Let there be light!

Christmas lights are already twinkling everywhere. Outdoors. Indoors.

The lights make the darkness of the evening seem blacker.

I find myself trying to avoid peaking through neighbours’ windows as I walk by – but I am drawn! Drawn to the lights.

And maybe this year – a difficult year – we will find ourselves especially drawn to the twinkling of lights.

I wonder if we are especially drawn to lights this year because they represent hope somehow. Archbishop Tutu said as he was retiring, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”

Look at the lights. As you do, reflect on what hopes the lights represent for you.

And yes as you look at the lights, you will notice the darkness too. Hope comes when we know that the darkness cannot overcome the light.

This is Mindful Monday on 7 December 2020.

Join a mindfulness virtual session on zoom this evening at 7 pm on the theme of light. Simply email hello@essencecheltenham.org for details.

After the rain


Rainbows. I have seen three recently. This is one from my garden. I saw another driving along a road (couldn’t take a photo). A friend pointed out another at work (didn’t take a photo).

Each time I see a rainbow my spirits are lifted. I am glad. Almost ridiculously glad.

Why is this? A rainbow is simply a reaction of light in water droplets, always happening opposite the sun. Yet I have an emotional reaction. I smile when I see a rainbow. I am happy. I am the lighter for it.

Perhaps it is about hope. The rain – read ‘the tough times’ – has passed. So quickly, the sun – read ‘the good times’ – has come. Life continues and all things pass.

It also makes me think of the creator. It is beautiful. But it’s deeper even than that. It reminds me of a story. It’s a story of a flood than nearly destroyed everything – but it didn’t. There was hope. There was life. And there was the promise of relationship between God and all living creatures.

Maybe my reaction is best expressed just as ‘wow’, without too much analysis! Join me next time you see a rainbow. And in the meantime know that all things pass – and there is hope.

This is Mindful Monday on 28 October 2019.

If you living in or near Cheltenham, join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening of mindfulness exploring the theme of the uniqueness of each of our journeys on the evening of Monday 4 November at the Oasis in Cheltenham. To book your place, email hello@essencecheltenham.org



Do not be afraid


It’s Christmas and my mantle piece hosts a variety of angels. I’ll let you debate whether it is in fact a host of angels, a flight of angels, or a gathering of angels!

Angels appear several times in the Christmas story. I love reading the story of shepherds on a hillside at night having an angel appear to them from whom the first words are “Do not be afraid.”

The story of Christmas is a story of hope: a move from fear to love.

And the story goes on, as the angel says, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

Look closely and you will see the angels celebrating – a bit of music tends to be part of a good celebration.

Whatever your situation, may you experience love and joy this Christmas time. Even in the darkness of the night, may it burst upon you. Happy Christmas.

This is Mindful Monday on 24 December 2018. 


Recognising – and laying down – our hopes

Recognising and layout down our hopes

Sometimes we hope for something so strongly that we almost ache with that hope.

Our hopes come in as many shapes and sizes as there are people. It might be we hope that someone we love is well again, the hope of a broken relationship restored, the hope of a solution in difficult financial times, the hope of a bright future for our children.

We watch for signs that our hope could be realised – and if it comes to pass as we imagined, we move from an aching to a joy!

Sometimes we become so focused on what we hope for that we miss what is happening. We know exactly what we want to happen, when and where. And we miss ‘a variant’ on that hope that is coming into being, something that might perhaps even be better than the shape we gave to our hope.

Yesterday I celebrated Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, with Christians everywhere.

Whether you have a Christian faith or not, it’s a great story – and goes something like this. Go back over two thousand years in time. A middle-eastern Jewish man called Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey at a time of celebration for the Jewish people. The crowd hear that Jesus is coming and get very excited. They are excited because they hope Jesus is going to rescue them from the Roman soldiers who rule their country, giving them their country back. Some of the crowd spread branches – possibly palm branches – on the path in front of Jesus by way of welcoming him.

The story unfolds further and I will be remembering the events as the days pass in the coming week leading up to Easter. Things didn’t turn out for the Jerusalem crowd in our story as they hoped – Jesus didn’t rescue the country from the Romans but actually something even better and bigger happens.

Let’s recognise the hopes that we have. Then let’s be open to our hopes sometimes being realised in a different way to what we thought. And journey on . . .

This is Mindful Monday on 26 March 2018.

If you live in or near Cheltenham, join us for an evening of mindfulness on Monday 16 April.

Spring hope

SpringIt was an incredibly wintry start to Spring last week! And I am so surprised to see how resilient the Spring bulbs are. Despite the cold, wind and snow, some are actually blooming while others are at least poking their heads up out of the earth. And snowdrops seem to stand small but tall whatever!

Spring is the season of new life, new beginnings. There is hope in the bulb about to burst forth, the sound of bird song, the brighter evenings, the touch of the sun. Take time to notice. Take time to enjoy.

Nature’s seasons can sometimes be a mirror for our internal seasons. Just as we see hope in nature, we can nurture hopes in our lives, in the lives of those we love, and the world in which we live.

Take time to notice the hope in creation and also take time to notice your own hopes. And as you notice your hopes, think about how you might nurture them. Is there something you can do today to help realise one of your hopes for the future?

This is Mindful Monday on 5 March 2018. Join us for an evening of mindfulness in Cheltenham on Monday 12 March, 7.30-9 pm.