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End of the year Liminal space

Last Post of 2021

A bare tree with a waterfall behind it 
photographed by Diane Woodrow
Aber Falls Dec 27th 2021 taken by myself

I love this time of year, that liminal space between family Christmas and the start of the new year. A time when meals are inventive because food needs to be eaten before it goes off but it is a challenge to work out what goes with what. The buzz of a house full of family is over, but it is too soon yet to take down decoration. My head wants to start tidying and organising for the new year but with the decorations still up there is only so much I can do, and also my head is enjoying this liminal time.

Though as I write this my lovely husband may is still off work, but he is working for me during this “down time”. I was offered a project which to do with making a historic walking map of a local village. He is much more skilled in route planning on a map than me so is doing an amazing job getting my project to a place where I can then add in the historic content.

With this project and another project from last year sitting and waiting to be completed, and then other writing projects in the air, I am trying to sort out some kind of schedule for the new year but trying to to hold it lightly because who knows what 2022 will bring.

But also because this, for me, is a liminal in-between time, where I know the days are getting longer but it is raining hard and so this extra daylight is hard to notice, but also like I say I can’t quite get organised because of the decorations still being up and the fridge still needing to be emptied, I can only think, ponder and wait until Monday when things roll properly into 2022.

I remember when I used to work in bars before I had children this time between Christmas celebrations and New Year’s Eve was always a fraught time, where tensions were high and anticlimax loomed. I do think to hold this time wisely one needs to accept that, even if one is working, this is still an in-between place where routines are still out of sorts. And for most of us this is what the last nearly 2 years have been – a time when we are stilling in a liminal space waiting to get back to some sort of routine.

Will 2022 allow us to get back into some sort of routine? Who knows. But I know that I will do my best to carve out my own rough routine day by day, week by week, month by month, holding each and every part of that schedule lightly and trusting that someone/something greater than me knows best

Categories
Feel the seasons solstice

Winter Solstice

This post first appeared on https://godspacelight.com/2021/12/21/winter-solstice/

view of sunrise across a field photographed by Diane Woodrow
Sunrise photographed by myself on a morning dog walk

I wrote an article during our “lockdown Christmas” last year about my feelings regarding winter and slowing down. I also wrote an article in 2017 about the Winter Solstice and how the sun stands still for the few days from solstice to Christmas day. So it looks as if I have a bit of an affinity with this time of year.

I do love the roll into winter. I love the ways the days get rapidly shorter and I have to rethink my dog walking times because by 4pm it isn’t fun to walk around the park. Though I also love that if I can get out before 7.30am I can watch the sun rise over the trees in the park. This is a time when I just pray out loud giving glory to God. Christine talked about the Wow factor of Advent and for me every sunrise is a “Wow!” factor.

This morning I was blown away by starting my walk only lit by street-lighting, but then seeing the clouds start to get tinged with light and come into definition. Even though the sun still hadn’t fully risen by the time I got home the world had come into definition. That to me is so awesome. It truly is “new every morning” and I can then remember “Great is his faithfulness” [Lamentations 3:23] So no matter what my mood when I start my walk I come to a place of being with God and giving my morning over before I return home.

I noticed this last year and again this year, people are putting their outdoor Christmas lights on earlier and earlier. I know some of it has been said that because with the pandemic, and other things, life is bleak so people need lights, but the posts by Liz of Pocket Fuel have made me think. In the daily emails for the first week of December she explored how we seem to no longer embrace the darkness as our ancestors would have and how from that we miss out on things – like trusting God in the darkness.

It got me thinking about our ancestors, and I’m talking pre-Industrial revolution, would use the winter season was a time for gathering the family, of sharing the tales that made up their culture. This is when the stories were retold about heroes, monsters, family history, how the earth came into being, etc. But now we have made the winter, especially this run up to Christmas so busy, whether that is rushing round buying, partying, Church services. It is all busy, busy, busy, when in fact our bodies are crying out for us to slow down and the next generation needs to hear our stories, our history, our faith tales.

