“Life can only be understood backwards, but must be lived forwards.”Søren Kierkegaard
A lesser festival today, but a festival nevertheless. To remember Julian of Norwich, a spiritual writer and revolutionary woman of her time, Mother Julian (the tortoise) came out of her enclosure for the day. Julian of Norwich used to open her window and offer spiritual guidance to those who sought it; she continues to do so today through her Divine Revelations.
”The greatest honour we can give the Almighty God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of His love.”Julian of Norwich
Loneliness and its effects upon individuals is always significant, but it feels like it is so much more at the moment. It seems to creep up in some way on most of my encounters and conversations. COVID-19 has had a significant impact on every aspect of our lives, and it can be anxiety inducing to think too much about that. I read an interesting article in The Guardian today which explores the effects of isolation on our bodies as well as the social body which we belong to. It ends with a call to remind ourselves of what it means to be human…together.
“Let’s embrace the complexity of what it means to be human in this time of sorrow as we think and feel our way to come out of this, wiser, humbler and more connected.”Susie Orbach, The Guardian: The Long Read, Patterns of Pain: What COVID-19 can teach us about how to be human, Thurs 7th May, 2020.
I had a really interesting discussion around beauty recently. It’s something that I often wonder about, with regards to photography. I find it so much easier to ‘receive’ photographs in the natural environment, and find myself feeling less inspired in urban areas. I think so much of this is down to perceptions of beauty…yet what I appreciate in the photography of others is that which makes you think, or question, justice, ethics or morality. Thinking in a theological way, it is absolutely within the images of brokenness that I see Christ, and they take on a sort of ‘beauty’ which is very different from our more worldly understandings. It is in those images, spaces, and cases where we least expect to see Christ, that Christ is revealed….
“Once I can recognise the divine image where I don’t want to see the divine image, then I have learned how to see. It’s really that simple. And here’s the rub: I’m not the one that is doing the seeing. It’s like there is another pair of eyes inside of me seeing through me, seeing with me, seeing in me. God can see God everywhere, and God in me can see God everywhere.”Richard Rohr
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?
“[One] that looks on glass, on it may stay [their] eye; or if [they] pleaseth, through it pass, and then the heaven espy.”George Herbert