Tag Archives: love

A Blessing and Reflection for This Time of Year

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I came across this beautiful blessing written by a friend of mine. It brought a few things to mind that I thought I’d share as some starting points for reflection. You may want to use this to look back and look forward in this time between Christmas and New Year, or if you find a moment in January to sit down with a journal. Maybe you could even take a day out for a retreat?

A Blessing

May all that has got lost in you, be found again
May your path be lit by stars as you renew your journey tonight
May the voices you hear echo the love of the angels (‘do not be afraid’) and may your words to yourself be ever so gentle
May you receive the gifts you have sought but more importantly, may you be reminded of the gift you have been to many this year
May your life be observed with eyes of beauty by those who surround you
May you be strengthened with attentiveness as deep as Mary’s for her child
May you know that there is One who watches all your new births and all your growing.

May you be blessed this Christmas and may God’s shalom be within, around and above you through the new year.

By Philomène Luyindula Lasoen

Reflections

  1. Do you feel anything got ‘lost‘ in you in 2017 that you’d like to regain in 2018? Talk to God about it and ask him for the strength and grace needed to make the decisions or changes you need to make, to find what’s been lost.
  2. Reflect on your journey through 2017. Maybe scribble the year as a path or road through the landscape of the highs and lows of the year – did the path go through a dark forest? – did you conquer a high peak? – did your path cross with the paths of others at significant points? (Don’t worry if you can’t draw, you don’t need to show anyone, just scribble!) Talk to God about what was good along the path, thank him. Talk to him about what was hard and ask him what his words of comfort and encouragement are into each situation. Where are you now on the path? – is there a fork in the path? – are you looking for signposts? – what signposts have you seen already? – what’s alongside the path at this point?
  3. As you look towards 2018, how do you want to ‘renew your journey‘? – What are your hopes and dreams for the year ahead? Talk to God about it, what does he want to say to you about the year ahead, what comes to mind as you are still? What is his invitation to you for this year? Is there a word or phrase that pops into your mind? Write it down.
  4. Think about the voices you hear in your head, how you speak to yourself – do you hear words of love/care or of shame and criticism? Could you speak to yourself more gently and lovingly? – taking the lead from how God speaks to you and thinks of you – with kindness?
  5. What are you fearful/nervous about for 2018? How would things change if you heard the echo of the angels, relaying God’s message to humankind ‘Do not be afraid’? Talk to God about your fears and let him speak to you about how he sees each situation. How would it feel if you knew you were facing each situation with Emmanuel (‘God with us’) alongside you?
  6. What gifts have you received in 2017? – acts of kindness, experiences? Who were the people who’ve been a gift to you in 2017? Can you write them a note to thank them? How have you been a gift to others in 2017? Are there any specific people you hope to be a ‘gift’ to in 2018? What would that involve?
  7. Who has observed your life with the eyes of beauty in 2017? Who has ‘really seen’ you and appreciated you for who you truly are? Have you seen people with the eyes of beauty? Is there anyone you’ve judged or dismissed? Can you ask God to help you to see them with new eyes, to see the beauty that he sees within them?
  8. Have you been attentive to the beauty and good in the world and others in 2017? What have you noticed? Have you been attentive to the brokenness of the world, the things that break God’s heart? What have you noticed? Can you choose to be more attentive in 2018? What will help you to do that? Ask God to give you eyes to see as he sees.
  9. How have you grown and changed in 2017? What have you learnt?
  10. What new birth and growth do you want to ask God for in 2018?
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Overflowing love and infectious joy in a prison

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love behind bars

My friend in Cape Town is an inspiring example of intentional love: sacrificial and overflowing. She carries joy with her everywhere and tells a story in her new blog about taking that joy and love right into prison with her and the impact that had. I want to share her story with you here.

About a month ago I walked into a coffee shop and the barista asked me, ‘Where do you come from?’

I responded, ‘I’m from here, why?’

He smiled and said, “Because you’re smiling like a European on holiday. Locals don’t walk around looking that!” We both chuckled; I grabbed my coffee and moved on.

