Tag Archives: Contemplation

Winter Survival Guide (41) ~ Focus on Faith.

Life is filled with wonder. With every sunrise we have a new day to live, new things to discover, new questions to ask and to be curious about, new challenges and unknowns. With every sunset we have the chance to enjoy the fulfilment of another day lived, whether with joy or sadness, and to reflect upon what we have learned and experienced.

We all look up from time to time from the everyday things of our lives. We remind ourselves that we are a small part of something far greater than us, far beyond our understanding and comprehension. Perhaps we don’t spend enough time reflecting and contemplating the miracle of our existence in this vast universe, for surely everyone who stands in solitude and stares up at a star filled night sky, or waits in silence upon a mountain top, feeling the raw beauty and power of nature and of design, feels humbled by the exquisiteness of the ‘something more’ that we have been gifted to be a part of.

I think if we would all but take the time to inhabit such moments more often, then we would live as people and amongst people of humbled hearts and inquiring minds. We would remember that we are not the centre of all things, but we are important as small as we are and have a part to play in this wondrous symphony of life conducted from far higher than any perspective we could hope to have in this fragile life. Perhaps we would notice more the harmony of the diverse aspects of nature working together in one accord, and we would take those lessons to heart in the way we perceive life and our fellow human beings and how we treat each other – each unique but with an important reason and part to play in the grander scheme of things. We all need to ‘look up’, and perhaps we need to make time to do this more often in lives that are otherwise overly busy, hurried and caught up in the mud and mire at our feet.

I like to think of the deeper aspects of life regularly. I believe in, know and love God – The One True and Living God, and as a follower of Christ, Loved Perfectly by Him, I anticipate the gifts of this season when Truth is more freely proclaimed about Who He Is and why He came to us. To honour and think upon the uncreated One Who has Been since before time was, in Whom everything exists and lives and moves and has its being, in Whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found.

No matter where we are on life’s journey, we need to make time to think, to consider our faith, our relationship to our thoughts about our very existence and what that means for who we are and how we live. We need to look up, and not just look but listen. Be still, ponder Truth, and let our faith be strengthened.

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Reflections of Autumn

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There’s a sensation in the air that the approach of autumn may not be so far away. Sometimes our heart can sense the changing of the seasons before we apprehend with our senses that any change has yet come. My heart tells me that autumn is a time for lingering, for slowing down, but not yet stopping, for taking the time to live, to be, and to reflect. I find autumn to be a beautiful time of the year (when it is not raining, that is). I sometimes feel that the natural world can have a deep impact upon our inner lives, and the pace of change within ourselves. As I look out of my window and type, the fir trees still stand steady, inked with a deep rich forest green. Other smaller, leafier trees, whose names I don’t know but wish I did, have begun the resplendent transformation as bright yellow gold leaves intermingle with the fading greens. A change is in the air. You can feel it. Not yet winter, but no longer spring or summer, it is time to ‘stock up’ for the colder days ahead, and time also to ‘take stock’ of the days we have lived.

Autumn is a gift. It is a gift that life gives us to slow down and apprehend that life is happening, right now, and it is our duty to pursue wisdom and to live life well. For, as we see life happening, rich, fascinating, unfurling from green to gold to auburn and brown, we are reminded not only that we are alive, but that life also changes, it also fades and this season’s tapestry will in time give way to the next.

In thinking of the seasons of our lives as a tapestry, it helps to remind us that each stitch in time, is part of a far greater picture, and yet is not insignificant – for each little stitch is so important in making the picture, so that things don’t unravel, and so each has its own important place.

It is an important reminder to ourselves, as moving into the latter stages of a year can at times bring feelings of ‘underwhelm’, anxiety, the sense that we have not achieved ‘enough’ or become who we were hoping to be, or done what we wanted, planned or dreamed of doing. Yet Autumn, beautiful and tender Autumn, gives us the permission to slow down, to breathe, to take time over each stitch and to remember that the smallest of details is exceptionally important even in this grand picture, this tapestry of life that is being woven.

You and I may only be a little, tiny piece of a far greater scene – a universe beyond us, time and space that we know nothing about, mysteries that our lives may never apprehend. We someday will be someone else’s ‘history’, we are someone from the past’s ‘future’, and we are here and we are now, each making a stitch in time. We are part of something far greater, and yet we are important – nature reveals this to us – and our Creator through nature speaks volumes. We are both challenged and permitted to take up our own paintbrush as it were, our own pen to write, to create, we are drawn into focusing on the beauty around us, and yes, the fading beauty, but reminded that while we think on these things, we have a part to play, a keystroke to type, a brush to caress a page, a song to sing, a letter to write, a dance to be danced and a life to live. There is beauty in Autumn, and Autumn reminds us that there is beauty with each change, beauty in the smallest of things. So take today as your gift, and be the beautiful part of this grand design that you were born and called to be. x

 

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“Travelling Teaches You” (11).

