Wondering Wednesdays – swimming in the sea

I can’t remember the last time I just went for a swim in the sea, I occasionally bodyboard but am protective of my broken shoulder. It is very many years ago and I am not sure why, I loved being in the sea as a child.

I have friends who talk so passionately about swimming in the sea or wild swimming. Perhaps some of their passion has rubbed off on me!

I have posted this poem before, in 2014, it is one of my favourite pieces of writing about the sea:

Dear Lord,
Today I thought of the words of Vincent Van Gogh “It is true there is an ebb and flow, but the sea remains the sea.” You are the sea. Although I experience many ups and downs in my emotions and often feel great shifts and changes in my inner life, you remain the same. Your sameness is not the sameness of a rock, but the sameness of a faithful lover. Out of your love I came to life; by your love I am sustained, and to your love I am always called back.
There are days of sadness and days of joy; there are feelings of guilt and feelings of gratitude; there are moments of failure and moments of success; but all of them are embraced by your unwavering love. My only real temptation is to doubt in your love, to think of myself as beyond the reach of your love, to remove myself from the healing radiance of your love. To do these things is to move into the darkness of despair.
O Lord, sea of love and goodness, let me not fear too much the storms and winds of my daily life, and let me know that there is ebb and flow but that the sea remains the sea.
Henri Nouwen

I was swimming in a rock enclosed small beach which evoked some of this imagery. The sea was calm, clear and held me. On a hot day she refreshed me. There was no sign of storms and winds but I know they will come again. I am not deceived by the calm, life isn’t always like that but God is there sustaining me, even more than the sea does.

Friday photo – hidden below the waves

We saw this picture in Brixham last weekend which portrays a voyage over life’s sea. It is often said that we don’t know what is going on in the lives of others so be kind always. This picture reminded me of this.

I have tried to talk about some of the challenges of my current voyage over life’s sea with a broken shoulder in recent posts, partly to track it for myself but also as I want to be real about the disruption it brings.

But there are some things about a voyage that we don’t share, for a variety of good and healthy reasons. It may be because it impacts someone else and we do not have their permission to share. It may be too much information in the light of our personal level of healthy boundaries which for me relates to my study of shame. It may be just too painful to put out there, particularly on social media where you cannot control who sees it or the way that they respond.

So back to the picture, there are aspects of being stung by the jelly fish in my current journey and if this doesn’t sound too inappropriate, pleasure in eating the fish that other people have caught! That is both a literal and metaphorical statement as I enjoyed seaside fish and chips but also spiritual food from books and insights shared with me.

What’s going on in your voyage today?

Friday photo – a change of scenery

These are pictures from yesterday.

I can’t believe how much more energy I have to think and read somewhere different .

The last six months I have barely ventured far beyond local parks and have been very aware of brain fog.

But the sea and one of my favourite beaches where I get the best breakfast and hear the crash of the waves helps me feel like a different person, an energised and alive one.

I am fully supportive of a slow journey out of lockdown but am surprised at the difference new scenery has made.

#doingwhatbringsmelife #seabringslife

Wondering Wednesdays – stormy sea

I had plenty of opportunity last week to watch stormy seas as the wind and the rain have been frequent companions to our coastal walking.  However, I am not too keen to take the quotation literally as I am seasick with a gentle roll let alone a full-blown storm!  However, seeing this as a metaphor is really helpful for me at this time.  As circumstances have changed I have had to leave the comfort of the shore and set sail in quite a few new areas.  I am learning new skills and finding new places to explore, sometimes that feels like I am on a stormy sea and I have to handle the discomfort that brings.  What is a stormy sea for you at the moment?

Friday photo – made for the sea

We were blessed to have Andy Flannagan lead worship for us at our end of year service for MCYM students. He played a song that is one of his next releases which has stayed with me. Possibly because the sea is such a regenerative place for me. I am hoping after many months of lockdown to get a glimpse soon. Life can feel a little wild, cold and dark with the many challenges this season has brought but God is with me on the sea and by the sea

Friday photo – salt water


While I don’t fully agree with the statement, it struck me as I idly flicked through a magazine at the dentist that this is quite true for me. I feel so much better after one of these things. They all release tension in different ways for me and sometimes I need a bit of catharsis. Wanting to be a little more precise I might say for many of the little things that can niggle, irritate, sadden etc. For the bigger things they help, but my faith is what sustains me.

