Anything can become a spiritual practice once you are willing to approach it that way – once you let it bring you to your knees and show you what is real, including who you really are, who other people are, and how near God can be when you’ve lost your way." Barbara Brown Taylor
Letting the wind run riot with my hair reminds me that, try as I might, I can't control everything so I may as well stop trying to keep the world spinning.
It reminds me the Spirit runs where it will, wild and uncontainable. So who I am to try and box it in – was I there when the foundations of the world were laid and the the morning stars sang together? Have I ever caused the dawn to rise in the East?
It forces me to b r e a t h e and then pay attention to where I am.
It lets me know I need to book a haircut. I’m thinking 2020 might be the year I go Beyonce Blonde - thoughts and prayers for this big decision much appreciated.
It asks me if I really believe that God can create a feast in the wilderness. And if I say yes, it calls me to a deeper level of trust, to throw off heaviness and walk in freedom. She who the son sets free is free indeed, right? If I say no, it reminds me that God is with me and Aslan is on the move, even when I can't see it.
And if nothing else, it makes me laugh. ANY EXCUSE TO LAUGH IS WELCOME IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD 2020.
So yeh, you’ll often find me on Tooting Common – arguing with the wind and then laughing to myself.
Have you got any everday spiritual practises that keep you grounded?
Break the bread. Pour the wine. Give thanks. LET THE WIND BLOW.
Dear Friends, Beloved Reader. I am (almost) at a loss for words. I HAVE JUST SURVIVED AN ATTEMPT ON MY LIFE.
It was just a normal Tuesday morning wfh but in the time it took for me to leave the room and make a cup of tea, Lo and Behold, a DEAD MOUSE APPEARED NEXT TO THE SOFA.
Yes, a mouse. A DEAD MOUSE. JUST CASUALLY LYING THERE DEAD ON THE FLOOR AND TRYING TO KILL ME.
HOW DID IT GET THERE? WHY WAS IT THERE? WHY WAS IT DEAD? I’d thought giant spiders trying to kill me during yoga was bad enough.
Dear Friends, Beloved Reader, we panicked. Of course we did. And then we bought all the mouse killing devices we could afford. I try and avoid Amazon (because: taxes, poor treatment of their employees and the Amazon guy has more money than is moral) but in this one instance, thank God for prime.
Thank you for your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
No, of course I’m not sleeping properly, every strange sound and flicker of light could be another mouse trying to kill me. I am maintaining CONSTANT VIGILANCE. I peer round the living room door every morning, scanning the floor for any signs of another potentially life-threatening encounter with a dead mouse. Walking past the sofa gives me flashbacks. To be honest, it’s getting a little exhausting.
This past week I’ve been thinking about clean slates and what our lives would look like if we stepped into the rest of the summer with a mind and heart wiped clean of the dust of lockdown. Not to ignore all that has happened but what if we could take the lessons of the past few months and apply them in making the next few as good as they can be in these weird Corona Days?
Not gonna lie, two of my faves are getting married on Saturday and I can't be there because corona. What if, instead of adding this to my Rachel-is-Bitter-Because-Corona-Has-Stolen-All-These-Things-From-Her list, I wiped the slate clean and starting tuning my heart to gratitude and thankfulness instead?
We abandoned the calendar of good things in June. Even my Type 9 live-in-the-moment self struggled to find one good thing when every single day was exactly the same. And when I look into the rest of the summer still being at home, its hard to imagine how life can be anything other than monotonous and a bit of a waste of time. But what if I wiped the slate clean and looked into the summer with gratitude and thankfulness?
I'm kicking off with a few good things from the past few months:
Phone calls. I am my mother’s daughter - I just love to chat on the phone. Lockdown has given me the chance to call people I never ever would have called before because it just would have been weird. Much love to all my millennials pushing through their fear of the phone just so I can talk at them for a bit.
The grace for the day – from the days when everything was ok, to the days when I was a complete mess.
More time for reading. PSA: when you can hardly leave your house let alone the country do not read books all about wild adventure. It will convince you that the first thing you should do when the world reopens is quit your life, move abroad and find an adventure.
Living in pyjamas: work pyjamas, weekend pyjamas, night pyjamas, food shop pyjamas. I now consider wearing a bra and earrings the epitome of fancy.
