13 Nov 2021

"ish"

 I’m okay… ish.”

This is the response I’ve heard a few times lately when folks are asked the ubiquitous ‘how are you?’

It’s an honest response – we’re at that time of year where the skies are greyer, the daylight is shorter, the weather cooler. This year, we’re adding the weariness of a pandemic growing longer and the stresses of exposure sites creeping closer.

Things could be worse; things could be better - so we are okay… ish.

It’s the “ish” that catches me today – because it speaks of truth. With it, we are admitting that some days/hours/minutes are good, and others not-so-good. That our emotions seem to move like waves on the sea, or sunbeams through the clouds.

It’s in the “ish” that we are authentically sharing of ourselves with the other, which demonstrates a deep trust and relationship.

It is this “ish” that embraces the mystery of God: for into this “ish” we are invited to hear the assurance from Jesus that we are not in this alone. And that is the good news, the hopeful news, the sustaining news.

Because the “ish” reminds us that God never said our faith would make our lives perfect; but that it would mean we are never alone. God is with us, we are promised, “even to the end of the age” (Mt 28.20). That “age” is in fact every age – the age of grey days, the days of sorrow, the days of joy, the days of COVID, the days of happiness – God is with us through it all.

And so in the “ish” we dwell in the comfort of connecting with the God who journeys with us – always – the same way we welcome the warm time spent chatting with a heart-friend over a cup of tea.

So it’s okay to be okay-ish. For that is where God is waiting for us, arms extended in holy welcome.

“God hugs you. You are encircled by the arms of the mystery of God.” ~Hildegard of Bingen

6 Nov 2021

Praying for the Planet; Praying for Ourselves

Screenshot from wikipedia

Yesterday, The Episcopal Church (TEC) hosted a prayer service as part of the faithful witness of the Church present at the UN’s COP26; an intergovernmental conference to address the devastating realities of climate change, and the role of humans in protecting God’s creation.


One of the prayers asked God to “Bless Our Inspirations”.

This piece struck me as particularly meaningful, as it integrates our prayers and our actions; it invites us to learn more about the realities of climate change, the role of humans in influencing our present situation, and the opportunity and responsibility of all of us today to work for the future. And we recognise that this is a ministry, an act of faith: God is summoning us into this work. The Spirit is whispering into our hearts and minds ways to remember how to live as inter-connected and inter-dependent beings.

And so we acknowledge that we have work to do; that we have opportunities ahead; and that we have been blessed with reason and skill to embrace this ministry of creation care.

Truly, may God bless our inspirations, that all we do may celebrate the divine creation which sustains our life. May God strengthen our faith, that we may embrace the wonder and awe of creation as a divine revelation. May God embolden our actions, that we may be faithful in our responses locally, nationally, and globally, that we are faithful and confident in all we do.
 
 

30 Oct 2021

Thin Places

Around
this time of year, we hear of the Celtic (or Neo-Celtic) tradition of Thin Places. This concept focuses on sacred moments and places where the veil between this world and the next feels to be thin – moreso than in other places.

This time of year was especially considered thin, as we hear accounts of Samhain, of
Some entrepreneurial companies find ways to monetise on ‘thin places’ – selling artifacts and excursions and books and any number of items or experiences to remind people of their encounter with a ‘thin place’.

I appreciate anyone whose spiritual journey takes them to a place where they feel they are on hallowed ground in a thin place (and I am one of those people that has widely traveled, and recognised the spirituality of location!). But for those who *do* have authentic experiences, they know that it is not limited to one location of geography or one day on the calendar.

A “thin place” experience can happen any time, and anywhere. It is a celebration of when we open our hearts to the presence of God. Perhaps our experience ‘there’ or ‘then’ has been realised because we are more aware of the possibility, we are more conscious of seeking the divine. When we decide that one place or time is special, it becomes special; we make it distinct from just any tuesday when we’re doing laundry, or the friday morning commute to the office.

Yet, we know that God is not limited to when we are waiting; God will be where and when God will be.

So perhaps we can use this time, when folks are comfortable speaking about thin places, to consider the presence of the holy in our lives, and of our own thickening of the veil that hangs between this world and the next.

23 Oct 2021

Happy UN Day!

"Friend of Peace" by Vasko Taskovski
hangs at UN Headquarters in New York
Today is the 76th anniversary of the formal United Nations Charter entering into action, and the ongoing commitment to the purposes and principles of the United Nations. Across the world, across ages, we are connected through a common agenda of peace, dignity, and well-being; both now and for the future.

This year, as the world continues in the pandemic (with hope that the end is near!) the theme has been “Building Back Together for Peace and Prosperity,” celebrated with an annual concert, art exhibit, speeches, and more. Around the world people are participating in events and celebrations that are designed to foster unity, collaboration, and hope. A hashtag was developed #TheWorldWeWant to encourage people to explore and share their experiences of this!

The Anglican Communion has a long history of involvement at the United Nations; we have representatives that support education, advocacy, and action at both the New York and Geneva offices. As Anglicans are a global faith presence, these UN folks carry the message of our faithful commitment and collaboration to the common agenda. We, as Anglicans, are well-served with their work!

