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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
acceptance Love

Appreciating Each Other

A skeleton found on a dig at Lindisfarne. Probably 700-1500 years old. Photographed by myself Sept 2022

I start with the archeological dig’s skeleton, because we are all going to die And as an old dog walking colleague once said, his Mum died when she was in her 90s and it was still 10 years too soon for him. And I was reminded of the shortness of life last week when my daughter messaged to say her ex-boyfriend’s current girlfriend had died suddenly in the night, probably of meningitis. This girl was only in her mid 20s. Too quick and too soon.

But there was a quote a read on Instagram, which I can’t find again, about how life is short and yet we learn to fear each other rather than love each other. I wish I could find it again because it is really good. Then I heard on Cunk on Earth’s Faith episode, about how Christianity preached love and forgiveness and then killed anyone who would not practice it!!!

These things over this last week have left me wondering why we do not love and forgive more than we hold grudges and fear people. I think it is fear rather than hate. Hate I believe comes from fear. As I keep saying the more I do QEC counseling the more accepting I can be of others, but also the more I see that it is my traumas and fears that used to hold me back from forgiving and accepting people than the people themselves.

This isn’t to say that I am swinging my doors wide open to fill my house full of people. That is something I have learned that I do not like and find hard. That is not to with others but to do with me. But it does mean that I can smile at people when I’m out, engage in conversation where I am listening to them, where I am not worrying about how I will look or if they might “get one over on me”. Instead I am accepting myself and them, giving us both/all our space to be who we are, realising when I react to something someone has said it is as much my issue, if not more so, than their fault.

I think, as I get older, my greatest wish is to be accepting of myself fully, forgiving of myself fully, accepting of others fully and forgiving of others fully. Some of these issues I will have to work through with QEC and other stress/trauma calming techniques. But that is my greatest wish to reach a point where I can appreciate all people and myself, and that all people can do that for each other.

I’m ending this now as I can feel myself going into a rant about governments, etc and I want to keep this post free of that. Maybe next time?? 🙂

Categories
media prayer

There is so much more going on in the world than the media tell us

https://wildfiretoday.com/2022/05/08/updates-on-wildfires-in-northern-new-mexico/

I receive a weekly email from a woman who runs a ranch in New Mexico which she uses for healing retreats. Today’s one is full of her grief about the fact that her ranch is being destroyed by the wildfire that is sweeping across New Mexico killing people, destroying lives, making people homeless and jobless, killing animals, destroying nature, and changing the landscape of a huge expanse of the US. President Biden has declared it a state of emergency. And this is in a country with very little social support which – even though we criticise it deeply here in the UK – we do take for granted.

I also receive a newsletter weekly that ask me to pray for persecuted Christians around the world. Some of things these believers endure is horrendous. Again here in the UK we get very little persecution or even abuse.

But it got me thinking of how much the media controls what we know about the world. Yes the war in Ukraine is awful but it is not the only bad thing going on. Yes there will be a huge knock on effect with food but it is not the only place where our food comes from that might be struggling.

But these things I have mentioned – New Mexico wildfires, Ukraine, persecuted Christians – I only mention because they are things I can connect with. I did also get an email from UNESCO asking me to give money to children starving on the Horn of Africa. I did have to look up where it was. And I am sure the wars and climate change that have caused these children to be starving will effect more than just them. There will be a knock on. But it is in the news? No.

Too often we get caught in the trivial. And yes our politicians should held accountable but it should not fill our news screens. Yes we should know about wars not just that affect those with a similar skin colour to us but also those whose skin colour is different. But again it should not fill our news screens.

I wonder often how we can get a fuller picture of what goes on in our world?

I was talking to my husband, who is an avid news watcher, who says he watches the news so he knows what to pray. A very valid reason too. But I did wonder if maybe we/I should be asking God to show me where prayer is needed though listening to that Still Small Voice. I wonder if then maybe, just maybe, my prayers would be directed where they are really needed.

But as I write this I realise too that it is hard to find that time to sit, to be still, to hear the small voice, and to know what is needed prayer wise. Maybe I’ll start to try and get back to you – or maybe, like too often, I’ll just get busy and forget! Or maybe even turn a blind eye and hope it all goes away?

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
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.

