Categories
World Toilet Day

World Toilet Day 2022

This post first appeared on Godspacelight.com https://godspacelight.com/2022/11/19/world-toilet-day-2022/

Melissa has asked if I would do my third World Toilet Day post in a row. How could I refuse!

Did You Know?

More people in the world have a mobile phone than a toilet. Of the world’s seven billion people, six billion have mobile phones. However, only 4.5 billion have access to toilets or latrines – meaning that 2.5 billion people, mostly in rural areas, do not have proper sanitation.

https://www.worldtoiletday.info/

I want to start with this quote. I do like a good statistic. But the more I look at this I see that there are 1 billion people who do not own mobile phones but 2.5 billion people who do not have proper sanitation. From my reading of this there are people who own mobile phones who do not have proper sanitation. How can one see owning a mobile phone as more important than being able to go to the toilet in peace, safety and hygienically? 

Is it lack of knowledge? Is it lack of understanding? Is it lack of awareness of the importance of good hygiene? This really has left me pondering. 

All of you who have read my previous posts on World Toilet Day will know how passionate I am about toilets. I am having a bit of a worry at the moment because I am going to stay with a friend who has just moved house and I am wondering about how many toilets she has in her house now, especially as she has told me her daughter and her family, which includes a husband and two kids, might be staying the same time as me. 

I decided to google the history of toilets and it turns out they have been around since Neolithic times with an understanding of the need for bodily waste to be somewhere away from where people are living. So why do 2.5 billion people not have access to proper sanitation? 

Another quote:

accepted patterns dissolve and uncertainty grows, we become more vulnerable to feelings of insecurity, anxiety and fear 

Michael Meade, Mosaic Voices podcast page – healing and making whole https://www.mosaicvoices.org/episode-299-healing-and-making-whole

I think this quote might be of help. As Wikipedia says, the developing world is struggling to get good sanitation. I wonder if the above quote is a clue. All of us across the world are facing a time of “accepted patterns dissolving and changing” which we are all struggling with in the West but imagine if you are in a developing country, a war-torn country, in a refugee camp where you have no stability. War is raging. There is famine. You are displaced from what you know and love. The whole population is dealing with “feelings of insecurity, anxiety and fear”. What is going to be most important – communication or sanitation? 

I know if I was fearful for my family, my children, my friends, I would want to be able to contact them so would put my money into making sure I had a good phone that could be charged up quickly and easily. If I could get money through to feed myself and my family via my phone I could see that as the most important thing. When I needed to go to the toilet then I would wish there was somewhere safe to go but for the majority of the time it may not occur to me. And for the men who are very much leading in these countries it is only when they need to defecate that they would probably think about it at all. 

Also what is more glamorous if you are a young man wanting to look good in your developing country – making sure there are toilets or carrying a gun and a phone? 

So as I ponder this I do not blame the people who have the phone but no toilet. I think of the unstable world we all live in and pray “Your Kingdom come, Lord” as well as “please help us all to forgive ourselves and each other”. 

And then I will donate some more money to https://www.toilettwinning.org/ or https://www.wateraid.org/stories/toilets-save-lives or https://www.christianaid.org.uk/ or other charities like this. 

Photo by Gabor Monori on Unsplash

Categories
Guests hospitality

Being A Good Guest

These are locally grown flowers from Hilltop Garden Flowers who are part of a great organisation called Flowers From The Farm

Godspace is running a series about Hospitality at the moment with lots of info on cooking and having people come into your home. Now I am someone who loves cooking for people, but I remember a friend who really was worried when she first started getting involved with church because she was not a good cook and also had children who did not like people coming into their house. She did doubt whether she was a “good Christian” or not; whatever that phrase might mean.

But one of the things that struck me in Christine Sine’s post for Monday was about being a “good guest”. We can all come as guests. We don’t need to bring anything apart from ourselves. But what does it mean to be a good guest?

Well for me I get upset when people to my house and bring extra food. I get upset by that because I will have provided more than enough. Though I do love it when they bring wine, chocolates, and/or flowers. All those things to me say they are happy to come to my house. When my sister-in-law first came to stay at our house she brought her own towels. I was hurt by that because I wanted to lavish hospitality on her but she wanted to “save me too much trouble.”