I am lucky in that in my freelancing work I have being healed of the need to see planning and money as the driving force and have moved more into trusting God to provide so I am more able to roll with the seasons and the daylight hours. But I still have had to think through how not to get sucked into being busy in church, feeling guilty for not saying Yes to everything, for making a quieter way. It isn’t easy. It is countercultural. It takes focus but I was trying.

So as I allow this season and this shortest day to enfold me I listen to my heart – because it is my heart that connects me with God – and then ask my heart what it is thinking and feeling. I breath and pray and then feel safe. And I also want to learn all this so I can take the slowness of the darker season into the spring and summer.

Categories
change Storm

Storms!

Above are a selection of images of a local beach, local park and local roads on or before the storms passed through. Unfortunately I haven’t taken any of the storm damage in my park

I was lead in the bed this morning listening to the last of Storm Barra singing through the telephone wires. And it got me thinking about not just the recent storm but storms in general and our reaction to them.

We’ve been living here for nearly 6 years and Storm Arwen, ten days ago, was the most destructive storm we’ve witnessed. There have been a catalogue of trees we know of and areas that are well know where devastation has been wrecked. It even stopped filming at the I’m a Celebrity site over the road from us. It was fierce. As I walked the park with a friend who is born and bred her she was grieving the loss of trees that had been there since she was a child. She even remembered climbing in one of the three that had fallen. But I got to wondering how we see things as destruction when in fact they are there for change, for space for something new. Perhaps that is true with other things too; projects, ways of doing things, ways of church, of government and even of people.

There was much talk at some point during this pandemic of this being a time to change the way we did things, but from what I see the old has not been allowed to die even though it is swaying wildly in the wind. Those who feel safe with it, who have known it for so long, want to keep it there, are not ready to mourn its passing.

But then it is easy, almost, to be critical of wider things like church structure, governmental structures, capitalism, etc etc, but what about me? What in me and what I do am I keeping alive when I should let it die? I have a post which will be published on Godspace on 21st December which looks at the darkness and I think this might be the prequel or sequel, or just another part of, looking rethinking me.

Are we each willing to look at ourselves and see what we need to let fall to the ground, to let go of, even if for now it is beautiful, offers protection and shelter – as using the tree analogy? Or am I happier to sit back, talk about how “they” should change rather than look at me?

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christmas Joseph

Joseph

Photo by Burkay Canatar on Pexels.com

Who is your favourite person in the Christmas story? Mine is Joseph. I think Joseph was one of the most amazing people in the Christmas story and we hear so little about him. Here was a man who willingly gave up his life, his reputation, his livelihood and even his family to look after Mary and the promised child. We know he gave up his family because when he arrived in Bethlehem for the census a culture that is known for its hospitality did not have room for a relation and his pregnant wife. Part of the story we don’t get in our closed nuclear family world of today. But it was something that those few words that spoke of “no room” would have spoken to the audience it was written for.

I wonder how God showed up to Joseph. It could not have been full on angel vision with lots of trumpets and things because the whole town would have known and would have believed. Again we can so easily forget the way towns were in those days and how doors were open and everyone lived on top of each other, knew each other’s business, and didn’t have to put up with all the noise and light pollution we have just got used to. Though again with that in mind I wonder how Mary spoke with the angel and was impregnated. Probably much more subtly than we could imagine.

Anyway God managed to find a way to speak with Joseph in way he understand, listened to and believed, which caused Joseph change his mind about divorcing Mary and leaving her to possible stoning to totally looking after her. He took her with him to Bethlehem even though she was heavily pregnant. He would have already presumed that his family there would not welcome him in because news would have reached them that this girl was pregnant before they had wed. But by taking her he protected her from any harm that may have befallen her back in Nazareth. He was then being willing to move down to the Jewish community in Egypt to save the life of this child that wasn’t his.

Would we have been able to do this? To give up all including our reputation for something we don’t know to be fully real? But also why do we not honour Joseph in the way he should be? Why is he such a minor character? I think there needs to be more sermons focused on Joseph and the understated, Godly way he behaved as an example to us all.