Go the distance – mid year resolution

Jol

Sally and I have just had a wonderful holiday in Cornwall. I was ready for it, it has been a very busy and full year so far. Like many people it took us a few days to wind down and we had a few things to deal with while we were away. Although we plan our holidays about a year in advance there are other factors in having a life and ministry that tries to reflects the principles of our website – marker posts and shelters for a healthy, effective rule and rhythm of life.

The solution is to seek to live my life that I don’t desperately need my holidays to come along. That my life in between is lived at a pace that when my holidays come along, I am “oh that;s nice”, rather than “oh at last”. This would seem to be a symptom of a more balanced lifestyle that would be healthier and more conducive to wellbeing. One of the ways I am going to do this is not to work less hard but to work more wisely.

Friday photo – seagulls’ breakfast gathering

Gulls

High tide on a Cornish beach – our pre-breakfast walk – I have no idea if birds have any concept of days or meal times!  What caught my attention was seeing so many gulls making the most of what had been washed up along the tide line and the way they were gathered together in a group – large parts of the beach had no gulls on it.  As we take today to finish off bits of work and wind down into our holiday I want to be like the gulls, be more aware of the rhythms of nature, take a more leisurely approach to life while seizing the moment – if that’s not a contradiction.

Wondering Wednesdays – always take the slippers with you

moccasins

Paul has a few idiosyncrasies, one of them is always taking slippers with him whenever he is going away.  I never understand it as I would never waste valuable packing space on them – not when I could get an extra couple of books in or a big bar of chocolate!  New light was shed on this when we spent a bit of time with his Dad this week and visited his campervan only for him to point out his slippers!  I teach human development but still have no idea how we pick up some things from our families but not others, nature or nurture debates are always some of the most animated we have.

Although I don’t get the slippers I do get that when we are away it can be reassuring to have some connectedness to home or to our everyday lives as that is often where the roots are that we draw from even when we are not there.  I have been very blessed to have had a working life where I have, most of the time, really loved what I do so holidays have not needed to be an escape for me, they are just a different pattern or rhythm – or in the imagery of this blog marker posts, places during the year when life is different.  So on my holidays I take books I have been looking forward to reading and a little bit of art stuff to play with and when I think about it that connects back to my childhood, I loved reading, and I liked playing at being creative even though what I produced wasn’t very technically good.  I wonder what other people always take with them and what the connections are for them.

 

Wondering Wednesdays: working at being on holiday!

ImageAs this blog is posted I will be on holiday but the magic of technology means it can be posted when I am enjoying a wonderful breakfast prior to playing links golf looking at a lighthouse!  The arrival of a smartphone into my world means that I have to work out what my attitude to work is while I am on holiday.  I can access all my emails together, work, personal and church, or any of them separately so I can turn off to the extent that I want to. Hopefully I will have remembered to put an out of office signature up!

I love holidays as they bring a different rhythm to my life and Paul and I have always been good at scheduling them.  The extent to which other bits of life have intruded into them has varied over the years depending on our responsibilities and what has been going on.  I don’t normally mind talking to any of my team if there is an emergency and would rather be informed of something than not – but that is my choice – I don’t like returning to surprises!

However, I have been challenged by this quotation and need to resist the temptation inherent within it:

Nearly everyone senses that work alone is not sufficient for human fulfilment.  One of the sad ironies of this situation is that, despite our intentions to allow a different quality of time in our lives, we often end up turning all our time into work time…The rhythm of life for countless people, set up by this culturally pressured way, thus emerges as one that oscillates between driven achievement (both on and off the job) and some form of mind-numbing private escape (Edwards cited in Eanes et al 2001:85).

Thus I will work at ensuring that in my holiday I make the most of being able to do things that are not practical in working weeks so I will be playing golf, visiting castles, walking on beaches and spending time with the adorable nephew and his parents as well as Paul.

I can be a little task oriented so frame what I am doing at working at being on holiday but the marker posts in my year that are holidays need to be planned in otherwise they are too far apart to provide the shelter that I need.

Reference:

Eanes, Beverley E et al eds (2001).  What Brings You Life?  Mahwah:  Paulist Press.

Be still – reflecting from retreating

Newry and Mourne-20130305-00826

One of my shelters is going on retreat, a place to stop, still, search and gain sustenance for the next stage of the journey. I am enormously blessed to be able to be able to do this as part of my work and this week I went off with other colleagues from across the Centre for Youth Ministry to a Benedictine Monastery at Rostrevor in Ireland.  The hospitality was excellent and we experienced the rhythm of the monastic day with Lauds, Eucharist, None, Vespers and Vigil. These offices acted as marker posts in the days and offered the opportunity to join the community at prayer and worship.

The guide for retreatants had this encouragement:

Come on now little one, get away from your worldly occupation for a while, escape from your tumultuous thoughts.  Lay aside your burdensome cares and put off laborious exertions. Give yourself over to God for a little while, and rest for a while in God (St Anselm).  Words which for me were soothing and healing – I had permission to just be.