I think when we come as guests of God to the table I think we should come knowing that it is not too much trouble for God to lavish things on us. Of course we shouldn’t trash the place. As those who have been reading my blog for a while, pre-covid I did Airbnb. I enjoyed it but really got upset if guests did not respect my home and left things in a mess.

So as guest of God we should bring those extras – the spiritual equivalent of wine, chocolates and flowers, which often is nothing more than our open hearts. But we should respect those who are joining us, should respect God’s creation, should respect God’s home – which is our earth.

Also I love having guests who delight in being in my home and delight in being with the people who have also come to the table. So as God’s guests we should delight in being invited, delight in those God has chose to be with us for this season of our lives.

So to be a good guest then it to delight in being there, and not think we need to add to what God has done, to respect the space God has opened for us and those who are also invited to that self same space, and come wanting to be lavished on. If you come like that when I invite you I will be most pleased. And I am sure if you come like that God then they will be most pleased too.

Categories
gratitude hospitality

The Wild Hospitality of God

Pensarn beach, near Abergele. Photographed by myself Diane Woodrow
Taken this morning on my walk

I walked on the beach this morning, powerful waves pounding the shoreline [this picture does not do that sound justice at all], strong wind whipping my hair, images from the James Webb telescope in my brain, pondering the wild hospitality of God, because that is the latest topic on Godspace and I’ve been trying to write a post for it.

It amazes me that God gave us this earth to do with it as we wish, and it often looks like we have just trashed it, tamed it, worked it how we want, abused it. How often have we been disappointed when we have given someone, be that family member or friend, something special of ours and they’ve not down with it as we would have hoped? Don’t know about you but it makes me reluctant to give again. Yet God knows the beginning from the end because they are outside of time and place and yet still gave us this amazing earth. Now that is wild hospitality. But God also gave us the whole universe; too far away for us to trash, change or abuse yet there for us to marvel at and enjoy.

HOSPITALITY the act of being friendly and welcoming

Letting us, even once we have abused the gift we were given, be able to hopefully restore it, but also to be able to marvel at those awesome pictures from the James Webb telescope, sunsets and sunrises, a new born – whether human or animal, trees growing and changing, insects, I could go on and on. So much to wonder at, so much to explore. So much to show how friendly and welcoming God is.

I know if I was God I would stop giving good gifts because of the way my gifts had been mistreated, but God just keeps on giving. And for that I am going to marvel at the wild hospitality of God, the awesomeness of God and the forgiveness of God.

And as Jesus finished talking to the man who asked who his neighbour was I will try and go and “do likewise

Categories
peace Transition

Transition

Photograph of Pensarn beach taken one warm evening by Diane Woodrow
The shoreline is always a place of transition. Taken by myself May 2022

I’ve just read this great article from Godspace about Transition and creating healthy boundaries for it. Whilst reading it I got a bit grumpy about how easy it is to create these boundaries when you are in control of the transition – which is not what the article says but what my brain decided to put in to wind me up because there had just been a transition within our family that I had not been brought into the discussion about and which, though not out of the blue, had wobbled me a bit. Only a bit.

But then actually if one reads the article without that grumpy, poor me attitude then it is about having things in place for when transitions come so one doesn’t get wobbled by them. I won’t go through each one but to say that it was the last one Transitions cannot be rushed that really got to me. But once I had calmed down – which involved taking the dog for a walk in the rain. And I do think there is nothing quite like North Wales drizzle to sort one’s mood out. Or at least it always works for me.

I came back realizing that even though the family members appeared to be rushing the decision they had probably been talking about it for a while. Just because my counsel had not been sort for whatever reason – and that is another thing – don’t go second guessing other people’s reasoning for asking or not asking for you counsel. That is very much a “grow up and get over it” that we have to say to ourselves and our attitudes when it comes to our children, I think.

Another aside – why is that often we find it so hard to see that our children have grown up and don’t need us to ‘parent’ them any more? Thoughts for another post one day maybe!!!

