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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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100newwalks 2020 2020 goals 2021 kindness walking walking the dog

2020 Goals – #100walks

This was both our first walk for 2020 and our first walk for 2021. In 2020 we did this walk for the first time and then decided yesterday to repeat it.

At the start of 2020 I decided not to set any new year resolutions but to have goals which would challenge me but feel attainable. Little did I know!!

I walk every day, often twice or three times a day, with my little dog. It is usually the same route – down our street, into the park or along the beach, and sometimes up into the woods behind us. So I thought at the start of 2020 I would challenge myself to, at least once a week, look for a new walk myself and then on the weekends dog and I could go for a new walk with my husband. We even had a jar that we had filled with walk suggestions, and planned to add to during the year. Well then Covid-19 struck and lockdown and the five mile rule, where we couldn’t go further than 5 miles from home to exercise, and were encouraged to not drive at all. For over three months we walked lots but always over the six similar routes. Then come October I fell of the horse and bruised my ribs and wasn’t able to drive so, once I was able to get back walking, it was back to those same regular walks. So we did lose about half the year! Also I found that even when lockdowns lifted we were lethargic and didn’t pull out any of those suggested walks in the jar because we wanted to go back to tried and trusted ones that were not too far away.

But in fact we did add to our list of local walks, and explored new places on those three times we were able to get away, So even with all the disruptions we did manage to do 48 new walks, all recorded on Instagram. I am pleased with this because even though the goal was not achieved this year, in a “normal” year it would be doable.

But through it I have learned something – that when things are tough we do need the familiar because sometimes doing something new is too much to have to think and plan. And you know what? That is alright. So I will be kind to myself that I didn’t achieve this goal and will look forward to this year. Even though I have not set a walking goal I will still count the new walks I do and see what happens.

I suppose my biggest achievement I have learned from this walking goal challenge is a great understanding of myself – which is not a bad thing.

Categories
accepting grief kindness resolutions uncertain

Change in Friendship

dscn0828I realised yesterday that I am grieving the loss of a friend. Not one who had died but one that was moving away. Since I moved to this town this person has been key in who I am and what I do here in my church life. She has spurred me on, stood by me when I’ve stepped out, filled in the gaps when they’ve needed filling. She isn’t the only but she has been one of the strong pillars that have given me the encouragement I have needed to step out. She is now doing, what I have done many times before, and is moving to another town.

I must be totally honest and say I am grieving. It isn’t the same as when someone has died, but it is a profound sadness. Things will not be the same. And if I am honest, I am not sure if I am brave enough to step out and do things without her. There is a team and it hasn’t just been me and her. Each of us has our role and our part but the part she filled will not be filled by anyone else. At least not in the team that is there. Things will shift. DSCN0826 (1)Things will change.

When I gave up a voluntary position recently I was sad and grouchy, similar to this. A wise friend told me to remember that, even though I chose to give up the role, I was grieving its loss. So even though I know that this friend is doing the right thing by moving I will still mourn her not being here any more.

One of my new year resolutions was to be kind to myself. I need to keep revisiting this. In fact I need to keep revisiting a lot of my resolutions – like the no meat, no dairy, no alcohol. All of which I have “failed” but I will keep going back to giving them another go but maybe not with that whole vigor of “a whole month of …” With each of the giving ups I have to keep revisiting and trying for just today. The same goes with the whole thing of being kind to myself. I need to remember that I am grieving and that I did struggle with the party for my friend last night because I didn’t want to be there.

sunset hands love woman
Photo by Stokpic on Pexels.com

So I will be kind and admit I’m grieving for the loss and change. Don’t tell me she is only an email away. It still means she won’t be at the next prayer day/in the next discussion for the next play/etc. The friendship will have change. And I will have to go through my stages of grief. And if at times it means I’m grumpy and out of sorts then I must be kind to me and let it be