Thursday, July 26, 2018

Nature and Soul Care

For me, there is something healing about nature. I went camping recently for the first time in many years and I came back a new person.

Being quiet and enjoying the sounds of nature, I could hear more clearly the things that my soul was crying out for. I spent time bonding with my dog, swimming in a hot spring, relaxing by the fire and sleeping under the stars (in my tent). All of these things were healing for me, and I am grateful for the blessings that nature has bestowed upon me.

The natural beauty of the woods is also healing for me. The wild animals going about their business, picking wild huckleberries, enjoying an afternoon nap and staying up into the night to visit with family around the fire all made room for me to process the feelings that I am experiencing, and allowed me to move through some of them with ease.

Nature also allowed me to see and love myself as I am. The sense of peace that can be found in the wilderness is amazing. I highly recommend taking some time out to experience the blessings of nature and the peace that it’s quietness brings.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Humility and Self Confidence 

There is a big difference between humility and putting oneself down. Humility asks us to recognize that we are reliant on one another and on our higher power for our social and spiritual wellbeing. It also asks us to view ourselves as stewards of the world around us as well as the people in our lives.

We must take great care not to confuse humility and feelings of worthlessness or being less than another; we are all worthy of dignity, love and respect. This is not haughtiness, rather it is a healthy form of self confidence.

Humility requires gratitude and honest self examination. Knowing in one’s heart that each of us are servants and stewards of the world around us and the people in our lives while maintaining healthy boundaries and self-confidence can be tricky. It may help to remember that each one of us are the beloved children of our Creator and recognizing our talents without being grandiose or boastful are great ways to both have healthy humility and healthy self-confidence.

It is my belief that in order for healthy humility to flourish, each of us must work to cultivate charity, love, self-examination and self-acceptance. All of these things pave the way for a humility that is neither self-depreciating or attention seeking. Both of these things represent false humility and must be diligently guarded against.

In closing I would ask each of you to examine honestly your relationship with humility. There is always room for improvement in this department and by having a healthy kind of humility, we improve the wold around us.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Gratitude and Joy

One of the core practices of any monastic life is that of gratitude. The regular practice of taking inventory of and recognizing all that we have to be grateful for is one of the direct causes of a deep and abiding joy in our lives.

The monastic practice of gratitude is not just about giving thanks for all that is going right in the life of the monastic. Things such as change, emotion and life experience are all causes for the monastic to give thanks, but these are not always positive things. Change can be painful, emotions can be uncomfortable and life experiences that shape who we are can be troublesome. Giving thanks for both good and happy things as well as difficult things is a discipline that takes time to master, just as any monastic discipline takes time to accomplish effectively.

On the front page of the OES website is a video from TED concerning joy and gratitude. The monk, David Steindl-Rast lists a few things that mark what we ought to be grateful for, and the thing that sticks out for me is that anything that I didn't earn is something I ought to be grateful for (this covers a great many things in my life).

So, dear readers, I encourage you to take stock of all the things in your life that you have to be grateful for. Take time out of your day to inventory and then give thanks for what you believe is a gift, even for menial things like the meals you eat. You may find that over time, you are more joyful by default.

If you'd like to watch the video about joy and gratitude, it can be found under our "Featured Faith Talks" section on the homepage at