Note to self

I am new to writing, to me it is like holding a baby. Tiny and unpredictable, endearing and with lots of needs. But still I remind myself that babies of all species have their part to play.

I am used to what I am good at not being seen much at all. Chaplaincy is a very personal encounter. Writing however it is a lot more public. This scares me. But as I have spoken with my spiritual director and done some soul thinking, I able to see how I am enriched and given injection of hope, life, comfort and vitality through the brave expression of someone else’s creativity. I can see how I love to celebrate others who have gifts which they have chosen not to keep hidden, but to share. And so, I took a deep breath and have begun.

And it feels like beginning, like holding something delicate and saying to the person next to me – would you like to hold this a while?  And they might pause and with a sigh say, ‘that feels better’, and they might think of someone to pass it on to, whose hands need to hold something like this. For a bit. For now. And that is all that is asked of me. I wrote this ‘note to self’ to remind me of that.

As I look about me at those who create through music, poetry, painting, dance, sculpture, writing, I see the life of artists who do not know what they will create next. Creating something grounds you in this present moment, this next note, next brush stroke, next phrase. In that moment all else suspends, like time is hovering behind you, and from that vacuum comes life and gift. Expression which is an unstoppable force. G.K. Chesterton talks about this, ‘at the back of our brains, so to speak, there was a forgotten blaze or burst of astonishment at our own existence. The object of the artistic and spiritual life was to dig for this submerged sunrise of wonder’.  In digging for this wonder, before us lie projects and creations we cannot foresee. When I watch the unfolding of anothers’ life it strikes me how one event seemed like the pinnacle, and then later on, there was something else just as wonderful. It is not inconsequential that in between there continue to be tedious tasks and trying relationships to navigate. There will continue to be waste because we cannot create without mess. Artists of all kinds do not opt out of life. Instead, they illuminate, comment on and draw attention to the unseen dimensions of our shared humanity on this good earth. Changing the world with one splash of paint,  or guitar  strum at a time.  

In many ways it does not matter what others think, for reviews and opinions will be both over and under generous. Rudyard Kipling knew this, he reminds us to meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same’.

Poet Wendell Berry spoke about this in a different way:

‘stay away from anything than obscures the place it is in’.

This is wisdom indeed.

For me it helps to remind myself that I am happiest not when words I have written are being read, but when I am absorbed in writing them.  Nature is like this, the tiny delicate flower, the wind, the sun setting. Each are exactly themselves. The sun will be beautiful whether or not I stop to notice it, but when I do, I hope I will be thankful enough to invite others to take a look too.

Creativity seems to be incongruent with control. Control has its place, but I often question what ‘being in control’ actually offers and gives that is of benefit. All we can really do, given that we generally overestimate our powers, is to do the next right thing. I read once in a Celtic Prayer book, a quote from George MacDonald saying, that whatever I am doing now, if I do it as best I can, that is the best possible preparation for what I will be asked to do next.

Creative and artistic expression can only be possible when I am authentic to all of myself. I can’t nip and tuck myself, or photoshop me into a better me than I can attain or maintain. Those who I see who are most glorious, are unashamedly themselves. The causes they fight for, they do so because it is woven into their very being. Their art and their passion unite and so it is no wonder it makes our hearts burn within us to be exposed to this.

John O Donohue describes it like this, ‘It takes an awful lot of living with the powerless to really understand what it is like to be powerless, to have your voice, thoughts, ideas and concerns count for very little. We, who have been given much, whose voices can be heard, have a great duty and responsibility to make our voices heard with absolute integrity for those who are powerless’. There are lots of unheard voices, many who are powerless. The greatest artists I have come across make their art form count, they create for far beyond themselves. I will need to remind myself of this, because it is highly likely that one day someone will tell me (and it will not be the first time) of how I am inadequate. I must remind myself that words are powerful tools and I have set out with the intention to offer words of consolation. May I never, therefore, respond to desolation with desolation. For writing and life are a creative process which no one understands but, as Susan Howatch puts it, in the end with both writing and life, ‘nothing is wasted, nothing is without significance and nothing ceases to be precious to me‘ (see Rob Bell’s book/DVD ‘Drops Like Stars’).