Supporting local businesses. “You got cake from the café again Rachel? They know your order now?” I AM SUPPORTING A LOCAL BUSINESS. HOW CAN I GET BRUNCH THERE IN THE FUTURE IF IT DOESN’T SURVIVE THE NEXT FEW WEEKS?!! I NEED TO INVEST NOW SO I CAN REAP THE (BRUNCH) REWARDS LATER.
Snail mail. Who doesn't love to send/receive good post?
Do I need to wipe the slate clean and stop taking this paranoid is-there-a-mouse-trying-to-kill-me energy into every single day? Yes.
Do I need to wipe the slate clean and stop taking my negative lockdown energy into every single day? Yes.
Do I need to start focussing on the good things? Yes.
Teach us to remember, God; make our minds a storehouse for past promises kept, all the good things and hope fulfilled - so that we can be a prophet to our own present, a watchman on the walls of our own still night." Prayer Vol 1, Strahan Coleman
What are some of your good things from the past few months?
So, here we are. 3 months of lockdown done and dusted. Is it me or have the fires of our global/national/personal/work crises gotten all the hotter these past few weeks?
How are you holding up? Excited by life opening up a bit in July? Daunted by the second wave it will undoubtedly unleash?
Anyone else just done? Done with the banana bread? Done with online study? Done with slowness and silence and solitude? Done with not being able to go out for drinks and dance until the early hours of the morning? Done with zoom? (Though actually, the Zoom is still strong with Friday Night Wine - turns out, I'm a pretty good yoga teacher). Done with your good hair days being wasted because you’re sat inside the house? Done with not having a haircut? Done with all your good clothes and heels languishing in your wardrobe? Yes, these are the most pressing issues facing the world right now.
Are you done with each week bringing a new revelation of something that has been cancelled/postponed/lost? Done with inequality? Done with the death and the unemployment and uncertainty of when it will all end?
Yep. I hear you. Please summon the Karen who knows how we can get refund for Jumanji 2020.
Take heart, turns out, we’re not the only ones who are done. Apparently there are three stages to dealing with crisis:
Emergency: energy levels increase as we tap into our unknown reserves to deal with urgent tasks.
Regression: we roll back to a less mature stage, we get tired, lose our sense of purpose, we retreat to an emotional comfort zone.
Recovery: we start figuring out how to move out of and beyond the crisis.
Welcome to the Regression/Ecclesiastes EVERYTHING IS UTTERLY MEANINGLESS stage of lockdown. Yay! Go team!
So, how do we get to recovery. I have no idea, but here’s what I’m trying to remember:
Remember how I said I loved creating routine and structure? Ahahahahahahahahahahahaha!
Ha! I do. I love routine and structure. For a while.
And then, once that while of weeks/months/years has passed, I’m done. And instead of routine and structure being the trellis on which I grow, it puts limits on my thinking, it stifles my creativity and it frustrates my decision making. I love routine and structure, until I’m over it.
And Friends, Beloved Reader, I AM OVER IT.
The Great Big Future is unknown but my day-to-day is the exact same thing. Every. Single. Day. Over. And. Over. And. Over. Again.
The Calendar of Good Things is mostly pizza, Gogglebox and Sewing Bee these days. Although, I've somehow become a 1940s housewife because we got a new hoover this week and its all I can talk about. I now spend half the day wandering around the house admiring how beautiful the carpets look.
My life is routine. Resistance to wonder has been activated. But ultimate LOLZ because my word for this year is ADVENTURE. Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think?! (Like rain-e-ain on your wedding day)
I crawled over the start line of 2020 an exhausted mess. Having pushed the limits of my capacity through the Summer of Celebration and then on into Autumn and Christmas. Most Sundays I crawled into church wondering how on earth I’d get through the week ahead and begging God to revive me. God is faithful - I was given grace enough to make it through each day.
I realised focusing on adventure, in a year when I had none planned, would force me to slow down and approach life differently. No uprooting myself from my much loved Croydon people, no starting a new job, no big trips abroad, no living solely in the limits of my capacity. As the great Tsh Oxenrieder puts it:
Wanderlust and my longing for home are birthed from the same place: a desire to find the ultimate spot this side of heaven. When I stir soup at my stove I drift to a distant island. When I'm on the road with my backpack, my heart wanders back to my couch and my favourite cup of coffee.
My equal pull between both are fuelled by my hardwired desire for heaven on earth. And I know I'll never find it. "Earth's crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees it takes off his shoes, the rest just sit around and pluck blackberries" unless the flickering bushes compel me to remove my shoes, traveling the world will never satisfy. Neither will the liturgy of normal life back home." From At Home in the World.
