The blackbird singing in the garden

Is a reminder that life is mysterious and beautiful and should be celebrated.

That we move in cycles from Winter to Summer and Night to Day.

Are we coming back to faith ?

The church was full on Sunday.

Are we experiencing some sort of revival ? Perhaps the pandemic was a reminder there are bigger forces at play ?.

Perhaps people are scared and feel out of control or uneasy about the way the world is going and are turning back to God ?

Perhaps the new priest is drawing people back ? He has a fatherly authority and an enthusiasm for the faith.

Perhaps people want their children in Catholic schools. I don’t know the reasons but the mass was alive on Sunday, the singing glorious and heart felt and there was a sense of warmth and community, a very international community,which was inspiring.

I know there is and has been so much anti religious feeling in Britain, not in the world but here, there is a deep scepticism.

Clearly there have been abuses of power. The terrible legacy of sexual abuse has damaged so many. Generally the uneasy relationship with sexuality is a huge problem and the wariness around women is really troubling.

The repressive puritanism of the past does not come from Jesus though. I always think of Him enjoying the extravagant attention of Mary with the alabaster oils . This lovely sensual image was personally very instrumental in bringing me back to the church. It was healing. Women have carried a lot of shame around their bodies which isn’t loving, healthy or enlightened.

And then there is science that has been pitted against religion but to me this makes no sense. It’s only a problem for Creationists who take the story of Genesis literally. I believe in God and evolution, it’s not a problem for me.

The scriptures are full of people’s responses to God. They are inspired but not absolute. The are historical and need to be understood in the context of culture . It can get dangerous and fanatical to start quoting scripture as rigid dogma. Ofcourse there is much to learn from engaging with scripture and writings of wise people on our traditions but we are all finding our own way and discovering our own way to walk with God.

Despite the problems, I was lost when I was trying to live without my faith. I think it was Jung who said a community without a tradition is like an individual without memory. There is no anchor.

Money is the God of the capitalist world and it’s clear where that is leading us. Money has got so powerful ,it has enslaved us. Ofcourse we need it but it’s only a tool. It’s the worst kind of idol worship to let money be the ultimate guide to the way we live our life. In the end when we are facing death it means so little where as love means everything.

I know my faith keeps me afloat and brings me a wisdom and guidance bigger than my own . I recognise a deeply loving presence in my interior world and I believe profoundly and increasingly in the power of prayer. I feel I am heard and loved in all my vulnerability, silliness and confusion.

The mass is deeply moving and connects me to my family and to the past, to my experiences of depth, light and goodness to the person of Jesus and in other people. This is what keeps me.

Trying to live a compassionate life makes sense to me,the reminder that we are all part of each other . It helps to locate myself in my deeper self that knows I am so deeply connected to others and to nature rather than my ego which is self serving and never satisfied.

I am no evangelical, I know there are different ways to God and the light I experience in my own Catholic faith I also see in Jews, Buddhists, Baha’i, Hindud and Muslims which is why I’m active in the interfaith movement

If people are returning to faith I am glad. The world urgently needs us to wake up and live more unselfish lives. A commitment to compassion in whichever way that comes can only be good.

Social Care

I see there was another state of emergency declared in a local hospital yesterday and more are expected during the hot weather.

Obviously social care needs more investment because the lack of it is blocking up our hospitals with people who are medically fit for discharge but not safe to go home without care.

It was a mistake in my mind to ever separate health from social care as the two are clearly so co dependent. And it was definitely a mistake to allow business to take over social care in a quest for profit.

The staff shortages are desperate. It’s difficult work to look after elderly , disabled and mentally unstable people. Staff are dealing with a lot of incontinence, frailty, challenging behaviour and death. The job requires courage, skill, kindness, empathy ,patience and stamina. It must be the most under appreciated role in the workplace and the pay is impossible to live on.

I think until the role of the carer is given its true value our society will always be in trouble because it demonstrates we haven’t got our priorities right.

And what makes me really angry is when carers are squeezed and blamed and pushed to do more by stressed managers under pressure to please share holders.

Care is dependent on a caring relationship between the client and staff member. If staff feel exploited, over worked and under valued obviously standards of care will deteriorate and staff will leave.

It should be obvious ! Pay carers a decent wage and value what they do and create social conditions where it is pleasant to live and work. Avoid creating too much stress or blame, allow people to be human , encourage breaks, conversations, laughter. Relationships are very likely to improve, staff will stay and care will improve.

Caring for people can be such satisfying work if people are allowed to get on with it , shown some appreciation and given a decent wage. You can’t bully people into caring, it doesn’t work.