Disorientation…. reorientation….

I have stopped, I am supposed to have stopped, I am on sabbatical. I needed a sabbatical because it has made me do exactly that, stop…

Stopping has been uncomfortable and hard, and has forced me to see that I have been running, well keeping myself going for a long time!

I have kept going through the death of my mum, 4 moves of house and in many senses work, because every time you move while the title Methodist Minister remains the same, every situation is different, every move means getting to know new people and new places… and in my current appointment every year of the three has brought a change!

I have kept going as my children have all gradually left home, and now they are beyond university and have homes and families of their own. I am coming to terms with the fact that I have delayed empty nest syndrome! My home is set up for a family, and I live alone…

I have kept going as my marriage crumbled and ended in divorce….

I have kept going as I have finally discovered who I am, and have come out of a closet that I did not know that I was in until I finally gave myself permission to ask myself deep questions that I ignored for years because they did not fit my neat and tidy box…

I have kept going through difficulties in ministry, in life, in relationships, and I have to admit that I am rubbish at being kind to myself….

I have lived in a whirl of disorientation, and if I were to go back further into my history I would probably have to admit that I didn’t notice because I have lived with disorientation for most of my life….

But I have stopped…..

I have stopped and sat by the “rivers of Babylon!”….

But when I look back what do I look back to, I have no Zion, no Jerusalem, and yet in some strange way I do, I lament my desired path, my desired path, and I have to admit my romantic notions of what life “should” be like. Those notions if I am honest have come from rather crazy expectations of getting it right and fitting in, of being who others expected me to be, or possibly of being who I thought others expected me to be….

So I have hung my harp on a poplar and considered my song….

the song that tells me I am not enough…

a song that tells me that I have failed…

a song that pretends to like me but hides the fact that this has been an ongoing struggle….

I have hung up my harp in search of a new song….

Over the last few weeks I have met with and spoken with people from my past who have unexpectedly affirmed me….

Over the last few weeks I have begun to hear a new song stirring….

Over the last few weeks I have acknowledged my need to lament loss, concrete loss and the loss of desires, beliefs and my own expectations both good and bad….

I have hung up my harp in search of a new song…. a song whose melody runs deep….

I have been disorientated I am seeking reorientation…

I need to seek reorientation, to step out on the sea of doubt and fear to look for the way of the divine both within and without me….

So I am seeking….

I am seeking and receiving the affirmations of friends old and new…. I am receiving them as from God, of Christ who calls me to transformation….

I am seeking because I have allowed myself to stop and to weep…..

I am seeking and also weeping for what has been and not refusing to feel the pain….

This week brought the pain of dear friends who are moving on, and I allowed myself to feel the feeling….

I have acknowledged that sometimes I am cr*p to my friends, and sometimes I demand too much from them….

and I am learning to forgive myself…

I am learning to forgive myself as I learn to let go of my own expectations, releasing them to the river of expectation, the river of denial, the river of grief, despair, yearning and learning….

I have hung up my harp and am waiting for a new song to emerge…. I have stopped….

I like and don’t like what I see….

I like what I see as I dare to receive the unexpected affirmations of others, affirmations about who I am, about creativity, about my abilities….

I don’t like the fact that I have hurt others, demanded too much, sometimes been unaware of my effect upon them… for these I can only apologise to both friends and family….

so I lament pain, mine and yours…

I have to acknowledge my own emptiness….

I acknowledge my own emptiness, and I look for divine fullness, and have to acknowledge that as I lament that I am being filled, as I have stopped. and I have struggled to stop, that I have begun the process of reorienting myself….

As I do that I face the fact that I must make a decision in the coming year about going or staying in Sheffield, but I also know that the answer does not lie in Sheffield itself, but within me as I am hidden in Christ with God…

In his book “The lost message of Paul” Steve Chalke speaks of how it might be that Christ is the refining fire, the ultimate love who meets challenges and changes us, irresistible, the Christ in whom all are included… in whom I must acknowledge that I am included…

I am included and loved….

I am included and loved, even as I hang up my harp, even as I sit down, even as I dare to look myself in the eye in the mirror of unconditional love…

I am emerging through the fire of love, reorienting myself, forgiving myself, getting to know myself, and finding my way…

I don’t expect that I will achieve all of that in the next few weeks, but I am seeing where I am…

I am thankful for the many who have shared my journey, who have shared my pain, who have shared my joys, who have shared… been friends and companions…

I am thankful for the creativity that has emerged as I have journeyed, especially recently, and for those who have encouraged and shared in that…

I have hung up my harp…. and I wait for the new song to emerge….

I have been disoriented, I wait for reorientation ….

All pictures mine as part of my sabbatical project, with thanks to those who have inspired them….

A sound track to this journey is supplied by my friend and co-creative companion on the journey James Morley: https://soundcloud.com/morleysmusings/cave

The pictures that go with this are:

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I WEEP…

I weep,

I feel for El Paso tonight,

For ths fear that

Walks the streets,

The fear that beats in the hearts

The minds , the souls of those

Who weep…

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I weep,

But I am seperated,

Seperated from the cries,

The tears,

The anguish …

I am seperated

From the possibilities of

Myself?.

