But we had a wonderful Christmas with delicious food that proves animals don’t need to suffer to put food on your plate and I’ll be posting some pictures and recipes soon. We had a lovely, peaceful day with a long walk in the chilly air to feed the swans and the ducks and then a slow stroll around town and finally up Windmill Hill to admire the view of the town we love so much. Couldn’t ask for anything better.
But New Years is always a favourite time for--looking back over the year and recalling all the wonderful things that happened or grieving over the sad ones. For looking at what went well and what went wrong. For seeing where we want our lives to go from here. Some people call them new years resolutions, but to me that indicates something you resolve to do, fail and then beat yourself up over. They are often unattainable goals. A destination not a journey.
On New Year’s Day I like to do a little of everything I hope to do over the next year--all things that make me happy and whole and the ways that I will strive to help others. I have rested by having a lie in because sometimes I overtire myself with worry and stress. I have been to Meeting for Worship. Unexpectedly, the children showed up (my Sunday School class consists of a set of adorable blond German munchkins who are 2 and half) so I was able to spend time with little ones and we played and sang and imagined and did a nature walk outside and they spoke to me in German and I answered in English and despite the language barrier we got along fine. Then we went into Worship for the last few minutes together as sitting in silence is not so easy when you are 2 and a half. During announcements it was said that they were short handed and asked for help serving tea and coffee after church which I was able to do. This was a huge answered prayer as just this morning when I was lying in bed contemplating what I wanted for the next year I was asking God to find more ways for me to be helpful.
Then I came home and spent 30 minutes writing in my spiritual journal. One of the things I like to do is when I read something of spiritual significance is write it down. It is important to write it laboriously by hand as it makes me really think about the words as well pick and choose the passages that speak to my heart. Sometimes it is just a few lines or a short prayers other times I have copied word for word a whole book. I found this book at the library called The Places That Scare You by Pema Chödrön. It is a Buddhist book but it spoke to my Quaker sensitivities about “that of God in everyone.” The book talks about cultivating bodhichitta--which is an awakened or enlightened attitude of the mind and heart. It is about looking beyond the walls that we build up--walls made of opinions and prejudices that are built with emotions like anger, craving, indifference, jealousy, envy arrogance and pride. Bodhichitta looks for the soft spot--the tiny crack in the wall--that can let love out of ourselves or into the hearts of others who are suffering. Even the cruellest people have this soft spot. Even the most vicious animals love their offspring. It is knowing that love can flow through us so that we are compassionate with all others--even those who seem different or unlovable.
Next I spent time in prayer with my prayer beads. I have a daily habit of praying on my knees when I wake up to call God close and let go of any “worry, fear, insecurity or weakness” and ask to be “the lamp filled with God’s light” so that I might glow with love and kindness and seek those who need help. I had started praying with prayer beads last year--and the practice somehow got away from me--there were always other things to do and I “ran out” of time in the afternoon. I find it a quiet centering practice where I repeat phrases like “Breathe deep the breath of God” of “Lord make me an instrument of your peace” and then let my mind drift until I am seized by the thought of someone who needs to be prayed for and then I send them love and healing and Light. The whole thing takes about 15-20 minutes depending on how many people I feel need to be prayed for. It is a practice I hope to continue with in the new year as it benefits me and others.
I then did 30 minutes of kick boxing as I haven’t really done it much over the holidays and I have felt it--when I exercise I have more energy, I eat less and sleep better. Plus I know I am keeping my body fit and healthy.
I am writing for the blog which makes me happy and keeps me connected with the world. I’ll save it to my memory stick and paste this in the next time I have access to a computer.
After this I plan to play the ukulele for about a half an hour. I can’t tell you how much joy Ruth the blue ukulele brings me. I love playing music and it makes me feel close to my dad who tried so hard to play the guitar when I was a girl. When I play I feel like he is right there beside me.
I also plan to make a card for my student Ambra Lily who starred in the BBC comedy The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff. I was so proud of her and the show was really funny. Then I plan to finish my letter to my penpal who is on death row in
. I am proud to call him my friend. Texas
When Spiderman gets home from volunteering at the zoo we’ll eat the traditional New Year’s food of cabbage and blackeyed peas (really hope this doesn’t just work on dollars and cents but pounds and pence as well!) and then we’ll snuggle on the sofa and watch some Jeeves and Wooster and laugh our asses off.
Is there anything better that that?