The wonder of being brought, by God, around a corner and to realize a new road is opening up, perhaps—which He alone knows. And that there is no way of traveling it but in Christ and with Him. This is joy and peace—whatever happens. The result does not matter. I have something to do for Him and, if I do that, everything else will follow. —
A Search for Solitude: Pursuing the Monk’s True Life, January 23 and 24, 1958
I go through phases of taking photos of the same thing. Paths have been an ongoing theme. I love the nature of paths. The way they lead you onward and how much one puts ones trust in a path. I think this is why this quote jumped out at me. And the whole thing of being at the start of another year, and my husband had said about someone he follows on Facebook had said about a bend in the road.
But it is Merton’s joy that comes through here about the wonder of a new road. With all the changes that have been going on since the start of the pandemic, which for us in the UK was March 2020, we are tired on new roads. We are tired of walking roads we have no map for. We really do not want to go round another corner and see something new opening up.
Yet Merton talks of wonder and trust, of joy, and of not worrying about the results. And whatever our religious beliefs most of us do fight worry, which the media encourages.
I wonder how different life would feel if instead of being fearful about the new road, instead of hoping the new road will be similar to something we knew, we could step out in joy and wonder, in trust of each other and something bigger than ourselves, not fearing what is to come, letting go of needing to control the situation.
I’m not talking of not doing anything about the injustices of the world, or ignoring climate change, or pretending everything in the garden is rosy. I’m talking about having eyes that are open about what is going on and of wanting to do something to change, but in a joyful, wonder-filled, trusting way
I think we would feel more peaceful, many of our nations mental health worries would ease, and I do wonder if actually we would then have more energy and confidence to really change things instead of living in fear?
There was a phrase that I heard many times when I first committed to walking out the Christian faith which was about being “blown by the Holy Spirit”. The way it was taught was that God would send the Holy Spirit which would take us wherever God wanted. In my thinking that meant to other countries, off on mission, etc, etc. But now, as I progress in this journey, I wonder if it is much more an internal things – that I need to let God’s Holy Spirit guide me in my thinking, my ways of doing things, and just the general day to day.
Each moment of my day I should be “blown by the Spirit” [and I wish I could find the actual bible verses that this is from] not just in the big things of life. In fact I do now wonder if too often many of us have missed out on the ordinary because we have been waiting for the extraordinary.
This came to me the other morning as I was pondering about things for this new year. I wanted to be true to my Freelance calling. So, as I do each morning, after doing yoga with the cat [who is often more enthusiastic than I am about it], I sat calmly on my mat and held my work projects in my open hands, along with the rest of the year. I gave up these projects, and all future ones, to God/to the Universe to do with as they willed, and without thinking asked God to blow them as the Spirit willed.
Oh my word! It was the most releasing of experiences. Suddenly I was freed from any burden of them. Suddenly I was free of having to “get them right” and was able to just let them go, to sit lightly with them.
There have been one or two issues with them since that day and at times I have forgotten that I’ve given them to be “blown by the Spirit”. But each time I remember that these projects aren’t mine to hold tightly but are gifts to use my talents in executing I am able to let them be “blown by the Spirit”.
There is such a freedom in that and I am seeing as well as a peace coming from that, also doors opening.
What do you think of when you think of “The Three Wise Men”? Are they those guys who get slide into the nativity scene in church just before things get cleared away at the end of the Christmas season? Do you see them as three or more or what? Why did only the gospel of Matthew mention them? Why didn’t Luke with is boasts that he then makes in The Book of Acts about writing a true historic account in the both his gospel and part two?
I seem to be drawn to the Wise men/the three kings as I’ve written other posts about them, even one on this site last year. So I thought I’d check them out a bit more. Now I’d been told at some sermon somewhere that they were possibly Zoroastrians and I found some interesting stuff on this website, http://www.religioustolerance.org/zoroastr.htm, which might explain why Matthew, who was allegedly writing to help the Jewish people understand Jesus, includes them. The site says
With the exception of religious conservatives, most religious historians believe the the Jewish, Christian and Muslim beliefs concerning God and Satan, the soul, heaven and hell, the virgin birth of the savior, the slaughter of the innocents, resurrection, the final judgment, etc. were all derived from Zoroastrianism.
These men did not just use astrology to show that the birth of the Son of God had been predicted in the heavens but also were able to connect in the virgin birth and also resurrection, not to mention the way Herod chose to slaughter the innocents.
Matthew’s gospel starts with the genealogy of Jesus, which includes the women in his line, Joseph’s acceptance of who Jesus was, the visit by the Magi, the escape to Egypt and the slaughter of the innocents. When looked at in the light of the above quote about the Zoroastrians it looks very much as if Matthew is speaking to those who would have known this. I feel that he is saying to show how big this whole birth of Jesus is and how inclusive. It includes women; it includes accepting the miraculous; it includes deep grief too.
