Grabbing hold of God

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In October 2008 I went on a silent retreat to Holy Island off the Northumbrian coast. This was something of a watershed experience for me. It caused me to think deeply about my faith and subsequently set off to explore new pathways before rejoining a more familiar one, but in a more committed way. It was a significant and memorable five days. Even the contrary UK weather was kind and the island  lit with Autumn sunshine as we enjoyed the beautiful views and the open spaces where you could walk, explore, meditate and pray to the sound of seals just off the coast and sea birds wheeling in the sky above.  Holy Island is a thin place which is a Celtic term for somewhere the boundary line between heaven and earth becomes gossamer thin. I am told another example of this is at Ffald-y-Brenin in Wales where I have yet to visit.

 I am gradually learning to be more aware of those moments  when that instant of connection to the Spirit happens and suddenly feelings of negativity or insecurity are overcome and we can become   “sure of the things we hope for, … certain of the things we cannot see..”   (Hebrews 11:1 GNB) There are times when even in very difficult circumstances when things seem bleak, that we can receive a touch from God which pauses the pain we are in.

We don’t have to be in a special place but anywhere at all for a glimpse of heaven to break through. Just last week after a busy and quite draining day at work, feeling tired and in need of a spiritual uplift, I attended an Aglow meeting after being given a flyer from a lady at Church. The speaker was Maureen Sims, a lady whose story of moral and spiritual transformation through Jesus was astounding and very inspiring. My first impressions were of a little, ordinary lady with rough edges, but as she spoke, the work of the Spirit in her shone like a jewel and I was hanging on her every word, totally energised and encouraged by God. Afterwards I asked her to pray for me which she kindly did. 

So I am looking out for more opportunities to grab hold of God and to take the time to let these instances nourish me and hopefully encourage others through me. Somehow I think as I am more able to recognise them, so I am more likely to come upon them!

 

 

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Wide open spaces …

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The beach at Rye Harbour, East Sussex

Just looking at holiday pictures can transport me back there, which is just as well as nothing booked now for the foreseeable future! We have been away twice this summer, to deepest Somerset in June and last week to Sussex, staying in quaint little Rye Harbour. 

I love the coast, there is something about the landscape, the constant tides which is exciting and it represents renewal and hope, to me. Being away from the norm helps restore perspective too. For the past couple of years we have been staying at holiday parks, somewhere I used to go frequently in my 20’s taking a group of disabled children. We have found them to be ideal for a hassle-free, inexpensive and (very important!) dog friendly holiday, and most are located in beautiful coastal areas.

Doniford Bay in Somerset was a gently pretty location, rolling hills and a fossil beach which kept husband occupied.

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The holiday park (Haven) was truly 5* and beautifully landscaped and looked after. Our caravan was located among trees with a nice hilly view and was not overlooked. Very cosy inside and everything we needed. Can truly relax in a caravan, whether it’s the fact everything is small scale or simply novelty factor, I find myself very chilled. Nearby Watchet was great for trips out to eat and browse the antique and gift shops. However I did have a need that was unable to be resolved there: knickers … or lack of .. I had only ONE pair (and was wearing those, washed nightly naturally!) Forgot to pack any! Well one morning we noticed a car boot sale on at a nearby farm and decided to walk there the three of us, for a look. First stall I approached they were selling packs of ladies pants 3 pairs for the huge sum of £2. Excellent! it just shows you can get anything anywhere. They are quite pretty too. The little lady stall holder engaged me in an intriguing conversation regarding her landlord, who apparently would not let her sit in the  garden as she ‘lowered the tone’!! We had a great cuppa and piece of cake with the farmer and family afterwards, very broad Somerset accents, very friendly and hospitable.

Rye Harbour was booked last minute and was an internet deal. This time, Park holidays ~ not the standard of Haven but very clean and a wonderful location on the edge of a nature reserve leading to the sea. We met countless people with dogs (as we did at Doniford) and had some lovely chats. Rye is a picturesque little town with lots of small attractive shops. We spotted one which consisted entirely of dog’s clothing,  jeweled collars etc … This only appeared to be for tiny dogs (the rat-on-a-string variety –  apologies to   Chihuahua owners) making my collie Alice ‘outsize’ bless her, but she may have managed a bling collar! however, on second thoughts Alice has taste!

Hastings was very typically ‘English seasidey,’ again lots of small shops, a few New Age, plus some interesting antique places. I preferred Rye though. We enjoyed watching the fishing boats and Yachts coming into the harbour and had a delicious cream tea in a little gallery/tea room where we sat in the conservatory with Alice.

Cream Tea Avocet cafe

Holidays also mean I can catch up on my reading to some extent, without interruptions and I always appreciate this. So that’s a little overview of our hols, the main benefit of which was the natural world and all its lovely features, which truly uplift me and feed my soul.