Part of my theological reflection over the last few weeks has been around buildings, and how they came to be so important as ‘God encounter’ spaces. That has taken me to conversations about tents (as ‘Tent of meeting’) and stones. The Old Testament practice seemed to encourage people to mark a place where they had encountered God in some way…it’s strange and lovely that I was reminded of just that as I was out walking over the weekend, and powerfully and wonderfully met with, and walked with, God – amazing that there was a stone placed already for me to ‘mark the spot!’
I have loved walking in our local area each day over the last few months, and watching spring bloom before our very eyes. These young Canada geese, swimming so close to their mother, reminded me of the huge dependence we have on others – especially in infancy and childhood. We tend to think that in adulthood this ‘dependency’ disappears.
What I am seeing from our lives in lockdown is that a sense of ‘dependency’ within our communities and close relationships very much remains – but the shape of it changes. I’ve spoken with many people recently about us as ‘relational beings’, very much mirroring the image of God in this, and thriving best when we are able to share things with others.
My hope and my prayer is that we do not lose sight of this need for community, for different types of relationship, as life begins to take over once again.
We were quite intrigued to hear that a snake had been put in the wood where we regularly walk…I almost tried to find somewhere else to walk, as for a few seconds I wasn’t quite sure whether it was real and alive! When we came across Samson the snake, though, it seemed to be such a message of hope and solidarity. That was even more keenly felt as we passed a young boy with his mum, clutching a newly painted stone, and excited to add this to the snake.
I had meant to post about this yesterday, after we had found the snake, but we were both saddened to hear that the beautiful head of the snake and some other stones had been taken away. The original artist had been very quick to create another ‘head’ and this evening that was again found to be missing, with other stones strewn around. Samson has now been moved to another, less prominent, location, where I hope that he will remain for others’ enjoyment for longer.
It is difficult not to feel jaded about these unpleasant developments, but to avoid losing heart, I want to focus on the thought that inspired, and the spirit that perseveres in, building community and bringing shared joy. Long live Samson; in spirit, if not in body!
In a meeting today I became aware of the importance of simplicity. These are difficult times and many of us are expected, or expecting of ourselves, to be operating at full capacity; that ‘self-actualisation’ as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need terms it. A colleague reminded me though, that we are seeking to survive a pandemic, and actually, rather than even trying to meet our self-fulfilment needs, we should really only be focusing on our basic needs: food, water, warmth, rest, security and safety. Many of the people I have spoken to, and I myself, have been struggling with ‘rest’ out of all of these. A phrase often repeated to me through theological college keeps coming back; “be kind to yourself.” It doesn’t always feel possible, especially with multiple competing pressures, and yet it feels important to try….
What does this image make you think of? Words? Poetry? A feeling perhaps? For me this speaks of contentment and restoration…I find it so settling. What images settle you?
Space to breathe and rest is so important, yet it feels so difficult to find in these times…weekends or rest days have taken a very different shape!
Where have you seen glimmers of God today or this week? In the raindrops which quench the thirst of plants and flowers perhaps? Seeing an arid field begin to produce? A rainbow amidst the sun and rain…God’s reminder that God is faithful….
I’ve spent the last few days transcribing one interview in particular for my MA dissertation project which is exploring contemplative photography as a tool for missional prayer. We were off topic for a moment as we spoke about black and white photography and how it works by stripping everything back except that which the artist is seeking to reveal…I’m struck by how on topic that was in the face of our conversation around theological understandings of the Eucharist – which we were speaking about only days before lockdown occurred.
I’m aware of the complexities around theology and the Eucharist and the real difficulties many are experiencing at the moment due to not being able to receive the sacraments – there was a very interesting conversation this evening hosted by #OnFireMission which I found very thought-provoking.
In my conversation a few weeks back, I heard about an innovative way in which a congregation were encouraged to take the essence of the Eucharist back into their everyday lives – it was profound and powerful; what is the essence for you and how do you bring it into your everyday life this week?
We seem to have been adopted by a hedgehog! Maybe she has been here for some time but life has been slow enough for us to notice her…. #lifeslittlegifts #tinyjoys
I was captivated by another tree today – the Great Oak! The age, strength, wisdom, wrinkles and twists of life left me wondering what aspects of life this tree had stood to witness…what had passed it by…what had been noticed? And still she stands!