A still small voice of calm…

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All of us need calm and tranquility somewhere in our lives. A sense that we can find a time to stop, even for a short moment, to find an inner peace that grounds us in some basic way.

This week we have celebrated the feast of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit, that reminds us of God’s presence amongst us in the world and the challenge we have been given to live out faith inspired by the life of Christ. As the Holy Spirit is not visible, physically, it is often represented by wind, fire or a dove. It may help us to have something tangible to think about and represent the power of God.

All of us have been shocked and horrified by the recent terrorist attacks in London and Manchester and mourn the innocent loss of life. Sometimes we can only understand it fully by thinking of our families, our children, us being in the same position. It can make it more real to us rather than just the latest images on 24hr news. The challenge is  for us to use this time of darkness to bring greater light and hope.

We live in a democracy and as we prepare for our general election this week we need to make a commitment to not relying on tabloid headlines that divide us or breed distrust or hatred. We need instead to make a renewed commitment to tolerance, understanding and unity in all that we do.

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Working in education we are privileged to have the opportunity to transform the lives and futures of every young person in our care. This is a gift but also a great responsibility. Let us grasp this opportunity to make a real difference in all we do.

When we find ourselves challenged by all that happens around us this is an opportunity to ask for God to be with us – “come Holy Spirit”. Rather than disbelief I hope and pray to find God in the love, compassion, care and selflessness of people who reach out and act with such loving kindness.

A few questions for the week ahead;

  • What can you do to encourage love, tolerance and understanding when faced by the challenges we see in the world?
  • How can we use the gift of education to transform people’s hearts and minds and build a better future?
  • How can we feel the presence of God amongst us as we think about the power of the Holy Spirit?

Thank you, in advance, for all you will do this half term to make St Paul’s a place of vitality, happiness, light and hope.
God bless.

 

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Be the change you wish to see in the world…

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We need to “be the change we wish to see in the world”. This week after the horrific scenes in Manchester we need to have a shared commitment to live with love, compassion and forgiveness. If people look to drive us apart, accentuate our differences and conflict we have a chance to move closer together instead.

As we celebrate today the Feast of the Ascension we remember Jesus is not leaving us alone but saying, “I will always be with you” and reassuring us that the Holy Spirit, the power of God in the world, will always be with us.

In times of tragedy or suffering we need to trust in God to heal the hurt, division and distrust.

We pray today for our leaders to use love as the most powerful weapon to destroy hate and terror.

We pray for all the innocent victims of the terrorist attack in Manchester and their families. May God comfort them in their suffering and angush.

We pray for those vulnerable in society to being led towards violence and hatred in the world. May God give them strength to listen to His voice within them to do good and reject evil.

We pray that we can live our lives full of faith, hope and love.

God bless.

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I am proud to be Catholic and proud of the example of Pope Francis #thisismypope. This week he spoke these words in Mass to all of us.

“You can have defects, be anxious and live irritated sometimes, but do not forget that your life is the biggest company in the world.

Only you can prevent her from going into decline.
There are many who appreciate you, admire you and love you.

I would like you to remember that to be happy, is not to have a sky without storms, road without accidents, works without fatigue, relationships without disappointments.

To be happy is to find strength in forgiveness, hope in battles, security in the box of fear, love in disagreements.

Being happy is not only valuing the smile, but also reflecting on sadness.
It is not just to commemorate success, but to learn lessons in failures.
It is not just to have joy with applause, but to have joy in anonymity.

To be happy is to recognize that life is worth living, despite all the challenges, misunderstandings, and periods of crisis.

Being happy is not a fatality of destiny, but a conquest for those who know how to travel within their own being.

To be happy is to stop being a victim of problems and become an actor in one’s own history.
It is to cross deserts out of itself, but to be able to find an oasis in the recesses of our soul.
It is to thank God every morning for the miracle of life.

Being happy is not being afraid of your own feelings.
It is knowing how to talk about yourself.
It is courage to hear a “no”.
It is safe to receive criticism, even if it is unfair.
It is to kiss the children, to pamper parents, to have poetic moments with friends, even if they hurt us.

