What do you leave behind?

This is a post from Arthur Burk, Sapphire Leadership Group and it may resonate for some. Transition is always a tricky time and doing it well takes work for everyone concerned; intentionally moving in grace and allowing for these points of missed communiciation, old assumptions, the clash of old and new yet holding on to move through to a new place for all involved. O often find his writing thought provoking and hope this helps with the journey.

“Our seminar in Innsbruck about transition plowed some deep ground. One of the concepts that landed with a jolt was the issue of what you leave behind during a transition.
There are many classic stories.

-Peter, Andrew, James and John left their businesses.

-Matthew left his government post.
-Abraham initially refused to leave his family behind.
-God forced him to part ways from Ishmael in order to focus on Isaac’s season.
-Noah had to leave hundreds of relatives behind.
-Lot’s wife was to emotionally leave the city behind.
-Paul routinely left tiny, new congregations behind with no pastor.

One of the most emotionally gripping transitions involving leaving things behind was Jesus’ arrest, trial and death.

None of the apostles were up to speed yet. None of them could grasp the meaning or magnificence of the ghastly events about to follow. The three best could not even stay awake in the Garden of Gethsemane.

But the task Jesus had to do was utterly time sensitive. There could be no delay. He could not wait to explain one more time. He could not take even one or two along with Him. He had to walk away from three years of intense investment and move into the next season absolutely alone.

All of us have made many transitions. The first one, birth, involved our being violently yanked from the place that had represented peace, comfort and security for all of our existence. There would be no return under any circumstances.

Then we were permanently cut off from the only source of life we had ever known – the umbilical cord. It would never be put back.

The plan was for us to thrive in a different environment of loving arms and safe beds, and to avail ourselves of a new source of nutrition – milk.

Most babies make the transition OK. They are able to leave what needs to be left and to receive the new construct and new resources, carrying on with the very different season of life on the outside.

Some are so traumatized by the transition they reject their mother, blaming her for the disruption they have experienced. When the breast is offered, the child refuses. When love is offered, the child rejects it.

In the end, the refusal to accept the transition from the old to the new can be hugely detrimental to the child.

The same is true for us.

The fact that there has been violence, injustice or shame involved in our transition from one season to another can cause us to become obsessed with making right the wrong, instead of looking for the new resources that belong in the new season.

The fact that we have lost entire communities that were our primary source of emotional life can cause us to become so fixated on the emptiness in our lives that we do not lean into the new – and different – community in the new season that God is trying to transition us into.

The harshness with which the old sources of financial support were ripped away from us can keep us from receiving an alternative, very different form of sustenance in the new season.

Tragically, we often make a transition much harder than it really needs to be by relentlessly blaming the devil for this or that, instead of resolutely looking forward, seeking to find the new resources God has put in place.
It might be worth your time to revisit some of your past transitions and see if you can come to peace with what was SUPPOSED to be left behind.

By Arthur Burk
March 2017″

Restoration Man by Deb Chapman

This came out of my prayers this morning ….

Restoration Man

Twirl, dart, weaving wagtail dance
lifted high on wings of angels.
Swoop, dive down, down
into the deep blue,
rising, falling, singing
as we surf the winds of heaven.

Love unbounded,
arms outstretched
draws fragile earth in chest
holds, and hovers there.

From the belly of the dawn
strides Restoration Man.
Dazzling brightness,
blinds with sight
of all that we could be

 

Oil when you need it!

It’s been a while since I posted . It’s been a busy December as we prepared for our 5th Christmas Lifeshare celebration – a day where we support families in the community by providing a free party with Bouncy Castle, craft, LEGO, Santa’ Grotto and toys, 2 course meal and Christmas hampers to take home. Around 40 – 50 volunteers are involved and between 130-150 adults and children come to enjoy the party. We work with local schools, health visitors, social workers, supermarkets, town and county councils to pull it off.

It’s a real privilege to support families at such a pressured time of year but I was personally struggling in the week before the event. My capacity has been low for a while and I wasn’t sure I had it for the challenges of the week ahead where curve balls can come from any direction. So, I sent a prayer request out to the Antioch community and felt the grace land on me physically – no tantrums or melt downs materialised from me or anyone else!