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Life as it happens to be

Travelling teaches youto put your problems in perspective.

For some, “getting away from it all” is exactly what we hope to be able to do. Not just in terms of getting away physically from the daily routine and responsibilities of day-to-day life, but as a means of escape from our deeper problems or issues or challenging circumstances and people.

Travelling teaches you, quite naturally, to look outside of yourself, to grow in awareness of other people, your surroundings, new cultures, ways of doing things and of life in general. One of the gifts of travel to you is that of a fresh perspective, and perhaps even renewed strength to go back and return to take on the tasks and issues of life that you needed a break from.

However, as naturally as this gift comes to us through the very experience of travel, there is a caution that we…

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“Travelling Teaches You” (10).

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Life as it happens to be

Travelling teaches you to know yourself. Sometimes we take it for granted that we know certain aspects of our character or personality well, however, it may be the case that we have allowed ourselves to be conditioned in a certain way in our day-to-day lives, or we may be drifting along with our ‘likes, dislikes, decisions or opinions’ being influenced or even imposed upon us by those around us. We may simply find ourselves going with the flow, and not really experiencing the opportunities to live in a way that authentically resonates with who we really are.

Travelling, especially when we are able to do so alone, helps us to grow in awareness of our own needs, wants, desires, as well as of our own shortcomings, failures and need to change or develop certain aspects of our character. Living a life of authenticity is so important, however, although travel is…

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Fun and Easy Creative Writing Exercise

How would you like to try a simple and relatively easy creative writing exercise to get your writing flowing? I thought of this the other day, and had fun with it over the course of a Monday to Friday one week. It is really simple, the aim is to write a ‘Short shortstory’, yet it can really be any piece of prose. Don’t worry about the standard and quality of your writing if you think that doing so will inhibit you. You can come back to that later for editing or revision, or you can simply do the exercise in and for itself to fire up your imagination stations! 🙂

To write the ‘Short short-story’, which I have entitled “Windows”, I simply wrote a paragraph each day, Monday to Friday, and here’s what transpired. Maybe you will contemplate certain situations in your own life, or imagine something, and choose a topic or theme of your own so that you can try out this creative writing exercise. In the meantime, take a look if you like through some….

“WINDOWS” (c).

 

Monday:

Penelope gazed out of the window at the greying clouds. ‘What had happened to the blue skies and sunshine from earlier in the day?’ she wondered. Rain pitter-pattered on the glass and Penelope in unison drummed her fingers on her desk. It was another day in the office for Penelope, however, it had been far from another “ordinary” day. No, in fact, for Penelope it had been a very, very extraordinary day indeed!

Tuesday:

Tuesday morning blue skies and a drizzle of sunshine. Marcus and Lucy turned the sign that hung on the glass panelled door of their shop to let the world outside know that they were ‘OPEN’. Finally their hopes and dreams were falling into place. Closed was the door to their corporate lives in a world that they had now left behind. It was a brave move and one they had never anticipated taking when they first started out in their careers as young, ambitious, driven professionals. However, now childless and in their early forties, and with money in the bank, it was time for a new chapter. And as the door to the old closed, a window to new opportunities opened. First came the grand disembarkation from their fast-paced corporate lives, followed by a few months of travel, then focussed time setting up their long dreamed of business. Now the way was open, and Marcus and Lucy were more than ready for their new life and new adventures to begin.

Wednesday:

Peter tapped his biro against the clipboard, and gazed absentmindedly at his notes. He brushed back his unruly dark, yet speckled and greying hair from his face. The breeze from the slightly open window of his office rustled the bottom edges of his papers. He pressed his thumbs down upon the bottom edge of the uppermost page to keep the pages from lifting in the breeze. Despite the inconvenience, the breeze was welcome as Peter sat with the sun beating in upon him. The breeze served also as a reminder to him of how fortunate he was. He had opened the window a little earlier for the sake of the young lady who had sat in the room with him. His client. Her traumatic symptoms were resurfacing during their session, and the breeze from the open window served as a gentle reminder that she was here, drawing her back into the present. Peter jotted down some final observations before drawing a line under his work for the day. It was time to finalise his work, to pack up, close the window and finish for the day. As usual, he slowly, yet deliberately, left his wonderings and concerns about his clients firmly in the office before heading home to his young family, and his own happy life.

