A Chairde [Dear Friends, in Irish]
How is January starting off for you?
A few days ago, while sea swimming in freezing water with the wind whipping across our faces, a friend and I compared notes.
Already, it’s been a start-stop kind of a year. We entered the first week of January, ready to face it head-on. And then, a few days later… crash. Things were being canceled. People were isolating due to COVID. Possibilities for the coming months were thrown back into uncertainty. Plans we thought were coming into fruition became dormant once again.
As our words volleyed between us over the frothy waves, I discovered that someone else had a similar week.
Maybe you did, too.
The waves of this pandemic have tossed us about, and sometimes we try to fight against them, willing ourselves to go in a certain direction but meeting resistance from a force much greater than ourselves.
Yet in that moment of frolicking in the waves, naming the frustration at our good intentions being thwarted so quickly in the New Year, we were actually living into another way of being.
Rather than fighting the waves, we were riding them. Rather than pushing in a direction of our own choosing, we were allowing ourselves to be guided by a force greater than our own.
I’ve been sea swimming regularly for 2 1/2 years now, and I’ve learned an immense amount about how to read the waves, swim safely, and recognize my limits. There are times when we simply need to stand on solid ground and resist the pull that would take me towards danger.
But there are many, many days when little resistance is needed. The waves come again and again, we greet them with a jump or a dive, we swoop up in the air as the waves crest, we whoop at being carried down again in that moment of delight.
There’s definitely something to be said for intentionality, resistance, standing our ground, and moving in a certain direction with empowerment and strength.
Last week, though, I was invited to simply ride the waves.
I’ve been doing that every day, literally and metaphorically. Meeting my swim buddies after the morning school drop-off to frolic in the frothy, white, cresting waves, and then returning home to ride the waves of whatever is happening or not happening in my life right now.
There are directions I wish I could go. There are steps I wish I could take. There are dreams I would love to bring into reality.
But now is not the time to do those things. Now is the time to simply be, in the moment, and ride the waves as they come.
What are the waves you are being inviting to ride this month, and can you find ways to frolic and delight in them?
January and Beyond
Upcoming Retreats Our February Silent Retreat at the beautiful Corrymeela Centre here on the north coast has filled up, which is a happy surprise. If you were interested, there will be other retreats to keep in mind this year - including a Silent Retreat the last weekend of August, which I’m starting to think of as “Silence in the Summer.” Like the February retreat, it’ll be a chance to still the swirl of everyday life and listen, deeply, to yourself and to God, while in the midst of a gathered community. And, in the first weekend of May there will be a Resilient Spirit Retreat - details will follow in next month’s newsletter. If you’re interested, feel free to get in touch at email@example.com and I’ll make sure you’re on the waiting list.
New Psalms for the Spirit Podcast Episodes If you didn’t get a chance to listen to the new podcast episodes during Advent, they are timeless and can be listened to at any season of the year.
Ep. 16 Lament as a Sacred Act with Peace Lee, spiritual director, preacher and educator on decolonial and feminist perspectives
Ep. 17 Delivering us through the Pains of Life and Death, with John L. Bell, hymnwriter, author, broadcaster of the Iona Community
Ep. 18 Awakening to our Belovedness, with Ruth Patterson, Presbyterian minister, writer, retreat leader and founder of “Restoration Ministries” in Northern Ireland
Bless My Feet Community - I will be starting a new series called “Beauty in the Day,” in which I reflect on the ordinary moments of daily life that bring us closer to the Divine. Occasionally I will add another post on “Spiritual Practices for Resilience,” and I hope to share suggestions on reading that has inspired me on my spiritual journey that might inspire you too.
Blessing for Our Journey
May the God of the cresting waves
lift us heavenwards
as we swoop upward
lift our spirits
as we whoop downward
lift our fears
as we release resistance
lift our worries
as we ride the waves
lift our hearts
as we wait
as we hope
and as we dream.