The spiritual practice of getting lost // Fiona Lynne

I have found things while I was lost that I might never have discovered if I had stayed on the path… Anything can become a spiritual practice once you are willing to approach it that way – once you let it bring you to your knees and show you what is real, including who you really are, who other people are, and how near God can be when you have lost your way.” – Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World

 

It happens around 4pm each afternoon: my happy smiley girl disappears and a grumpy growly one appears on her place.

I wrestle her into warm clothes and into the buggy and we head out the door, down the lift and out along the road.

To begin with, I stayed close to home. I was still learning my baby’s habits and I didn’t want to get stuck far away with a hungry baby needing a nappy change. So we’d walk to the nearby park, do as many short loops as I could fit in before she started fussing.

As my confidence in myself grew, I started exploring. I turned down a different road each time, curious. We’ve lived in this neighbourhood for three years now but it’s amazing how few of the pavements I’ve trodden. I tend to stick to the direct routes, the main roads. Now I had no destination in mind, so I slipped away from the traffic and got lost.

I discovered the curving path round through the new blocks of flats alongside the stream, a bee hive standing beside the path, quiet now.

I turned down one road I’d always assumed was private and discovered the track between the allotments, and the further out under the trees dropping their bright leaves into the river below.

Men walking their dogs and a couple of grandmas with pushchairs greet me with Moien or Bonjour, but I am often alone.

The spiritual practice of getting lost // Fiona Lynne

Yesterday I walked around the corner I’ve never noticed, under the railway, and suddenly I’m in open countryside. We walk up the hill and watch the planes heading in to the city above our heads, notice the ginger haired cows standing in a tight group in the corner of the field. At the top of the hill I turn and there’s the city laid open below me, lights coming on in the evening gloom, a mist hanging across the rooftops.

Horses stand in the field behind me, and there’s the distant rumble of cars on the ring road, but we’re alone here, me and my girl. As I walk along the ridge, I start to sing, and it’s the old hymns – words memorised since the days I stood on the pew between my parents – that emerge from my chest.

Half an hour later, we recross the train tracks and are engulfed by the city noise again. The streets are full as people head home to their families and evening meals. My cheeks are red and my hands stinging with cold because I forgot my gloves. But I’m happy.

As we near home, baby girl rouses in her seat and watches the trees over her head, the lights of the cars. She catches my eyes and I’m gifted a broad smile. She’s rested and refreshed from her walk. And I am too.

My walks began out of necessity. In the moment where no toys were interesting any more, no games entertaining enough to pause the grumbling.

What I see now, is that they have become a different kind of necessity, the kind that you look forward to, the kind that renews your soul.

Lacey at A Sacred Journey wrote of her walks as spiritual practice and I see this is what my own have become. There I find quiet. I heart slows and I can hear my own voice again. And then, sometimes, I hear that different still voice, that is peace and love and hope.

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right now – autumn

December 3, 2014

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I’ve had this draft sitting in my account for the last three months. No kidding. Time goes so fast and yet so slowly these days. Kaya is five months old. It’s still a whirlwind of emotions, this motherhood journey, but I also start to see the leaves settling at the edges where the wind is less strong. There’s a little more room to breathe (not write – that’s still a daydream), and life starts to take on a kind of rhythm again.

The last few months I’ve been mostly…

reading.

I am part of a great book club, a small group of friends who spend more time laughing and telling stories over good food than actually talking about the books we read. But I look forward to it every month.

This autumn my favourite of our picks was Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. I actually already had it sitting on my shelf but for some reason the blurb and cover never captivated me enough to move it to the top of the pile. Once I started though, I found it hard to put down. (Which is problematic when you reading time is mostly in blocks of ten minutes while you breastfeed). It’s a superbly written book, with a handful of imperfect characters that you completely fall for. Definitely recommended.

We also read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It wasn’t the a-ha eye opening book I’d expected it to be, considering it’s sold so many millions, but I did like the fact that it was the story of a journey, or pilgrimage. There were parts of that journey that reflected where I feel I am now on my own path, and that was interesting to notice and reflect on.

I’m also reading my way – slowly, ha! – through Slow Church by Chris Smith and John Pattison. It’s provided some interesting thoughts and ideas for me to ponder. Our church is in the midst of a big transition right now, moving this month from one Sunday service to two. It’s a good time to let myself be challenged on what church should look like.

 

listening.

I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts, particularly On Being, Serial (thank you Leigh!), and the BBC Radio Wales’ All Things Considered. Kaya and I take lots of walks together at the moment, which makes for great podcast moments. My favourite has been Krista Tippett’s interview with Nadia Bolz Weber for the On Being podcast. I’ve listened to it multiple times now because it’s just that good. There are so many wise moments in the conversation, but also laugh-out-loud moments too.

I have been expanding my “happy” playlist since asking for everyone’s best happy tunes last month on my facebook page. Music is such a powerful mood-impactor and sometimes I just need a song that is guaranteed to lift my spirits, especially after a night of little sleep!

 

cooking.

The kitchen is my happy place and cooking my favourite spiritual discipline. So  it’s always a relief to find the time to cook again in the evenings. We’re trying to be intentional about eating healthily again after a couple of months of multiple take-aways and convenience food. That means more soup at lunch time, and me taking the time to plan out a few meals each week so that we don’t get to 6:30pm and get tempted by the easy option of a walk to the nearby Indian restaurant. I’ve tried -

(Follow my Feast board on Pinterest – it’s the one I most regularly pin to and I do actually only pin recipes I think I have a fighting chance of making…!)