To be happy is to let the free, happy and simple creature live within each one of us.
It is to have maturity to say ‘I was wrong’.
It is to have the audacity to say *forgive me*.
It is to have sensitivity to express *’I need you’*.
It is to be able to say * ‘I love you’ *.

May your life become a garden of opportunity to be happy …
May you be joyous in your spring.
In your winter you are friend of wisdom.
And when you get in the way, start all over again.
Then you will be more passionate about life.
And you will discover that to be happy is not to have a perfect life.
But use tears to water the tolerance.
Use the losses to refine the patience.
Use flaws to sculpt serenity.
Use pain lapping pleasure.
Use obstacles to open the windows of intelligence.
Never give up ….
Never give up on the people you love.
Never give up being happy, because life is a must-see! “

Pope Francis

Living life to the full

live-life-to-the-fullest-quote-with-picture-of-the-sea-live-life-to-the-fullest-quotes-of-the-day.pngWhat do you do that makes you feel most fully alive? Seems like an ideal first date question… it could be interesting in the week ahead to ask a few people this question even if there are no first dates on the cards!

For some of us it may be that we have a love of our job, pastime, sport or time with our families. All these things may be important to us and give us a sense of purpose, enjoyment or satisfaction in what we do each day. I believe that we are most deeply fulfilled when we find this sense of purpose and meaning and it “banks the resilience” to deal with whatever life may challenge us with.

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In the Gospel reading this week it finished by Jesus saying, “I have come so that you they may have life and have it to the full.” This is directed at us and poses the question about how we can respond. We can be inspired by this in some way to explore and find the “definite purpose” God has created us for. The enjoyment is the journey as well as living this out in some way.

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This weekend I had a great opportunity to do this by spending 4 days with 145 students and staff doing an activity weekend on the beautiful Dorset coast. You can physically see the journey they embark on – some nervous and anxious about being away from home or taking on new physical or personal challenges. The reality is that every person comes back changed, in some small way, having achieved something or breathed in a new experience in their lives. It was simply fantastic and a joy to be with them to share in this adventure.

I am so grateful to do something that I truly love. I knew the first day I came into teaching that it was what I was meant to do and each day has provided fresh opportunities to learn and grow so I thank the students, families and staff for providing this inspiration.

My sister-in-law noticed a National Teacher Appreciation Day on Facebook which was 9th May. So in honour of all of you who dedicate so much to education, learning and caring so deeply about the young people we serve, simply thank you for making such a difference each and every day. You will never know the everlasting impact of what you do and how far-reaching your impact will be.  As the wonderful Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

So let’s do it… take the challenge and live life to its fullest each and every day. It could be quite a journey!

If you fancy finding out more about teaching or training with us get in touch at St Paul’s and through Inspire Teaching School Alliance we lead.

On the road together

the-emmaus-road-a-chiasm-in-luke.jpgIn this week’s Gospel account we hear about the followers of Jesus meeting a stranger on the road to Emmaus. They were heading downhearted from Jerusalem having seen Jesus crucified and defeated, on one level they were walking away from their faith, hopes and dreams for the future. On the journey they were joined by a mysterious stranger walking alongside them who made their hearts “burn”. In the breaking of bread at the meal they finally recognised Christ amongst them.

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I think this is a great Gospel account in this time of Easter and resurrection. It makes me think of how we can sometimes walk through life blind to the fact that Jesus has walked alongside us. At other times maybe we need to be open to the fact that we can find God with us in those who walk alongside us in life’s journey.

A few thoughts for the week ahead…

  • How can we be full of faith even when the situation may be hopeless?
  • Where can we find Jesus alongside us day to day?
  • How can we encounter God in those we meet day to day and at times be God’s presence to others?

I hope this week that we can all find a small way to encounter God on the journey ahead of us. With hope and faith we too can be people of resurrection and light.

 

No time for doubting!

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We have just celebrated the London Marathon at the weekend and for those of you looking forward to more sporting heroics with many staff teams at school preparing for the elite Hedgehogtri team triathlon this weekend… I am sure we will see some great performances.

