by Carol Anne Lawler, HPCCR Faith Community Educator
One of the benefits of being the Faith Community Educator for Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region is the privilege of presenting information to faith communities and other groups about some aspect of end-of-life care. We often say we can’t ‘add years to your life’, but we can ‘add life to your years’. To that end, I developed a Healthy Aging presentation to do just that! My goal is to communicate how our mind, body, and spirit are all connected and when we do one thing it affects the other aspects of our lives as well. I have experienced this connection first-hand and would like to share a few observations.
In 2015, I had the opportunity to attend the School of the Spirit that consists of four retreats over the course of the year to deepen and expand the participants’ spiritual life. One of the practices is called Centering Prayer. In this form of meditation, rather than focus on the breath or on using a mantra, each person chooses a ‘sacred word’ that is said when one’s thoughts begin to veer off course. The word is used as a gentle reminder to return one’s mind and energies to meditate. The sacred word effectively reminds me of what I know to be true.
Not only has the power of a single word been helpful in my spiritual life, my body has witnessed the power of a single word as well. Let me explain. Since our children have become adults and are now living on their own, my husband and I have more time to pursue activities that are of interest. We can frequently be seen at the Dowd YMCA taking a cycle or ‘spin’ class, as it is called, most Saturday mornings and/or Thursday evenings. When the instructor wants to motivate the class to go faster, she will say the word PUSH! Because of my competitive spirit (even with myself), I began saying PUSH…PUSH… PUSH…(to myself of course), and to my amazement, I watch my speed increase. If, by saying a single word, I can help align my spirit to reflect my values and increase my peddle speed on my stationary bike, what can you and I accomplish with a single action toward what is good?
I am reminded of a quote I heard when I was just 16 years old. (My long-term memory serves me well.) I was taking the classroom part of Driver’s Education in the summer and our instructor wrote these words on the blackboard:“I am but one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something….and by the grace of God, I will do the one thing I can do.” I am convinced; there is at least one thing you and I can do to add healing to the world. The recipe for change, then, is this: change a word + change an action = positive results!
When I was young I long sought the answers to life’s important issues. Now that I am older, I am convinced that asking the right questions holds the key to what matters most.
Here are few questions for consideration: How have I loved this hour? Whom have I helped? How have I lived my principles? As we move into spring may we remember the power of a single word and the strength of a single action can not only add life to our years, it can add new life to our world.
The above article will be published in the summer edition of All About Seniors, a comprehensive resource and referral directory available in North and South Carolina for older adults, caregivers, and healthcare professionals.