Saturday, 2 December 2017

Patience in Waiting



So how patient are you? Does you foot start to tap as you wait at the checkout? Life seems so hurried. A full-on non-stop, multi-tasking energy sapping sort of existence seems to be the norm. When did you last sit down and do nothing? And I don't mean when did you last sit down and check your emails, or Facebook, or your Twitter account. When did you last sit down and stopped to think? And I don't mean mean stopping to think about all those things on your to-do list. When did you last sit down, with no agenda, and really thought about those important things in life. Things like friendships and family and faith. When did you last sit down with no agenda?

I must admit to enjoying sitting and reflecting but so often that time gets pushed to one side for something else. There is always so much to do! Over the last year, or so,  I have made a conscious effort to re-priorities that which is important. In particular I have done some things for me. Just for me. So often in the hustle and bustle we can squeeze that all important me-time to the point where it becomes almost non-existent. Is it just me? Or do you relate to what I'm saying?

This year I took the bull by the horns and, in the same week, joined a community choir and started a course in improv. By impov I mean - improvised acting. Making it up as you go along - if you will. I like meeting new people. I will talk to anyone but put me in a largish group where I don't know anyone and I am well and truly out of my comfort zone! But I did it. I survived. I made some new friends and I have learnt some new techniques. Most of all I have smiled from ear-to-ear and I have laughed, and laughed, and laughed! I love to sing it is so good for the soul, but I will let you into a secret, I hate to sing on my own. Well, singing on my own when there is no one around bar the cats is fine but definitely not to an audience. I have done it occasionally and am fine when I don't think about it but it is really out of my zone. Performing improv can be a bit scary but the fun factor of it takes over.

Anyway, I digress...   We can get even more caught up in the rushing around as we prepare for Christmas but I would encourage you to take some time out, just for you. To sit and to think about what is important. Where is God in the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations? And where are you? Are you to busy rushing around to enjoy life? Have you got your priorities and life balance right? Does something need to change? Is it time to re-priorities? When was the last time you fed your own soul with things that you enjoyed? When did you last laugh out-loud big belly laughs until the tears ran down your face? 

In the waiting of Advent may you find those things that bring you joy that can't be wrapped up in a box.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Waiting



I sat waiting. It had been a very long time. Too long. There was a stench of tobacco and beer that lingered in the cold night air. Yesterday's newspapers brought little warmth to the soul. There was no good news, or so it seemed.

The platform echoed of yester-year. The hard wooden benches had seen weary travelers for decades. Chocolate vending machines still adorned the walls but there was no Cadbury's fruit and nut to be had. It had been eaten long ago. The wooden bridge that allowed passengers to cross to the other side of the tracks echoed with the footsteps of many who had trodden the same path. Those who had felt the same pain of frustration. 

The lost baggage area contained an assortment of umbrellas, scarves and hats. Folk had discarded their protection from the elements. Old leather briefcases containing sandwich boxes of now rotten fruit awaited owners who never came. Mysterious packages remained unopened on the shelves. Most people however kept their own baggage close to their chest or strapped to their backs. The weight seemed more of a comfort than an inconvenience. 

How much longer? 

The night sky was lit with a thousand stars that danced and twinkled enticing the traveller to far distant shores. But no-one was going anywhere tonight. The last train had gone. We continued to wait. Ghosts of the past waited with us. Their heavy chains clanking as they shuffled along in a chain-gang of confusion. Not knowing where to go or what to do for fear of getting it wrong.
Why was I waiting? Should I just be patient or complain to the ticket man? Was my journey so far in vain? 

I made myself comfortable as best I could. I wrapped my scarf tighter around my neck and pulled up the collar on my jacket. I felt suffocated but I would survive. 

The more the clock ticked the more isolated and alone I felt. Sleep was not my friend. As dawn broke my eventual slumber was disturbed some more. As daylight flooded onto the platform I began to realize I was not alone. There were other fellow travellers caught up in the temporary derailment. As I looked and smiled at them they began to smile back. A few nodded their head in acknowledgement of a shared journey. Tentatively I opened my mouth to wish them a good morning. Soon the silence and fear of the night had vanished as we began to talk and share our stories of travel plans scuppered. 

We were all weary. We were all tired of dragging our baggage around for so long. 

