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I’m not very good at resting…or at least, I haven’t been until recently!

Sometimes, though, we are stopped in our tracks by some unexpected event, that knocks us sideways, and enforces us to STOP.
This is how it was for me, on the last day of November last year, when I did nothing more exciting than walk home after a very pleasant evening out with friends when, whoosh... my feet slipped from under me whilst walking over icy, wet autumn leaves…and there I was, sat ungainly on the pavement with excruciating pain in my wrist, trying to control the tears. I knew I had broken it, and around 8 hours later, my worst fears had been confirmed.

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Fighting a losing battle
What I found difficult, more than the pain, was the emotional trauma-coming to terms with the fact that I wouldn’t be able to work. As a freelance artist, I rely on my right hand, and the anxiety that spiralled around me, had me wondering if, indeed, I would ever be able to work in the same way again; ever be able to stitch, ever be able to freelance. The difficulty for any freelancer is, if we don’t work, we don’t get paid. That’s it. No income. No sick pay to cover any bills. 

So it was, that to begin with, I fought the fractured wrist. After having my wrist bones realigned (and don’t be hoodwinked by that lovely word “realigned”. What that basically means is that an experienced doctor, yanks on your hand with all his might, whilst an anxious nurse supports the top part of your arm to stop you falling off the bed in order to straighten the bones back into place!) and then set into a half cast, the pain subsided after a couple of days, to the extent that I thought…
“Ha! I can still complete that next workshop I’ve got even if I can’t drive… I’ll go on the train! So, with great one-handed effort, I repacked my outstanding workshop session into one VERY large bag that I could carry left-handed, and stupidly negotiated the train. Workshop went well, and I even laboriously stitched the last of a large uncompleted commissioned banner with my left hand!
I was very proud of myself for my initiative and determination in dire circumstances.

1. Letting Go & Accepting the Current Boundaries of Possibility
However, they say pride comes before a fall…. My next appointment to fracture clinic, advised me that the best course of action next, considering the job I did, was to operate as soon as possible to give the wrist more chance of increased flexibility once healed. 48 hours later, I was admitted for surgery and I was casually confident of the skills of the orthopaedic team to improve my situation. I was fine until after the surgery. Afterwards, I was so ill, and just could not get myself to function. I slept for about 2 days, and at that point with more workshop sessions beckoning, I finally admitted defeat and succumbed to the enforced rest. To be honest, I had no choice…I was simply without fight any more. I simply had to let go and accept the situation.
It can take courage to say “enough”, and choose to stop- accepting what is possible and what is not

2. Accepting Help
When we are particularly independent, it is difficult to accept help. This has certainly been the case for me. There have been such simple things I couldn’t initially do alone… getting dressed, tying shoelaces, making a cup of coffee, opening a door, unscrewing a lid, cutting my food… the world really is not made for one handed people, and I gained huge respect for those who negotiate the whole of life with a physical disability. These amazing people have so much to teach us about resilience, determination and finding a creative solution to such seemingly ordinary tasks. They understand the wonder of trust and accepting help from those around us.
We are not made to function alone and accepting help reiterates how much we are made for community.

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3. Appreciation of our Extraordinary Ordinary
Every day, we negotiate our days without understanding the extraordinary complexity of the world we live in. We take so much for granted – including our bodies. My wrist fracture has enabled such a small part of this understanding. Who knew what a complex movement, a turn of the wrist is? Or, how difficult it is to lift a spoon to your mouth? Or, how many movements you need to wrap a parcel? I have certainly looked again at the world in a different way, and my thoughts lead me straight back to the mind-blowing skill of our Creator God.
Appreciation of the ordinary, leads us to gratefulness and increased enjoyment of our simple everyday.

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4. Unexpected Gift
I’ve learned a lot over these last 6 weeks of imposed inactivity, and I can honestly say now, that I am truly grateful for the rest. I had ignored for so long, the fact that I was completely exhausted, avoiding stopping work, constantly pushing my body, mind and energy levels beyond what is healthy. Don’t get me wrong… I would have much preferred not to fracture my wrist. (It’s still not fully mended by a long way…) but the benefits of actually stopping, have been unexpected gift. 

