Musing Aloud: we all need holding up sometimes

Can you see it?

There is a wire holding up the 2nd large limb on the right from the bottom. It is tied to the main trunk. You may have seen this before, it is very common in helping stabilise old trees. Sometimes a Y shaped post is used from the ground. It could be the branch has been damaged or grown to big.

Where ever the reason, we all need to be supported up sometimes. Moses’ arms were no different. Sometimes it is from above, the side or below. COVID-19 has taught us their is no shame in needing or asking for help or support. We have all been damaged and or getting old!

For it to work, it needs to be strong correctly positioned materials. Emotional string just doesn’t do it.

Remember, there is no shame, do it, with the best resources for the job.

Musing Aloud: defender of what?

There has been some speculation that when Prince Charles, now King Charles III, would come to the throne, he would change his declaration of defender of the faith to faiths. This did not come to pass.

Our new King used the traditional words his mother used 70 years ago. This was a surprise as our new King, is known for supporting the multi faith and belief communities in the UK and Commonwealth. He declared in this past week that he identities as Anglican Christian, so stayed with tradition. As encouraging as this ownership of a personal faith is, I would not have a problem with a change of words. Christianity in the UK is a part of our heritage that we can mostly be proud of, but not always. Other worldviews have been making a valued contribution in the UK for many decades. Personally, I enjoy and am enriched by these communities within communities.

Our World needs people of influence to defend those around the world who are persecuted for their beliefs. I am pleased our new King will do this as a Christian.

God save the King.

Going the Distance: what is life for?

As we grieve the loss of our Queen, there are also many testimonies about her life. Whatever our feelings about the value of a monarchy, most would agree our Queen has given her life to the service of her country and commonwealth. This is indeed an inspirational example.

I heard a commentator make a social observation that this seems more unusual today as many lead a life to live for themselves.

I want to strongly both agree and disagree with this observation. As one who works for our National Health Service, I am daily surrounded by people who have worked 20, 30, 40 years in the service of others, in sometimes, very unglamorous roles. Today we also remember those who ran not away but towards the twin towers to serve, in the most sacrificial way.

This month I am celebrating 40 years in Christian ministry, 15 years in Youth for Christ and the last 25 ordained in the Church of England. I am not so naive, lack self awareness or arrogant that all the hours, days and months in all those years have been completely selfless. But my spiritual salvation helped me not to live life just to earn money. I am fortunate and blessed to enjoy my service.

A good test of a review of life is what would you do differently? For me I would like to think it could be, that not less service, but what a privilege I had, had more grace, kindness and less me.

The irony of course is that a good or great fit service also gives us life in all its fullness.

Thank you Queen Elizabeth II for your faithful Godly service. We promise you your legacy will live on.

Musing Aloud: what should we spend our billions on?

I took this picture this week of what is left in our hospital chapel pantry this week. A few ago it was full to overflowing.

I am holding this image in the knowledge of how much, how many people are struggling, how much of infrastructure is struggling to cope alongside spending billions on sending a rocket around the moon… over 50 years after humanity first did it. I am appreciative and acknowledge the benefits of technological developments, but I am also mindful of what still does not work for so many.

NASA, Florida

Individual lives, communities, society and governments are about lived out values and beliefs. What is the most or more important or a priority? Some of our structures seem broke, financially out of sync to the greater good. We are not disempowered, just reflect upon voices raised and stances taken in just the last 10 years. We are calling out known and hidden injustices for sections of our community and world. This is where change starts.

Just because we can, should we? Is a filter I bring to my micro and macro choices. We all live with the consequences of others and our own actions and inactions. Capitalism is not the same as democracy! Some spending and pay, needs to be called what it is, obscene.

Musing Aloud: Desire lines, the paths more traveled.

I have enjoyed reflecting on this social phenomena for a few years but don’t think I have blogged about it.

If it is an unfamiliar term to you, desire lines are paths made by convenience by us humans or animals. The council or organisations might put in prepared paths, but if we see a shorter or more convenient way, if enough people take it, a desire path will be worn .

We have been doing this physically, psychologically and spiritual for ever. I am sure most of the time this is healthy, and in more resent years, more common.

Virtue of shortcuts. Regular readers will know I am a fan of rules but unless it says, keep off the grass, I will take a direct route. Why would I waste time or energy, walking around?

Spiritual shortcuts would not normally be perceived as a virtuous action. But I am sure we need to take a direct approach rather than taking the long tradition way around many of the issues facing us today. The Church will again be looking to respond more directly to poverty. We have opened a free pantry in our hospital chapels, no appointments, vouchers, just help yourself. One person’s shortcut is another person’s direct route.