Its much easier for me to find God when I’ve chosen to test my limits in a wild adventure. My real challenge is in a comfortable and (mostly) predictable life where I don’t even notice I’m happily picking blackberries and ignoring God in the bushes on fire in front of me.
I knew I needed to find the adventure in the everyday but I never imagined the everyday would be confined to the four walls of home, Tooting Common and the supermarket. How much adventure is to be found in Zoom? And no, backgrounds of the beach/mountains don’t count.
So, here we are. Day whatever, of week whatever of the absolute write-off that is 2020. Resistance to wonder has been activated but I am fighting back. Turns out, wonder is a gateway to adventure. Turns out, wonder can be a spiritual practice.
I do the same walk every lunchtime. I’ve learned to consider the grass and the Queen Anne’s Lace and the nettles and the bluebells coming and going (I’ve also learned to ignore the giant rats). My phone is full of photos of flowers and trees and blue sky. I’ve learned to pay attention to the shape of the petals and the grouping of the leaves and the texture of the bark on the conker trees. Are they not clothed in splendour? Are they not wonderfully made? (I've also decided which trees will be the most fun to climb)
Turns out, there’s no room for monotony when my eyes are wide with wonder.
Do I know how the dimensions of the earth were determined? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? Have I ever commanded the morning to appear and caused the dawn to rise in the east? Have I ever visited the treasuries of snow? Does the rain have a father? Who is the mother of ice? Can I hold back the movement of the stars? Can I ensure the proper sequence of seasons or guide the constellations of the Bear with her cubs across the heavens?
Questions from Job 38 (This is a poem. Do not come at me with your science and water cycles and laws of nature)
Forget the Enneagram, Myers-Brigg and any other personality testing, this notebook is the most accurate description of who I am:
Turns out, wonder is a part of life in all its fullness, learning to love the sky you're under and embracing the liturgy of the everyday.
May you come to see your ordinary-now as the great place God has you in, as the great moment God has given to you and as the great opportunity it is if only you’ll awake to its wonder." Strachan Coleman, Commoners Communion
What am I supposed to be learning right now? I ask God this question all the time too. Somewhere along the lines I learned to look for the lesson in challenging situations. I used to think it was a super mature way to approach something difficult.
Turns out, I most often use this as a way to bargain myself out dealing with something difficult rather than embrace mature personal growth - because if you can grab hold of the lesson in the midst of the challenge, then you get to jump straight to the conclusion with less blood, sweat, tears and late night existential crisis phonecalls to your committee, right? RIGHT?! Yes please I will take the conclusion without the process.
So, you know, seen as we have no choice but to deal with these Corona Times, can we all just get on and learn our collective lesson so we can complete the level and jump forward to the end? Thanking you kindly for your cooperation.
But also, recognising what we're learning does actually make it a bit easier to deal with.
What are you learning right now?
Me? I’m learning to live in the tension of hope and disappointment.
I'm learnng to walk in trust through the Valley of the Shadow of Corona, through every real and imagined scenario of even if, even when and even though.
I’m learning to surrender my security in planning and knowing what’s coming next and instead replace it with faith in a God who is always with us.
I’m learning that time is a false concept – because March was at least 72 days long, April has only been two and even though I eat all day I’m still hungry.
I'm learning that how you frame it shapes how you deal with it. Instead of I'm-stuck-with-the-people-in-this-house, its I-get-to-spend-time-with-the-people-I-live-with. Instead of my-hair-is-in-desperate-need-of-a-cut, its I’m-growing-my-hair-out (out of style, out of shape and all the way the floor apparently). Instead of why-has-God-let-this-happen, its where-is-God-at-work-in-the-midst-of-this?
I'm learning that I picked the perfect time to borrow the LOTR extended editions – if anyone needs me, I’m somewhere in Middle Earth for the foreseeable future.
I'm learning to live with all the things I don’t know – when this will end, how this will end, how much damage it will inflict across the world, when I’ll get to see my people again, if I’ll get sick, if you’ll get sick, if we’ll all make it through, if I’ll still have a job, why God let it happen, why God hasn’t ended it yet.
I'm learning how to endure in these Corona Times.
I'm learning how to abide in these Corona Times.
I'm learning how to choose joy in these Corona Times.
