Yesterday was my regular writing group that I run. I was a bit disappointed because only two ladies came – though this had led to me deciding to change venues and return to running the groups around my own table. My business name is Barefoot At The Kitchen Table so running it at home is probably where it is meant to be.
So I decided to make the most of the area around the centre I’ve been using and the lovely weather and sent my ladies outside to gather ideas for a poem along the lines of how I write poems. Note my PDF on this.
They went outside to get some notes and then I worried that they would get bored. Above are photos of my ladies engrossed in their writing and note taking. They came in reluctantly. They had enjoyed their 10-15 mins that they had had outside listening and looking. Mindfulness?? Maybe!
They both said how much they had needed this and then thank me. It gave me such joy to know that I had been instrumental in helping them have a lovely afternoon. It also reminded me why I run these groups. It isn’t to make loads of money but it is to encourage others to enjoy writing as I do and connect with each other and themselves.
Here is what I wrote from the afternoon too – dedicated to my two lovely writing ladies, Dot and Vivien. And also to those who usually come but didn’t make it.
Clinging, creeping ivy wraps round fence and post and thoughts
Trying to drag all down with the help of self-conscious chatter.
Yet the dappled leaves illuminate the lady writers
I wrote an article during our “lockdown Christmas” last year about my feelings regarding winter and slowing down. I also wrote an article in 2017 about the Winter Solstice and how the sun stands still for the few days from solstice to Christmas day. So it looks as if I have a bit of an affinity with this time of year.
I do love the roll into winter. I love the ways the days get rapidly shorter and I have to rethink my dog walking times because by 4pm it isn’t fun to walk around the park. Though I also love that if I can get out before 7.30am I can watch the sun rise over the trees in the park. This is a time when I just pray out loud giving glory to God. Christine talked about the Wow factor of Advent and for me every sunrise is a “Wow!” factor.
This morning I was blown away by starting my walk only lit by street-lighting, but then seeing the clouds start to get tinged with light and come into definition. Even though the sun still hadn’t fully risen by the time I got home the world had come into definition. That to me is so awesome. It truly is “new every morning” and I can then remember “Great is his faithfulness” [Lamentations 3:23] So no matter what my mood when I start my walk I come to a place of being with God and giving my morning over before I return home.
I noticed this last year and again this year, people are putting their outdoor Christmas lights on earlier and earlier. I know some of it has been said that because with the pandemic, and other things, life is bleak so people need lights, but the posts by Liz of Pocket Fuel have made me think. In the daily emails for the first week of December she explored how we seem to no longer embrace the darkness as our ancestors would have and how from that we miss out on things – like trusting God in the darkness.
It got me thinking about our ancestors, and I’m talking pre-Industrial revolution, would use the winter season was a time for gathering the family, of sharing the tales that made up their culture. This is when the stories were retold about heroes, monsters, family history, how the earth came into being, etc. But now we have made the winter, especially this run up to Christmas so busy, whether that is rushing round buying, partying, Church services. It is all busy, busy, busy, when in fact our bodies are crying out for us to slow down and the next generation needs to hear our stories, our history, our faith tales.
I am lucky in that in my freelancing work I have being healed of the need to see planning and money as the driving force and have moved more into trusting God to provide so I am more able to roll with the seasons and the daylight hours. But I still have had to think through how not to get sucked into being busy in church, feeling guilty for not saying Yes to everything, for making a quieter way. It isn’t easy. It is countercultural. It takes focus but I was trying.
So as I allow this season and this shortest day to enfold me I listen to my heart – because it is my heart that connects me with God – and then ask my heart what it is thinking and feeling. I breath and pray and then feel safe. And I also want to learn all this so I can take the slowness of the darker season into the spring and summer.