Why when the day is already full …

… does something come along to make it even more full? Today is one of those action packed days when I should have said No to some things that I said Yes to. As I led in the bed this morning listening to the rain patter down I went through my to-do list and to_do_listorganised how I would fit everything in – including my coffee time. I went downstairs at 6am to get a cup of tea to take back to my room to journal a bit and found the kitchen floor flooded. So mopped the floor and wondered how the rain had got in over our very high back door step. An hour later came back downstairs and put on a load of washing. When rinsing dishes after breakfast I had to get out the sink plunger to try to unblock the sink muttering to myself as I wondered what I had allowed to go in the sink that should have gone in the food waste. Then the washing machine made a strange gurgle and unloaded its water all across the kitchen floor! Hurriedly turned off the washing machine and shouted to husband.

Long and short due to the storms that raged for two and a half hours yesterday afternoon and flooded our local supermarket, post office, main streets and park, and then came back for another go last night, dirt and soil and whatever has been washed flash-flooding-at-abergeleinto the drains and blocked them up. In fact yesterday out my study window I watched the small residential street opposite fill with water and then have to be pumped clear by the local water board.

The waterboard have been phoned and will be here within 2-4 hours which means I am now stuck at home. I cannot leave till they arrive. They may come early too if the job they are on is quicker than they hoped. So I cannot go and pay for my car which had a new exhaust fitted yesterday but I couldn’t pay for because the phone/internet lines for the card machine weren’t working. I’ve had to phone to say I might not be able to make it in time to conduct a guided tour around the castle grounds where I volunteer today in case the water board come late. My life has gone from super busy to waiting. I can’t even clean the floors because the workmen might have to walk through the house. I can’t clean bathrooms because I can’t run any water down the sink. In fact I can’t even flush the toilet. Just as well I’m home alone.

There’s a great parable Jesus tells of the rich man who builds barns to store all his grain in but then dies the following day which is used to tell us not to put too much hope in our plans. I’m sure that doesn’t mean don’t plan because I think Jesus had the ultimate plan

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http://christianartnow.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/the-rich-fool-parable-painting-by.html 

that Him and God had sorted before the beginning of time. But I think it means don’t get stressed about what you’re going to do, or even don’t rest on what you’ve already got sorted.

Richard Rohr’s “gateway to silence” words this week are “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding” and I think that is so true for today for me but also for every day for me. Yes I do need to have a bit of a plan because we do have guests arriving and leaving, friends coming to stay, food to think about, but I am not to put my trust in those plans because they might change. Friends might cancel. Drains might flood. But I am to trust in the Lord though all and everything.

“everything begins in mysticism and ends in politics”

I read this quote this morning in Richard Rohr’s daily meditations. It’s from Charles quote-everything-begins-in-mysticism-and-ends-in-politics-charles-peguy-70-49-53Péguy (1873–1914), who was a French poet and essayist. Also this morning in the Guardian online I read this from Julia Gillard, who was the first woman Prime Minster of Australia, “the rapid media cycle combined with social media had disrupted the rhythm of politics and the perception of politicians.”

What’s wrong with the world today?” we often hear cry. In fact I was at a meeting talking about doing things with young people and that it is getting harder and harder because their attention spans are becoming shorter – and of course social media took the blame. Is it to blame? Or is it more along the lines of the fact that we have come to accept it and not challenge it. I’m not saying switch it off but I am saying that we need to fit in the mysticism, the praying, the meditation, the thinking about things. We see top level tweet-research-lengthcouncil and government meetings tweeted about as soon as we happen. Donald Trump has bought into the whole social media/tweeting in such a way that he appears to just tweet away so he can keep “in touch” but so much of what he says is rubbish and not even spell checked. As yet our politicians over here have not bought in to it but will that only be a matter of time?

But each of us needs to change this too. We need to slow down and to think. We need to change our worlds but being more meditative before we act. There is a rise in meditation and mindfulness but that seems to me to be in a recreation box not in a “let’s ponder before we act” box. As the general public we need to stop wanting a quick answer to things. And yes public enquiries can take too long – as with Hillsborough – but also answers can be wanted too quickly.