But the movement of making this world, God’s world, as the ‘world we want’ is not merely done by other people, somewhere else, on a grand scale. The reality is that changing the world for the better is also about us examining our own world - our homes, our neighbourhoods, our communities – and seeking ways to make these spaces the world we want.

We, as the baptised, have vowed to work for peace, to celebrate human dignity, to sustain all life on earth.
We, as Gospel-bearers, are privileged to carry Christ’s message of love for all, and of the promises of salvation.
We, as the faithful, are committed to community, seeing our neighbours as ourselves, as desiring the very best for everyone (in thought, word, and deed).

The World We Want is possible: when we come together and make the effort. So what is the world we want – and how will we be intentional (this week and beyond) to bring that dream to a reality?



16 Oct 2021

Church as a PogoBal?

  When I was a child, I received as a gift a PogoBal – this was a torturous device sold as a toy: with a figure-8 rubber ball bisected by a thick round disk. You were meant to balance your weight on the disk while squeezing your feet into the spherical ball on opposite sides, and bounce (like a pogo stick). It required a feat of balance, coordination, spatial awareness, and some athleticism: it didn’t take long to get tired on these things.
This was the device that really confirmed that I was not blessed with great balance! However, I was determined to figure it out. Many hours were spent trying to master the correct way to start bouncing, and the best way to get off, and how to avoid obstacles… Some of my friends could bounce up and down the street on these things, and connect in groups for tricks: I merely tried to minimise the number of times I fell.
I was thinking about these things recently, as it feels like we, as a society, have been on a COVID PogoBal for some time. And while we’re trying to bounce along, life has not been too easy! For many of us, our daily routine has had to change – drastically. As rules and restrictions change and are imposed, people are not all responding calmly; as fear increases, people are not all acting kindly; as insecurity and “the great unknown” continue, people are not all people are exuding the confident community spirit we aimed for 18 months ago.
Yet: we’re still bouncing. Studies show that people of faith tend to mitigate life’s storms better, and that those who held social connections in their faith community coped best of all. So despite the months of instability, we have done all we can to keep one another up: we as the church have worked to be a stabilising and consistent support.
And though we are all weary of this, we do not have to be alone in it. We can continue to reach out to one another, to encourage one another, to pray with one another, to journey with one another. Like children on PogoBals, we are all experiencing life with different levels of difficulty. Our challenge, despite being tired, is to retain a faithful hope of a positive near future, and to continue the good work of bouncing along together.

9 Oct 2021

Market Harvest

I went to a local market yesterday – buying some local produce. I enjoy this time of year, when the abundance of the season is upon us – in our kitchens, in our pantries, in our bellies…

And I was delighting in the harvest. For so many reasons! Our local harvest is an embarrassment of riches, as they say. It’s a cornucopia of opportunity to be grateful.

And it’s a reflection of intentionality of BEING within the community:
As the produce is local, I’m supporting a local family and their business – which is good for our shared economy.

The freshness of not needing to be transported great distances means the food is at its tastiest right now – and that the environmental footprint is minimised.

The seasonal nature of the food means that this was grown with smaller amounts of chemicals or other interventions, which helps maintain the soil and avoid predatory pests – good for everyone!

The smallness of the market meant I was able to chat with the farmers and the staff, with other shoppers and foodies, and we shared conversations: about big things and little things, just being present in a comfortable communal space.

And, as I spent quite a bit of time in food preservation yesterday (some freezing, some dehydrating, some cold storage, and a big pot of stock), I was able to buy more of this food – as it will sustain me for weeks and months to come. This just amplifies the whole cycle of goodness.

It’s lovely. It’s responding to the world around us in ways that encourage the goodness to continue – and to grow – and to be enjoyed.

I went to the market to celebrate some of the earth’s harvest: and celebrated that this encompasses so much more than just food.


2 Oct 2021

Sorry!

"Sorry Graphic" CC BY-NC by Crystal Coleman 

I had a conversation last week about saying sorry: it was in the context of a prayerful framework comparing the differences between saying sorry and forgiveness. While we all agreed that the act of saying we are sorry is important, we also recognised that words alone aren’t enough.

One parent shared that their children do have to apologise when they have done wrong; but not just with words. After an “I‘m Sorry” has been accepted by the wronged person, the follow up question addresses reconciliation – “How Can I Make it Right?”

This expectation is a way to teach accountability and responsibility – the consequences of action on other people. It reminded me of the meme “Apologies will no longer be accepted in words, only by changed behaviour”

How true for all of us, when we come to God with our confession: in meditative silence in our daily prayers, and during the service of corporate worship, we come to God to say sorry; assured of God’s forgiveness even before the priest confers absolution.

I wonder what might happen if our daily practice of confession were to include a desire for restitution? Because if we do not change our sinful behaviour, we are destined to repeat it; and thus deny ourselves the beautiful benefit of the promise of God. The gift of divine forgiveness is not to be taken lightly; as one colleague said “We don’t want to cheapen the grace of forgiveness.”

Perhaps in our spiritual journey this week we can consider not just the gift of forgiveness, but be intentional about seeking out restorative acts to embrace the grace as it is so freely offered.