Wondering Wednesdays- looking for shafts of light

Light breaking over Camel Estuary

On our walk on Monday we kept waiting for the sun to break through to match the promised weather forecast! When it did it was beautiful! The picture doesn’t do justice to the beauty in real life.

There is a lot of writing and research on the benefits of gratitude. Looking for shafts of light is one way to frame this for me. In the past two years or so there have been plenty of times of darkness and listening to the news at the moment I am struggling to see the shafts of light although my mind keeps drifting back to Saturday’s football result which was a shafts of light for Spurs supporters after two poor games.

So where are the shafts of light for you at the moment? Beautiful early spring bulbs flowering are one if mine. Space to rest, read and walk this week is another. I need to be purposeful in looking for shafts of light, being grateful and experiencing joy even on those days when the search is particularly difficult.

Wondering Wednesdays – the goodness of humus

Parker J Palmer writes this:

I love the fact that the word humus – the decayed vegetable matter that feeds the roots of plants – comes from the same root that gives rise to the word humility. It helps me understand that the humiliating events of life, the events that leave ‘mud on my face’ or that ‘make my name mud’ may create the fertile soil in which something new can grow.

This is an encouragement to all of us who have been through challenging times and have struggled to understand or make sense of them. Adversity is hard, these past couple of years have perhaps offered up more adversity than we might have been prepared for when it felt a little like the world changed almost overnight.

I am grateful for my grounding in reflective and spiritual practices which enable me to take the challenging situations and spend some time processing them, sometimes with the support of others. I need to do a word cloud from my blogs one day and see which words I use most! Grateful will, I hope, be one of them. I try to practice gratitude and look for what I can be grateful for out of a situation which otherwise was difficult. So today I am grateful for flexibility, autonomy, creativity and the opportunity to build in the important, not just the urgent.

#resourcefulness

Wondering Wednesdays – fruitfulness

I have long loved the metaphor of fruitfulness and wrote about it in a thesis long ago. I find it more useful than success in exploring what it is that emerges from what I do. Fruitfulness also allows for the slow burn of much of what I do. Seeds planted now may bear fruit many years later.

I came across this in my daily reading book recently:

We often think of the fruitful life as springing from strength, power and overflow. But we soon learn that often we have more go give when we are open, vulnerable and aware of our own limitations.

Fruitfulness, moreover, is enhanced when our life is characterised by thankfulness, appreciation and gratitude. This allows us to appreciate the good that comes our way. So much of that which could nurture us is carelessly thrown away because we don’t appreciate and appropriate the many little blessings that we receive. …

Finally, fruitfulness is sustained by care. We need to watch over the seeds of hope. We need to care for what we are and have. We need to channel our resources. We cannot be haphazard or wasteful or slothful and expect to be fruitful. The nourishing sources of life need to be constantly tapped lest we find ourselves in a position where much is expected of us while we have little to give.

How do you understand fruitfulness?

What can you do today to be fruitful?

From Charles Ringma Dare to Journey with Henri Nouwen Sutherland: Albatross, 1992, reading 88.

Friday photo – joy bringer

Red post box

I am making regular trips to the end of our road in the hope that I am reciprocating some of of the joy I have experienced in recent months.

I have been so grateful for the cards and gifts that have arrived at different times since September in particular.

One of the things I am trying to do in Lent is send one card and one gift each week in the spirit of random acts of kindness and seeing who and what seems right.

The embodied nature of a card, letter or parcel helps me feel connected a little more than an email or social media contact, as much as I appreciate those.

On one of our church zooms Allanah reminded us of how much post is appreciated and that was a helpful reminder of something I know well but can be a bit flakey on following up on. That’s why I like Lent, it gives me a fixed period to focus on. And I am putting it out here to be accountable not to try and demonstrate my virtue.

What are you doing differently in Lent?

#lent #randomactsofkindness

Wondering Wednesdays – empty spaces, head full of memories

On Saturday I said a final farewell to the space I had inhabited for 22 years in my role as Director of Midlands CYM. It was a strange and sad day and it is important for me to mourn and grieve what has been lost.

As I walked round empty rooms remembering conversations, worship, teaching, presiding… so many memories came flooding back. Memories of people, of stories, of grace, of overcoming, of flourishing, of struggling, of becoming.

However, the head full of memories also fills me with gratitude and joy and what is not lost is an investment in many people over many years by so many staff and students. We learn together, from each other and I always feel I gain at least as much as I give in any learning situation.

Thus it really is the end of an era as the building passes to new hands this week. But the legacy continues across the world of people sent out to pursue and fulfil their vocation in the name of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Wondering Wednesdays – end of an era

This is a letter I sent out to some of my contacts yesterday as I enter my last week of working for St John’s after 21 years. I am blogging it today as it seems the most apt thing to share as this is what is most on my mind and I need to be in touch with how it feels and what it means.

