Think on these things! Practicing Spiritual Psychological first aid.
The other day I was out for my daily run with Frodo. It was yet another glorious sunny Spring day, and yet as I ran down the road to the river, the idyllic scene was spoilt by a load of rubbish dumped on the grass…I must admit…I had a moment…why would anyone just leave their rubbish here spoiling such a place of tranquil beauty…but then I looked up and around…the Sun was still shining, the blossom was still blooming and the birds were in full voice. And I recalled something Paul once wrote from his prison cell in Rome…
I must admit I had often wondered how Paul managed it…he was incarcerated in a cell, his liberty was taken away and I imagine his future prospects of getting out of there in one piece were less than positive but still he counsels …’Think on these things….’
Think on these things, whatever is honest, pure and lovely …Philippians 4:8
So what was all this about? Rather than encouraging a naïve, idealistic, other worldy perspective on life, Paul was giving us, a hard learnt, 101 lesson in spiritual and psychological first aid….
Indulge me for a moment…think of all the things that really wind you up, get you down, put your teeth on edge…then notice, how are you feeling now….energised and positive or tense and downhearted? Now have a go at the opposite…think of the things that inspire and fill you with joy…it may be family and friends, a special place, a picture, book, piece of music…and allow your mind to really engage with that memory or experience…turn up the volume and picture it in full colour…now how do you feel? Less stressed and wound up? More relaxed and creative? Open to the possibilities that lie before you?
Living life and viewing life through an appreciative filter is good for our spiritual, mental, emotional health. Paul is inviting us to connect with and embrace all that makes life rich and full and of worth…and with a bit of ingenuity, discernment and creativity we can still access these things even in times of lock down…
As I ran home, I found myself smiling at the homemade rainbow decorations in the windows of the houses on my road…I thought back to the clap for carers that takes place each Thursday as folks in this community take the time to affirm and encourage all those working in the myriad of key-worker roles right now…all those who are caring for the sick, supporting the vulnerable, keeping basic amenities going that help our community to continue to function. Whether it be banging your pots and pans on your doorsteps, clapping your hands, or even driving up and down the road tooting your horn…we are all trying to say thank you and we appreciate all that you are doing.
When I got back, I opened Facebook and found people sewing scrubs for hospital staff, baking cakes, delivering food parcels and prescriptions to those at home shielding.
So my invitation to myself and to you is to consider what it might be like practising spiritual and psychological first aid in these times …
Open your eyes to the wonder and delight of this beautiful planet and allow your heart and spirit to give praise to God the creator.
Think of all those people you know who are compassionate, caring, and responsible and think of ways in which you can support and affirm them.
Give thanks daily for the opportunities that lie before you to do your part at this time of global need, whether that be sheltering at home or out in the community at work.
Thank you, Loving God, for creating a world of beauty and love. Let love be my goal. Let me look beyond the detritus, knowing that it exists, but also knowing that there is more to life than pandemic and irresponsibility. There is love, sacrifice, compassion, and commitment. Let me be among the helpers, blessing the earth, wherever I find myself. Amen.