We live in a world that wants answers and wants them now. Human beings have always wanted to know the whys and wherefores of everything but at one time that had to come verucaabout slowly, could not be broadcast the moment someone had had a pondering thought. A lot of what we hear and read is more of a thought than a decision. Decisions come with time, with thought, with tapping into something greater than. And yes I think whether Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jew, Pagan, Agnostic, Atheist, or any of the other religions etc that I have missed out, all want to tap into something more than themselves, whether that is a God, gods, inner self, counsellors, friends, or anything else. But that takes time. It cannot be done in a moment, in 144 characters.

To be able to change this world we need to take time, need to as Kate Tempest said “look at the faces” and “see peace in the faces”. Peace and hope and knowing where to stand. The catchphrase/gateway to silence/meditation point with Richard Rohr this week is “Give me a lever and a place to stand” – based on how Archimedes believed that a lever put in the correct place on the correct fulcrum in space could move the world. For me 13948111896_7fc79a239dthis has set me off on thinking about where is the lever I’m meant to be standing on, where is the correct place for me to stand and what in my world am I changing. Being the person I am it is hard for me to stop and think and wonder about that. I do want to be rushing about doing but I know that I will not know where it is unless I spend time praying, pondering, journaling, talking to friends, reading, watching, thinking and then …

So to change this world, to see the peace in people’s faces, to really know what is going on and what people think about it we need to slow down, to move into meditation not as a place so we can sleep more but as a place where we can become more effective. We need to also stop expecting our leaders to give us answers now.

16137685007_6dd7e27e5f_zGive me a lever and a place to stand

Ubuntu- I am because we are

hsunbuntulogo2A Lapidus friend of mine is doing workshops based around the Ubuntu philosophy and I must say I heard it and then let it go until last Saturday when she said it again at the Lapidus conference. Her definition of Ubuntu is “I am because we are” but in a longer definition …

Michael Onyebuchi Eze, the core of ubuntu can best be summarised as follows:

‘A person is a person through other people’ strikes an affirmation of one’s humanity through recognition of an ‘other’ in his or her uniqueness and difference. It is a demand for a creative intersubjective formation in which the ‘other’ becomes a mirror (but only a mirror) for my subjectivity. This idealism suggests to us that humanity is not embedded in my person solely as an individual; my humanity is co-substantively bestowed upon the other and me. Humanity is a quality we owe to each other. We create each other and need to sustain this otherness creation. And if we belong to each other, we participate in our creations: we are because you are, and since you are, definitely I am. The ‘I am’ is not a rigid subject, but a dynamic self-constitution dependent on this otherness creation of relation and distance”

To me this sums up what Christianity should be all about and what Richard Rohr has been talking about over various weeks; of coming to a place of maturity where we know we are connected with everyone else. This is where we get to the place where we can weep withabout-us those who weep, laugh with those who laugh, etc. It is not about being super empathetic, or about being able to put are own moods and feelings behind us, but it about knowing – yes knowing not just thinking or hoping or wanting to be – that I am only because everyone else is, that I am a person through other people.

In reality even though I have somethings that are unique to me I am a combination of parental genes, of experiences that have happened to me which always include people. I am a mix of nature and nurture but all come from a collective of other people.

I feel that in some forms of Christianity we shun this. Too often it is us and them: those who are in/said the prayer/made a commitment and those who are out and who don’t believe in Jesus/God etc. Too often I have seen in Christianity that Christians are told to reach out to them and not to imagine that the unbeliever doesn’t have anything to offer. I have learned so much about life, me, God from people who don’t have a believe in God.

hqdefaultIn the Anglican service at communion we say “Though we are many, we are one body, because we all share in one bread” and in fact are accepting the concept of “I am because we are” without acknowledging it. In fact there are many different denominations who would not want to think they are part of the Anglican community. I have lived in towns that have a Churches Together group where certain denominations won’t be part of it because certain others are. Together but on their own terms.

I think that we need to embrace this concept of Ubuntu and realise that we are because of others. Not like the Borg from Star Trek where we are all assimilated into the same thing – and like I have heard is being though of to get rid of racial hatred. Yes it has been said that if we distil our cultures and all live in mixed areas that would get rid of racial hatred. I live in North Wales and as I have talked with people about their culture I have noticed that the more they are able to express who they are and their culture so they are more content to accept other people.

