prodigalmomma











{July 26, 2012}   Summer is here…

Guard your thoughts and words.

It’s hot, finally the rain has been ‘shooooed’ away and we have some sunny weather.

School term is finished and I’m cracking on trying to get an assignment towards my Education MA done.  If I pass I’ll hopefully be moving on to dissertation next academic year.  I’m about halfway through the 6,000 word slog – and today actually feel like I’ve made some progress.  I love doing the reading, and trying out new things in my practice in the classroom, generally seeing how I can engage these children better and encourage them to explore this world around us… but it’s rather heavy going to pull all the thoughts, notes and highlighted ideas together and turn it into some sort of coherent piece of writing.  Blogging is a safer space for me, my writing style tends to be a conversational one – great in emails, letters, postcards, blogs… just about EVERYTHING other than academic writing (which is what I’ve set before me as my personal task).  I can meander through topics that grab my attention in a blog, muse over them and spit out my thoughts in any fashion – although I do try to see that they make some sense (dear reader).

So it’s hot, I’ve been plodding my way through piecing together this assignment and then I go to pick up DD from nursery.  Her sunhat went missing (although named) at nursery and still hasn’t been found… now I somewhat object to providing things (as we are asked to do), naming them (which so many parents seem not to… why is it the children who habitually lose stuff whose parents don’t name things???) and then they go missing.  Well I was hot, and a bit anxious (DD has had bad virus thing and is still rather snuffly) and I had a rant at the nursery worker…

I got home and realised it was so not the appropriate thing to do; a) not a good example of how to treat others before DD and her friends, b) it wasn’t an uplifting kind thing to say and c) ranting wasn’t going to make the sunhat magically reappear… so I went to bed that night feeling rather ‘heavy’ and vowed to myself to apologise.

I find saying sorry hard, anyone in my family would attest to this fact – in my head (however ridiculous this may sound) it feels like backing in or giving up.  But I did it, I picked up DD today (who’d had a wonderful day having water fights – lucky thing!) and immediately found the worker and apologised… do you know what – it felt good.  It felt good to accept that I’d done something silly, I’d recognised that fact and I’d considered the effect it may have had on another…

This may seem like “Apology 101” class – but for me this is a big step!

I’m suddenly reminded of that bit from the end of “Mean Girls” Look from 7.14 of this video – essentially she’s talking about how putting someone else down doesn’t raise you up, making another person feel bad doesn’t make you feel good and acting in that way doesn’t help you in the situation.

In this heat particularly, it can be easy to let tempers fray, words get said which are thoughtless… so think about them all a bit harder… think about encouraging someone, complimenting them or simply being someone to listen.

Can you be like balm for someone in this heat?

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways!
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.
In simple trust like theirs who heard
Beside the Syrian sea
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word
Rise up and follow Thee.
O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee
The silence of eternity
Interpreted by love!
With that deep hush subduing all
Our words and works that drown
The tender whisper of Thy call,
As noiseless let Thy blessing fall
As fell Thy manna down.
Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess

The beauty of Thy peace.

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{October 30, 2011}   Moving on (1st look at apologies)

The beautifully illustrated and written book “Zen Shorts” by Jon J Muth features a story about carrying a burden…

Two traveling monks reached a town where there was a young woman waiting to step out of her sedan chair. The rains had made deep puddles and she couldn’t step across without spoiling her silken robes. She stood there, looking very cross and impatient. She was scolding her attendants. They had nowhere to place the packages they held for her, so they couldn’t help her across the puddle.

The younger monk noticed the woman, said nothing, and walked by. The older monk quickly picked her up and put her on his back, transported her across the water, and put her down on the other side. She didn’t thank the older monk, she just shoved him out of the way and departed.

As they continued on their way, the young monk was brooding and preoccupied. After several hours, unable to hold his silence, he spoke out. “That woman back there was very selfish and rude, but you picked her up on your back and carried her! Then she didn’t even thank you!”

“I set the woman down hours ago,” the older monk replied. “Why are you still carrying her?”

Although zen readings are (I believe) linked to Buddhist beliefs, nevertheless I feel that other spiritual writing can be of interest in any spiritually aware life – irregardless of the personal beliefs you hold.

I think we can find biblical parallels with this story of setting down a load permanently; first I think of the story of the adulterous woman (John 8v1-11).  Things I notice about this bit

  • Lots of people were ready to accuse & condemn this woman

Jesus had been at the Mount of Olives but he returned to teach in the Temple and “Swarms of people came to him”.  Can you imagine this bustling busy 1st century temple, how busy it would have been?  Jewish law maintained that regular sacrifices had to be made in the temple, sometimes on a daily basis so there was no way this would have been a quite contemplative place.  So, in full view of everyone the religious leaders pull in this accused woman, announcing her misdeeds.

  • Jesus was wholly righteous, he could have condemned this woman…

…but he didn’t!  He asked if someone, anyone, could come forward and say “I’ve not messed up at all”, he invited the person who could say that to condemn this woman.  The only one who could, in good faith, accuse and condemned the adulterous woman (whom the religious leaders claim was caught red-handed) was Jesus.

  • The only one who can accuse and condemn us is Jesus…

…but he doesn’t!  Now I’ve spent a decent percentage of my young adult life effectively feeling fairly guilty for some of the poor choices I’ve made, and the paths I’ve walked down so this one is a bitter pill for me to swallow.  I want to argue back at it, ‘but Lord, Father, you can’t mean me!  But what about…’  I can see him saying ‘yeah, I know about that… and that…but it is finished’  There’s something me that sometimes still wants to argue … but as I try to get deeper wrestling with God’s word I’m trying to more and more let the truth of tetelestai sink in.

  • We are forgiven, but we need to stop doing what we did before.

It’s been said before, but repentance, saying sorry to God means a complete turning around.  Now, moment of personal honesty here, I’m an ex-smoker… ex for just under a month and I’ve tried quitting before so I’m not hanging up any banners about it just yet.  But, it was as if smoking was the thing from my ‘old life’ I was keeping back for me.  As if I was saying ‘okay God, I’ll go more regularly to Church because I like the worship and it’s good for my daughter, I’ll stop the children in my class saying omg [this is still a work in progress] and I’ll live my life for you… but I’ll do it with a cigarette in my hand.’

That’s not really how repentance, and being a ‘prodigal’ works now is it?

Saying sorry means the actions as well as the words; I try to impress this on children whom I teach.  Saying sorry for talking over the teacher means very little if they continue to do so.  Likewise, apologising to another child for not letting them join in the game whilst continuing to ignore them in the playground does not work.  I try to do this with my own daughter, who knows the word ‘sorry’ and usually knows when it’s appropriate to say it (and can be quicker to apologise than her own mummy!) but this doesn’t always mean the behaviour she apologises for stops (she’s only 4 so she’s learning all this).

As I try to educate children, my own and those I am responsible for I need to remember in my own life that apology without actions is just paying lip service to social conventions… and that’s the kind of ‘ritual’ I think really sticks in the divine throat… he looks at the heart and wants meaning.

1 Samuel 16:7
But God told Samuel, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.”



et cetera