faith, motherhood, She Loves Magazine, Writing Elsewhere

Is an ordinary life enough?

June 15, 2017

I realised with a start today that we’re already a week into Ordinary Time, that big empty space on the Christian calendar that falls between Pentecost and Advent. I’m not sure I like ordinary time. I don’t know what to do with this uninterrupted expanse.

I’m used to the gentle spiritual practices of Advent and Lent as we wait and prepare, the constant awareness of those seasons. I love the celebration of Christmas and Easter, with their colourful decorations and joyous feasting and loud singing. Pentecost is one big party and the Baptisms always make me cry. And if I’m allowed a favourite, mine might just be the mystery and magic of Epiphany.

These seasons and days are a loved and needed pattern to my year. Until we get to this week and there are just months of lazy summer and busy autumn until Advent Sunday finally rolls around again. I worry that without the structure and instruction of the calendar, I’ll drift away into the same emptiness that engulfs my planner, forget to keep my eyes and heart turned to the One who showed me what love looks like.

Maybe the deeper truth is that the idea of Ordinary scares me a bit. I don’t want ordinary–I want extraordinary. I want a life bursting into fireworks, days that light up like mountain-top beacons. I grew up singing anthems at massive Christian youth rallies that proclaimed I’m going to be a history maker in this land. Ordinary is not what I was promised, not what I promised to become.

 

Read the rest over at She Loves Magazine today. Do you struggle with feeling like your life is much more ordinary than you ever imagined? What do you do to remind yourself that everything is sacred?

faith, She Loves Magazine, Writing Elsewhere

The beauty of holy wandering

May 12, 2017

I’m two weeks into life in our new neighbourhood, and slowly getting to know my way around. Each morning I strap the toddler into the pushchair and encourage my preschooler daughter onto the buggy board, and out we go to explore.

We practice getting lost. It’s something I learnt sometime around two moves ago, when this now-tall girl was just a baby needing to be walked to sleep each afternoon. I got quickly bored of walking the same few streets, and so I started to branch off, without a plan of where I was headed. I started getting purposefully lost: a right turn instead of a left; walking down the side street instead of sticking to the main road.

Getting lost is the best way I know of discovering wonderful new things. My kids and I, we’ve discovered new parks and playgrounds, we’ve found beautiful old churches hidden behind new housing developments, overgrown nature reserves on a dead end street, fascinating Eastern European delis and Indian bakeries on unfamiliar corners.

Letting myself become physically lost requires a degree of courage (and a strong battery on the phone in my bag!) Getting spiritually lost feels much more uncomfortable, but I am learning how to turn down those interesting-if-slightly-sketchy-looking side streets of belief.

I have been walking the main streets of belief for decades, with barely a step out of place. It is familiar and easy and seemingly safe, but it is also so unvaried—nothing changing, no new vistas to inspire, no new sights or relationships to challenge.

It doesn’t make sense to get lost—that is the prevailing wisdom of our culture. Stay on the path you know, because what if you never find your way home again?

Read the rest of this post over at She Loves. I’d love to hear from you, how does it feel to head off the beaten track of your spirituality??

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!