Monday, 23 February 2009

Visual thoughts

I used to be quite wary of sharing my thoughts and feelings about my faith. I suppose I thought people would laugh at me or tell me I had things all wrong. Since being ill I have become much more confident about my opinions and feelings, maybe because I now have so much time to think about them and be sure of them! Becoming a Quaker has definitely helped in this process. I know that fellow Friends will not make fun of the things I say. It's a safe feeling.

Sometimes when I am keeping silence, I have images or visual thoughts alongside the usual verbal ones. On one occasion, long before I began attending Quakers, I saw that I was walking hand-in-hand with Jesus, along a path near a wood. He turned to me and said, “'Friends walking together don't need to talk all the time; as long as they walk together, the silences don't matter.”

This was of enormous comfort to me, as my M.E. means that sometimes I can really struggle to find the words I need. It also formed an important part of my journey towards finding Quakers.

On another occasion, after I had been ill for some time, I was beginning to suffer from depression at my worsening condition. I saw a deep pit, full of shadows and darkness, and I realized that I was standing on Jesus, as if I were standing on a ledge. He said to me, “There is much further down you could go - but you won't.”

Since then I have never again felt so frightened and low, even though my physical condition has not improved.

These visual thoughts don't come often, but when they do, they stay with me for a long time afterwards.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

The gift of simplicity

This entry should really have been up yesterday, but I have the most enjoyable of all excuses for its late arrival - we had Meeting for Worship in my home on Sunday :) These small meetings have been an occasional thing so far, but it was decided on Sunday that they should be monthly now, about which I am absolutely delighted!

Normally I would have rested on Sunday afternoon after all the excitement of having visitors, but like an idiot I pushed on with a hat I was knitting for a deadline. That, combined with having had a broken night's sleep (my oxygen machine packed up, and I had to go onto a cylinder) meant that by Sunday night I had thoroughly crashed. I was asleep for most of yesterday (Monday), but I'm starting to poke my nose out and blink now...

For the first time in many meetings, I spoke. I was quite taken aback to feel that familiar

excuse me

excuse me

and, for once, I didn't need to wait until it became


before I gave in and spoke :)

And what I said was (more or less) this:

We are going to become an important help to people in this credit crunch/depression. So many people use shopping as a band-aid over the emptiness in their lives, and get into more and more debt doing so. There just won't be the consumer credit available any more to do this, nor the money available to service the debt, and people are going to be left without their prop.

We know the joy of freedom from acquisitiveness and the retail therapy culture. We can demonstrate the joys to be had in simplicity and not buying things for the sake of buying them. People are going to need that voice, that perspective. We have the experience people will need in finding support in non-material things, and we will be able, if we choose, to share that.

We all agreed afterwards that sometimes a problem can bring out the best in people (the old 'Blitz spirit'!), and we all hoped that this would be the case over the next few months.

As BYM Advices and Queries no. 41 says:

A simple lifestyle freely chosen is a source of strength.

And if you don't invest your happiness in things, then it can't be taken away by bailiffs....

Monday, 9 February 2009

Fluffy Brain Days

Blogging on a set day seems like such a good idea, until I get to a day when my brain is full of fluff and I am devoid of inspiring content!

I had a rough week last week, culminating in a bad bout of insomnia on Saturday night/Sunday morning (I finally fell asleep a little short of 6am). I feel distinctly uninspired, although I know that's just the effect of the illness.

So, a little something from my Commonplace Book to ponder on. I have kept a Commonplace Book for years now, noting down any quotations that speak to me, amuse me or are just plain beautifully written.

I went to my oldest Commonplace Book for today's entry, and got sidetracked by a number of old friends which I had forgotten. The one which I would like to share with you is from Gerard W Hughes' brilliant book, God of Suprises, and it's one I find very heartening on days like today:

When we pray, we may become more aware of our inner chaos.

This is a grace, a gift of insight, not a sign of failure.

Have a peaceful week, everyone.

Monday, 2 February 2009


Gil S had a meme on her blog about poetry today and, although I'm not really joining with the meme, I would like to share this with you.

It was commissioned for the multi-faith chapel in the new hospital in Durham. I was asked to stay away from specifically Christian imagery or subject matter, and I thought something common to all religions was the idea of hope.


I stand beside the football fan, the student in exams,
The busy driver looking for a space,
The mother tucking in her sleeping child

I know consultants' waiting rooms,
The operating theatres and ITUs

When you are quite alone and all is silence
I am here

I hold your hand in darkness

I will never leave