How often do we want to include grief in the wonder of Jesus being born? But it is a fact of life. I won’t expand on that because there have been some good posts in https://godspacelight.com/ that you can search for. But I think it is one of the amazing things that Matthew makes us aware of, if we look properly, that the miraculous and grief sit hand in hand. This is part of the inclusivity of things. It isn’t just to include men and women, people of various colours, nations, sexualities, and more but it is to include all the range of emotions from joy to grief. If we look properly we can see this as yet another miracle. God doesn’t get rid of certain emotions and life events but knows and understands and walks with us in them.
So as we enter 2022, for many after the last two years with trepidation and uncertainty, with anxiety and fear, let us remember that Jesus was born into this, that God understands this, that we are not walking in alone.
And I’ll end with a prayer one of the characters says towards the end of the Netflix film “Don’t Look Up” which I saw on Jon Kuhrt’s blog the other day, which I think is worth holding on to as we enter this unknown year which will be filled with miracles and grief and all points in between.
Dearest Father and Almighty Creator,
We ask for your grace tonight, despite our pride
Your forgiveness, despite our doubt
Most of all Lord, we ask for you love to sooth us through these dark times
May we face whatever is to come in your divine will.
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?
About three weeks ago I had a QEC session and my counselor challenged me on journaling. She said it was like putting all your stuff in the rubbish bin and then going back to check what you’d put it. I have journaled on and off for most of my writing life. I would say that it is where I explore my thoughts and feelings and with my pen come up with a plan for what to do with what I feel. Her challenge was that a feeling is a feeling and a situation is a situation but that with QEC we’re putting new beliefs into my world about how I am.
I have been going off on walks, just me and my dog, to places where I won’t see people to chat to, and I write. Some of which I have written up and can be found on My Writing page under the heading Artist’s Date Inspirations. From these random writings I come up with interesting realisations.
Yesterday I had been upset by something and reached for my journal to unload but stopped myself. I decided instead to use a postcard and write a short story which I have called “Autumn Foretells”.
. Through this I was able to vent how I felt, explore thoughts and ideas and come to a point of being calm and relaxed. It is an interesting story and can be found on My Writings if you wish to read it. Note it is not true
So I did not look back through past events, did not explore how I felt and why, but took myself off on a creative writing route that did not “look through the garbage” and I felt much fresher and freer afterwards.
I must say when my counselor mentioned I did only slightly agree with her and also did not want to break a habit of a life time. But of course that is what QEC is all about – breaking those life time habits that we have brought up so we can be free to truly be.
Godspace there of Gearing Up For A New Season got me thinking about what that means to me.
At the moment none of us really knows what this New Season will look like. With global warming our seasons are all over the place. Over the last month here in North Wales we have gone from 17C to 32C and now it is 13C. The only type of weather we haven’t had over July is snow, but we’ve had blistering heat, pouring rain, hail, funnel winds, and gentle sunshine too.
At one time when schools restarted the pupils would have had time at the end of the last term to go check out their new classes or new schools and have met their teachers and even started making friends, and be prepared for their new season. But due to covid many were isolated before the end of term, or discouraged to be anywhere other than in their regular classrooms.
For me personally I can feel a new season starting. Since published The Little Yellow Boat I’m being called a professional writer, which has led to me being paid to become part of a long term youth project. I am also setting aside regular times to write, both in my beautiful study or out on walks. Yesterday I went to the place in the picture and wrote.
But still the question is – how do I prepare for this new season? How do I gear myself up for it? What will it look like? Or even should I be planning? Check out my blog “Intentionality written in pencil”
So whereas once we would almost know what this new season would look like with Covid, with the extremes of weather, with new projects, with different working conditions, we cannot predict how things will be. Tom Sine does a good attempt to explore the themes of these changing time on his blog – NewChangemakers
As the saying goes “change is always with us” but it feels like as things start to open up, even with cases of Covid continuing to increase, there is nothing solid to hang on to. I am grateful for my faith but even with that, although the Bible says the Lord is the same today, tomorrow and yesterday, my relationship with God and how I see my faith have changed.
So what are the concrete things I can hold on to as I gear up for a new season? And what can I share with others?
