Wondering Wednesdays – what is lost

Reflection

One of the books I read in our recent reading weekend began by lamenting the lack of reflection and argues that this leads to a loss of many different things:

What is lost in all that is time and inclination to reflect, as well as the value and purpose of such reflection. What is lost is honest self-awareness, a sense of worth not defined by status, and an inclusive respect for the worth of others. What is lost is the call and the claim of any force, activity, being or purpose that transcends the muddle of a life that is fundamentally directionless, however well informed. What is lost is the sense of a moral vision or intentional ethical action in response to that transcendence, as well as the experience of freedom and exhilaration in risking a life beyond the trite counsel of the pragmatic or safe or successful.

As I write this there are varying degrees of turmoil in the world and particularly in the UK as more and more revelations emerge as to how there was one rule for the elite which was not the rule imposed on the rest of us.

I have always believed that as a leader integrity is perhaps the most important virtue and I have always had a philosophy of never asking anyone to do something I am not doing or willing to do myself.

Reflecting on each dimension of our life regularly is vital, so much of what I do in my work is aimed at facilitating that.

Ted Loder, The Haunt of Grace. Philadelphia: Innisfree Press, 2002, p14.

Wondering Wednesdays – being still long enough

Be still long enough

As I draw near to a year running Sally Nash Learning and Research this is what I need to do.

I have taken on most work offered but now I want to give time to see where best to focus my energies and see where I want to be more proactive.

It is a good practice to engage in regularly, finding some proper space to review and plan. The older I get the more I realise I need to focus my choices to do those things I feel called to do and which help me make my particular difference in the world.

Friday photo – what do we reflect?

I love this photograph, taken on Wednesday. The mountains reflected in the lake.

The shoreline was shrouded by trees so I couldn’t get a direct shot, branches were in the way and a fence prevented me trying to get lakeside.

I am clear what I want to reflect or mediate but also know that this is imperfect, things get in the way, there are aspects of me that could.do with a prune for a better view.

I have had a life long desire to grow and change and become better versions of me, but it is a life long quest. It’s why spiritual health is so important to me, it’s a quest to grow in the four areas of life that help me grow, my relationship with me, others, transcendent and environment.

What do you see when you look at this picture?

Friday photo – shafts of light

What does this picture evoke in you? For me it evokes hope as light breaks through to illuminate the next steps we were taking on our walk. I have a little light for my journey and can see a bit of a path but don’t fully know what is round the corner! God speaks to me a lot through creation and I get inspired and recharged as I spend time walking and thinking and creative ideas come to me here.

Friday photo – but what is waiting?

My favourite part of the television programme Criminal Minds were the quotations at the end of each episode. That is where I came across this quote. I am still in a letting go phase as work took an unexpected and unwanted turn. As I am just past midway in my study leave I am wondering what my week will look like come December having been in a similar pattern for over 20 years. I am doing some writing and thinking about reflecting to move on and hope to turn that into a course of some sort and it is an added bonus that I can do the exercises for myself. I am looking forward to a different tomorrow…

Wondering Wednesdays – tangled thoughts

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I have spent the last week in discussions in person and online about what to cancel and when, it has been a very strange experience. My thoughts remain tangled as I try to follow some of the different threads that occur to me and which need following. There are professional and personal threads and the need to prioritize between urgent and important, those things that are both and issues where my decision has a significant impact on others. All the while trying not to remember not to touch my face!

I have seen some very eloquent thoughts and reflections online and am grateful for friends who post things which give me a fresh insight or angle on our current immensely challenging situation. It reminds me of reading apocalyptic prophetic Christian books in my teens and twenties!

I often turn to the writing of Joyce Rupp when I am looking to think more deeply about my experience, this is what I was drawn to yesterday as I wrote this blog:

Leaning on the heart of God

I am leaning on the heart of God. I am resting in silence. All the turmoil that exhausts me is brought to bear on this great love.

No resistance or complaint is heard as I lean upon God’s welcome. There is gladness for my coming. There is comfort for my pain.

I lean, and lean, and lean upon this heart which hurts with me. Strength lifts the weight of my distress. Courage wraps around my troubles.

No miracle of instant recovery. No taking away of life’s burdens. Yet, there is solace for my soul, and refuge for my exiled tears.

