“…be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…” Ephesians 5:18-19

An American Pastor, Quaker, Author and Speaker named Richard Foster wrote a wonderful book on the spiritual life called “Celebration of Discipline” over 40 years ago. In this book, Richard goes into depth about how creating space for God through prayer, fasting, solitude, etc. allows the human heart to be placed before God in order to be transformed by God. I heard Richard speak about his book in Petoskey, MI in 2018, and one line he quoted from the book really stood out to me. He said, “Joy is the keynote of all the disciplines.” In other words, creating space for God through the disciplines of prayer, fasting, solitude, etc. leads to experiencing more joy in your life! Since our theme in 2020 is “Living Joyfully,” I want to share two things I do often. It is such a joy for me to have the opportunity to provide spiritual care for our residents in the northern homes, and a few things that I get to experience and do every time I am in the homes with residents are the practices of singing and gratitude. I’ll bring my guitar and sing a variety of songs, some of which the residents know, and so they sing along usually with smiles on their faces. I encourage a lot of our residents to listen to music that brings them joy, because music is a gift that can open our hearts in ways that other means cannot. Coupled with singing, I also practice gratitude with our residents asking them what they are thankful for. Research into positive psychology shows that the practice of gratitude can help make a person happier and more content with their life, which leads to joy. Over the last year, it has been such a blessing to me to see how much singing and gratitude has been and continues to impact the lives of our residents. May we keep singing and giving thanks always in every season with our residents the unending blessings from above!

Chaplain Ryan