Tuesday, 23 November 2010

At the Ending of the Year

As the first hints of winter nip at our toes here in the UK and summer beings to blossom in New Zealand, it's hard to believe that twelve months ago I was preparing to fly out to Vaughan Park. It has been a very special sabbatical year. It has been good to take space from retreat leading in order to reflect and study, to learn from others and to develop new materials. It has also been good to have time and freedom to develop the contemplative rhythms of living that I find life-giving and nourishing. I am very pleased to have done it and offer my prayerful thanks to those who have continued to financially support me through this time. Please give thanks and pray for those who continue to support me in today's difficult financial climate.

My diary for 2011 is now full and I am very much looking forward to resuming retreat leading, the absence of which this year has confirmed that this ministry is where my heart lies. The Lord has also led me deeper into a calling to the healing ministry, and I look forward to seeing where the future takes me. Please pray that I will continue to have discernment in this area.

Give thanks that I have had some success recently in finding a publisher who is interested in re-printing and re-launching Whispers of Love, my first book, which continues to sell amazingly well, seven years after its first publication. My two new titles are under consideration by a mainstream publisher and I hope that a decision will soon be made on these. Please pray that these will get into print in 2011.

And I am continuing to develop materials for imaginative contemplation, based primarily on the healing scriptures. I hope that, in time, there will also be an accompanying CD and an accompanying book which will explore how such meditations can leading to healing encounters and how we can facilitate more of these. This is work that has grown directly out of my Vaughan Park scholarship time. Give thanks for the Vaughan Park Scholarship Programme and pray that God will continue to grow the Kingdom through it.

Finally, my first grandchild was born two weeks ago - a beautiful little boy! Give thanks. Experiencing the joy of new life entering my own family circle reminds me that Jesus is constantly ready and waiting to bless us with newness and healing at every stage of our life's journey. May we all be open to that, and may God bless us all as we prepare to celebrate the birth of another child whose coming was the greatest gift of all time.

My prayer is that you will all enjoy a blessed, peaceful and joyous Christmas, full of the presence of Jesus.


Friday, 10 September 2010

Settling into Rhythms

To begin with, some good news! My books are now more widely available as they can now be purchased not only from myself, Christian bookshops and retreat houses, but also through eBay. Please do share this information. If anyone has any bright ideas as to how to get the 2000+ books in my garage listed on Amazon, I'd love to hear from you.

Well, after a safe return home to friends and family and a rather whirlwind time of sharing stories, I am now well settled again following the New Zealand scholarship experience. One of the greatest gifts of that time has been that contemplative rhythms have embedded themselves naturally into my life now, four months being a sufficient length of time for patterns of praying to establish themselves as a norm. I know this to be a great gift and something that is both life-giving for me and the place from which my creativity is birthed. Please pray that I will be enabled to maintain these rhythms amidst the hurly-burly of life.

I am beginning to work again on various writing projects. I continue to seek publishers for two existing manuscripts of poetry, a book to help individuals settle into silence and stillness & an Advent book, and I've recently submitted these to a new publisher for consideration. Please pray for the success of these submissions.

And picking up the threads of the Vaughan Park project, I am starting by doing further research on my study of why and how imaginative contemplation can lead to healing. I gained some fascinating insights into this in New Zealand and feel drawn to continue the study and, in time, to write a book on this topic. Please pray for me as I prayerfully develop this work.

At the end of October, I'm looking forward to participating in a Father's Heart Ministry School, something I have long wanted to do, and in the new year I will be returning to retreat leading with (hopefully) renewed passion. My 2011 diary is filling up fast, so if you want to make a booking please contact me soon.

For now though, it's back to the prayer and the research.

Thank you all for your prayerful and practical support, which is so important to me.

May you all be blessed as the seasons move into autumn.


Thursday, 24 June 2010

The Transition Home

It's almost exactly a year now since I first considered applying for a scholarship to New Zealand. And, now home again, I can hardly believe that the experience is behind me and that less than a month ago I was still at Vaughan Park, with winter beginning!

Give thanks for a profound experience; for new friendships, important learning, safe travelling, adequate financial provision, creative inspiration, deep healing, Christ-like hospitality and a renewed sense of God's calling.

