patient trust

Last week I met up with Sister Diane, my spiritual director in Edenbridge. After we had chatted Sister Diane thought this  reading from Chardin would be helpful; I share this as I think it connects with the ‘waiting’ stuff I shared at CMS and in my last post:

Above all, trust in the slow work of God

We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end withour delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of progress
that it is made by passing through
some states of instability —
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you.
Your ideas mature gradually — let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.

Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and cirsumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.

the sweeps dream

Sweeps came and went. The weather meant that the festival was a bit of a wash out with last minute cancellations and the accompanied lack of hoped for business for local traders. There was definitely a lot less visitors around than there have been in previous years which is a real shame as this is an excellent festival to come to.

The lack of numbers at the festival meant that there were less people walking past the Dekhomai stand but the positive flip side of this meant that we had more time to listen to people. I will remember this Sweeps festival as being marked by the sheer privilege I have experienced as I have been invited into personal lives alongside the great feeling of inadequacy I have felt as I have prayed, asking God to meet with these lives.

I personally wanted to push out and try something new at this years Sweeps and have been thinking and working a lot on dreams; in particular asking myself the question ‘could God still be talking to people through their dreams?” I have done some prayerful research of God speaking through dreams in scripture alongside psychologists interpretations of common dreams. Did you know, for example, that a common dream is being found naked in a public place; apparently the ‘common’ interpretation is that the person is living a lie and worried about being exposed. I have always found dreams quite fascinating.

To cut a long story short, I decided to offer ‘dream discussions’ at this years festival. I felt ‘dream interpretation’ was quite a major claim for a bunch of amateurs to be able to make… but I also have a real belief that, actually, if people are dreaming and that if there is a meaning from God then those people, really must be able to understand the dream for themselves and how it applies to them. If that were not true, then there would be little point God using this method of communication with people!

I have had a good number of dream discussions over this weekend. They were amazing. No two were the same but as we chatted together and I prayed remarkably people were able to focus on their dream and gain some understanding. I have started to wonder now whether those that do receive dreams simply need to take time out to think about them, and that is what we seemed to be doing over this weekend at the festival.

The team from all over the diocese worked brilliantly this year, and it was great working with you all … our visitors and guests were also a joy to work with  -thank you. Once again, Sweeps has been a highlight of my year.

 

dickens and decks

so … that was Dickens, when we saw an amazing 19000 people pass through the cathedra! That’s quite a few!!!

The team I worked with were excellent, and at times we had people queuing for hand or foot massages and Jesus Deck readings. The experience was such a humbling privilege as we engaged with many people on various levels from talking about the beading, to joking about Christmas, to praying for some form of healing.

One person I will remember for a while was a distressed person shaking with fear who needed help. We simply prayed for God’s peace and this person became calm almost instantly which shocked her and her family. It was a delight to see.

The weekend has again left me with far more questions and frustrations than answers. I guess the main frustration is how we seem to just scratch the surface with most of those 19000 choosing to walk past the stand, many even refusing to make any form of eye contact. I wonder whether a part of that is a fear of not wanting to engage with something of the ‘unknown’.  My question, which I guess is closely connected, is why God seems to connect with some people and not others.

Other questions which came up which I’d like to investigate sometime revolve around the whole idea of what people think they are doing in their actions. One of the team, Nathan, was reflecting on people lighting candles and asking what, in their mind, are they doing or trying to do? It’s an interesting thought as we heard people use language like ‘pray properly’ and ‘make a wish’   and ‘thats for uncle Albert’. The action of lighting a candle is certainly helpful, and thousands were lit this weekend, but it is interesting maybe to consider what is actually happening here for various people.

Anyway … the weekend is over, the Dekhomai stand is packed away, we continue with Advent and welome Christ into our lives again …

 

Dickens Dekhomai

This weekend is the Dickens Festival again in Rochester when thousands of people descend upon Rochetser from all over the country, and even the world, to ‘celebrate’ Dickens and his works.

WE expect around 8000 people to pass through the cathedral today and amongst our normal services and carol services we also attempt to engage with people again this year through our Dekhomai (greek translation: ‘the welcoming place’) as part of our Benedictine tradition of hospitality.

Today we will be be offering Jesus Deck readings, Prayer discussions, prayer for healing, hand and foot massages, the making of prayer beds, blessings as well as simply a place to chat. In other parts of the cathedral there are opportunities to light candles for people you may wish to remember.