The stand out story of the London Marathon was the story of two strangers who were fated to steal the show. Matthew Rees, ironically who was disappointed with his time (sub 3 hours!), stopped to help a fellow runner David Wyeth. You can see his complete exhaustion and disorientation. Even though he was so close to the finish he had no clue how he would make it without the selfies support of a fellow competitor.

They now look like friends for life!

Perhaps this heartwarming story has a link to the Gospel account of this week… we are in the midst of celebrating the Easter season, a joyous celebration of 50 days celebrating Jesus’ resurrection and appearances to His followers.

In this Gospel account we hear of the disciples locked away in a room fearful of those around them without Jesus  being there to lead them. Jesus appears amongst them and proclaims “peace be with you”. One of the disciples, Thomas, had gone out and missed this moment of revelation! I am sure we could all relate to feeling like we had popped out at the one moment when something really interesting happened. Thomas goes on to say that he wouldn’t believe unless Jesus stood amongst them once again. 8 days later this was to happen and Jesus said, “Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe” – this is a message directly to us! Maybe Thomas represents the frailties of our faith at times of challenge or disbelief. In essence he may have had a bad press as he is asking the questions that all of us would ask – we would want proof.

Our proof of Jesus’ resurrection lies in our faith and belief in God’s power to transform even the most desolate and hopeless situation, in Jesus’ crucifixion, to the most inspiring triumph, in His resurrection.

As Christian’s we must be full of “light, life and hope” and especially in education and schools. This term is very full with revision, exams and times of change and transition. We need to deal in hope and good news and never doubt the blessings that God will give us all to be able to achieve great things together.

So whether it is running a marathon, completing a triathlon or just simply putting our arm around someone else to get them across the line let’s remember that we need to show faith and see Jesus walking amongst us.

Have a great term and week ahead.

God bless.

Learning to love and forgive

Forgive.pngIn one of the recent Gospel readings this week we hear of the account of how a crowd had gathered to condemn a woman accused of adultery. The crowd were demanding “instant justice” and were planning to stone her. Jesus challenged whoever was without sin to cast the first stone. Slowly one by one the crowd dispersed and the stones dropped to the ground. He gently offered his forgiveness and told her to turn away from the areas of her life that led her in the wrong direction.

This is a great message for us. Put simply we need to learn to love and forgive.

A few questions for the week ahead…

  • What can you do to use the power of forgiveness to rebuild relationships?
  • How can we stop ourselves from being too quick to judge?
  • What is it we can ask God (or others…) to forgive us of?

If we can take this small step, to drop the stone, say sorry or move on in our lives surely it can be good for us all too.

Have a happy and liberating journey this week as we prepare for the celebration of Holy Week.

God bless.

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Witness – a living faith

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We continue to hear about how Jesus seeks outs opportunities to heal those left marginalised in society. In society at the time there was a direct correlation between suffering and sin. When Jesus heals the blind man this week we can see he makes him “whole again” by healing him and challenging the suffering and prejudices he faced. Once he is healed the blind man is summoned back to bear witness to what Jesus had done ending in him being driven away by the authorities. You can feel the rising pressure and plotting for Jesus’ downfall during this time getting us ready for His entry into Jerusalem and the sacrifice of his crucifixion.

We at times can fall into a trap where we are quick to judge others and cast them aside. We can be tempted to ignore the needs of others, particularly when we are under pressure from others.

A few thoughts for this week…

  • How can you offer an unconditional love, forgiveness and support of others?
  • What do we find difficult to bear witness to in our lives?
  • How would we have responded to the blind man? Would we have walked towards him or away from him?
  • Do we have a heart for justice, peace and equality?

For me in a basic and simple way my faith is about the challenge to live it out in the everyday moments and interactions each day. We need to ask God to give us the wisdom and bravery to do the right thing, even if it is not the popular thing, even if it goes unnoticed or is un-popular.

So stand strong, stand proud and ask God to give us the bravery and confidence to bear witness in the world today.

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