I didn’t have time to tell him why I was walking around with this look on my face. But I have time to tell you…

My friend Sarah proceeds to tell a wonderful story about visiting her friend in prison, encouraging him and speaking life over him to the point where their joy and life spilled over into those around them. You can read the rest of her story here… I highly recommend you take the time to read it, such an inspiring story and mental image that goes with it.

What is love?

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I found this beautiful video, I hope you like it as much as I do.

I really believe it’s true that perhaps we don’t really understand what love is. It’s an action not a feeling. It’s not about finding Mr or Mrs Right or even worse Mr or Mrs Perfect (because no-one, really no-one is perfect and we’ll just live with constantly growing disappointment) but about being the kind of person who could love, care for, affirm, build up and commit to another. It’s not about how we can be satisfied and happy ourselves but a decision to choose to give of ourselves to others and in that giving there is fulfillment and joy.

The Western culture, with no little help from Hollywood, has certainly put an interesting slant on what “love” is over the past few decades. We often see, and even experience, examples of relationships that start with all the good intentions in the world, that end up going crooked somewhere in the middle and simply finish with hurt and broken lives. If “all we need is Love” then perhaps we don’t really understand what love is. This short film tells a story of love that hasn’t simply blossomed in the sun but has flourished in the darkness of struggle and sickness. This story really shows us what love is and who the person is that has inspired that love in their lives.

See the video on it’s original site here.

 

Love

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love joy

I love people

I hate conflict

I love community

I hate exclusion

I love chocolate

I hate brussel sprouts

I love warm blankets

I hate smelly dishcloths

I love connection

I hate division

I love adoption

I hate abandonment

I love forgiveness

I hate bitterness

I love truth

I hate lies

I love light

I hate darkness

I love technology (sometimes)

I hate technology (sometimes)

I love coffee

I hate instant

I love depth

I hate pretension

I love dancing

I hate running

I love dragon flies

I hate mosquitoes

I love trust

I hate fear

I love love

I hate hate

 

All poems and original writing on this blog are Copyright © Hilary Murdoch 2013

Something valuable deep inside

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showing people their own worth

Absolutely love this.

I feel so deeply that showing others that they have something inside them that is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of trust and that is sacred is something that is so powerful and frees people to be themselves and experience life more fully.

I feel it’s been part of the privilege of the journey I’ve walked with some of my friends who live on the streets near my home. I wrote about that here. As they have been shown their value by people loving them, listening to them, trusting them, some of them seem to have changed and seem to love and respect themselves and those around them more. What an honor to have the opportunity to show another person their own worth.

Heaven forbid

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SowingSeeds

When there’s disappointment

When there’s sadness

When hopes are dashed

When it looks like a step backwards

When trust is broken

When help is rejected

When independence trumps community

Heaven forbid we try to fix, solve or rescue

Heaven forbid we see a person as a project

Heaven forbid we want complex situations buttoned up, resolved

Heaven forbid we attach our significance to the change we see in those we walk alongside

Forgive me. When even a drop of that attitude has entered in.

I want to see with your eyes.

Love and care as seeds sown

The outcome of which will come to bear

one day.

The outcome of which is not ours to see

or to claim.

Seeds sown, freely given

without dictating the fruit.

Seeds sown, generously released.

Generosity is not itself if it expects a return.

And if seeds are dug up or stolen

more can be sown

without resenting the loss of those gone before.

Or maybe no seed is ever lost

just hidden, latent.

One day it may produce fruit

but we may never see it

and must come to peace with that

and trust

life is a long journey

and just now we don’t see the big picture.

“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting our time.

But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

– An Australian Aboriginal woman when approached by someone wanting to work with disenfranchised people, Queensland, 1970s

While I was writing this poem I was reminded of this post by a friend, you might also enjoy it…

minding the gap

by Most Hopeful

We confess, O God, that we like to see things solved.
We confess, O God, that we bear your name and insist on solving.

We admit, O God, that we are called to be the ones who tell the truth

of all the mess and pain and brokenness in the world

on this side of kingdom come.

