Saturday, 29 August 2020

Saturday 29 August

My darling girl, I want to tell you something that is easy to forget in the ordinariness of tampons and paracetamol, of hot water bottles and concern about whether to wear your white shorts today.

Your body is expressing something of you that is so very much like God. Deep within the cells of your being is the capacity to bring to birth something new, indeed to participate in the growing of a new reality that will, like you, bear the very stamp and reflection of God. And when you - yes, you! - participate in the bringing forth of this new thing, when you give a name to that newness, the God of the universe will welcome that image-bearing creation and call it by the name you gave.

[Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash]

I write as if this were about your physical make-up but be sure to remember, this is true of all that you might bring to birth through your life. We are stepping into the territory of the divine here, my love. Every month, you will be reminded that within you is a place of creation, a place in which new life can be formed. You will remember that new life is not some romantic notion, but comes with struggle and often some suffering. And yet, this creative capacity within you mirrors God herself.

From the womb of the morning, God brings forth each fresh day. Every day offers us the potential for something new, the possibility to generate goodness. We participate in giving that goodness form and name, and we offer it to the world. Sometimes our day opens up a space for a thing to grow large for days, or months, or years to come. Sometimes the newness is simply a sweet gift for the moment.

The day unfurls with the awakening sun and slips away with the moon’s rising. The tide empties itself on the sand and draws back again into the deep. You too are part of this beautiful rhythm of waking and sleeping, beginnings and endings, knowing emptiness and returning to be filled. Your body will remind you that you are part of a great whole, an expansive web of being that breathes with the very breath of God.

[Photo by Josh Kahen on Unsplash]

Oh, that you might learn to embrace the knowing of your body, whose every cell is imprinted with a sense of time, a way of becoming, a pace and pattern that is designed for goodness. Every system of your being is looped together in great swirls of interconnecting life, reflecting the integration and mutual support of all that has been made.

The world will tempt you to distort or diminish your femaleness. To make it something that can be seen only as a support to or adornment for maleness. This confusion between seeking to be less than yourself, while simultaneously more than they say you are, will become exhausting.

Instead, my love, come to rest in the truth of your own beauty. Embark on this journey of womanhood knowing that your entire being reflects something of God that can only be seen through the female. More than being one who merely receives what is given or implanted, you are one who uniquely participates in, generates and gives form to the future. Understand yourself to be a place of creation and birth, a place of fierce protectiveness and ferocious tenacity. A place of growing, nurturing, and releasing. You are filled with the life of God.

Fall into the embrace of nature’s holding, my darling. Find yourself held by the supportive net that is the rhythm and flow of the created world. Know yourself to be part of its goodness, and part of its journey towards redemption. 

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Tuesday 25 August

 It's been a month. And when I say that, yes, I do mean a month without writing on here. And I also mean, Sjoe, it's been a month.

Do you ever have that feeling that, in order to be present to your own life, you just have to hunker down? Sometimes it seems to me that life requires a sort of gathering in, a quietness and focus that creates a deeper, stiller place on the inside. I guess this month required that kind of holding.

This month marked our 7 year anniversary of living in Spain, and with that milestone we are sensing ourselves coming to the end of something, and to the beginning of something new. Of course, this month our eldest daughter was preparing to move to the UK to study for 4 years. As we celebrate and send her out, I find myself thinking of all that the last 7 years have meant in her life. 

She arrived here as a fresh-faced pre-teen, about to turn 12. Just as she was starting high school, she took the courageous decision to plunge into language immersion by attending school in Spanish. My brave and beautifully sensitive girl! That decision saw us embark on quite the rocky journey, along which she navigated through three different schooling contexts, and through the complexities of teen friendships.

It wasn't easy for her, and it sure as hell wasn't easy to know how to support her as a parent. It was hard not to feel responsible for moving her here, you know? As we come to this place of closure and new beginnings, I see the grit and grace that's being worked into her life and wonder at the ways the struggle might still offer her its gifts.

Just as this 7 year season is gathered into a place of closure for our daughter, we also sense some sort of completion of the season in our own lives. It's natural, I'm sure, for our inter-connected lives to mirror one another in certain ways. And it also speaks to me of the orderliness of things, that can seem so unpredictable and chaotic at times. There's a rightness, I sense, to all this shifting.

While prepping Keziah to launch out, then, Tim and I have been traversing a rather intense and very intentional time of discernment. It has been a time to ask ourselves, what do we want the next season to look like? I am sure the times in which we are all living have bumped many of us towards such questions! Given that Tim celebrated a milestone birthday at around the same time as local lockdown, it is unsurprising to be reimagining our place here in Spain and the ways our particular gifts and dreams might play out in the next season.

During this time, I have been incredibly grateful for the support of a Spiritual Director who is new to me. Based in South Africa, she is trained (and trains others) in the Ignatian tradition and has offered such an intentional way of moving through this time of transition. I will write more about the process on my website, as I feels sure this signposting of the discernment process would be helpful to many of you.

There's a sweetness and a vulnerability, isn't there, in leaving the security of the shore we know and setting out into something new. We sense the goodness of the invitation to move forward, and yet we are anxious to know that we are heeding the directions correctly, following the signposts accurately. We are conscious of the others who will be impacted by our decisions, and concerned to pay careful attention to the whisper of the Spirit, as well as to our own hearts.

So all that has been going on. And in the meantime, I have been giving time and attention to a writing project that is close to my heart. Any writers out there will be aware that the road towards a final publication is not always straightforward. There have been good and difficult challenges to my own writerly thoughts, which all requires processing. And as you know, life happens in the complex context of our own personal journeys towards wholeness, which can mean there's a lot to hold sometimes, right? 

But hold it we can, if we are just willing to embrace what is real about ourselves, in this moment. Sometimes that demands a month without blogging. So be it - it's all good.