Statio

There’s a word for where we are at the moment – Statio. It means “the practice of stopping one thing before beginning another. It is the acknowledgement that in the spacethreshold1_0 of transition and threshold is a sacred dimension, a holy pause full of possibility.” (Christine Valters Painter PhD)

Ok so we are stopped between one thing and the next but have we really acknowledged that this is what we are doing? To a point, No! What we really want to do is move on. We are both struggling with the lack of knowing what tomorrow might bring, the lack of things in the diary to keep the world in order, the lack of something to get up for. We are packed, the house is clean, we’ve done our goodbyes, we have finished work. All is done! And we are struggling. We want to be working, filling the diary with new things, unpacking, planning. But we are in Statio – stopping between the end of one thing and the beginning of the other.

thresholdThe challenge is “In this in-between place of stillness, can you consciously and with intention, release what came before and prepare to enter fully into what comes next?” So can we? Are we willing and able to release what came before and prepare for what comes next? And what does that mean in practise?

For me I think a lot of it meant realising who I was really saying goodbye to and what friends I was always going to be in touch with, realising who I have a heart connection with. Like my friend who I have journeyed through her marriage and her husband’s suicide, we are joined at the heart forever because of what we both endured. I can never let her go. For many of my friendship it is an endurance, which isn’t as bad as it sounds, but of moving away, keeping in touch via letter, email, phone calls, and of knowing what we have done once we can do again. So for me the preparing comes with looking at relationship.

After reading this from Abbey of the Arts this morning, whilst out walking the dog instead05-lambs-on-the-cliffs-ruth-walking-the-gower-peninsula of saying that we wouldn’t be doing this walk for much longer I said goodbye to things; to the sparrows, the sheep, the trees, the styles, etc. I will do that again tomorrow and the next day – consciously say goodbye to things that are very much part of my dog walking landscape. As I drive through our town I will start to say goodbye to things too, things that I’ve been use to, even things that annoy me. The town I live in is a beautiful town but I don’t think we will come back and visit it much after we’ve gone, and if we do it will be as visitors not as residents anyway.

I am going to work on releasing the experiences that I have had here, some good, some bad, some really horribly, some amazing. I will let them go and let them stay in this place. That doesn’t mean that I will box them up and try to forget them but that they will become a part of here.

il_570xn-678785025_23y4And I will start to prepare for what comes next. I’m already on 2 agencies for working in schools with either learning support or teaching assistant jobs. I have things that I have acquired to go in my new “room-of-my-own”. But also I am going to pray and release the things to come that I do not know of. A friend prayed for us last Sunday and asked of Diane and Ian shaped spaces where we are going and for good neighbours and friends. I am a people person, as recognised with the importance of relationships earlier on in this, and for me people are part of the tapestry of what is to come. Also if we are offering hospitality then we do need people in that equation 🙂

We are off on Friday to spend a week in Anglesey. Dear Ian will only get a 2 day holiday because he has to start work on Monday but I am hoping that having me close to come home to each evening will help his transition into the next stage of his working life. I can be praying and supporting because also I have realised that my marriage is something that I need to be supportive of. This has come out of this “statio” time, of letting go and welcoming in. Again the prayer last Sunday was that we would remember why we got old_windmill_no-_2_at_gaerwen_anglesey_-_geograph-org-uk_-_48070married to each other. This week has not been easy with the uncertainty that has gone on and I can do my bit to support, even if it is just being there a week on Monday to welcome Ian home with a cooked meal and a listening ear.

So my plan (&I am a natural planner, that’s how God made me) for these next 6 days here is to consciously let go of here and consciously welcome in what is to come – even though I don’t know what that will be. I know now that I don’t need dates and fixtures but I do need a rough idea of how to spend my time. We’ve other things to do, like say goodbye to our rabbit for a while who is going into long term fostering with a friend, and some seeing people stuff, but on the whole it will be a statio time of letting go and waiting.

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One Day At A Time

I had a lovely response from a dear friend after yesterday’s blog which is probably the first time I’ve really seen Christianity and Mindfulness fully tie in together. He said: “Like an eagleisaiah40v31kjvalcoholic who needs to take one day at a time and say, ‘Today I am not going to have a drink’ similarly trust in God, surrendering to Him, is not worrying about tomorrow or the next day or next week but deciding to say each day, ‘Today I am going to fully trust God in all things’. This state allows us to live in and out of His will for us and therefore instills His Peace in our lives.”

