This is the view I see each October half term as we have a family holiday. I get to sit on the sofa and stare at the view as the sun rises – which at this time of the year doesn’t mean I am up that early!
Last night I had a bath and read some of a Ruth Rendell novel, I had previously had a walk by the sea and played golf with the adorable nephew. I am not always sure why I blog when I am on holiday, I do it in part because it is a spiritual discipline for me which gets me to reflect and at least identify something which I need to ponder on for a bit longer. In my term time life I don’t get a lot of time to sit and stare but I do need it to recharge and renew. It doesn’t have to be a pastoral scene like this – I could do the same with a city skyline, it is more about being still and resting.
I subscribe to a mailing called Daily Good which shares inspirational stories to encourage wellbeing, self-care etc.
Last Friday’s asked what 2 words would change your life? 2 words put on a small card
shared with you as a gift from another person that profoundly affects how you think about yourself. What could be the 2 words you would want or need to hear? I love /appreciate, or you are loved, God loves you works for me but it is 1 word too long.
The 2 words on the card that was shared with the person feeling down was ‘you matter’. Someone in the USA has started giving away packs of these cards to encourage other people.
We use small credit card size and post cards for quotes to encourage self and spiritual care, perhaps this will be our next one.
A year ago this week I joined Slimming World, prompted by a consultation with my doctor. Recently I got my certificate for losing 4 stone. If anyone has asked me about my weight loss I have said I have been going to Slimming World and some people have done it quite tentatively as obviously the other main reason for people losing weight is sickness. If you know me in real life you will know that I have struggled with being overweight for most of my life. I have had periods of success where I have found a way of eating that has worked for me although not all of them have been long term sustainable.
I am not fully sure why Slimming World is working – I am less than half a stone to target now. In part I think it is the flexibility of the plan which emphasises a switch to healthy eating and doesn’t involve endless weighing and counting. It is probably also that I get to eat marmite on toast most days as part of the plan and that is a wonderful way to start a day. But perhaps most of all it is a sense of accountability as week by week I go and weigh in. The results are not always what I expect – there are some ups and downs with what I thought of as good weeks not being rewarded on the scales and times when I have had some celebrations or other events which mean I have not quite eaten on plan but have still lost.
However the biggest test is to come – what I will post this time next year – I have never sustained a significant weight loss it has always crept back on – I hope this time it will be different because I am adopting new patterns but the lure of chocolate, cakes and lost of other things still remains.
I get a little tear in my eye when I look at our graduation pictures – this is from yesterday when the class of 2016 came together for one last time to graduate. I know from personal experience that it is never just the achievement of the individual in the robes that is being celebrated, so many other people support them to get to this place. I got to welcome and thank everyone and was looking out over so many proud faces.
I got to chat to each person here one to one at the end of the course as their tutor for their final year. The back stories of many students make their achievements even more remarkable. There are those who had been told that they would never get a degree, that found school hard. Others faced difficult personal circumstances which challenged their capacity to keep on studying. At least one student told me that on another course they probably would not have carried on.
One of the things we get to do at our graduation ceremonies that doesn’t happen at big universities is that we say where people have been on placement and where they are going to next. Each of these students is carrying on developing their calling to children, young people, mission or ministry in some form. I look forward over the years to seeing their updates on social media or catching up with them at different events and hearing what God has been doing in this next phase of their lives.
There was a very stimulating reflection in my daily reading book this week. Its source was what was described as Ignatius’ most famous prayer, called the Suscipe:
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess. Thou hast give all to me. To Thee, O Lord, I return it. All is Thine, dispose of it wholly according to Thy will. Give me, Thy love and Thy grace for this is sufficient for me. (Spiritual Exercises 234)
The application of this prayer was
“In it we give God the only things he doesn’t have- our freedom, our intellect, our memories , our very selves”. I am not sure this is how I would answer this question, what is it that I have that God does not? My free will, freedom if you wish, my focus, my purpose, practical things like my time, money are not always given. I could certainly do with giving to God all the crap I continually pick up and carry around!
I find it interesting to think of God being complete and perfect but not having everything ! I have previously given my life to God, but I am sure he does not have it all, all the time.
October 13th entry an Ignatian book of days.
This picture is a metaphor for my week. So many different bits of ministry happening at the moment and very much a take one careful step at a time in some of them! I am learning new responsibilities and new skills and one of my experiences this week was a phone call from the University taking me through opening an excel file a step at a time as whatever I had tried didn’t work!
The picture is from last Saturday’s walk in the Peak district. Going across I was taking one stone at a time and ended up with both feet on each stone as I carefully walked across trying hard not to fall in! Coming back I had more confidence and for some of the stones just walked across them ignoring that there was water in between and having faith that I could complete the challenge!
How might this metaphor speak to you at the moment?
Yesterday Paul and I went to the Boost conference in London which was on wellbeing for those involved in work with children, young people and families. There were many things we enjoyed about it. One was that well over 100 people had booked in to learn about this vital topic. Another was the great balance of female and male speakers and leaders when this is not the culture in many Christian conferences. Another was the very practical topics being offered – emotional and mental wellbeing; stress/anxiety/ knowing your limits/ discipleship and spirituality; do Christians laugh/ contemplative practices/ identity and wellbeing/ online health; spiritual wellbeing.
We were able to share some of the work and research we have been involved in as well as lead some practical activities in the contemplative practices workshop. We got into some great conversations and were able to listen to some inspiring talks too. Special mention to Oxford DYO for his stand up act and an encouragement to bring humour into what we do. His stories of some of the things church leaders accidentally say were brilliant! We also got free copies of Youthwork and Children’s work magazine to take away.
As you can imagine we are both committed to the idea of life long learning and value conferences like this planned by a consortium of training agencies who want to see the quality of work with children, young people and families enhanced.