“Discombobulate, meaning “to confuse, frustrate,” sounds like something straight out of a cartoon. It was first recorded in the form discomboberate in the early 1800s, and apparently originated as a humorous imitation of hifalutin-sounding Latin words.”—vocabulary.com

In the midst of getting belongings settled in our new apartment and also getting my office organized and beginning my duties, I lost (misplaced?) the set of church keys I had just been given the previous week.  The same morning I discovered the keys missing, when I got in the car headed to an appointment with a new chiropractor, a message read “Braking system problem!  See a dealer immediately!”  I totally lost my emotional center!  I was “discombobulated!” At the chiropractor appointment, my blood pressure, which normally is fine, had shot up.  I couldn’t seem to focus to fill out the forms.  In one place where I was to sign and date, I signed and started to put my post office box number!  I dated things incorrectly.  You get the picture.

I stayed agitated overnight.  Finally, in an effort to get hold of myself, I thought about what was really going on.  Keys can be replaced.  I realized I was really upset about feeling I had embarrassed myself. I considered that this reflected poorly on me.  What kind of confidence was I inspiring in my congregation when I immediately lost the keys?

So I went to the office where I forced myself to sit and focus on a daily reading that I do.  Then I randomly opened a book I have had for a long time but never read.  The chapter I opened to was based on a gospel story where Jesus encountered the man “Legion” (meaning many), who in current terms we would describe as mentally ill.  His behavior was so disruptive that the villagers had tried to restrain him with chains from which he repeatedly broke free.  One point the author made was about how fragmented we sometimes become.  One of the discussion questions was: “What would your life be like if you were in your right mind?” 

When I am “in my right mind,” I am either aware of all my blessings or I can fairly easily call to mind all that for which I am grateful.  And there is so much! Just at the moment I am so very much relieved that our “stateside” son-in-law (not the “overseas” son-in-law) came through his heart surgery this week with flying colors! (Of course, this also was a part of my “discombobulation.”) So my heart is full and I give thanks.

 May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter.  Shalom, Kate

Hope’s Café Bonus:  From Michael J. Fox, who has been dealing with Parkinson’s disease for 30 years:  “Optimism is really rooted in gratitude.  Optimism is sustainable when you keep coming back to gratitude, and what follows from that is acceptance.”

Finding Hope Through Gratitude

I believe in the message of hope. I believe in hope in the midst of despair. I believe when we are despairing, God despairs with us. And that underpins hope, because if God suffers with us, there is meaning in that hopeless experience.

A compassionate God offers us a steady supply of hope, but we do not always avail ourselves of it. Our means to do that is through gratitude. Gratitude is what brings hope into the present moment. Hope may seem a distant promised land but gratitude gives us awareness of the manna we are eating in the wilderness at this very moment.” 

These words were the opening of a paper I wrote for a ministry class some years ago but the words ring as true to me today.  As we wander in the wilderness of Covid 19, there are many for whom gratitude may seem a stretch.  Maybe you have lost a loved one and the virus has prevented having the closure of a celebration of life surrounded by friends and family. Maybe your job has been shut down and you have children to feed. Perhaps you are experiencing deep depression or panic attacks fueled by our present circumstances.  How do you find gratitude within yourself in this present moment?

“In this present moment” is the key.  In this present moment, ground yourself.  Take some slow, deep breaths.  Ask yourself: where are my feet? That may seem silly.  Do it anyway.  Recognize your feet as connected to solid ground (or imagine them connected if something prevents your putting them flat on the floor). 

Ask yourself:  where is my head? What thoughts am I feeding?  Name at least one thing for which you are grateful.  Continue searching if something doesn’t come immediately.  You might look to the book of Psalms or some other reading that you find uplifting.  I have sometimes turned to Psalm 42: “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me?  Hope thou in God, for I shall yet again praise him for the help of his countenance.” If all else fails, think of someone you can do something for and be grateful for that motivation. 

May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter.

            Shalom, Kate

P.S. Bonus healthy snack from Hope’s Cafe:  slice an apple and sprinkle cinnamon on it. Dip it in yogurt. 😊