By the Friday I was wilting again. I had to leave the guys to set up on the Friday as I attended the funeral of a close friend’s mum, which was a special time and on returning to the Centre chip butties for lunch were very welcome. Finishing touches sorted and we were all set for the following day. I was alone so I put on my favourite worship song of the moment “Explode my soul” (I particularly connect with the refrain “Explode my soul, explode with praise, what He promised is what He gave”) and lay down in a particular spot by the hatch in the Main Hall. It’s where we usually have bread and wine and from time to time an angel can be seen standing on that spot.

In yielding to Him I became aware of being surrounded by angels carrying buckets of oil which they then emptied out all over me – a release of fresh oil. As I allowed the oil to soak through me I was reminded of the time I spoke on the parable of the 10 virgins earlier in the year (drew a lot on Brad Jersak’s piece) and the thoughts that to those listening to Jesus oil was symbolic of mercy and to receive fresh oil, to renew your lamp and keep it burning Jesus encouraged us to go into the marketplace and do acts of mercy. Think I was experiencing the reality of that word!

The fruit of that encounter was that I sailed through Saturday, coped with the stressy bits and have felt an increased capacity as I recover. In sharing this I am not advocating doing more when you actually need to rest – there are natural laws that need heeding. But I am grateful for His intervention in supplying what I needed to not simply survive something, but to come through in good grace and experience the joy of a job well done! It is true that blessed are those who are merciful for they shall receive mercy

Seven Streams by Karen Lowe

We park by the reservoir,
a living art installation
involving human beings is
far harder to manage, than
might well be imagined.

Plynlimon wet mountain
source of seven rivers,
broods over a black
reservoir, and its own
wet dreams of flood.

Those carrying acres of
multi-coloured cloth, are
not hard to spot, as they
struggle with exploding
plastic bags of satin,
smeared now in true Plynlimon colours, dried
cow pat gray and sheep
pooh, pellet black.

Shit! and yet more shit,
who forgot to bring the
blue cloth?

Blue speaks of revelation,
but clearly not today.
Dancers pirouette, spin
slip-slide on stones, as
we weigh down the cloth,
pay homage to Gormley’s
artistic, autistic piles of
stone, as we celebrate the
cold multi-coloured streams
that rise in Wales, as in
youthful arrogance, we
name afresh, re-brand the
rivers, as we call for new
generations of seers to arise.

Deserving and Undeserving Poor

I recently went with a friend to see “I, Daniel Blake,” Ken Loach’s latest social commentary and it was a hard hitting and challenging as “Cathy come home” in the 60’s. The depiction of the strength of resolve, friendship, small acts of kindness and erosion of personal dignity by an inhuman and bureaucratic welfare system left many in the audience in tears and all of us silent in our seats at the end, unwilling to move – felt like a mark of respect for the story we had just been invited into.

The film focussed on the deserving poor and was a stark contrast to do the depiction of the undeserving poor in the media and programmes such as Benefits Street. Some voices criticised the film. I watched a conservative MP being interviewed who was adamant, “It’s not like that!” He buys into the narrative that the welfare system is subject to whole-scale abuse with scroungers, people who do not want to work taking advantage (polite word there). Phil McDuff’s article has some interesting perspectives.

The distinction between different categories of the poor goes back hundreds of years. The Elizabethan poor laws were designed to keep the poor at home to stop them from becoming vagrants. By the 19th Century, with the rise in population, the escalating cost of war, and disparity between the level of support given to the urban and rural poor the government concluded that the old poor law wasn’t working. They felt that a great deal of poverty was not inevitable but a product of fecklessness and that the Elizabethan poor law encouraged irresponsibly large families. With the introduction of the workhouse system the distinction between deserving and undeserving poor became a legal one and the harsh regime of the workhouse was designed to discourage people asking for help, and it was only available to those who could not work. Sound familiar!

The reality is that there are people who are struggling financially through no fault of their own – made redundant, unexpected bills, health issues which means they can no longer work and need help to transition to benefits. There are also those who make unhealthy lifestyle choices, take advantage of the help that is available and would keep on taking if you let them. It’s not one or the other but both.

