Saturday, 27 July 2019
I have spent a lovely week with some wonderful people at Creat8, an art project for children in the St Werburgh's area. We have made all sorts of things and got to know some fabulous children and their parents or carers. It is such a blessing to do this kind of thing and although my feet hurt at the end of each day (and I am a little tired) it has been an incredible week. I think that it is important to take some time to look back, to ponder, to think and reflect. All too often we clatter between one thing and the next, our lives are just so full that it is so easy to forget to take a moment to breathe and just think – well that was fun/joyous/great or whatever. Whatever the feeling, I wonder if we should live in it for a bit so we can come to understand and grow from the experience. I wonder if we keep on moving so fast that we forget to fully experience all the feelings that are on offer. To stand still and just think, as I have this week, wow that was fun! It is a good feeling. To acknowledge other people and to take a moment. I am thankful and I want to sit with that feeling for a while.
I have to work quite hard sometimes at taking a moment. As I near the end of this week with all the joys that have been experienced, it would be all so easy to start looking towards next weekend. That weekend happens to be the South Glos Show!! As we get nearer to it my pulse quickens as I go through lists to ensure that everything is in hand. My brain is full of things to do, I fill it. I even fill other people's heads (and note pads 😊 )
It would be all so easy to lose the joy of the week I have just had. It would be all too easy not to explore the things which we have learnt as a team, it would be easy to forget to be thankful.
But in all that busyness there are moments when I have learnt to acknowledge that I do my wondering with God, I reflect, and I feel the feelings of the day. Those moments are often odd shaped and rarely in the form of sitting with my eyes closed. They come in the form of my walk with my dog, in the car, when I run, when I am cooking or sometimes in the bathroom! I know that God is with me in the hectic day and times when my head may feel like it will explode, but in those quieter times I find that I can just wonder with him and be still in my heart. It means that my head decompresses a bit and I can reflect on the journey I am on rather than always looking towards the destination. In youth work we are told that the journey is always more important, it is where we learn the most. Yet in the world we live in, I think we are led to believe that it is all about the destinations, what we get when we get wherever, so we forget to enjoy the getting there. God wants us to be abundantly alive, for me that is about feeling all the things along the way. To squeeze everything possible out of every situation. Part of that is taking a moment.
Of course, I need to remind myself not to get busy, I really have not cracked it, but I know that it is important for me and for my relationship with God. So, as I look forward to the last day of Creat8, I will remind myself to live in those moments today and not to immediately start to fret about next weekend. I will be thankful for the feelings today.
Wednesday, 10 July 2019
Then today finally, talking with a member of the team I realised that today was the day. In talking with her, I realised or maybe accepted (briefly) that God did not use people that had it all sorted, or were the bravest or the most obvious. The stories in the Bible are full of people who disagreed, doubted, ran away and questioned the voice of God. Those people who asked 'why me' or maybe 'is it me?'
About me - I grew up in a Church, I loved the people in that community as they were kind, compassionate and I saw their faith. I came to faith within that Church community. However, as I moved away from home and went to other Churches I began to recognise a 'not fitting in sort of feeling' For many years I thought it was just me, the God that these places spoke of was not one that I recognised. I do not think that it was anything about the people in those places, it was just that I had not found a place that I could relate with. Over the years I have come to realise that there are other people who feel like this.
So, why this? Why now? For some considerable time the Ark team and other people who feel the 'not quite fitting in feeling' have been talking about writing this type of blog. During our work we have been privileged to meet a whole variety of people and shared conversations with them. What is apparent is that for many Church is not a place where they would go, there are all sorts of reasons for this, but I suppose the issue remains that a gap exists between our established Churches and parts of our communities.
Our aim is that together, we can explore ways to make faith relevant in today's culture as we feel that there are many ways of experiencing God. My recent analogy is that it is like walking into a clothes store and only having one pair of jeans to try on and that one pair is meant to fit and suit everyone. Highly unlikely! Yet often with our Church, we have one size and we are all expected to fit - like the jeans! Of course, not everyone does!
For me, God is all around, each day in everything I do. I want people to know that God and understand that there are many ways that we can meet with him. Some do it through community gardens, through book clubs, walking, drawing, singing etc etc. How we feel God's presence in our lives is personal and we all have our stories. Church can take different shapes. A part of what we seek to do is to create spaces where these forms of 'other' can flourish and people can share that with each other. We are actively seeking people who may want to explore different ways of doing faith.
So here we are writing about our stories of faith and our journey with God. We hope that you will find some of it interesting and that you may recognise or relate to something that we talk about and that may cause you to look at faith and maybe God differently.
If at any point you would like to get in touch, please do.