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
joy peace

True Peace, True Joy

Sunrise over my local park. Taken by myself Oct 2022

There is some stuff going on in my life and I spent half the night planning my speech to say what I really thought, talk about my hurts, my fears, etc. I felt I had a right to say this. Funny how we are brought up that way. And then go on to do some self improvement stuff which talks to us about firm boundaries, being honest, our rights, etc.

Well for me about 5.30am I felt an almost audible voice asking me why I felt the need to say what I felt, why I needed to put over my point of view when in fact no one has asked for it. So I chewed this over, noticed a few repeated patterns that I thought I’d dealt with, and then asked what I could do to change.

What came to me was Philippians’s 4:7 “The peace of the Lord that transcends all understanding” So being me I journaled around that.

What came up was that that real joy and real peace are there for us no matter what is going on in our lives, no matter what we are feeling. It doesn’t mean that we deny our feelings. Often living in that total joy and peace of God/the Universe we can be more open and honest with ourselves about how we feel. In fact I googled an article around this and the writer said how they go walking with their anxiety rather than trying to hide it, and this was from a piece that started with the Phil 4:7 verse.

How would I describe that total joy and peace? I don’t know. All I can say is that I know it is there. I know I can tap into it whenever I want to, though often I don’t try to – which is when I say what I shouldn’t or do what I shouldn’t and let my fears, issues, self-righteousness, hurt others.

The whole point of something “transcending our understanding” is that it transcends it, which means we cannot and should not try to understand it. What would be the point? It makes no sense to be fearful but at peace, to be grieving but feel deep joy. But then what would be the point of understanding everything?

It is great to have mysteries and as a Christian I do not want to understand all that is God. I do not want to be able to figure God out. Well what would be the point of that?

I have to trust in God with all of my being, not understand God with all my being. I have to let go of my need to sort it all out, of my need to be right all the time. I think if we all lent into a higher power of some sort, let go of our need to control each and every situation, let go of our need to figure the whys and wherefores of everything and just accept that somethings just are.

So today I am accepting that no matter what is going on in my life I am going to walk in a place of peace and joy that is bigger than I am, that I don’t understand, and that is ok.

Categories
Straight Wait

Trust

Me and my dog on a walk alone at a local nature reserve getting some down time. Photo taken by myself, Diane Woodrow, mid July 2022
Llanfairfechan taken by myself July 2022

I don’t normally fill my posts with bible verses but for the past few days these Bible verses has been buzzing about in my head. Firstly –

Trust in the Godhead/the Universe with all of your heart, lean not on your own understanding. Acknowledge God in all you do and God will make your paths straight

Proverbs 3:5-6

There has been some stuff going on, and still is, that I’m not 100% sure about. But this verse, one that gets handed out regularly to those who are just starting out on their journey with Jesus, keeps buzzing around. And I have realised something …. It doesn’t mean just acknowledge the Godhead in the Christian activities you do, the things you think are “good” things, but it means acknowledge God in EVERYTHING YOU DO.

So that means in work, in family life, in church life, in therapies, in sport, in walking the dog, in making meals, in talking with people, etc, etc, etc. Now that doesn’t mean dropping God into all things, or even trying to be “holy”, whatever that means. I think it just means remembering and knowing that God is in all that you do – almost whether they are acknowledge or not. But it makes a huge difference when they are acknowledged.

For for instance I was somewhere and things were not going as I would have like and I was feeling a bit tense, but once I took myself off, did some deep breathing, did some remembering of the QEC things I had done and making sure I placed my whole trust, not just a bit of it, in God’s hands I felt so much calmer.

From there I acknowledge God in all that was going on and let go of what I thought was right and proper [my understanding] and from that moment things just went smoother. And things can only go smoothly if the path is straight and level.

Ok I had to keep coming back to that point of breathing, of remembering the QEC stuff and placing my trust in God not in my understanding, but each time I did I felt more at peace.

It did not change the situation but it changed my heart, changed my direction, changed what I was thinking and feeling.

Now I stand at a place where I feel I am waiting for something to happen. I can either wait for doors to open or I can volunteer for things and fill my time. Whilst pondering this another bible verse came to mind

Stand at the crossroads and look, ask for the ancient paths. Ask where the good way is and walk in it and you will find rest for your soul

Jeremiah 16:6

And I feel like as I am trusting God with all my heart and acknowledging them in all my ways so it means I have to stand and look and ask. I don’t know what my ancient ways are, but I do know that I’d love to go and do whatever gives my soul rest.

And I don’t think rest means doing nothing. I think it means doing what we are meant to do, doing what keeps us in flow, what gives us life.

So volunteering might be the right thing, waiting for doors to open might be the right thing, getting my writing out there might be the right thing. But for now I am going to stand, wait, ask and trust with all that I am, that God will let me know and give me peace as to which way to walk; that I will see those straight paths.