Antioch’s food/clothes/furniture bank has been running for 5 years in an area of high deprivation where drug and alcohol abuse are major problems. We have a responsibility to steward the donations and resources given in good faith by hard working people and people on benefits. We have to hold boundaries, don’t want to create dependency or support unhealthy lifestyle choices but as a faith community we know that grace always favours the undeserving so there are times when we choose to help on the basis of valuing the fact that a person is made in God’s image however marred or screwed up their lives are.

The narrative of the deserving poor or the undeserving poor is an unhelpful one and the welfare system needs a major value recalibration, a recognition of citizenship through the introduction of the Basic Income – but no doubt we would then be talking about the undeserving rich!

Peregrinatio

‘When you travel,
A new silence goes with you,
And if you listen – you will hear what your heart would love to say’
John O’Donoghue, The Bendictus

This journey might not mean we leave our homes, families or communities in a white martyrdom of self imposed exile from all we hold dear but it may mean that we willingly embrace the unknown. That which we have no concept of and leave behind our pre-conceptions, traditions, internal structures and concepts of ‘how things should be’ and risk a journey that could reshape our lives, families, homes and communities.

This love of journey, peregrinatio, ‘wandering for the love of God’ is rooted in the Celtic Christian heritage of these lands and even further back to the Celts themselves as they wandered across Europe with no destination in mind, just a living connection to the land.

So rooted in their culture, the ‘open ended curve’ or ‘sinusoidal wave’ expressed free will, free choice and an independence of spirit also found in their art, torques, shields and everyday objects. Their inspiration drawn from nature and a ‘primordial dependence upon natural life.[1] They were brokers in time and space where nothing was finite, no edges or boundaries and everything was possible.

Frank Delaney captures the Celtic draw towards movement, from one moment to another beautifully “The pages of the Book of Kells simply call to mind a love of pattern, intricacy, colourful expression drawn from everyday life and embellished to – literally – fantastic extremes. And each moment within each page depends and relies upon the moment next to it: in the tension dwells the soul.” [2]

The melding of the love of journey and the love of God amongst the Celtic monks found an outlet in their unique expression of pilgrimage –

“The word itself is almost untranslatable, but its essence is caught in the ninth-century story of three Irishmen drifting over the sea from Ireland for seven day, in coracles without oars, coming ashore in Cornwall and then being brought to the court of King Alfred. When he asked them where they had come from and where they were going they answered that they “stole away because we wanted for the Love of God to be on pilgrimage, we cared not where.” This wonderful response and this amazing undertaking comes out of the inspirational character of early Irish spirituality. It shows at once how misleading is that word “pilgrimage” as we use it and how very different indeed is the Celtic peregrinatio from the pilgrimages of the Middle Ages or the present day. There is no specific end or goal such as that of reaching a shrine or a holy place that allows the pilgrim at the end of the journey to return home with a sense of mission accomplished. Peregrinatio is not undertaken at the suggestion of some monastic abbot or superior but because of an inner prompting to those who set out, a passionate conviction that they must undertake what was essentially an inner journey. Ready to go wherever the Spirit might take them, seeing themselves as hospites mundi, “guests of the world,” what they are seeking is the place of their resurrection, the resurrected self, the true self in Christ, which is for all of us our true home.

So peregrinatio presents us with the ideal of the interior, inward journey that is undertaken for the love of God, or for the love of Christ, pro amore Christi. The impulse is love. And if the journey is undertaken for the love of Christ, then it argues that Christ must already hold a place in our lives.”[3]

No doubt many of us have been journeying for years, internally and literally moving to and through nations following the wind of the Spirit but it does feel like there is a fresh wind blowing on the movement of people across nations, spheres and institutions. Martin Scott has for some time talked about a repositioning of the body of Christ out of the building and into the world and I sense the pace is picking up.

 

[1] Frank Delaney, ‘The Celts,’ p130

[2] Frank Delaney, ‘The Celts,’ p135

[3] Esther de Waal, ‘The Celtic Way of Prayer’

Perenindota

When you travel,
A new silence goes with you,
And if you listen – you will hear what your heart would love to say’
John O’Donoghue, The Bendictus

Efallai na olyga’r daith hon ein bod yn gadael ein cartref, teulu na chymunedau mewn merthyrdod gwyn o gaethglud wedi ei gosod arnom ein hunain oddi wrth bopeth sydd yn annwyl gennym. Ond fe all olygu ein bod yn cofleidio’r anwybodus, yr hyn nad oes gennym syniad amdano a gadael ein rhagdybiaethau, traddodiadau, strwythurau mewnol a chysyniadau o ‘sut y dylai pethau’ fod a mentro teithio a allai ail-siapio ein bywyd, teulu, cartref a chymunedau.