Image by Annie Spratt from Pixabay

Cocoons of safety

Tiny nostrils

breathing in

sweet sweat

Bound tightly

by bright colours

to a warm, capable back

Hearing her melodic hum

calming anxious cries

Held and cradled

in a place both soft

and strong

Perfectly safe in

her cocoon of care

We have heard the phrase ‘stay safe’ a lot. I don’t remember it being part of everyday greetings or written at the end of emails until this time. It has made me ponder about safety, about the times I have been utterly safe, about what this felt like, what was there, what wasn’t. I wonder too on how to offer safety to others, especially when those who are meant to protect cause harm. True safety is about so much more though, than the absence of harm or prejudice. For us to truly ‘dwell in safety’ means careful attention to what is present, for us and for those we offer safety to.

In cocoons of safety we can heal and grow at the same time, we are reminded of who we really are. Of course we can’t spend our whole lives here because we are built for risk and adventure too. But at some points in our lives, a cocoon of safety is exactly where we need to be. The cocoon is where we return to, to rest in a place both soft and strong, both tender and dependable. We often turn up bruised, damaged, broken, heavy laden. We put down our bags. We take a real and metaphorical drink of cold water, melt into fresh sheets, are fed and tended to. Demands on us are alleviated, even just for a little while. It could be a few hours, or a few days. Sometimes it needs to be even longer. We enter the cocoon one way and we emerge another. As we repeat this pattern again and again in our lives we come to trust it. To venture forth and eventually needing to find a place of recuperation, of tender loving care. And we are changed again by this. The cocoon could be somewhere we know and with people who are familiar. Or it could be a place of retreat where the invitation to all who come is ‘please, dwell here a while’. This idea of dwelling is significant because not only do we need physical safety but psychological safety, emotional safety and spiritual safety as well.  Or else we are not wholly safe. We can only truly dwell where we are wholly safe. Sometimes it becomes the case on our life journey that our safe place or safe person are no longer available and we are lost and unable to settle, we become drained, flitting about until we can move no longer. This is one of the reasons why we need the kindness of strangers, angels who visits us unawares. They visit and gather us to ourselves and surprise us with cocoons of care, in ways which we may not expect, but which tend to us all the same.

Now, we know that for much of our life we are not wholly safe. We encounter physical threat, emotional pain, psychological manipulation, spiritual distress. We may be unable to access a tangible cocoon of care. At times like these may we find ways to visit by imagination an image that comes to mind and feels safe to us, if just for a few moments. To remind ourselves that what truly matters is always held safely, like a lamb gathered and held close to the heart. And so we need not fear, for our lives and souls forever belong and dwell in safety, in the mysterious unseen. Which means we may trust that, when the time comes, we will one day emerge brighter and freer than ever before. And we will fly.

Header image by GLady from Pixabay

Begin again

Tomorrow we will begin again,

New dew will form at the break of dawn

on grass that is ever so slightly taller

The first light will waken anew,

lifting open an awestruck eye

to the beauty it beholds

And the earth will be new, again

Our bodies

being healed and restored

as we slept,

will stir us into wakefulness

We will breathe our first breath

into the opening of the day

And we will be new, again

Our souls will remember

that we are damaged,

precious

and not alone

We may come to accept

that wholeness arrives

not with resolution and fanfare

But with hearts humble enough

to forever begin

And all will be new

again, tomorrow.

