This is the time of the year when we generally try to re-establish some routine order into how we organise our lives. The holiday period is drawing to a close and all the excitement of the busy summer months leave us some times feeling a little flat. Routine by definition is repetitive but it need not be boring and unproductive.
Having spent some time reflecting on where 'I am' I like to set myself some new goals to work towards. These may include different types of tasks; for example some practical things to sort out, new reading material to source and all kinds of little things that I've neglected and half forgotten about but that still need tying off.
Clearing the mind of clutter is just as important as physically getting into shape because until we have done so we are limited in what we can achieve.
The practice of taking a 'retreat' is becoming increasingly valuable. It’s a way of taking stock of where we are in life and how best we can open up our mind to try new things or to look at things differently. By withdrawing from routine for a few hours (or longer if possible) it allows us freedom to see things from a new perspective which can be really helpful when we are caught in a web of indecision.
Pilgrimages to holy places also have a wonderfully liberating effect. To those of us engaged in ministry both retreats and pilgrimages are encouraged.
My recent few days staying at the Anglican shrine in Walsingham have been all and more than I had hoped for. We enjoyed spiritual refreshment,a very different form of Anglo-Catholic worship, and the fellowship of a small group, none of who I knew before I went. It was a complete change and one which I felt 'moved me on'.
One of the most memorable services ended in a lantern-and candle-lit procession around the twisting uphill pathway through the gardens. The twisting pathway represented the path of life with all the unexpected turns and blind corners. It was often uphill, just as life seems a struggle at times,and the darkness reminded us of how life can seem very dark in times of loneliness, bereavement or other personal problems.
The counterbalance was the light along the way from the lanterns and candles, the joyful hymn singing and the fragrance of the late-flowering shrubs as we brushed past them and released their perfume into the evening air.
Our faith in God is what sustains us in our daily life and we need to reconnect with God to renew our trust in his love. It’s on these occasions that we know we have drawn a little closer to him.
Throughout the autumn there will be opportunities to reconnect with your faith in small groups and in worship. Harvest is a time for thanking God for his abundant gifts. As the colours of autumn deepen so our faith deepens as he richly provides for all our needs. We are fed by the fruits of the earth and nurtured by God's love. His blessings and grace are freely given and freely received. Enjoy the late sunshine and be challenged to look ahead with renewed vision.