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Faux Pas Lord's Prayer

Faux Pas

Desolation and lone footprints. Photographed by Diane Woodrow
Footprints across a deserted beach taken by myself March 2022

Why is it that it is so much easier to remember one’s mistakes and faux pas than one’s triumphs?

Yesterday I was chatting with a fellow writer and something slipped out of my mouth that I did not mean to say. He was a bit irritated by it at the time but I apologised and the conversation resumed. All the way home in the car I was waiting for my friend to say something about the gaff I’d made, but she never did. All she wanted to do was talk about the serendipity of being in the building at the same time as this person she knew through other outlets. And we twittered on about how amazing life can be, etc, etc.

But still when I was out with my dog walking I could feel the embarrassment of it. As I pondered by reaction rather than what I’d said I realised that it was actually my autonomic nervous system [ANS] that had gone into fight/flight/fawn/freeze mode and I needed to calm down my “meerkat” panic.

So as I walked I pulled my ANS back into a calmer, relaxed place via things I’d been taught via QEC – telling my ANS to realign – which is just says “ANS come back into alignment“, repeating “I’m safe, you’re safe, we’re safe” thus convincing my subconscious that there was nothing to worry about, and also being grateful – for the encounter with the fellow writer, for the time with my friend in the car there and back, for the joy of walking my dog. By the time I got home I was calm.

Even as I write this I can feel myself laughing at what I said, because it was daft and out of order, but I do not feel that awful grumpy-dragging-me -down-ness that I have felt in similar situations before. I can see it as a mistake I made and that I have learned from but not an “end of the world” thing.

It has made me wonder how many times I may have not done something, or even done something, because I was in that heightened “meerkat” mode – fearful, hyper-alert, anxious – rather than acknowledging it, taking those breaths, realigning myself and being able to let it go. Because that is very much what I did – let it go.

It also made me think of the lines in the “Lord’s Prayer” – about forgiving and forgiveness. Too often we are ready to forgive others but how often do we forgive ourselves. Or even how often do we say “Lord, forgive me my trespasses” but we are not willing to do it ourselves – thus making us bigger than God???

So as I realigned myself, stepped out of my fight/flight/fawn/freeze mode, I also forgave myself for what I’d said and have been able to get on and do things – which today have involved sending a proposal for some work and entering a writing competition. I have moved on from my faux pas!

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Albert Einstein daydreaming

Albert Einstein

Picture taken from The Guardian online from March 2015

It was Albert Einstein’s birthday yesterday. If he was still alive he would be 143!! For me Albert Einstein was the archetypal mad professor with the wild white hair, the grumpy face and that he did some amazing scientific things.

This morning I was reading an article about him and this open paragraph struck me.

Albert Einstein was allergic to authoritarians. His dislike of dogma, playful nature, and ability to constructively concentrate let him visualize unorthodox ways the universe might operate. Some of these proved to be true. Daydreaming his way to deeper understandings was his superpower. It can be ours, too.

https://www.space.com/albert-einstein-social-justice-modern-world

Daydreaming his way to deeper understandings was his superpower. It can be ours too” I know that in this article it probably means in scientific discovery but to me we need that deeper understanding in so many things in our world today – with Russia and Ukraine, with global warming/climate change, world poverty, racism, sexism, wars, hate, etc. As we pray do we just pray peace or do we daydream to deeper understandings of what the solution could be.?

As a creative person it made me wonder how often I stick to the status quo not being will or able to daydream to a deeper understanding. Not being able to write to a deeper understanding.

Ok so I’m not going to do some of the amazing things that Einstein did but I can daydream to deeper understandings and from there I can pray in deeper understandings. When things settle between Russia, Ukraine and the rest of the world do we want it to go back to the status quo or do we want a deeper understanding of peace, of the whys of the war, of the whole situation?

Actually this phrase “daydreaming of a deeper understanding” fits in with my prayers this morning which were for the “wounded Russia bear”. So now I will add to what came to me this morning and pray in deeper.

But also we can all take this into our personal lives. I’m sure few of us have perfect personal lives but to know that I could “daydream to a deeper understanding” of my life, of my next steps in my life, in the situations within my family, my friends, my town, etc is exciting and to me continues my thoughts on Praising when Life Is Not Fair and going onwards from there.

So let’s keep away from the herd mentality, keep away from dogma, be playful and remember that daydreaming isn’t just for children, but that it could change our understanding of our world.

