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.
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.
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”.
I woke this morning thinking I should write a blog piece about Prince Phillip but what do you write about someone that you don’t really know that so much has been written about – also by people who don’t really know him.
Well it turns out the news of his death was announce on the anniversary of my stepdad’s death, which was sixteen years earlier. My stepdad born two years after Prince Phillip so the Queen and her family have been lucky/blessed to have him about for sixteen years longer than we got my stepdad. I’m sure that doesn’t make the loss any less for them though.
So this got me thinking about loss and death and when is a good time to die and how should one die. All those who’ve followed my blogs and my old site Diane’s Daily Thoughts, you’ll know that I’ve walked through a few untimely deaths. More than some and not as many as others!
We were talking with friends on Monday – our first friends this year who’ve been able to visit and sit in our backyard to eat lunch – and we were saying about dying well. As Christians we believe that we’ll go to be with God when we die and maybe even catch up with those who’ve already gone. [My hope there is too that God will have everyone who’s died with him whether they professed a faith or not. But that is for another blog!!] So if we believe that we’ll be in heaven then surely we should be preparing for it now. How? I believe by living to our fullest,which does not mean being busy all the time but being present all the time. Being here in the moment. Being content in the moment. Being at peace with ourselves and the world around us. And as I said in my last blog living in kindness and grace.
Death is one of the few things we can be certain of; that we are going to die, that those we love will die – and we hope and pray that it will not be too soon. But then maybe even 99 is too soon.
So for me as a ponder Prince Phillip’s death which is a form of public mourning, because, whether we like it or not, like him or not, he was a public figure who has been part of the UK’s psyche for over 70 years, I hope he died well. I hope he had time to say his goodbyes I hope he was reconciled with his regrets. I hope he was at peace at the end.
I wonder how the followers of Jesus felt as they woke after Passover. Not the 12 disciples or the women who stayed with him. We know what went on with them. I wonder about those, who are like so many of us, sitting on the edges, are not part of the inner clique. Those who had heard Jesus speak, had felt something stir in their hearts, stayed with him even when they didn’t get picked to be the elite disciples. Those who shouted “Hosanna!” the Sunday previously and who stood at the back of the crowd when others shouted “Crucify him” and felt helpless to do anything about it. How did they feel?
I am thinking they felt a lot of what many of us are feeling now – grief, loss, anxiety, confused, uncertain. Did Jesus come to them? And if he did then when and what was it like?
As we go through these uncertain times, locked in by an unseen enemy, realising what a mess our world is in and how much it relies of economy rather than care, not knowing when this will end or what the future will hold will the Peace of Jesus come to us?
Many this Easter Sunday will be doing virtual church or be involved in things like https://ctbi.org.uk/sing-resurrection/ organised by a friend of mine. But also there will be people, I think, like those who were not connected with the inner circle of disciples and followers, who will just be getting on with their own thing. The thing they did to survive and live after Passover, after the world had changed.
My hope is that Jesus came to those people too. It isn’t recorded in the Bible if he did but my hope is that the Jesus I try to follow came to those who didn’t, or couldn’t, do anything special to wait for him; couldn’t or wouldn’t stop their daily lives. I hope he came for them. So this morning my hope is that whatever anyone is doing, whatever they believe, fear, hope, feel, that they’ll get a glimpse of Jesus and he’ll bring a bit of his healing balm to these uncertain, anxious times.
I read this quote this morning in Richard Rohr’s daily meditations. It’s from Charles Péguy (1873–1914), who was a French poet and essayist. Also this morning in the Guardian online I read this from Julia Gillard, who was the first woman Prime Minster of Australia, “the rapid media cycle combined with social media had disrupted the rhythm of politics and the perception of politicians.”
“What’s wrong with the world today?” we often hear cry. In fact I was at a meeting talking about doing things with young people and that it is getting harder and harder because their attention spans are becoming shorter – and of course social media took the blame. Is it to blame? Or is it more along the lines of the fact that we have come to accept it and not challenge it. I’m not saying switch it off but I am saying that we need to fit in the mysticism, the praying, the meditation, the thinking about things. We see top level council and government meetings tweeted about as soon as we happen. Donald Trump has bought into the whole social media/tweeting in such a way that he appears to just tweet away so he can keep “in touch” but so much of what he says is rubbish and not even spell checked. As yet our politicians over here have not bought in to it but will that only be a matter of time?
But each of us needs to change this too. We need to slow down and to think. We need to change our worlds but being more meditative before we act. There is a rise in meditation and mindfulness but that seems to me to be in a recreation box not in a “let’s ponder before we act” box. As the general public we need to stop wanting a quick answer to things. And yes public enquiries can take too long – as with Hillsborough – but also answers can be wanted too quickly.
