This bench is outside one of our favourite breakfast places, sadly in Cornwall so don’t get there often (Little Bakehouse Launceston home of sourdough croissants that you may have seen on Facebook or Instagram!). I like to let things sit a while as I ponder them. I find the Ignatian exercise of imagining different outcomes helpful and seeing how my Spirit responds and I like to play with ideas and concepts in my head. If something sits a while with me that helps me not to make an impulsive decision but to give God a chance to speak and for me to be more aware of the different implications of possible outcomes.
This is another picture from our recent holiday in Cornwall. It is of a low tide in St Ives harbour.
I have the utmost respect for the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institute)their volunteers are full of courage and sacrifice to help save those in danger at and in the sea. But this image did amuse me. I obviously don’t know why this boat was in the harbour during low tide, I am sure there were other boats available for this piece of coast.
As a fan and disciple of theological reflection, I am intuitively asking what insights of the Kingdom might I find during my everyday. This picture prompted me to think about how the Church is perceived. Is it there for for those in need but not really in a position to help? Is the Church seen as being beached and immobilised, looks fine, and ready, but unable to help because of where it finds itself. And even if it so afloat, is it only for those in danger for their life?
Thankfully so many Churches are so engaged in our local communities, these are non questions. We are serving, supporting, integrated into normal lives as well as there and ready when life gets difficult. We are seen to be important, valued and called upon for those in need.
This was projected on a wall at Buckfast Abbey as part of their celebrating 1000 years exhibition.
One of the joys of my work is seeing a growing sense of vocation in our students and others I work with. I am grateful that others helped me see mine as a young person and it feels like over many years I have worked out this vocation in different situations and contexts. Sometimes it has been in paid work, other times as a volunteer but there is such a sense of fulfilment in being who God created me to be. We have some vocation questions to think about elsewhere on this site and recommend a book called Sleeping with Bread to help people explore this whole area.
I was greatly privileged this week to be part of a symposium for the Church of England’s Common Awards on theological reflection. The picture is one of the diagrams we looked at and encapsulates some of what we talked about. We got the opportunity to do a short video at the end of the time and I overcame my reservations about seeing and hearing myself to talk about the God we bring, the God we find and the God we mediate and how important theological reflection has been in helping me understand these things. My training as an Ignatian prayer guide has also been foundational in helping me understand God’s work in me and has provided some tools to help me theologically reflect. I learnt a lot from listening to others and have much to ponder about the role of theological reflection in theological education.
We saw this when we were on holiday last week. As frequent reader’s will know, is that I am keen on exploring the tensions between personal and corporate rights and responsibilities.
Sometimes it seems those in certain situations or scenarios, it is judged that humanity might need some extra incentive to do the right thing or not to do the wrong thing. On the one hand it seems a shame that we need encouragement not to behave in a certain manner. The other, perhaps more generous, sometimes it is helpful to see the implications of our potential behaviour. Even with this giving the benefit, it is still appealing to a self focused incentive. Would someone tempted to misuse the ring, be differently motivated, if it said “a loved one” or a complete stranger might need it.
To put my ethical cards on the table, sometimes, not doing the wrong thing or doing the right thing, is just the right thing to do or not do. This should be enough incentive in its own “right”. The Church has got ourselves in so much trouble, oppressed others by living by other ethical approaches.
We were walking along the cliffs yesterday and had seen a group of children at the bottom of the cliff obviously out rock climbing. We then got to the top of the cliff and saw these but with noone in sight to guide them. On one level I like that they were so trusting that noone would come along and remove the stakes. On the other hand I wonder if they were taking safeguarding seriously enough. Paul comes home from work having seen some horrible things that were the consequences of bad decisions. As I later saw an adult appear over the cliff I was glad this wasn’t one of them.
Most weeks I listen to Something Understood on the radio – just after 6 am on a Sunday morning. This week’s was about mantras. Thus when I saw this sign in a pub yesterday it made me think about it as a mantra and for me it is one to avoid. There are times when Ifni am honest that is what I think but more generally I enjoy hearing and seeing how others do things. I am in a listening season at the moment and definitely need to not take this attitude into it!