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
holidays Remembering

Remember All Things Can Change

Photographed by Diane Woodrow on her 61st birthday
Isle of Kerrera 2nd May 2022 taken by myself

We’ve just been away on a week’s holiday up in Scotland which is why I haven’t posted for a bit. It was lovely to hang out together, walk, talk, eat, drink and just be. One day my husband went off up a mountain and the dog and I stayed back at the cottage, did a couple of little walks and I wrote. The reason for going away this last week was that it was my birthday.

Birthdays are great times of remembering, of noticing the changes, of connecting. Last year on my birthday we were sat on a more touristy beach in mid-Wales watching jet skiers buzzing about and listening to children asking for ice creams. This year we were sat on top of a hill looking out to sea. It was peaceful but I’m sure when the castle was built there it saw its fair share of noise and mayhem. And then two years ago we were trapped in our house on lockdown enjoying the back garden and quiet of our town as next to nothing was driving about. How things have changed in these last couple of years. Now our town is back to its normal noisy self.

It got me to reflecting on seasons. So for now this castle of the Isle of Kerrera is a peaceful walkers destination, but once it was the site of a major battle towards the end of the Jacobite wars. But even before then it would have been a home not just of a nuclear family but to the entourage that goes with castles.

We also visited Hadrian’s Wall which is now a peaceful deserted haven for walkers, but I do wonder what it was like 2000 years ago when it was filled with Roman soldiers defending the borders of the empire.

Photographed by Diane Woodrow
Part of Hadrian’s Wall at Millcastle photographed by myself 7th May 2022

So from looking back on 3 years of birthdays to 600 years of Scottish history to nearly 2000 years to the Roman Empire it got me to thinking how we hold so tightly to the now as being the full reality.

And I know in mindfulness we are encouraged to be in the present and not to worry about the past or the future, but sometimes I think it helps to know that this present we stand in is not how it always has been or how it will always be.

There was much talk about yesterday – 9th May – Europe Day – which marked not only the end of the Second World War but also Schumman’s speech which led to the founding of the European Union. The world has not stood still over the last 75+ years. And as we see war in Europe again with the Russian invasion I think it would help to see that, awful though this is, it is just a phase that history is going through and hold it lightly. Who knows what things will look like in a year, in two, in ten, in twenty, in a hundred?

I’m sure those standing guard on Hadrian’s Wall or in the castle on the Isle of Kerrera when it was being besieged would ever have imagined their land being a place of tranquility but it is. I’m sure at the time they prayed for peace and now it has come.

So let us pray for peace in our world and know that one day it will come.

Categories
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
choice hope joy

Choose Joy

View of autumnal leaves of the tree outside my house taken by Diane Woodrow
View from my study window today

It is the start of the Celtic Advent. Celtic Advent gives 40 days run up to Christmas and then on into Epiphany. I like it because it gives time to reflect and ponder without some of the same intensity as the Anglican Advent time of just that mad December rush to Christmas.

In today’s reading Christine Sine encourages one to “choose joy”. As I looked out of my study window to the gold and oranging leaves of the cherry tree, my constant companion through all the seasons I think it is easy to choose joy today. It is easy to choose joy when there is beauty just outside my window, when I can go and walk in the beautiful park ten minutes from my house and enjoy the changing colours of the glorious autumn season. But how does one choose joy when life isn’t so beautiful?

Yet even when there is beauty around one still has to choose whether to see the glorious colours or to see that they signify impending death. As this season turns around again it is easy sometimes to see what hasn’t been done – the minimal progress at COP26, the impending next covid wave, etc ,etc. Or the path that was blocked or the job that hasn’t happened or the relationship that has gone awry.

But what is joy anyway? The Bible says “The joy of the Lord is your strength” Note it is the Lord’s joy not you trying to be happy clappy that is your strength. And I think that’s the depth of and truth of it all whether you believe in God or not, that you don’t have to build up that joy yourself but just need to turn to it, to accept it.

I read this from a blog post this morning. It is from Alcoholic’s Anonymous, which I seem to be coming across more and more these days in things I’m reading and I am sharing it with the young Youthshedz people I am working with

We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.

Call it what you wish – peace, joy, or as the Youthshedz girls were telling me the other day, hope – but you have to choose to walk in it. It is there all the time just waiting for you to reach for it, just waiting for you to accept it.

I’m learning a lot from these young people who have gone through so so much at such a young age and yet they have chosen hope. Ok so not all the time and they have down days and bad days, which is fine. If we are honest then we all have those days, though maybe not so openly, but they make an effort to choose hope/joy/peace.

So as the tree outside my window will soon cast its leaves to the ground and stand bare before me, even though the joy/hope looks like it has gone, I will, no matter what this next busy season throws at me, choose joy, choose peace, choose love, choose hope. It isn’t going to be easy but if these young people can do it then I certainly can.

