I am away on my annual weekend retreat with one of my oldest best friends. This is the poor selfie of us on 3 Cliffs Bay on the Gower, South Wales staying at a friend’s mobile home.
I have blogged about the benefits of this time in and of its self and as a part of my “Marker Posts and Shelters” Rule and Rythm of life and ministry. What struck me in this time away was how spending time with people who know you very well and where there is relationship and permission to speak in to each other’s lives, is that there becomes very little room for a delusional self image. The possibility to tell each other honest, edgy stuff about the past year and have it just have it slide by without comment, just does not happen. Dave even described our weekend away at a local Church this morning as our “accountability weekend”!
We spend much of our time reflecting on the past year, praying and blessing each other, and definitely, pushing back to clarify that is how it feels and looks and it really is. A time to refocus and try a different angle.
I am thankful to God and them, for having a few people I trust and who love me, to have this type of relationship with.
One of the privileges I have is being a Trustee of Frontier Youth Trust and at our meeting on Wednesday this slide was presented by Richard who leads the Aim Community, a project on the south coast. These three words resonate band the explanations around them encompasses their hope for their youth work. If more young people could access work that aimed to do this imagine the difference it could make. They use creative arts to help young people become more whole. Supporting youth work is one of the most significant difference investments we can make.
I am part of a recently formed group of people who have an interest of the topic of shame in the church. We have set up a Facebook Group called Transforming Shame where we hope to be able to share resources and engage in discussion.
I have very nearly finished my book on shame and share the passion to help people understand what it is, what may trigger it, and how we might support those who are experiencing shame as well as encourage less disgrace shaming in the church. Do think about liking the page if you are interested in the topic too and let us know if there are particular things you would like us to discuss.
Jon Ronson wrote an excellent book about shame which explored some of the ways people are shamed on social media, So you’ve been publicly shamed where he describes shame like this:
Shame is an incredibly inarticulate emotion, it’s something you bathe in, it’s not something you wax eloquent about. It’s such a deep, dark, ugly thing, there are few words for it (p271).
We want to help shame to be named, understood and transformed.
This week saw the celebration for our MCYM year 3’s final day at college at St. John’s Nottingham. It is always an equally humbling, proud, sad day. It is always a privilege to be involved in education, formation, training those for ministry and service in our communities. The sacrifice they and those who have supported them have made, has been immense and inspiring. To see their confidence wane and grow and circle back again, we know their faithfulness will always be honoured by our equipping God. They have given much more than us tutors. Our Birmingham Children’s Hospital chaplaincy student, Jodie, has been such a student. Her faith and skills have grown beyond all our expectations.
God’s blessings upon them all.
Many of us who are educators will often say we learn as much from those who we teach as we hope they might from us. I wonder how often those we say it to believe it! The picture is of a lovely gift I was given by one of our graduating students. I cannot imagine going through what she has been over the duration of the course. I am so full of admiration by her determination, her continued faith in God and her desire to support and help others. Today I am immensely grateful for the gift but more so for what I have learnt from seeing her journey from interview to completing the course.
I had 45 minutes over coffee yesterday and a Kindle full of books to dip into. That is my favourite thing about an e reader, I can be inspired in the moment without having to carry a big pile of books! I began to read something called The Benedict Option and thought again about stability. I was in Reading, where I grew up, to sort out something for Mum. It would have been much easier to sort if I still lived there.
An interesting part of the book is the story of the author choosing to return home and his speculations about the downsides of a very mobile society.
I have long had a commitment to stability and while it doesn’t manifest itself in quite the way that Benedict meant, I try to stay until it is really clear that God is calling me elsewhere. I have done 20 years in my current job and 7 years in my parish. I am reflecting on a couple of statements:
If you are going to put down spiritual roots, taught Benedict, you need to stay in one place long enough for them to go deep.
Still, in a culture like ours, where everyone is always on the move, the Benedictine calling to stay put no matter what can call forth new and important ways of serving God.
[Stability] anchors you and gives you the freedom that comes from not being subject to the wind, the waves, and the currents of daily life. It creates the ordered conditions in which the soul’s internal pilgrimage towards holiness becomes possible.
Rod Dreher The Benedict Option 2017 Sentinel