Wondering Wednesdays – praying for the day

I read this prayer by Tess Ward yesterday, it feels like a prayer for everyday at the moment as I look to have a little more grace with my broken shoulder!

O Great Spirit who knows the routes of all, walk the unknown path with me this day. Past the maps edge, where all landmarks cease, here be dragons: give me courage to meet them. Embolden my vision that I may deeply see. Embolden my steps where I fear to tread. Strengthen my resolve when overwhelm threatens. Equip my soul when I face them head-on, that my love may know because it has dared. Fill me with compassion to befriend all that frightens. Inspire my faith that through brave adventure, I may trust you more as I set out beyond the signs. Stoke the fire in my belly that I may live my light passionately and see things more off-road as I continue my journey this day. Amen.

I know I need grace to learn what this season holds for me and prayers like this help frame it.

From Celtic Wheel of the Year, Tuesday in April.

Wondering Wednesdays – dreaming requires courage

“Dreaming requires courage. The courage to believe you know where you’re going. When really it would be more accurate to say you know that you are going toward your dream…without the dream having precise or recognizable shape. The closer we get, the easier it is to recognize the dream.” Mary Anne Radmacher

Courage is my word for the year and this last couple of weeks I have been revisiting it in different ways. I even thought about a long ago dream and wondered. I have the opportunity to dream a little at the moment as I explore possibilities and review the last eighteen months and think about what has brought me life, what twists and turns my vocational journey has taken. I also am coming to a season where I will have a bit of space to dream a little more as a couple of my significant longer term pieces of work come to an end.

What dreams are you moving towards? Is it requiring courage?

Wondering Wednesdays – life at the edges

On my quiet day a week or so ago I read this paragraph and it has stayed with me so I am sharing it here as it may resonate with others. It is from the book If Women Rose Rooted by Sharon Blackie which has some fascinating stories in it and while I don’t resonate with all of it, these thoughts articulate something I have felt for a long time but haven’t quite had the words for:

I have always been drawn to the edges of things, the places where two things collide. Where bog borders riverbank, where meadow merges to forest.

Where you stand in the margins of what is behind you and look out across the threshold of the future. The brink of possibilities – will you cross?

Edges are transitional places; they are also the best places from which to create something new.

Ecologists call it the ‘edge effect’: at the convergence, where contrasting ecological systems meet and mingle, life blooms – life, diverse and various, unexpected, abundant and unique.

I crossed over into a land of new possibilities in September 2020, unexpectedly, unwanted at the time but the possibilities begun and have continued to emerge.

I am able to draw on so much of my past training, experiences, passions in what I am doing now and have a freedom and a choice to invest where I feel God is leading me and in ways in which resonate with my values and hopes in what will be the last phase of my working life. I don’t envisage being employed again, freelance life works for me although is not without its scary moments!

I am also still waiting to see what other new emerges. I think this quotation has relevance beyond our individual lives and what life and church will look like moving forward is something to grapple with and to hope for the ‘unexpected, abundant and unique’.

Sharon Blackie If Women Rose Rooted. September Publishing, 2019, p68.

Friday photo – more courage!

This arrived yesterday, a gift from a wonderful friend who had seen that courage was my word for the year.

The little piece of paper inside the box talks about being a little reminder, a reflection, a gesture that marks a memory.

It is living on my windowsill and will be a source of hope, encouragement and courage.

Friday photo – courage, my word for the year

I had forgotten I had bought this box when I chose courage as my word for this year. I bought it in an RNLI (lifeboats) shop – they are people who know about courage!

What I am intending to do is over the year write down each time I think I act courageously so that when I need encouragement to do so again I can read and remember.

If you have a word for the year, how do you live it out?

Friday photo – this way…

The first day of a new year and the picture is one of my favourite signs. Definitely a way I will follow at least occasionally as I choose to buy local, buy from a small business and eat great bread!

I am reflecting on what other ‘this ways’ I want to follow this year.

This way to self care. Yesterday I saw how beautiful the weather was and opted for a walk after lunch rather than my to do list. In the scheme of things being in nature and exercising is a better way to spend an hour.

This way to grace and kindness. I usually try to be both kind and gracious but don’t always apply it to myself. In a season of change and energy depletion I need to be kind with myself and not get frustrated on the days I suffer from brain fog, for example.

