Posts Tagged recreation

Quote of the Day

9 January 2012

“After all, a vacation is not a matter of place or time. We can take a wonderful vacation in spirit, even though we are obliged to stay at home*. If we will only drop our burdens from our minds for a while. But no amount of travel will give us rest and recreation if we carry our work and worries with us.”     — Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1919

* In the 21st century, we call that a “staycation”!


PrayerWalk London: The London Central Mosque

9 April 2011

The last excerpt of PrayerWalk London took us from Park Crescent, south of the Regent’s Park, through Harley Street to St. Marylebone Parish Church. This part of the route takes us clockwise around the park to London’s Central Mosque.

London Central Mosque

Visitor information. The Islamic Cultural Centre & The London Central Mosque. 146 Park Road, London, NW8 7RG. Tel. 0207 725 2213; 0207 725 2152. Email: Website: Guided tours by appointment only.

London Mosque from Regent's Park

The idea of building a mosque in London was originally put forth by Lord Headley, an English convert to Islam. After several decades of advocacy, a prime building site on the edge of Regent’s Park was presented to the Muslim community by the British Government as an “unconditional gift.” Construction of the mosque began in 1974 and was completed in 1977.  

The main hall can hold 5,000 men, with women praying separately on a balcony overlooking the hall. The mosque includes six important features: 

  1. The mirhab, a special room where the imam (spiritual leader) stands to lead the congregation in prayer. It also helps indicate the direction of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
  2. The minbar, or pulpit, where the imam stands to deliver sermons on Fridays, the Muslim holy day. Every Muslim man is required to attend jumu’ah (congregational) prayer on Fridays.
  3. The minaret, perhaps the most visible part of the mosque as it reaches to the sky and can be seen from miles around. A muezzin stands in the minaret to deliver the call to prayer.
  4.  The dome, a common architectural feature of mosques. The London dome is crowned with a crescent. The dome serves the practical purpose of helping with the acoustics and air circulation within the main prayer hall.
  5. The facilities for wudu, or ritual washing, which are crucial in a mosque as they provide a place to wash and purify parts of the body before prayer. The washing areas are separate for men and women. 
  6. The library, an integral part of a mosque, because the Prophet Muhammad taught his followers that seeking knowledge was obligatory to their faith. 

Point to Ponder: Pray continually 

Muslims pray five obligatory prayers per day, and are encouraged to do so in congregation with other Muslims. This encourages a discipline and builds a sense of fraternity and community among those who pray, and an opportunity for them to exchange thoughts and help each other with problems. Can you imagine the wonderful things that could happen if Christians prayed fervently five times a day, every day? Consider putting this theory into practice and setting an alarm on your phone or other device to go off at five preset times during the day as a reminder to drop everything and focus on what’s most important: God and prayer.

If Time Permits: Prayer Hall

A visit to the mosque, while perhaps controversial for some Christians, can be an excellent way of gaining insight into the Islamic faith and of praying for Muslims “on location.” Check in at the security gate at the Park Road entrance. Out of cultural respect, women should consider covering their heads with a scarf before entering. If positions were reversed and a Muslim were visiting a Christian church, wouldn’t we be grateful for his consideration in not removing his shoes?

Prayer Points

  • Pray against any religion and any creed that hinders or prevents knowledge, sets itself against the knowledge of Christ and that does not acknowledge Christ for who He is – The one and only Savior of the world, the Way, the Truth, the Life.
  • Pray that God might continue revealing His Son to Muslims through dreams and visions of Jesus Christ, as is happening throughout the Middle East.
  • Pray that Christians might lead lives so blameless through the help of God that their Muslim neighbors have nothing to hold against them.
  • Pray that true friendships might be forged between Muslims and Christians and that without ignoring our fundamental differences we might realize and respect what we have in common: sincerity in our search for God and for the Truth, zeal in our worship and proselytizing, and a deep faith and conviction that God is real and governs the lives of men.
  • Pray that God might move on the heart of Christians and grow both their desire to pray and their discipline to make prayer a priority.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

Puzzle Peace: Relieve Your Stress With A Little Jigsaw Fun

4 April 2011

While the old adage says “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” it may be that “a puzzle a day” should get equal billing.

