A Blessed Community
In chapel this week Year 7 students had the opportunity to walk a labyrinth. The labyrinth is an ancient tool that encourages us to slow down, walk with intention into the centre, pause and reflect, and then return to our daily live, perhaps with a different perspective.
By Andy Fleming, Associate Chaplain
As I contemplated the implications of who might be the ‘leader of the free world’ for the next four years, I felt relieved and fortunate that I live and work in a stable community. At times this year, I have certainly felt ‘blessed’ working with great people, in a safe environment and having the love and support of family and friends. You could argue that I am enjoying the blessing of success and a ‘good life.’ This notion is somewhat consistent with a current standard in our world of what it looks like when we’re blessed. We often hear of, or refer to, people as being blessed with talent, or good looks, or riches and wealth. Many ‘blessings’ are of the material kind and other blessings seemingly overlook the hard work that someone has undertaken to become successful.
Every community creates its own definition of what they consider is blessedness. It is typically more about what it means to have ‘made it’, rather than what Jesus teaches us about what God sees as blessed in the Beatitudes, the first part of the Sermon of the Mount (Matt 5.1-12). Rather than considering what the world sees as valuable, among those who God calls blessed are those passionate about promoting righteousness and working for peace, and those persecuted for doing the right thing. Of course, ours is a safe community where we can freely pursue doing and promoting what is right without fear of persecution.
God also considers those who are ‘down and out’, and suffering. Throughout our community, I see people looking out for those who are in need and willingly meeting them where they are. Through the vision and work of those who have gone before us, we are empowered to walk with someone in their brokenness, grief or distress, enabling us to be a blessing to others. Rather than measuring our possessions, achievements and symbolism as God’s blessing on us, when we focus on fostering individuals who are more concerned for the welfare of others, we can see God revealed through the strength of character our community possesses.
In what is a continually unsettling time for each of us in a variety of ways, here is a prayer taken from Ash and Starlight: Prayers for the Chaos of Daily Life, by Arianne Braithwaite Lehn.
When I need to know I’m held (just as I am!)
Please meet me where I’m at today.
Enfold my heart –
Whatever its state –
Reminding me you are here,
Reminding me I am loved.
I thank you, God,
I don’t need to be perfect.
Your grace is deeper,
Your love stronger,
Your forgiveness broader
than I understand.
Draw me out, Lord.
Shine your light on my secrets.
Send the soft rains of cleansing and
the strong rains of refinement
on my soul’s ground.
Please prepare me
For the days ahead,
whatever they bring.
You’ve given me the Spirit to face it all.
I hand over my worries and joys,
knowing you care even
more deeply than I do.
Please make me an instrument
Of your love today, God.
Make me a reflection of my Creator
in what I say,
in how I act,
in the focus of my thought,
in the energy I emanate.
May God’s peace be with each of us