I'm learning to laugh and laugh and laugh because 2017 was all about endurance, 2018 about abiding and 2019 about joy. This should be my moment. I have spent the past 3 years preparing. I should be dispensing my hard-earned wisdom for you lesser mortals at the daily briefing. Instead, I’m super-chill-this-is-totally-manageable one day and then please-God-when -will-it-all-be-over the next day.
I'm learning that when I miss my Nan’s cooking I start listening to reggae.
I'm learning that I’ve reached the point of lockdown where I will quite happily spend a couple of hours watching Britain’s Got Talent and crying along with all the sob stories: “This is for my sick Gran/my mute brother/to make my kids proud/because I was bullied.” Those producers earn their money - they manipulate my emotions so well I don’t even care.
I am learning that despite thinking I dressed for me, turns out dressing for me actually means wearing pajamas 24/7.
I am learning that as much as I like to think I'm wild and free, I LOVE routine and faced with time unconstrained I will create a new schedule. Food, exercise, church, family, friends, Steph & Rachel’s Saturday Night Musical Sing-A-Long - my lockdown planner has a time and place for it all. DO YOU NEED HELP WITH A FRAMEWORK? I CAN HELP. I WOULD LOVE TO HELP. I WILL HELP YOU.
I am learning who my neighbours are – we sit by the front window to work for 8 hours a day. We know who is going by. We get worried when Checked Shirt Man and his family don’t go for their daily walk at 12.21pm. Are they sick?! Do they need anything?! Should we go over there and find out?!
I am learning that the invitation, lockdown or not, is still ‘Hey Rach, come take a walk on the wild side.’ And I just can’t say no.
I should be in the kitchen prepping a feast for all the fam coming over later. I should be facing the agonising decision of which of my fancy clothes to wear for Easter morning church – because just like Christmas, if I’m not overdressed on Easter Sunday is it even Easter?
And then on Sunday I should be celebrating with my people before Feast Round 2 at my Nan’s – roast lamb, rice n peas, curry goat, fried chicken and crunchy potatoes. ALL THE GOOD THINGS AND SECOND ONLY TO CHRISTMAS DINNER.
Instead, celebrations have to happen via zoom. Family are only a few miles away but in this lockdown life they may as well be across an ocean. And I’m probs having lentils for dinner. No roast lamb. No fried chicken and no crunchy potatoes [insert all the crying face emojis here].
in the context of, you know, a global crisis, this is not a big deal. But even so, I’m just a little bit broken hearted at this Easter in a time of Corona.
Good thing Easter isn’t actually about the food or traditions but instead the gateway to life in all its fullness. A life that promises peace and hope and blessing through every circumstance, including, as hard as it might seem to believe right now, through global crisis and escalating death tolls.
Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5 v 4.
I never really understood this – how is it comforting when you’re can’t breathe, can’t think, on the floor in the depths of grief? But then I read this:
Maybe Jesus was simply blessing the ones around him that day who didn’t otherwise receive blessing, who had come to believe that, for them, blessings would never be in the cards. I mean, come on, doesn’t that just sound like something Jesus would do? Extravagantly throwing around blessings as though they grew on trees?" Nadia Bolz-Weber A Benediction
Extravagantly throwing around blessings as though they grew on trees [insert all the heart emojis here]. And somehow 'Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted' sounded more like hope and a promise.
I'm pretty sure we could all do with a bit more hope right now. There is grace here for all of us in this Easter in a time of Corona.
Blessed are those who mourn for you shall be comforted.
Blessed are the fundraisers facing gaps in charity income, for the funds shall come in.
Blessed are the furloughed for your days shall be filled with good things.
Blessed are the huggers for you shall receive allllll the hugs again.
Blessed are those for whom staying at home is not safe for you shall find security.
Blessed are those who are worried sick for you shall recieve peace.
Blessed are those missing sport for one day it shall return (My family have replaced all football discussions with random chat about cats. My father simply cannot handle this but I'm pretty sure its a just retribution for letting football monopolise family gatherings all my life).
Blessed are those trying not to freak out over how this will hit the developing world, for God will (please) have mercy and richer nations will look beyond their borders.
Blessed are the homeschooling parents for you shall figure out how to do long division.
Blessed are those making it through on the 80% for you shall receive all you need.
Blessed are the unemployed for you shall work again.
Blessed are those who plans and celebrations have been so unexpectedly interuppted, for there shall be space to re-make them.
Blessed are those struggling with the uncertainty of it all, for you shall find stability.
