So, on holiday I had plenty of time to read a couple of books which was fantastic. I’m doing a lot of reading around monastic spirituality and I’m really benefiting a lot personally by shaping my days with a rhythm of work, prayer and mission. Its not perfect, family life isn’t always easy to predict, but most definitely feeling the benefit.
I read, again, Ian Adam’s book ‘Cave, Refectory, Road’ which really is a fantastic read. It spoke to my desire for rhythm, but also for simplicity and for ‘living simple so that others can simply live.’ Regardless of people thinking I’m weird and stupid, I’m thinking through the processes of simplifying my wardrobe, decluttering, getting rid of excess stuff and also continually on the look out for ways to share what we have with other people.
I also read ‘The Pilgrim Way’ by Ray Simpson of the Community of Aidan and Hilda, a new-monastic group with a mother house in Lindisfarne. Interesting to read of their 10 ‘way markers’ for living Christian life and particularly interested in their commitment to accompaniment by a ‘soul friend’ – someone who acts as a sounding board to aid in ones discipleship. I believe that much ‘pastoral work’ needs to take this form rather than the sometimes ‘coddling’ stuff that goes in the shape of pastoral work. Something to work through more anyway.
Probably most profoundly having an impact is beginning to read Richard Rohr’s ‘Falling Upward’ which is page after page rich in some deep stuff to process. I identify very much with what he writes about the process moving from one half of our lives to the other. He doesn’t speak chronologically, of course, but spiritually. I certainly think much of the change of direction in my life in recent years has been this shift from the ‘basics’ we grow up with and that give us a foundation, to the place where that stability gives us the freedom to grow wider, express differently and help us embrace honest doubt, uncertainty and Mystery alongside a confidence in the God who calls us. I have much further to travel, but so thankful for the journey, regardless of the painful moments.
All of this really speaks into my ongoing spiritual and vocational discernment. We’re very happy at Trinity and have no plans of our own to move on outside the agreed contracts that we have, yet my mind does turn to the longer term future and we continue to seek God for how it will all pan out.
The highlight of my holiday was the fact that nearly every day over in the Lake District, I had a Wild Goose fly over my path in some form or other…a bird that Celtic Christians readily identify with the Holy Spirit: his unpredictable, untameable, even unsettling call, influence and leading. Trusting as always that when the call comes we’ll know it loud and clear. This is the life of a turasaiche!