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Higher Path walk

Choosing Pathways

With all the talk of the war in Ukraine and it being hard to forget it I thought I would show you some pictures my walks over the weekend just for a change of focus.

My husband was away for the weekend so the dog and I were home alone and the sun was shining. I wanted to go to Newborough Forest and beach. My daughter and I had been there two years ago just before words like pandemic and lockdown became common place. The weather was similar this weekend to the one two years ago and I really wanted to go, yet I realised I was nervous. Nervous of driving 40 miles to Newborough. Guilty that there are lovely places closer to me. But my heart was really craving to go.

So on Saturday I tried to make my heart change its mind by going for a walk by the sea. It was only 10 miles from my house and I combined it with a trip to get some colour charts to repaint rooms in my house. So fear and guilt were dealt with there, and also dog and I got to walk by the sea and enjoy.

Interestingly on that Saturday walk due to the battering the shore has received in recent months we could not go on our usual walk but had to take the newly constructed coastal path which took us higher up and so the view was different. Noticeably different.

But it wasn’t what my heart wanted and so on Sunday morning I gave in and decided to go. I was amazed at how nervous I felt. I can easily drive 40 miles without thinking about it yet something was nagging at me. I really had time to pray about some of my older friends who have been doing nothing since March 2020. Once their stimulation of going to groups, clubs, shopping, driving places, interacting with others was taken away their brains and bodies have reacted. For one it has moved her dementia forward quicker than if she’d still had that stimulation. For another it has caused her body to stop wanting to eat and she is exhibiting signs of anorexia. Fears and anxieties have grown in others where before they could have talked them through with someone else. So even though I could feel my stomach churning I decided to keep driving. Newborough was where I wanted to go.

Of course dog and I had a lovely time but even there due to the rain and winds we did not find the same paths and had to go a different way, which again led us to a higher path. Once again we were looking down on something we had walked along before. We walked for 2 1/2 hours, probably about 7 miles. And the sun shone all the time. I am glad I pushed through and did not let my fears and guilts and anxieties win the day.

As as you see on each walk I found a higher path. I feel there is something significant in that. I had to push down fears that would have made me pick somewhere else, and in fact even in my trying to pick somewhere else still I walked along a higher path. So maybe it isn’t whether I deal with my fears or stick to the easier way that will lead me to a higher path? But whatever it is I know I need to overcome my fears and push through.

With the way the last three years have gone – with Brexit, Covid and now Ukraine, plus climate change, rising prices, etc, etc, etc – there are a lot of things to be fearful of. Yet I think after my weekend walks that we need to push through our fears and walk that higher path – however that looks to each one of us.

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peace Russia Ukraine

Thoughts For Sunday

Photograph by Diane Woodrow
Is it a path or isn’t it? Taken by myself March 2022

I read both these blogs yesterday and wanted to share them as I feel they are both saying similar things – as in God having good plans for us but at times it might not look like it, but we need to walk out in a calm trusting way.

“This is an urgent time and the task of the Christian is to learn how to maintain that urgency without getting panicked, to stay on our toes without caving into the culture. This is not a benign culture where everything is going to be fine. Everything is not going to be fine.”

by Eugene Peterson shared on Jon Kuhrt’s blog for Saturday March 5th 2022

Jon then goes on to share all of Habakkuk because, he says he has “heard echoes of Habakkuk’s conviction and faithfulness in the face of overwhelming challenge in many of the voices of ordinary Ukrainians in the past week.”

Then in Godspace’s post for March 4th by Kathie Hempel she shares thoughts from Jeremiah about not letting “the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 29:8-9 NIV)” and of how when Jeremiah says “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” These people then had another 70 years of hardships to endure. It was not a quick fix.

For me both of these blogs are reminding us to stay close to God, keep listening rather than talking [meditating rather than praying], and trusting. My husband read “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour.” from the end of Habakkuk at his dad’s funeral. It isn’t an easy portion to read when something awful is going on.

My prayers are that those in Ukraine and Russia and all across the world where awful things are happening can hold on to God, stay aligned with God through the awfulness they are going through and somehow find peace, trust and to remain faithful to something greater than their situation.

Categories
change Flexible

Flexibility

Photo taken by Diane Woodrow walking by the sea at Rhyl, of birds flying into the air together over the incoming tide
Rhyl Blue Bridge Feb 2022

Flexibility or the ability to go with the flow is so important in this journey towards being aligned.

Things to change. Nothing stays the same. As someone said “the only thing we can be certain of in this world is change”. But if we are flowing in alignment then we do not need to fear change because we are not being pulled by others, by media, by fears, by circumstances.

Take these birds. When I got my phone out to take a photo of them they were all calmly sitting on the sandbank, but at this point the incoming tide had sent a wave over the sandbank so they took off in flight. That is because they are flexible. Yes they have moved with the circumstances of the incoming tide. They have not got boundaries so fixed that they will remain on that sandbank no matter what, but are willing to go with the tides.

Interesting keeping on the subject of birds being flexible and staying aligned with what is going on. Very early into lockdown, when people were not getting takeaways or going to the office and eating the park, the seagulls here took to fishing back out at sea again. But now that people are out, that there is more food litter, they are back in the parks, on the sea front – and one even swiped the top off my husband’s ice cream on Sunday afternoon. They are not working on fixed boundaries but are aligned with what is going on in the wider world.

But to do this one does need to slow down a bit, to listen to one’s heart, to wait and see. When one is reacting rather than flowing with each change and event, and not listening to the bigger picture, there is a lot of tension, a lot of boundaries being put up but very little flow. And very little peace.

