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IMG 8942 croppedLessons from Geese...
One of the things that makes me happy this time of year, is when I hear the geese flying back for the warmer season. It’s a sign of better weather coming, and really makes me smile, lifting my spirits in expectation of warmer summer days.

We have a lot to learn from geese. They are social creatures and look after each other through many a difficulty...

1. Learning to Uplift Each Other
As each goose flaps its wings it creates an “uplift” for the birds that follow, so by flying together in that classic “V” formation, the whole flock adds around a 71% greater range than if each bird flew alone. This is how geese manage to fly such great distances across the world.

So, if we share a common sense of direction and are part of a community with others, this means our individual efforts can work together to reach shared goals quicker and easier. In traveling together, we can uplift one another too, sharing the strain of the journey.

I wonder in these strange times, how we can each uplift one another?

2. Learning to See and be Seen
In flying in a “V” formation, every goose is visible, and can clearly see the way ahead. The leader can still see those at the fringes of the flock, fanned out behind them. Those at the end of the formation can still follow the leader. Every goose matters, creating greater visibility as a collective.

If we stay together as a group, then we become more visible. We are seen better and able to see better.

I wonder, if we are feeling particularly alone in these unprecedented times, is there a group that we can create or join or draw close to (even if not physically)- perhaps online, or via phone, so that we can both be seen, and notice others better?

flying geese 4913534 19203. Learning to Give & Receive Support
When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.

If we can stay in formation with those headed where we want to go, our journey is likely to be easier. Being on our own for too long, with no support from others restricts our ability to fly.

I wonder, in this global crisis, how we can support those who are feeling the weight of “flying alone”, and when they are ready, welcome them back into our midst. I wonder, how we each might learn to lean into the support from our Heavenly Father?

In the Bible  it says...“but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:31)

4. Learning to Share the Burdens
When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies to the front position. Each goose that is able, shares the responsibility of leadership.

None of us can remain at the front of the helm all the time. It is helpful to take turns doing the hard tasks and to share the lead. In this way we don’t end up burnt out, and unable to reach where we want to be.

I wonder, right now, how we can each support our governments, as well as those in the emergency, healthcare and social care systems who are having to spend longer than usual at the frontline of this global pandemic?

word 1940813 19205. Learning to Encourage
The geese flying in formation communicate by honking, to encourage each other to keep up their speed.

We need to make sure we too, encourage each other through our conversations and actions, for where there is greater encouragement, the more likely it is that people thrive.

I wonder how we can specifically encourage each other to carry on, in these uncertain days? Perhaps some could write texts, emails or letters of support? Or phone family, friends or vulnerable local neighbours in isolation, or something else?

6. Learning to Support
When a goose gets sick or wounded, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. There they stay until it dies or can fly again. Then they launch out with another formation or catch up with the flock.

Surely, this teaches us all to stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong.

I wonder if we are prepared to go out of our way to support and stand with those who are sick or struggling, in practical ways? What might that mean, specifically..?

blessing 1261935 19207. Learning about what makes us human
Twice a year, many geese migrate, making the same journey across the globe to where they need to be to survive the change of seasons, supporting each other to travel distances beyond our comprehension. Each flock travels the same journey, even when the original birds have been replaced by their offspring. The journey route is innate, a deep purpose written within each birds’ DNA.

Perhaps we can each consider what our core purpose is, that which is inherent in the depth of our being? What is it, that we cannot, not do…?

I wonder, in such a time as this, if we can each look inside ourselves and question what is written there, that amidst such uncertainty, is simply natural to our humanity, that we cannot ignore. I hope that some of those things we find might be love, care, compassion, kindness, gentleness patience, self-control…because we are made in the image of our Creator, to travel together in community.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-3)

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6: 26)

Prayer:
Lord, in these unprecedented and uncertain times, we thank you that you care for each one of us, both in sickness and in health.
May we trust in the certainty of your provision for us and learn to unselfishly care for others in the same way.
Amen

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6 Lessons from the Sea

Over the last few months, after the blessings of a lifetime of good health, I’ve had a run of unexpected physical health issues, that have had me visiting a plethora of hospital departments. Thankfully, none of them so far have been life threatening, but it has unnerved me, and at times I have felt in the midst of a circling, stormy fog of grey, further exaggerated by the severe seasonal storms we have been having lately, across the country. My experiences have made me think...

stormy sea on rocks

 

Unexpected...
Unlike our ever-improving meteorological weather forecasting, the storms of life often come when we are least expecting them, and we may feel completely unprepared for the demands that they make upon us. So, what keeps us safe, when turbulent tempests roar unwelcome, into our lives?
It seems to me that as in the case of a real storm at sea, preparation may be the key...

 

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Some enjoy Valentines Day as a way to show how much they care for someone they love, but equally many find Valentine’s Day a difficult one, especially when supermarkets and shops relish turning red each year as they roll out an increasingly commercial festival with blatant emphasis on couples.

So let’s get some things straight...

  • Love is not limited to couples. Love is for ALL...regardless of marital status, age, ethnicity, size, ability, gender or anything else....we all need to receive love, and to give love, but there are so many ways to do this.

  • The word “ love” in the English language is terribly restrictive , when there is so much more depth to the word. We can all love each other in different ways, to make our communities and the world a better place.

  • Love is often not pretty or surrounded with flowers. It can be difficult, complicated, and messy, but it is strong and when we are betrayed in love by one person then it can be the love of others, in friends and family and the love of God that strengthen and enable us to go on.

  • Human love is fallible, but God’s love is not. What amazes me is that, despite my flaws and faults God not only loves me but sent his Son to die for me. “...God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

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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.

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?

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