In fact I think this is the true concept of Ubuntu for me. I can be truly me if I let you belove_thy_neighbor-billboard truly you. And as I have reached this point in this post I have realised I have come back to a concept I was exploring a while a go – “Love your neighbour as yourself” – and the whole idea that I cannot love my neighbour unless I love myself, and I cannot let others be truly who they are unless I am truly who I am. But also I have to realise that I am connected to them whether I know them or not and that they have an influence on me as I have a influence on them. 63d44a275fedf76396168096d88b930a

Secure in my opinions

keep-calm-this-is-my-opinionMy opinions are mine and mine alone. They maybe right. They maybe wrong. But they are mine. But what surprised me in the last week is how people don’t seem to like it if my opinions differ from theirs. They seem to want me to change or something. Actually I’m not sure what they want because I cannot mind read and would not like to second guess others. One of the things that leads to stress, so the de-stress information says, is to try to second guess what others think.

… will lead to calmly held boundaries, which need neither to be defended constantly nor abdicated in the name of “friendship.

Richard Rohr Sunday 4th December 2016

Very exciting when I read this devotional after blogging and find it is saying similar to me 🙂

So anyway this week firstly I was at a creative journaling workshop. I must say I do love it and love going but it isn’t my thing. I enjoyed the first bit of putting backgrounds on but when I got home I put the journal away and left it till the next session. I happened to say that I am very much a writer not an artist-type. Well I got told I needed to push through, img_0878to get that other side of my brain working, etc. I do understand that this was well meaning but what I was trying to say was that I was excited to find out something that I didn’t want to do. Goodness me there are enough things in the world to do and so I need to know what to use my time in doing. Also what “other side of my brain”? I must say I didn’t ask the question so cannot guess what was meant by it but my first instinct was to think they meant the creative side. And this is where for along time my dilemma came from as a writer. I did not think I was creative at all because I do find I get no joy from painting, pottery, and all those other forms of art. I love writing and I love cooking and I’m good at picking the colours to decorate a room with – though much prefer to then pay someone to do it for me! So because I couldn’t do the official art things I always thought I was not creative, that I had to get that creative side of my brain going. Not true. I am creative. With words I am very creative but I’m not keen on the painting/making stuff side of creativity 🙂

The other place I voiced my opinion and got a hard time was at a course we were going to which I thought was about the connection between Christianity and Judaism which I thought would be interesting. Finding the roots of my faith – in fact going to the roots of anything – is what I love. It turned out it wasn’t really that but was about showing how it says in the Bible that the Jews should be in Israel. Now that in and of itself I do not have issues with and think maybe it is true. But what I did have issue with was that what the course, on this Friday’s session, was saying was that Israel did not wrong in going into maxresdefaultPalestine, that the British had a right to give the land to the Jews and when I voiced about the atrocities that were performed by the Jews on the Palestinians I was given short shrift. I tried to leave as quietly and politely as I could, voicing calmly why I was leaving as I went and got a real hard time from one of the course leaders and from a couple of the people present. Because I felt secure in my opinions, and not wanting to say theirs were wrong I was able to sleep well and calmly that night and have just been left, from both these times, wondering why people seem to not let others have their own opinion.

But of course it got me wondering as to whether I am guilty of trying to get people to agree with me. Hopefully this blog is where I say what I think, maybe try to persuade, but would be ok with others thinking differently. I am hoping that if the people who I have mentioned here read this then they will not get hurt and offended. I am not saying they are wrong at all. I am saying that I think differently to them. It is about being different not right or wrong.

For me recently I have found the things said on social media to be hard to stomach as people have been so rude about those who have different opinions to them. Once you think someone is stupid your brain will no longer want to listen to them. If one can say “I sometimes-the-right-thing-for-you-is-the-wrong-thing-for-someone-else-quote-1think differently to you and this is why” then maybe a dialogue could continue. Should I have stayed and not walked out of the course? I have pondered that. And actually at that moment in time walking out was the best thing as I was feeling upset by what was being said so wasn’t in a position to listen. I also knew, from the reaction I received to things I had said during the meeting and as I tried to leave, that I was not going to be able to openly discuss but would be told I was wrong.

