Wondering Wednesdays – talking spaces


One of my treats is taking a book into a coffee shop and reading for a while. Yesterday I popped into Eden on my way back from work and before I weighed in at Slimming World. I had thought a friend was there but did have a book. Just as I was about to start reading it the only other person in the coffee shop who had come and sat near me asked if I was there for slimming world.

If you know me in real life you will know I am quite an introvert and reasonably unlikely to start a conversation with a stranger in a coffee shop – I will respond but not initiate. What followed was thirty minutes of chat about food, eating patterns, struggles etc. I had a lovely time and was able to take her into the group as it was her first time – I bought her a pack of hi-fi bars too. What is interesting is that somehow Eden is a space where strangers talk to one another – it is not the first time it has happened to me there and I am reflecting on what makes somewhere a talking space, a safe space to interact with strangers…


Wondering Wednesdays – space to write


I love writing but I don’t always write as much as I would like to or some of the things I would like to. This book was one of my birthday presents and in it people talk about their writing space.  I don’t really have a dedicated writing space as such – I write in lots of different places but I need to create space in my week to write.  I am working on this with a coach at the moment as it is so easy for other work to crowd out my writing time.  So over the next few weeks I am trying to create space to write an article!  Reading the book helped inspire me to do something about my desire…

This advice from Michael Morpurgo in the introduction to the book resonates with my own experience and is what I draw on when I blog.

Each of us has to find a way to begin writing. I have my way, not the best way – there is no best way – but my way. I think every writer has to read widely, to live a life as interesting and involved as possible, to meet people, to go places, to keep eyes and ears and heart open. We have to drink the world in, know it, develop our concerns, and so discover what it is we care about Michael Morpurgo (p1).

Mansfield, E. (ed) (2016).  A Space to Write.  Cornwall:  KEAP.

Friday photo – peaceful space

Peaceful space

This room was launched yesterday at Parkview, part of Birmingham Children’s Hospital. It has been established by Chaplaincy in partnership with Parkview. This is how it is being described:
The space is open to people of all beliefs and acts as an area for you to go to take some time for yourself.
I am sad I missed the opening of it – there was cake and samosas – but a space to meet chaplains or a peaceful space to take some time for yourself is an asset to any institution. For many years we have tried to create such a place in our home and somehow the seat I use does feel different to the seat I use to watch TV! I hope it gets well used and I look forward to seeing it in the future although there probably will not be cake or samosas waiting for me.

My kind of cafe


I have seen lots of different things in cafes but never a mobility scooter complete with rainproofing!   It was amazing and the staff were so helpful with the gentleman helping him to get ready to leave.  It reminded me that we make choices about where we drink, shop, eat etc and we can choose places that resonate with our values and I am encouraged to do that as I want places like this to thrive and continue.  I think often about the sort of space that is created in different places and loved this accessible, welcoming, hospitable place.   In my gratitude journal this week I wrote down good coffee at church – it was a small thing to do in many ways but has just added to our vision of growing loving community.

Honest Christianity – we can’t do this alone

Northumberland-20120717-00309This is our 100th blog post, mere newcomers compared to many, but we are encouraged to get to this marker post still being enthusiastic about what we are doing! There was always the slight fear that it would become just one more thing on the to-do list. We thought and prayed about what to write about as well as whether or not we should mark 100. WordPress helpfully tells you what number post the lastest one has been – otherwise we would have no idea!

What we have decided to talk about is significant relationships which in part has been inspired by reading Stanley and Clinton’s book Connecting many, many years ago and more recently Leonard Sweet’s book, 11 indispensable relationships you can’t be without.

what had we done, what would be good to reflect about on this marker? We have gone for significant relationships. Last year, Paul, inspired by books by Leonard Sweet and Stanley, and did a workshop and retreat day that explored what are the helpful roles we need in our lives to help us flourish, feel supported, …….