Also, I believe, that each of us needs to listen to what God/The Universe is telling us which could be different to what someone else is saying. Whether it is to do with personal situations or world situations we need to slow down, wait on the bigger picture, and then move.

Interestingly waiting doesn’t need to take long. Like with the lockdown seagulls they soon understood the change and knew how to stay alive.

We need to listen to what God/The Universe is saying to us rather than keep being drawn into what the media tells us.

Categories
Focus priorities

Who Guides Our Priorities?

Photo taken by Diane Woodrow at end of Feb 2022 Taken whilst she was walking on a Saturday morning with her dog
Morfa Conwy Feb 2022

How often have you wondered who guides what you priorities? What you focus on? What you worry most about?

Today there is much talk across the Christian community of Ash Wednesday being a day of prayer for Ukraine, which is great. It really is. But what about the other things? But if I dig a bit on various news-feeds I read about ethnic inequalities, massive inflation across the world, there is still a climate crisis, there are still people being persecuted in Afghanistan, Nigeria, Myanmar, and still people dying from Covid across the world. But it is hard to find out any other news.

I remember back in September 2011 when the twin towers were destroyed and all focus on was on them. A friend who worked with orphans in Africa said more children had died of starvation and AIDS in one day than had died in the twin towers. Or when Princess Diana was killed in a car accident the pastor of the church I was attending at that time asking us to pray for all the other people who had died in car accidents that night who would be lost under the media coverage of her death.

Don’t get me wrong, I do think this situation in Ukraine is awful as was the Twin Towers disaster, but I do think too often we then forget other things. We forget had forgotten that there had been Russian oppression in parts of Ukraine for over 10 years because the media got bored and turned us to other things. We get bored of hearing the same thing day in day out.

We are fickle human beings and, I believe, more so now with 24 hour news, internet access, etc. I think too that if this conflict in Ukraine hits a point where there are no big headlines we will move on to something else.

Is it that we don’t care? I don’t believe that at all. But I do think it is because when we are bombarded with news and information day in day out our brains cannot cope so we shut off. And then the media needs to keep us watching the news, reading papers, scrolling through the internet, because they earn money that way. So they will find us the next thing to be drawn into, the next thing to worry about, the next thing that we give our money to.

This isn’t wrong but it is just the way it is. Can we change? Maybe this is about again looking at aligning with God, with the Universe and fixing on that and being willing to go for whatever we are called to for the long haul – which is hard.

Are you, am I, willing to take time out and find out what my true focus is or am I, are you, going to be swayed by the winds of the world?

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

James 1:5-7
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Shrove Tuesday spring St David's Day

1st March – St David’s Day

Today is St David’s Day – the patron saint of Wales. It is also Shrove Tuesday or Pancake day – the start of Lent in the Christian calendar, at least in the West. And it is the start of Spring. I have also decided that I am going to try my hardest and post one blog post every month. I had read in WordPress’ newsletter that there had been a Bloganuary, which I’d missed. But then I have never been good at doing things when other people did. I never do my month of non-alcoholic drinking during SoberOctober but pick another time period. When I was young and my friends were all going to see some film that was raved about I wouldn’t go, just because it was popular!!! So starting yesterday I’m going to attempt daily postings for a month. I do have 12 prompts all ready to go.

So today’s key days – St David, Shrove Tuesday and 1st day of Spring – are a mix of joy and grief days, especially Shrove Tuesday. This was a day when any of the good food stuffs were still in the store cupboard after a long winter would be made into a meal and eaten in preparation for the fasting of Lent. So it was a celebratory day knowing that for the next 40 days [excluding Sundays and Saint’s days] there would be fasting so hearts would be sorted to remember the crucifixion of Jesus.

As I typed that I was wondering how much easier things would be if we could prepare ourselves for a time of grief or conflict. What if we’d knowing just over 2 years ago that there would be this world shattering pandemic? What would we have done in preparation? How would we have sorted out our hearts? With this with the Russian invasion – which some say was coming for a while – how should we have prepared our hearts?

Do we ever think to prepare our hearts or do we just rushing into things reacting? Did people take life slower in some bygone age? With the times of Lent and Advent one does wonder if they did. I know with both Lent and Advent that is a time of remembering rather than and event happening so that is the difference. That at the time when these periods of mourning were set in place much of Europe was tearing itself apart with war after war after war.

Pick any period in history and some country was invading some other country, some people group was fighting some other people group. This that we are enduring is NOT new. It is just that we have been able to ignore it for a long time because, apart from the Balkan war in the 1990s there has been no fighting in European soil since 1945. But if one looks across the rest of the world even during the 22 years of this century someone is fighting someone whether governments or so called rebel forces or whatever. Sadly also today in 1954 the US tested a 15 megatonne bomb – 15 times more powerful than the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima – in the Pacific archipelago of Bikini. So may be we should be preparing our hearts more.

But also this is the time to celebrate the legend of St David. He was pretty amazing, pretty fearless and I do wonder if, even though he did not know what would happen next,he had his heart always prepared, facing towards God and the mighty power the being aligned with the Creator of the Universe.

So how do we do that? I’ve got some prompt that I’ll hopefully get to over the next month but I think firstly it is to slow things down, to wait and not react – whether that is to what we read in the news, in personal affairs, in the things we do – so that when we do move we can move wholeheartedly trusting in ourselves and that we are in alignment with the Universe and not – as Putin seems to be doing – working against the good of mankind as a whole.