In 1999 Poet Brendan Kennelly published a poem called ‘Begin’ he writes ‘something that will not acknowledge conclusion, insists that we forever begin’. In 2012 songwriter Taylor Swift wrote a song called ‘Begin Again’. She sings of the contrast between being repeatedly broken and the joy in finding that despite this, when exposed to love and acceptance you cannot help but begin to live and love again. Both of these artists, different though they may to be one another, have captured something which has taken hold in my heart and I cannot shift. The insight that for life to continue we need to keep on beginning. Over and over.

Tricky this, because in general we do not welcome disruption or interruption, forcing us as they often do onto unchartered territory. At the very least entailing reforming opinions and redressing judgements. It can be hard to begin again, to draw a line between this and that. We knew ‘this’, ‘this’ is familiar. ‘That’, on the other hand, is generally the great unknown.

We are currently experiencing one big long disruption and interruption. An enormous line engraved in the sand. Making us reset priorities of time and relationships, recalibrating our inner and outer resources. Treating our success syndrome. Hoping our ‘love first’ kindness syndrome may be our prognosis instead.

The phrase ‘begin again’ may make something burn within you, a radical kind of yearning. To begin again, to upcycle something that is already established, or perhaps it is about to be. Beginnings like these are voyages, and so I remind myself of what Mary Poppins says ‘you are about to go on an adventure, don’t ruin it with too many questions’. Beginnings are exactly that, a beginning, it is likely not to look as it has before. We are unable to see very far ahead and certainly not beyond the horizon.  Antoine de Saint-Exupery also knew this. He says,  ‘If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea’. We stand on the shore, about to embark. The sea can be trusted, it knows well the patterns of beginnings, journeys and renewal.

Sometimes we begin again, not because we are forced to, but because we have been stuck somewhere and we have found ourselves utterly misunderstood, underappreciated, misrepresented and underestimated. There comes a time when stating our bottom line and shaking the dust from our feet is exactly the right move. To say enough is enough and being brave enough to begin again, because as hard as it is to do this, to stay is harder still.

Other times we may find ourselves looking at the idea of beginning again as unbearable because of great and searing loss. When we meet this, may our small, tentative, unwelcome beginnings be gentle and saturated with love. May the compassionate heart of nature be inclined towards us as we trust her healing touch, seen in the patterns of the earth, to tenderly renew our souls.

In the light of all this, I wonder if the idea of renewal, that everyday we get the chance to begin again at being us, is more hopeful than dreadful. Our cells renew themselves over and over. The seasons come and renew the earth. This summers flowers will not be last years. They belong to this years’ growth. Next year they will be renewed again. There is a hopefulness about this. The kind of hope I like to think of as Sister Stan describes it, ‘what is left when the bottom falls out of optimism’. A hopefulness that prevails because to begin again, stirs within us the possibility that as the sun rises again tomorrow it may dawn on a brave new world.

Image by LoganArt from Pixabay

Canopy of kindness

There is this canopy above us all which holds, contains and is lit up by, a multitude of stars.

There are many things which may come to mind when gazing at stars in the night sky. I wonder what it makes you think of?

Sometimes we might feel like we wish to rewrite the stars. Like this picture a friend sent me on a postcard, to make dot to dot and create our own constellations. I wonder what constellations we would mark out in our imaginations, in our lives? What images we would draw between the stars? Who might you find next to you, flying their celestial kite along with yours?

Picture from a card gifted to me. Big Bear, Little Bear by Kristiana Parn

Sometimes we have been made to believe that the only star that matters is the ‘star of the show’ or the ‘rising star’. But then the night sky would look a little bereft. A little empty and sparse. Like a lot of things were missing. This is because night sky needs all of us to be here. To, ‘take our place in the family of things’ (thanks Mary Oliver for that glorious phrase), ‘take our place in the family of things’. Occupying our space is easier when we remember that stars are not picky or demanding. They teach us something about being, about kindness. Kindness is not picky or demanding either. Kindness and stars are not exclusive about where their light shines, they are universal givers. Beamed out freely. And so kindness and light fall all over, wherever, whatever, however. They can be stumbled across in the most unlikely of places.