Normalise desires. As we see from our picture from a US College, they observed the desire lines that their students and staff had made, and made them the new paths across the green. Obviously!

Musing Aloud: we are always a multi media messaging signpost

I spotted this sign on holiday last week in Bude, Cornwall. As well as prompting my interest in digital chaplaincy, I was struck by the encouragement for theological reflection.

One of my go to theological reflection questions is simply to enquire within all of my everyday experiences, where might the Kingdom of God be, teach me about, from this situation, experience, observation, conversation etc?

An inanimate sign that talks! Of course, all normal signs communicate at face value but here we have a QR code and the option to tx. More than a one dimensional media sign. I love QR codes, although Sally is not keen in using them in restaurants with a poor signal. I have one in my work signature taking those interested to our teams avatar animation.

A fun way to explore theological reflection is to take a well-known Biblical text and seek to finish the saying in the light of our experiences. What fresh insights does your reflection bring?

And Jesus said to them, the people of the Kingdom of God are like a digital signpost……..

Wondering Wednesdays- write what you know

I blog twice every week of the year. I do this to keep up my habit of writing and to help me be more reflective and mindful about what is happening.

This past week I have been inspired by this quote found in a book about writing: Write what you know around you, make use of the soil beneath your feet, of the tradition within your heart, of the struggle in your soul, of the breath in your hills. FH Koch.

I have been encouraged by the breath in my hills as we have been away. With a broken shoulder and covid I have been trying to build up my fitness again and have been pleasantly surprised by my ability to walk up some steep hills which is always my biggest challenge. I am encouraged too by the metaphorical equivalent.

What might you write today?

Musing Aloud: a little help to get across

Short holiday reflection

We saw this stepping stone across a stream today.  It was a very plan flat stone, just right for the job. As you can see, the stream was not very wide, but the stone in the middle made the crossing both safer and funnily, also more enjoyable.

Sometimes I just need to offer functional, simple but stable support to those who are on the move. Not glamorous or showy, just helpful for others to be safe, and sometimes even entertained.

Musing Aloud: Discrimination can be positive

We talk a lot about discrimination and predjudice being negative. With so much hatred in the World, this is so necessary to call out. Sometimes we discuss the virtues of positive discrimination, the desire to address imbalances in contexts such as employment. Known and unknown bias are also topical self awareness growth areas that help us mature in our humanness.

My blog is more to address the virtue of discriminating in its wider application. When we make life choices, how we conduct ourselves, spend our money, buy our goods from, how we live, how we die, we express our values and beliefs as choices of kindness, stewardship, generousity, sacrifice, we are discriminating these actions ahead of others. When we choose patience over snapping back, when we choose our leaders by character not just presence, researching our purchases according to least harm, most justice, who we choose as friends and influencers, the tic tok streams we watch, we are discriminating.

Is this not a good thing? I also need God to discriminate, we want God’s best not all our desires meet. God has discriminated in the list of fruit of the Holy Spirit of how we can reflect God’s character and values of the Kingdom. Some behaviour is assessed to be constructive and others not. Many would say God has a known and appreciated, bias to the poor and oppressed. Logic is not always the criteria.

God is discriminating, with wisdom and justice. We are grateful.

Musing aloud – symbolic actions for real life

Sharing garlands

Over Friday and Saturday Sally and I had the privilege of attending the wedding of our Hindu Chaplain’s daughter. It was fascinating! For the wedding on Saturday they did both an explanation sheet and a translation. Both very helpful. The symbolism was so rich it didn’t always need an explanation.

We were particularly struck by the Mangai Phera, the circling of the sacred fire. They circle the small fire pit 4 times, the first 3 were lead by the bride and the last one, lead by the groom. They represent the following:

Dharma. Duty to each other and family (righteous way of living)
Arts. Wealth and prosperity.
Karina. Love and fertility.
Moksha. Spiritual liberation and wellbeing.

We were intrigued by which gender led each responsibility and how many the wife led on.

What we particularly liked was that for each of the four elements a group of people were called on to the stage to witness the action and they sprinkled them with rose petals as they walked. We were also struck by little symbolism we have in a UK Christian weddings. We have some, but we have such a rich metaphorical spirituality, it seems we are missing out on some rich contributions.

It was such a community affair with so many different people playing their parts including those giving out ice cream after this happened!  A first for a wedding for us, an interval with an ice cream!