It is enough for me to know the heart of God is with me, full of mercy and compassion, tending to the wounds I bear.

Joyce Rupp Out of the Ordinary Ave Maria Press p75.

Wondering Wednesday – sharing worship

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Once a week we have staff prayers and we take it in turns to lead and can choose what we do. Yesterday I used this from the Methodist Thy Kingdom Come Worship in Wonder booklet.  What blessed me today was listening to the different insights everyone had, firstly as we looked at the picture and secondly as we reflected on the Bible reading.  We wondered about many things… I gained insights I would never have got on my own however long I would have sat there.  I know I am privileged to work in a Christian context and to be able to share worship with colleagues.  Today it is prayer and toast and then worship with students.  I get to see Christ mediated through many different perspectives and these enrich me and help me to grow.  Learning from each other is something I am passionate about and I try to encourage students to share and speak to as I can learn from anyone and everyone and never want to stop learning!

The picture is called the Dalit Madonna by Jyoti Sahi.

Honest Christianity – sinister sleeping beauty

sleeping beauty

Some of you may have heard the report of a parent this week requesting that the story book of Sleeping Beauty be removed form the school library. This was because the parent felt it encouraged inappropriate, uninvited sexual contact, a stolen kiss. While some of us will respond with “what the heck, leave it alone, its only a children’s story book”, some might go “em, not thought of it like that before, perhaps she has a point”.

On further research, the original story is much more sinister (trigger alert).
“Sleeping Beauty”: In Giambattista Basile’s tale (which is the actual origin of the Sleeping Beauty story), a king happens to walk by Sleeping Beauty’s castle and knock on the door. When no one answers, he climbs up a ladder through a window. He finds the princess, and calls to her, but as she is unconscious, she does not wake up. Well, dear reader, he carries her to the bed and rapes her. Then he just leaves. She awakens after she gives birth because one of her twins sucks the flax (from the spindle) out of her finger. The king comes back, and despite him having raped her, they end up falling in love? However, another big problem: the king is still married to someone else. His wife finds out and not only tries to have the twins killed, cooked, and fed to the king, but also tries to burn the princess at the stake. Luckily, she is unsuccessful. The king and the princess get married and live happily ever after (despite the fact that he raped her). Perrault’s adaptation of Basile’s updated adaptation of the story (a much tamer version) is probably what was used for the Disney adaptation, as they are much more similar. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/the-real-story-behind-eve_n_4239730

I have not finished my theological reflection upon these bits of news, but it seems that both women in the story are very wronged and sinned against, respond in totally different ways and continue to be misrepresented in today’s culture. I am left wondering, when does a story become misrepresented and when does it it become reinterpreted and redeemed? Its only a story, right?

Wondering Wednesdays – a different perspective

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One of the most wonderful elements of a trip to California six years ago was seeing giant redwood trees. This one we saw on Sunday and is not quite in the same league but evokes the same feelings of how the passing of time can change a perspective. I can’t imagine what these trees would have seen in a place where different people lived and died and celebrated and lamented and did all those things which make up our lives. Summer is giving me the opportunity to reflect and as I work towards my two weeks holiday I am looking forward to some time and space and a different rhythm.

Wondering Wednesdays – art and the echo in our head

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Yesterday I got to the first part of a conference on Researching the Church of England at Aston University. This picture is from the first keynote by (Rev Dr) Susannah Snyder on Refugees, Arts and the Church of England. I have a few notes from the session which I am pondering on – mostly I didn’t get the name of who the idea originated with so apologies for that – sometimes my brain is pondering something that has been said rather than keeping up with the next bit!
Arts and prophetic or radical amazement.
Arts as a counter to moral distance – arts create an echo in our head which will not go away.
Art as prophetic imagination – anticipation of the shalom that awaits us.

These pictures are of an installation called Critical Mass by Eve Mileusnic – there are feet in different size and shapes representing the movement of people and things and on different days she arranged the feet differently. The visual impact gave people time to reflect and as one person observed the outside world and church world came together.

I am not always a visual learner which is one of the reasons I post a photo each Friday as it means I am paying attention to the environment but I appreciate the capacity of the arts to connect with the emotions and the spirit in a way that words do not always seem to. Thank you God for artists.