Do We Want To Grow Through This?

flutureI did not intend to blog for a while. My mother has been visiting and then today my mother-in-law comes. I have a story that is in the editing process that I need to get to a place of understanding so I can leave it for the weekend but then this post from Richard Rohr came up. I am going to paste it all at the end of this but I felt it was rather apt for the state of UK at the moment. I was going to just share in on my facebook feed but then realised I was adding a whole post to it as I went.

Here is a quote I was going to pull out of it to share as an intro:

Change can either help people to find a new meaning, or it can cause people to close down and turn bitter.

No matter what happens with all this the UK is in a place of change. I even heard last night of a couple who had been dating for over 5 years have ended their relationship because they have realised how opposed their political views are. I have also heard of families that 082cannot now sit together to eat together. And these are people who were close not estranged families. Someone said before the referendum that the spiritual atmosphere felt like a civil war was coming. Now I’m not sure how much I understand of that but what I see is very similar to what I have read about. Being a historian I also know that The Civil War of Roundheads and Cavaliers was not the only one. Ever since the Norman invasion there have been wars across our land where families have been divided on which side they would support; French or Norman, French or English, Woman as leader or Man as leader, Protestant or Catholic, York and Lancaster, and many more. This division is part of who we are as a nation and we haven’t come out of it very well.

transformation-in-text-webpage-711x200-jpgSo will we in this time of Change find a new meaning in our lives or will we close down, turn bitter and get into name calling. Each person had their reasons for voting the way they did. I know someone who voted Remain because of the emphasis on the economy and heard of another who voted Leave because she felt that the Remain campaign just went on about money and didn’t seem to care about people. There have been Christians on both sides saying this is God’s will and voting from their interpretation of scripture. And on it goes.

… transformation …  more often happens not when something new begins but when something old falls apart. The pain of something old falling apart–chaos–invites the soul to listen at a deeper level. It invites and sometimes forces the soul to go to a new place because the old place is falling apart. Otherwise, most of us would never go to new places. Whatever it is, it does not feel good … You will do anything to keep the old thing from falling apart. This is when you need patience, guidance, and the freedom to let go instead of tightening your controls and certitudes.

The world is transforming from what we know to what we don’t know. It is painful. There can be no argument about that. To deny the grief would be wrong. But are we willing to listen deeper? Not just to what we want but to what might be going on at another level? On one very open level now we are hearing about open racism. I cannot believe that this is young-businessman-standing-with-back-opening-doorbecause people have suddenly become racist. No I think it was under the surface all along but no one wanted to listen. I am not old enough to remember Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of Blood” speech when he spoke about how bring in a lot of migrants would cause problems in our land. He was shut down and called racist. But there are people in the UK who are fearful of those they don’t know, fearful of things they don’t understand. I think just to say “racism is wrong” is missing something. I believe we need to listen at a deeper level and try to hear the why’s.

Someone else, a Leave voter, was saying that she had been accused of being provincial by someone who lived in London. She felt that it was those who lived in London who wanted to Remain because of what they would get out of it. Now we get the city/country divide. It is not just a North/South, Rich/Poor divide but also a City/Country divide.

I do wonder if we are willing to listen deeper if we will hear more of these division. Are we then willing to support and help through this or do we just want to close these voices downtumblr_ne6or13mvb1tm1y5io1_500 and go back to pretending they don’t exist? Are we willing to be patient? Are we willing to let go of being in control? Are we willing to trust that God knew about this before the beginning of time and that He has a plan?

 

Here’s the whole of Richard Rohr’s message if you want to read it:

Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation
Two red and black insects protecting an egg sack.
Transformation:
Week 1
Change as a Catalyst for Transformation
Thursday, June 30, 2016
The word change normally refers to new beginnings. But transformation, the mystery we’re examining, more often happens not when something new begins but when something old falls apart. The pain of something old falling apart–chaos–invites the soul to listen at a deeper level. It invites and sometimes forces the soul to go to a new place because the old place is falling apart. Otherwise, most of us would never go to new places. The mystics use many words to describe this chaos: fire, darkness, death, emptiness, abandonment, trial, the Evil One. Whatever it is, it does not feel good and it does not feel like God. You will do anything to keep the old thing from falling apart. This is when you need patience, guidance, and the freedom to let go instead of tightening your controls and certitudes. Perhaps Jesus is describing this phenomenon when he says, “It is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:14). Not accidentally, he mentions this narrow road right after teaching the Golden Rule. Jesus knows how much letting go it takes to “treat others as you would like them to treat you” (7:12).
Transformation usually includes a disconcerting reorientation. Change can either help people to find a new meaning, or it can cause people to close down and turn bitter. The difference is determined by the quality of your inner life, what we call your “spirituality.” Change of itself just happens; but spiritual transformation must become an actual process of letting go, living in the confusing dark space for a while, and allowing yourself to be spit up on a new and unexpected shore. You can see why Jonah in the belly of the whale is such an important symbol for many Jews and Christians.
In the moments of insecurity and crisis, “shoulds” and “oughts” don’t really help; they just increase the shame, guilt, pressure, and likelihood of backsliding. It’s the deep yeses that carry you through. Focusing on something you absolutely believe in, that you’re committed to, will help you wait it out. Love wins over guilt any day. It is sad that we settle for the short-run effectiveness of shaming people instead of the long-term life benefits of grace-filled transformation. But we are a culture of progress and efficiency, impatient with gradual growth. God’s way of restoring things interiorly is much more patient–and finally more effective. God lets Jonah run in the wrong direction, but finds a long, painful, circuitous path to get him back where he needs to be–and almost entirely in spite of himself! Looking in this rear-view mirror fills you with gratitude for God’s work in your life.
Gateway to Silence
Teach me how to see.
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The Day After …

tumblr_static_eli55hk87s8oos8gckg0sgowoWell I cannot believe what I am reading. I know that some of my friends voted to remain and some voted to leave but I cannot believe the vitriolic comments I am reading on various sites from both sides – vitriolic anger from the Remains and vitriolic glee from those who won. What is the matter with people!!! And also the level of sadness, verging on depression, from those who lost.

My thoughts  – we live in a democratic country. 76% of the population voted which brilliant. There was only 4% difference in the outcome which actually I do not think is a big enough difference to make such a monumental change on. David Cameron has resigned. I think that is terrible. We do seem to live in a culture that when people lose, or regarding celebrate-the-international-day-of-democracy-step-9football teams, the team loses, those in charge step down. David Cameron put forward this idea of a referendum on Europe surely a real leader should be willing to help whatever the outcome was. In my opinion, humble as it is, I feel that he should be willing to help and support the change that he ensued.

So the two things I am saddened by are that the man who led us into this referendum is not hanging around to help sort out the mess he has made; and the other that people are so angry that democracy did not go their way.

16227As some on the Northumberland Community facebook page said “How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” And for all whether believer in the Lord or not we do all need to work out how we can sing and live in this strange new land rather than rant or sulk about it.

In Or Out – that is the question

eu-you-decide-logoSo tomorrow Britain goes to the polls to decide whether it wants to stay in the European Union or leave. By Friday lunchtime – less than 48 hours away – we will know. I am not going to say what I’m voting but I know that I too have been sway by who is voting for what and how it will affect me personally. If we are honest who isn’t?

A comedian said something along the lines of “why should we be having to vote over this? Surely we vote in our politicians – and yes ok sometimes we don’t get who we voted for – but these are people who dedicate their lives to trying to sort out what is best for our country and we have to trust them with that. This voting is saying we want a say in it but we are not willing or able to commit ourselves full time to what is best for all.”

Ok so I’m not sure if I agree with all he says but I do know that I haven’t given much time

high_1456225442brexit-uk-and-eu-flag
A printing company making money from both sides

to really really looking into what will benefit this country as a whole. I have looked at what works for me, for mine and for those I know about. I do not know what will be the best outcome for banks, for farmers, for those in inner cities, for Brits living in Europe. And yes I do get sway by what my friends say on line or to my face, and to which personalities are on which side. People will decide from what they read in their favourite newspaper and all media has a bias of one way or another. It has been said that the BBC has not been impartial in it’s broadcasting but it is in crisis with budgets being cut and is going to be looking to what form of broadcasting works best and helps them to stay in business as will all other media outlets.