We live in a world that wants answers and wants them now. Human beings have always wanted to know the whys and wherefores of everything but at one time that had to come about slowly, could not be broadcast the moment someone had had a pondering thought. A lot of what we hear and read is more of a thought than a decision. Decisions come with time, with thought, with tapping into something greater than. And yes I think whether Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jew, Pagan, Agnostic, Atheist, or any of the other religions etc that I have missed out, all want to tap into something more than themselves, whether that is a God, gods, inner self, counsellors, friends, or anything else. But that takes time. It cannot be done in a moment, in 144 characters.
To be able to change this world we need to take time, need to as Kate Tempest said “look at the faces” and “see peace in the faces”. Peace and hope and knowing where to stand. The catchphrase/gateway to silence/meditation point with Richard Rohr this week is “Give me a lever and a place to stand” – based on how Archimedes believed that a lever put in the correct place on the correct fulcrum in space could move the world. For me this has set me off on thinking about where is the lever I’m meant to be standing on, where is the correct place for me to stand and what in my world am I changing. Being the person I am it is hard for me to stop and think and wonder about that. I do want to be rushing about doing but I know that I will not know where it is unless I spend time praying, pondering, journaling, talking to friends, reading, watching, thinking and then …
So to change this world, to see the peace in people’s faces, to really know what is going on and what people think about it we need to slow down, to move into meditation not as a place so we can sleep more but as a place where we can become more effective. We need to also stop expecting our leaders to give us answers now.
At church yesterday our vicar asked “What side of the wall would Jesus have been on?” You know what I think? I think he would have been on both sides. Yes both sides. Both sides are hurting and in pain – ok the refugees and those with green cards, etc stuck in airports have a noticeable need but the side behind the wall also have a need.
Those who want the wall built, want Muslims ban, are scared. Not just slightly scared but terrified. They have believed the media hype that all Muslims are terrorists and that we need to beware of them. I’m not sure what they America equivalent of the Daily Mail is but these people are Daily Mail readers. Mind you I often think the Guardian readers only see one side too.
I found it interesting too that there has been this big fuss here in the UK about the wall to stop Mexicans coming into the US and Trumps Muslim ban, but not so much has stayed in the news about the fences and walls being built across Europe to stop the refugees entering the UK. Yes this includes those fences that have now been torn down in Calais.
There was a post on Facebook that said “If you’re a Christian and you support #MuslimBan, you might be a lot of things but you’re not a frigging Christian”. I can see the sentiment behind this but I don’t think it’s true. I think there are Christians who are scared of Muslims, scared of dying, and not fully putting their faith in God. For some it comes out noticeably in saying they support #MuslimBan but for others it comes out in different ways; not believing this they do can be forgiven, not forgiving others, not giving to the poor, gossiping, keeping boundaries in their hearts that keep others out, not doing things that God asks of them. I go on. Yes supporting it shows an uncaring side, a side that is misguided but also a heart that is scared of things, lives in fear. You know I think Jesus would be with these people wanting to change their hearts and wanting them to let go of their fear and to trust him and to love others.
Recently I attended a course about the connection between Judaism and Christianity led by some lovely Christian people. It did reach a point where I could not go any more because they were talking of how the Jews reclaimed Palestine/Israel and I said that I felt we also ought to look at the awful things the Jews had done against the Palestinians. Well I was told that it was prophesied in the Bible so this made it ok, that actually these people (the wave of refugees that I had said were like the Jews prior to WWII) only wanted to come over here to kill us all, and that the Jews ways of dealing with the Arabs were ok because “the end justified the means”!!!. These were not bad unloving Christians but they had got caught up in a side of things that said that if one does not honour the Jews one will not be blessed. And they wanted to be blessed. So I am sure they would be very pro the #MuslimBan but also very caring and loving towards homeless people, people with needs, Jewish people. But they live in a mix of fear of Arabs/Muslims and a desire to claim major blessings from God.
I didn’t want to do the comparison between now and Nazi Germany but I’m going to. Back in the 1930’s there were some good Christians who went along with what Hitler was saying about the reasons why Germany was failing. They supported him to begin with. And even, to save their own skins, they turned a blind eye to what was going on. Not every person who let things happen in Nazi Germany was a bad person. Many were scared and wanting to look after themselves.
So what side would Jesus be on? Again I believe he would be on both sides, wanting to give the refugees the peace and freedom they deserve, but also wanting those who think they should be banned/walls built peace and freedom in their hearts so they can also have the freedom they deserve. When one is fearful or angry or prejudice there is no freedom to truly live. One is always wanting to look after oneself, keep an eye out for those who might take away the blessing/the job/the destiny.