Mae’r cariad hwn at bererindota, ‘teithio er mwyn cariad Duw’ wedi ei wreiddio yn etifeddiaeth Cristnogaeth Geltaidd yr ynysoedd hyn a hyd yn oed ymhellach na hynny yn ôl at y Celtiaid eu hunain wrth iddynt groesi Ewrop heb ddiwedd i’r daith mewn golwg, dim ond byw mewn cyswllt a’r tir.

Wedi ei wreiddio yn ddwfn yn eu diwylliant, roedd y ‘gromlin ben agored’ neu’r ‘don sinwsoidaidd’ yn mynegi ewyllys rhydd, dewis rhydd ac annibyniaeth ysbryd oedd hefyd i’w weld yn eu celf, eu torchau, tariannau a gwrthrychau bob dydd. Daeth eu hysbrydoliaeth oddi wrth natur a ‘dibynadwyaeth cynoesol ar fywyd naturiol’. [1] Broceriaid mewn amser a gofod oeddent lle nad oedd dim yn gyfyngedig, heb unrhyw ymyl na ffin a lle’r oedd y cyfan yn bosibl.

Mae Frank Delaney yn dal symudiad y Celt o un foment i’r llall yn hyfryd: “The pages of the Book of Kells simply call to mind a love of pattern, intricacy, colourful expression drawn from everyday life and embellished to – literally – fantastic extremes. And each moment within each page depends and relies upon the moment next to it: in the tension dwells the soul.” [2]

Cafodd uniad y cariad at deithio efo’r cariad at Dduw ymhlith y mynachod fynegiant yn eu syniad unigryw o bererindod:

“The word itself is almost untranslatable, but its essence is caught in the ninth-century story of three Irishmen drifting over the sea from Ireland for seven day, in coracles without oars, coming ashore in Cornwall and then being brought to the court of King Alfred. When he asked them where they had come from and where they were going they answered that they “stole away because we wanted for the Love of God to be on pilgrimage, we cared not where.” This wonderful response and this amazing undertaking comes out of the inspirational character of early Irish spirituality. It shows at once how misleading is that word “pilgrimage” as we use it and how very different indeed is the Celtic peregrinatio from the pilgrimages of the Middle Ages or the present day. There is no specific end or goal such as that of reaching a shrine or a holy place that allows the pilgrim at the end of the journey to return home with a sense of mission accomplished. Peregrinatio is not undertaken at the suggestion of some monastic abbot or superior but because of an inner prompting to those who set out, a passionate conviction that they must undertake what was essentially an inner journey. Ready to go wherever the Spirit might take them, seeing themselves as hospites mundi, “guests of the world,” what they are seeking is the place of their resurrection, the resurrected self, the true self in Christ, which is for all of us our true home.

So peregrinatio presents us with the ideal of the interior, inward journey that is undertaken for the love of God, or for the love of Christ, pro amore Christi. The impulse is love. And if the journey is undertaken for the love of Christ, then it argues that Christ must already hold a place in our lives.”[3]   

Heb os mae nifer ohonom wedi bod yn teithio am flynyddoedd, yn symud yn fewnol ac yn llythrennol at a thrwy’r cenhedloedd yn dilyn gwynt yr Ysbryd, ond mae’n teimlo fel petai yna wynt ffres yn chwythu ar y mudiad o bobl ar draws y cenhedloedd, cylchoedd a sefydliadau. Bu Martin Scott yn siarad am beth amser am ailosod corff Crist allan o’r adeilad ac i’r byd a synhwyraf fod y cam yn cyflymu.

[1] Frank Delaney, ‘The Celts,’ t130

[2] Frank Delaney, ‘The Celts,’ p135

[3] Esther de Waal, ‘The Celtic Way of Prayer’