GATHERINGS OF PEOPLE

August 21, 2019 by

In recent weeks different members of our community have attended various gatherings of people. Four of us took part in the womens’ competitions to celebrate Indonesian Independence Day. We had great fun. To our huge surprise we won the cooking competition with our ‘Crispy Lotus Banana’. The ‘Tug of War’ was a different story, we came last, we were pulled across the line like a bag of feathers! On 11th August, a group of us celebrated the Feast of St Clare with our Basic Ecclesial Community. It was a delight to see the children and young people dancing and singing. Different groups of us attended Independence Day celebrations in our villages on 16th and 17th August, respectively. This was a wonderful celebration of interfaith neighbourliness. Our neighbours were delighted that we came to join in the prayer and celebration. On Sunday 18th August, five of us made the journey to East Java for the wedding of one of our former students. It was deeply touching to be present at a traditional village wedding. How lovely to be part of such a joy-filled ceremony.

LIFE IS PRECIOUS AND FRAGILE

July 14, 2019 by

A few days ago we attended the funeral of a man who died in his early fifties. His death was sudden and totally unexpected given that he showed no signs of illness. Despite the sadness of the occasion there was also a note of celebration as people marked his kindness and generosity. His was a life lived well and lived for others. Some weeks ago we were present at a memorial Mass for a girl who died at thirteen. Her courage and optimism were an example to many. She had managed to touch many people in the course of her short life. How often are we reminded that life is beautiful and precious. We need to live it to the full.

FRIDAY NIGHT GAMES

July 5, 2019 by

There is nothing nicer on a Friday night than enjoying time together in community. This evening, for example, five of us are playing a game of Rummikub. It is pure fun, simply enjoying time together. Companionship takes many forms and laughing together while playing a game is certainly one of them. Hoping you enjoy some form of frienship/companionship today.

PRAYING WITH OUR NEIGHBOURS FOR IDUL FITRI

June 19, 2019 by

Last Saturday we joined with the members of our village in a special prayer and celebration in honour of Idul Fitri, the feast day that marked the end of Ramadan. The main road into the village was blocked off. Mats covered the floor turning it into a vast prayer space. The prayer was opened with beautiful singing, this was led by a group of women. A young man then read from the Quran before a preacher gave a sermon. The sermon was mostly in Javanese, however, I understood the main themes contained in it: greet one another; be generous when you give alms; pray well and make peace. The prayer ended with a blessing and we greeted each other before returning home. It was a graced privilege to be invited to take part in this prayer.

CELEBRATING WITH OUR NEIGHBOURS AT IDUL FITRI

June 7, 2019 by

These days are really special ones in our village as everyone is celebrating Idul Fitri, the feast that marks the end of Ramadan. Over the weekend we delivered over fifty parcels of food to local families. Wednesday marked the first day of Idul Fitri and that was the day on which we visited our neighbours to wish them a happy feast. It was deeply touching to be welcomed so graciously into people’s home. In keeping with the custom here we wished everyone a happy Idul Fitri and apologised for any hurt we may have caused during the year. We then spent time talking and eating together. It was a day to grow in peace and good will. What a lovely way to give praise to God.

Divine Synchronicity

June 5, 2019 by

Having just written the previous post about loneliness and isolation, I left my desk and went to a meeting with a group of our FCJ Sixth form students. They wanted to talk about volunteering.

The area they highlighted as a need that they felt they wanted to respond to was loneliness and isolation among elderly people.

God does that.

 

Isolation and fearfulness

June 4, 2019 by

Yesterday a couple of us spent some time calling round to neighbours on our street who we haven’t ever met. It was quite a challenge to just knock on people’s doors and say hello – it isn’t really usual to do it and so we weren’t sure what sort of a reception we would get.

On the whole the people we met were friendly, if a little surprised, but there was certainly a sense of wariness too, and clearly many people didn’t know others on the street.

One of the difficulties where we live is that not everyone is confident to chat in English, and so people avoid speaking to each other for fear of being misunderstood. Not talking and avoiding each other leads to isolation, and isolation feeds suspicion and fearfulness.

We simply invited people round for a cup of tea – it was a lovely and simple way of reaching out and getting people together!

May is the month of …

May 23, 2019 by

spring-bird-2295434_1280Last week on the motorway I was driving behind a van which was advertising something. (Actually I have no idea what!!!!) The advertising slogan they had used (and note this was in one of the most Catholic parts of the country) was ‘May is the month of…’ I think the final word might have been ‘money’!

All I can say is that the advertising backfired! The only way I could imagine finishing that sentence was MARY – ‘May is the month of Mary’!

What does that mean for us today? May is certainly a month of beauty in northern Europe – a spring month with long days, blossom and blue skies. A month of change and promise…

As a child I remember crowning a statue of Mary with a crown of blossoms – and in some of our schools the tradition has persisted.

The beauty of may flowers is simple, uncomplicated beauty. The blossoms, seeming fragile can withstand strong winds and storms, they are a lifeline to the emerging insects and so in turn for the nesting birds.

Mary, Kersal Hill FCJ

Perhaps this speaks to us too of Mary – a gentle presence in our life of faith, a beautiful, simple hand on our shoulder, guiding us towards her Son. A strong, nurturing presence – a refuge in the storms.

A traditional FCJ blessing prays:

May Mary,

Mother of God Counsel,

counsel and protect you.

 

Simple Beauty

May 13, 2019 by

 

garden

Two very different people have taught me about simple beauty today.

The first, a homeless woman who calls periodically to say hello, reminded me of the power of the smallest gesture of welcome and acceptance. I know she went out of her way to call by our house. She didn’t want or ask for anything… just wanted to say hello.

The second, a gardener who saw me picking flowers and pointed out the beauty in weeds – he commented that many people overlook these, but they have their own beauty!

A MILLION SPECIES UNDER THREAT OF EXTINCTION

May 11, 2019 by

It is hard to envision the million species of life forms currently threatened by extinction. However, the reality facing us is, sadly, too real to be ignored. Imagine so much beauty and diversity lost to us and that’s before trying to comprehend the damage done to the delicate web of life that sustains all existence. Even though experts are not able to establish exactly how many species exist it seems there are about nine million in total. I was thinking of this in relation to the Biblical notion of giving a tenth of everything to God. It seems that we humans have reversed that idea by the way we live. We take too much without giving back enough for nature to sustain itself. Let’s hope and pray that this is a warning and a wake up call. Let’s hope we all hear the clear message: “It’s time to change the way we live. It’s time to take less and give more…” There’s still hope. There’s still time. Let’s hear the call to transform ourselves and do all we can to heal our world.