I sigh … but it’s nooooo problem!

DSC_0419Its been a long summer and as I look back I sigh with a smile.

I have spoken of great weddings earlier and I ventured back to Detling, which I will write about at another time, and on Sunday I returned from a 2 week break in Antigua.

I love the island of Antigua. A large part of having a great holiday is the quality of the company. We went with a special group of people who I simply love to bits. A highlight (and DSC_0121there were lots!)  of my day, always, without fail, was having breakfast together as a group of 12 people …. and lunch … and dinner after pre-dinner drinks! There is something sacred about spending quality time and eating together and talking and suddenly realising that breakfast has nearly taken 90 mins! It was like time stood still … but then it all flew by so quickly as well.

I look back and sigh, though, not just due to missing the company, missing eating and drinking together each day …. I actually miss something about the island. It was not until I was writing my prayer email to supporters that I think part of the answer dawned on me.

DSC_0105The atmosphere and attitude on the island to me also seem to have something of the scared about them. The stereotypical ‘no problem’ attitude is a reality which is beautiful to both witness and be in receipt of. I think some people struggle more to accept this than others, because it demands a slowing down, and sometimes people avoid slowing down …. I wonder whether that is because they are scared a little of allowing themselves to catch themselves up! When we slow down we notice things we have to deal with. Antiguan people walked proudly … and I don’t know for sure … but I guess they have a better idea of who they are because they don’t spend their lives running from themselves.

I say this attitude has something sacred about it because i think it is an incredibly powerful illustration of Jesus’ words to us about worrying in Matthew 5:25-34:

“Therefore I say to you,  do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? “Which of you by worrying can add one 10cubit to his 11 stature?  “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;  “and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not 12 arrayed like one of these.  “Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  “For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

DSC_0440For a long time I will have an image of the crew of a catamaran leading all 12 of us in the words of Marley’s ‘Three Little Birds’ as we pulled alongside the jetty … another sacred experience that will bring those words of Jesus to life for me in a unique way.

Thank you friends for being trustworthy … thank you Antigua for being beautifully welcoming … thank you God for grabbing me to slow me down …. again!

the ‘flavour’ of Antigua

Well … it’s been a few weeks since writing here. Most of you will know this is because of some wonderfully generous friends enabling us to have an amazing holiday in Antigua. This may be my only reflection on my time there, but it may be the first of a few or of many …. I am just not too sure yet!

In a very short space of time I fell in love with the island of Antigua. The island has an incredibly relaxed atmosphere which is difficult for me to explain.  Something can be expressed in the words of reggae and heat. Life has a slow rhythmic style due, I guess, to the heat.

I love to people watch and there were a number of things I noticed when watching the people of Antigua. People there seemed to walk proudly and calmly; due to the climate it was mad to rush about and so everything was done at a pace that seemed verrrry slow and took a little time of adjusting to. Some people adjusted to this fairly quickly and others seemed to have  difficulty with the slower pace.

I also noticed that people were interested in other people and they would chat for ages, no matter what they were doing, and they smiled easily and regularly. (in fact one of the the first things that hit me when we landed at gatwick was that people rushed and lacked a smile). Antiguan people particularly gave loads of time to children and young people, which hit me as a stark contrats to how children and young people are often portrayed in our media. Children were valued and encouraged.

The holiday was amazing and will be our ‘holiday of a lifetime’. The island is a very special place and the ‘flavour’ of Antigua, which I loved so much, has challenged me in how I should live now I am back home.
It has re-challenged my priorities of tasks vs people.
It has re-challenged my speed and aim of life.
It has challenged me to really consider what is important in life.

Now that I am back I am not embarrassed to admit that I am envious of the Antiguan lifestyle and, in many ways,  I wish I could still be there . The people there have managed to maintain something about life, people, relationships and priorities that we seem to have lost in the UK; and I think the most worrying thing is that most of us don’t even realise that we have lost them and are aware that there is an alternative. Although, I openly admit, I am not sure what that alternative is other than slow down, re-think …but our deadlines refuse us that grace!

Sadly I know the feelings and lessons from my time here will fade fairly rapidly as I adjust back to south east England living …. but I pray it does not all go and that I can carry within me some of the islands beauty that simply says ‘I have time ……..’

back to reality

We have said goodbye to Cornwall and now we are back.

