Tuesday 9 February 2021

Inner Stillnes

Nature is all around us. I know that seems an obvious statement.

Nature is all around us, and it is up to us to stop, smell the roses and take in the colour of the sky and take time out from our endless 'to do' lists. Sitting at my desk, I have a choice of writing a blog, getting up and clean the house or spend some time making bobbin lace. There you have it! 
Needless to say; there are many more things on my list on how to spend the next hour or so. Gardening, walking and reading are also high on that list. Time, however, is limited.

You can spend time only once, like money. Once it is gone, it is gone! To actually stop and ponder, and be present to what is around us, requires commitment.

Recently I have become a 'tramper' or a 'hiker', depending on where you live in the world. Rather than walking around town to increase my fitness levels, I have ventured out on to Mt Taranaki. To be on the mountain with the diversity of vegetation, the birdlife and the ever-changing surroundings, makes me stop and appreciate creation even more.

At the same time, those of us who explore our 'back-yard' need to be prepared for changing weather conditions, where to put our feet, and making sure there is sufficient food, warm clothing etc. Hiking, demands my full attention!

I had this romantic idea of going on solo adventures, spending time with God and Creation. The reality for me at this stage is that going off on my own is not recommended. I need to get my outdoor knowledge up and make sure I am safe when I venture off on my own. After some recent hikes, I discovered that the time I thought I had to pray and ponder, was taken up by my attention and focus on where to put my feet or my poles. The time of silent reflection was interrupted by other people in my tramping party. It takes a while to work out who needs to talk all the way, and who is comfortable with their own thoughts.

There are challenges in 'entering the stillness'. It is not necessarily about the stillness we find around us. Walking in town can be noisy; this is similar on the mountain; where birdlife and the wind through the trees can be distracting too.  

To enter the stillness with awareness of the Divine Spirit, depends more on our inner peace and restlessness. Wherever we are, there are sounds, wherever we are there is God's presence. It is training our inner peace and awareness to tap into the love and presence of God.

I am not sure that 'training' is the right phrase. Spiritual practices help us to be present and grow in awareness of God's presence. Saying my mantra on the mountain, is similar to my meditation practice at home. It allows me to foster my inner stillness and refocus my attention from those in my tramping party, to the Love of God in Creation.


 Seek Peace. Find it within.

Wednesday 27 January 2021

Closer to God

Lately, I have been pondering my desire to grow closer to God. 

Growing closer to God is not a topic that is widely discussed over a cup of tea, or a nice glass of Shiraz. I am not even sure where the desire comes from, but that is beside the point. 


It is the phrase that puzzles me most. For me, God is within each and every one of us. God is the one' in whom we move and have our being'. God is closer to our breathing than we are to ourselves. And so the desire is not to grow closer to God, but to grow in awareness of the presence of God in my life.


Many books have been written about 'how to open ourselves to God', to meditate and pray, practice Lectio Divina and to listen to the small voice within. Spiritual practices seem straight forward, 'do this to achieve that'…


I wonder how I would know that I am closer to God, or more aware of God. Will my life change? Will the outlook change? Do people detect a change within me if God and I grew closer? What would that look like?


The idea of being close to God and not worry; to take each day as it comes, trusting in the providence of the Almighty­– nah that is not in my nature. I am more of a control freak than that. And let's face it, God is far too busy to worry about the small stuff, I am sure She doesn't mind if I keep my finger on the pulse.


My idea of closer to God, inner peace and greater awareness will radiate from being on the right track. Whatever that track may look like. In general, that is not what I perceive from fellow travellers on the journey. As Julia Cameron states, 'God is no laughing matter'. Dealing with God is serious stuff! 


But is it? 


If the God we worship is a God of love and mercy, why are people so critical and self-absorbed with their way of interpreting the Bible, or their way of worship? Listen to any average sermon on a Sunday, or as in our case, unfortunately, on a weekday as well- most of the sermons are no laughing matter. They are seldom inspirational, often filled with notions of reconciliation and repentance. That doesn't instil the curiosity to grow closer to God; it rather puts people off.


Sermons and Church teachings around reconciliation and repentance put me off too. Those subjects are seldom a point of encouragement or support. Repentance is regularly used to instil guilt rather than hope. Repentance, to turn back to God, not because we are bad or naughty, but because it is great to be in a loving- supportive environment.


Growing in awareness of God's presence is not about attending church, genuflecting at the right time, saying our prayers and nodding in agreement with the priest. Growing in awareness is paying attention, being present in what we are doing at any given time. Yes, reading spiritual books and the bible help this focus; so does prayer as long as we take the time to listen; stop and smell the roses and get our feet wet at the beach. 



Seek Peace. Find it within.

Saturday 23 January 2021


After receiving Communion this morning, I became aware of a hymn in my head. 

