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
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
different remember

Nostalgia

Photo of Porth Padrig graveyard taken by Diane Woodrow of Barefoot At The Kitchen Table
churchyard at Porth Padrig, Anglesey taken by myself Jan 2022

Living in a county crammed with history it is easy to get nostalgic for a past era. In fact my daughter and I were messaging last night and were saying that we missed lockdowns, though at the time when I look at my diary entries no one enjoyed them at all. But we can look back and miss those quiet times with nothing to do – even though we were chomping at the bit to get and do things.

In 2018 I did some work with a local high school based around WWI and was amazed how we sanitised it and looked at it as a time when people banded together to help each, of heroism, of being united. We are distanced from the death and horror by 100 years.

I wonder with all that is going on, and has been going on over the last few years – Brexit, pandemic and now the Russia/Ukrainian war – how history will view it. One cannot even guess because we are living through it.

But even things that we lived through, like lockdowns, we look back on in a different light.

So I think this means we need to be careful as we apply comparisons from history to what is happening across the world – whether Ukraine, pandemics, Yemen, etc. It is said that people don’t learn from history but I think that is because each time something happens the world is different and so history can show something but not enough or too much to help stop wars, stop abuse, stop things from happening, or make things happen.

As Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher born in 544 B.C., is alleged to have said, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” which means that the conflicts, issues, problems, projects, that are going on at the moment are not the “same river” so we must not expect it to be. And also we are looking at things with through a nostalgic lens – whether rose-tinted or not.

So let us be careful as we make comparisons from history – yes history can lead to a conflict but there is much more going on in this present day. Perhaps we need to just focus on the here and now.

Just focus on the moment.

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
Focus priorities

Who Guides Our Priorities?

Photo taken by Diane Woodrow at end of Feb 2022 Taken whilst she was walking on a Saturday morning with her dog
Morfa Conwy Feb 2022

How often have you wondered who guides what you priorities? What you focus on? What you worry most about?

Today there is much talk across the Christian community of Ash Wednesday being a day of prayer for Ukraine, which is great. It really is. But what about the other things? But if I dig a bit on various news-feeds I read about ethnic inequalities, massive inflation across the world, there is still a climate crisis, there are still people being persecuted in Afghanistan, Nigeria, Myanmar, and still people dying from Covid across the world. But it is hard to find out any other news.

I remember back in September 2011 when the twin towers were destroyed and all focus on was on them. A friend who worked with orphans in Africa said more children had died of starvation and AIDS in one day than had died in the twin towers. Or when Princess Diana was killed in a car accident the pastor of the church I was attending at that time asking us to pray for all the other people who had died in car accidents that night who would be lost under the media coverage of her death.

Don’t get me wrong, I do think this situation in Ukraine is awful as was the Twin Towers disaster, but I do think too often we then forget other things. We forget had forgotten that there had been Russian oppression in parts of Ukraine for over 10 years because the media got bored and turned us to other things. We get bored of hearing the same thing day in day out.

We are fickle human beings and, I believe, more so now with 24 hour news, internet access, etc. I think too that if this conflict in Ukraine hits a point where there are no big headlines we will move on to something else.

Is it that we don’t care? I don’t believe that at all. But I do think it is because when we are bombarded with news and information day in day out our brains cannot cope so we shut off. And then the media needs to keep us watching the news, reading papers, scrolling through the internet, because they earn money that way. So they will find us the next thing to be drawn into, the next thing to worry about, the next thing that we give our money to.

This isn’t wrong but it is just the way it is. Can we change? Maybe this is about again looking at aligning with God, with the Universe and fixing on that and being willing to go for whatever we are called to for the long haul – which is hard.

Are you, am I, willing to take time out and find out what my true focus is or am I, are you, going to be swayed by the winds of the world?

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

James 1:5-7
Categories
Confict Russia Ukraine

War! What is it good for? ….

Sunrise over snow taken from a tank by Diane Woodrow's son Ben
Taken by my son four years ago

And finishing the line of Edwin Starr’s song – War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing! – and I think that is one of the things that breaks my heart the most, not just for this invasion by Russia into Ukraine but for all the other wars, conflicts and atrocities that are going on across the world – many of which have been going on so long they don’t make headlines any more. They are old news and no one cares.

Because we live in an age of instant news we know moment by moment what is going on in Ukraine. I wonder if World War One would have panned out differently if people could have seen videos from the trenches and seen the waste of life. Because whether medieval war or modern war or all wars in between that is all that is ever achieved by war – loss of life.

Ok so the leaders are no longer riding into battle but one day they will died. No matter how invincible Putin or despots think they are, or even good leaders for that matter, they will all die. And they will be remember in various different ways by the generations that follow them in certain ways but they will still be dead, along with all those they led into this war.

My heart aches to know of the civilians in Ukraine who are taking weapons against fellow human beings. To see women making Molotov cocktails sitting together chatting is heartbreaking. No one should want to hurt or main another human being but they are being led down that road.

So maybe the Edwin Starr song should say “War, what is it good for? Encouraging innocent people to hate others”. And that is the saddest thing to me.

The picture at the top was taken by my son in January 2019 on maneuvers in Estonia. Even though I have mixed emotions about my son being in the army I am also proud of how he is developing as a human being. But also I love this photo because it shows such beauty with the sun rising and glistening off the snow and the tank.

One of my prayers will be that there is beauty comes from not just this atrocity but from all the awful things that going on through the world. I want a world full of hope to live in and I see it within some of the disadvantaged young people I work with. I just pray they can taken it onwards across the world to touch even the hearts of people like Putin, Trump, and others whose names do not come to me at the moment.

With hope we will not be afraid – or so I believe.