A new year. This can be a time we make resolutions about how we want to live in the year to come.
As I have reflected I have come back to sacred writings from approaching a mere trimillennium ago. (Yup, that’s approaching three thousand years ago!).
Desmond Tutu is an amazing example of living this way. He defended the rights of others; he showed compassion. Watching clips of his funeral, I found his cheap pine coffin a powerful reminder of his humility. He is an example of living well in what he did but also in who he was. I think it was his awareness of being a human being (not a human doing!) that made him quick to laugh – and quick to cry.
It’s a good direction of travel for the year ahead. And you?
We all place priority on different things in our lives, sometimes out of choice and other times out of necessity. What’s ‘too little’ or ‘too much’ of any activity will differ for each of us.
But we all gain from asking ourselves the question, ‘What’s the right balance of [name the activity] for me?’ The ‘right balance’ is our happy or contented place. Most activities are neither good or bad. They can however be ‘in balance’ or ‘out of balance’.
Here’s some examples. What’s the right balance of time . . . keeping fit? . . . with friends? . . . on my own? . . . with family? . . . at work? . . . indoors? . . . outdoors? . . . on social media? . . . keeping abreast of news? spent volunteering? . . . watching TV/streaming? You get the idea. Think through the balance for you physically, emotionally and spiritually.
These activities are often not either good or bad. It’s the balance of each activity in relation to the other activities that’s the key to our wellbeing. It’s the balance that gives us the sense of having our feet planted firmly on the ground, not teetering on the brink or piroetting through each day.
I spent a glorious morning enjoying autumn colours at Stourhead Gardens and knew you would want to share in it. I particularly enjoyed seeing reflections of buildings and nature in a lake. Some detail is present in the reflection and yet the scene is more muted, softer.
Imagine seeing a reflection of your life right now. What are the shapes and colours that would show in ‘the lake’? You might want to draw or write down what stands out.
Ensure the reflection of yourself you are seeing has a softness in it. We need a softness in our perspective that enables us to reflect with kindness, not judgement.
Each of us is shaped – or influenced – by many different winds, from infancy to today.
Pause and identify one or two of the winds that have influenced you.
Some winds are positive. How do we know them? They are the ones that tell us that we are valued and loved, and enable us to value and love others.
Some winds are negative: they are the ones that tell us that we are useless and unlovable, and make it harder for us to make good relationships with others.
Being able to identify and classify the winds that shape our thinking about ourselves and the world around us gives us understanding, including compassion for ourselves. We weren’t always in a position to control what shaped us. We will find weather damage!
Being able to identify and classify the winds that shape us also gives us the opportunity to review what we are being influenced by, opening ourselves more fully to some influences and closing ourselves to others.
For me today, thinking of the winds that shape me, I am resolute to open myself more to the breath of the Divine – God’s Spirit. The Spirit is the one who knew me while I was still in my mother’s womb and is each moment all knowing (omniscient), all present (omnipresent), and all powerful (omnipotent). It’s the best of winds.
In the UK, there’s an increase in wind and rain, temperatures are beginning to drop; there are also glorious foliage colours and bushes full of red berries.
Like every season, it’s a mix of moments in the ever-changing weather, if we take the time to notice.
The weather is the weather. It can be ‘glorious’ (most of us love it crisp, blue skied and sunny) or ‘dreary’ (most of us dislike it grey, wet and cold). It is what it is, like it or don’t like it.
I have been intentionally noticing the wind. Early one day on a hill, it was strong and steady and nearly blew me over. On other days it was gusty, making itself heard quite clearly indoors. And on one day it has been soft, a pleasant breeze on my face.
This week, take moments to experience the weather. Notice the wind on your face, a raindrop on your hand, the softer light of the sun in the view from your window.
Notice what arises in your mind and your body as you allow yourself to experience the weather, including any tendencies to reject or hold onto particular weather. When we start to notice and experience the weather, our judgements of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ weather will become more blurred.
Sure, we like some weather better than other weather but let’s be in the autumn. For like all seasons, it too will pass. While it is here, let’s experience it, rather than miss it. It’s part of living.