The exercise class were discussing different approaches to pain control, the teacher advocating the gentle tai chi regime for various reasons, including putting the patient actively in the driving seat, instead of being a passive recipient of treatment.
He explained: ‘I didn’t want to just be doing things to people, giving them some relief from pain, only for them to come back again and again, having done something silly and reawakened their problem. Again and again the same silliness, the same problem.’
He calls patients to take personal responsibility for attending classes and practising the exercises when alone in one’s room or standing at the station, sitting at table or a work desk. Other people would not observe many of the exercises being performed as they are small in scope, even invisible under clothing, but over time they bring real change.
Some new patients were discouraged when they were not asked to do anything dramatic, when the movements were small, the immediate effects imperceptible. ‘Have patience, give it six weeks at least’, he advises patients. Six weeks is forty-two days, just two more than forty days, the time we are offered every year to bring about real change in our hearts, the time taken by Jesus to prepare for his ministry. And he declined the chance of dramatic gestures.
What little change can I work on for the next six weeks?
Pope Saint Gregory I, who sent Saint Augustine to Canterbury in 597, was concerned to bring Benedictine discipline to the church, so wrote his Pastoral Care to help bishops and leaders. Here he is reflecting on how those in authority should relate to the people who answer to them. Whether we are in authority or under it, we can all relate to what he says. He calls Jesus ‘the Truth’, a name he gives himself in John’s Gospel, (14:6).
There ought to be in rulers towards their subjects both compassion justly considerate, and discipline affectionately severe.
Hence, as the Truth teaches (Luke x. 34), the man is brought by the care of the Samaritan half dead into the inn, and both wine and oil are applied to his wounds; the wine to make them smart, the oil to soothe them. For whosoever superintends the healing of wounds must needs administer in wine the smart of pain, and in oil the softness of loving-kindness, to the end that through wine what is festering may be purged, and through oil what is curable may be soothed.
Gentleness, then, is to be mingled with severity; a sort of compound is to be made of both; so that subjects be neither exasperated by too much asperity, nor relaxed by too great kindness.
José Maria Cantal Rivas is a Missionary of Africa working in Algeria. During a sabbatical year he took a qualification as a Life Coach and is putting it to good use among young people. It is not his task to preach with the immediate intention of ‘Christianising’ his students, but to be a witness to Christ’s empowering love among them. Fr José Maria sees his work as a form of inculturalisation – getting alongside the people he is sent to bring the Good News to. He tells about his experiences in the article from which this post is extracted; the link below is to the French language original. How can we be Christ for young people in our own community?
‘My “students” come to realise that very often it is they themselves who are the chief obstacles and brakes impeding their own happiness. They have mentally forbidden themselves the right to imagine that their daily life could be different.
‘Many people seem to think that happiness will arrive one day in the post, in just one delivery, and when the parcel is opened, they will find happiness, all “ready to wear”. Very few are aware that to be happy, like body building, needs time to be given up to it; needs perseverance and discipline, as well as clear priorities and passion. There’s no other way!
The course is given in French and Arabic. Wherever possible I try to use examples, videos, personalities, literature from their Arab-Muslim culture: firstly to avoid any suspicion of proselytism, but above all to confirm that what I propose is practicable and compatible with their culture.
A short presentation by the Algerian women’s Paralympic basketball team, even if the sound quality is poor, has more impact that an excellent video from a similar team from a northen country!
Africa in general is changing and it seems to me that it’s good to know how Africans themselves, with their rich culture, face up to changes such as the spectacular rise in the numbers of women at university and in the world of work; the influence of the internet, demographic changes, new forms of social organisation, spiritual longings divorced from religion, urbanisation and so on.’
While I was away from the L’Arche garden in Canterbury, a few other volunteers descended on the place and made preparations for when people could come back to work, socially distanced of course. I’ve been back for a few weeks now, largely working 1:1 with me and my shadow, but sometimes socially distanced with Mr N.
We found the tool rack when we got back; there’s another one behind it. Thank you Mr B. These will save us so much time, provided of course, that everyone uses them. The tools will be accessible and visible, no hunting and heaving, not knowing if we even have a particular tool.
So perhaps a little organisation in other areas of life this Lent? I’ll say no more as Mrs T will be muttering about ‘do as I say but not as I do.’
Sign outside the betting shop: STAY SAFE! KEEP YOUR DISTANCE! Sounds like excellent advise to me!
These last few weeks we may seem to have forgotten and foregone our response to the corona corvid viral pest, but we are still here and safe and healthy. This sighting was worth sharing. We hope you’ve had an excellent summer with plenty of free vitamin D from the sunshine. Happy Autumn; keep safe and keep praying!
Good morning and hope this finds you well, as we are here at the Rectory. One of the things I find difficult about this lockdown, is remembering what day it is! Those of you watching Morning Prayer know where I am coming from…is it Wednesday or Thursday, and then the reassuring sound of the rubbish Lorry (thank you keyworkers) alerted me to the fact that it’s Thursday – but what does differentiate our days?