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
Knowledge life Trees

Two Trees

Taken by myself August 2021

When the Bible talks of the “fall of man” it mentions a paradise garden and then two significant trees. I’m sure in paradise there would have been a lot more than fruit bearing trees. But these two are significant. I do also think that the story is a mythological story and not a factual story. My thoughts are that it tells of the human condition.

All of us inside our heads/minds/hearts have two major choices – do we choose life or do we choose the knowledge of good and evil? I’m sure there are many people already going “well of course we have to know what is good and what is evil or how will we know what is the right thing to do” but I’m not so sure if life is as black and white as we would like it to be. Lots of what we do [even Putin’s invading Ukraine, or the other atrocities that happen across the globe] are driven by the hurts and traumas we have experienced and also our putting things into good and bad boxes.

We would rather choose to know what is good and bad/evil than to choose life. In that bold statement I’m sure many would say “No I’d rather choose life” but I think it would be life with a caveat of the knowledge of good and evil.

God goes on to say that humankind has to leave paradise because if they then choose life as well as the knowledge of good and evil they will be like gods. I wonder if that is because humankind would still put that knowledge before life rather than being able to combine the two as I hope God can.

In doing some of this QEC counseling I slowly learning, as I’ve mentioned before, to let go of past traumas and to teach my heart/mind new statements about those traumas. I’ve forgiven and let people and myself go, no longer placing them or me in the good/bad box. I am bit by bit learning to look at things through the lens of “that is how I feel about it” rather than “good/bad”. Even some of the traumas that have wounded me I no longer look at as good or bad but as what is.

In fact I was working with a young woman on a project with Youthshedz and she tells her story very succinctly but also adds that all the things she has gone through are what makes her her and has brought her to the place she is. She talks of holding on to hope rather than boxing what has happened to her into good/bad. She is willing to explore the tree that will give life.

I do believe even as Christians we are not exempt from deciding whether things, people, lifestyles, etc are good or bad, and yet I don’t think God does that. I think God wants us to have life but also I believe God just wants us to trust them and talk to them and via Holy Spirit through prayer to trust them.

I was going an online yoga with Abbey of The Arts yesterday and at the end the instructor said that prayer is us talking to God and meditation is us listening to God. I think we do more praying and less meditation. Maybe we need to turn it around, hear from God/The Universe/Higher Being and so gain life and not worry about putting things into the good/bad box.

So today, not just with the people I meet but with God, I am going to try to really listen rather than just wait for my space to be able to speak.

Categories
change Flexible

Flexibility

Photo taken by Diane Woodrow walking by the sea at Rhyl, of birds flying into the air together over the incoming tide
Rhyl Blue Bridge Feb 2022

Flexibility or the ability to go with the flow is so important in this journey towards being aligned.

Things to change. Nothing stays the same. As someone said “the only thing we can be certain of in this world is change”. But if we are flowing in alignment then we do not need to fear change because we are not being pulled by others, by media, by fears, by circumstances.

Take these birds. When I got my phone out to take a photo of them they were all calmly sitting on the sandbank, but at this point the incoming tide had sent a wave over the sandbank so they took off in flight. That is because they are flexible. Yes they have moved with the circumstances of the incoming tide. They have not got boundaries so fixed that they will remain on that sandbank no matter what, but are willing to go with the tides.

Interesting keeping on the subject of birds being flexible and staying aligned with what is going on. Very early into lockdown, when people were not getting takeaways or going to the office and eating the park, the seagulls here took to fishing back out at sea again. But now that people are out, that there is more food litter, they are back in the parks, on the sea front – and one even swiped the top off my husband’s ice cream on Sunday afternoon. They are not working on fixed boundaries but are aligned with what is going on in the wider world.

But to do this one does need to slow down a bit, to listen to one’s heart, to wait and see. When one is reacting rather than flowing with each change and event, and not listening to the bigger picture, there is a lot of tension, a lot of boundaries being put up but very little flow. And very little peace.

Also, I believe, that each of us needs to listen to what God/The Universe is telling us which could be different to what someone else is saying. Whether it is to do with personal situations or world situations we need to slow down, wait on the bigger picture, and then move.

Interestingly waiting doesn’t need to take long. Like with the lockdown seagulls they soon understood the change and knew how to stay alive.

We need to listen to what God/The Universe is saying to us rather than keep being drawn into what the media tells us.