I have spent a great deal of time thinking about the ways in which difference is held together in Japan, and the Japanese understanding of beauty and stillness. I have been struck by the number of people from other lands who have made Japan their home for so many years, as well as reflecting on my own story, and why I returned to Britain after living here for four years. There is a mix of ancient and modern, secular and sacred, stillness and disturbance, each held in such close proximity.
There can be invitation alongside hostility…
…it can feel like two parallel universes; equally as a foreigner here, all that I have known can feel like it is from a parallel universe, one that is presently inaccessible.
Rituals and respectfulness can demonstrate the beauty of the soul.
Often blue sky and sunshine can elevate the soul.
Equally, without warning, unfortunate events unfold; those that you would much rather leave behind or not have to receive, like ‘bad fortunes’ that can be left in the safety of the shrine rather than accompanying you home.
Then there are customs which bring you to your knees, like these prayers for children – especially those who did not have very long with us – given hats and bibs to keep them warm, as well as windmills to offer relief from the sun.
It seems that there is nowhere quite like this wonderful place of contradictions amidst harmony – where space or stillness is sought after within a busyness that I may never truly understand….
This week I had the great pleasure of a quiet day to contemplate the last month of ministry and refocus for the month ahead. I read an excellent book called Spirituality and Photography. I was struck by two things.
Firstly that we are to be catchers of the light – to bring attention to the divine light of God in the darkness of our world.
Secondly we need to see rather than just look. Ritcher describes the difference as knowing what you are looking for but being more open to possiblies when you are seeing. The way the light falls in this leaf seems to be to be an allusion of the pain endured during the crucifixion to me – I was only able to see this when I was open to the possibilities.
The photographer’s obsession with light is similar to my passion to bring light into the darkest places as a deacon…
…to bring hope to people in their darkest hours.
That light might take a variety of forms…
…like taking time to fully see someone…
…or to be with them as the sun sets, reassuring them that it will rise again!
Be catchers of light this week!
#652 There in the garden of the soul rests a rose bush, with a rose about to bloom. The rose represents the self, with an aspiration to be beautiful and bright in the eyes of the divine gardener. The gardener tends and nurtures the little rose, softly speaking words of encouragement…does it hear, will it continue to grow? Will it be vivid and bloom brightly, or are there other influences on the little roses which may threaten future and potential? Can these be overcome…?
#429 I’ve been reading about #saintteresaofavila on #mysticaltheology this week. In seeking to put into words the experience of the #soul which has met its Creator, she compares it to a #butterfly: “Oh, to see the restlessness of this charming little butterfly, although never in its life has it been more tranquil and at peace! May God be praised! It knows not where to stay nor take its rest; everything on earth disgusts it after what it has experienced, particularly when God has often given it this wine which leaves fresh graces behind it at every draught.”