For me the big one would be that God is God and is always there no matter what goes on, no matter how much I change, no matter what goes on in the world. And that God wants the best for me and so, if we work together I can grow more flexible, more trusting in God, more deeper in my beliefs of knowing God is watching my back. You know I was going to write stronger but I felt like flexible was the word. We talk a lot about growing stronger as though that is a good thing but I actually think that if I can get more and more flexible then I will be able to roll with the seasons, be blown by the winds of change but not fall. I think to be more flexible I need to have roots that go deep and I think for me as I gear up to this new season, whatever it is going to look like, I want to send my roots deep into my Saviour, Maker of the Universe, and just trust that what will come my way, however it comes, I will remain with my Saviour.
I was reading Lisa’s blog on Musing From a Sacred Summer, of how she is being intentional with the things she does before leaving Seattle, but that so often we don’t know what is round the corner. If these past 18 months have taught us one thing it should be that we don’t know what’s coming. Every January we sit and plan, roughly, our year so that we’ve at least got some idea of what is going on. Even as February 2020 came into being and rumours were starting about this new virus we still went ahead and book a trip to see my son’s flat and a couple of other events later in the year. For us here in the UK March 23rd was “end of the world as we know it” day. Lockdown day!! The signs were there. It had been coming. But I don’t think anyone really believed it would be as it was.
So things will change but does that mean we don’t plan any more? I don’t think so. But it is how we plan that will help to keep us sane.
I am trying to make my whole day intentional. I am a writer and, as most writers know, unless you carve out time then you don’t get to write. In fact I think that is probably true for most self-employed creative people without deadlines. I don’t have a publisher waiting round the corner for me to produce my next book, next collection, but I do love to write. I have published a book. I would like to publish again. But there won’t be anything if I don’t intentionally set aside time to write. So I am putting aside time in my diary. I also live in a big house that needs cleaning regularly. It is easy to keep clean if I intentionally set aside time to do it. I have paid projects that I need to be doing too.
Some people write their plans in stone. Some people don’t write them at all and wonder why things don’t get done. But I am planning on writing my plans in pencil. Not because I don’t take them seriously but because things can change. Take for instance my cleaning routine. I had it all planned out and then heard from a friend that someone she knew was going to be homeless for a couple of days, so a quick change, replan and they’ve got rooms ready for them. Or this morning, I had a list of what I was going to write. One of which was to finish off a blog post to share on Godspace but as I was writing it I put in a reference to this blog, that I hadn’t written at the time so thought I’d best get it done!!!
As I’ve mentioned before I intentionally put an Artist’s Date in my diary, where I go for a walk and write. I was planning to do that today but in the end went yesterday because there was a space. I am so glad I did because today there is sideways rain crashing down. Even the dog only got a 15 min walk. Intentionality written in pencil.
Hopefully this will make me more flexible, more trusting in God and the Universe, more able to do what I have to do. So I put things in my diary, make my to-do list, and hold everything lightly, and trusting that what I get done for that day, be it writing, cleaning, working on a project, emailing, seeing friends, or all the other myriad of things I love to do, will be what I am meant to do for that day
Today is the 21st March, the first day of spring. It is also Census day here in the UK, an event that happens every 10 years. It is the 1st anniversary of the first ever lockdown in the UK. So much has changed in the last 12 months but then so much changes every year, but through it all spring stays the same. And it is the mix of mighty changes and the constants that I am holding on to today.
The mighty changes got me thinking about how very different each of my “Census days” have been.. This will be my 6th. My first, I was not quite 10 so my parents would have filled that one in. We had moved from London to a bungalow in the country. I had friends with horses and maybe too much freedom. Fast forward 10 year, as a family we moved twice and now live in a different part of the country, I am married, own a house and have a job. Ten years further on, I’ve divorced, moved a lot, had a crazy ten years that I am grateful to have lived through, and now hold my brand new son in my arms and know I need to calm down to keep him safe. The next 10 years again, are filled with huge changes. I have an amazing God encounter, marry, have a daughter, get divorced, move lots, and as I filled in this census form we are preparing to go to live with a Christian mission organisation. In the ten years from there I have worked in the mission organisation for a while, moved around a lot, settled back in the town I filled in the last census form, then got married and moved again. Now to this year’s census form, again many changes though I am still married to the same person, my kids have left home [though my daughter is staying with us whilst she’s furloughed], we have moved and I have published my first book.
Lots of other things have happened during the last ten years – deaths of family and friends in tragic circumstances being the major ones – but also amazing times of growing up, of getting a degree, of no longer running away.
These past 12 months will go down as a year of monumental change and I know that this year of lockdown isn’t over yet, but what I have discovered as I have thought back through my “census years” is that life events don’t fit kindly into a calendar pattern. Months and years don’t all start on the first day of the week. People don’t die far enough apart to give one time to grieve through each one. Things happen in a mess. They happen in a confused state.