Such kindness can be up close. A bit like the sun, our own star which gives us warmth, as well as light. The sun is a star which teaches us that much of the time, we do not have to look far away for kindness. Sometimes kindness can be given, and found, exactly here, to the left and right of us. Here a fellow star will be. Here a fellow star we will be. Even if it starts with our own reflection in the mirror. A little self-kindness, to reflect a little light back our way.

Other times stars are far away in time, place and space. Stars and people who shine their kindness brightly into the world through their art or music or stories or courageous acts (thank you to the likes of Positive News Magazine, https://www.positive.news/, for examples of this). Their kindness, and ours, are visible in the night sky, even from far away. Kindness and light never know how far they will reach, kindness and light may manage to cover great distances, across space, between hearts. They will likely never receive thanks, in the same way that we can never thank the stars. But we are grateful they are there, like I am here, you are here, shining both near and far, taking our place as part of the canopy of kindness, which covers us all.

Let me dwell under a canopy of kindness

haunches on haybales

of straw and compacted comfort

Music strumming

the anticipation of dancing

light flickering

feet tapping on the

criss-crossed mat

While drinks are poured

and glasses raised

to evenings like these

Which come like a cool

gentle breeze

blowing away the stifled air

of my over – constricted life.

Front Image by beate bachmann from Pixabay

The shapes we thought we knew

The shapes we thought we knew

cannot hold us anymore

The lines too straight

angles too pointy

squares too boxy

We must draw circles instead

spheres of endless possibility

I wonder what shape is framing this experience for you?

It seems to me that straight lines do not always adequately capture or describe the human experience. The grand illusion that things move perpetually along to the next  in a linear fashion, with a clear view back and forth. The difficulty with this image is that it only allows motion forwards and backwards along a track, restricting our movement somewhat.

Perhaps you think of a triangle. A very sturdy and reliable shape, reassuring us that if we build in fixed supportive structures and frameworks, these bolsters will keep us safe and secure. The difficulty with a triangle is all the sharp pointy edges and tight angles involved in maintaining control.

A square might better explain things for you. The reliable square. You know what you are getting with a square. They make excellent boxes, they are highly replicable, fitting together rather well. Everyone belongs if they stay in their box.

And we could talk about prisms which refract light, or stars which are both edgy and bright, or hearts, because when all is said and done love changes everything.

But I’m drawn to the circle.

I’ve been learning about shapes, 2D and 3D with my 5 year old daughter, trying to find various shapes around our house. This got me thinking of all the different types of circle or sphere I could bring to mind. The smallest I got to was a cell, of a plant, animal or a human. Circles hem us in in a particular way, we are enclosed softly, fluidly. Circles in nature tend to have a ‘partially permeable membrane’ which serves to keep in what is beneficial and life giving, and keep out what is detrimental and life draining. In Celtic Spirituality there is a kind of prayer about this called ‘Caim’. You form circle shape around you, and ask for peace to be kept within and fear kept out, or hope kept in and despair kept out. You pray as you desire.

The largest circle I could think of was a planet, let’s say Jupiter, or Saturn with all its’ concentric rings. It seems like a pretty important shape for life. The Slow Travel Movement recommends exploring a new area in gently expanding concentric circles, rather than dashing from here to there, like the highlights were the only thing that mattered on a journey.

We’ve been a little like circles recently, each on our own small island. Marooned. Sending messages in bottles and in advanced Morse code. We may get to travel a little more now. I wonder what shape we will take to do this? The dimension of a circle means we have a lot of surface area available to make connections. A little like the picture featured by the artist Wassily Kandinsky, called Several Circles created in 1926. It shows how circles (and us) move between, across, over, under, around and about, overlapping with one another, through life.