If I was a politician I would be dedicating my time to trying to work out what is best for my country and those in my constituency. I am hoping the politicians that are speaking out have done the same – which then makes it all very confusing as to what is right and not. jo-cox-tributes-10But also, as was seen with Jo Cox, there is a possibility that one can be killed or as many other politicians, stalked and sent hate mail not just to them but to their families. I know that would sway how I spoke out.

To me what all this has made me see is that there is a lot of fear on every side and when there is fear there is fighting. Someone else said to me it is like the country is in civil war mode and I would agree. It has become a subject one cannot discuss politely as both sides are heated and it has divided families.

My hope/prayer for this polling day is that peace will arise whatever the outcome. That Britain will be a country that can welcome the widow, orphan and outcast, and love its buddhaquotes3neighbour and be reconciled with itself. There has been talk of a third world war if …. but I just hope that we can all let peace reign no matter what happens tomorrow.

I Know The Plans I Have For You ….

I started this on 14th June and have only just posted due to being on a writing retreat and having to leave my room to get to the internet 🙂

queens-80th-the-queen-and-prince-philipfillheight_186_width_160In the service at St Paul’s for the Queen on Friday 10th June as part of her birthday celebrations they used the Bible verses, “I know the plans I have for you” from Jeremiah and “You are fearfully and wonderfully made” from Psalm 139. From what I can remember of it four days later and after doing lots of other things, Justin Welby was saying that the Queen, like all of us, was fearfully and wonderfully made, but also that God knew the plans He already had for her even when she didn’t. She never knew she would be Queen at such a young age or for so long, but God did. I am thinking that actually when she was born her father didn’t even know he was going to be king. I am sure Edward VIII abdicated after Elizabeth was born. But Welby seemed to be saying that even though no one knew this was going to happen God knew and He had prepared the Queen and had her ready for the task of reigning for over sixty years. But the Archbishop was also saying that God knows this for all of us.

How often in Church do we really hear that? That God knows the plans He has for us? We 579800_349221105167506_3204321_noften hear that He knows the plans He has for us but then we have go find them. There have been millions of books written and sermons taught of how we need to go find out our purpose and then live it out. But here, in this interpretation, it appears that God knows the plans He has for us and He will bring them to pass. Wow! How much easier! And how much more putting our lives into God’s hands than into our own.

As anyone who has been reading this regularly will know this time last year we did not know we would be living in north Wales. In fact we had never heard of the town of Abergele before October when we went to look at our house there. And then when we were in the process of moving up here we thought I would be going out to work but now I am a home person; walking the dog, writing and cleaning. I think God knew all the time what was going to happen and was just waiting for us to catch up.

I do think often one can spend too much time angsting about what God wants for each of us, all that trying to figure out what His plans are, and then missing out completely because of fear of getting it wrong and so not moving at all. I often wonder if there are those who don’t do the searching for the plans God has for them, whether Christian or not, who actually are doing more of God’s plans for their lives than those who are searching for them. Its not that it’s passivity but more an acceptance to go with what is happening – a bit like the Queen had to do. She didn’t get a choice in whether she did or didn’t I don’t suppose. Ok yes she could have stepped down like her uncle did but she didn’t. She went with what fate/God had laid before her.

trusting-like-a-childI often think of when my children were little. I am not one of those parents who dictates what their children do, please do not see me as that. But there were times when I chose what they did, whether classes they went to, clubs they joined, holidays we went on, even the whole home schooling thing, which actually did shape their lives. So I have to trust God like my kids, when they were small, trusted me, and just be willing to go where He leads, not angsting, not searching, but relaxing into His presence.

Do we know what is going to happen next? No! What should we do if we don’t ever know and are just waiting on God to bring to fruition His plans? Are we meant to sit idly waiting? No I don’t think that at all. We have ourselves and our hearts to prepare.

