Go the distance – happy 100th birthday!

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Today Sally and I went to the 100th birthday celebration for St Germain’s church. This was the church that we first went to when we arrived in Birmingham almost 30 years ago. It was where I (reluctantly) explored ordination. It was encouraging to hear how the church was the only one to be built and finished during WWI and replanted by our next door neighbour parish in the 80s.

We were only there a few years, we brought Youth for Christ volunteers to the church, helped start detached youth work and Birmingham YFC. It was lovely to catch up with those who looked after us and those we developed projects with. It was inspiring to hear how the church has sought to change and serve their local community with a place of welcome, stay and play and food projects. It has never been a large church but it has a long list of those it has sent out in ministry and service. It was formative in our lives and the number of people who had travelled miles to come back to celebrate too suggested it was formative for many. It was encouraging hearing stories over the wonderful refreshments of what God had been doing in people’s lives and in the church and to see so many clergy who had started their journey there. We were very blessed to be a a part of it.

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Go the distance – prayers across the world

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We have both been immensely blessed by being able to travel to the USA to gatherings of the Pediatric Chaplains’ Network. To be able to be part of such a supportive community of practice is something I don’t take lightly. As different tragedies have taken place so messages are sent and prayers mobilized and you know that you are not alone in whatever it is you are facing. I joined those responding and we are praying particularly for Jessica and James, the local chaplains we know best, but also for all the emergency responders along with some family friends of Sally’s. This is the prayer that one of the chaplains forwarded for those facing Hurricane Harvey:
Harvey Prayer
In times such as these it is hard to know exactly what to pray – but being aware of God’s presence and peace is one I use a lot.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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.