Nature and circles, travel and circles, art and circles, and finally music and circles.  Music which takes you from nothing, to a great arch of sound, all the way round to home again. The circle shaped ‘oooo’ sound. Like the sound you make when you see a rainbow, the half circle, whose beginnings and ends are so mysterious, which only appear when the weather is jumbled and confused. The forming circle, that tells us that what is incomplete, is in fact, completely beautiful.

The shapes we thought we knew

cannot hold us anymore

The lines too straight

angles too pointy

squares too boxy

We must draw circles instead

spheres of endless possibility

You’re welcome

When someone says ‘thanks’ to you, what do you say?

‘It’s no bother’

‘Don’t mention it’

‘My pleasure’

I think I default to ‘You’re welcome’. In that phrase, when it is genuinely offered, I think I am saying:

You are welcome here, to have had this space and place, you are welcome to this time.

Folk often say ‘thank you’ when receiving some kind of gift. Gifts can be many things, welcome gifts, quirky gifts, spot-on gifts, surprising gifts. Gifts can be anything really, except that to which you feel entitled. That is called something else.

The ‘thank you’ says you thought of me, you noticed I am here. You are here too. Thank you.

‘You are so welcome’ says exactly that,

you

are

welcome.

You are so welcome here on earth, you are welcome to be you, accepted as you.

It feels like we are so ready to have a chance to welcome each other, to extend hospitality. Perhaps we are missing this. There has been so much generosity of spirit, giving and deep felt gratitude, but not many chances to say ‘You’re welcome’.

There is something about hosting another in your home, of being hospitable, an opening up. You trust your guests not to critique the standard of your home or what current state it is in. You may come to my house the day after I’ve cleaned it. You may come when cleaning is overdue. Pot luck really.

It is the same when we meet each other. You may get my top 10%, or the worst 10% of me. If at all possible this is why it is best to withhold judgement of perfect strangers and their behaviour. You may see them at their best and envy them. Or at their worst and scorn them. I don’t imagine any of us wish to be met with either of those things.

My 7 year old son has this t-shirt which says ‘The Dude’ – he asked about this and after my explanation he said ‘but I’m just a regular guy’. That made me smile, ‘regular guy’ – where did he pick up a phrase like that?! But this is all of us I guess, regular guy, regular gal.

And in the end all we have to offer is our gifts, what we are best and shiny at, as well as our regular selves, (and our lesser selves too). We offer all that into the bit of the world we find ourselves in, to our lives and relationships and interactions and interruptions.

Some might turn to us and say ‘thank you’ for all that.

And we might say

‘You are so welcome’

‘You are welcome’

‘Welcome’

Buttercup and the bee

There is a host and a guest

in each of us

Like the buttercup

and the bee.

Sometimes we’re the host

We get the beers in

Make some brownies

We are gracious,

open,

and generous.

There is security in this.

There is a host and a guest

in each of us

Like the buttercup

and the bee.

Sometimes we’re the guest

We come tentatively,

wonder what kind of welcome

we will receive

Can I be me?

Am I OK to be here?

Am I Ok to be?

Am I ok?

There is a host and a guest

in each of us

Like the buttercup

and the bee.

Being a perpetual guest

is hard

Being a perpetual host

can harden you

There is a host and a guest

in each of us

Like the buttercup

and the bee.

As I meet you

and you meet me

We come as host

We come as guest

In the welcome of each other

Together, may we be.

I miss you

Technology holds its own wonderment and I offer gratitude for that all it captures and communicates. We have depended on it for years, especially to connect with those we know who live abroad. We certainly would be in a different place without it.

However, although it is marvellous, technology captures and communicates only fraction, a fragment of who we are. This may explain why even when I’ve chatted and laughed with a group of my closest friends online I feel both more, and less, connected with them.

We have so little of each other now. This is a line which has been repeating over and over in my head. I heard it in a poem by Danusha Laméris and it gave words to what I have been feeling, and what I’ve heard others try to express. We have so little of each other now.

