Holistic Healing and Appreciation

Photo credit: Rantz / flickr

Photo credit: Rantz / flickr

Ap-pre’ci-ate, v., 1. valuing; the act of recognizing the best in people or the world around us; affirming past and present strengths, successes, and potentials; to perceive those things that give life (health, vitality, excellence) to living systems 2. to increase in value, e.g. the economy has appreciated in value. Synonyms: VALUING, PRIZING, ESTEEMING, and HONORING.

In-quire’ (kwir), v., 1. the act of exploration and discovery. 2. To ask questions; to be open to seeing new potentials and possibilities. Synonyms: DISCOVERY, SEARCH, and SYSTEMATIC EXPLORATION, STUDY.

-From A Positive Revolution in Change: Appreciative Inquiry by David L. Cooperrider and Diana Whitney

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is about the co-evolutionary search for the best in people, their organizations, and the relevant world around them. …It centrally involves the mobilization of inquiry through the crafting of the “unconditional positive question” … In AI the arduous task of intervention gives way to the speed of imagination and innovation; instead of negation, criticism, and spiraling diagnosis, there is discovery, dream, and design.”


So, some of you have heard me tell  of an encounter with my past, long time, very treasured pastoral counselor, more friend of my soul’s journey, The Reverend Jared Rardin. I name him to honor him this morning! You might remember an especially excruciating encounter I had with him when I went to him twisted and torn within with some problem that had me knotted and ferociously frustrated only to receive his remedial response: “The next time this happens again, just say to yourself, ‘Isn’t this interesting?’”

If I ever wanted to choke him and take him and toss him about, it was this day in the midst of my most twisted torment that his only answer was to stop, pause, look at this long-standing troubling situation and just say “Isn’t this interesting?”

Today, after many miles of life and living I find that he, like Matthew 6:25 and Philippians 4:6 in the midst of our most tormented throes of life, seemingly piously says “don’t worry…” to a significant degree, I find he was right! That to realize, even find the power to “appreciate”  a torrential situation against the backdrop of a vast experience of more positive thoughts, feelings and experiences gives  power  see a whole picture and give new power to bring to the table of the problem.

Appreciation Evolves and Makes Whole

On Tuesday, November 5 at a small spiritual group gathering of our Young Adults group (I was allowed to be included as one who was “Young Adult in Spirit”) I was asked the question that each of them at their weekly meetings always began with, that the old and historic, yet always relevant and contemporary Wesleyan question of spiritual inquiry: “How goes it with your soul?”

Even while I knew the question was coming, I could not fully excavate words from my soul that described my condition. Two words emerged: anxiety and anticipation.  Being a preacher and naturally inclined to alliteration, I told the group that I knew there was a third “a” word evolving but it had not yet come forth.

In true cooperative spirit, several members of the group tried to help me usher the word forward: amazing? No, that’s not it. Astonishing? No, not it either. A pause, and then one of the group with a “still, small, unassuming voice (I Kings 18:12), ‘appreciation.’” Yes! This was the word!


I shared with the group that besides the anxiety I sometimes feel on the administrative problem side of our wonderful church, such as Fire Department and NY Building code violations, that Sherrie and I happen to have been at the movies at the Garden State Mall in Paramus, New Jersey the night before (Monday, November 4). Immediately, their memories kicked into the news media that had communicated that a lone gunman fire off shots at that same mall, at the time we were there, who though—thank God—did not shoot or kill anyone, but most unfortunately and grievously, was found at 3:20 am, holed up in a small room in that mall, where he had shot himself in the head, killing himself.

Sher and I had just sat down to eat in a restaurant when we heard screams, saw people frantically and fearfully running towards the doors, while our waitress instructed us all to get behind the counter and hit the floor.

Sher and I got up, went outside amidst swirling and howling police vehicles of every type, helicopters swirling with spot lights, people racing in all directions,  where we found our car, got in and drove away before we were forcibly locked in, searched, etc.

We went to another restaurant about half a mile away, ordered and ate, but just while leaving, police came in and closed that restaurant down as well!

We left, though shaken and awestruck and worried…appreciative. An appreciation that for us, God, once again spared us much consternation, harm and danger. Reflecting on our whole live, this incident was enfolded within our whole life stories and we both testified to each other that we were “appreciative” of the many ways we could witness what we defined as God’s protection.

Little did I know God would send the gift of this word “appreciation” to me at a gathering of adventuring Young Adult souls the next day!

Appreciation Evolves As “Holistic and Healing”

I began this blog with one of my favorite organizational intervention theories and practices: Appreciative Inquiry. It proposes that intervening with reflections on positive (past and even present) experience is a greater resource for problem solving than being knotted and twisted in the problem of the present. It brings to bear a powerful resource of an appreciation of a whole story into the momentary chapter of a life problem. For me, it offers the opportunity to heal and make whole.

Hence: Holistic and Healing Appreciation. May you be blessed to find this today. Appreciate!