I suddenly realized I wasn't alone. I wasn't the only one with tales of woe. The derailment had effected us all; in different ways perhaps, but the fatigue and pain was the same and sat etched on all our faces. 

What now? How much longer would we have to wait? 

An announcement interrupted our chatting. The next train was due shortly. In a flurry of commotion and a lifting of voices spirits began to be restored. The ghosts of the past finally put to bed. Faith sustained and now multiplied. Today was a new day. A new song would be sung. 

The journey wasn't over yet....





Monday, 8 August 2016

Love and grace



'Love and marriage, love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage...' In the same way that love and marriage go together so do love and grace. You can't have love without grace. 

'For it is by God's grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God's gift, so that no one can boast about it.' Eph 2:8-9

Grace is not something that we earn. It is not awarded because of something we have done. God's grace is given in mercy and not based on merit. His grace is never ending, which is just as well. We really don't deserve God's grace but that's the point. 

Grace, or being gracious is wrapped up in forgiveness. To be gracious with others we need to accept them as they are, warts and all, and to forgive their idiosyncrasies. To show love we also have to show grace and that involves acceptance and forgiveness. 

God's grace is perhaps hard for us to understand because we are so hard on other people and so hard on ourselves. We often want to beat ourselves up when we do something wrong. The bigger the mistake the bigger the stick. The bigger the stick, the less grace we show ourselves until we fail to forgive ourselves, yet alone ask God for his forgiveness. We think we are not worthy but God says, 'Yes you are, you are my child, and I love you.'

God doesn't want to beat us with a stick, he doesn't want us to feel guilty, he wants us to accept his grace, and his forgiveness and his love. Grace and forgiveness may seem alien to us if we are use to beating ourselves up, in the same way love can be alien to us if we don't actually love ourselves. It is impossible to give love unless we have experienced it for ourselves. It is impossible to behave lovingly to other people, unless we are loving towards ourselves. 

We don't have to earn God's love he bestows it upon us because of his grace. He forgives us through his grace and because of his abounding love for us. Paul's prayer for us is that we may know God's love as he knows it. 

'I pray that Christ will make his home in your hearts through faith. I pray that you may have your roots and foundations in love, so that together with all God's people, may have the power to understand how broad and long, how heigh and deep, is Christ's love. Yes, may you come to know his love - although it can never be fully known - and so be completely filled with the very nature of God.' Eph 3:14-19

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Reflection


It's not easy to see a true reflection of ourselves. Our view is distorted, the lens clouded by our own misconceptions. The anorexic see themselves as fat, when the reality is they are far too thin. The proud see themselves as always right, when clearly no one can be right all of the time. The teenager always sees their spot as enormous, when often it is just a pimple. God however, sees us as we are. He has no rose tinted glasses or distorted views. He sees the true picture and he sees our heart. We can pretend to be what we are not but there is nowhere to hide from God. Adam and Eve tried it in the garden of Eden, they were soon uncovered, in more ways than one.

Sorry to those of you following my Lent blog but I lost my way a little. Part of me got bored in blogging every day. The other part of me thought my words and photos just weren't good enough. My frame of mind clearly distorted reality. I often find myself being self critical. Perfectionism is a difficult one to master. I seem to be rather fickle when it comes to writing. I am in love with writing but the love blows hot and cold with the pressures of life. I guess that's normal but I crave the consistency and depth of the deep love affair. Love needs encouragement, it needs time to be nurtured. It needs day trips, and holidays, and nights in front of the fire. It needs passion to survive. It needs tenderness and patience.

We all have struggles, we all have distorted views of ourselves. We all need encouragement to see ourselves as a God sees us. 

I hope God has been talking to you, I'm sure he has. Stop for a moment and ask God what he sees when he looks at you. Don't be deceived by your own distorted view.


Saturday, 27 February 2016

Photo every day, Lent 2016:see

Here is today's photo on the theme of 'see'. I see the sea!!! It is often the most simple things that bring us joy. This was the view from my hotel room whilst I was on retreat earlier this week. Isn't it amazing? God's creation never ceases to amaze me. 

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Photo every day, Lent 2016: joy

Today's theme is joy. I have been trying to focus on the good things in life and what brings me joy so it seems a good topic to me. I hope the photo makes you smile..