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.

Categories
Lord's Prayer Trust God

All About Titles

maize field in the foreground, a row of conifer trees then rolling hills and onward to Snowdonia national park. Sky is cloudy with patches of sunshine. Taken by Diane Woodrow
Looking into Snowdonia. Taken by myself on 16th August 2021

So I will end this run of four thoughts on The Lord’s Prayer at the beginning “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name” I’d love to do a straw poll and find out how many of us cringe a bit when we feel we have to call God Father. I know my hand would go up. I’m not just thinking of my own father but of many other fathers I know who struggle along trying to do the best for their kids but carry so much of their own baggage that they don’t really know what “Father” actually means.

So I start my prayer by saying “To the all loving being who inhabits both the heavens and the earth, who made it all, and all that it is in it, whether the created acknowledge their maker or not. To the connected universe that holds all together and lets all move freely. To you I open my heart today because you are immense and amazing.”

Ok so it is a bit more long winded than the words we read in the Bible. But again I think that is because, for the gospel writers, it was obvious who they were connecting with, and obvious what they and others believed and expected.

In my journey with God I have come to see prayer more and more as not an asking thing but a connecting thing, and so I have to ask myself “what or who am I connecting with?” which is why I have the long opening. It is for me and not for God. God knows who God is. God doesn’t need telling, but I do need to realise the enormity and amazingness of God.

I think often our prayers are for ourselves. So we pray for those we love because it helps us cope with what they are going through. Yes I do know and believe that God answers prayer and intervenes. I also believe that God intervenes without our prayers too. I know prayer is important. But I think we often do it for our peace of mind too. And I believe that when we connect with God, the Maker of the Universe, through prayer or mediation or centering, or whatever we want to call it, then we connect with something higher, wider, deeper, more all knowing than we are.

To gain the real amazingness of prayer we need to also trust that we connect, that we are heard, that we are part of something, that we are co-creators of the outcome. Even if the prayers aren’t answered as we would like.

I like stories to confirm things so … I offered to pray for a lady in the park because her father had been taken ill. Her father died two weeks later. She told me that she knew I was praying because she felt such peace through it all. I didn’t give her peace. I didn’t stop her father dying. But what I did was connect her and her father and her family with The Amazing Power and Peace of God and let things flow as they were intended.

The outcome isn’t my call. My call is to prayer, connect with my Heavenly Savoir, and trust that things will go as the Universe believes to be the right way with peace.

I have to end by saying I think prayer is amazing and I need to remember to do it more often during the day as it changes me and my energy as much as it changes things I pray about.

Categories
God's Kingdom God's Will Lord's Prayer

Connected Wills

Picture of a wall and a shingly beach, looking across a stretch of water to Anglesey and the town of Beaumaris. Taken by Diane Woodrow
From Abergwyngregyn nature reserve looking towards Beaumaris. Photo taken this morning, 16th August, by myself

My third day of thoughts on my version of The Lord’s Prayer. Today is “your kingdom come, your will be done” to this I always add “in my life and my world.”

Is this a selfish, egocentric attitude? I think it depends on how you view yourself and your connections. For me I see myself as connected to others who in turn are connected to others. For instance, lady in the park told me that the random conversation we had the other day, which brought back memories of her going to Paris with her late husband, made her day and that she was able to cope with a shop assistant who was a bit stressed. I didn’t even meet the stressed shop assistant but my connection with a fellow dog walker supported that shop assistant. And who knows what the kind words from the from the dog walker brought to the shop assistant and so on and so on

Also I am coming to believe more and more that the energy I give out – whether negative or positive, fearful or safe, joyful or angry – affects those around me and again then affects those they come into contact with. It is a bit like my understanding of chaos theory – of how a butterfly flapping its wings in a forest can lead to a hurricane somewhere else in the world! OK for all the scientists who follow me this is a my simplified version!!! 🙂

Maybe me being kind to people and doing my best to walk with an energy of trust, peace and joy, can lead, one person at a time, to peace in the Middle East, which if boiled down to its basic level is people being afraid of people and what they can lose.

I suppose this comes full circle back to believing I have enough, which can even lead to knowing I have lived long “enough” as have those I love. [Of course I don’t want those I love to die in pain but I have to be ready to let them go when the universe says “enough” on their time here – but that’s for another blog!!!] But if I believe I am living in “enough” and that I am walking out God’s Kingdom and Will in my life/my world, then I do not need to fear lose or fear getting it wrong, which brings me back to “Forgiveness” of myself and others.

Makes you wonder sometimes if the Lord’s Prayer was written upside down and should have started with “get ready to forgive yourself and others, trust there is enough to go round, and believe you are doing your best to work out God’s Will and Kingdom in your life and that this will affect others”.

Just a thought!!!