So I took this and today as I was led in bed just said “Today Lord I’m going to trust you as best I can.” So if anyone asks me how long I’ve been a Christian I will say “today I’ve been following Jesus for  x hours”.

When I woke too this chorus came to mind

One day at a time sweet Jesus
That’s all I’m asking from you.
Just give me the strength
To do everyday what I have to do.
Yesterday’s gone sweet Jesus
And tomorrow may never be mine.
Lord help me today, show me the way
One day at a time.

And I’ve been humming it all day. So often I think as a Christian I’ve seen it as a long haul and that I’ve got to be able to say something to others. I do have a great testimony in loadsone_day_at_a_time_by_franknardi2-d4s3yq8 of areas but at times I slip, at times its hard, but actually I can pick myself up and start again each day.  I think there can be times when I am especially hard on myself and think that I haven’t been honest or trusting God and really that is just me being accused by the Devil/enemy/inner self. I have had some amazing times when I’ve been trusting God for so much and then there have been times when I have crashed. If I can see myself as continually being resurrected and it not being  a once and once only event then I can happily sing “one day at at time sweet Jesus” rather than “let me know the plans in detail”. And there will be days when I crash, like I did on the weekend, and lose sight of if all but then there will be other times when I know where to go.

3wb37-07ongoingconversion4x5The last post wasn’t the first time I’ve been honest about where I am with God in my struggles and I don’t expect it will be the last. I am a work in progress and my testimony is built not in how I fall but in how I get up; not in the fact that I can keep going but in who I turn to when I’m crashed in the dirt.

So today, even though there are still many issues with the whole house buying thing and the person who could sort it is “out of the office” (on holiday?) till tomorrow, I feel at peace with God, with life and with the whole moving process.

I also feel grateful to the friends I have that don’t let me walk this alone. Sometimes their challenges are harsh but, as with the last few days, I finally feel like I’ve got it. I want to shout from the rooftops that this whole Christianity/following Jesus thing is something we need to want to do every day. It’s not about going to church. In fact we can hide in going to church, and often that is the complaint from those who don’t give the whole Jesus thing a go. (More on this to follow tomorrow – hopefully – as I don’t want to change the emphasis of today’s post)

“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”
Julian of Norwich   156980

 

Prayer – Not the answers expected

This whole house moving thing is stressful and so we’ve had people walking along side us interceding for us and many email back with messages of support. I sent an email update out on Sunday because of feeling so frustrated about not yet having a date to move. Some pen-282604_1280of the replies that came back were empathetic, some encouraging but some just wound me up. I started journalling about it this morning and then took the dog for a long walk. It is beautiful and frosty this morning and the sun had just come up and was making things glisten. A great day for a long walk.

What started as journalling I unpacked as I walked looking at how and why I had reacted to some of the email messages the way I had. One of the replies I had that really bugged me said: “he wants you to learn how to let go of your plans and ‘need to know’ and to allow Him to be the natural planner. When we can relax into the letting go of our own control and planning to settle into the peace of each present moment with God, then we learn how to surrender all to Him. Then we will be ready to move on into a new place of trust in Him and all will be revealed.”  This came from a friend who regularly challenges me so I did stop and think about it. I know I have posted on this before but what struck me is that I do not trust God.

Oh yes a biggie to say and not many places one can say it out loud but out in the frost frosty-winter-sunrise-1covered empty fields this morning I was able to tell God that I didn’t trust Him and listed the ways that I felt He had let me down. The list was long. It included healings that never happened and the people died, marriages that failed, dreams that never happened and were squashed, people I’ve prayed for who still are happy not in relationship with God and more. But it was not just that I didn’t trust God but also that I didn’t trust people and there are a lot of people involved in a house move that need to be trusted; buyers, sellers, estate agents and solicitors, removal companies, and friends and family. I told God all the people who I felt had let me down; friendships that were no longer close as they were, hurts and times of not being able to be open, church leaders who I felt weren’t there for me, and also the suicides and drownings we experienced. There were 4 people who let me down majorly, I felt.

So here I am at a place where I have to trust God and trust others and feeling like I can’t. No wonder I feel really stressed. If this was going to be a “good evangelistic post” I would now say that God said/did something, but He didn’t. No, but what He did was listen, and that was what I needed, just someone to listen without making a judgement call. I walked and talked and unloaded and cried and He just walked with me and let me. It was also interesting that once I had reach a point of peace with my feelings that I bumped into someone I knew to chat to. So I suppose yes God did do something, He let me talk myself to a place of peace.

peace-in-chaosHow do I feel now? I’m still struggling with the waiting and the not having a date but I feel much more peaceful with the struggle. Sometimes, I believe, we need to wrestle with God and with our thoughts and emotions. We need to be honest and open. I now understand why I’m struggling and through that reflection I now have peace with my feelings. This is very much what Mindfulness teaches. It isn’t about pretending that I’m ok, that I trust God, but accepting that I’m struggling. I think that this is what God really wants from all of us, not that we are sorted but that we accept how we are doing at this moment in time.

