signs Slow down

Signs Part Two

Yesterday I spoke with my youth group about the Wisemen and about Signs and from that felt I had to do a follow on post from what my co-leader said. I love my youth group because there is no us and them but we all chatter away as equals, just some of us have been doing it longer than others!

Why did Herod’s chief priests not see the signs of Jesus’ birth? I think it was because they were too busy. They were trying to please Herod, fit in with the ruling powers, fit in with each other, do “the right thing”, and were following the status quo. Maybe too they didn’t want to look because it would unsettled the lifestyle that, even though they might not have been comfortable with, they were using all their energies to fit in to.

I think too often even if we don’t like something we try hard to fit in, to stay with it, because it is all we know. Too often we don’t get healed because this is all we know. There is a story where Jesus says to the blind man “what do you want?” and it is obvious. But actually it could have been that the man was used to his lifestyle and actually might have said cash. Peter and John, after Jesus’ resurrection, say to the crippled man “silver and gold we don’t have” as though maybe that was what it looked like he really wanted.

Last night got me thinking – how often are we too busy to look at the signs? Not because we don’t want to know what is happening but because we are too busy, carrying too much trauma, believing what we see and read on the news, on social media, from our friends. We allow our group, whether that is friendship group, church group, work environment, even our towns we live in and our good projects, to be where our energy goes. We do not sit back, slow down, gaze at the stars, try and put together what is the Universe saying, what is God saying.

Last night the comment was made about taking time out to pray to know what one was meant to do, but it was followed by the comment “and then we would find other projects to fill our time”. As if the whole point of clearing diaries, finding out what we were meant to be doing, was so that we could take a bit of time out before filling things up again. But really maybe we need to stop and just spend some time looking at the signs, and the going to worship the miracle God might just be doing that we are too busy, like Herod’s chief priests, to notice.

We need to not just slow down for a season but only walk out in what our hearts, the Universe, God our leading us into. Can we do it? Or will it fall to someone outside, as it did with the wisemen, to notice what is really happening? To come into alignment we need to go much slower.

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Going Deeper

I love this when I get bombarded by the same concept from different angles. I have been

Beddgelert where two waters meet and the pool is deep

challenged on this whole thing of cutting back and doing less, of focusing on my writing and of perfecting that. I am struggling with that too, especially with the mentoring angle. My mentor is awesome and patient. The problem is there is so much more to writing than writing. There is working out what I want to say then editing so that the piece I have says what I want to say and doesn’t treat my reader like they are stupid. I do  have a tendency to either overstate or understate. So either my reader gets the same message twice or it is so vague they have no idea what I’m saying (NB here I have overstated 🙂 ) But actually this is what going deeper is about.

On Sunday 10th February the Bible reading was from Luke 5:1-11 where Jesus tells Simon to “Put out into deeper water and let down your nets” The fishermen then catch a huge pile of fish and Simon and others are so amazed they leave everything and follow Jesus. Well our minister that morning preached on that. What struck me was that for me deeper water is cutting back, being available for friends, getting my writing polished, being about for my Airbnb guests, etc. But it is about cutting back, doing less, being more focused on what I do. It also means that I get more downtime than I did last year when I was rushing about doing 101 things. It means I have time to chat to the people I see whilst dog walking, can arrange coffee with friends around their schedule, etc. And in the end will lead to catching more fish rather than lots of small catches.

So going deeper for me is about doing less.

Just as I am accepting this I get it from another angle. My mentor said she was reading

Oyster catchers on Conwy Beach – imperfect Feb sunshine 

about “wabi sabi” – the acceptance of life being transient and imperfect. So being me I got a book out about it. Well I’ve only got as far as the first chapter which is talking about having to slow down to be able to notice the imperfect and enjoy it, to notice that things are transient. It cannot be done at going fast and looking for something to make me better.

So I must make my writing the best it can be not for my ego to be massaged but because I can.  But to do that I must slow down and give it time. I must “smell the roses” so to speak. I must enjoy life even the bits that are crap.

I know I have blogged on this before but if I am to say “The joy of the Lord is my strength” I cannot have it just in the bits where life is going well. I need to find that joy when life isn’t going well. And I believe one of those ways is to slow down, go deeper and have time to accept the imperfections and transient-ness of life.

Lie in Slow down The Week

Waking Early

I love the magazine The Week. My news comes from The Week’s weekly’ round up, a daily Guardian email and either Mock The Week or Have I Got News For You on BBC.  The Week is my Friday read, either lunch time or the evening. I go from cover to cover. But this week The Week’s editorial annoyed me.

There has been an interesting bit of research that suggests that women who get up early are less likely to get breast cancer than women who don’t get up early. Joylon, the editor of The Week, appeared to get a bit up tight and to say that these women who got up early were not getting enough sleep and should “have a lie in”. The reason it riled me was

Wake when you are ready

because I am an early rise. I have no reason to get up early, no job to rush off to, no kids to get up, but every morning without fail I wake between 5.30-6,30. There is nothing I can do about it. Do I get enough sleep? I hope so because most nights my light is out by 10-10.30pm. I am not up late trying to get lots of things done. I just have a body that wakes naturally early. I repeat there is nothing I can do about it.

For most of my life I have been an early riser. There have been times in my life where it may not have looked like I was but that was because I have been awake in the night for a few hours and was having to catch up. Yes I have had those times when I have not had enough sleep. I used to be a barmaid – though that was in the good old days when pubs rang last orders at 10.50 and called time at 11pm – and would not get home till gone midnight and still wake early.