I weep

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Do you weep…

Do you witness….

Do you hear?

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Hiroshima transfiguration…?

Hiroshima

Terror in a flash of light,

Horror, pain and devastation…

Lasting devastation…

We must not forget!

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We must not forget,

As today those memories collide

With another story,

A light on a mountainside

The glowing face of peace

Who faced pain

Faced devastation..

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In his pain death was overcome

In his devastation peace unfolded

And unfolds…

Even into your pain peace breaks…

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Into our world

In him, this Christ

Peace breaks

When we dare to be in him

People of peace….

Will you walk with me?

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An open letter to President Trump…. on violence, mental illness and more…

Dear President Trump,

I’d like a little of your time to talk to you about mental illness and mental health. I don’t know what your understanding of mental illness and mental health is, but I speak for myself and for my friends who are sufferers, and for many others who are affected in so many different ways by the broad umbrella term “mental health issues’… some of us take medication, others don’t, each of us is unique and there are of course different extremes and the severity of conditions differs widely. My concern is that another group of people are being labelled, stigmatised and ostracised, and without deep thought catagorised as dangerous.

All of this because it seems that it is easier to demonise the vulnerable than it is to deal with the hatred and violence of the culture that you have created. A culture that is increasingly racist, sexist, homophobic and is toxic. A culture where power and wealth easily stamp on and stamp out the poor, the stranger, the different.

A culture where guns are easily accessible and where anxiety and fear of the other is nurtured is surely bad for the mental health of anyone. Locking “them” up, or deporting them is not the answer. Nor dare I say is the threat of the death penalty favoured in so many States.

Now I know I speak as a foreigner and from another country, in my defence I have lived in the USA, but I am speaking as a human being who sees a world in turmoil and who longs for hatred and killing, war and all violence to cease. We do not conquer evil with evil, hate with hate, we do not bring about peace by regulation, though there is one that so many in your country are calling out for; the banning of guns.

I remember my first visit to Wal-Mart, and the shock of realising that along with popcorn I could purchase a hand gun. I always stayed away from that section of the store but it haunted me. My neighbours had guns, I remember being told, and remember wondering why, to protect themselves and their families? Where had such fear of others come from, and that fear is being fed…

So while it may be easy to blame the mentally ill, I am suggesting that there is a deeper problem, the whole culture is sick, the world is sick, sick and tired, we need another way, the way of love, of inclusion, of peace replacing fear.

I am certain you won’t read this but I am posting it anyway, and I will pray for you, for your country and for the whole world. We can all make a difference, some have more influence than others, please use your influence to create a gentler rather than a greater nation.

Sally

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Prayer…

Sometimes my prayers are hurled

At the heavens in desperate longing…

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Break upon my life in power…

Let thunder and lightning roar,

Mountains quake,

Seas rage

And my heart melt like wax

As I am overcome…

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Break into my life fiercely

Devour me as a lion

Devours its prey…

Hunt me down,

Capture and captivate me

Terrify me

‘Til I surrender all…

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Break upon me,

Break in me,

‘Til exhausted I submit….

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Then,

Into my ravings your voice…

A whisper….

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Come

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And all my prayers are answered at once…

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Angst..

I am on sabbatical, so many people tell me this is a blessing,

an opportunity, a space, a time to rediscover to recreate, to recuperate…

But I am going to call it as I find it it is hard, it is lonely, it is separated…

I am single, divorced, newly out… ( and of course that has been questioned), so…

I am disorientated… seeking to be re-orientated

When I moved some of my church members thought I was a widow, surely a minister would not be divorced…

But I am… lots of us are…

Could a divorced minister be gay, again, lots of us are, all of our journey’s are different….

So I am pondering…

Will the churches that accepted me still accept me?

Maybe I should stay silent… does it matter?

I am not asking you to answer that…

But, I wonder if the community that has accepted me will still accept me?

Will they?

Then comes another question…

Should I stay ….

Should I go…..

I need to make that decision next year, and all of these are questions that I am dealing. with…

So I am struggling with this sabbatical….

I had plans to get fit, to swim, I have swum, but not as much as I wanted to, but I have….

I had plans to create art, I have done that, a book of 50 pastel sketches, I was going to paint, but…

I was going to walk… I have walked, again not as much as I had anticipated, but I have walked…

I have also read more than usual, of course I wanted to read more….

So, there it is… angst… what is in my head… what I take for a walk, what I take to prayer, what is in my art work, what comes with me walking….

Maybe sorting out this angst is what the sabbatical is for…

View from a stone circle: photo mine

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Fool

Another friend on the edge…

Life or death

The choice

Stark…

To live, to die,

To be….

Or to cease..

On the edge

A fool.?

A fool..

Stepping off,

Stepping over..

A fool…

Risk,

Risking all…

A fool,

On the edge…

To die to live…

Stepping over…

A choice…

Your choice…

My Choice…

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