Paul led a quiet day and retreat day (in both a Christian and a healthcare context) on this last year after we had come up with the list together. The basic premise is that these are some relationships that will enrich both our work and private lives and that help us flourish, feel supported, feel connected etc. Life is meant to be lived in community.

It can be helpful to remember that:
• multiple roles may be found in the same person;
• they may be reciprocal relationships;
• we have life cycles of relationships.

Lifter of spirits
Someone who encourages you, makes you feel better by just being with them.

A developer and supporter in your field, someone with more experience than you. Trainer, coach, give or encourage opportunities, someone who is secure for you to succeed more than them.

Got your back
Someone at work who looks out for you, mediates, advocates on your behalf…

Safety net
A person who will catch you when you fall. You know they will be there for you.

Critical friend
Someone who will be honest with you even when it hurts or is difficult to hear.

Sounding board / dream catcher
Someone who you can share your ideas with no matter how crazy they are. They will not think you are getting too big for your boots, above yourself, too grandiose.

Non managerial / clinical supervision
A person outside of your department (or sometimes outside the employer) that you can discuss your work issues with.

Play friend
Someone you can have fun with, let your hair down, relax with.

Soul friend
Someone you can talk about the deep meaningful questions of life with and for them to ask challenging personal questions of you. Has your holistic life on the agenda.

Community of practice
A group of peers in your field who you can meet with to discuss and develop your area of work without a need to big yourself up or be cautious with.

Others may be specific to your particular context and it can be worth reflecting on who those need to be…

Reflection space:
• Do I want these relationships?
• Do I have these relationships?
• How might I go about establishing them?
• Who might I ask?
• Who might I offer to take on some of these roles with?

As we came up with the list various people came into our minds and we are very grateful to all those we have journeyed with both in the past and now and have been encouraged by some of the completely unexpected responses we have had to the blog as well.

We have put the handout for the session under resources.


Leonard Sweet. 11 indispensable relationships you can’t be without. Eastbourne: David Cook 2008.
P D Stanley, J R Clinton Connecting. Colorado Springs: Navpress 1992.

Wondering Wednesdays – from the lookout post


I am on holiday as I write this. Now I know some people give up social networking for holidays but at the moment blogging is part of my spiritual disciplines and I want to keep with the weekly pattern I have established over the last six months or so. I am using the metaphor of the lookout post for being on holiday. It is an opportunity to read things that I don’t quite manage during other parts of the year and to gain fresh perspectives and sometimes see a wider landscape. I have a bit of space to think about issues that may get pushed out at other times. Last year saw one significant change on return from holiday – I wonder what I will see this year…

Generous, gracious hospitality: Retreat reflections 4

Newry and Mourne-20130306-00852

Benedictines are known for their hospitality and I appreciated the generous, gracious hospitality extended to us as we stayed at the Monastery at Rostrevor.  Brother Thierry, the guestmaster was delightfully patient, there were no glaring looks when I managed to knock the service book off the pew a couple of times and the food was delicious, wholesome and something to look forward to!  All these things and more helped me to feel welcomed, embraced, included and nurtured.  Although I am not sure that I go on retreat to feel pampered it is lovely to feel cared for when in a role where you do a lot of caring for others.

I love the writing of Parker J Palmer who talks about creating a space for learning in a way which can be applied to worship and a whole host of other things too.  Part of how Paul became a Christian was the generous and gracious hospitality he experienced from Christian families at Grays Tabernacle.  Part of what we try and offer at Hodge Hill Church where I am a Curate is this same generous and gracious hospitality.

In writing this I know I am stating the obvious but it is very easy to forget how important it is to welcome the stranger because we are distracted by other things.  The Bible is very clear on the importance of hospitality and this is probably my favourite verse on the topic:

Hebrews 13.1 Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.

If we welcome people as angels or Christ as the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25.31-46) encourages us to then they will get a taste of that generous, gracious hospitality that is a sign of the kingdom.


Palmer, Parker J. (1993) To Know as We are Known. Education as a spiritual journey. San Francisco: HarperSan Francisco.