Tag Archives: friendship

24 May: Going viral CVI: A pilgrim feeling very, very exposed.

These pilgrims are somewhat exposed. The woman in the middle at least has long sleeves against the nettles and brambles; the lads behind? Well, they lived to tell the tale. If it’s not nettles or brambles, it will be neck pain or blisters or soakings or sunburn. But pilgrimage can also lead us to friendship, hospitality, service; the discovery of who we are and where we are – eventually – hoping to be.

There seems to be a growing interest in pilgrimage these days, perhaps enhanced by the experience of confinement under covid regulations. Let’s get out of here! i’ll come to Mrs Turnstone’s and my visit to Bury Saint Edmund’s in another post. Here we share a reflection by the designer and tv presenter, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, one of a group of ‘celebrities’ who travelled across Ireland and the Irish Sea as pilgrims to Iona, for the BBC, and following journey of Saint Columba.

He tells Peter Stanford, “I am of a generation that has been war-free, plague-free, difficulty-free for most of our privileged lives, and suddenly here we are facing a plague [Covid], nuclear war [Ukraine] and gas prices going through the roof. We are literally touching cloth for the first time and we are feeling very, very exposed. We have nothing to believe in and yet we have to make some decisions quite quickly because we are running out of time.” (The well-tailored pilgrim, in The Tablet, 6 April, 2022).

Privileged we have been, but this blog does not accept that we have nothing to believe in.

The well-tailored pilgrim

by Peter Stanford

Pilgrimage: The Road to the Scottish Isles is available on BBC iPlayer for ten months.

https://wordpress.com/post/agnellusmirror.wordpress.com/30684 johnson

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Filed under Christian Unity, Daily Reflections, Easter, Mission, Pentecost, PLaces, Reviews

Good Friday gifts

The solemnity of today will be overwhelmed by the joy of Easter, but there were tokens of the coming feast for those with eyes to see.

Before the sun was properly up I was looking into the back garden. What was that hunched figure inspecting the flowerpots? A hedgehog woken from hibernation and going about its business, ridding us of a few pests. That was enough to mark the day.

After the prayerful L’Arche Good Friday service some of us found our way to the Glebe garden, where a shrine had been built of willow wands. If this was intended to be a place of quiet reflection it soon became a meeting place for people who had barely seen each other during covid; another hint of the resurrection to come.

Flitting across the garden was a brimstone butterfly, a caterpillar died but transformed into a creature of beauty no less wondrous for being totally expected.

Then to my task of adorning the church porch. The Easter garden needed the finishing touches, Mary’s jar of ointment and the grave cloths hidden behind the door (a scallop shell to be rolled to one side). What concerned me was the Easter lilies. We had some in flower the last two years, but it had been touch and go this time. Since today was warm, the first flowers were unfurling to be bright and white on Easter Day.

In the evening down to the Cathedral to hear Faure’s Requiem, with its upbeat finish: May the Angels welcome you to Paradise, may the martyrs meet you and lead you to the Holy City of Jerusalem.

Walking home from the Cathedral in the glowing dusk, under the Easter full moon, three blackbirds, singing their hearts out, serenading the new life hatched in their nests. They will be busy tomorrow, as no doubt will I, but by these tokens and by other sure evidence I know that my redeemer liveth.

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Filed under corona virus, Easter, Interruptions, L'Arche, Lent, PLaces, Spring

6 April: Little things make a big difference.

We were thinking on exiles yesterday, and again so today. Thanks to the London Irish Chaplaincy for the following reflection. Note that the team do not take it for granted that a cup of tea is all that’s needed. They do their research and act on it, including tried and tested activities alongside innovations. See, Judge, Act, as my father used to say from his YCW days. Consciousness again!

Let us, in other words, be there for our neighbours, and let them be there for us. A widowed lady that I know, another exile, always likes to make a cup of tea when I do a few little jobs for her. She is then able to do a sharing, Christian deed, more important than having her roses pruned.

Although the term ‘innovation’ seems to be the buzzword, we’ve found that most of the time it’s the little things that make a big difference. For example, simply talking to someone, holding a Travellers’ forum in a prison to offer someone a voice, or writing a letter to a prisoner are the most effective ways to lift their spirit. We know people’s needs change over time and we’ve carried out plenty of research to be sure we’re offering the most helpful services. But the message is clear, that in most cases simply being a kind friend is powerful enough to change someone’s life. For us, these simple actions have stood the test of time.

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Filed under Daily Reflections, Justice and Peace, Lent, Mission

4 April, My vocation today XVI: Friendship and wisdom.

The eighteenth century poet Edward Young seems to have been a poor sleeper! Did he lie awake in the dark, composing and memorising his verses to write them out in the morning, or keep a lit candle at his bedside, or fumble with flint and tinder box to strike a light? It’s clear that he did not trust solitary philosophising, but counted on discussion with friends to arrive at truth.

And if you raise an eyebrow at calling this post ‘my vocation today’, go back and read about the humble generosity of books. Writers’ vocation can live on after death, awaiting a new companion when a book is opened. Let’s read what Edward Young has to say to us about flesh and blood friendship and its challenges to see through another’s eyes. Lorenzo is an imaginary friend.

How often we talk’d down the summer’s sun,  
And cool’d our passions by the breezy stream! 
How often thaw’d and shorten’d winter’s eve, 
By conflict kind, that struck out latent truth, 
Best found, so sought; to the recluse more coy! 
Thoughts disentangle passing o’er the lip; 
Clean runs the thread; if not, ’tis thrown away, 
Or kept to tie up nonsense for a song.

