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
poem Prompts writing

Everyday words April prompts – 6th and 7th

Amazing colours and frosts looking over a local park in Abergele, Conwy taken by Diane Woodrow
Picture of my local park April 2022

So I am steadily getting further and further behind with these prompts and loving them more and more. These two clash, contradict and I think compliment each other. One is based on the horrors unfolding in Ukraine and other other was written Easter Saturday morning whilst we were staying in our friend’s house.

So this one from Day 6 was inspired by Laurie Wagner’s poem Things I Didn’t Know I Loved For me this has an even more poignant feel after I’ve read the Joel News report from Ukraine. Joel News’ remit is to show the good news that is happening in the world, to show where God is moving. And yet this week’s one talks of the awfulness of the war in Ukraine and of the coming global famine. It makes one ask “Where is God in all this?” But also one of the things I’ve learned with QEC is that to keep aligned and not get into high stress I need to be grateful. So really this poem is about what I realised I was grateful for and often take for granted. I’ve also called it Things I Didn’t Know I Loved.

This next one from Day 7 comes from a poem by Catherine Smith called Hero, about a bus driver really. But one of the prompts was ‘Where would you go to if a bus driver would take you absolutely anywhere?’. I did the prompt whilst we were staying down south visiting mothers and friends. It was a busy weekend and I was up early with the dog sitting in our friend’s conservatory enjoying some time out – something that I realise I do need to add to my “Things I didn’t know I loved” poem. So here is “Where would I go if I could go anywhere?” This one also comes with photos of the view I had.

As Brits we can have a perchance for moaning about what we do not have. Sometimes it is good to remind ourselves what we do have, but also then to remember to pray for those who do not have. We must never get smug and complacent, but I think that by being grateful one can learn to not be complacent and also to pray others can have what we too often take for granted.

Categories
honest Praise

Life Isn’t Fair

plants struggling to break through the shingle on a beach somewhere taken by Diane Woodrow
Scottish beach – Sept 2019 – taken by myself

I’ve just written an email to some people in my writing group about another member of our group telling them how ill she is and how fast she has deteriorated. It has been therapeutic to me to put all that in words to them but has left me going “life isn’t fair”. Here is a lady who was intelligent, articulate, neat, tidy, organised, independent, one of those women one wants to be when one gets to late 70s/early 80s. Yet over the last few months she has lost weight, lost confidence, lost her independence, now needs her daughter living with her, is refusing to wear clean clothes and even has lost power in her voice. The medical profession doesn’t know if it is physical or mental – my thoughts are probably both – but all they are doing is throwing pills at her because they really do not know what else to do.

What do we do when life isn’t fair? Where do we go? In Joel News they are sharing about Ukrainians praying for peace and praising God though all that is going on, of Yuriy Kulakevych, a national leader in the Pentecostal church in Ukraine sharing about amazing events and miracles There is so much in this email that I would love to share it all but I won’t.. These people are being amazing at focusing on praising God and not bemoaning their circumstances.

I shared the email with a friend and this is what she said –

I think the first thing is positioning ourselves before God with honesty and gratitude then change follows….I remember praising God very intensely a couple of years ago when I was depressed, and became closer to Him/Her than ever before.

Response from a friend that I shared the email with

So my thoughts are when I feel life isn’t fair I need to move into being open and honest with God and then being grateful for God, for the things within the situation, then just praising God for being God not for what is going on, then waiting on God/the Universe to wrap me up and hold me through it all.

Stories about these Ukrainians are not unique. In most places where there are really awful things going on – war, persecution, hunger, poverty, sickness – many, many Christians turn to praising and being honest with God and then they themselves change within that situation.

All I can say is that if they can in their situations then I can in mine – with my friend, with my fears, with everything – I am going to praise God

Categories
Ashes Beauty

Finding Beauty Everywhere

I don’t know about you but when someone points something out you start to notice it more. In Godspace for this season they are talking about Finding Beauty in Ashes during the Lenten season and so when I went on my walk yesterday I was drawn to noticing beauty in ashes.

