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!

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.