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being me The little yellow book

Be Who You Really Are

Film maker George Frost setting up on Pensarn prom to film Diane Woodrow for a promotional video for her book The Little Yellow Boat
Film maker George Frost setting up to film me for a promotional video for The Little Yellow Boat

Even though my book, The Little Yellow Boat, is a tale about a boat learning an important lesson, all the way through this process of writing, of collating, publishing and promoting the book I have been learning important lessons.

Yesterday was the second time I had been to my local beach to film the words I wanted to go with the video about The Little Yellow Boat. The first time I was mixing together words George, the film maker, had suggested and words I felt I ought to say. I also had another project I was trying to get finished so that was hovering at the back of my mind too.

On Monday I had been working with a group of young people on a writing project of theirs and shared how The Little Yellow Boat came into being. As I did this I realised that these are the words I wanted preserved on my promotional video. I also realised that even though the shots of me standing leaning on the promenade wall looked really good, personally I preferred to sit down. Interestingly George arrived yesterday one of the first things he said was “can we give it a go with you sitting on the pebbles?” Sometimes it is interesting how, when we think things in a positive way they filter through to other people

So we did a couple of takes with me standing on the prom and then I went to sit on the pebbles. I also spoke words very similar to those I had shared with the young people on Monday. I was relaxed and confident with my words so they flowed slowly and calmly on all occasions of filming, but it was when I sat on the pebbles I totally relaxed and that was the take we are going to use. Yes I did stumble over my words a bit but it came over as me sharing with a group of friends rather than a performance piece.

So the latest thing The Little Yellow Boat has told me is that I am to be myself rather than what I think other people might want for me. Also I realised if we are ourselves we let people help and support us in a way that we are not resentful about and can enjoy.

Check out https://aspirationaladventure.com/little-yellow-boat/ and also “like” or “follow” The Little Yellow Boat’s Facebook and Instagram pages to await the arrival the finished video and check out other adventures of the The Little Yellow Boat.

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clapping the nhs Earth Day Earth Week gifts

Earth Week

Pink cherry blossom tree outside Diane Woodrow's living room window
This is the view I had this morning from my living room window as I did my yoga. The cherry tree is back in bloom

I was very excited to learn that this week is Earth Week. Although, as someone else said, I’m not sure why it isn’t Earth Week every week because the earth is just amazing. But then I also don’t understand why we have to have a Women’s history month or a Black history month. Why aren’t these just history that we learn? But that’s for another blog!!

The Earth is amazing – however you believe it came into being. Without the Earth we would not be here. Everything we do comes from/about/because of the Earth. Even the things we call “man-made” come from things that were part of the Earth already; from the food we eat to the minerals that go into our mobile phones.

Everything comes from the Earth.

So I suppose we do need a special week and even a special day to celebrate it. It’s like I’m amazing all the time, and getting older all the time, but I still need a birthday when people can tell me how awesome I am. And I need my friends and family to have birthdays so I can tell them how awesome they are. But what do you give to the Earth that has everything? Everything I give to the Earth will have come from the Earth, which I suppose is a bit like the little kid who is given money by their parents to buy their parents’ birthday and Christmas present.

I remember when my kids were little I actually much preferred it when they did some special deed or act for me rather than bought me something. I felt it meant they knew who I was in a deeper way. But then my love language is quality time so for me those deeds and acts meant special time together. Even now, much as I love those special presents that are things I really would love but think are too extravagant to buy, I still enjoy that special doing more; that thinking of a place I’d like to go, doing a chore that I don’t like, planning something for me. My bestest birthdays have been when I’ve had both my kids with me and my husband. Quality time! But I digress.

So thinking of the kind deeds and acts I like throughout the year got me wondering about what to give the Earth. The Earth is something we treat so badly. We abuse it. We take and take and so rarely give back. We praise man-made things but forget they came from the Earth’s resources. We even badmouth the Earth when disasters happen like earthquakes, floods, landslides, etc. And we even talk of leaving the Earth and going to live on the Moon or Mars. We only have to do that because of the awful way we have treated the Earth.