So … if you are in the cathedral today … be one of the 8000 and pop in. Please say hello – even if it looks like we are busy it would still be great to say hi. If you can’t make it over the weekend, please hold those working in the cathedral in your prayers and especially those on the Dekhomai stand who seek to be a blessing and a help to those who come to us.

direction

Today has been one of those slower reflective days. A walk with the dog this morning, and then an hours drive to the Sisters of St Andrew helped me prepare mentally for my time with Sister Diane, my spiritual director. The deal is pretty much that I talk … and so I needed to think about what I wanted to talk about!

Having an hour with Sister Diane every 6 weeks or so is something that I really appreciate and value. She, like any good spiritual director, listens to a lot of what I say with an enquiring ear and gets me to wonder, or hear, what God may be saying amongst the stress and crap (sometimes) of what is going on. (Life is more of the confusing crappy stuff than the exciting stuff just at this point of time!) She helps me see things in a very different light.

The room pictured is the room we meet in. It is a calm comfortable space where both words and silence seem to be both accepted, nourished and welcome. As Sister Diane says, there is no agenda, the space is here for us to use as we see fit.  

Today I was able to reflect over the last few weeks. The highs of Antigua, the lows of an uncertain future, the struggles of wondering what to do next and the frustration of feeling that people really don’t ‘get it’! (That does not mean people don’t … just that I feel they don’t; two different things!). Amazingly, through each of these, after my time at Edenbridge, I am starting to tune into what God may be up to. I’m not there yet – but I can see a way forward, whereas beforehand I was fairly blind to that.

One little exercise that Sister Diane offered was to read the lectionary text for tomorrow before I go to sleep, and then to pick this up again in my head as I pray on the dog walk the next morning. That’s an interesting idea that I am going to give a go over the next few weeks. Tomorrows Psalm is 37 and verses 3 – 8 seem to talk powerfully into my situation at present. As I walk tomorrow morning I shall carry these words in my head:

3 Trust in the LORD, and do good;
         Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
 4 Delight yourself also in the LORD,
         And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
    
 5 Commit your way to the LORD,
         Trust also in Him,
         And He shall bring it to pass.
 6 He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
         And your justice as the noonday.
    
 7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him;
         Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
         Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
 8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
         Do not fret—it only causes harm. 

Tomorrow I will try not to fret!

reflecting forward

I had an interesting journey this morning to the Sisters of St Andrew in Edenbridge to meet up with Sister Diane who I hope will by my new spiritual director.

It was an interesting journey to Edenbridge as this was the location for our pre-ordination retreat 3 years ago before we became deacons. We spent 4 days here in this community as we prepared and thought more about what was happening.

The hours car journey inevitably caused me to reflect on the highs and lows of the last 3 years. I guess I used a vague Ignation model as I looked across the last 3 years of my (ordained) ministry.

I am not too surprised, but I was struck by how a number of ‘highs’ in the 3 years have been those times when I have got to meet and start to new people. I have counted it a real privilege how certain people have welcomed me as a person, and how we have started to get to know each other and possibly slowly starting that process fo becoming friends. This process has naturally been a two way thing – with people sharing things together, expressing joys, sharing pains which means making ourselves vulnerable, and therefore, trusting each other.

There is something of our humanity that is expressed in this both welcoming and vulnerability that enables relationships and friendships to develop. I think there is something very human and something very divine about this … and I wonder if in some way this echoes, all but dimly, the trinitarian relationship that is God. I found myself wondering in the car on the way home whether human vulnerability leading to friendship in relationship is a dim reflection of the mutuality of the trinity?

If we are created in the Image of God, can the perichoresis of the Trinity be dimly reflected in some way? And .. if so … how?

dekhomai in London

I am looking forward to being a part of the Dekhomai stand again this year at the Mind, Body and Spirit fair in London. The event runs from 25th – 30th May and I will be there on the Thursday. You can find us on stand 43.

This is an amazing event which is full of spiritual seekers. There is a whole variety of spirituality here that visitors can interact with. Dekhomai offers spiritual resources from a Christian tradition. In the past we have offered Jesus Deck readings, healing prayer, prayer beads, foot and hand massages along with listening. Everything we offer is free of charge.

I simply love this event. I love the way God brings people across each other paths, I love the way people come searching, I love the openness and the acceptance that there is across most of the festival.

If you have not been before and want to experience something different …. maybe see you there!

a welcoming place

The Sweeps festival is here again and we are again hosting Dekhomai in the cathedral as a safe place to find rest and explore spirituality.