We admit, O God, that we are called to be the ones who tell the truth

of all the redemption and justice and beauty already in the world now

and fully in the world on the other side of kingdom come.

We ask, O God, that you would give us the courage to tell the truth

and to be the people who stand in the middle of the tragic gap

knowing that while the world does not go well,

kingdom is in our midst, and kingdom comes.

We ask, O God, that you would make us brave enough to stand

unsolved, unfixed, in the middle of the brokenness and the beauty

honestly declaring both.

Amen.

djordan
Pine Tree Dr.

Friends

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As I get to know them,
As I’m given the privilege
of the title ‘friend’,
I see them.
I see the leaders in this community,
This group of friends
who live on the streets
near my home.
I see the carers, the protectors
I see those who share what little they have
I see those who sacrifice their safety for their friends
I see much to respect and much to love
I see less difference between us
And more in common.

Stopping to chat
Sharing news, a joke, a prayer, a crossword.

As I spend time with them
They see me too
They appreciate my friendship
more than what I could give them
And they very rarely ask for anything.

Sometimes I’m listening to their hearts
through slurred words
Which before would have been all I’d hear
But I can understand why they sometimes choose that
There’s much to want to escape from
Life is harsh, fragile, vulnerable.
Some of them wonder what there is to live for.
After such abuse, rejection and unkindness
I might question the worth of my life too.

Two months in a prison cell
wrongly accused of stealing two hammers
would have been much longer
if family hadn’t stepped in.
Beaten and stabbed by four men
for protecting his friends.
His face kicked in, jaw broken
suspected of eating someone else’s hamburger.
Her face smashed against a mirror
by her husband
telling her she’s ugly.
Raped by family members.
Daily disrespect from people
who don’t see them
Don’t see beyond
the clothes and the smell.

And yet these friends of mine
are anything but hard hearted.
They love deeply
Looking out for each other.
Firey relationships
but underneath
deep commitment and love.

They greet me
with warmth, big hugs, smiles and laughter
And when life hits a blow
they honour me
by sharing their tears also.

When I started on this journey a year ago
Meeting new people at my church’s weekly community dinners

Someone told me to stop thinking about ‘us and them’

and instead think about what you would do for a friend.

I wasn’t sure that would be so easy

And yet that’s just how it’s turned out. Amazingly.

Back then

I was nervous and afraid

Afraid of getting involved
Afraid of being overwhelmed
Afraid of getting it wrong
Would it require too much of me?
Would I let them down?
Would they ask for more than I can give?
What would it cost?

But as I chose to trust God with their journey

and offer genuine friendship rather than rescuing,

As I realised I won’t get it right every time

and that that’s ok

as I walk this journey in community with my church family,

As I chose that path

and just stepped into it rather than trying to figure it out first,

I realised it costs nothing
And yet everything.

Simple acts of kindness
Which cost me little
Just time, love, respect, genuine friendship
Things many people think that they don’t have to spare
Simple acts of kindness
Which seem to speak volumes to them
Seem to touch them deeply.
Not trying to fix their lives
I realise that’s not my responsibility
That’s up to God and them together
But just sitting with them,
visiting them in hospital,
listening to their stories, their lives, their hearts.
Simple acts of kindness
A very joyful and light burden.

And sometimes it’s hard
Sometimes there’s disappointment
When someone you’ve loved and invested in
Makes choices not to love themselves
That’s when choosing to continue to love and show grace,
Choosing to trust God with their journey,
Choosing not to fix or rescue,
That’s when those choices are hardest and most important.

When I used to take food
or something to give them
It often felt awkward
A barrier and imbalance introduced between us.
So now I usually just take myself
That’s what they really appreciate.

Just offering myself
Believing that’s enough
Just that is more impactful than I thought
Nothing and yet everything.

Love softens and changes people
Not giving our own love, which would run us dry
But channelling God’s love,
always replenished and running over,
Always enough.
If we choose to continue to receive it ourselves.
Love that gives people hope
Motivates them towards positive choices
Gives them reason to learn to love themselves.

 

All poems and original writing on this blog are Copyright © Hilary Murdoch 2013