Several people have mentioned that this rhythm of prayer (Morning Prayer & Compline), work (paid work or clearing cupboards/gardening), exercise, and rest is very monastic, and something that I have reflected on myself. Last night I caught up with a friend of mine, a sister in a closed convent, and we chatted on Zoom (yes is possible), and how this rhythm to our days was not that dissimilar to their way of life.
May years ago I was introduced to something called Rhythm of life, how each day one should have a quiet time, each week a quiet time (Sabbath), every month maybe a quiet day, every year maybe a retreat – and what this feels like at the moment is a global ‘retreat’, everything has been paused – a chance of reflection, of asking some of the bigger questions, of giving our planet that opportunity to breathe….of action and contemplation. That rhythm of alternating between meeting with God in the quiet place, and then the meeting of God in the busyness of the market place.
Rev Jo Richards, Rector, Benefice of St Dunstan, St Mildred and St Peter, Canterbury.
Should young boys, teenagers maybe, be encouraged to join religious communities? Before there was universal education, they might well have had to pick up the basics in their monastery before their higher studies. Here we read about one such brother in the community of Offida, another hilltop town.
It appears from this distance in time that some of the brothers had forgotten what it was to be young, and their grumbling had the predictable effect of driving the lad crazy. Until Brother Conrad came along and encouraged young man to be studious of all virtue. We must not force young people back into a corner whence they have to fight to get out, but let us try to maintain the ‘fervour of charity’, and help them to find another way.
And let’s admit that it can be a good thing to be disturbed out of our complacency.
Brother Conrad of Offida, having come on a time as a guest to the House of Offida, the brothers prayed him, for the love of God and of charity, to admonish a young brother that was in that place, the which bore himself in a manner so childish and unruly and ungovernable, that he disturbed both old and young of the community in the divine office, and for the other observances of the rule cared little or naught.
Wherefore Brother Conrad, in pity for the youth and at the prayers of the brothers, called the said brother aside and in fervour of charity spake unto him words of admonition so effective and devout, that by the working of the divine grace he suddenly changed in his behaviour from a boy to an old man, and became so obedient, and gentle, and careful, and devout, and thereafter so peaceful and serviceable, and so studious of all virtue, that, as at the and first all the community had been disturbed by him, so were they all content with him and comforted, and loved him exceeding well.
Elizabeth is still considering the creative process in this post.
“One should study the mechanical part of the art, as nearly all that there is to be studied—for the more one sits and thinks over the creative process, the more it confirms itself as ‘inspiration,’ nothing more nor less. Or, at worst, you write down old inspirations, what you remember of them … but with that it begins.
‘Reflection’ is exactly what it names itself—a re-presentation, in scattered rays from every angle of incidence, of what first of all became present in a great light, a whole one. So tell me how these lights are born, if you can!
But I can tell anybody how to make melodious verses—let him do it therefore—it should be exacted of all writers.”
One way to learn to write melodious verses I borrowed from Christina Rossetti and her brothers. It worked for teenage pupils, even if it did not produce much high art: the pupils are given sheets with blank lines split into syllables, with the last word alone given, thus:
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ cloud
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ hills
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ crowd
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ daffodils.
I don’t think I ever used that verse though! My point is that the discipline that EBB advocates enables the creative process to get under way; not necessarily smoothly, but surely. And that applies in other areas of life as well.
(from “The Letters of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Barrett, Vol. 1 (of 2) 1845-1846” by Robert Browning)
Now four years old, Abel was enchanted when he came to the miniature railway at Bettws-y-coed.* Since he was tiny, unable to walk or speak in words, his fascination with trains has been clear. He would lean in the direction of his local station when being pushed home in his pram, hoping to direct his mother thither.
Full sized trains go places and can be sorted by colour and shape, but they are formidably big. One day a train that grandfather cannot sit upright in turned out to be the right size for Abel. Most of the elements of a railway were in evidence: rails, steam and diesel locos, signals, points, level crossings and bells. Abel felt aggrieved when the signal was red as he passed it, but relaxed when he observed the next light change from green to red as the locomotive pulled the carriages by. I can remember my father explaining this very phenomenon to me on the approach to Birmingham New Street!
Abel was quite right to be concerned. Partly because he likes things to be correct, but also he is aware of the dangers of level crossings and other parts of the railway. His toy trains often crash and rescue services swiftly descend upon the scene.
Despite the inherent dangers, a well-run railway is safe; disciplined staff know their jobs and do them well, thoughtfully rather than mechanically.
A disciplined life is open to the grace that gets us through many dangers, toils and snares, and grace will lead us safely home. All Aboard!
We are looking at some of Maria Montessori’s ideas on The Child in the Family in the light of Mary and Joseph’s experience of parenting. Bearing in mind our own experience and observations, how do we feel about this statement? (p25).
Clearly it is useless to correct defects that the child will no longer have when he is an adult.
How did Mary react to the ‘misbehaviour’ of Jesus stopping to listen and talk with the wise men in the Temple? A gentle reproach, and she stored all these things in her heart. Let us pray for discernment in all our dealings with children and young people.