I’ve slept more these last few weeks than I can recall for such a long time. It has reminded me of when, as a child with flu, we were encouraged to stay in bed, allowed meals on a tray, special drinks that “you just fancied”, and the treat of reading endless books, snuggled under warm cosy blankets. Despite the inconvenience and pain, its been such a gift to get up when I’m no longer tired- whatever time that might be, read, sit, think, be- with no one having any expectations of me, other than to recover.
Sometimes, an unexpected tough time, can reveal surprising gifts in our lives

5. The Lost Art of Recuperation
It used to be accepted in society, that after a long illness, operation or great trauma, people had a period of recuperation. These days, in our society of instant gratification, we expect our bodies to recover as quickly as a received Amazon order! We are simply not made that way, and often struggle to accept our weaknesses and inevitable mortality. Yet, recuperation apparently is a necessity for recovery. It boosts the immune system, helps our bodies fight infections, enables the body and mind to rest giving us energy to heal and recover. We can help by being kind to ourselves through self-care, providing the body, mind and spirit all they need to enable us to live well. If we don’t, we get ill in some way and have little energy to deal with the complexities of life. During my enforced period of recuperation, I have had time to do a LOT of thinking! So, it is this year, that my word for 2020 is “Nourish”, a desire to fill the year with intentional actions that help nourish my body, mind and spirit and those of others.
I pray that we can each allow ourselves the appropriate nourishment of rest and recuperation this year. self care 2904778 1920 web size

IMG 0067Would the Spirit have come
Had they not waited obediently,
Staying together
When likely they felt bereft and confused,
Wanting to give up and go their separate ways?

Would the Spirit have come
Had they not listened,
Attentively attuned
To hear the bold beginnings of that Holy hurricane…
Had they not been alert
Watchfully waiting
To see the fiery fulfilment of this brand-new baptism?

The Power of the live

dark dawn desert 2479501 Photo by Al Butler from Pexels“Send us out in the power of the Spirit to live and work to your praise and glory”, so we pray at the end of the communion service.

I love the sentiment of this line. It always fires me up, anew, and in the moment I say “Yes, Lord...send me!” but I wondered today, not for the first time, how earnestly I really want this, or believe this, or accept the unfettered power of God’s Holy Spirit in my life?

How about you? Do you ever wonder some days, where on earth the power of God’s Spirit is in you? It all seems so possible, stood amongst God’s people in the warmth and wonder of acceptance and forgiveness...until the moment you leave the comfort of communion to step into the demanding, often pressurised requirements of daily life and begin to rely on your own strength instead of His....

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I’ve always been the sort of person who likes everything sorted to the nth degree but over the last few years, after several traumatic events, that desire for order has transmuted into a knot of anxiety that often threatens to overwhelm me. It’s on disquieting days like these, when the weight of agitation and tension rise, that I feel most vulnerable, unable to think straight or work properly. I’m sure many can identify with these feelings and we each have our own way of coping until the feelings subside.

The Solution…
Have you noticed, though, that when near to the edge, surviving each day only by fixing the mask of capability firmly to your face whenever in public scrutiny, that it is often something very small that melts the hitherto immovable false facade we bear?

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I know from past experience that at the hardest times of my life, when I am my own worst enemy, self-sabotaging my day with endless tasks and barricading the pain and difficulty inside - that it is kindness that floors me, bringing me to tears and to my knees.

“Most people think that it is servile to serve but it is not. It is noble.”

Last month I stayed with a couple, who had interesting life stories. He told us that he loved to make people feel important and the above quote is his. It is a phrase that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
IMG 5250 2 web smallThis wonderful philosophy towards life has stemmed from an experience as a young child travelling with his father in a first class dining carriage. Mistaking the button near to him, for one that opened a window, to his horror the young boy summoned the waiter. His father jested that the last time someone had done this, they had thrown the boy off the train! However when the waiter arrived he addressed the boy rather than the father. “ Sir, can I help? Did you need something?” Red faced the boy explained “ I just wanted to open a window...!” “Of course, sir” replied the waiter and proceeded to open the window “ ...and would you like a glass of orange squash as well, sir?” This seemingly small act of attentive service and respect has affected this person’s entire outlook on life. I wonder what our own attitude of service is...? Service today is often seen as servile. Yet we know that throughout the Bible, God’s people are called to serve others. Jesus came to serve and taught that as his followers, we too are called to serve.

Potential in the Present
It is all too easy to live a life of “ if only’s “. “If only this or that hadn’t happened..” if only I had..., if only I could...., if only it was different so that....". Yet we can miss so many opportunities by spending our lives looking backwards remorsefully rather than grasping the opportunities that are present now.- both for ourselves, and in service to others. We can lose sight of potential in the present if our hearts are full of resentment and unforgiveness . 

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