The tune went round and round in my head, but the lyrics escaped me.

So frustrating! Slowly one word came through the fog in my brain. While I cycled home, I was sure I had the first line of the hymn. "Jesus I have promised to... xx, you to the end". 


I thought it was 'follow', but after a quick search, it became apparent that it was 'serve'. 

The hymn is a well-known hymn in the Anglican Tradition.

"Jesus, I have promised to serve thee to the end.

Be thou forever near me, my Master and my friend.

I shall not fear the battle if thou art by my side.

Nor wander from the pathway.

If thou wilt be my guide".


My unpacking started with the word: 'promise'. Although promise is a familiar word in our vocabulary, I felt it was useful to have a more in-depth look.

'Promise' means: a declaration of assurance that one will do something, or that something will happen. Promise, refers to a commitment, an agreement or obligation as well as a vow. 


I have taken civil and religious vows. Wedding vows, vows for Holy Orders as a Deacon in the Anglican Church, and vows as a Secular or Third Order Franciscan. These vows have not been taken lightly. I remember the sleepless nights before my baptism and ordination. The lifelong implication of taking these vows was in the forefront of my mind.

I questioned myself, could I make that promise? How would that alter my life, and what would people think of me, that I took these vows? 


God made promises too. Seven in total, according to the Bible; they are

1 I will be with you

2. I will protect you

3 I will be your strength

4 I will answer you

5 I will provide for you

6 I will give you peace

7 I will always love you


I must admit writing about vows and promises is challenging and confrontational. I have broken some of my vows. I have broken wedding vows, and got up and started again. 


To talk about the God’s promises is almost impossible. Those are personal experiences and not mere observations. No one can say on my behalf that God has or has not answered me. No one can judge if God has been my strength or has provided for me. We put our trust in God and pray that God keeps the promises and keeps us close, and we pray that we may be aware of God’s presence.


So back to my hymn.

The line "Jesus I have promised to serve thee to the end", could potentially be another point for debate or unpacking.

The essential question is: 'Who is Jesus?' Is Jesus God? Is Jesus just an inspirational teacher? I struggled with the concept that Jesus is God's only Son. 


I believe that everyone is a child of God. Jesus' divinity is similar to mine. We all carry the 'God-spark'. We are all called to follow in Jesus' footsteps. He is the way; he showed us the way of open-handed living, caring for our neighbours, praying in solitude, and he taught us how to be whole. 

That is the Jesus I follow and want to get close to.


The next stumbling block for me, is the word 'Master'. 

For some reason, I struggle with authority. Or perceived authority.

In God's economy, everyone is equal, so the idea that one person is more important than another person grinds me. We come into the world with nothing, and when we die, we leave with nothing.


When ‘Master’ indicates a skill-full individual it is a different story. Jesus has mastered the way to God. Jesus as teacher and Master, as my living example, the person I want to follow. Not necessarily imitate, I have to be the best version of 'me'; with the richness, insights and compassion of Jesus, my friend. 


The idea to surround ourselves with people, who live the life we want to live is a great starting point for life’s journey. Jesus is my friend and Master, and I look to him to grow closer to God. And Yes, I serve Jesus by being the best person I can be, growing closer to God and others may be inspired by my way of life and become curious and want the same. 


I follow and serve Jesus as a self-centred act and as an example and possibility for those around me. I do not follow the literalist Jesus as created by fundamentalist Christians, but the Jesus who shows us the way to the Divine, the Jesus who triggers the Spirit within me, who brings me back to the source of the Divine within me. 


The last verse of the hymn ends with

“O, give me grace to follow

My Master and my friend.”


Grace, as in smooth and filled with good will. In Christian literature Grace may be translated as filled with God’s help. I opt for both!



 Seek Peace. Find it within.









Tuesday 12 January 2021


Before Covid came into our lives, the buzzwords were ‘declutter’ and ‘downsize’.

Friends who were looking for ‘lock-up and leave’ properties to be able to follow the temptation of the advertised ‘overseas’ experiences and to be able to travel to far-reaching destinations, have decided to stay put. Some wanted to cross things off their ‘bucket lists’, others read books which stirred their curiosity.

And then Covid hit.

The reality of being in a safe country, where life is more or less normal, where we can go about our ordinary day to day pursuits; made people revisit their desire to downsize. In some cases they re-engaged with hobbies from the past that required some space and are travelling locally and enjoying what they have.

Downsizing to an environment with less maintenance is one thing. Decluttering and making choices of how we fill the space around us is another story.

