ontological expression

I have just been writing my bits for the January newsletter (we have a compassionate editor, who let me delay after Christmas).    The newsletter is a new-ish thing in the life of the congregation, and we are just at the point of shifting from ‘new and bright’ to ‘established pattern’.  So it is that I begin to recognize how even a newsletter reflects the biases of the priest and editor.

The editor and I had conversations early on about what a rector’s letter was for, and she offered me the good advice that it needed to be shorter and simpler than I might wish to make it.  The trade off was that we put in place a monthly column called ‘Growing Together’.  This is a catch all space for news that needs to be shared (decisions made at the liturgy day, for example) and things that we might fruitfully think about together.  But as I wrote for it again today, I realise I’ve turned it into yet another ‘teaching’ slot.

It is inevitable I suppose.  ‘Once a teacher always a teacher’ is a phrase that lacks humour only because it is about as surprising as ‘water is wet’.

But I do prove the adage rather more often than most.

So, this month’s rector’s letter has small suggestions for preparing for the winter session on deepening in prayer.  And the Growing Together column has a full blown invitation to written work on core theological concepts, as well as a quick explanation of the free writing method.

It’s crazy, I know.  But the thing is, it seems to work.  I can’t tell you how often someone comes back to me weeks or months after some throw away suggestion I’ve made to the congregation to tell me how much they got out of it (or enjoyed it, or what it led to…).  I’m sure some of the congregation groan and think ‘not another piece of homework’, but they are free to ignore the suggestions and carry on with their day.

This business of offering tiny suggestions for things to do, things to try, things to think about seems to be working for a lot of people.  And it is as easy as could be to offer.

So, the question for you, dear reader, is this:  what are the best ‘little suggestions’ you’ve been given?  Small bits of teaching, method, stimulus that have lead to something meaningful.

I have a blog domain sitting dormant right now.  I wonder if it is time for a new ‘church homework’ blog and weekly posts, with a space for talking about what happened when we tried. ‘Hermione’s Heaven’, perhaps?  It’s madness, isn’t it?  But the thing is, madness is no bar to things happening in the Piskie church…

11 thoughts on “ontological expression”

  1. I like the idea of a thought-blog! I know this is probably because I’m in front of my computer so often in the day, but there’s something about the flexibility combined with accountability that makes blogging such a powerful development tool.

  2. It would be very good for me situated as I am.

    The best thing you suggested to a church was the picture prayer map which was just what I needed as a help and, let us be honest, a distraction at that moment.

    The best prayer advice? Honestly? Right from te horses mouth. It was a bad time, a lonely time. I had been longing for a friend to come to stay, and, especially, to share the sight of a gean cherry in full flower. She cancelled. I sat looking at the cherry. Then a voice came to me, or an understanding. ‘I love cherry trees. Share it with me.’ So I did, and I do.

  3. I like the idea of the blog for homework suggestions. Go for it.

    Best idea? Read a gospel at a sitting. I didn’t quite manage it in one sitting but it stimulated me to do it for all four gospels. I liked the one about talking about God with someone different too.

  4. What I’d like to know is if I can get a copy of the above-mentioned newsletter. It sounds interesting!

  5. The piece of advice which has stuck with me for years came in the form of a postcard sent to me which says:
    Practise random kindness and senseless acts of beauty.

    So I started trying to do that every day. Leaving a pound coin in a shopping trolley for someone more in need is one of my favourites but leads to the most awful arguments. I have fights about giving people a lift somewhere in my car because folk think it is such a huge effort on my part. I always tell them it is not as if I am carrying them on my back – now that would be an act of kindness!

    Over the years it has amazed me how loathe people are to accept kindness. Quite sad really.

    PS had a look at your magazine for the first time and what a joy to behold. Clean lines, white space, good content, consistent font… I could go on. Well done to your designer, editor and contributors. You should do a masterclass.

  6. The Editor should be given a halo. She works her socks off to get the copy in on time. The Importunate Widow had nothing on her!

  7. the most sensible thing that the editor did was convince me that it would be fine on A4. The slightly annoying floppiness is more than compensated for by how much work it saves. She is the perfect editor. She does almost all of the work, gets lots of people involved, and is utterly patient when I am either late or nitpicky about fiddling with grey-scale or indent.

    I’m glad Ruth jumped in: I hadn’t meant ‘tell me what the best bit of advice I gave you was’!! though it’s always good to hear.

    Chris’ link makes me realise I didn’t archive the December letter online. I’ll put it up now, and the January one should go up later today.

  8. Just back from 5 days away and slowly turning to block of ice in front of computer as flat recovers from nearly a week with heat off. So no real thoughts except that I think Hermione’s Heaven is a WONDERFUL idea.

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