The media and many others are asking governments to come up with a “get out of lockdown” plan, but as someone said on Mock the Week earlier in the year “this is a virus and it won’t stick to a plan”. The phrase that was spoken a lot at the beginning of this pandemic was that we were in unprecedented times. Why do we expect someone to have a plan when things are unprecedented? When I filled in my first census form as an adult I would not have been able to tell you that 4 census’s later I would be living in North Wales with a published book and degree in Creative Writing and History. I’ve had many “unprecedented” years, and most times there is no plan. The “pandemic years” will be different as they are something we experience as a nation rather than an individual. But sometimes I have come to realise is we don’t know our way through we just have to keep on walk.
feel I’ve walked a life time of unprecedented and know that there is a pretty strong chance that the next however long I’m blessed to live on this earth will be unprecedented – some maybe just for me and mine but some maybe for the world country. I am grateful that after my 3rd census I met with God in such a way that I have never been able to walk away. I didn’t met with doctrines or theology but met with the Creator of the Universe who told me how much I was loved even though at the time I was a mess. I believe the Almighty can do it now for each and everyone.
I share a poem from Jan Richardson who has been on an awesome journey through unprecedented times for her and can still say she know she is Beloved.
Today in the Northern hemisphere is Spring Equinox. From today there will be more daylight than darkness, and as I write the sun is shining. I hope this is the start of more light in our world than darkness, more warmth rather than cold, more trusting and less fear. We will all walk, either as individuals, as families, or as nations, through unprecedented times, but as Easter approaches, help us to remember that we do not need to walk alone.
Yesterday was the last day of our holiday. It was our first holiday this year due to lockdown. The first 6 days of it were spent in Northumberland in a self-catering cabin, but we had to come home early because we could not stay with friends in the area for the weekend due to the NE of England being in local lockdown. So on Sunday we walked into Snowdonia, away from the tourist crowds and had a picnic Sunday lunch by this beautiful lake where I wrote this poem.
Black mirror broken only by occasional jumping fish trying to catch the last midges of summer.
Blobs of white undefined sheep gather together then drift apart enjoying the last grass of summer.
Man watches, thinking, pondering, closes eyes & dreams drifting on the last warm rays of summer
I wish I could find an article that said how the local people reacted when the stream was dammed up in the first place 90 years ago. I wonder if it was with similar outrage? And it got me thinking as to how vehement we can be about change and how it upsets us and yet how quickly we get used to the “new normal”, coin a recent phrase. I wonder if in ten or twenty years we will have got used to local lockdowns and will bemoan them if/when they cease?
Interesting times we are living in when many in the neighbourhood go out on their doorsteps at the same time every week to clap people who are not there. I’m not knocking those who do it but for me it is strange. I think the NHS are doing an amazing job and I worry about people I know who are having to be in there dealing with it all; friends, family and acquaintances. A sister-in-law, an NHS worker, has caught Covid-19, though thankfully only mildly and as yet none of her family are exhibiting signs. A friend’s cousin, also an NHS worker, had it mildly but then her husband caught it and is in intensive care. So yes I think they are doing a great job and should be respected and applauded. So I send them messages, tell them I am thinking about them, etc. But I do not go out and do the clapping. But that is because I don’t get it. But then I also do get many of these grand public outpourings.
But what got to me most of all was a local historic castle has very publicly put blue lights on its façade when the clapping was going on, made sure it was on all their social media that they had done things, emailed all their supporters. The emails had a donations button at the end but this was for the monument’s fund raising not the NHS raising. But also this place has made sure all its parklands are locked so no one can walk through them. Thankfully there are lots of other places to walk but I just wondered if a good public gesture would have been to open its parklands to give people more space to walk. Some who might even be those NHS workers who they are illuminating their building to support.
But this got me thinking about how we, and I include myself in this, make big open public gestures but don’t do the little things that will help. So how many people clapping, or even giving to the amazing people like Captain Tom to raise money to support the NHS, will be willing to have their taxes increased to support not just an improvement in the NHS but also to support all those who are on furlough, to improve our schools, our bin services, etc, etc etc. How many people who are in management in these sectors find it easier to clap than to take a pay cut so those below them could have a pay rise? How many are finding time to support local business? Not just now when we’re thinking about it but after this is over?
So I do applaud those who go outside to applaud the NHS, but I also applaud those who are key workers in other areas, but also those who are sticking to the rules and staying at home. But I do wonder what things will change when this is all over or will we just want it all to go back to normal without having to pay for it, make changes, or even look at what is wrong in this world to have brought things to this point. And by this point I don’t just mean this pandemic but a struggling NHS, an overly polluted planet, etc, etc etc.