Nurture Self

by the Rev. Paul McLain


Many years ago, a grief counselor ended our session by handing me a two-word prescription: ‘Nurture self.’ While that might not seem like a lot, it was amazing how seeing those two words on a little Rx prescription sheet gave me the permission and freedom to seek out activities (or space or silence) that would nourish my soul. I took long walks around a lake. I listened to the bug sounds. I read books not related to my work at the time. I listened to relaxing music. I acted in community theatre productions. I wrote in a journal. I prayed.


What we often miss in the Gospel stories are the times Jesus went off to pray by himself or pray with a few of his disciples. We see those mentions as ‘interludes’ between the ‘real action’ of healing, teaching, challenging the authorities, and performing miracles. But those quiet prayer times were much more than interludes. I wonder if Jesus felt overwhelmed by all the hurt, sickness, displacement, poverty, and powerlessness he encountered everywhere he went. Did he need some time just to breathe and be? Did he need some time just to nurture self?


I’ve thought about that two-word prescription a lot these last couple of weeks. On a walk this morning along the bluff overlooking Tom Lee Park and the Mississippi River, it was comforting to see the knotted roots of a large magnolia tree on the edge of a steep drop-off. It was calming to hear the bug sounds joined by a chorus of cicadas this year. It was soothing to see the water flowing gently southward as it has done for centuries. And then to enter online Morning Prayer with many of you was a reminder too that we are part of a never-ending cycle and stream of prayer. We’re part of something bigger than the big crises that our world and we are facing. We’re part of a God who longs to nourish our souls and longs to see us nourish each other.


Quite often, I share the prescription given to me with others who feel overwhelmed. In addition to ‘nurture self,’ I will sometimes add Prayer 59 to the imaginary Rx I hand out. It’s the Prayer of Quiet Confidence, one of those under-utilized prayers in the back of the Prayer Book on page 832. It goes like this:


‘O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and confidence shall be our strength: By the might of thy Spirit lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.’

29 thoughts on “Nurture Self”

  1. Paul, that is welcome advice given the trauma the Rhodes College community is experiencing this week. Along with Buddy’s also-relevant sermon on Sunday, I’m grateful today for my friends in faith.

    1. You’re welcome, Needie. Glad they were meaningful to you. It was wonderful to be with you and Tom as we honored and remembered Chief Bob Saturday night. Love and Blessings, Paul

  2. Paul, as a ‘friend’ of silence, thank you for this poignant reminder to nurture self. Thank you as well for the prayer; our St. Clare silent weekend retreat is Oct. 22-24; its theme is ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ Bless you for reminding us to consider another ‘two words; : BE STILL.

    1. You’re welcome, Clay. Glad this message was timely for you. It was wonderful to serve with you Sunday afternoon! Love and Blessings, Paul

  3. I experienced an incident this morning wherein I felt betrayed by a friend. Your words couldn’t have been more timely. I, too, think I will nurture myself with a walk in nature today. God’s peace.

    1. Kate, so glad this was a timely and healing message for you. It was wonderful to journey with you and Ted in the Call it Grace book study. Enjoy the walk this afternoon! Love and Blessings, Paul

  4. Lovely……as always

    We have an opening for a priest at St Justin’s in Canton Texas…..we would live to have you! Lol😁😁

    1. Thanks, Rose Ann. That’s flattering, but I’m very happy here at Calvary. I’ll be praying that God leads St. Justin’s to a faithful priest. It’s always wonderful to worship with you at online Morning Prayer!
      Love and Blessings,

  5. Thank you, Paul, for yet another reminder of the need to “Be still and know.” I am going to take you up on the prescription to seek silence in nature that renews mind, body and soul.

  6. This reminds me of the quote I think from Ralph Waldo Emerson that goes something like: Be still so that we may hear the whisper of God.

  7. It is so hard for me, and yet so necessary, to just be still and listen. Thank you for this little insight..

  8. From Eucharist prayer C “Deliver us from the presumption of coming to this Table for solace only, and not for strength; for pardon only, and not for renewal.” Many years ago when I was very much in need of solace, this phrase hit me like a lightning bolt. What I heard was that I should take care to renew myself with God’s help, not just expect God to renew me. Self care is Holy.

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