But also I know I couldn’t have done it without those I have included to ask to pray for us through this part of our journey. Even if I am at a point where I am struggling to trust people I have to include them in my journey. I suppose too that even if I am struggling with God I need to trust Him in my journey.

Peace comes by being open and honest

 

Honouring!

vessel-of-honorA friend of mine writes extensively about honouring and I have tried for years to put it into practise. This morning though I was praying and meditating over some questions from Abbey of the Arts around starting the new year’s journey and what giftings one would bring, etc. I was happily listing mine and what I would share with others and how much I encourage and support people when I felt a gentle God nudge. I really felt I had to email my solicitor and say sorry for being rude. And once I got that nudge it wouldn’t let up and I couldn’t get any peace. So at 7.30am I was emailing the solicitor to say sorry for being rude but also felt able not to justify why I was rude but to explain why I was struggling with things.

I felt that the way I had behaved yesterday to her had not been honouring to her. In fact I’d almost been threatening, in a very low key way. Passive daab236dfa666f58eb8f024c4af3a0c9aggressive! It really was a case of looking at her as also a person in my world that I need to be kind to, to encouraging and remember that she is also made in the image of God, as are we all, or so I believe. Made in the image of God doesn’t mean that all people have to believe in God, Jesus, etc, but if I am to believe God made people I have to believe that He made all people, even my solicitor.

Well I was not expecting anything really back but I did get a response and in it she explained about the process that goes into buying a house, why it does take so long and what stage they had got to, and also that she was hurrying things along. Did I say sorry and act honouring to her to get a good response? No I didn’t. But through honouring her I got that response.

32ea802da3852cbb7404799e48eec0cdIt made me think of another exercise I am working through with Brene Brown around Trust. The first exercise is to look at things you put in your “marble jar” that help you trust people and what things hinder that. It dawned on me that I trust people who are open and honest to me, but also people who let me be me. and also those who admit when they’ve made a mistake and let me make mistakes. In the correspondence with my solicitor I broke down the barriers that were stopping me from trusting her. Yes I had to make the first move to get a marble in my marble jar but that was worth it.

As always Richard Rohr is on the same page and puts thing so succinctly:

‘Intimacy is another word for trustful, tender, and risky self-disclosure. None of us can go there without letting down our walls, manifesting our deeper self to another, and allowing the flow to happen. Often such vulnerability evokes and allows a similar vulnerability from the other side. Such was the divine hope in the humble revelation of God in the human body of Jesus.’

So for me the people who put marbles in my marble trust jar are people who behave trustfully and tender towards me and who disclose somethingvulnerability2 of themselves, but who also trust me and see me as tender and accepting, as vulnerable yet wanting to share. And I suppose this is a bit of what I did with the solicitor; not just saying sorry and leaving it at that but saying sorry and explaining why I was uptight.

Sometimes we are told to just “say sorry” but often, I believe, it is more helpful is we can explain why. So not so much “I’m sorry but …” but “I’m sorry for my behaviour and here are my fears/concerns which made me behave that way.” It is still keeping ownership and not saying the other person is to blame but it is also saying that I have a reason, however unreasonable, for my behaviour. It is not to excuse. In fact by saying “sorry and this is the reason” it makes one more vulnerable and allows the other person to be vulnerable. And vulnerability builds up trust but also is honour because it is about being open. If I am open to say how I feel but give room for the other person to say how they feel I am honouring them.

vulnerability21So one could say that I did have a good reason to be snappy with my solicitor but it was not honouring, but in saying sorry and explaining my side I have given space for her to explain and honour me too!

So What Have I Done This Year?

I write the family Christmas newsletter but really it is just a snapshot of things we’ve all done and I miss out things that I’ve done and things that they’ve done too. So in reflection of the John and Yoko song “So this is Christmas … another year over and what have we done?” I thought I would look at what I’ve done.

