This card is in my journal – it is from the Open Gate on Holy Island and the cross is from St Cuthbert’s island. Holy week is when I pray alone and together (to use a Northumbria Community phrase) every day which is unusual for me. I appreciate the coming together and the capacity to share the journey with others. It is not an easy week and I value in a new way taking it step by step so tonight it is Holy Communion with anointing as we remember the extravagant gift of the woman who anointed Jesus and the story will continue to unfold over the next few days. One of the highlights will be Saturday where we will share stories around the fire, stories that are real, that reflect all that Saturday means but which can never be without the glimpse of what is coming on Sunday.
I love reading all the different inscriptions on memorial benches as we come across them in all sorts of places. We saw this one on a walk this week. It reminded me of something I read in my Lent book….
I have heard it said that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was among the last Americans who wore the black armband publicy after his mother died. In many cultures, people who grieve wear black for a period of time, often a yaer. … So many of us at any given time are limping around silently grieving a devastating loss and all the while trying to keep up appearances of normalcy. But what if there were this subtle symbol, cluing us into the painful reality of a fellow human being. We might be a little more patient… it would force us to stop pretending that everything is okay and evoke the compassion that naturally comes when we realize that many of us are dealing with much more than meets the eye.
p154 Broken Hallelujahs Beth Ann Slevcove IVP 2016.
We talk in paediatric chaplaincy of finding a new normal – that often doesn’t come quickly, compassion for ourselves or others is important – perhaps we have lost something in privatising mourning…
A lovely friend has edited a book on teaching – one I read with eager anticipation, this is one of the passages that stood out for me and I think resonated because this is what we try to do at MCYM:
If’ we as Christian leaders do not allow for space to be made for new voices and new ways of thinking and believing, then education can become merely the transfer of raw data, or, even worse the silencing of new insights from the students by which the teacher and other students can grow p16.
Yesterday I was able to sit in on part of one of our professional and ministerial development days. Len Kageler from Nyack College did two sessions, one on mistakes youth workers make and the other on soul care. He was really clear that while he hoped we would learn from his input it was equally important that we learn from one another. I heard new voices and new insights today and have come away with much to think about. One of the greatest privileges in my job is to be part of a community of practice and to learn from others with fresh perspectives and other experiences.
From Jeff Keuss Developing a Theology of Education in Terry Linhart ed Teaching the Next Generations Grand Rapids Baker Academic 2016 14-21
It isn’t for the moment you are struck that you need courage, but for that long uphill climb back to sanity and faith and security Anne Morrow Lindbergh
I am reflecting on loss for Lent. I am not good at loss, I tend to bury it rather than processing it and grieving properly. This quotation is a chapter heading in the book I am reading and resonates with me and reminds me of some of the struggles of friends at the moment too. Emotionally I need to go where I physically go in this picture – I climb the hill to the hermit’s chapel at Rame and I meet God there, it is one of my shelters, my thin places and there are losses that I need to bring to God and acknowledge and grieve.
One of my treats is taking a book into a coffee shop and reading for a while. Yesterday I popped into Eden on my way back from work and before I weighed in at Slimming World. I had thought a friend was there but did have a book. Just as I was about to start reading it the only other person in the coffee shop who had come and sat near me asked if I was there for slimming world.
If you know me in real life you will know I am quite an introvert and reasonably unlikely to start a conversation with a stranger in a coffee shop – I will respond but not initiate. What followed was thirty minutes of chat about food, eating patterns, struggles etc. I had a lovely time and was able to take her into the group as it was her first time – I bought her a pack of hi-fi bars too. What is interesting is that somehow Eden is a space where strangers talk to one another – it is not the first time it has happened to me there and I am reflecting on what makes somewhere a talking space, a safe space to interact with strangers…
We watched one of our favourite films this week, Field of Dreams, in it there is a question – “Is this heaven?” The answer is “No it’s Iowa”. As part of my lent discipline I am reading a book and the author (Beth Allen Slecove) talks about thin places and she uses the phrase “whiff of heaven” which resonated deeply with me.
I have places where I get a whiff of heaven – this photograph is of one of them – a little hermit chapel on top of a hill at Rame Head in Cornwall. Think places are important to me, in them I find a shelter, a calm – even when there is a strong wind blowing like there often is at Rame. They do not have to be places of beauty but for me they are places where I have encountered God and the memory that evokes and that whiff of heaven I take away sustains me.
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.