Category Archives: Thinking

Have you ever watched the clouds move?

When was the last time you lifted your eyes and watched the clouds drift lazily across the sky? Shadows, darkness and wisps of wonder traverse the skyline, slowly, heavily, lightly, fleeting mists.

When was the last time you looked up, and allowed the gentle pace of the clouds to calm your breathing, and softly nudge your mind to rest?

Have you ever watched the clouds move? Have you ever let them invite you in to a lazy, carefree space within yourself?

I watch the clouds move, and my heart grows calm. The noise of the world seems to dissipate, and all there is is what is in front of me, the moment that I am resting within, swaddled by these wispy, whimsical, gently floating dreams. I don’t see where they go when they move past the corner of my window….where do dreams go as they drift along?

In this vast universe there is a little window of time, of opportunity, of life, your life, and mine….will you slow your heart and mind for a moment to hear it, to experience and to live it, to allow it to deepen the wonder within you?

Have you ever watched the clouds move?

white clouds and blue sky
Photo by Ithalu Dominguez on Pexels.com

Finding a place of calm…and planning a mini-retreat…

blog collage

It’s 12.57am, and I can’t sleep. It is not insomnia as such, but more of an underlying anxiety and restless or nervous fear. I know there is nothing to fear. My Great God shelters me under the shadow of His Wing, and covers me with His Almighty protection. However, I have had times over the years of quite troubled sleep, and perhaps these feelings of unease are remnants of that. And yet, my Beautiful God speaks through the darkness to say: “Peace. My Peace I leave with you, My Peace I give unto you, do not let your hearts  be troubled and do not be afraid”. 

He calls us to “consider the birds of the air” who do not sow nor reap nor gather into barns” and yet, our “Heavenly Father feeds them”. I hope the picture above brings you some feelings of calm, peace and joy. This afternoon a friend came over for a cup of tea and a chat, and we spoke about solitude, community and retreat. I told her about the walk in which I took these photographs and how it touched my heart to see that these beautiful birds, this little squirrel were so uniquely cared for by God. Having an interest in photography and a passion for capturing beautiful moments of beautiful things, I am able to hone in on the detail and marvel over the intricacy of a bird’s feathers, the ridges on its feet and tiny claws, and just how wonderfully designed the life around me is. 

In a world where there is so much noise, uncertainty and fear, it can be hard to find peace. There is so much that feels tumultuous, uncertain, frightening, terrifying even for those people living in war zones, areas of unrest, famine, drought, violence, and sadly the list goes on and on… We tend to think of peace as the absence of conflict, of calm and steady waters, of our circumstances all in alignment when all is well. However, this surface calm is not the true Peace that our souls long for. We need an anchor of Peace for our souls, for we are all at some point in our lives tossed upon restless waters. I searched long and hard for years to find peace, and just as a bubble on a stream, such peace was so fragile, and temporary, certain to burst and vanish with the slightest friction. Temporary peace or calm means that we are forever restless in the ongoing pursuit of calm. The same goes for happiness or joy, of love, of acceptance. However, I have found, or been found by, a Peace that Is enduring, and that is a tangible, real and experienced comfort to my soul at the deepest level. This Peace is the very Person of Jesus Christ Himself. He Is with us.

We are called to “seek peace and pursue it”, and I believe the only real way of doing this is in our pursuit of God, and in our resting in Him. However, there is something to be said about drawing aside from a busy world if and when we can, and to take time out, to pursue quiet surroundings, times of focused reflection and sharing, times for creativity, healing, letting go, rejuvenation, of solitude, and of companionship. 

My friend actually came over today as we are planning a spiritual and creative “staycation retreat”, perhaps for three or four days, as something we can pursue and encourage each other through, together. 

The process itself is quite special, as I have not found it a common thing to find people with whom these things can be shared with. 

And so, as we reach the mid-point of a somewhat wintry feeling April, I continue on with my monthly themes – this month’s being hospitality and planning a creative and spiritual retreat. 

