligious Understanding.  We were Catholic, Protestant, Baha’i, Muslim, Sikh, Jain, Jew, Pagan, Unitarian Universalist, and Hindu.  We had issued an invitation to the people of Hartford to join with us at the Cathedral of St. Joseph for an evening service “United in Prayer, Healing with Hope.”

We arrived early, proceeding to the robing rooms downstairs – our shoes echoing in the cavernous space.  I was told it seated over a thousand.  Why this place, I thought.  It is massive, massively Christian, massively empty.  How can we possibly bring people together here?  Are people ready to reach out to one another across a gulf of painful memories, and be among strangers on this day of all days?

It wasn’t until it was time, and we had moved down the aisle and up the chancel steps and turned around to face the sanctuary that I had my answer.  The Cathedral was filled to overflowing.  Wall to wall, a sea of faces looked back at me – all ages, all colors, wearing all colors, Sunday best and work clothes and vestments.  And on their faces was courage.  When my turn came to speak, I put down my papers and reached out to them, saying:

“Before I begin, take a look around you.  Go ahead, take a good look! This place is full, full of people of different faiths, different walks of life.  How amazing it was to process down this aisle and turn around and see all of you.  This is truly the real answer to fear and hate.  All of you, here, right now.  It’s you.”

We cannot undo evil, but we can undo its effect on us with enough care and enough time and enough hope.  Together.

A Contemplative Practice In Times Of Trauma And Violence

VigilPulse2

Submitted by board member, The Rev. Edward Cardoza

My heart and mind are heavy.   My spirit is unsettled. I am thinking about the tragedy that unfolded this weekend in Orlando.  I find myself distracted to the point where prayer and silence seem challenging.

I know it is in times such as these that finding a place for solitude and for reflection is important.   First, I believe prayer matters.  Second, I believe healing begins within me.  Lastly, I think silence deepens our ability to love, to be empathetic and to be a strength to others in times of trauma and violence.

One of life’s important rituals–taught to me by my elders–is to stand vigil. It is clear we will bury so many in the weeks to come–once again–too many, too young. We will stand or kneel or bend or crouch or curl…weeping, astonished, angered, frustrated and wrecked…but in the end we will stand back up again–let’s do so rooted in love–keeping vigil for each of the Creator’s beloved.

I offer the following contemplative exercise as a way of creating space and of remembering those who were killed.

Step 1: Find a list of those who are victims—local tv news stations and newspapers will be printing lists with names and biographies.

You can check out the official list here:  http://www.cityoforlando.net/blog/victims/

Step 2: Read the name of a single person, softly and out loud.  Repeat the name, once again.

Step 3: Keep the person in your heart….take a breath in and then release the breath out.  Keep silence for 1 minute…repeat the person’s name.

Step 4: Hold this person in your heart, hold this person’s family in your heart, hold this person’s community in your heart….ask for peace, ask for love, and ask for comfort.

Step 5:  Repeat the process.
If you can set aside an hour, you should be able to get through all the names.  If you can only do a few at a time, that is okay.  You can invite someone to join you.  At the end, take a few minutes for quiet—and voice your own needs.