In the next few days I’m doing to look and blog on words from one of Josh Luke Smith’s songs – “Come as you are not as you should be” – because I think it says an awful lot about how we need to think and pray for the who are being oppressed, for the bigots who are doing the oppression and for ourselves and how we should be reacting; how we should be living in peace and in true freedom
As I look out my study window things don’t look much different to yesterday. All us early risers are still up and doing our thing, cars are moving, the sky is still dark at 7.15. I expect there will be a littering of fireworks shells and empty bottles around and about. My family and I will be on very different time scales as when I got up to go to the bathroom at 2.30am lights were still on downstairs. By then I’d been asleep for at least 3 hours.
Yesterday I did spend some time wrapping 2016 up and tying it with a ribbon to know that some of it will ooze out into this coming year. There is no clear cut. We’ve got Airbnb bookings already for this year. I’m waiting on replies for workshops. There will be hurts and joys from years gone by that will move into this new year. A new year isn’t like a new baby where the canvass is blank and ready to write on – although new calendars and diaries give us that impression. It is just the turning of a page.
It can be good to think of resolutions on how we will live our year, but then it is also good to do that every day, week, month. Around the start of each month I take a blank calendar page, put all my set things on it and then take my list of things I’d like to do and find out how I can fit them in; things like an artist’s date to write somewhere different, some study time, catch up with people time. And I also reassess if I stuck to my writing goals on the month before. I cannot say that I will leave it all until the end of the year to do this or it may never happen. But also I do not condemn myself if I do not do as I would have like – whether new year resolutions or my plan for the coming week.
Going back to my question for 2017 – what does it have in store for us? No one knows. We watched Charlie Booker’s Wipe 2016 the other evening which started with him saying “good riddance to 2015. That wasn’t a great year. Let’s hope 2016 is better” and then he goes on to say that in fact 2016 seems a lot worse – esp for us here in the West. 2017 could be even worse for the world in general, or it could be better, or it could be a mix of both.
I had an odd comment to my Facebook Happy New Year message. Someone said “Hope 2017 is better than the last 5 years have been for you.” I’m not sure if they meant it for me or for someone else because in reality the last 5 years have had some really tough and really horrid times in them but they have also had some really great times in them. I could choose to focus on the awful or to focus on the awesome or actually look at them as a whole and say “we made it through” which often is my response. In fact for me there have been many years in my life time that have been horrendous with smaller smatterings of awesome than we’ve had in the last 5, but I’m hear and I’m still standing and I’ll looking forward to what is to come.
Some of my favourite things for this coming year are:
This from Sally McClung who’s husband Floyd has been very sick for a very long time. She posted this on 30th December –
“I remembered a definition of peace that I heard Floyd give in one of his sermons. Peace does not mean the absence of trouble, but the presence of what is good – God is good! We can rest in His goodness even in the midst of trouble, of storms.
Various forms of peace are mentioned 429 times in the Bible, so the Lord certainly understood that “peace” would be an issue, a need in our lives. Our actions, our attitudes may influence peace, but true peace comes only from God.
“Great peace have those who love your law.” Psalm 119:165
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because He trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6,7
“The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, and peace.” Galatians 5:22
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27″
And this old faithful poem
The Gate Of The Year
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I’ll still make my resolutions and put in some plans but will hold them lightly. I will look for that good that leads to peace of mind in all that goes on rather than expecting things not to be troubled. I will put my hand in God’s and let Him lead me into the darkness of this coming year. And if by the end of 2017 I trust God more and can see beauty and goodness in more things, situations and people then I think I will have made it.
I’ve done my best not to read any blog posts that are appearing today. My facebook feed was crazy enough. In fact at one point Facebook crashed it was so busy.
So what do I think? Well for someone to win the majority of the voting public must have voted for them, even if by a small majority. I know after Brexit there was a lot of talk of the percentage that didn’t vote and that if they had voted then there would be no Brexit. Um! How was one to know what they would have voted for? The same here. I don’t know how many Americans voted yesterday and one can claim that if the rest had voted the result would have been different but would it? I really do hope we don’t get into that because that’s silly.
So in both Brexit and the US elections what do I see people voting for? I see them voting against the “Global Village”. Not so long ago, as the internet took over the world there were a lot of people excitedly claiming that this was making the world smaller, people finding it easier to keep in touch, people knowing what the rest of the world is like, and also migration became easier. But it appears from these two times of voting that the majority of people who voted do not want that. They do not want to be multicultural. And actually when they see what the media is throwing at them why should they? If you live somewhere that has very few people of a different ethic mix to you but you watch the media and all you see is people of cultures and colours you do not know fighting and killing each other do you really want them living by you?