This year we will again be offering foot and hand massages, prayer for healing, blessings, Jesus Deck readings, prayer cords and a chance to simply chill in the special place that is the cathedral. This year as well we are going to attempt to offer ‘dream discussions’ as an opportunity to explore and talk about dreams that people have and whether there may be any meaning to them.

I’ve said it before … but I love the Sweeps festival. The vibe is a good one, people are chilled and interesting in chatting about a load of stuff.

The stall is in the cathedral all over the bank holiday and Sweeps weekend so why not pop in for a free massage or to talk about your dream ….

emotional heartbeats

The blog has been a bit quiet – I think that is due to Lent. For Lent this year I have been reflecting on ‘stuff’ and making use of CMS’s 40 days of Yes. I know I am a year behind everyone else – but that’s the way I like to be!

I don’t deliberately give things up at Lent. My psyche works against me if I try to do that – if I concentrate on not doing something I seem to end up failing! Instead, I decide to take something on … and inevitably in this ‘taking on’ means I give up time that I was wasting on other things.

I have been challenged by a few things and I think I’m going to start to blog about a couple. Today I have been thinking more about what Rick Warren calls my ’emotional heartbeat’.

I would never ever read any of the Purpose Driven Stuff. I don’t know why but the ‘driven’ language really turn me off, so if it was not for CMS I would not have found this quote from The Purpose Driven Life:

‘God has given us each a unique emotional heartbeat that races when we think about the subjects, activities or circumstances that interest us. We instinctively care about some things and not about others. These are clues to where you should be serving …..’

And so I have been asking myself for quite a few days – what is my emotional heartbeat?

At first sight this seems that it should be an easy question to answer but I am finding there are quite a lot of layers to peel through before I can get an accurate answer. There are the answers that I think I should give as a Christian, let along as an ordained person in the Church of England! Then there are the answers which others have told me which bounce around in my mind. There is also all that ‘stuff’ that was spoken over me as a child from parents as well as a young Christian in churches when I was exploring faith. You can also add the answers that the media, both good and bad, tell me I am passionate about.

I shared recently with Sarah that the Comic Relief is the only thing of its kind that ‘grabs me in the gut’. I cannot watch Comic Relief without tears rolling down my face. Even though other campaigns like Children in Need are amazing they don’t grab me in the same way. Does this mean my emotional heartbeat is in some way connected to that? I’m not sure – but I don’t think so. (I guess this is where my concern with Purpose Driven lies – the language implies an immediate action, to jump to your heart beat … but I wonder how many people have jumped rather than thought and reflected!?)

So – what is my emotional heartbeat? I don’t know … I’m still ‘un-peeling’ but in there somewhere is justice and wanting to speak out for the voiceless, and in there is people and wanting to get to know them, and in there is Christ giving people full lives and in there is something else that I can’t quite put my finger on yet …

So …. emotional heartbeats … and yours is ….?

dickens spirituality?

So … another Dickens weekend has gone by!

This year things were not so busy as I think the mass of snow that we had put off a number of people. We still had a lot of people, however, who were coming into the cathedral and ‘searching’ for something.

I have spoken to a number of people over the last couple of days. I have massaged a few feet (although not as many as Rebecca!) and a few hands, done loads of Jesus Deck readings, prayed for (and seen) healing of people and generally just listened to people and talked about angels. Through all of these experiences a theme of a common search for some meaning seems to have been coming through.

This weekend I have been inspired by listening to the life stories of people and I have been amazed, yet again, to see how God chooses to work amongst normal everyday people. I find that beautifully exciting.

I ended the weekend with a massive sense of privilege. Privilege for the great team I had to work with and be part of, but even more so a sense of privilege for the things that people have chosen to share with us over the weekend. There have been many special moments which have included both laughter and tears.

I guess if I take anything away from the weekend it is something I seem to forget quite easily. Many people do not expect to see spirituality in the church. To me that seems bizarre … but it is clear that if people want healing or wish to investigate ‘spiritual things’ the last place many seem to think of going to help in that quest is a church. To me that is sadly bizarre:
– bizarre because Christianity is all about spirituality …. our God is a spiritual God who wishes to engage with people, all of whom are created and loved by God
– sad because these people have come to understand the church as a place of rules which hinder, rather than a place of loving acceptance which releases and enables.

I guess my question is, looking at the character of Jesus ….. how have we come to this?