Blessed our are hospital caterers and cleaners and nurses and doctors and administrators and everyone else in the NHS that keeps it all going, for your people love you.
Blessed are the breadmakers for you shall perfect your sourdough (and when you do please let me know how because mine have always been a disaster).
Blessed are the small business owners for your customers will return.
Blessed are the stockpilers for you shall have peace of mind (and pasta for dinner).
Blessed are those having to remind their housemates that dogs are for life and not just for lockdown and even if that wasn’t true Battersea dogs home is closed at the moment so we can’t go adopt one right now anyway.
Blessed are the church leaders figuring out how to guide their people through a pandemic, for you shall recieve wisdom.
Blessed are those having to remind everyone to go on mute in group video calls for you shall have good audio quality.
Blessed are those having to teach their parents how to use new tech, for you shall receive patience in abundance.
Blessed are the tired and lonely and afraid, for you shall be filled with life-giving radiance.
Blessed are the please-can-life-just-go-back-to-normal-ers, for this season will pass.
Blessed are those praying for the first time in years, for God is listening.
Easter speaks hope that all these good things are possible.
You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family. Matthew 5 v 3 - 9 The Message
Friends, Beloved Reader, you’re blessed when you’re figuring out how to live through a pandemic, for God is with you.
Much grace and peace and virtual hugs this Easter x x
Many years ago now, a wise old priest invited me to come speak at his church in Alabama. “What do you want me to talk about?” I asked.
"Come tell us what is saving your life right now,” he answered.
It was as if he had swept his arm across a dusty table and brushed all the formal china to the ground.
I did not have to try to say correct things that were true for everyone. I did not have to use theological language that conformed to the historical teachings of the church. All I had to do was figure out what my life depended on. All I had to do was figure out how I stayed as close to that reality as I could.”
From An Altar in the World, Barbara Brown Taylor.
It is the year of our Lord 2020 DCT (During Corona Times), consider the formal china swept to the floor - because if you can’t mess up your fancy table setting DCT when can you?
What is saving your life right now? (other than staying at home, obvs)
Saving my life right now is: Sunlight. Taking photos of beautiful things on the Boris sanctioned daily exercise of lunchtime walks. Exercising wonder. Reminding myself this is just for a season.
Abandoning all notions of being a part-time vegetarian – turns out, in times of global crisis, all I want is comfort food. Turns out, lentils are not comfort food and so, when the going gets tough, the tough eat burgers.
Psalms that lament. Psalms that praise. Psalms that start with lament and turn to praise. The clocks going forward meaning we had one less hour of this to deal with. Yoga. Cleaning everything in sight. Updates on the latest Isolationships. This painting:
Good music - praise be for the Quarantunes playlist - turning it up 11 and dancing for joy. Friends sending daily encouragement. Knowing God is present and at work even if it doesn’t feel like it. Online workouts with the gym crew. Not checking the news more than twice a day. Phonecalls with my people. Zoom calls with my people. Memes that perfectly capture life as we now know it DCT:
The Calendar of Thanks:
Virtual church – much love and socially distanced hugs to all my Grace and Streatham loves. Hope that this season will pass and we will live in the glorious future of life ACT (After Corona Times). The internet. Finding the flow of new routines and creating some order within chaos:
Knowing that, whilst they might not be the biggest issues right now, its ok to grieve the loss of: being with my people, routine, structure, any semblance of certainty, seeing horizons, the hustle and bustle of London, being angry with tourists reach the barriers before looking for their oyster cards, Easter weekend food.
Keeping track of every time a neighbour leaves their house so we can let the police know if they're not sticking to lockdown laws - we sit by the front window 8 hours a day, we see everything (shout out to No 243 who did a great job cleaning their windows on Friday).
"As surely as the sun rises, as surely as it sets, we anticpate your goodness, we anticpate the rest." Interlude - Torwalt
Knowing I have enough leave-in conditioner to last a couple of months (if black women ran the goverment you know for sure black hair shops would be in the essential business category). I may or may not have stockpiled.
Frequent phonecalls with my mum and sister – BCT (Before Corona Times) I called my mother on Sunday afternoons and my sister every few weeks. Now I talk to them most days. I don’t know why. None of us have anything interesting to say – we’ve all been sat at home.
