Hot off the Press

I’m back after having spent a wonderful three weeks in beautiful Co. Cork, Ireland. I must’ve done something right because it only rained once! The aim was to have time to rest, refresh and be; and to build friendships as part of a growing link between the Diocese of Lichfield and the Diocese of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, so my time was a grand mixture.

I visited numerous churches and events across the entire Diocese, from East to West, from urban Cork city to the far reaches of the west coast. It was wonderful to meet so many people, appreciating all we have in common, not least our shared Christian faith, and enjoy the rich differences of culture. Alas, there were far too many experiences to share here, but one amazing and rather daunting highlight was being invited to preach at Cork Cathedral.

On the hottest Sunday of the year, feeling like a boil in the bag chicken, I spoke on the Bible passage of the day, ‘The Good Samaritan’. It’s a powerful story where Jesus explains that anyone in need is our neighbour, even our ‘enemies’. One thing I reflected on is the relationship between Britain and the Republic of Ireland; the fact that the more I learn about our shared history, the more I find myself feeling deeply a sense of shame for what’s happened in the name of Britain, and arguably continues today in the wake of BREXIT.

The day I preached happened to fall on Ireland’s National Day of Commemoration ~ 11th July. 101 years ago, on 11th July 1921, a treaty was signed to end the War of Independence between Britain and Ireland; so it really was poignant for me to preach on that date about who is our neighbour. Afterwards, the Rev’d Daniel Nusum, invited me, with him, to light candles for peace on the beautiful globe votive stand.

But it wasn’t all visiting churches! I had space and time to explore stunning scenery, pristine beaches, paddle in the ocean; enjoy fresh seafood and fish, including local lobster and oysters; pop into arts festivals and visit local artists; grab a ticket to a fantastic gig by famous Irish singer, Mary Coughlan; and, as it’s in the Diocese, it would’ve been rude not to visit a certain famous Irish whiskey distillery! Time to be; to paddle, walk, ponder, pray, explore, read, laugh, have fun, recalibrate.

The Good Samaritan story challenges us as to who are our neighbours; Jesus’ summary of the best way to live is to love God, and to love our neighbours, as ourselves. I wonder how you - and I - are really doing at loving ourselves, including taking time to rest? One of the places I found myself returning to a number of times was a little island called Haulbowline - a place I could walk, sit, breathe, rest… be.

Sabbatical

Sabbatical,

shabbat,

sabbath,

rest.

 

Drawn again to Haulbowline Island,

sun on my face

breeze tickling my neck

salt in the air

breathing

walking… sitting… being.

Ocean lapping ~

rhythmic, regular, soothing,

womb-like,

white noise;

tides, cycles, rhythms,

connection to all that is,

grounded, yet free to be;

as my cycles unravel,

connect to greater rhythm,

be… bask,

rest.

 

Space to be,

freedom to unravel ~

this ‘midlife unraveling’,

deep breath,

letting go ‘shouds’ and ‘supposed tos’,

deep breath…

be real ~

who am I?

stay real ~

choose authenticity,

practice authenticity,

true to me ~ yes… no…

Who am I?

truly?

Who am I called forward to be and become?

Courage to stay real ~

choose yes,

choose no;

breathe,

rest.

Sabbath,

Shabbat,

Shalom.

 

Rev'd Julia

Sepetember 2022


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