Reflections on the Couch 6 – “A Slow Week”
I have been delayed in putting thoughts to paper on the couch this week. For a number of reasons! All valid I hope.
We lost a beautiful member of our congregation last week, after a long battle with cancer. The funeral is Friday, but it is hard to say goodbye to people who have been in your life a long time, and made a significant contribution to it. So it makes for a slow week.
I also started a part time locum chaplaincy role at Royal Perth Hospital. Which was like coming home in some ways, as I have spent almost all my adult life working there, not as a chaplain mind you, but as a clinical researcher. But this is a new and different role.
So change has been on my mind, how do we face change, which we are all having to do at the moment, with Covid-19. How do we incorporate it and move forward, knowing that our life may not return to what it was but be something else. For change can be difficult, frightening, challenging, and heart breaking, particularly if we weren’t looking for it.
But sometimes we need it. And hopefully we will be different, maybe more open and wiser, after it.
Funnily enough, each day at hospital the Pastoral Care Department starts with someone taking reflections, and the person yesterday used Michael Leunig’s prayer about change, rather apt really. Here it is –
God help us to change.
To change ourselves and to change our world.
To know the need for it. To deal with the pain of it.
To feel the joy of it.
To undertake the journey without understanding the destination.
The art of gentle revolution.
Leunig gives a definition of God before he gives us the prayers, which I will also put here, in case you think I have reverted to praying to an external deity.
“I use the word ‘God’ conscious of the fact that there are many who may find it objectionable – and others who may find my casual use of the word too irreverent or shallow. For all sorts of reasons people can be very touchy about this word; in my view they seem either too earnest, too proprietorial, too fanatical, too averse, too phobic… There is however no ultimate authority or definition. The word is yours or mine to make of it and hold or discard it as we will…”God” as a sort of shorthand password, an inconclusive folk word, a signpost, a catalyst, a spark, a stepping stone, a simple makeshift handle … A simple robust word used lightly and loosely or as devoutly and deeply as we might feel – a bridge, and a way to break free from this material world for a moment or two, a day or two… or for what’s left of a lifetime.”
So change is difficult, and often is foisted apon us, when all we want is for things to stay the same. But change is also necessary, for without change there can’t be any growth. Sometimes staying the same is the easy option, but growing, exploring, venturing inside of ourselves, venturing outside of ourselves, helps us to be all that we can be in this world.
There’s another prayer by Leunig which I have always loved –
We pray for another way of being:
another way of knowing.
Across the difficult terrain of our existence
we have attempted to build a highway
and in so doing have lost our footpath.
God lead us to our footpath:
Lead us there where in simplicity
we may move at the speed of natural creatures
and feel the earth’s love beneath our feet.
Lead us there where step-by-step we may feel
the movement of creation in our hearts.
And lead us there where side-by-side
we may feel the embrace of the common soul.
Nothing can be loved at speed.
God lead us to the slow path; to the joyous insights
of the pilgrim; another way of knowing: another way of being.
Change may only come if we see the necessity for it. And if we don’t take time, that insight will never come.
So it’s okay to have a slow week!
Just a thought.