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- Page 5

  • Never give up...

    Today we were pondering persistence in prayer using two stories from Luke: the "friend at midnight" and the "persistent widow" and I used some stories, personal and otherwise as illustrations to what I said.

    Here is a video that spoke perfectly into the context - at least in my opinion...

    Derek Redmond never achieved his dream of Olympic gold, there was no fairy tale ending, but he didn't give up, helped by his Dad he completed that race and went on to build a new career in basketball.  I liked the image of the Dad rushing down to assist his son - and said I think that God is like that.

    We also used this story of a grass roots member of the Liberal Democrats as a contemporary example of the kind of thing alluded to in the parable of the persistent widow.  For the record, I do not intend to infer that any political leader is the 'unjust judge'!  More that systems are flawed and that persistence is needed in the quest for justice.

    It all seemed reasonably well received, and I was certainly justified in my decision to abandon the carefully prepared script and 'just talk' using a couple of personal stories as illustrations for the 'friend at midnight' and to recognise that acceptance that what you dream of may not happen is not the same as giving up.

    Now it's time for some lunch!

  • Establishing a Routine

    Having promised to make myself accountable on the attempts at a more balanced life, how am I doing so far?

    Each day this week I have got up, fed the cats, had breakfast and then sat down quietly to do 'Pray As You Go'  before putting on my coat and heading out to enjoy an early morning walk - typically around 3 miles and, most days in that gorgeous deep blue pre-dawn darkness.  Although, because it is dark (and this morning a bit slippery) I have stuck to main roads, I have seen some beautiful sights... the moon looking wonderful, the lights of a hospital reflected in a pond in its grounds (photo above)...all this is good.

    I've sat down most evenings and watched some TV - trashy or otherwise - and last night managed to combine kitty cuddles, knitting and watching a nature programme all at the same time.

    End of the day reflection still needs some work... I realise that the vestiges of phycially/intellectually struggling with evening devotions during my chemo (which is six years ago now... though the experts tell me late effects can emerge more than a decade on) are creating some sort of psychological  barrier to be overcome.  Getting there with the help of some not-too-trite Bible notes and intending to start journalling again to see if that helps both dump stuff and pray... whilst clearing out I found my prayer 'diary' from 2006 and it was pretty impressive stuff.

    It's been a busy and demanding week, but I have pretty much managed to contain activity within reasonable bounds.  Not everything has been done, not everything will be done, and both of those is OK.

    A bonus has been vastly improved sleeping patterns - yes, I still wake up at least three times with horrible night-sweats but at least I am falling back to sleep, and then finally waking up five minutes before the alarm feeling reasonably refreshed.

    Four days does not a habit make, I'm told it takes about three weeks concerted effort, but so far, so good.

  • Intentionality

    Recently, on a social media platfrom I referred to having spent a day "intentionally" which prompted someone to ask what I meant.  In replying, I noted that in a context of 'sprituality', intentionality is more than just deliberate choice, it infers something about ongoing commitment.  There are "intentional communities" such as Iona or Northumbria, whose members pledge themselves to a rule of life and to a level of accountability.  Religious orders, such as monks and nuns, are intentional communities; the Order for Baptist Ministers does something similar and, if it had a cell in Scotland it's something I'd definitely consider.  To some degree, local churches are, or at least ought to be, intentional communities too - the concept of 'covenant' as agreeing, with God's help, to 'walk together and watch over one another' suggests something very similar to me.

    The word 'rule' is one that often has negative connotations for people - rules as laws, imposed from outside, the purpose of which is to impose or control behaviour.  But 'rule' in the sense of an intentional community, or more generally as 'being intentional' is better understood as more like a yard-stick, a measure or, even more helpfully, as a pattern or template... The 'rules' observed by monastic communities are about rhythm rather than control.  Whilst legalism can render the patterns burdensome, their intent is almost always about balance: time to work, time to rest, time to pray...

    After the relentless busyness of 2016, I am choosing to be more 'intentional' for 2017.  Not slavishly adhering to a set of practices but  rather seeking to establish, or re-establish, patterns that will nourish and sustain me.  And as part of that is a chosen committment to accountability - allowing other people to challenge me when (I think 'if' is too optimistic!) I slide back in to being ridiculously busy.  Working from home has both advantages and disadvantages, and I am very conscious how easy it would be to slip back into unhealthy working patterns.

    So, here are my commitments for 2017:

    • To ensure that every working day when I am alone begins with prayer such as 'Pray As You Go' and ends with some time for reflection, meditation and prayer.
    • To ensure that, when I am working from home, my day includes a minimum of a one hour brisk walk (for health and well-being benefits, and also simply for a change of scenery)
    • That each working day includes at minimum of one hour of 'chill time' such as watching TV, knitting, reading novels, doing jigsaws and playing with the kitties.
    • That I will consciously seek out opportunities for 'quiet days' or 'study days' that will nourish my mind and soul.
    • That I will not beat myself up when I fall short of these intentions, but, instead will choose to begin again.
    • That I will allow those who read my waffle and those who know me in life to hold me to account on these commitments.

    I wonder if there are any 'intentions' that you might find helpful to note down, not as 'new year resolutions' but because you recognise their potential in helping you live a more healthy, hopeful and potentially happy, life.

    PS I'm also going to try to be a better house-keeper, but don't hold youe breath on that one!!