End of an era and the next step

I am now in the last week of my employment at St John’s after over 21 years.  I have been privileged to work with so many great people and students and will look back with fond memories of my time there as Director of MCYM as well as more latterly as Team Leader through very challenging times where I was grateful for the support of so many.   

Having prayed, reflected and pushed some doors I believe the right next step for me is to go freelance and thus have the opportunity to share some of my gifts, skills and wisdom more widely and in different settings 

I have always seen my vocation as equipping the saints for works of service (Ephesians 4.12) and will look to do that in a range of different ways. My passion is helping people to fulfill their potential and help them to become all God created them to be.

I will continue with my academic work supervising doctoral students, researching and writing and some teaching in various settings.  I am also continuing my work as research lead with the Centre for Paediatric Spiritual Care at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital and my self-supporting ministry in a church in Birmingham.

My website and Facebook page both have details of what I intend to offer going forward – training, coaching, mentoring, consultancy, quiet days, etc.  If you think I might be able to help in any way then please do get in touch, very happy to have a zoom coffee to talk about any ideas.  I would also be grateful if you would consider commending me to anyone else you think may find my services beneficial in their context.

With every blessing

Sally

Revd Dr Sally Nash

BA PGCE (QTS) MA DMTh PhD

sally@sallynash.co.uk

Wondering Wednesdays – little moments

I read this yesterday in a magazine, after I had taken a picture of my breakfast which I posted on Facebook. I take pictures and post them to capture memories and moments to look back on them and to remember. I think that if they are posted on social media then I can find them again and years later enjoy the memory again and I don’t need to worry about where they are saved and how I find them again!

I also take pictures to show family members so I can share experiences with them which happen when we are not together so I can tell stories of what I have done and where I have been. I don’t particularly like having my picture taken and I certainly don’t only post carefully curated pictures of me. I sometimes get criticised for taking photos but I have thought about it and have reasons for what I do and they do help me express gratitude – a good thing for me to do. So unusually I am posting two pictures on a blog – St Rafael’s on Dartmoor, the snowdrop church!

Wondering Wednesdays – still inspired

I stayed with Mum last night who still lives in the house I grew up in. As I walked to the station this morning to get a train to London I passed by a house which holds happy memories for me. Shirley Lees lived there and I think I have blogged about her before. She was a missionary in Borneo and published one of the early positive books on women in ministry. She was one of my Crusader leaders and ran CSSM holiday clubs. Back then it was really only women I encountered in my emerging Christian journey – apart from clerics! One of the sad things is never having expressed appreciation to her for the way she inspired me but I can publicly honour her through my blog. I am minded that we rarely know the impact of faithful ministry with children and young people but it can make a difference to a whole life. It is always nostalgic going back home but in a way that encourages gratitude for the good foundations instilled in me.

Wondering Wednesdays – kenosis

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I am mindful of what I am blogging and will often see what resonates in my Spirit. Today I was reminded of a piece of work I submitted over seventeen years ago – I can date it fairly easily as it was around the time the adorable nephew was born and pictures of him less than 12 hours old are opposite me many times I blog.

I spent several years exploring the concept of kenosis in relation to youth work, through the work of Bonhoeffer and in the Christ hymn in Philippians 2.  While I still have reservations about the way some talk about self-emptying (which is what kenosis in essence means) and the dangers of its misuse, I still really like the quotation which I used at the head of the chapter:

Kenosis:  a joyous, kind, and loving attitude that is willing to give up selfish desires and to make sacrifices on behalf of others for the common good and the glory of God, doing this in a generous and creative way, avoiding the pitfall of pride and inspired by the love of God and the gift of grace (Ellis 2001: 108).

I am mindful so often at the moment when listening to the news that the church has much it can model about the way we relate to one another.  Clearly we don’t always get it right but as I often say, little acts of kindness contribute to making a day better and being loving and gracious, seeking to glorify God not ourselves is something we might want to remind ourselves of when faced with a choice.  I am grateful for some of these responses yesterday.

 

Ellis, George F. R. 2001.  “Kenosis as a Unifying Theme for Life and Cosmology”. In John Polkinghorne, ed. The Work of Love.  London:  SPCK.

Friday photo – mutual, reciprocal learning

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Many of us who are educators will often say we learn as much from those who we teach as we hope they might from us.  I wonder how often those we say it to believe it!  The picture is of a lovely gift I was given by one of our graduating students.  I cannot imagine going through what she has been over the duration of the course.  I am so full of admiration by her determination, her continued faith in God and her desire to support and help others.  Today I am immensely grateful for the gift but more so for what I have learnt from seeing her journey from interview to completing the course.