… 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 organised 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 into 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
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.
Christmas is an odd time of the year. It seems to focus so many feelings, and seems to encourage the time to put on those tinted glasses. Not just the rose-coloured ones where we may view our childhood Christmases or the darkened ones where we may remember things with despair.
For me I think of those people I haven’t received a card from – the sister of my step-father who was always the first card to arrive but she is now dead, the friend of my mum’s who was often the second card to arrive who has had a fall and has been on life support in hospital and at the moment cannot move or speak, the friends who have moved and we’ve lost touch, the family of ex-husbands who no longer keep in touch – and one often wonders if they have died, the always late and badly written card from my sister which of course will not come now – and never one from her husband who is now remarried or her 25 year old son who is a typical 25 year old boy when it comes to keeping touch. It can bring me down and make me wish I had know when it was going to be those last Christmasses. Would I have done anything different in December 2011 when we’d gathered with my sister’s family? I’m not sure I would have. Would I have phoned my step-father’s sister more often if I’d know when she’d not be with us? Would Christmas 2012 have been any different knowing that by Christmas 2013 by father-in-law would not be with us? To be totally honest I don’t think it would have been.
I had an email from a older friend of mine who says she finds it hard visiting as she sees the deterioration in many of her friends and wonders if it will be their last Christmases together. So she does make a difference; she makes sure she turns out over the Christmas holidays to see them, puts it in her diary to visit more often, and most importantly is grateful that she is still fit and well and able to get about and prays that it will continue.
So how will writing help? Well instead of bottling up those feelings write. Write to those people who aren’t with you any more – whether dead or alive. Tell them what you think of them and how you are feeling with them not being around. Tell them how much you’ve done in the last year. Read it out to them as thought they are sitting with you. Who knows they might even be listening? Write down all the good things you remember and don’t worry if the rose-tinted glasses are on. Enjoy the good memories. Again read it out loud. Say thank you to whatever you believe maybe listen – God, the dog, the chair, Mother Earth, etc. Write down a list of things you are grateful for this year – even if it is that you can write things down. When you think of the impossible write it down too and again speak it out. There’s nothing wrong in hoping for what might not happen but don’t let it make you overwhelmed by what will not be. Write what your perfect Christmas would be then even look at what things you can do to make that happen. Remember that you cannot make everyone cheerful but you can make sure you don’t let their grumps get you down. And if they do take yourself off and write about it.
Make this Christmas a time when you compose some cool poems that talk of the joy and sadness of your Christmas – past, present and future. Use that notebook that some well-meaning person got you years ago that you’ve never thrown away and just write and see how that will change things for you.
As we were reminded in our Advent reading this morning Jesus didn’t come down to change things but to walk with us in them.
Ok so the title of this pieces comes from the stages of a woman’s life and once past menopause she can embrace being a Crone. Crone has bad connotations. She is seen as the wicked witch in fairy tales, as bad tempered and disappointed with life, as old and wrinkled. Well I am seeing myself and other friends as we move into this third stage of life finding our calling, being able to get on and do what we want. We have reach a point where our children are independant or becoming that way. They need us less and less. But also we are starting to be bold and to step out. The fear has gone. It’s like nothing can hold us back.
I know I will speak for myself because I can really only speak for me but with this whole Barefoot At The Kitchen Table stuff. I could not have done it 10 years ago. Why? Well not just because I was home schooling 2 children but because I would not have been brave enough. Today I was on local radio – blogged here Radio Tudno – so I won’t repeat it. A couple of weeks ago I went to a local arts community centre to talk about what I do. I spoke clearly and competently. I was not fazed by anything. I know a few years ago, even though I would have tried to be confident I would have been talking too fast and messing up what I was going to say. I do still talk fast. I’m a person who will always talk fast because I have a lot of words in my head that really only become sentences when they fall out of my mouth so I have to say them fast to give them chance to organise themselves 🙂 Tomorrow I’m off to talk about what I do with a local conference centre that’s opening in April. Again a few years ago I would not have been bold enough to do this.
But it’s not just me. A home schooling friend of mine, who’s children are flying the nest, has been able to get more and more involved in her passion for no-dig gardening and will be publishing a book about it all soon. Another person who not only found her passion as her children moved on but, like myself, the doors seemed to open then. And there is another friend of a similar age who is now off on mission journeys into India, to the Calais Jungle and on the streets of the town where she lives. Again like myself and my gardening friend she’s up and ready for it but like us both she is starting to make connections with the right people, move in the right circles, be bold enough to step out.