Anyway just because someone else is transitioning doesn’t mean that I have to go so fast. I can sit and ponder their decisions, their transitions, and I can slowly allow their changes to seep into my consciousness. And also though their lives are changing mine is staying the same and slowly but surely as I adjust to their changes I can allow their transition to become my transition.

I found this all very exciting. Sometimes though I do wish I didn’t have to have a grump beforehand. Though, and I know I keep pushing it, since I’ve been doing the QEC work around my issues, hurts and past traumas so I have found the grumpy times are getting shorter, the wise voice is coming in sooner and the peace is deeper.

So now as I process this transition – among the many other transitions that have gone on in these last couple of years – I feel a profound sense of peace. It is not my decision to decide someone else’s lifestyle choice, whether they are family or friends, and that really does give me enormous peace.

Jesus said “my peace I give to you” and as Naked Pastor said about love so I think is true about peace. It is all around us and there for anyone but we do just have to open ourselves to it. And being grumpy does stop that peace.

So as I transition into my family transition so I lean into that love, take it slowly and all that “peace that transcends all understand “to guide my heart and mind [Philippians 4:7]

Categories
Endangered species day Godspace

National Endangered Species Day 2022

First published on https://godspacelight.com/2022/05/19/national-endangered-species-day-2022

Taken by myself at our local park

The 20th of May is Endangered Species Day, another of those days put on to calendars to help one focus on something else. But I wonder how often we see ourselves as an “endangered species,” especially when one sees the cries coming from certain Christian elements in the US around the potential lifting of the laws to allow abortion. 

That is extreme but I wonder how often when we see polls saying numbers of church attendance is decreasing, an increase in various ethnic groups, and a rise in the voice of LGBTQ groups, that some think that we are endangered. When we feel endangered we act in fear, panic and anxiety. It does not make us nicer to be around but makes us harsher. 

The focus is meant to be about endangered animals, insects, flora and fauna, with the hope that we will care about our earth, our environment more. But if we are feeling endangered then we won’t want to do that. We will want to build our walls higher, make our voices louder, our weapons stronger. 

Yet Jesus tells us that when we feel threatened we should “turn the other cheek”[Matthew 5:39], that we should “love our enemies”[Matthew 5:43-48]. He tells us not to be afraid and to trust God in all things. As Francis Spufford says in ‘Unapologetic‘ [and I paraphrase], one of the hardest things about Christianity is that it isn’t about following rules but about our heart attitude. And our hearts need to be trusting God, need to not be filled with fear or anxiety, need to be open to God and listening fully. 

When the natural world is endangered it cannot get itself out of the mess humankind has got it into. It needs that self-same group, humankind, to make the change. But also sometimes with other people, they need to shout to be heard and need to get other people to help with the changes. So when we hear people of different “tribes” to our “tribe” shouting loudly because they need to be heard instead of shutting our ears, building our walls higher, etc we need to stop and listen. We need to really tune into what they are saying, listen to their fears, but also listen to our fears about why we have reacted as we have; of why we want to not listen, feel fearful, want to push the oppressed group down further. 

Unlike the natural world we are the ones with the power to change and to make a better world. We do not need to react. We have the God-given power to act and act in a way that is beneficial for all. But only if we stop hardening our hearts, unblock our ears and really listen to the world – human and natural – and follow God’s true leading in how to act. 

Taken by myself on a beach walk early one morning

Categories
Prompts writing

Everyday Words – prompts for 3rd and 4th April

Best laid plans of mice and men” or “make a plan so God can have a laugh” are very much what life feels like at the moment. So I made this plan and didn’t just ask Sarah of Everyday Words permission to post from her prompts daily but also blogged that I would. But I had also put those feelers out to get some part time work that was not writing.

Well firstly I did not realise that Sarah’s prompts would be so rich and so full of meat that I needed to spend time digesting them before I wrote anything, and then had to ponder what I wrote afterwards before sharing it. But also work has got in the way.