My son’s sleep pattern is like clockwork. I’m not sure what time he now goes to bed because he doesn’t live with me, but the times he comes to stay he is still up between 7-7.30 just like he used to be as a child. My daughter on the other hand is a late riser. As a baby and a young child she never slept, or so it seemed and could be wake until  10pm or later then awake at 5.30.body clock She was not a child that slept for 10-12 hours but got in her 7 and that was enough for her for then. But when she hit her teenage years she got the hang of sleeping and made up for it. She can now sleep from 10-10 if need be. She can get up at 7 if she needs to for work but her natural waking time is after 9 and probably nearer 10. My husband very rarely comes to bed with me. Preferring to be up and doing things till gone 11 but even on a working day is not up before 7,30 and when he can let his body clock rule him he will not rise till after 8.30.

So there maybe those super-heroes who try to survive on 4-5 hours sleep, and maybe they can do alright even if the studies say we all should sleep for more. There maybe those who try to pack lots into their day and so set alarms for earlier so they can do. Yes I do hear of writers who are advised to get up an hour earlier to fit in their writing around a busy schedule. I must say, even though I love to write in these early hours before the world begins, I do not think it wise to push for it unless your body clock works that way. I know it can be hard to fit in all that you want to do in a day but I think that often it is better to do less with quality than too much without that depth.

So maybe Joylon is correct in saying “lie in” but I think that is only true if those people are trying to fit too much into their day. I think “SLOW DOWN” would be a better shout. Slow-down.jpgCut out some of those things that fill your day. I worry now when I see children doing lots of after school classes and getting very little down time, very little time to just be bored. They maybe getting in their 8 hours plus sleep but they are  not getting any down time in the either day.

So don’t criticise or praise those of us who get up early. Each of us needs to look to ourselves and work out what we really need to be doing with our day. Wisely doesn’t mean filling it full of “meaningful” things but making sure we all have that right ebb and flow of doing and just chilling out.

accepting Archemides belief change Change the world connected creativity friendship hope Kate Tempest life meditation mindfulness pagan peace prayer relational Richard Rohr Slow down trust two-way waiting

“everything begins in mysticism and ends in politics”

I read this quote this morning in Richard Rohr’s daily meditations. It’s from Charles quote-everything-begins-in-mysticism-and-ends-in-politics-charles-peguy-70-49-53PĂ©guy (1873–1914), who was a French poet and essayist. Also this morning in the Guardian online I read this from Julia Gillard, who was the first woman Prime Minster of Australia, “the rapid media cycle combined with social media had disrupted the rhythm of politics and the perception of politicians.”

What’s wrong with the world today?” we often hear cry. In fact I was at a meeting talking about doing things with young people and that it is getting harder and harder because their attention spans are becoming shorter – and of course social media took the blame. Is it to blame? Or is it more along the lines of the fact that we have come to accept it and not challenge it. I’m not saying switch it off but I am saying that we need to fit in the mysticism, the praying, the meditation, the thinking about things. We see top level tweet-research-lengthcouncil and government meetings tweeted about as soon as we happen. Donald Trump has bought into the whole social media/tweeting in such a way that he appears to just tweet away so he can keep “in touch” but so much of what he says is rubbish and not even spell checked. As yet our politicians over here have not bought in to it but will that only be a matter of time?

But each of us needs to change this too. We need to slow down and to think. We need to change our worlds but being more meditative before we act. There is a rise in meditation and mindfulness but that seems to me to be in a recreation box not in a “let’s ponder before we act” box. As the general public we need to stop wanting a quick answer to things. And yes public enquiries can take too long – as with Hillsborough – but also answers can be wanted too quickly.

We live in a world that wants answers and wants them now. Human beings have always wanted to know the whys and wherefores of everything but at one time that had to come verucaabout slowly, could not be broadcast the moment someone had had a pondering thought. A lot of what we hear and read is more of a thought than a decision. Decisions come with time, with thought, with tapping into something greater than. And yes I think whether Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jew, Pagan, Agnostic, Atheist, or any of the other religions etc that I have missed out, all want to tap into something more than themselves, whether that is a God, gods, inner self, counsellors, friends, or anything else. But that takes time. It cannot be done in a moment, in 144 characters.

To be able to change this world we need to take time, need to as Kate Tempest said “look at the faces” and “see peace in the faces”. Peace and hope and knowing where to stand. The catchphrase/gateway to silence/meditation point with Richard Rohr this week is “Give me a lever and a place to stand” – based on how Archimedes believed that a lever put in the correct place on the correct fulcrum in space could move the world. For me 13948111896_7fc79a239dthis has set me off on thinking about where is the lever I’m meant to be standing on, where is the correct place for me to stand and what in my world am I changing. Being the person I am it is hard for me to stop and think and wonder about that. I do want to be rushing about doing but I know that I will not know where it is unless I spend time praying, pondering, journaling, talking to friends, reading, watching, thinking and then …

So to change this world, to see the peace in people’s faces, to really know what is going on and what people think about it we need to slow down, to move into meditation not as a place so we can sleep more but as a place where we can become more effective. We need to also stop expecting our leaders to give us answers now.

16137685007_6dd7e27e5f_zGive me a lever and a place to stand