So I think we should just get on and live our lives working on the principles that God lays da790ffa4ac5296baa1ab7aba6b98404out – to love Him with all we have, to love our neighbour as ourselves and then also to seek His kingdom. Yup that’s my added on for this year. I have been exploring the first two for a while but I have a feeling there is something in the “Seek first the Kingdom of God” that could be a key to loving Him and loving ourselves and each other. And then once we are in the process of doing that then He can just get on with the business of revealing the plans He has for us to do. Sometimes for me I think that is just having a chat to the old people I meet on my walks with the dog, or the emails I find time to send, or even being nice to my husband when he gets home from work because I am not stressed with things. Maybe, just maybe these are the plans God has for me for this season of my life!

I think I might explore what “fearfully and wonderfully made” might mean in my next post 🙂

Presumptions

Wow! Have I been learning about presumptions of late! As you know we are renting rooms via Airbnb which is a very open site which says encourages people to give a profile about themselves so both host and guest sort of know what they are letting themselves into. patentlawpic858Well when we had a Malaysian girl staying for a month and working at the local hospital I had decided she must be a nurse. No she was a trainee doctor and a fascinating person too. Just last week we had a French guy book in for him and his girlfriend so I just presumed they were both from France. No she was from Russia and he was studying in UK. Again a mistake made. Then our latest guest, I could not quite make out the name but for some reason had decided that we had a man staying. Imagine my surprise when I met this lovely woman.

I am never sure how I make these presumptions but I know we all do. We have boxes we put people in and for some reason that is how we view the world. I am sure some of it is because it makes life easier in the broad sense. But I also think this is where we can make so many mistakes. I have often had people say to me that I am nice for a Christian or that I don’t behave like a Christian. I remember once when living in Belfast and going to a lovely church that was really into reaching out to the people who lived in the more deprived part, which was actually where we lived, one of the ladies being supported saying that she couldn’t believe I was “church” as she said. Why? It was her presumptions. I couldn’t be a Christian, be “church”, if I lived where she lived, spoke like she did, let my kid play with hers maybe. But that was something that was holding her back, and many like her from getting to know God.

I also think in this run up to this EU referendum we have to down to personalities and that euthen gives rise to presumptions. If Boris supports Leave then it will look like “x” but if Patrick Stewart supports Remain then it will look like “y”. Why do we think that? Because our preconceived ideas cannot cope with certain people being in certain camps and then us joining with them.

How do we get beyond that? I think we need to be aware of it. So I need to be aware when I make a presumption about one of our guests that I have done that. I need to look at why I my first thought for a Malaysian girl coming here to work in a hospital was that she must be a nurse, that I couldn’t imagine a French person going out with anyone other than another French person, and that somehow the wording on things make me decide gender.

Just recently Airbnb has been pulled up because of prejudices from its hosts – which actually is a silly thing to pull the company up for. It is basically a forum to help people find cheaper accommodation not an employer. And also its host rating system is based on those who stay not on those who don’t. There are a few people I would have liked to have given 1 stars to who never got back to me, or who stayed with us but did not do reviews for us, but that is not how the system works. Ok so its not foolproof but the ratings do work ap22304414966_wide-555ee6d2536f14d3ced3468bd4730e9843676057-s400-c85for when people stay so … But the point is we do not know where the prejudices from these hosts who have refused come from. Perhaps when they see that someone is of a different colour, race, religion, sexual orientation they have some presumption of the character of that person. Should legislation force them to have these people in their homes? I don’t think so. We cannot change people’s hearts by forcing them. I know if I was forced to have someone in my home I did not feel comfortable with for whatever reason I would not behave well. I have had one or two that I have wondered about beforehand but have let them stay and all has been fine. But that was my choice not a law telling me I had to.

So how do we change people’s preconceived ideas? We can’t. As with everything we can only change our own. But then we can share with others in a kind way. We are part of a Bible study group that have their own presumptions about things. We cannot tell them they are wrong but we can say about those we know who are different colour, race, religion or sexual orientation to us, but also we have to accept these people as lovely people and not be prejudice against them. In fact I think this is one of the hardest things to deal with – not being prejudiced against people who have prejudices we disagree with. If we do not love the gun toting right wing fundamental then how can they ever change?

My presumptions could lead to prejudices which could lead to me not allowing people into mayaangelou101310my home, not let me speak to people in a supportive way, and I need to be aware of that. The only person I can really change is me but the only way I can do that is by being aware.