Being extra. Yes, I put on my fancy Going Out clothes, spent the morning straightening my hair and putting on a full face of makeup just to sit in the house and order in brunch. Yes, on Wednesdays we wear pink and Fridays we wear formal business attire to the new office at home. And yes, I was the only one wearing a cocktail dress and fancy earrings for Friday Night Wine Zoom. Being extra is in my DNA and I make no apologies.
Contemplative prayer and the Lectio365 App. Eating a Malteaser everytime someone on TV says unprecedented (am rapidly running out of Malteasers - please send supplies).
God is good all the time. All the time, God is good.
Every morning I ask for the grace for the day and every day it is given. Break the bread. Pour the wine. Give thanks.
Whoever in their wildest dreams/nightmares thought we would be here. Isolated. Distanced. At home.
I did not sign up for life in this dystopian alternate universe. Can you please wake me up when September ends the matrix has been reset/the ring destroyed?
God is good and God is loving and God is with us - through the grief and fear and uncertainty across the world. Through the anxiety and pain we feel right now and that yet to come. Through the daily briefings from Boris. Through all the unanswered questions being thrown toward heaven.
God is good, all the time. And all the time, God is good.
And so, I have hope. Kinda scared to write this in case in a couple of weeks I look back and hysterically laugh at my own naivety but here goes:
I am hopeful that we will lean into trusting God through the mystery and uncertainty in a way that resets what we thought possible and unleashes bold faith that enables us to run with the wild of the Spirit into the immeasurably more.
I am hopeful that in the shaking of things we thought unshakable we will discover our real values, where our trust is placed and the courage to reshape our lives with our eyes set on Jesus, making decisions based on faith and not fear.
I am hopeful that God will feel more real and more present to us all.
I am hopeful my hairdressers will reopen soon because I really need a haircut already.
I am hopeful my favourite place for brunch will keep delivering.
I am hopeful this reawakening of community will last throughout our lives.
I am hopeful we will all grow in compassion and love, that we would no longer be able to ignore those fleeing chaos and danger.
I am hopeful this will shape our nation for the better.
I am hopeful this will shape our world for the better.
I am hopeful we will learn new rhythms of rest and prayer and sabbath.
I am hopeful the oat milk black market will keep me stocked in dairy-free milk (STOP STOCKPILING NON-DAIRY ALTERNATIVES WHEN YOU CAN DRINK COW'S MILK).
I am hopeful the internets will cope.
I am hopeful that in three weeks time I'll still remember how to apply mascara.
I am hopeful we will discover how to be present for our people whilst being apart.
I am hopeful I won’t kill my housemates when living and working alongside each other is just too much. I am hopeful they won't kill me!
I am hopeful miracles will abound and when we are asked where God was in 2020 we will say “Here. God was here. And this is my story of God’s goodness.”
I am hopeful that we will dance in the land of the living.
I am hopeful God will empower you with inner strength through the Spirit, that your roots will grow down deep into God’s love and keep you strong. I am hopeful you will grow in your understanding of how wide, how long, how high, and how deep God’s love is. (Ephesians 3v16 -19)
I am hopeful we will reach the other side more loving, more gracious, more trusting, more patient and more Wild.
I am hopeful we will discover that most of those meetings actually could have been a two-sentence email.
I am hopeful that at somepoint soon we will stop storing up earthly treasures of hand sanitiser/loo roll/pasta.
I am hopeful we will remember that darkness has not overcome the light.
I am hopeful we will know God giving us the grace for the day and filling in all our gaps.
I am hopeful that I will remember that this is just a season. I am hopeful I will live it well.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15v13
Disclaimer: I have hope but it doesn't mean I don't see the darkness. Hope is not my overiding emotion right now - I’m an optimist but staring down a world-wide pandemic is something else. WHO EVEN KNEW PANDEMIC WAS A REAL WORD BEFORE LAST WEEK?! This is is just as much a choice as joy is. This is a won't-let-go-until-we-see-blessings kinda hope. This is a we-have-no-option-but-to-hope kinda hope.
Break the bread. Pour the wine. Give thanks.
I hold you in my heart and in my prayers. May grace and peace overflow throughout your day/isolation/lockdown/distancing. May goodness and mercy chase you down.
What are you hoping for?
P.S. I am already BEYOND EXCITED to be back together again. The joy awaiting in reunion is already too much for my heart to hold.
Its world book day! Rejoice! Celebrate! Books are the greatest!