Know’st thou, Lorenzo! what a friend contains? 
As bees mix’d nectar draw from fragrant flowers, 
So men from friendship, wisdom and delight; 
Twins tied by Nature, if they part, they die. 
Hast thou no friend to set thy mind abroach? 
Good sense will stagnate. Thoughts shut up, want air, 
And spoil, like bales unopen’d to the sun. 
Had thought been all, sweet speech had been denied; 
Speech, thought’s canal! speech, thought’s criterion too! 
Thought in the mine, may come forth gold, or dross; 
When coin’d in words, we know its real worth."
 
From " Night Thoughts" by Edward Young.

The other day I called on a friend who had a few worries on her plate, ‘thoughts shut up’ began to ‘disentangle passing o’er the lip’. We draw wisdom and delight from friendship because of the trust between us, the safe space we can offer each other, the chance to reflect on a bigger picture of whatever is worrying us.

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Filed under Daily Reflections, Lent, poetry

8 March: Being Different Together

Being Different Together

We continue on our way through Lent. This post is an invitation to transcend false perceptions and be more conscious of the gifts and needs of people with a learning disability, through the eyes and heart of L’Arche. This link will lead you to the page about the impact of the last couple of years on our communities, with more pictures and videos of how L’Arche is trying to help. You will also find tabs leading to more about the people who make L’Arche.

Around 1.5 million people in the United Kingdom are thought to have a learning disability. Of these, 147,920 are accessing long-term support.

Many people with a learning disability experience multiple forms of inequality and discrimination throughout their lives: only 6% of adults with learning disability in England are in paid work; people with learning disability are seven times more likely to including chronic loneliness; the difference in median age of death between people with a learning disability and the general population is 23 years for men and 27 years for women.

What L’Arche is doing to help

The source of discrimination lies in the false perception that people with learning disabilities are unable to make positive contributions to the world around them. L’Arche challenges this by creating Communities where people with and without learning disabilities share their lives, from which we work together for a more human society.

L’Arche Communities are rooted in the simple activities of daily life: preparing a meal or making a handicraft together, going for a walk, sharing a cup of tea, celebrating a birthday. Every day, we grow extraordinary friendships through ordinary activities.

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Filed under corona virus, Daily Reflections, L'Arche, Lent, Mission

22 February: Night thoughts of joy among friends.

With all these apricots, do we let most of them rot? Do we make ourselves sick? Do we share? Whatever gifts we receive they are heaven-planted and not designed for monopolising, keeping for one’s own use. Our God-given nature denies an undivided joy; we are social beings. We need our friends to find out who we are and to enjoy being ourselves.
Nature, in zeal for human amity, 
Denies, or damps, an undivided joy. 
Joy is an import; joy is an exchange; 
Joy flies monopolists: it calls for two; 
Rich fruit! heaven-planted! never pluck’d by one. 
Needful auxiliars are our friends, to give  
To social man true relish of himself.

From Edward Young's Night Thoughts.

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Filed under Daily Reflections, poetry

14 February: The place that I’m at home in: this is my vocation XII.

Since I met my wife when we were independently visiting L’Arche, I am happy to post this video on Valentine’s Day. We have much to be grateful for; not just each other but also the friends we have made through the community.

The speakers in this little film are assistants, community members without a learning disability, all of them in the community long-term. If you would like to learn more about life in L’Arche, the website address is at the end of the video: http://www.larche.org.uk. Get in touch! Come and see!

Will T

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Filed under Daily Reflections, Justice and Peace, L'Arche, Mission

1 February, Going viral XCIX: Trying to be as careful as possible. 

Masked plague doctor, St George’s subway, Canterbury.

Careful or care-full? We share this thought provoking story from Plough magazine.

When Masking and Vaxxing Threaten a Friendship

It was she, member of the resistance against both masks and vaccines, who showed me, the vaccinated mask-wearer, how we bridge the rift.

By Jamie Santa Cruz

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Filed under Daily Reflections, Justice and Peace, Mission, PLaces

26 January – the year is under way again!

My friend Thomas sent an email to say, ‘We are not failures’ if our New Year Resolutions have not borne the fruit we’d hoped for. So be good to yourself: ‘if only for a moment, let yourself be at home with yourself’.’

One place I am at home with myself is the kitchen. The school Thomas and I attended expected us to master basic cooking, but many of the lads can do better than basic. My January therapeutic special activity is making marmalade. Not much foraging to this one but come Autumn we can make October marmalade using citrus peel, sugar and windfall or crab apples to supply the pectin that helps the preserve to set.

In January the set depends on long boiling and added pectin, using most of the stored jars from under the stairs. That’s our label up above. Friends and relations look out!

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Filed under Autumn, Daily Reflections, PLaces, winter

26 December: Happy Families

Here is Saint Francis, witnessing the life of the Holy Family by CD

Did it make you squirm when well-meaning priests or other adults urged us as children to be ‘like the Holy Family’. If we were, it was never for long – rarely if ever were we free from petty jealousies or quarrels, despite my father’s holding to the motto, ‘the family that prays together, stays together’, which is not totally untrue in our case, decades past childhood. Perhaps we have been blessed, guided and defended more than we generally acknowledge.

A silent ‘thank you’ for that grace on this, the feast of the Holy Family, which is usurping Saint Stephen’s day.

Following the death of his close friend Mr Thrale, Doctor Johnson realised that he would be seeing much less of the Thrale family. He composed this prayer on the last occasion that he stopped over at the house they were putting on the market, where he had spent many happy days.

To thy fatherly protection, O Lord, 
I commend this family. 
Bless, guide, and defend them, 
that they may so pass through this world, 
as finally to enjoy in thy presence 
everlasting happiness, 
for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen

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Filed under Advent and Christmas, Daily Reflections