So what can we do for the Earth week and especially on Earth Day? There are lots of resources on Godspace’s pages. But I think one of the most important things we could is to remember how important the Earth is to us . Maybe we should go out and, as we clapped the NHS here in the UK at the start of the lockdown last year, maybe we should all go out at 8pm on Earth Day, Thursday 22nd April, and give the Earth a great big clap and cheer. Let us remember that without it we would not be here.

Maybe we could do more than just clap and cheer. Maybe, just maybe we could start respecting it?

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certainty death peace prepared Prince Phillip

Prince Phillip

Prince Phillip with all his medals smiling at the camera
Cheshire councillors and MPs pay tribute to Prince Phillip www.thenantwichnews.co.uk 9th April 2021

I woke this morning thinking I should write a blog piece about Prince Phillip but what do you write about someone that you don’t really know that so much has been written about – also by people who don’t really know him.

Well it turns out the news of his death was announce on the anniversary of my stepdad’s death, which was sixteen years earlier. My stepdad born two years after Prince Phillip so the Queen and her family have been lucky/blessed to have him about for sixteen years longer than we got my stepdad. I’m sure that doesn’t make the loss any less for them though.

So this got me thinking about loss and death and when is a good time to die and how should one die. All those who’ve followed my blogs and my old site Diane’s Daily Thoughts, you’ll know that I’ve walked through a few untimely deaths. More than some and not as many as others!

We were talking with friends on Monday – our first friends this year who’ve been able to visit and sit in our backyard to eat lunch – and we were saying about dying well. As Christians we believe that we’ll go to be with God when we die and maybe even catch up with those who’ve already gone. [My hope there is too that God will have everyone who’s died with him whether they professed a faith or not. But that is for another blog!!] So if we believe that we’ll be in heaven then surely we should be preparing for it now. How? I believe by living to our fullest,which does not mean being busy all the time but being present all the time. Being here in the moment. Being content in the moment. Being at peace with ourselves and the world around us. And as I said in my last blog living in kindness and grace.

Death is one of the few things we can be certain of; that we are going to die, that those we love will die – and we hope and pray that it will not be too soon. But then maybe even 99 is too soon.

So for me as a ponder Prince Phillip’s death which is a form of public mourning, because, whether we like it or not, like him or not, he was a public figure who has been part of the UK’s psyche for over 70 years, I hope he died well. I hope he had time to say his goodbyes I hope he was reconciled with his regrets. I hope he was at peace at the end.

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Books borders and belonging enough Grace kindness

Borders & Belonging

Front cover of the book “Borders & Belonging” by Pádraig Ó Tuama and Glenn Jordan. As read by Diane Woodrow

I have just read this amazing book – Borders & Belonging” by Pádraig Ó Tuama and Glenn Jordan. It is about the book of Ruth and how it relates to our times. Our times being Brexit and, because they are both Irish, about the border between northern and southern Ireland. But for me it meant so much more.

They talk about how the story of Ruth tells how the law was changed through the actions of Ruth, which to me means God is saying that these “rules” we read in the Bible are not set in stone. The book of Ruth is read by the Jewish people every Shavuot, which corresponds with the Christian festival of Pentecost. Shavuot celebrates the spring harvest and comes 50 days after Passover. Pentecost celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit to all people. Each year Jewish people remember, as well as the blessing of the spring harvest – which all who are gardeners know is so important as it comes at the end of the “hunger gap”, the time when there are just boring root veg that has survived over the winter – also remember this young woman from a despised tribe coming to their town and being accepted into their lineage and changing what was written in the Torah, which said that a Moabite cannot enter the nation of Israel. Yet at the end of her story we read that Ruth’s descendant is King David.

I think this is why she is included in Jesus’ lineage at the start of the Gospel Matthew – to show that Jesus came to remind us all that the law is not static, and I also think one of the reasons the Holy Spirit came on Shavuot is to show that again the law is not a static thing; that to follow God is not all about rules to follow but about grace and kindness.