Personally, I have a variety of hobbies, which all come with a necessary amount of stuff – or at least that is what I tell myself. The reality is that we accumulate stuff and more stuff, with the excuse that we don’t know when we may need it. As a dressmaker, I have collected materials that have become rather international, as they have travelled the world with me in their respective boxes! I wonder if it is time to have an honest and thorough sorting out session. The same applies to books and magazines and yes, everything else! Am I kidding myself that with all the leftover scraps, one day I will make a scrap quilt?

So declutter is about stuff that fills our spaces and might make us happy or not. Maria Kondo was very popular at some stage, she is not a minimalist, although she favours tidying up. Her criteria is around joy. If something makes you happy, it has a place in your house or room, if not it needs to be tossed or repurposed.

I find that my need to declutter is not merely focused on ‘stuff’, it includes what is going on in my head. Too many thoughts, too many projects and too many books to read, and then there is the possible social media overload. Work, volunteering, goals etc., all take up a lot of mental space.

Decluttering is not something we do lightly, most of us have an emotional attachment to things, and many things have special memories. I sometimes wonder if we need objects to remind us, or will the memory be the same without a tangible item?

What are we telling ourselves if we keep objects, or if we throw everything out? How will that affect us? In the past I have thrown a lot of books out, which I regretted later, knowing I had a book on ‘such and so’ where did I put it… to realise I had donated it. The idea with books might be that you put them on a less reachable shelf for a couple of months before chucking them out.

So my starting point is to establish what is essential in my life, how would I like to spend my time and what do I need for that. Relationships, health, spirituality and creativity are crucial for my well-being, and that is where my focus is.

Decluttering living space and headspace, requires a certain amount of ruthlessness. Decluttering relationships is far more challenging; to surround yourself with people who are like-minded and have similar values to health, spirituality and creativity is vital for our well-being. Gentle suggestions in changing behaviour may well be necessary.

I have started the process. Out with theology that is no longer life-giving, out with material that no longer suits me, out with linen that might be good as a ‘drop-sheet’ for painting the house.

Decluttering my head includes minimising screen time, more time spend on bible study/journaling and writing.

May you be free from the desire of acquiring and content with what you have stored away.


Seek Peace. Find it within.


Friday 8 January 2021

Abundant Abundance

A new year, with fresh hopes and dreams. The hope for an uneventful year. A year where we can catch our breath, take stock and carry on. 

New Year’s resolutions appear to have gone out of fashion. The year just gone has left a few people struggling, and shell shocked. Why would you even bother to make resolutions? 


In general, they are forgotten before January has come to an end. I like the idea of New Year’s resolution. A time to take stock and set goals that help me focus on the year ahead. 

Goals that are realistic and measurable, goals that nudge me along, rather than hit me over the head with demanding deadlines. Simple goals, for example, to be mindful of the environment; buying from local suppliers or with sustainability in mind. Another great goal is to increase fitness and wellbeing. Fitness levels are easy to measure, and goals can be set—a gradual goal which can be worked on at a regular basis, with determination or with patience.


A few years ago, I came across 'A word for the year'. This word is not the newly invented, or the most used word of the past year. It is a word one chooses to nudge them along during the year. A word that sums up your thoughts and intentions for the year to come.


Do you choose 'A word for the year', or do you stick with New Year’s resolutions? Or maybe you have decided to give up on those? Did you give up because it felt like adding pressure rather than a positive focus for your life?

In the past, I have used the words ‘Surrender’, ‘Trust’ and ‘Love’. Surrender to let go of things I could not control. Trust that all would be well and would work out for the best. And the word Love, to remind myself that I am loved, that others are loved and to see the world with love.


This year my word is Abundance; Abundance and abundantly. I thought about other words before I settled on this. There was Discipline, SELF-discipline to be exact. Not exactly a kind, gentle nudging word. It is a word that feels prickly, and although I probably could improve on the self-discipline side of things, it is a word I need to think of. Self-discipline in exercise, food choices, or even in how I spend my spare time. Discipline to write a weekly blog…. And so the list goes on. However, it did not feel right for 2021.


Gratitude was next on the list. Gratitude is a spiritual discipline, to be grateful for the great life I have; the people around me who love me and appreciate me. Somehow it is not the word I need for this year.



One of my favourite verses in John’s Gospel: ‘I came that they may have life and have it abundantly’.  (John 10:10) That sounds and feels right. Abundance in exercise, abundance in work and inspiration. Abundantly. No financial concerns, or worry about workload. To live with abundance, to live life to the full, open handedly as the Buddhist say.


So I did a quick search through Scripture and found in Luke Gospel: ‘One’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions’. (Luke 12:15) 

In 2Cor 9:8, Paul writes that ‘God provides you with every blessing in abundance’.

I think life is about being present in the now and an awareness of living in God’s presence. 

My word for 2021 is Abundance. 


May you have a year of Abundant Abundance!  



Seek Peace. Find it within.