Thursday:

Trish sipped on her hot ginger tea, feeling calmed by the aroma and the warm and soothing sensation on her throat. She noticed a gentle hint of cinnamon too, softening the spice of the sweet ginger. Lisa returned to the table with her frothy topped coffee and sat opposite her friend. Together they leafed through the photograph album from Lisa’s recent wedding. A stylish lady following her tiny dog on its lead caught Trish’s eye. She was glad that Lisa had chosen a window-side table in the coffee shop. Trish felt less anxious sitting there, able periodically to glance away and watch the world go by, rather than sitting in the centre of the coffee shop, only to feel watched by the other customers there. It also served as a temporary mental and emotional “getaway” for her, as Lisa, caught up in her own enthusiasm and excitement of where her life was right now, absentmindedly, yet carelessly, disregarded her friends feelings as she celebrated her own.

Friday:

On Friday, Emily wore her favourite scarf to work. A gentle yellow, silky affair, with a light and tasteful scattering of gold sequins that sparkled and glistened when they caught and reflected the sunlight. For Emily, without any particular known reason, as far as she was aware at least, yellow was a colour she associated with Mondays. She wasn’t entirely sure why, as she didn’t feel particularly bright on a Monday, and never actually intentionally wore yellow on a Monday either. However, this Friday she felt drawn to wear this yellow scarf, and so she did. She hadn’t worn it for a long time, and it drew many compliments towards her that day. She enjoyed the simplicity of the happiness that it brought her as it sparkled in the sun streaming through the office window, catching the sequins and brightening her heart.


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Take Time to Notice before the Winds of Change blow in again…

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Photography is a particular hobby of mine that allows me to intentionally slow down and focus on the world around me. To caress moments in time, and capture something of the essence of them, in a world that seems to be incessantly rushing by. There are some rare moments when you capture something that even touches your own heart, and although I am not a professional photographer, I do try to improve and the photographs above, especially the one on the right are a couple of those rare gems that I am particularly fond of. 

They speak to me of the beauty of nature in its changing seasons, and the delicate, even fragile passing of time, the life giving way to death and the sowing of seeds carried almost serendipitously by the wind for new life to be planted wherever it will. 

I wonder if you, like me, crave solitude or at least times of refreshing in a world that is full of schedules and ‘to do’ lists? Time to fully live the season that you are in, and to appreciate it, in this particular moment. There is beauty and grace in the summer and the winter seasons of our lives. And yet, we fear the passing of time, but do we use our time, our lives wisely? 

I don’t know about you, but as serendipitous as a seed falling to the ground may seem, I believe that there is a greater, higher, fascinating order to life. I see so much design and purpose and beautiful intention in nature, that I can’t but allow myself to be breath taken by the seemingly simplest of things. When I really take time to be still, to wonder and ponder at life, I know in my heart that there is a meaning and an order behind it all. We live chaotic lives, but to a great degree we choose to. We choose to close our eyes and our ears to the Love and Peace gently, persuasively calling out our names, compelling us to know that we do have  a place in this grand design, and that we don’t have to live our lives as rootless, purposeless flowers caught and tossed by every wind of change in life. 

There was a time in life when I felt helplessly alone, rootless, tossed by tempest and storms beyond my control, striving to find Peace, but that Peace always alluding me. And yet, now I have an unshakeable Root, a place of belonging, a Love unfailing, and confidence that despite the passing of time, the fragility of my being and of my life, I am held securely both now and for eternity by a God Who Knows, Who Cares, Who sent Jesus Christ in Whose Life I am hidden in God, to die for me, to forgive me, to save my lost soul, and give a purpose and meaning to every fleeting moment of my fragile life. And as I think of using my time, each season, I am compelled to tell you about His Love, His Certainty, His Security, His Peace and Hope, that perhaps someway, some how, by His Grace, these seeds of love will be carried by the gentle, persistently loving winds of the Holy Spirit to take root in your heart and change your life forever, or if you know and love Him already, to deepen your roots in Christ so that you may life a life, each moment, fruitful, flourishing and at Peace in Him, when it is your time to pass from this fleeting life into to the next unshakeable one. xx

Nature’s constant and silent lesson to accept the season of life that you are in…