It was at the beginning of January in my new journal diary that I wrote “Boldness to search for my true dreams and to walk them out.” To being with things didn’t go as expected …

  • I’ve had a poem published on a Mindfulness website
  • I’ve been hung out with some amazing writers in the South West and enjoyed some Sundays and a whole bank holiday weekend with them
  • I’ve realised that even though I’m a great encourager and youth worker, which makes me a great learning support mentor and assistant, I am a rubbish tutor and easily sidetracked – into youth working and encouraging.
  • Again I’m a great encourager and supporter but doing someone’s admin isn’t fun even if they find me helpful and my presence in their office encouraging.
  • I’ve been to Dublin to pray with the Interweave group
  • I’ve been up to the Isle of Arran and enjoyed time with friends and time alone and time with my husband
  • I’ve realised I don’t need to keep going to the end and if I stop one thing then a door can open to another – I stopped the Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes MSc at PGCert stage which then opened the door for Ian and I to do something together
  • And that something was to plot and plan and sell our house and make the move to Abergele in North Wales.
  • I’ve been in a play in which I wrote my own script and have been asked to collaborate with the director and other writer again.
  • I went for 2 interviews and got both of them but only took the one which actually led to a huge leap in confidence for me 🙂
  • I’ve had lunches and drank coffee with wonderful friends over the year
  • I’ve driven miles to support my children in what they do and will continue to be that sort of mum – supporting, encouraging and mentoring.
  • I went to Greenbelt and volunteered in The Tank again this year though without my daughter, but this time spent lots of time with a lovely friend I hadn’t seen in ages, and deepened a friendship with a fellow blogger
  • I’ve blogged intermittently over the year on things I want to share, gaining some friends through what I’ve written and losing others.
  • I’ve looked after 4 fish and 2 shrimps for 12 months now
  • Taken our last chicken to her retirement home before we move
  • Walked miles with my dog in all winds and weathers
  • And so much more that I know once I send this post that I will think of other things

So this is my year in bullet point. I’ve enjoyed it and wonder what will come of next year. The word I have written in my diary is “Blank Page – wait for the writer to write

I know each year never turns out how I expected but I must say that this is the first year I’ve felt like I’m standing on the threshold not having a clue. All I know is that at some point in the next 3 weeks we will be on the move to Abergele. I don’t even know the date for that. And what will our lives look like in Abergele? Who knows? But I do know it will be an adventure and I can walk with God, and with friends old and new.

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Conversion

“Translations vary, but in our modern day, conversatio morum suorum generally means conversion of manners, a continuing and unsparing assessment and reassessment of one’s self and what is most important and valuable in life. In essence, the individual must continually ask: What is worth living for in this place at this time? And having asked, one must then seek to act in accordance with the answer discerned.”
—Paul Wilkes, Beyond the Walls: Monastic Wisdom for Everyday Life
 This is something I would like to be plaster as wallpaper all around my home at times – both to remind me, to remind the rest of my family, to remind those who come to our home, but also to remind us to give this to others. So often our world works on this upward spiral, including in church, of getting better and better and of achieving, of reaching the goal. But this says that in fact we should understand where we are and asking what is worth living for in the now. It’s not about getting better, of having a purpose, of achieving, but of being and living.
Richard Rohr says something similar today (28th Dec 2015) :
Both God’s truest identity and our own True Self are Love. So why isn’t it obvious? How do we find what is supposedly already there? Why should we need to awaken our deepest and most profound selves? And how do we do it? By praying and meditating? By more silence, solitude, and sacraments? Yes to all of the above, but the most important way is to live and fully accept our present reality. This solution sounds so simple and innocuous that most of us fabricate all kinds of religious trappings to avoid taking up our own inglorious, mundane, and ever-present cross of the present moment.
I have been working with young people who haven’t made it in the education system and all we seem to do is trying to keep them in that holding pattern until the can leave school, which is now 18 years old. Why are we not teaching them how to make the most of where they are? Many of these kids have amazing gifts and talents, just not recognised in the modern school system, so they’ve been labelled and made to feel like they have nothing to give. Yet if we could get them to live fully in their present reality, which for many is really hard, but also to ask what is worth living for in this present moment? I think we could get them to change. I really do believe not just with these kids but with everyone if we could work out what things in this present moment are worth living fully for and how can be be fully present then things would change.
The reason why we don’t teach this? Because so very few people live it. I know I struggle to. But that is also something I’m learning and am going to take in 2016 – that if I don’t get it right today then I forgive myself and start again. I don’t even have to wait till tomorrow to start again. I can start again the moment I realise that I’ve messed up and am not fully present, not looking at what is worth living fully for at this moment.
I was trying to practise this whilst out walking with the dog this morning. Ok it was helped by the fact that there was the most gorgeous burnt copper sunrise. But I’ve got lots on my mind. Today my mum and her husband are coming to “do Christmas” with us, so there was food stuffs to think of; my son is having an operation and I want to be there for him but he leave 200 miles away; my daughter is off back to uni 100 miles away and I was trying to work out whether I could manage to take her back; and of course the big one – we’re moving. All these thoughts were crowding into my head and taking over often. As was the thing of wondering what life will be like this time next month. But whenever I realised that I was not in the moment I wouldn’t be cross with myself but would just pull myself back and go back to enjoying the sunrise and the lovely day, and watching the dog rushing about. And of course my mind would wander again and again would have to be pulled back.
Again I think this is a place where we aren’t kind to ourselves or others; we don’t cut anyone any slack. If we mess up we’ve failed. If someone does something wrong they are labelled as a certain type of person. Very rarely do we give ourselves or others the grace to just say this is a phase. I am learning with my family, husband and children, to try to just let it be and say this is what it is for now. Do I force them to change? No that would be wrong because what do I know about what is best for them. Many times I’m not sure what is best for me until I’ve tried it, and then sometimes its best of then but not later on. I am a fluid evolving being and so are those around me. To truly accept this growth and change and living in the moment we must trust that all will be well.
Or as it said is Star Wars: The Force Awakens “The Light — It’s always been there. It’ll guide you.”  And also “As long as the sun is there we have hope”