So this week I’ve run a writing group on Tuesday afternoon and then worked 6 hours Wednesday afternoon and am working 6 hours this afternoon. But also I have been pushing for creative practitioner freelancing work and had a meeting with the local mayor on Tuesday – in the pub which was a lovely way to have a meeting. The excuse was “supporting local businesses” which is the best excuse ever. Anyway from that there is something coming. Then a couple of other feelers I sent out are proving maybe not fruitful but possible. And I’d also done a great course with Writers&Artists and one of the follow ups was to have the novel idea we’d started on looked out. Well Natalie Young was so supportive of the idea that I want to run with it. She also said to commit to writing 1000 words per day.

So the plan of posting an Everyday Words prompt each day has had to go by the by for now. But today, even though it is the 7th April, I do have prompts from 3rd and 4th ready to share.

The prompt from the 3rd came from a recipe by Olia Hercules, a Ukranian cook and writer, using foraged food. One of the prompts was to think of a time when you went foraging but instead it reminded me of a home school trip with my kids in a field of wild garlic. Here is it – Foraging

Then the one for the 4th April I wrote yesterday whilst I was working. I had an hour where I was totally alone in the pub and because it was my first full shift I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. So I clicked up the link, which I had been pondering for a while. The prompt was to look at one of the last phrases which was “stupid with smiles” and to write from there. Well this is what I got. It is a bit raw and rough but I like it – Stupid With Smiles.

When will the next get posted? Well I’m hoping over the weekend but … tomorrow I’m catching up with a friend and have to catch up with housework, Saturday I’m attending a workshop and always come back with loads of poem ideas, and also I have a blog buzzing in my head around a Godspace post from earlier in the week so …. Now I know to hold my plans lightly I am saying that hopefully soon but you could be reading April prompts well into June the way this is going.

Categories
Celtic saints Heroes

No More Heroes Anymore?

Stature of a saintly figure in a bishops mitre surrounded by an iron fence set in a park. Photographed by Diane Woodrow May 2016
St Patrick in a park in Dublin – taken by myself May 2016

The title is pinch from The Stranglers’ song No More Heroes song from released in 1977, which also contains the line about Leon Trotsky which helps me to remember how he died. But that’s another story.

Last week Christine Sine in Godspace suggested doing some research around known Christian figures of the last century; for example Martin Luther King. What struck me as I pondered this was how different the tales are about modern day Christian heroes compared to the Celtic saints. Our known figures come with feet of clay and one is not afraid to mention their faults, whereas the Celtic saints were very much on the line of mythological figures who conquered all evils, including things that would lead mere mortals astray.

But I wonder have we gone to far with pointing out our leaders flaws. Yes it is good to have accountability but how often do we mention our leaders good points, the trials they struggle through, the enormous decisions they have to made every day, as well as being reminded that they are human.

The writers of the Celtic saints did not want their readers to know that these men and women were actually fallible human beings, but now our media only want to point out the fallibility of our leaders without reminding us of their good points too.

I do not think either swing of the pendulum is beneficial to the reader. With Celtic saints the reader or listener to the tales knew they could never aspire to be so amazingly godly so why try. And with our current leaders why would anyone want to be in their position when each flaw and mistake is headline news?

Perhaps we need to pendulum of judgement to swing slightly back the other way, so that yes we do see the flaws and mistakes our leaders make but we also see the struggles they do with trying to lead our world, our nation, our institutions.

For 45 years [which is suddenly a very long time since I was a quiet punk] I’ve been humming No More Heroes and through that time we have so few heroes remaining without being blown out the water. I wonder if this is what encourages to feel anxious, unable to commit, worried at who leaders us? Are they really as bad as the media has us believe? And were those Celtic saints as amazing as their publicists would have them believed to be?

Categories
epiphany

Ephiphany

First published 6th January on https://godspacelight.com/2022/01/06/epiphany/



Free download from https://pixabay.com/photos/star-moon-wise-men-three-kings-6880592/

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.

with courage and open hearts of acceptance

Amen

Categories
Godspace World Toilet Day

World Toilet Day 19th November 2021

This post was first published on Godspace.com on 19th November 2021

Being grateful for having a toilet must be one of my passions because I wrote an article for Godspace last year on this–although for some reason I did not post it on my own blog! 

To be honest I do have a bit of a toilet obsession, having suffered with IBS for a time, until firstly I stopped gluten and dairy. I did that for a while and then got into QEC Counselling – which I do know I bang on about but it has changed my life. I do still worry about knowing where toilets are and if there are too many people in the house for the amount of toilets. Yes, it is a thought that passes through my mind. And I am sure I am not the only older person who feels that way!