I am sure there are more who are reaching this third stage, this crone stage, who may not be embracing the name crone but are embracing the fact that now they are releasing their children they can fly too. It is exciting to be chasing dreams. I’m pleased it’s not just me but that I have some travelling companions, even if they are doing it their different fields.
Perhaps that is why crones were seen as witches – because now they can fly unhindered 🙂
So Sunday I was at the Open day for Gwrych Castle. The theme was Halloween, as it is at this time of the year. Something we can either accept, ignore or try to fight against. For me, as a Christian, I did get some flax about getting involved in something that was centred around Halloween. Did I think about that first of and pray hard? To be perfectly honest – No! I was so excited to be asked to go and do some story telling – something I love doing but haven’t had much opportunity to do ever. Yes I did read to my children when they were small and they loved it. I have read at times but not often enough. So for me the excitement of being asked over road anything deeper than that. :)
So I considered what I was hearing from those around me about whether it was right or wrong to be part of this event. I didn’t think hard about what I had written or the stories I was sharing but stuck very much to the remit I had been given. But as I thought and prayed I felt ok about what I was doing. I didn’t feel like I was glorifying something evil.
So I turn up and discovered that there is a team of paranormal investigators there. I get introduced to them because Mark, who heads up the Gwrych Trust likes people to know each other. Also these guys were planning on taking my photo at some point during my story telling to see if I had a ghost presence around me. So I chatted to them and asked what it was all about. Well it is all very spiritual and it gave me the opportunity to chat about being a Christian and the spirituality of that. Hey there’s a lot I don’t understand and who’s to say that all these spiritual things are evil?
In fact from there we had a great chat about how people put us in boxes. When you say the word “paranormal investigator” you get all sorts of ideas. One of the guys was saying that what they do is nothing like what is seen on the TV and that most of what they find is peaceful and calming. He felt there was nothing to fear from it. He also really did not like Halloween and trick or treating feeling that it just frightened people and made a mockery of what they do. Well this gave me the perfect opportunity to talk about how Christians get put in boxes – ok sometimes they are deserved boxes but that’s a bit like the paranormal stuff that is viewed on TV – and was able to talk about Jesus, God making the world, there
being things we don’t know about, etc. It was a great discussion, and one that we both hope to continue with on another occasion.
This would not have happened if I had decided that I was not to go to the Castle and do my story telling on Sunday. This would not have happened if I had gone wanting to denounce everything there as evil. I don’t think ever Christian should go and do this but I do think that we need to be more open and willing to learn, and not to be afraid. To be honest if God really is as big as I’m hoping He is then I had nothing to fear. I would not go and taunt evil because that would be silly but to go believing that I was where God was allowing me to be, and with a heart that wanted to be open and non-condemning, then I was going to be ok.
And actually sometimes it is going with want to condemn that actually can make the judgemental Christian worse than the exploring spiritual person. And I’m just hoping God can do something with the words I was able to share.
What is enough? This fits in with my post on Success a while back. What is enough money? I have always had enough money. I’ve never been really rich but have been really poor. I was on income support, the lowest level of benefit in the UK and yet I always had enough. It was in the days when one got a giro cheque and went to the Post Office to cash it. I would get it in small denominations and then have pots on shelf in my kitchen for various things; food, rent, electric, other household bills, clothes, books, trips and holidays. Holidays were always quite a priority. And I would put these little sums of money into these various pots and save up. We ate well and my kids were never hungry. I home schooled and they use to have swimming lessons and French lessons and we’d go off on trips and on holidays. In fact during this time we even went back packing around Greece. None of this was luxury. We had a railcard. We stayed in basic lodgings, ate basic food and had some fun. I had enough.
I have some friends who are in their late 40s/early 50s who have never had children, both worked in well paid jobs, have a house with land in Surrey/Hampshire, must have pensions – probably salary linked ones – and yet they worry about their retirement that they will not have enough. Yes they do go on holiday and have nice things but they worry. They don’t have enough. I also know people on benefits who don’t have enough, who get into debt, who’s children go hungry.
On both ends of the financial scale there are those who have enough and those who don’t. In this I am not condemning those with money or those without. Also I have not always been so content with money. There are times I lie in bed and night and worry about whether we will have enough if … And it is that “if”. In fact we were talking the other day and conversation moved round to “we should rent that other room if I’m not working any more.” But he is working and when/if he isn’t then we shall worry about it then. I suspect we will just change what we spend money on.
Well off is a state of mind not necessarily to do with how much money you have. As a follower of Jesus I think I should learn to be content with what I have, generous whether I have much or little. I’m not sure I am and sometimes when I have more then I worry about having enough more than when I have little.
What I would love to do is to know how to contain this feeling of satisfaction with what I have but also be able to pass it on to others.