We seem to have got into a way, not just on the news coverage but in general of only showing death and horror. I love a good detective thriller but do have to be careful that this does not colour my view. Watch the TV series Shetland and you can see that this beautiful Scottish Isle is full of drug dealing and murder. Not a safe place to go. The TV show Hinterland, shows that Aberwysth in Wales is full of dour people who hate and kill each other. I could list loads and loads of programs that just drift into our homes now that show the world as a bad place. And then once we get on to the news well…
But actually across the world these wars, not just in the key places we see but across Africa, the Middle East, India, Pakistan, Ukraine, etc etc there are people who are fighting, and killing, to stop integration of those of a different race, colour, religion, background. And in stopping that integration they are working on a basis of ethnic cleansing or assimilation.
I truly believe that what we have seen in the voting that went on yesterday in US and in June in the UK was a cry from the people to say that they do not want globalisation.
There has just been some major commemorations, which will come to ahead in 2 years time, a hundred years of World War I. In the human psyche a hundred years is not a long time. Yes there have been times of prayer for forgiveness and reconciliation. But a hundred years ago the world was a divide place. People did not move around like they did. I remember less than thirty years ago travelling Europe and being seen as a bit of a hippy for doing it. Someone I worked with had just been on a package holiday to Spain. Thirty years ago were the times of going to Spain and being able to play bingo and drink Watney’s Red barrel beer – warm and flat, and the only wine we drank was Liebfraumilch, spaghetti bologniase was seen as foreign food. Ok so most towns did have a Chinese takeaway or curry house but that was for drinking after the pub or on special occasions. All this is not very long ago but with the arrival of the internet, cheap plane travel, the EU, borders changing, a lot of people being more tolerant and wanting to help those in war-torn places, so things have changed and have changed fast. I do think these votes are a cry against this change.
But my hope and prayer is that this vote is accepted, that people are kind about it and that
Christians are willing to pray “Your Kingdom Come” rather than telling God what should be done. I believe God uses all things to good and He will use this. It was no surprise to Him.
Oh I am so rubbish at setting boundaries. I find it so difficult. Maybe I wasn’t taught well as a child? Maybe very few of us get taught how to do it? Anyway it seems that this is the journey I am on at the moment – learning how to set boundaries calmly and firmly without losing it!
This weekend we’ve had those guests staying that really do need boundarying in. This has been a tough weekend. And today I have had to charge them for staining a mattress. And also when I did challenge them he actually, I felt, was quite passive aggressive toward me. Oh man I found it so hard not to be passive aggressive myself back again and not to say “it’s fine” when they offered to pay for the mattress. So yes I did manage to charge them for at least my cleaning time and didn’t lose my temper. But now I am shaking like a leaf and want to cry. I know its silly. Like this is my house, my business, my life, and I have got myself in a pickle being firm to people in my house. But it was so hard.
Mind you I can think of loads of places where I give in and go with people and then try to put my boundaries in later and really screw up and do the whole passive aggressive bit, or even really shout. Actually it isn’t so much their fault, though I may have felt my boundaries have been violated, but sometimes it is because I have not been clear. Too busy people pleasing!!!
With my new venture of facilitating writing workshops I again have to set firm boundaries or I could easily get either carried away and do too much or not be willing to do something because of someone putting me down. I have to work out my life balance. I have things I have to do and things I can do and I have to learn what I can fit into my day and still be me. I need to also find time to write and plan and also just to hang out.
There are some amazing books out there about setting boundaries – which I have read – but actually it isn’t till you have to set them, and then have opposition to them that you realise how you are. Oh yes it is easy for me to set boundaries whether with the Airbnb rooms (yes we are up to 2 now) or with the writing workshops when people are playing ball with them, or even if they give them a bit of a push but when I say “No that’s it” they affirm me. The Airbnb guest being aggressive toward me upset me. Not because he had done it but because I realise how fragile I am about holding on to my boundaries.
So this weekend was hard work. I made some mistakes with the guests, with my husband, with myself, but I have learned a lot through it. And for me learning is always the greatest thing. I am not perfect but I am always learning. This weekend was good – even if there is now a horrid mess that needs cleaning!!! And loads of washing that need doing!! And guests that are arriving soon. – So why am I posting this? Because I told myself I need to publish something on my blog and so I that is also my boundary for me and my writing today.
(Lots of amazing boundary quotes pinched from various places 🙂 )