This way to mindful choices. I am trying to work out what freelance looks like and want to get a good balance of different sorts of work. I still love so many things – 1-1 work supporting people in different ways, academic supervision, teaching and researching. I am trying to reflect on opportunities offered and say no if it is not a good fit. I am also keen to work with others, I am very used to team.

This way to courage. My word for the year is courage, to take up opportunities that will stretch and challenge me, to do things outside of my comfort zone, to believe what others say of me.

Honest Christianity – lest we judge

(Paul writes) When we look back on historical oppression and prejudice: slavery, apartheid, treatment of children, women, disabled, unmarried pregnant women, segregation etc, we can be judgmental and incredulous as to how people thought such things were acceptable or even Godly.

I regularly reflect upon what future generations will think about the conduct, normalisation of my generation such as
abusing natural resources, materialism, consumerism, neglect of the disadvantaged, unbalanced life work balance, rushing around, greed etc

Might this be an even longer list of we include things of which we are complicit, turned a blind eye, did not challenge, do anything about, protest etc

Perhaps I will look back and think I should have come closer to being seen as an agitator, arrested, counter cultural, viewed with suspicion with who I associated with, or not associated with.

When teaching about such matters, I read and get students to contextualise “First they came for the….” Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) was a prominent Lutheran pastor in Germany. There are several versions, but this is one of the most popular.

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me

For the past 15 years I have speculated with students that I expect the UK could name immigrants in this list. Who or what else should be on this list? Planet Earth?

My hopes for what I hope we are wrong about now for the future; a more effective system for real democracy, less consumerism, at least the questioning of capitalism as a given, refing rates of pay for professional sports players, community and individual responsibilities exercised as much as rights.

They say hindsight is a wonderful thing. But we have right now the Biblical principles and values of justice, mercy, compassion, love, care for the marginalised to address these now with current sight and courage.

Wondering Wednesdays – which word?

These beautiful glass pebbles were made by the wonderfully creative Michelle Gillam Hull. I ordered them for the hospital where Paul works. They will be offered to patients for their treasure boxes, staff in support sessions and families who need a little encouragement. These are just a selection of the words and today I will choose to take courage with me. It is a complex time for me and today I am taking part in a conference on shame and that can take courage to share about as I talk about things which are deeply personal. Which wors would you choose?

Wondering Wednesdays – a fake new year but a new decade

Ever since I started school my new year has begun in September so January tends to be a time when I scribble down some resolutions that I don’t really look at – not a particularly useful habit. However, a new decade awaits, and probably one with the most personal changes since the 80s and that is both exciting and scary. I am likely to retire at some point, I may well become the oldest person in my family and I will explore what pursuing my vocation looks like in a new phase of life. I have no idea yet when these things will happen but I am aware I need to both prepare and trust God. Isaiah 43 has been important to me for over 40 years and I do better when I remember to fear not and to see glimpses of the new thing God is doing. I read the poem Continue yesterday by Maya Angelou who wrote it for Oprah, a couple of the verses stood out as things I want to continue to try to live out. The importance of equality was brought home to me studying my A levels and I struggle with a society that seems to live by the Orwellian notion that some are more equal than others. As someone who spent too many years trying to feel comfortable in her own skin and to live out the reality that I am a beloved child of God these words are ones I needed to hear many years ago. I go into a new decade with trust, faith, hope and courage knowing that both sadness and joy will be a part of it and wondering what I might write in ten years time.

Continue

My wish for you
Is that you continue

To be who and how you are
To astonish a mean world
With your acts of kindness

To remind the people that
Each is as good as the other
And that no one is beneath
Nor above you

Wondering Wednesdays – glimpses from home

Oxford vision

On Sunday I quoted a Billy Joel song in my sermon – not sure it was much appreciated! The song was you’re my home and the line was “whenever we’re together that’s my home”. I was talking about Jesus being the way being in part about relationship.

I have called this blog glimpses from home because I grew up in the Diocese of Oxford, I was baptized and confirmed there and there is still a sense of home. When yesterday I saw a tweet from the Bishop of Oxford with this vision I had that longing for home feeling – contemplative, compassionate and courageous are words that I have brought with me from my Christian upbringing, I can articulate how each of them have been formed in me. I don’t always do brilliantly at courageous but as a virtue it is one that I really admire in others and are challenged by choices, actions, words.  These words reflect the sort of home I find in relationship with Jesus, they shape and inspire me.