This tree was one of three conifer trees that were standing in a row until Storm Arwen passed by towards the end of 2021. All three went down. I presume that the furthest one fell and then pushed the other two over with the force of its falling and the wind behind it. How often does that happen – that something or someone starts to slide and takes others down with them who are close by? Also with trees their roots are intertwined so they can communicate with each other so all it needs is one lot of roots to come out and they will take others with them. Again another interesting comparison with our lives. Though also people or trees standing strong can help to keep each other up when storms come.

What fascinates me here is the little beetle hole in the centre of the tree. Now this would not have been visible when all the trees were standing and can only be fully seen because of where the chain saw has passed through. I’m not a naturalist so could not tell you what creature lived there and is now homeless but I can see something was there. And to me that is the beauty.

The beauty is the amazingness of this creature to burrow through the bark, find the right spot and make its home. But we can only get to see it because of the storm.

I wonder how often beauty is hidden or that we are too busy rushing on past to notice. I only noticed this because I was on a “writing walk” which means that I walk slower, notice things, jot them in my notebook, and like with this, photograph them. Generally I am rushing on past with collar turned up to get back home again.

I believe that too often we can only find beauty in ashes if we slow down and take them time to look at the ashes. And like with our hurts and things that have happened to us, we do only see the beauty in the pain, the hurt, the ashes, if we take time to look closely, to look properly. To have time and not to be rushing on to the next thing, to be not trying to hide from the “ashes” but to just see the beauty and be grateful.

Categories
grateful gratitude

How to be grateful when life isn’t being fair

Photo looking across a wooden fence through trees that are just starting to turn autumnal towards a waterfall. Taken by Diane Woodrow
Swallow Falls, Conwy, taken by myself on Sunday 10th October

I’ve been having a quiet rant to God on behalf of a friend. I’m not sure if she’s ranting too but I am. Last week her youngest daughter gave birth to her first child in her early 40’s after years of trying; miscarriages, IVF, etc. But then at the start of this week my friend’s dad died suddenly. It isn’t fair, I am shouting into the heavens. Why can’t her and her family enjoy the awesomeness of this miracle baby just for a few months without having to deal with grief? Why???

The season in GodspaceLight is gratitude, and I know I’ve also written about gratitude on here in various guises, but my thought for today is “how can I/we be genuinely grateful when life is being unfair?

But then as I walked the dog in the park this morning I experience the second awesome sunrise of this week and also had a heron fly from the pond almost directly in front of me. It got me thinking – I only get to see the sunrises on my dog walks now because the days are getting shorter, daylight hours are getting less. And I can marvel at how there are amazing colours in the sky for a good 20-30 mins before the sun rises officially. Even if I get up in the summer really early the sun doesn’t do that same thing of filling the sky with colour and light earlier than it pops its head up. If it wasn’t for that shortening of daylight hours I wouldn’t get to see this. So a place to be grateful when the dark is getting more?

Also what I felt when all this was going on around me is that yes life isn’t fair but there are good things going on in the unfairness. It reminds me of the fact that the trip to Paris to launch my daughter into university was marred because my father-in-law died that same weekend, so when I look at the picture of her grinning over a very very frothy cappuccino I think of his death too. Life throwing one of its unfair curve balls.

So all I can say about how to be grateful when life is being unfair is to accept and grieve in the unfair bits, the death bits, the darkness, but also be grateful in the sunrises, the births, the trips to Paris.

Both are allowed. Both are ok. It is not ‘either or’ but ‘both and’.

A few years ago I supported another friend though the first year after her husband’s suicide and we cried lots but we also laughed lots. We were able to be ‘both and’. Even now when we meet we do both – laughing and crying – more often than not in a public place

So I will hug my friend as she grieves and laugh with her as she delights in her new granddaughter. Together we can accept that life isn’t fair and that there are sunrises and there are sunsets. Somethings are beautiful and some things are tragic. That we do not live in a world where only good happens and somethings we have to deal with both things at once. But we can do it!

And for that whole humanness of who we are I will be grateful

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.