faith, motherhood, Writing Elsewhere

The Practice of Blessing

April 21, 2017
The Spiritual Practice of Blessing - Fiona Koefoed-Jespersen

When we were moving last time, I did my best to fit in final coffee dates and chats with all the people who had been meaningful to me. One hot afternoon I found myself in the home of a Catholic friend with whom I’d had many deep conversations about theology and practice.

We talked for awhile, and then I rose to leave and we embraced at the door to her flat. To my complete surprise, she reached up and made the sign of the cross on my forehead, saying a blessing as she did so, a benediction over my going.

I’m not sure anyone has ever blessed me outside of a church context. I was raised in a liturgical church so the sight of the vicar standing before the congregation, arms stretched wide and robes fluttering, is a familiar one to me. To receive a blessing in a regular apartment between two friends felt strange— but strangely beautiful.

The Celts of Scotland and Ireland knew the power of blessing. They had a blessing for every circumstance, every moment. From waking to lying down, their every action was bathed in prayer. Blessings for stoking the morning fire, blessings for making breakfast, blessings for dressing, and for feeding the animals. The blessings were as natural a part of life as the actions themselves. I like to imagine them singing their blessings as they worked, the melodies covering the space and carrying the blessing out beyond them.

Barbara Brown Taylor writes, “The most ordinary things are drenched in divine possibility. Pronouncing blessings upon them is the least we can do.” (An Altar in the World)

 

I’m honoured to be guest posting at The Mudroom today for the first time. The Mudroom is a place for the stories emerging in the midst of the mess. Read the rest of my post over there – it includes a blessing I wrote for my son while changing him!

faith, She Loves Magazine, Writing Elsewhere

The Parable of the Weeds

April 13, 2017

“Is this one a good plant or a weed?” I say doubtfully, pointing out one specimen to my husband.

Really, I don’t need to be gardening today. We are moving in a few weeks, and then the garden will be a new tenant’s responsibility, and they can do battle with the snails themselves.

But there’s something about getting my hands dirty that is good for my soul. After long days wrestling two little ones, with too much coffee and too little adult conversation, my frazzled mind needs the physical meditation of pruning and digging, of mulching and weeding.

Our city garden is small: a patio partly covered by the kids’ sandpit, and a little patch of grass backing onto the train line, where orange and green coloured trains trundle loudly past us every 5-10 minutes. We’re also directly under the Heathrow flightpath. It’s hardly the Garden of Eden, but it’s our own oasis. I’ve shown Kaya where the lemon verbena and the lavender are found and she brings me leaves to rub and “sniff”. Oskar barrels up and down our small space at top-toddler speed and eats dirt when my back is turned.

The mystics frequently found God in nature. Hildegard of Bingen heard these words in a vision: “I, the fiery life of divine essence, am aflame beyond the beauty of the meadows, I gleam in the waters, and I burn in the sun, moon, and stars…  I awaken everything to life.”

I feel myself being awakened back to life too, when I retreat out here after dinner time, the light stretching into the evening and the birds singing their evening song…

 

Read the rest of this post over at She Loves Magazine today.

Hospitality, She Loves Magazine, Writing Elsewhere

Love Thy Neighbour (confessions of a bad neighbour)

March 19, 2017
Love thy Neighbour - Confessions of a bad neighbour, by Fiona Koefoed-Jespersen for She Loves Magazine

I am not a very good neighbour.

We’ve lived in this rented house for nearly 18 months, and I know the names of just two of our neighbours. I know the old man who lives next door, who mumbles so badly I understand only about 20% of what he says. Most of our relationship is him chatting at me as I push the buggy in the front door, smiling and nodding and hoping he’s not actually saying something that requires any more of a response.

There’s a man a few doors up who is very friendly. He always stops to say hi, helps clean up the leaves and apples that fall on the pavement in the autumn, seems to know a bit about everyone in the street. But he also doesn’t have an off button. He can talk for half an hour without taking a breath, until he suddenly notices your toddler shivering in the cold and wonders aloud why you haven’t taken her inside.

I reached adulthood on a wave of evangelical fervour to be a world-changer. Throughout my late teens, at every summer festival and church youth night, we sang the song, “I’m Going To Be A History Maker In This Land” by Delirious. I practically inhaled Shane Claiborne’s book The Irresistible Revolution when it came out in 2006. I imagined myself a central figure in my neighbourhood—we would be in and out of each other’s homes and lives constantly; it would be authentic and messy and they would be so grateful that I moved in.

Now, I sometimes find myself checking if the coast is clear before leaving the house…

 

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Read the rest of this post over at She Loves Magazine, and hear a little about our upcoming move!