Day 12: Improvisation

December 9, 2021

Day 12: Improvisation

               Television shows like Whose Line Is It Anyway? and Curb Your Enthusiasm are wonderful  Other shows (Parks and Recreation and Community come to mind) have a large part of unscripted improvisation, too. Comedy improvisation can be freeing, collaborative, immersive, and totally fun.

Twenty-three years ago, I providentially happened to start comedy improv classes at IO (formerly, Improv Olympic), with co-founder Charna Halpern. She taught me a tremendous lesson: both/and. Or, rather, she gave me words for something inside of me that was yearning to be expressed. Not either/or, and certainly not a restrictive approach, but showing the extravagant welcome [1] I find in the United Church of Christ. Improv released this tremendous mindset that the program of recovery also encouraged in me: that of affirmation, celebration, reconciliation, and the freedom-to-be.

On this Tree of Contemplative Practices, Improvisation is found on the Creative branch. And yes, I absolutely agree! It is so creative! I can still remember skits and games we played and acted out in that two-year period. Twenty-two and twenty-three years ago. So vivid, so much fun! And the concept of group mind as a totally collaborative, integral part of the whole is something I will never forget.

Sure, the Improv I did was at a “secular” place. Yet, I can totally see how it helped me to get closer to God. Closer to my fellows in Improv. And, yes, more in touch with my inner child – or klutz – or clown – or philosopher.

I would love to do improv again! I would do it, in a shot! Perhaps, one day soon…please, God.

               Please, pray with me. Dear God, thank You for laughter. Thank You for joy, and fun, and giggles, and just plain roars of laughter. Thank You for limericks and for pratfalls and for mime. Thank You for all the ways Improv artists have used all of the above to bring about joy and laughter and truth and even pain and suffering – and turn it all into something utterly wonderful. Help us all to learn from these marvelous games and skits. And, help us all to be ready to laugh. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

@chaplaineliza

Thanks to the website www.contemplativemind.org for their excellent image the Tree of Contemplative Practices.

(Suggestion: visit me at my other blogs: www.pastorpreacherprayer.com, matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. and  A Year of Being Kind . Thanks! )


[1] https://www.ucc.org/about-us_who-we-are  Extravagant welcome is one highlight that drew me into the UCC.

Day 5: Gratitude

December 2, 2021

Prayer and meditation mean a lot to me. I try to do one or both on a regular basis. Recovery principles also mean a lot to me. (Did you know that I have a certificate in Alcohol and Drug Addiction, certified by the state of Illinois?) Helping people in recovery and their loved ones is also important to me.

When I came to the word “Gratitude,” the first thought that came to me was the program of recovery. It is so natural for people in recovery to be grateful – grateful for sobriety, yes. That is the first and primary thing! But after that sober realization, the person’s eyes are opened and all of life opens up. Life becomes possible to live again.

Looking at “Daily Reflections,” a daily meditation book from the Alcoholics Anonymous Foundation, I was struck by the reading for March 25th – “I am grateful not only for sobriety, but for the quality of life my sobriety has brought.” [1] Gratitude is truly a blessing, where peace and contentment become a blessed possibility for grateful people. That gratitude is so often a blessing from a Higher Power.

Yes, gratitude is wonderful for anyone in the recovery program. More than that, did you realize that gratitude is helpful for anyone? So many have negative behaviors, thinking and attitudes in their lives, minds and spirits. Relapse is simply going back to a behavior, way of thinking, habit or speech that you wish to leave behind. Gratitude is a excellent tool to help prevent relapse. Gratitude promotes freedom from relapse to addictive behaviors, negative thinking, harmful habits, hurtful way of speech, or whatever it is that you want to jettison.

How can we be grateful? you may ask. A simple way to start is by writing down a list of things you are grateful for. (And, once you start, you may not be able to stop!) If a whole long list is too daunting, why don’t you try for three things? What are you grateful for, today? Write down those three things, and then tomorrow you can add three more.

Try to stop the negativity tapes that play on “repeat” in your head. Focus on those positive things, and be sure to say “thank You” to God for them. Yes, I’ve kept gratitude lists, even through dark times and difficult patches in my life. These lists can be a lifesaver.   

That is all, one gratitude at a time, one step at a time, one day at a time.

Dear Lord, gracious God, I thank You for this excellent reminder to be grateful, today. And, with today’s meditation from Daily Reflections, I pray that we all may be richly blessed from You, so blessed we will overflow with gratitude, each day. One day at a time. Amen.

@chaplaineliza

Thanks to the website www.contemplativemind.org for their excellent image the Tree of Contemplative Practices.

(Suggestion: visit me at my other blogs: www.pastorpreacherprayer.com, matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. and  A Year of Being Kind . Thanks! )


[1] Daily Reflections (Alcoholics Anonymous Foundation, United States of America: 1990), 93.