To be honest it is hard getting into the frame of mind for work again after having such an amazingly relaxing week with really good friends.

I like to reflect on the highs and lows …. but I can’t …. the whole week was simply amazing. We chilled, we ate, we chatted, we drank, we surfed, we laughed, we watched sunsets, we saw seals, we fished (I experienced sea sickness for the very first time … maybe that was a low!), we visited the Eden Project, we wandered around Padstow and my lovely family bought me a painting from Caroline Walker who we met a few years ago. I am now the proud owner of Mother Mary! (although Anglo Catholic friends do not get too excited!!! )

There were some nice surprises and reminders of an amazing God through sunsets and this seal which was a delight to see.

Just such a wonderful week – thanks to the other people I had the delight to share the week with!

Cornwall

just going to spending some quality time here for the next few days
so it will be quiet over here!

cornwall space

We have had a brilliant week away with good friends in Cornwall.

We had a wonderfully relaxing time with special people and outstanding views – one such typical sunset in the picture with people silhouettes chatting as we watch.

It’s always great to go away with people you can just switch off and relax with – talk when you need to and sit quietly when you want to.

I have returned again, as we did in January, feeling really blessed and relaxed along with being very conscious of the special people we have around us.

The space has again enabled me to see members of my family and friends in a different way. It has enabled me to gain perspective once again on a lot of things. The space has allowed God to do some stuff in my head too – something there about ideas needing spaces etc etc.

I am back now – and I’ll have to wait and see if the space-idea formula causes anything to emerge!

It was odd this morning, though, waking up and hearing nothing after a week of waking to the beautiful sound of the waves. I realised how much I miss that from my Weymouth days and how I had got to take it for granted and now, more worryingly, how much I’d forgotten I loved the sound.

The bad thing about holidays, though, has got to be the coming back – it is hard getting into the work mode again … but it will come quickly – after all how much does it take to get into my sort of coffee and chat work mode!

the cafe of peace

We have had an excellent time in Cornwall staying with Andrew and Sarah in Porth. While there we had lunch in Cafe Irie which was a wonderfully beautiful place. I would say this was a highlight of the short trip, but that would imply there were lowlights … and the whole time was fantastic.

Cafe Irie, though, is a special place that I would love to visit again. A cafe with great staff, good atmosphere, great drinks (Banana and Peanut butter smoothies which just have to be tried because they are amazing!!!) Irie itself means ”to be at total peace with your current state of being’

I was not there long before I said ‘this is what I think church should be like’. There was a strong community feel about the place. People had opportunity to participate or just eat and drink. Board games were available to play, as was a piano with a note saying play us a tune if you’d like to. The decor of sofas and drapes gives a wonderful relaxed feel and the interesting collection of local art brings things off to a tee and brings a smile to your face. There was a certain individuality about the menu which I think invited people to be creative and try things anew …. in a way it was some kind of implicit challenge to be yourself, the person you were always meant to be; and I think this has something of what church should encourage.

Church … a place where you can be, and are allowed to be, at total peace with your current state of being. By that I don’t mean we become complacent. Nor do I mean that we are refusing to change … but that I have a dream of church being a place where we are at total peace with who we are because we are able to say we are totally at ease with what God is doing within us and with integrity say we are allowing God to work within us and allowing God to be God.

Balance


On one of our many days in Lyme Regis we came across Adrian Gray who balances stones and takes some pretty impressive pictures of them. They are quite stunning and again look to have that unexplainable edge about them.

The cynical side of me suggested glue until there was a slight breeze which caused the stones to topple meaning the guy had to start again.

Well … one day while sitting on Charmouth beach as the children were rock-pooling I found two stones and after about 30 minutes of patience and ‘feeling’ the centre of gravity I was able to balance stones too!

I was so proud I took a photo! Of course the family did not believe me when they saw the stones and I had to take time again to prove the stones did balance … but interestingly each successive time to balance them got shorter as I was able to ‘feel’ where the stone was at.

Balance in life can be a bit like that – I guess knowing where our centre of gravity is and how do keep close to it can also be a bit of an art.