What should Christmas eve traditions be?

6471920I was pondering Christmases past as I’ve worked through a mediation about rest and Sabbath from Abbey of the Hearts and think how things have changed. I was thinking how, when we were in our heady Ywam Scotland days and also involved in lots of full on Christian ministry stuff the kids and I would go to ground for 3 or 4 days. We’d get new pyjamas on Christmas eve, have a bath and get into the new pjs and then not get out of them till Boxing day when generally we needed some fresh air. But even then we would just go for a walk the 3 of us. We generally didn’t see anyone until at least 28th, maybe not till the new year. We needed it to recover and regroup. We’ve had other years when we’ve spent time with family and friends. Before I had children I use to work in hotels and bars over the Christmas time because I christmas-articlewanted to avoid it. So much has changed.

This year is different – because the kids are older, because the people we would have spent time with aren’t here this year (whether moved away or died), those that needed our support last year don’t need it this year.

I do wonder if some of the stresses for Christmas come from trying to have Christmas traditions that worked great at certain times of life – like when the kids were little – and don’t now. So we try to do the Christmas stocking thing but the kids go to bed after us, try to have breakfast together but again by the time they want to get up its nearly lunch time, or we can’t quite relax into it because the dog needs walking, we’ve offered 3ea2219c930313c1ea3665aaf7279b24to look after a neighbour’s cat, family member isn’t with us, we’ve living in a different part of the country. If we say “but we always do ….” then we are asking for a fall. I am sure there are periods in our lives when we can do the same thing year in year out for Christmas, but really this is only for a few years. Things change. People change. We are back to that Change thing again!

I really do believe if we can live in the moment of Christmas this year then we can have peace during it. We can grieve for those who aren’t with us this year – like my friend who would have discussed the latest Star Wars film with her son but her son died 13 months ago – and even when it is longer than that we still grieve for those we would have enjoyed this season with – for myself every year I miss my sister and my stepdad, not because it was all great, but actually because they made the season crazy and drove me mad trying to get things sorted but it was part of the Christmas chaos. Living in the  moment doesn’t mean forgetting those who aren’t here but it does mean having peace with what is here, accepting that this is it.

My husband has always said he likes to have family Christmas, which means seeing his side of the family, which as his sister’s children have got older and since his dad died has got harder and looks different every time. And next year, once we’ve moved, will look different again. For him Christmas is a time to rest from work but to be busy with family and friends. Somehow we have to find a compromise and every year has had to be different because my children have grown older, want different things, have different boyfriend/girlfriends they want to include/not include.

So this year we embrace the fact that our home is full of have pack boxes christmas-presencewaiting for the new year move, that we have both my children here with us for at least 10 days, that we can only get to see all my husband’s family for one afternoon, and that things with my mum, apart from her not being with my stepdad of 25 years but her husband, who she has had now for 9 years, will be with us as usual in the interim between Christmas and New year, that the batteries have stop on the tree lights and no one can be bothered to get that sorted, and that our turkey has been crowned for the first time ever.

Some things are the same, some different, all accepted as the tradition for this year.