Agghh!! Never tell me I’m wrong!!! And actually that goes for all the people who read on social media that they were “wrong/stupid” for what they voted for. They become defensive. They are not in a position to be persuaded.

I think too that if I am confident in my opinions and secure in what I think  – not bombastic but gently secure – then I can feel free to say “sorry that’s upset me so I need to leave” or “that isn’t for me” or “I don’t like that” or “I feel differently to you” but I do think we don’t allow others to say or think like that because we aren’t secure in what we think or feel. Also I do think with some things that what we enjoy, think, feel is so amazing for us that we want to encourage – which can become forceful – other into doing the same us as, thinking the same as us, feeling the same as us.

So yes I think that those on the course are passionate that God wants the Jews back in Palestine and I am sure my lovely friend with the creative journalling enjoys it so much that she wants everyone to find her enjoyment too. I am sure that I have things that I respect-7would love others to feel the same way as I do but I have to learn that all I can do is show them my enthusiasm and then leave them to see what they think. I can tell them what I know but then respect how they react to it.

So it has been an interesting week and I have learned so much – about me most of all 🙂

A Response to yesterday’s post?

Ok so I know Richard Rohr did not really respond to my post yesterday but if you read today’s email from him (copied below) it does look a bit that way. I had to post it because I find it encouraging. I think he is saying what I was saying – that we can choose what we look at without denying where we are. So in his example he does not deny the pain the woman is in but the priest reminds her that God has it surrounded. For me that is saying that actually I am in a place where I am still grieving and feeling sad but God has it covered.

So a big thank you to Richard for this 🙂

 

Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation
Dandelion growing in a brick sidewalk.
Spirituality of Imperfection:
Week 2
Perfection of Wholeness
Thursday, July 28, 2016
Last week we explored Jesus’ familiar exhortation, most often translated as “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” A much better translation might be “be merciful.” Only God is perfect. But we can participate in God’s perfect mercy, God’s all-inclusive and impartial love. As St. Bonaventure said, “Christ is the one whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.” [1] This is the Wholeness that holds you. You can’t figure this Wholeness out rationally, nor can you control it. All you can do is fall into this Wholeness that holds you when you stop excluding, even the dark parts of yourself.
This is illustrated in the following story shared by clinical psychologist and Buddhist Tara Brach. One of her clients, a woman called Marian, was devastated when she found out her daughter had been sexually abused as a child by her then-husband. Marian blamed herself for not protecting the little girl. Brach writes:
Fearing she might harm herself, Marian sought counsel from an elderly Jesuit priest who had been one of her teachers in college. Crying, she collapsed in the overstuffed chair he offered. “Please, please help me,” she pleaded. He listened to her story and sat quietly with her as she wept. When she calmed down, he gently took one of her hands and began drawing a circle in the center of her palm. “This,” he said, “is where you are living. It is painful–a place of kicking and screaming and deep, deep hurt. This place cannot be avoided, let it be.”
Then he covered her whole hand with his. “But if you can,” he went on, “try also to remember this. There is a greatness, a wholeness that is the kingdom of God, and inthis merciful space, your immediate life can unfold. This pain,” and he again touched the center of her palm, “is held always in God’s love. As you know both the pain and the love, your wounds will heal.” [italics mine]
Marian felt as if a great wave of compassion was pouring through the hands of the priest and gently bathing her, inviting her to surrender into its caring embrace. As she gave her desperation to it, she knew she was giving herself to the mercy of God. The more she let go, the more she felt held. Yes, she had been blind, and ignorant, she had caused irreparable damage, but she wasn’t worthless, she wasn’t evil. Being held in the infinite compassion of God, she could find her way to her own heart.
Feeling compassion for ourselves in no way releases us from responsibility for our actions. Rather, it releases us from the self-hatred that prevents us from responding to our life with clarity and balance. The priest was not advising Marian to ignore the pain or to deny that she had failed her daughter, but to open her heart to the love that could begin the healing. [2]
The only real perfection of which humans are capable is to include, absorb, forgive, and transform human imperfection. Humans are conduits and transformers much more than self-sufficient generators. Such is the character of a whole (and holy) human being.
Gateway to Silence
When I am weak I am strong.