Wondering Wednesdays – mindfulness

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I have been reading about vulnerability in preparation for writing. One of the articles I wrote connected mindfulness with vulnerability but with a small ‘m’. Thus McFadden writes
The mindfulness I am describing in this essay occurs when the state of attentiveness and awareness produces a deep, even holy experience of connection with another person
Mindfulness is one of those words which tends to be heard as referring to a particular spiritual practice but it is a word which all of us can embrace as a way of living. I am not always good at being present in this way but know I value it in others and try to work at it.

Susan H McFadden Mindfulness, vulnerability and love: Spiritual lessons from frail elders, earnest young pilgrims, and middle aged rockers. Journal of Aging Studies 22 (2008) 132-139 (133).

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Wondering Wednesdays – come and see

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Yesterday I preached and presided at our patronal festival. A small group of us gathered and shared soup, bread and cake together before the Eucharist. It was a time of being together and remembering. The picture is of the old church I never knew…
I preached from John 1.46 where Philip says to Nathanael ‘come and see’. I invited people to talk about what people would see if we said come and see to them. It was so encouraging to hear people talking about so many different facets of the church, particularly someone who had come to see! I shared how both Paul and I found church in our adolescence when different friends said the equivalent of come and see. I also talked about James – the unsung hero – we know very little about him, but there is very little to come and see if people in the background are not getting on with all the things that help a church to function and people like me to stand up front talking about coming and seeing. I pondered too, if churches take on the characteristics of the saints they are named after. We are both Philip and James – people out their connecting and saying come and see the many different things we do over the week but also people ensuring there is something to come and see. It is not the only way of looking at what we do but on the day we remember our patronal saints it is a way of explaining some of who we are.

Wondering Wednesdays – alternative psalms

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Sometimes fairly random second hand books arrive through the post long after I thought I wanted them.  Sometimes I do put things in my wish list and go back to see later.  But when books do arrive I don’t always remember the source of the suggestion for looking at a book.  Today’s extract is one such book although as I read it I find the poem I read out on Easter Eve and remember again why I ordered it.  It was first published in 1981 but the writing speaks to me powerfully today as I imagine I did back then.  I sometimes get frustrated at work when people comment about how old some of the books students quote are – if they are not from the same discipline it can be hard to differentiate between classic and out of date.  This book is a classic.  It is Psalms of a Laywoman by Edwina Gateley.  The one I want to share is Let your God Love You.  I have thought a lot about God’s gaze, through my own study on shame and also in Stephen Pattison’s book Saving Face.

Be silent.

Be still.

Alone.

Empty.

Before your God.

Say nothing.

Ask nothing.

Be silent.

Be still.

Let your God

Look upon you.

That is all.

God knows.

God understands.

God loves you

With an enormous love,

And only wants

To look upon you

With that love.

Quiet.

Still.

Be.

Let your God –

Love you.

Edwina Gateley Psalms of a Laywoman Franklin:  Sheed and Ward 1999 p59

 

Wondering Wednesdays – growing wild

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These primroses have somehow appeared in the garden. We didn’t plant them and have no idea how they got there!  They are technically in the lawn but Paul strimmed carefully round them.    I do sometimes reflect on how it is perception and culture that labels something and how we don’t always cope with the things that seem to be growing wild.  They don’t fit our idea of order, we are not in control of them.  So this Wednesday I am being grateful for the wild, unexpected things which bring joy and I am looking out for them to see how God might be working in ways I don’t expect!

Wondering Wednesdays – the value of play

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This is a holiday week so blogging about play seemed apt. I have had a growing appreciation of the value of play as an adult, largely due to some of my colleagues who are passionate about it! Thanks Dawn and Sian. Thus I was drawn to a book called Playful Awakening. Early on in the book she lists the six key elements of play and the related words – this appeals to me as sometimes I spend a lot of time looking at a thesaurus to try and find the right word.
Anticipation: interest, openness, readiness, expectation, curiosity, desire, exuberance, wonderment
Surprise: appreciation, awakening, stimulation, excitement, discovery, arousal, thrill, astonishment
Pleasure: satisfaction, buoyancy, gratification, joy, happiness, delight, glee, fun
Understanding: tolerance, empathy, knowledge, skill, insight, mutuality, sensitivity, mastery
Strength: stamina, vitality, devotion, ingenuity, wit, drive, passion, creativity
Poise: dignity, grace, composure, ease, contentment, fulfilment, spontaneity, balance

I wonder which of these I will experience this week, hopefully all of them!

Di Gammage Playful Awakening London Jessica Kingsley 2017 p52 {c) The Strong

Wondering Wednesdays – storytelling

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On Saturday evening a few of us gathered in the grounds of St Wilfrid’s Community Centre and around this fire told stories. Towards the end I was asked to read out this poem by Edwina Gateley. I would like to make more time for storytelling…
The sharing
We told our stories
That’s all.
We sat and listened to each other
and heard the journeys of each soul
We sat in silence
entering each one’s pain and
sharing each one’s joy.
We heard love’s longing
and the lonely reachings-out
for love and affirmation.
We heard of dreams shattered.
And visions fled.
Of hopes and laughtero
turned stale and dark.
We felt the pain of isolation
and the bitterness of death.
But in each brave and lonely story
God’s gentle life
broke through
and we heard music in the darkness
and smelt flowers in the void.
We felt the budding of creation
in the searchings of each soul
and discerned the beauty
of God’s hand in
each muddy, twisted path.
And his voice sang
in each story
his life sprang from
each death.
Our sharing became
one story
of a simple lonely search
for life and hope and oneness
in a world which sobs for love.
And we knew that in our sharing
God’s voice with mighty breath
was saying love each other and
take each other’s hand.
For you are one though many
and in each of you I live.
So listen to my story
and share my pain and death.
Oh, listen to my story
and rise and live with me.

Wondering Wednesdays – benefits of accountability

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I had a quiet day on Monday. I am trying to do a quiet day a term but struggle sometimes to put it in the diary. What has helped is being accountable to our Common Ground Community and someone has been texting me to make sure I make my quiet day happen. There are areas in life where accountability helps. I am mindful of the dangers of over accountability, the sort of heavy shepherding that can make faith sound like a cult and where it may feel someone else controls you. However, gentle reminders are helpful and keep me on track with my marker posts and shelters – quiet days are part of my rhythm. The picture is me on a swing on Monday – getting to play is an integral part of a quiet day for me.