Friday photo – the sea remains the sea

I posted this 6 years ago and it came to mind today as I looked to find a picture and thought which encapsulated our holiday. I love being by the sea and our tidal Tamar view and it is so often a time when I feel close to God. I am blessed to be able to take such a break.

Dear Lord,
Today I thought of the words of Vincent Van Gogh “It is true there is an ebb and flow, but the sea remains the sea.” You are the sea. Although I experience many ups and downs in my emotions and often feel great shifts and changes in my inner life, you remain the same. Your sameness is not the sameness of a rock, but the sameness of a faithful lover. Out of your love I came to life; by your love I am sustained, and to your love I am always called back.
There are days of sadness and days of joy; there are feelings of guilt and feelings of gratitude; there are moments of failure and moments of success; but all of them are embraced by your unwavering love. My only real temptation is to doubt in your love, to think of myself as beyond the reach of your love, to remove myself from the healing radiance of your love. To do these things is to move into the darkness of despair.
O Lord, sea of love and goodness, let me not fear too much the storms and winds of my daily life, and let me know that there is ebb and flow but that the sea remains the sea.
Henri Nouwen

Wondering Wednesdays – hidden currents

currents
We are just back from a week’s holiday in a motorhome around the Highlands and Western Isles. I have so many photographs that capture a moment or a thought. This is one of them. I continue to be amazed at the power of sea currents and the evidence left on beaches of this. This is one of our many beach walks while we are away. I always try to be mindful of the currents that are happening in my own life and that of others. Sometimes the depth and power of them become uncovered or revealed by a situation or cluster of circumstances. I try to be aware of things which may be triggers and which have given people ‘scars’ like those on this beach. What we see in people’s reactions isn’t always about what is happening on the surface, it can be something in the depths of their being that they may not even be very conscious of until something happens. It can be a song, a picture, a fleeting thought, seeing someone or somewhere which evokes a memory. Being mindful of hidden currents in ourselves and others may help us remember to treat ourselves and each other with extra kindness.

Wondering Wednesday – drawn to Cornwall

 

DSCF2145

Scryfa is a collection of contemporary Cornish writing that I discovered at an art and craft exhibition on Bodmin Moor today. One of the authors, Liz Luck, writes about Cornwall in a way which is deeply resonant:
Why does Cornwall feel different? Why does my heart catch and lift when crossing the Tamar heading west? … Leaving aside the emotion – the loe and the pride – it is still possible to identify and rationalise the sense of difference that Cornish people feel about Cornwall. You can pick out its curious elements, echoes of which may have settled in the memories of people far away, people who have never been here. It has a different history; you can feel it even if you know nothing of Cornwall’s Celtic past, its ancient sea links with Mediterranean civilization, its sense of separateness from England, and its long resistance to Roman and Anglo-Saxon (and later) influences from over the Tamar. There are plenty of clues to be found today in the clearly un-English place names on every map and signpost; the mysterious saints that gave their names to isolated churches; the patterns of fields and hedges in lanes, stone circles, crosses and megalithic tombs, the black and white flag flying above public buildings. … Cornwall is nearly an island and everything, everywhere is affected by the sea. Up on Bodmin Moor you might be in the middle of the landmass, but you can see slivers of light on both coasts. Even when you can’t actually see the sea, when you’re down in a hollow or a deep, dark lane somewhere, you can still sense it nearby, smell its salt in the air; it lightens the sky and it stiffens the wind…

I appreciate the writing style – one of the things that is important to me as someone who enjoys writing a little is reading other people’s writing and learning from that too.

I don’t know why I am so drawn to Cornwall, but it feels like a thin place to me, I am refreshed and regenerated by being here – by the sea, the river, the moor…
However, I look forward to returning to Birmingham as that is home and the place I am meant to be…

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.