“I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

Edward Everett Hale

Saturday, 31 December 2016

My Creed (December 2016)

I have been feeling quite reflective over the past few days, and decided to try to articulate my beliefs, as we come to the end of 2016:

I believe in an all-loving God, who is
   creator of all things,
   at the centre of all things,
   and also the flow in-between,
   which we name Spirit.

I believe that Jesus was the Son of God,
   as we are all sons and daughters of God,
But that God flowed in and through him
   in  a particular way,
so that he could share some important truths with humankind,
   as other prophets have, before and since.

I believe that every human being has the God-given right
   to seek truth and meaning in their lives,
And that the tools they must use to do this
are faith, reason, and conscience,
based on their own lived experiences.

I believe that faith must involve uncertainty and mystery,
   because this is where God lives.

I believe that every human being is loved by God,
   and is worthy of that love.
But I also believe that we are free to choose
   to turn our backs on Her,
   separate ourselves from the flow of Love,
   choosing independence over communion.

I believe that dark and dormancy
are as important as light and growth;
and that our lives move in cycles,
  or perhaps spirals.

I believe in the sovereign importance of compassion,
   in loving your neighbour as yourself,
   which means also loving yourself,
   as Jesus taught.

I believe that living authentically, wholeheartedly,
   being vulnerable and open to new light
   and new ideas,
is vital for spiritual growth.

I believe that words and actions both matter;
   words help us to comprehend our world,
   actions flow from that understanding.
And when our actions match our values,
   that is the virtue of integrity,
   to which I aspire.

I believe that all any of us can do
   is the best that we can,
   with the tools that we have,
   at any particular time.
That we will always make mistakes,
   and upset and hurt other people,
   and ourselves.

Therefore I believe that we have to be responsible,
   for our words and our actions,
   to each other, and to God.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

That Bit

A friend of mine just posted a lovely meme about the days between Christmas and New Year:

And the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. I realise that I really love "that bit", when the frenetic socialising in the lead-up to Christmas and the two Big Days (Christmas Day and Boxing Day) are over, and I have the chance to sit down quietly and appreciate the days that have gone, and the people with whom I have spent them, and the gifts I have received. I am blessed in usually being able to take the period between Christmas and New Year off work. There is generally oodles of food left in the fridge and cupboard, so we can nibble on our favourite dainties, and drink our favourite drinks (peppermint and liquorice tea, in my case) without the pressure to put on a show. And there is often something good to watch on the TV. It is an interlude of peace between the frenzy of Christmas, and the re-dedication to work that the New Year brings. And I am very grateful for it.


I wish you all a very blessed That Bit, and a Happy, Peaceful, and Productive New Year.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Both / And, not Either / Or

There is a very neat meme doing the rounds on Facebook at the moment, which sums up the two Spirits of Christmas for me. It is a Christmas Bucket List, with six items, partly crossed out, and substituted with other words, so I'll have to paraphrase for it to make sense:

1. Instead of buying presents, be present.
2. Instead of wrap gifts, wrap someone in a hug.
3. Instead of send gifts, send love.
4. Instead of shop for food, donate food.
5. Instead of make cookies, make memories.
6. Instead of see the light, be the Light.

And yes, I get it, but in my opinion, it should be both/and, rather than either/or. I have bought presents for the people I love, but welcome the reminder to be present in the moment, day by day, instead of getting lost in the busyness. I will be wrapping the gifts I have bought this weekend, but will also be wrapping a lot of people in hugs, during the next few weeks (and being wrapped in hugs also, I hope!)

I will be sending gifts, but also sending love to all those people who make my life so blessed. Including you. I will be shopping for food, and have already paid a visit to the Northampton Food Bank with a donation. This Christmas, sadly, I won't be making or eating cookies, or mince pies or many other sweet Christmas treats, because most of them contain gluten, but I will surely be making memories, particularly on Boxing Day, when the whole extended Ellis family gets together at my parents, for what my mother insists on calling Christmas Day Two. And a very kind friend, who is also gluten-intolerant, has made me a beautiful little GF Christmas cake - so very lovely of her. Finally, as well as seeing (and enjoying) all the beautiful, colourful Christmas lights, I will be striving to be the Light for those I love.

It was a good reminder about the things which really matter at Christmas - not the tangible things that one can buy, and consume, but the gifts of love and awareness, which cannot be bought and always renew themselves. The things we can look back on with fondness, when the food has been eaten, the presents have been opened, the paper recycled, and the decorations taken down.

I also want to acknowledge what I think should be the true spirit of Christmas, "the spirit of good will and peace ... [the] spirit that bids us renew our hopes amid the gathering darkness, that kindles our generosity and our concerns, that attunes our ears to the ever-renewed angelic chorus" as Max Gaeble puts it. Because that is here too, in our minds, and in our hearts.

Wishing you a peaceful, blessed, and mindful Christmas.

Friday, 9 December 2016

More Blessed to Receive?

I have often heard that "it is more blessed to give than to receive", as it says in the Book of Acts. Indeed our Discussion Group at Banbury was discussing this question yesterday morning, and came to the conclusion that both are equally important, but that it is probably *easier* to give than to receive, graciously, and thankfully.

But God had other ideas for me yesterday, and I spent the rest of the day being blessed by many small kindnesses.

the sweetest little Christmas cake in the world
First of all, I got stuck in traffic on my way back from said Discussion Group, and was able to phone ahead and ask my best beloved to have my lunch ready for me. So that when I shot into the house at 1.20, a nutritious and delicious meal was waiting for me, which I was able to eat and enjoy, before rushing out again at 1.40.

Second, when I got to the car park on time, and was feeding pound coins into the machine, a young woman stopped on her way out and rolled down her window: "I have a ticket here that's valid till midnight - do you want it?" Yes please - thank you!

Third (and fourth), when I shared some very intimate good news with two friends, both had tears of joy in their eyes for me.

Fifth, another friend, who eats gluten-free herself, had baked me the prettiest little Christmas cake in the world.

And finally, when we were sharing out stories about the gift of difference in the Encounter group, I felt so honoured to have *been* the different person who had unknowingly helped someone else to grow spiritually.

By the end of the day, I felt so light, so blessed, so very grateful. Yes, it is blessed to give, but also so blessed to receive.