A few months ago one of my faves tagged me in a book challenge – post one book a day every day for a week. I was SUPER KEEN because I love books and I love sharing what I'm reading. Obvs, I only managed one day because life. But now, here for your delight and edification (and beacause we all may end up at home more than we thought): THESE BOOKS CHANGED MY LIFE AND YOU SIMPLY MUST READ THEM.
First up, is Love Does by Bob Goff. Joy. Whimsy. Jesus. This book changed everything. I LOVE Bob. I don’t leave the country without this book.
I want to go barefoot because it's holy ground; I want to be running because time is short and none of us has as much runway as we think we do; and I want it to be a fight because that's where we can make a difference. That's what love does.”
I even ditched food so they’d be enough space in my bag for it to be carried up a mountain – and food is my very favourite thing. SUCH IS MY DEVOTION. I give this book to EVERYONE – birthday presents, wedding presents, new job presents, thank-you-for-being-a-good-friend presents, how-to-be-a-better-friend presents, sorry-I’m-leaving-the-country-but-let-this-book-distract-you-from-your-sorrow presents… any excuse really.
Next up, is the book that is saving my life right now: An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor. I LOVE Barbara. This book helped me to see the sacred in the unlikeliest of places.
Reverence for creation comes fairly easily for most people. Reverence for other people presents more of a challenge, especially if those people's lives happen to impinge upon your own... I have an easier time loving humankind than I do particluar human beings... Particular human beings rarey do things the way I think they should do them and when they prevent me from doing what I think I should be doing then I can run short on reverence for them."
Third is At Home in The World by Tsh Oxenreider. Tsh and her husband sold all their things and took their 3 kids travelling around the world a year. This book changed everything. Tsh let me know I wasn’t the only one who wants both adventure and routine at the same time.
Wanderlust and my longing for home are birthed from the same place: a desire to find the ultimate spot this side of heaven. When I stir soup at my stove I drift to a distant island. When I'm on the road with my backpack, my heart wanders back to my couch and my favourite cup of coffee.
My equal pull between both are fuelled by my hardwired desire for heaven on earth. And I know I'll never find it. "Earth's crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees it takes off his shoes, the rest just sit around and pluck blackberries" unless the flickering bushes compel me to remove my shoes, traveling the world will never satisfy. Neither will the liturgy of normal life back home."
Fourth is The Way of The Heart by Henri Nouwen. This book changed everything. I’ve pretty much highlighted and underlined the entire thing. I LOVE Henri. This book helped me to see how silence is more than just being quiet, solitude more than just being alone and prayer more than just words.
Solitude shows us the way to let our behaviour be shaped not by the compulsion of the world but by our new mind, the mind of Christ. Silence prevents us from being suffocated by our wordy world and teaches us to speak the Word of God. Finally, unceasing prayer gives solitude and silence their real meaning. In unceasing prayer we descend with the mind in to the heart. Thus, we enter through our heart into the heart of God, who embraces all of history with his eternally creative and recreative love.”
Fifth is The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claibourne. This book changed everything. I LOVE Shane. I recently heard him speak and was reminded of how he has such a loving way of challenging what you think it could mean to follow Jesus. Another way is possible.
Our world is desperately in need of imagination, for we have spent so much creativity devising ways of destroying our enemies that some folks don’t think its even possible (much less practical) to love them. We have placed such idolatrous faith in our ability to protect ourselves that we call it more courageous to die killing than to die loving. The faith we have in the market and in the imagination we employ to acquire wealth has so far surpassed our ingenuity to share we cannot help but wonder if the contemporary gospel means good news to the poor whose bellies scream out to God.”
Last is Inspired by Rachel Held Evans. For when the river is no longer a river, the mountain no longer the mountain and all the old answers you had about the Bible and faith and God just don’t make sense any more. This is a recent addition to my must-reads. Disclaimer: may help/hinder/spark a crisis of faith.
God save me from the day when stories of violence, rape and ethnic cleansing inspire anything other than revulsion. i don't want to become a person who is unbothered by these texts... There are parts of the Bible than inspire, parts than perplex and parts that leave you with an open wound. I'm still wrestling, and like Jacob, I will wrestle until I am blessed. God hasn't let go of me yet.
The gospel means that every small story is part of a sweeping story, every ordinary life part of an extraordinary movement. God is busy making all things new, and the life, death and resurrection of Jesus has opened that work to everyone who wants in on it. The church is not a group of people who believe all the same things, the church is a group of people caught up in the sam story, with Jesus at the centre."