I wonder if some of you might have booked a holiday and are making plans. Well, that is exactly what I was doing a month ago as I planned my post-Easter break – and I was all set for a nice few days in Sidmouth. And then…
Through a series of amazing coincidences – connected conversations – and the huge generosity of spirit of dear friends I found myself planning – not what I was going to do in Sidmouth – but rather what I was going to do in Sedona, Arizona!! Yes – in a matter of days, I found myself – with out-of-date passport renewed within a week – nervously booking a return flight to begin a trip that couldn’t have been further from my mind to say the least!
Who could have known I had been thinking to myself ‘I really ought to get a little more adventurous with my time away but it is all so much effort….’
And who could have known that joining a lovely lady who had travelled to Arizona for some therapeutic treatment for an ongoing illness would not only bring her a little bit of support and encouragement – but would also nourish my own wellbeing in return. By responding to a series of signs through ‘coincidences’ and conversations, my simple holiday was turning into a pilgrimage – a holiday with attitude – with purpose – with meaning amidst the beautiful and backdrop of the most incredible red stone desert mountains – and of course, the majestic and awesome Grand
This really did seem like a heaven-sent adventure. We met some lovely people from local churches and were wonderfully surprised by little spiritual signs along the way – from the sighting of a huge cross suspended from the sky right over the place where we had just prayed – to lighter signs such as the visitation of a little Javalina pig on the very last day, something we had given up hope of seeing – blessings indeed. ☺
My experience showed me that whatever we think we know about ourselves and where we’re heading, when we take note and follow signs and try new things – no matter how confusing or strange or out of our comfort zone they might seem – then God is able to move us along his pathway that leads to a deeper sense of purpose and fulfilment and closer to his loving presence even in the challenges of life.
Signs and Flames of Pentecost
The beginning of this month – 9th June – is the Church festival of Pentecost. This is the time when the Holy Spirit – appearing as ‘a mighty rushing wind’ and ‘tongues as of fire’ rested upon the disciples who then were able to communicate the good news with the people of all languages who had gathered into Jerusalem. They in turn were baptised and followed Jesus – thus marking the beginnings of the early Christian Church – the birth-day of the Christian Church.
I imagine those early disciples were just as confused and scared as I was when things happened so quickly and surprisingly – but despite their confusion they too followed the signs…
Perhaps there are some signs in your own life that might be indicators of new horizons and new hopes and new adventures awaiting you. They might not be so obvious or elaborate as a trip to America, but very often the nougats of joy and hope in our everyday life come from the small, subtle signs – the appearance of a plant we once thought had died – the finding of a long-lost object of sentimental value – an uncanny and connected conversation.
When we recognise gifts of blessings – things to be thankful and grateful for, very often we are then able to bless others in some small way. This is the fruit of being part of a more connected, positive stream of life.
So here’s a challenge for us all – let’s give it a go, be bold and willing to step into the unknown – just like I did when two different people mentioned the same travelling destination to me in the space of half an hour – just as the disciples did when they upped and followed someone who was just so compellingly charismatic and appealing that they simply had to follow, despite not having a clue where it would lead them.
You never know, you too might receive so much more than you bargained for – perhaps a deeper sense of belonging and purpose in the rhythm of your life – a blessing that is priceless beyond measure in our unsettled and seemingly aimless times.
During this month of June, enjoy the longer and lighter days that herald the coming of the hazy days of summer to come, and I pray that the signposts along the way lead you to your own blessings of joy, adventure and self-discovery.
Blessings and love,
Read more clergy letters.