This applies almost exclusively, unless you live with others in your home, then, you may have had too much of them!

But, for everyone else, we have so little of each other. We live our roles as sister, brother, auntie, cousin, volunteer, co-worker, friend, from too far away.

Now and again in my work I put on PPE. When dressed like this I feel it again.

We have hands, in plastic gloves. We have smiles, behind masks. We have our eyes, ‘the window to the soul’. So much depends on what we can communicate through our eyes, our so often, tired eyes. Tired soul too perhaps.

We are separated by pixels and screens and visors at checkouts and digital audio and necessary protective equipment. Humans must stay 2 metres apart at all times. For weeks on end.

We have so little of each other now.

So this is just a little note to say, I miss the smell and touch and sound of you. I miss being in the same room with you, I miss your reassuring presence. I miss all you communicate without saying a word. I miss the most of you that technology cannot deliver. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful to have any part of you, 5%, 15%. But I want you to remember there is so much more to you than your typed comments, your digitised voice, your pixelated face. When I see you on my screen I remember wherever you are you are fully there, 100%, all your body, mind and soul. Your facial expressions and mannerisms. Your glorious, spirited, quirky, self. I miss you, all  the pieces and parts of you, that make up the whole of you. So though you can’t have a space on my sofa, I want you to know you take up so much room in my heart.

In my life and work I have been with children, young people and adults who always need to communicate differently, in creative and personalised ways. Those who care for them find endless, innovative, meaningful ways to enable communication, and I don’t mean moving from a powerpoint to zoom. I mean music, or sensory objects, or colourful light, or hearing and touching nature. Deep listening, attentive watching, being alongside, absolutely cherishing the company of one another.

All this reminds me to cherish what we love most about each other, no matter what the limitation and restrictions on how we can communicate. There is a song called Fall On Me sung by the father and son duo of Andrea and Matteo Bocelli. They sing ‘Fall on me, with open arms. Fall on me with all your light’. May this be our song to each other. Because we may feel like we are freefalling through time and space. We may be lacking open arms to catch us. All we are left with is light. From wherever we are, we radiate out beacons of light to those we love. And we rest and are restored, in the rays light which come to fall on us from those who love us.

We have so little of each other now, but may we still fall on each other with all our light.

Different kinds of quiet

Silence is golden, so they say. It can undoubtedly have a certain shimmer to it. There is this glorious little book called ‘The Quiet Book’, which shows lots of different kinds of quiet. ‘Right before you yell ‘Surprise’ quiet’, or ‘Thinking of a reason you were drawing on the wall, quiet’. Quiet can feel very different depending on what has just happened, or what is about to be. There is the quiet after an argument, and there is the quiet before the redemptive phrase.

Truth be told my house is not often very quiet. Outside, on a walk though, it really is. There is a sort of stillness in the air that is somehow less frantic, less frenetic, like something has lifted and given us a bit more room. A whole layer of spaciousness has been opened up we didn’t even know was there. Of course sometimes I ignore it, sometimes I fill it completely, other times I sense it’s ethereal glow, illuminating and amplifying all that beauty.

Your home may be quieter. You may have enough windows of quiet time in your day to offer one to a prolonged time of intentional silence or meditation. If so, then I say hooray and well done and thank you for this stillness which you offer up on behalf of all of us.

It may be, like me, you can only do this occasionally. For now it may be enough to pause, remember to breathe, pay attention and take three conscious glorious breaths. I would encourage you to try this as often as you possibly can, and so slowly, gently, cumulatively, we might absorb, assimilate and marinade in the silence that is always there.

It may help us to notice that a lot of things which are beautiful, are silently so. I’m sure you can name some, like the stars and flowers and gemstones. You may be delicately aware as you dwell in silence, however briefly, of a shift within that is almost imperceptible. Except you may find yourself being a little extra kind. Or a touch more peaceful or patient, or creative. You may be able to take a slightly more open stance towards the world.

