Go the distance – decompression

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The day before I came on holiday we were doing a session with some of our newly qualified nurses and we were thinking about how to deal with a bad day or week. We reflected around the question of how we can healthily decompress? At the beginning of a holiday it has been helpful for me to reflect on any need for me to decompress for the first few days.

I have spent a few days having breakfast out, lots of time by the sea, early nights and no work emails – my sort of decompression chamber. I feel better. Our prayer for you this summer is that you will find a way to wind down to make the most of your holidays.

Go the distance – blessing for summer reconnections


Perhaps over the summer holidays (Northern hemisphere friends) you will be catching up with friends and family you have not seen for a while or colleagues have been leaving at work. I have said goodbye to 2 people this week and looking forward to catching up with a few folks over +he rest of the summer. This blessing may resonate with many of the places we might meet up, seaside, countryside. Many of us are pretty good at the greetings, perhaps setting aside the embarrassment, after we have had a lovely time with them, this is how we could leave them:

Deep peace of the running wave to you,
Deep peace of the flowing air to you,
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you,
Deep peace of the shining stars to you,
Deep peace of the Son of Peace to you.
May the road rise to meet you;
May the wind be always at your back;
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
May the rains fall softly upon your fields.
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Go the distance – evolved, natural or inadvertent resilience: not like a duck to water, but like a duck to mud


Have you every wondered why ducks (and waders) can walk on mud? It seems it is not just about web feet spreading the weight, but what ducks can or can’t feel to be able to stand in mud all day? Yesterday we went to an open day and food festival at an agricultural college in Cornwall. The photo is of the ducks and there was an accompanying information board. I am a very amateur bird watcher, and didn’t know anything of the science that keeps their feet cool so they can safely stand on ice (see http://askanaturalist.com/why-don%E2%80%99t-ducks%E2%80%99-feet-freeze/ if you are interested in this. My ministerial and theological reflection is how did ducks and birds develop web feet so they could flourish, live and feed on mud flats and what can we learn from this for our resilience when we find ourselves standing in mud?

I am not sure that we want to advocate becoming immune and not feeling things so we can get on. This does not feel very healthy or empathetic. But we do want to be able to flourish when the going is not solid underfoot. We need to be to adapt to our pastoral contexts, others maybe up to their necks in it, but that does not mean we can not look after ourselves. We can learn to build up our physical and mental resources and approaches to spend the with people without getting emotional or spiritual pneumonia.

Not like a duck to water, but like a duck to mud.

Go the distance – recharging my spirit

We have just had a few days holiday and I noted that very quickly I was gaining a more healthy perspective on some of the things that have been getting to me. One of the questions I ask at the hospital to help facilitate reflections on spiritual care is ‘what lifts your spirit?’ When I began to feel better after some walks by the sea and in some beautiful countryside, I noticed not only was my spirit lifted it was also recharged. I felt less drained, less discouraged, more optimistic.

As we look forward to Easter, Palm Sunday, Holy week, we reflect on the sacrificial giving of Jesus the drain upon his spirit, I wonder what he had to recharge him? It cannot have been easy being betrayed and feeling abandoned not only by his followers but also his father. Jesus must have had a substantial inner belief, a steadfast trust in his father and an overwhelming commitment to the wellbeing of humanity.

Sounds like a rechargeable Easter plan

Wondering Wednesdays – space to write


I love writing but I don’t always write as much as I would like to or some of the things I would like to. This book was one of my birthday presents and in it people talk about their writing space.  I don’t really have a dedicated writing space as such – I write in lots of different places but I need to create space in my week to write.  I am working on this with a coach at the moment as it is so easy for other work to crowd out my writing time.  So over the next few weeks I am trying to create space to write an article!  Reading the book helped inspire me to do something about my desire…

This advice from Michael Morpurgo in the introduction to the book resonates with my own experience and is what I draw on when I blog.

Each of us has to find a way to begin writing. I have my way, not the best way – there is no best way – but my way. I think every writer has to read widely, to live a life as interesting and involved as possible, to meet people, to go places, to keep eyes and ears and heart open. We have to drink the world in, know it, develop our concerns, and so discover what it is we care about Michael Morpurgo (p1).

Mansfield, E. (ed) (2016).  A Space to Write.  Cornwall:  KEAP.

Go the distance – resilience starts with attitude


We picked up a book yesterday called Soulfulness by Brian Draper. It introduced me to a new word – the Danish, hygge:

The soulful way, however, is not to escape, but to confront our reality, and to lovingly reconnect with it, which helps transform it.  Something good can emerge from within even the darkest or most difficult circumstances when we resist the urge to flee and instead we reach to embrace.  With that in mind, I love the principle of hygge (pronounced hyerga) which is the Danish way of tackling some of the coldest and darkest winters you can experience in the northern hemisphere.  Hygge is not a form of escape, but a way of living within the difficult conditions, which in turn transforms them into something beautiful – while providing great inspiration for us all, wherever we find ourselves.  The Danes, lest we forget, are officially some of the happiest people on the planet…and hygge is part of the reason why.  Hygge then is a concept,, an idea, a way of being – hard to define precisely, and even harder to translate, but it relates to a sate of cosy yet profound simplicity.  It is about the lovely, simple pleasures of life – such as drawing the curtains against the dark and the cold, lighting candles, kindling a fire, putting on our warm socks, making a hot drink and settling in with a group of friends or relatives. p162-3

It reminded me of the phrase don’t pray for an easy life, pray to be a strong person. Most of the time I have the energy to do this. Sometimes I just wish life was not as
difficult as it sometimes is. This term offers something slightly different, it is more like‘there is no such thing as bad weather, just wrong clothing!’ Many folks do not enjoy
the darker nights, autumn, bringing in winter. The insight seems to be, when it is cold, find something to enjoy doing in the cold.

Reference  Brian Draper  Soulfulness  London  Hodder and Stoughton 2016.

Go the distance – two words…


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.