I look forward to bringing you on this journey with me as we venture onwards together into quieter, more relaxing terrain. 

xx

A straw, a turtle, and a matter of life and death: How just one small straw can be the matter of life and death…

This is not the story of the camel and the straw that broke the camel’s back. No, it begins with a turtle and a straw, a matter of life and death, and it ‘ends’ (or continues on) with you…

Confused? Don’t worry. Let me start by asking you a question. Have you ever felt overwhelmed by something? Perhaps I should rephrase that….what is it that overwhelms you? It is unlikely that any one of us can go through life without feeling that way.

Perhaps what overwhelms you is just the very fact of life itself and trying to make sense of it all, perhaps you’ve been overwhelmed by personal issues such as exams, family conflict, illness, job stress, death of people you know, job loss, uncertainty, or becoming a spouse or a parent and having the responsibility to care for someone else’s life.

Perhaps other things to add to the list of what overwhelms you may include injustice in the world, the terrible things you hear about on a daily basis in the news, broken societies, melting polar icecaps, cruelty to children, the poaching of endangered animals, global commercial sexual exploitation, bonded labour and sex trafficking. Sadly, very sadly, the list goes on and on. On a daily basis we are overloaded with information that we can barely handle the severity of, and we find ourselves morphing from one stage of ‘coping’ to another, from anger, fear, outrage, passion to make a change, despondency, compassion fatigue, and numbness and desensitisation. What is the right way to react?

And what does a straw and a turtle have to do with any of this after all, you might wonder.

Let me explain. Today I felt overwhelmed. Yes, there are so many issues in the world, our own personal world and the world at large, that vie for our attention and response. We cannot possibly handle them all. But sometimes, one particular thing stands out in our day and calls us to take notice. For me today, it was seeing a picture online of a seabird’s decaying carcass which clearly showed that the poor creature had swallowed batteries, shards of plastic, and pieces of packaging. Yes, there are so many other important things that we need to change in the world, but this, this made my heart sink. Poor little bird. What it must have suffered. The image was an accompanying picture to a petition, that I chanced across, calling for shops to ban the production and selling of plastic straws. Plastic straws are not biodegradable and cause much suffering to marine life. We are suffocating ‘our’ (?!) oceans with packaging, things we as wasteful human beings do not even need, and sea creatures ingest or get caught in such packaging and die because of our negligence and greed. I guess that the person or people who drew up the petition realise that to call for an end to the use of plastic packaging altogether would probably be met with mockery, scorn, and a closed door. So they went on to explain that there had already been small successes with calling certain retailers to stop producing cotton buds with plastic attached, and several retailers took notice and responded positively to a previous petition. They described the suffering of a sea turtle that had to be rescued by professionals and have a plastic drinking straw extracted from its nose, while it winced in pain and bled due to the damage the straw had caused.

One straw. One turtle. One rescue. And ultimately a matter of life and death.

It made me think of the passion behind such movements and calls for change. Can something so small really make any difference at all? Yes. It can make the difference to a turtle’s life, to a child’s, to yours, to mine. While there is so much that we can be overwhelmed by, drowning in a sea of our own mistakes and the degradation of mankind as it is today, there is still so much to be empowered and impassioned by.

Dare to believe that the removal of one small straw made a difference to a turtle’s life and relieved it of its suffering. Dare to believe that for good or bad the ‘power of one’ goes far beyond itself. That the power of one bad thought or one good thought can have a ‘ripple effect’ that reverberates and impacts so much more outside of itself.

What if we were to do one small thing for good rather than for bad? To think one positive thought in place of a negative one? To do that one small thing, so small, as small as a plastic straw that you wouldn’t even think it significant? What would that be for you? What difference could one apology make to a relationship? What difference could one smile or kind word make to someone’s life? What difference could one act of repentance make to your life? What difference could that one letter, phone call, text message to someone you care about make? What difference could signing a petition make? What difference can one blog post make? What difference could that one prayer, one conversation, one reconciliation make? What difference could one small step in the right direction make? We could think of it negatively too….what difference could one ‘small’ lie, harsh word, bullet make?

Perhaps a ripple on a pond moving outwards. Perhaps the matter of life and death.

What one small difference will you make today?