We have just had a few days holiday and I noted that very quickly I was gaining a more healthy perspective on some of the things that have been getting to me. One of the questions I ask at the hospital to help facilitate reflections on spiritual care is ‘what lifts your spirit?’ When I began to feel better after some walks by the sea and in some beautiful countryside, I noticed not only was my spirit lifted it was also recharged. I felt less drained, less discouraged, more optimistic.
As we look forward to Easter, Palm Sunday, Holy week, we reflect on the sacrificial giving of Jesus the drain upon his spirit, I wonder what he had to recharge him? It cannot have been easy being betrayed and feeling abandoned not only by his followers but also his father. Jesus must have had a substantial inner belief, a steadfast trust in his father and an overwhelming commitment to the wellbeing of humanity.
Sounds like a rechargeable Easter plan
If I am awake, I enjoy listening to the religious current affairs programme Sunday on Radio 4,(from 7.10am). This morning was no exception with features on mindfulness and the Archbishop of York’s new (edited) book On Rock or Sand?
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu said: “The book addresses crucial questions about the moral principles that undergird the way Britain is governed. It is about building firm foundations for Britain’s future and setting out the essential values we need to build a just, sustainable and compassionate society in which we can all participate and flourish. We need to rediscover the true meaning of the word economy – it means a household, a community whose members share responsibility for each other. The giant that must be slayed is income inequality – where some few have far too much and the many have too little.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has also been talking about the book and the economy:
“There is a general social assumption that the economy has the power to dictate what is and is not possible for human beings. We believe that if we can fix the economy, the fixing of human beings will automatically follow. That is a lie. It is a lie because it is a narrative that casts money, rather than humanity, as the protagonist of God’s story.”
The other story that caught my attention in the programme was one about mindfulness and one of the contributors was saying that it was not possible to separate the spiritual background of mindfulness from the mindfulness practices. From our experience it can be argued that the mindfulness exercises are beneficial in their own right, but many Buddhists, Christians and other religions would argue that without the spiritual resources values, principles and direction of faith that go with meditation exercises, then people are not able to access all the resources which would enable them to more fully address the issues that they are using meditation type exercises in response to.
The crux of the problem is that our lives are too complicated to be resolved by addressing only one aspect, whether this is an international, national, societal, cultural or personal issue. As far back as I can remember having at least a semi informed opinion about how our society could best work, l have always believed that basic human problems cannot be fixed
solely by even the most wise, generous government policies. Individuals, you and I, have a responsibility to act out our personal values and beliefs that engage with not only personal needs and desires but also those of our neighbours, the spiritual needs attention as well as the practical. .
Have you thought about any plans, aspirations or resolutions for 2015 yet? The lessons I have learnt in previous years is to be both proactive and reactive. It is important to be proactive, to plan and do it but it is as important to plan to be re active to opportunities that come our way. This is not a sign of complacency but signifies that we that we cannot and should not plan for all that the year might bring. We can do this by leaving space and energy to be able to respond to moves of God. I know I can be creative and busy enough to plan more than enough for the year ahead – new projects, resources, writing, golf courses to play, conferences to go to and plan, a new group to join, films to see, holidays and days out to enjoy… But I am also looking forward to seeing what other opportunities come our way and watching out for the wind of the Holy Spirit blowing…
Last week I had a singing lesson and since then have become much more focused on my breath and have been practising trying to breathe better. It reminded me of something I read on one of my train journeys:
Living in the Spirit is like breathing. Spiritual practice is the in-breath while our loving action in the world is our out-breath. One flows from the other.
So what happens when we do not attend to the in-breath? We begin to become short of breath, ill even.
We may not notice that we are less than fully alive but we have no puff left for the out-breath of our witness in the world.
I like the simplicity of this metaphor, it reminds me yet again of getting the right balance in my life – as a new academic year starts, that’s important!
Ginny Wall Deepening the life of the Spirit London Quaker Books 2012 p1
We have had an amazing time at a conference that embodies its own title – I have returned home feeling that my Spirit has been cared for. I have been inspired, encouraged, experienced generous sharing of resources and have my mind full of the connections between chaplaincy and youth work and how some of the resources and approaches may be adapted. But most of all I am taking back a feeling of being part of a group who are passionate about their calling and wanting to know how to work more effectively as chaplains but also lots of different healthcare related professions. One of the other things I am reflecting on is meeting people in healthcare with “mission” in their title – Catholic and Lutheran, and although I think I do my job with an awareness of the mission of CYM and St John’s I like the way that embodying values is integral to these people’s roles. I feel enormously privileged to be at the first conference launching a research focus for chaplaincy and encouraged by the significance of some of the work CYM (www.youthchildrenmission.org) and Birmingham Children’s Hospital are doing in this area.