So you, even though you may barely perceive it, and those who benefit from your fragile, tentative shifts of the heart, utter an inaudible ‘thank you’ to and into the silence.

The silence that dwells within

may be the loudest silence of them all.

The tummy, the chest, the heart

always engaging in their necessary rhythms,

energising, breathing, beating.

That space next to me,

Just outside of me

But that is kind of still, me,

Because to for you to be in it

I have to have welcomed you in.

That safety zone

Where, if we wish to connect with another

we need to cross this quietly held

extension of ourselves.

The global hush

The temperate skies

The empty roads

And green traffic lights.

The machines have ceased

And so our global quiet grows

Turns out it was there all along

A little stifled in places,

In others it has been ever thus.

This silence has always been,

It was at the beginning,

It is here now, holding us

from beneath, like arms

And it will be there too, waiting

at the end of all things.

Holes

Martin Luther once said ‘even if I knew that tomorrow the world was going to go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree’.

This could be perceived as an act which is foolish, profound, absurd, symbolic, mockable, hopeful and essential. Lots of things are like this, all mixed up and contradictory but still essential.

A very long time ago myself and a group of friends spent a day digging a hole on a beach in France – just for the sake of it, taking turns to see how deep we could go. It was funny and pointless and bonding all at the same time. It would have been more straightforward to have found one already dug. But that would be no story at all.

I have spent a lot of time at home with my young kids and as such read a lot of kids books. One of these is a Mr Men book in which Mr Silly goes out to a hardware store because he has a tree to plant and wishes to buy a hole to put it in. He is of course told they are all out of holes, but they could offer him a spade.

What a disappointment.

I wish it were possible to buy a hole. This way I would not need to work out where to put all the mounds of dirt I dig up when I set out with my spade.

It would be a lot easier to say ‘I have a tree to plant’ and there would be a purchasable hole to put it in. Job done.

Hardware stores and life in general do not have holes available.

It is not much compensation that instead they have spades and pamphlets of advice on what you might do with what you dig up.

So if we ever go looking for each other, I imagine we are less likely to find one another resting under the boughs of some well established tree, and more likely to find ourselves digging. Hot, sweaty, with muddy, blistered hands and complaining of an aching back. We may be surrounded in a lot of mess.

I hope we will be kind enough to offer each other a drink of water.

and be grateful for this kindness,

because the world is going to pieces,

and we have trees,

and they need planting.

We need to talk about home

We need to talk about home. By which I mean not walls, those these are good. Not our stuff, though that is lovely too. I mean more that sense of at -one-ness, the comfort, the safety, of being understood and accepted. The coming home. Being home.

You may know folk for whom this is not true right now. Perhaps you have felt this too. I think we sense this so keenly because we know what it is to feel at home, and so we are acutely aware when this is absent. The mole in Charlie Mackesys’ book says, ‘I think everyone is just trying to get home’. I agree with mole.

I wonder how we can help each other out with this?

I wonder whether what Saint Ignatius calls ‘consolation’ is this feeling of being at home, of belonging.

Now consolation, and home, can be found in a particular place. There is a phrase in Celtic spirituality which refers to places which soothe us, as ‘thin places’, where the soul feels right at home. Now, I reckon that if it can be true for places then it can be true for people too.

I am pretty sure there are ‘thin people’. Those who console your soul, who make you feel at home, even if you have been up-ended and are on foreign territory. They embody for us a ready kindness, which is good, for things will not be as they were before. A physical home can be unreliable, but finding home in the company of another, well, you can depend on something like that.

They say that we are all just walking each other home

They say that home is where the heart is

But, what if you have a broken home

Or a broken heart?

Then we will have to try to get home by another way

That may mean walking you home in the dead of night

In the dark,

If so,

All you need to do is take the hand that’s offered

And hold on tight

to the one who has dared

to bring the comfort of the home of their hearts,

to those who find themselves

far from home.