As it says towards the end of “Borders & Belonging” “kindness is not constrained by rules” and that the law and traditions changed so that “kindness and grace is extended.” But how often are the “rules of Christianity” so fixed that kindness and grace are excluded? How many times have those in the LGBTQ community being told they are wrong and need healing? Or the young heterosexual couple who cannot afford to get married are told that they are wrong for wanting to live together? How many people feel they have to “clean up their act” before they can follow God?

How often do we, as church, hold on to the laws and traditions of our community because we think that is the right thing to do? When Boaz met with a man in front of the village elders who had, according to the Law, a stronger claim on the land that belonged to Ruth’s late husband, this unnamed man was willing to let go of that because he was afraid that his children would be outcasts as they could have been looked at as half Moabite, the despised tribe. As Pádraig says he was “willing to be poorer in order to be purer”. How often we do that – follow the right way but miss out on a bigger blessing because we weren’t able to share kindness and grace?

Interestingly around reading this I was on a long car journey and listened to a series of podcasts from Orphan No More, a community of Christians based in Bath, which were loosely based around the question of “do I have enough?”

Unless we can believe that we have “enough” I believe we cannot walk in kindness and grace. Am I willing to believe I have enough? Are you willing to believe it? Are we willing, during this Eastertide season to learn to walk more like Jesus – in kindness and grace?

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Easter Godspace grief poem

The First Easter Sunday

Also posted on https://godspacelight.com/2021/04/04/the-first-easter-sunday/

Bleak mountain side as the sun rises

Pondering the first Easter Saturday, I wonder what those first disciples must have felt. All their hope was gone, brutally murdered and now hidden in a tomb to rot. For following Jesus they were now rejected by the synagogue leaders and also being watched carefully by the Roman authorities. We know the end of the story we so often forget what that first Saturday after Jesus was crucified was truly like. 

I wrote this poem not only pondering Easter Saturday but also as I was dealing with the grief over the untimely deaths of friends and family I had been praying for God to heal; emotionally, physically and mentally. Pondering Easter Saturday is a good time to think about those prayers we pray that don’t appear to get answered. 

The First Easter Saturday

How? What had happened? 

What is wrong with the world? 

Why is it continuing? 

God why can you not make it stop? 

Just give us time to grieve. 

This is too much. 

There was so much promise. 

So much expectation. 

And now he’s dead. 

All hope of promise is gone. 

It’s over. 

All that we gave our lives for. 

All that we gave up. 

Gone! Over! 

It is finished. 

And who cares? 

Us few that’s who. 

The Passover continues

The people celebrate

They are free at last. 

How? Why? Who could have let this happen?

God how could you have let this happen?

You should have stopped it.

He claimed to be your son.

We believed him.

We are walking dead now. 

They will come to get us soon.

Gone! Over!

It is finished!

So much of our own stories we are in that middle place between God promising and it coming to pass. Even before the pandemic hit most of us had experienced friends and family dying too soon and too painfully. Or of things we hoped would happen not working out as we had desired, or not working out at all. . 

How do we feel when we are grieving, when we are scared and yet other people are celebrating? The Passover was about being free from oppression but the followers of Jesus were under the weight of grief. And grief is a heavy cloak to wear. 

I believe God allowed Easter Saturday to remind us all that we need space to think, to grieve, to wonder. I believe, too, that the church calendar has stolen something from us. When you read what Jesus says it is that he’ll be in the earth three days and nights, not the two nights and one day that our church calendars allow.

Easter is a time for healing, as has been the focus for Godspace. My prayer for us all is that we take some Easter Saturday time and grieve for what we have lost and cope with our uncertainty about the future. I believe taking time out to acknowledge our grief before we move forward is one of the keys to healing and not just brushing things under the carpet. Let’s use Easter Saturday for, what I believe, God intended it.

Poem first published on 31st March 2018 on Aspirational Adventures.

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crucified get real good friday horrendous Jesus remember where would you be?

Good Friday!