A 2003 study of over 400 seniors revealed that puzzles and other mind-stretching activities like learning an instrument may help ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, the study demonstrated that survey participants who engaged most frequently in these activities received the greatest long-term benefits.

Puzzles come in an assortment of different shapes, sizes, and types: crosswords, jigsaws, brain-teasers, and even number puzzles like Sudoku. Puzzles are peaceful activities – relaxing, quiet, bonding, conversation-inducing. They appeal to all ages, from the child with little dimpled hands grasping at pieces that seem larger than life, to the elderly person whose once-nimble hands, now leaden, seem to enjoy grasping the familiar irregular edges of each individual piece.

Just like there are social drinkers, there are social puzzle-doers — and I’m certainly one of them. It rarely crosses my mind to sit down to a puzzle all by myself, but I find it impossible to walk by someone working on a puzzle without feeling compelled to join in.

I particularly enjoy working puzzles with my 99-year-old grandmother. She cheers for me every time I get a piece, with a “Well, how about that!” or an “Oh, good job!” My grandparents worked crossword puzzles together daily until my grandfather passed away at age 93.

Besides possibly deflecting dementia, other benefits of puzzles include:

  • providing educational benefits for children in helping develop reasoning and problem solving skills,
  • exercising a variety of mental skills,
  • acting as a fun social activity that gets the family together,
  • relieving stress,
  • giving a surge of serotonin each time you fit a piece in the right place
  • boosting the ego by providing a chance to be congratulated when you fit a piece — Just think: in a 1,000-piece puzzle you have 1,000 chances of being congratulated! 
  • keeping the mind active and alert.

Stock up on puzzles of all sizes at the dollar store and keep some on hand to give as gifts. When you are tired of a puzzle, consider donating it to a hospital, prison, nursing home, or shelter. But make sure the puzzle has all its pieces! Is there anything more frustrating than getting down to the last few pieces and realizing they are missing? 

And so, without further ado, I declare today, April 4, “National Turn off Your TV and Do a Puzzle Day.” (Apparently “National Puzzle Day” has already been assigned to January 29.) Every man to his puzzle!

Why Include “Recreation” in a Prayerwalking Guide?

12 March 2011

“Parks & Recreation” is one of my favorites walks in the book because it takes the reader behind the scenes to discover Londoners at play. The most militant prayerwalkers may be inclined to skip this chapter as a waste of time. I would strongly discourage this course of action, and here is my rationale.

Seven walks, seven topics

PrayerWalk London touches on seven areas of London life, from “Church & State” which includes Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, to “Resident & Alien,” addressing the changing face of London with the influx of immigrants in recent years.

Sunday in Regent's Park

Recreation is an integral part of London life and it would be foolish and neglectful to leave out this all-important area as a subject for prayer. Rest and recreation are not mere frivolous pursuits: they are part of a biblical injunction, provided in the example of God, the Creator, when having finished his masterpiece he “rested from all his work” (Genesis 2:3).

The “real” Londoners

Off the beaten path is where you’ll see the “real” Londoners. If you just see Londoners at work, you see one side: professional, unemotional, proper; if you see them at play with their children, spouses, and friends you see a carefree, tender, vulnerable, playfully competitive, familial side that otherwise you would miss.

The fact that Greater London has 8 major parks covering 4,900 acres of land is an indication of the importance of parks (and the leisure they represent) in the lives of Londoners.

Opportunities “off the beaten path”

BBC's "best street in London"

One of the most fascinating conversations I had in London took place at an outdoor café on Marylebone High Street (voted BBC’s best street in London) with a socialist lady from Bristol as we discussed the British vs. American university system and their respective approaches to online education. And I was ridiculously pleased with my ability to fit in when in that same neighborhood a British woman asked me for directions to the nearest tube station — even though I didn’t feel quite as proud when I discovered later that I’d given her the wrong directions!

In other areas covered by this book, you will encounter shopkeepers, museum docents, Blue Badge guides, and business professionals who will view you as clients and tourists and interact with you accordingly. Here in the northern fringe of the city, you can actually mingle and potentially blend in with the locals and look into the eyes of the people you have been praying for.