I came across this sign whilst walking near a memorial in a local park…it made me wonder, what is more holy about the ground where we memorialise compared with the ground which we tread each day…? Last summer I went to a conference for people from a more catholic tradition who wanted to craft worship opportunities in a more creative way. Over the days that we were there the worship space had a sandpit in the middle of it. The sand was used in a variety of ways to illustrate or provoke thought. On one occasion we were invited to take a small jar of the sand away with us, as our little bit of ‘holy ground’. The jar lid did not stay firmly in place and in no time I had bits of holy ground everywhere…but that was the joy of it! All ground is holy, or space where God dwells, surely? How often do we notice it though? How often do we act like it is?
I have spent a great deal of time thinking about the ways in which difference is held together in Japan, and the Japanese understanding of beauty and stillness. I have been struck by the number of people from other lands who have made Japan their home for so many years, as well as reflecting on my own story, and why I returned to Britain after living here for four years. There is a mix of ancient and modern, secular and sacred, stillness and disturbance, each held in such close proximity.
There can be invitation alongside hostility…
…it can feel like two parallel universes; equally as a foreigner here, all that I have known can feel like it is from a parallel universe, one that is presently inaccessible.
Rituals and respectfulness can demonstrate the beauty of the soul.
Often blue sky and sunshine can elevate the soul.
Equally, without warning, unfortunate events unfold; those that you would much rather leave behind or not have to receive, like ‘bad fortunes’ that can be left in the safety of the shrine rather than accompanying you home.
Then there are customs which bring you to your knees, like these prayers for children – especially those who did not have very long with us – given hats and bibs to keep them warm, as well as windmills to offer relief from the sun.
It seems that there is nowhere quite like this wonderful place of contradictions amidst harmony – where space or stillness is sought after within a busyness that I may never truly understand….
#414 On #day26 of placement I had another opportunity to deliver a #homily on our readings for the mid-week Eucharist with 15 minutes notice. It’s a skill that will be #invaluable in all areas of #ministry and yet it invokes more nerves than a full sermon usually does…why? For someone who always likes to plan and #beprepared, it feels a bit like I forgot something! Yet it is perhaps in that gap that I really give way to self and let God take over. I cannot deliver a homily in my own strength, but #withgodallthingsarepossible. Perhaps I should give way to self a little more!
#380 This is a perfect example of #youreinmyseat…cats are so territorial, part of me wants to question why, and then I looks round #localpubs, #restaurants with regular customers, my Dad at #home and even #church. It seems that so many of us are guilty of finding a spot we like, for whatever reason, and sticking with it. Those who have ever worked in offices will usually have worked at specific desks, and I remember how difficult life was as a teacher with no fixed classroom and living out of a series of boxes!! #ourspace is often so important, but when it becomes clicky, and leads us to talk to the same people, and stop looking round to welcome others (particularly in church, perhaps) our ownership of space can be damaging. My partner and I were moved in a church we went to a few months back, because the women who always sat there were unable to adapt…#hosptalitygonewrong perhaps?
#294 Do you ever #stareattheceiling? What should be happening when you find yourself looking up and lost in thought? I love the ‘stare at the ceiling’ moments as it reminds me of the importance of getting lost in thought. Our minds are marvellous, with such potential, but we need to give them the space to work! Take some ‘stare at the ceiling’ time and feel refreshed and reinvigorated today!