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Today after work, I took down my Christmas tree. I know, it’s January 23rd, and for some of you that’s a ridiculously long time to keep the tree up. Aside from the fact that the ‘true meaning of Christmas’ can’t be confined within one single day, and should be celebrated in our hearts all year around, I also happen to live in a 10th floor flat / apartment, and therefore enjoy a relative degree of anonymity and don’t have to worry about what my neighbours think, as they can’t see into my living room! And furthermore, I have felt the need and desire to hold on to the cosiness of the Christmas and festive season for as long as I can due to the fact that it’s mid-January and in my part of the world we’ve been experiencing snow days and the kind of weather that makes you want to hibernate, but alas, work beckons and necessitates leaving the house. So to have a cosy Christmassy space has been a comfort to me, as I hide away from the wind and the rain. I am someone who keeps my fairy lights up all year round, the soft yellow-white ones that add a little touch of comfort to the atmosphere of my home…

However, today was the day to take the Christmas tree down, pack it away in its box and begin to take the decorations down too. I found myself feeling a little ‘blue’ as it were, because although January, a new month, season and year has begun, the dark days and nights have not yet lifted, which makes it harder to say goodbye to the lights and colours and enchantment of Christmastime. 

I am fortunate enough to now live in a city where every January there is a musical festival running from around 19th January to 4th February, with several live music events, many of which are free to attend, attracting talent not only from home, but also internationally. It is a real cultural ‘pick me up’ during the dark and damp start of the year that we often experience. As I put my tree away I had some music playing in the background to remind me of this, by way of encouragement. I also reminded myself of the One Constant Source in Life, that Is God. And I found myself contemplating the lessons that nature, with unswerving regularity teaches us with every passing season and year of life: to accept the season of life that we are in. When I think about it, I realise that with the changing of seasons comes a blossoming, and flourishing like the leaves on a tree, that then wither and perish (you may relate to my reference here), giving way once more to new life, to seasons of waiting, of growth and of blossoming and fading as the cycle continues. There is struggle in nature, but not the same ‘fight’ that we humans often inflict upon ourselves. There is a silent, constant acceptance of this natural change, as one season fades or bursts vibrantly into the next, inhabiting its space in time for what it is…something that too, in its time, will pass and change once more. 

And this is a lesson for me, for us, as well. One that it seems, every few months, we need reminded of, perhaps because we are so slow to learn. Life has seasons of joy and sorrow, and although we may enjoy one season more than another, we must let things unfold and take their course by accepting the season that we are in. Perhaps you are grieving, and your only comfort is that this too will pass. Or maybe you have experienced a wonderful season and want desperately to hold on to it for fear of change or disappointment or boredom, or the unknown. Let it open up and bloom into the fullness of life for such a time as this. And make it your priority to learn how to be rooted and built up, standing firm in season, accepting and being present in the life you are living now, knowing that things will inevitably change, but making the most of each precious moment, learning your deep lessons, and creating precious memories along the way…

 

Daily Prompt: ‘Distant’

Daily Prompt – Distant

You’ve been here before. Looking out to the horizon, the wide expanse of sea and sky reaches forth to meet you, where right now you feel the sand and grit between your toes, as gentle waves lap around your feet. A gull wails in the far, far distance, and other seabirds respond with their own distinct cacophony of cackles.

You spy a razor shell covered with sand. You desire to reach down to smooth off the sand from between its intricate ridges. But the presence of seaweed draws out your hesitance, and you simply stare. You are lost in the reverie you find in the rock pools around you. A crab scuttles into view, distorting the patterns of your peaceful daydream. You lift a foot, shaking off the sand, and begin to walk away.

People come and go all around you, and yet this is your beach. You hold fast to your solitude even in this multitude. You look back to see your trail of footprints, and forwards at the untouched sand. Around you there is the vibrancy of life. Children run and play, weaving their way in and out of the patterns on the sand, splashing in the water and squealing with delight. Sandcastles are built and gleefully demolished. A red and yellow kite catches the wind, falters and then soars high into the bright blue sky as a gust triumphantly lifts it. Somewhere in the distance you can hear the clip clop of horses hooves. People walking dogs come and go, and life goes on and on in this one vibrant unfolding shared story on this beach, where everything is now.

You pull the kite string of your mind to try to both tether yourself and to fly free as you catch a fresh breeze. But this tension within you constantly flutters. Why does it seem that everything you long for is always in the distance, beyond a horizon that you can never quite arrive at?

Perhaps it is because you yourself are distant. Never fully allowing yourself to be here and now, present in the life you are living, the life that other people’s dreams are made of…..?  (c).P1110011.JPG