I met up with some older ladies in the park dog walking the other day, and they were doing the thing old people can be guilty of – saying the younger generation don’t know they’re born lucky- and one of the things was about outside toilets. Both ladies remembered having to go out into their backyards to use the toilet and worrying about spiders and other creepy crawlies. Though both did admit they wouldn’t go back to those days; it is alright to reminisce and look through rose-tinted glasses, but we do all like our inside flushing toilets and do very much take them for granted. 

But imagine not having a toilet at all, or when you did go out to a shared outside toilet there was a chance of being bitten by poisonous spiders or snakes, or for the girls, the fear of being raped. And the cleanliness of these holes in the ground is not good at all. 

The statistics on the United Nations World Toilet Day 19th November website are sobering. 

  • Globally, at least 2 billion people use a drinking water source contaminated with feces.
  • Every day, over 700 children under five years old die from diarrhea linked to unsafe water, sanitation, and poor hygiene.
  • 3.6 billion people live without access to safely managed sanitation [There are about 7.9 billion people in the world so that means nearly half of them do not have safe, clean water to drink or hygienic places to go to the toilet – I wonder how they feel about the whole “wash your hands for 20 seconds in hot water” mantra?]

But did you also know that for every dollar spent on hygienic sanitation and clean water $5 dollars gets saved in medical costs? Wow, so little can save so much. 

But it doesn’t only save on medical costs, it helps with productivity in the workplace. Imagine being a woman without proper sanitation during your period or when pregnant! But when money is spent on toilets in the home, in schools, in the workplace, these women are not only safer and healthier but also able to reach their full potential and truly fulfill their role in their society. They would no longer be marginalised, fearful and “unclean”. 

Sanitation is one of the basic human rights recognised by the UN which are not being met in far too many places. Perhaps as we move towards Advent and Christmas we should see how we can help promote human rights in countries that too often get ignored. One way is to sponsor a toilet via Toilet Twinning, and check out the UN website for ways to learn more. Be alert and aware as to how blessed we are in the West and how much we take for granted, and be willing to see what more you can do. 

You might feel like just a drop in the ocean but if all the drops in the ocean stopped being drops then the seas would vanish. If each of us is our little drop then we can change the world. 

Categories
acceptance Achievement Contentment

What Have I Achieved?

Picture of a broken wall and pebbled beach looking across water to a town and island. Taken by Diane Woodrow
Abergwyngren coastal path looking towards Beaumaris taken by myself – Aug 2021

I woke up feeling low this morning. Low and old. Bemoaning that I only had a handful of years left to live and what had achieved with it. So I sat on my yoga mat with my cat and pondered. Because I’m also following Christine Sine’s example of deep gratitude I did my best to move into that place.

Well to begin with I have two amazing children who are doing great in the world. I have published a book [and trying not to beat myself up over the fact that it is my only one so far. I will go back and read my last post if I get issues there]. I encourage lots of people with my writing groups, with the youthshedz project [more on that in another post]

But it is too easy to look back and think of all the things I haven’t done – not had a great career, not entered politics, not invented something that would change the world, not some recognised person in the media.

But what really is achievement? What does it really mean? As a Christian I have come to believe that it means knowing God deeper and myself as well so that I can love others.

Doing the work with the Youthshedz young people I realise like them that I am luck to be alive. At 25 I didn’t like myself but now, 35 years on I can say that I like myself. I trust myself, and I have noticed the more I trust myself the more I trust God and also other people.

There is a verse about “judging as you will be judged” [Matthew 7:1] and I think that when one is striving to “achieve” something noteworthy one is too often looking at others, judging what they are doing, rating them as better or worse than oneself – generally better than – rather than just getting on and doing the stuff.

So I may not change the world and neither may my children or the young people I encourage, but you know I think if I make my world a more contented place by being more contented myself – by creating that energy around me of acceptance and contentment – then I have achieved enough.

Like the harbour wall in this picture one day all will be gone and I will be forgotten and you know that is ok.