The first thing our retreat facilitator encouraged us to do was to go outside and reflect on the phrase:

Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46.10).

I sat on the seat in the picture above and began to meditate on that phrase and this is what I felt God saying:

Be still and listen

Be still and find peace in your heart

Be still and love generously

Be still and see the mountaintop

Be still and smell the grass

Be still and hear the birds sing

Be still and be present in the moment

Be still and bask in my love

Be still, listen to the silence and let your soul find rest in me.

All these be stills connected with issues in my life that needed attention or revisiting and were a reminder of the danger of losing myself in the demands of every day and losing sight of what is really important.  I know that I don’t need to be on retreat to be still but I sometimes forget to just take that time, even if all I have is five minutes to stop and remember that just being is needed to balance out the doing.

This is a meditation I will keep returning to – what is it today that God wants me to hear, experience or do in the stillness…

Be still

Half term marker posts!

We are in Cornwall for half term so a few more places we like!  These are all family friendly accessible places that we like for breakfast or coffee and cake – a couple of them look like shelters which always resonates with us!  Starting off working life as a teacher meant that Sally got into a pattern of half terms and the longer periods of rest and recreation work for us although rest is perhaps not the best word for a week which tends to have quite a lot of sport and walking in it!  Half terms then are marker posts for us, particularly since ordination when Christmas and Easter become busier times of ministry rather than a more relaxed holiday time!

Hannafore kiosk

Hannafore Kiosk which has its own facebook page is opposite Looe Island   (see the Wondering Wednesdays post from 20th Feburuary) and is open in the summer and fine weekends in the winter. There are picnic benches and a couple of high tables where you can sit and gaze at the island.  There are always home baked cakes and some good local ice cream as well as pasties, toasties etc.  Very reasonable prices and  you get to drink out of real china (or you can have take away cups for the beach if you prefer).  Hannfore Kiosk Marine Drive, Hannafore,West Looe , PL13 2DJ  01503 263606.

One of the amazing things about Hannafore is that parking is still free all up the dead end road.  It is the west side of the river from Looe and you can walk into Looe, wander along the coastal path (Celtic ruin not far) or walk along the sea wall.  It is very user friendly for buggies or wheelchairs and has public toilets and lots of benches.  The rock pools at low tide are great to potter in and there are usually some interesting birds to see – often a little egret.

Seaton Beach Cafe - lots of shelters!
Seaton Beach Cafe – lots of shelters!

Seaton Beach Cafe tends to be our first and last day of the holidays breakfast venue.  They have a choose your own breakfast menu,  a good range of daily papers and lots of places to sit with sea views.  It is dog and child friendly and they have their own parking.  In the summer they do this great ice cream called a vomit bucket – and you get to keep the bucket.  They also do a good Sunday roast.  The beach is open to dogs the whole year round and you can walk along the sea wall to Downderry.  Seaton Beach Cafe  Looe HillTorpointEngland  01503 250621.

Wroes - Ocean View Restaurant - Bude

Wroes Ocean View Restaurant – Bude

The very best bacon sandwiches we ever eat are from here – Wroes Ocean View Restaurant in Bude!  Thick fresh granary bread and lots of well cooked bacon.  Enjoy the coffee too and there are usually a great range of home made cakes.  Wroes is a little department store which reminds me of my childhood.  They have a good outdoors department in the basement and a range of women’s clothing and handbags which are a bit out of the ordinary.  You can sometimes park for free on the street outside and it is one of the places where we have never seen a traffic warden!  13 Belle VueBudeEngland EX23 8JN   01288 353789

 

Wondering Wednesdays – alternative to-do lists

dazzled

Looe Island, Cornwall

Last summer I waded across from the shore to this island on one of those days where there was a very low tide.  It wasn’t on my to-do list for the day and I didn’t know that it was a particularly low tide that day.  I wasn’t wearing a swimming costume and didn’t have a change of clothes in the car, I just seized the day!  A very gracious warden came and greeted me while also suggesting that I should make my way back as the tide was coming in. Every time we go back to Hannafore I am reminded of that experience, it is one of those “remember when” moments, those wonder times when you look back and think did I really…

IMG-20121102-00560

I love holidays because I don’t usually have a to-do list as part of them, my organized self disappears to be replaced by a much more laid back Sally.  It is on such days that I am much more likely to encounter mystery, be dazzled or amazed or receive a great teaching from an unexpected source.  I have tried to do one or two things to help make them more likely to occur in everyday life.  I try and walk every day even if it is only for five or ten minutes and those can be times when I see something that inspires me or I just have a bit of space for thinking.  I also try and use a variety of daily reading books as part of the time I spend with God and try purposefully to choose very different books each year and sometimes I read something that I can genuinely call a great teaching, something that brings a fresh perspective.  At work I have pictures opposite my computer and a quick glance up at these always makes me smile – at least on the inside.  I also need to try and create little oases of space in my days where I can enjoy just being and not worry too much about what it is I am not doing.  I don’t always find that easy but it is worth the effort!

Reference:  Leder D (2004) Sparks of the Divine. Nortre Dame: Sorin Books, p14.