Give thanks for toothpaste

 

Over the last week, or so, life has been very hectic: We turned Scargill into Narnia which was such good fun, then I was at Lee Abbey speaking on ‘Laughter and Lament’ with David Rowe, followed swiftly by my son’s wedding which was an amazing occasion.

There is a huge amount to be thankful for.

Psalm 111 says: ‘ I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart.’ Meister Eckhart once said,’if the only prayer you say in your entire life is “thank you” that would suffice.’ Gratitude is a crucial spiritual discipline to foster in our lives for it is the great antidote to cynicism which has the capacity to suck the life out of us. Gratitude, I think, is the gateway to playfulness and childlikeness. 

Mark Yaconelli in his book ‘wonder, fear and longing’ writes, ‘It is good to give God thanks not only because God has given us so much,  but perhaps more importantly because of what gratitude does to us. It is hard to be anxious when you are grateful. It is difficult to keep you guard up, to be cold and defended when you are overcome with thankfulness. Prayers of gratitude open the gates of the heart so God’s love can enter in.’

A good friend of mine, who I worked with on the Lee Abbey Youth Camps, taught me the importance of gratitude even when life can seem so tough and difficult. He encouraged us to think of at least 5 things we could be thankful for, like the taste and smell of good food, the love of friends, the pleasure of sunsets, the beauty of flowers, the freshness of toothpaste, the nourishment of sleep, and the sugar rush obtained from jelly babies. Wouldn’t it be good if we could just open our eyes to give thanks daily for all of God’s grace and love that we see around us.

Giving gratitude isn’t something that comes easy to us. It is a discipline.

Joan Chittester says, ‘As he was dying, Abba Benjamin taught his disciples his last lesson,”do this,” he said,”and you will be saved: rejoice always; pray constantly; and in all circumstances give thanks.”‘

This coming week, I’m going to try my very best to be grateful. Would you like to join me?

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Back through the Wardrobe

This last week the House has been full of young people with their parents as we put on our ‘Back through the Wardrobe 3’, another wonderful opportunity to explore the truths about God in the Narnia Chronicles written by C.S. Lewis. Scargill became Narnia for the week as rooms were decorated to reflect the story.

We were focusing particularly on the Last Battle which is the last of the books and covers important topics like: deception; identity; judgement; courage; the end of the Old and the beginning of the New Narnia; and homecoming and it is this that I want to talk about briefly.

Jewel, the Unicorn, when he arrives into the New Narnia exclaims, “I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…..Come further up, come further in!”

For many people home has been a difficult experience, something that people don’t want to remember. If, though, we were going to look at coming home as an experience that brings life what would it look like? These were some of the comments that people said during one of our sessions this week:

‘belonging, safe place, acceptance, love and laughter, finding my true self, sometimes challenging, good food, and space to be who I am ‘

It would seem to me that there is a longing and a yearning to experience coming home, and the church community should be a place where people can experience this generous homecoming.

Sister Stan writes in Gardening of the Soul writes, ‘Home is the place where we discover who we are, where we are coming from and where we are going to. It is where we learnt to love and be loved. It is where our needs of the body, mind and spirit are first recognised and met. It is where we learn to be whole, stable and yet always open to change and surprise.’

The parable of the prodigal son, or perhaps it should be called the parable of the prodigal father, highlights the generous attitude that we are invited to show when people come home, ‘but while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and was filled with compassion…’  (Luke 15 v20)

Some of our guests, who come back to Scargill, describe it as a home from home.  I like that…