 

watching.

I watched my first ever episodes of Dr Who a few months ago. It was enjoyable enough but clearly I’m not hooked yet, because I got distracted, first by Derek, then by Mr Selfridge, now Elementary (the Sherlock-themed show set in NYC). All three shows I’ve loved, although they are so different – British quirky comedy set in a nursing home, Period drama set in London, and Crime drama set in New York.

Derek is perhaps the most surprising one to me. Rasmus found it and told me to watch it and I really really really like it. I might have to write more about it soon because it’s deceptively deep and perceptive…

 

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travelling.

We took our first family holiday in September to Burgundy. We stayed in the beautiful French town of Beaune, a place packed full of wine caves and tourists a couple of decades older than us. We really enjoyed it. We stayed in this lovely apartment in the centre of the town, and spent our days wandering the streets and driving through the vineyards – the holiday theme seemed to become “stunning places I can breastfeed”. Kaya was an absolute star, charming all the waiters and elderly tourists! We even managed to make it out for dinner three out of four nights which is a total win with a two month old.

Then last month, having figured out the paperwork for Kaya’s Danish passport, we did a mega trip to Oxford, Paris and Denmark, introducing our ever-awesome daughter to planes, trains, buses, metros and ferries in the process, and meeting a huge tribe of relatives, some of whom had even travelled down from Scotland especially for the baby viewing. It was exhausting and special and super fun.

 

loving. 

…getting out and about more. As Kaya’s rhythms have become slightly more predictable, I’ve got braver at planning more coffees with friends and walks in town and country. Multiple people have recommended that I make it my aim to get out at least once a day and this has become a top priority to prevent me getting cabin fever!

…having visitors. A new baby is a big attraction apparently! My parents came to visit for a second time. Our friends Richard and Jackie who we know from our Brussels days, passed through Luxembourg on their latest Europe trip. My best friends from Uni, Hannah and Ellie, came to stay with Hannah’s wee girl. My cousin Pete passed through town with his friend Margie on their mini European roadtrip. Rasmus’ sister and her family visited us in Luxembourg for the first time. And fellow shelovely Bethany Olsen came to visit while on a work trip to Frankfurt!

…the door bouncer a friend leant to us. It’s Kaya’s favourite thing in the whole wide world. She just lights up as soon as you strap her in that thing. Endless entertainment for her and her parents!

…the Pray As You Go website, run by the Jesuits in the UK. At a moment in my life when just getting myself and my daughter washed, fed and dressed each morning is a huge endeavour, these bite size meditations give me a moment to stop and think and pray. I often listen while I’m feeding Kaya in the morning, and it helps frame my day in a positive way.

…giving away stuff. We cleared out our storage a few weeks back and there was a small pile leftover of the kind of things that are too good to through away but too utterly random to really know what to do with. So I posted them all on yourshop.lu and people have been calling by to come pick them up. Our rubbish is someone else’s treasure! And it feels so good to have less clutter around.

 

I’m linking up with Leigh again (finally!) for her What I’m Into post…

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All the Saints

November 11, 2014

I was scheduled to preach the sermon at our church on 2nd November – All Souls Day. I was pretty excited about it. It was coming together well, words jumping out of the pages as I dug through my Bible to excavate the message I was hearing snatches of. The passage to be read that […]

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Love is patient

September 15, 2014

Life slows down radically when you have a newborn to care for. She takes her time to eat. She takes her time to be rocked to sleep. When she’s in the mood for playing, her games are slow too – the same funny face or little movement over and over again. Dressing her is slow, […]

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found treasure #2

September 8, 2014

A few more things I’ve found online recently that have stayed with me. First up, this sweet video…   Cleaning my Cup, by Kelley Nikondeha “Here’s the thing… leaning into the weightier matters of justice involves some invisible work. I need to address my own prejudices, repent of my own judgments, pluck out the splinters […]

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When the Holy Spirit is our Midwife

August 28, 2014

I had just finished throwing up for the first time (not the last) into a handful of paper towels when the midwife walked in. “I’m sorry. I threw up” I said to her, although that would have been pretty obvious from the vomit covering my t-shirt and bed sheets (paper towels not being particularly appropriate […]

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found treasure

August 24, 2014

Writing doesn’t happen to frequently these days. My head is still filled with thoughts and ideas and plans, but finding a moment long enough to write them down, sit with them, let them simmer on the page – those moments are few and far between, and then I also have to chose between writing and […]

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To the new mama (to myself)

August 23, 2014

“Often our expectations of how life should unfold get in the way of meeting things as they actually are… When we meet the unexpected with love, rather than opposition, we open the way for a more soulful path through life. In yielding my resistance I already find great healing. In softening my internal rules about […]

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I Am Becoming (on Motherhood) – a Guest Post

August 1, 2014

Karen and I “met” through Leigh’s monthly What I’m Into link ups. I noticed that she was based in Ireland and, always wanting to find more Europe-based bloggers, clicked over to her site. There I found someone with an open and beautiful way of writing that encouraged and inspired me. I also discovered that she […]

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right now – June and July

July 30, 2014

I missed the link up last month, but I guess I have a pretty good excuse. This month we’ve been figuring out how to keep our daughter alive and (mostly) happy. It’s been wonderful and overwhelming and chaotic and transforming. In mid June I finally said screw it and declared myself officially on maternity leave. […]

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