Etching of crowded crucifixion scene by Nicolaes de Bruyn 17th C
17th Century etching of The Crucifixion (Matt. 27:55-56; Mark 15:40-41; John 19:25-27) by Nicolaes de Bruyn

I often wonder why we now associate Easter with eggs and rabbits in church as much as outside of church. I think it is because to accept the reality of what happened to Jesus on the cross is too horrific to bear. It is also easy to gloss over it because the gospel writers didn’t do a description of it, but that was because they didn’t need to go into descriptions of what it was like because their readership knew. Crucifixion was not something that only happened on Good Friday to Jesus and the two unnamed robbers either side of him. It was something that the readership of all the gospels would have seen on a regular basis. It was the Roman’s way of punishing and letting the local populace know what would happen to them if they disobeyed the might of the “Pax Romanus”. For those who fell foul of Roman it was a brutal. Again something that is often not explored.

But Jesus knew the horror of what he was walking towards. He talks of “carrying your cross” which again has become a nice sanitised sermon about setting out on a journey to “give up self”. I think when Jesus said about carrying your cross, him and his disciples had just walked past a row of dying people hung on crosses. Jesus was saying “are you willing to die a humiliating death for what is right and true?” It is the same as turning the other cheek. To carry one’s own cross does not mean that we defend ourselves, or even willing submit to giving up “ego” but that we let someone else have their way even if it is the wrong way to realise the greater good, or as Aslan said in “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” so we can “release the deeper magic.”

We need to remember that Jesus wasn’t all nicely wrapped up in loin cloth hanging serenely from the cross for all to see. He was beaten, crushed, naked and possibly with an erection because apparently when a man is in horrendous pain or when the body is wrenched as it would be on the cross the penis goes erect, which is a place of total humiliation. This is why the Romans did this. Not only did it kill slowly but was humiliating. It was not a nice death and Jesus opted in for this kind of death.

My husband shared a story – and I can’t find a link for it – about a church that makes a Jesus on the cross out of bread. From what I can remember of it they did a naked Jesus and when someone played the soldier who speared Jesus side he accidentally knocked off the bread penis. But that got me thinking about how high Jesus would have been from the ground for a grown man to be able to push is spear into Jesus’ side. I am thinking these crucified people would probably have been hanging just off the ground with their feet almost touching. I wonder if it is worse to be almost touching the ground rather than up high like Jesus is portrayed in many church renditions. I don’t think he was high up and able to see across everyone. Possibly when he spoke to his mother and to John he was only head and shoulders above them.

I’ve also wondered the bits in the Bible during the crucifixion where it says people didn’t understand what he said. Ok some of it was because he was slowly losing the power to breath as his lungs were stretched – another thing that we don’t talk about it in church. But also the site of the crucifixion was really busy with people. There would be those who were quietly weeping aas they watched their family members die hoping ot to be open grief probably did not happen because of fear of reprisals from the Romans. But there would also be the crowd who were there to jeer and catcall to make themselves look good in front of the Roman authorities. They would be wanting to heard saying how pleased they were that these people were being crucified. They were fitting in and covering their backs, denying association with those hanging there. Remember that when Jesus was crucified it was not a sombre religious occasion but something people were fearful of, were glad it was happening to someone else. It was humiliating! Horrendous!

Yes church talks of Jesus rejected and alone but do we really know how rejected and alone. And also how quickly we would probably be to fit in with the crowd rather than stand out say he was our friend and maybe be in the next lot to be crucified?

Crucifixion was crap, horrendous, brutal. I often wonder if that was why the early established church shortened the time from crucifixion to resurrection? So one doesn’t have to dwell on it for too long. Jesus says he’ll be in the belly of the earth three days [about 72 hours] and yet the church shortened it to two nights, about 36-40 hours in total. Half the time. Are we all too willing to brush over the horrors not just of what Jesus went through but of the horrors that goes on in our world now?

Perhaps today should be called “Horrendous Friday” not Good Friday. Though of course it is good Friday because we know what happens next so again maybe that’s why we gloss over the bad bits?