Pastoral Letter

Dear Friends

In my last letter I mentioned a previous Bishop of the Diocese in which I used to work. I remember something else that he said. It stuck in my mind, “I don’t care what you do from day to day but I do care about who you are”. He was referring to the idea, within the Christian world, that we have two callings. The first calling is the calling of every human
being to “be” with God. We think of this as our primary calling and this supersedes everything else we do. Once we are clear on that we are able to discern our calling to ‘do’ something, whether it be ordination, nursing, cleaning, caring, sweeping the road or teaching. As Christians all of these ‘doing’ activities flow from our relationship with God. If you don’t identify as a Christian, then the principles of being and doing are still important for healthy human existence.
One of the most difficult things, in my experience, is to separate the two. For many of us, if we are not careful, our doing can totally consume us and leave us with a deficit in terms of wellbeing and mental stability (in the broadest sense). I was listening to a Parish Priest reflecting on Premier Christian radio about what it was like to work as a
Chaplain, particularly over the last months. She found that the best place for her in terms of connecting with God and herself, was in her vegetable plot. She made an interesting comment. She described her garden as something that she understood, as much as anyone can understand gardening. She continued, “I need to be somewhere where I understand what’s going on to talk to God about the things I don’t understand”. I personally get what she is saying because my allotment is a place where I can think and pray whilst I work. Others will have different places that make sense as arenas of refreshment and restoration.
It is always, as I give time to quiet reflection that I am able to discern what the next practical step might be for any given situation. If I ignore the need to take time, then I most often remain unresolved and struggle to find solutions. In times of reflection, what I call reflective practice, I think about how I’ve done, noting positive and negative aspects, hopefully without negative criticism of myself, I give it to God and then I think about how I might move forward creatively
bearing in mind what I have learned. As I say, my reflective practice involves God and is based on my relationship with him but that doesn’t stop you using the same principles.
Jesus himself used to take time alone with God to reflect on his life and to discern what his Father wanted him to do
next. There are so many examples of where he was not driven by what other people wanted, rather, by what the
right thing to do was, i.e. what God wanted. In John 5, referring to himself in the third person, Jesus says this,
“I tell you for certain that the Son cannot do anything on his own. He can do only what he sees the Father doing, and he does exactly what he sees the Father do”. If someone like Jesus needed space to reflect and rest, how much more do I need it? Of course, the other thing I find very useful is having a confidant, with whom I can discuss these things. I very often find that just the act of speaking out the questions, concerns, frustrations and successes, enables me to see
solutions. That being said, there are times when our problems need more significant intervention and none of us should be afraid to seek it.
My prayer is that you make time every day to reflect on your day/week, notice how you reacted or responded or felt in different situations, give it to God, see if there is anything you might do differently, and seek help if you need it. May God bless your daily work and rest. Do call me if you need help.
Every blessing
07943 014277
Email [email protected]

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