The transition back into life in the UK, though lovely, is not without its challenges. I feel the loss of the prayerful rhythms and close fellowship that shaped my time in New Zealand and now need to work out new ways of 'being'. I also need to have some important reflective conversations with a variety of people and to discern appropriate priorities and the 'next step' in my journey. I shall be taking some 'time out' at the end of July to pray through the latter; holding the questions before God in a 5 day silent guided retreat.

My work will continue to be shaped around retreat leading and writing, though possibly with rather more of a contemplative focus than before. I hope to take a serious chunk of 'writing time' in August / September to do further work on the project begun at Vaughan Park.

Please pray for me during this period of discernment, and please pray that a suitable writing space will become available for later in the year, and that I will be able to meet any costs involved in that.

Finally, I extend my heartfelt personal thanks to all who made my New Zealand experience possible: to Vaughan Park for offering and facilitating it and to all who have supported me in various prayerful, financial and practical ways over the last twelve months. Thank you to you all: may the Lord bless you richly.

Do read on to the post below for a summary of the Vaughan Park time and do remember that I regularly publish some of my writing online here.

Aronahui [with very great love], Pat


Thursday, 15 April 2010

New Zealand Reflections

As I prepare to move on from Vaughan Park, this seems a good time to reflect on what the gift of this New Zealand scholarship has been to me. It's actually very hard to sum up - words are very inadequate to express experiences of the spirit - and I anticipate that it will be working itself out in my life for some time to come as I sift through and reflect on my experiences here.

It has been the most enormous gift to be free to study, reflect and write for this extended period of time. And it has taken me to places where I did not expect to go.

As so often happens when we place ourselves in God’s hands, I have been led to explore unexpected paths. The freedom to be prayerfully reflective has taken me on an unexpected journey of deeper personal healing, for which I give thanks. It has also brought me to a profound sense of, and deep clarification of, my calling for the next stage of the journey. These two outcomes, though not as tangible as words on a sheaf of paper, have been above and beyond what I hoped to achieve here and will undoubtedly shape my future ministry.

Through the people God has brought across my path, and through the study I have been able to do here, I have developed a greater understanding of how the healing process works. I have written a variety of things; prayers, meditations, poetry, some liturgy. The project that I came here with is, truthfully, still evolving, but I know that, as it continues to birth itself in me, richer writing will be born through this Vaughan Park experience.

I have been privileged to meet some very special people, from many different church traditions and walks of life, some of whom may well become lasting friends. I am particularly thankful for the opportunities I have been given to meet Maoris within their culture. Meeting such a rich variety of people and beginning to learn about, and transcend, our cultural differences, has been a huge blessing.

And all this has been set in the jewel of the most amazing and beautiful environment that New Zealand is. This scholarship time has been an unconditional gift of love, and in that sense Vaughan Park has mirrored Christ to me.

The three months has not been without its challenges, including the loss of a significant amount of writing when my laptop crashed. At that time I also lost all my email contacts from home, hence the reason I went quiet on you all.

What will I remember?

So many things ... late night prayer in the iconic chapel, sunlight shimmering on sea, laughter and love, snorkelling in crystal waters, a night spent with a nun in a remote mountain hut, the beautiful bird song of the tui, the dance of the fantail, the Paschal flame on Easter Saturday, harmonies of Maori singing, the Vaughan Park team, stunning sunsets over a beautiful beach, precious friendships, being in the presence of spiritual wisdom, the stunning native bush, the beautiful soft sound of the spoken Maori language, and their deep intuitive spirituality, the sense of being used as a catalyst, wall to wall blue sky, Kiwi friendship, morning muffins, a clarification of a calling, Anglican rhythms, spirit led study, healing insights, Godly serendipity, deep contemplation, sailing on the South Pacific, the dance of the dolphins, the curl of the ferns, special moments of solitude ... and so much more.

But also, there were deep personal struggles, and a journey into the depths of myself. Often there was a sense that I had travelled 12,000 miles to 'find myself'. God has been close. If this experience doesn't change me, then I shall be disappointed in myself.

So, once again, I value your prayers ...

Give thanks for the blessings of this scholarship time and pray for the work of the Vaughan Park team.

On April 30th I leave to travel round the South Island. Please pray for safe travelling and a good holiday before I return to the UK on June 1st.

Please also pray for peace as I prepare to leave this place that I have grown to love and discernment as I begin the transition back into home life and ministry.

I am sure that New Zealand will draw me back. Shame about the 12,000 mile commute!


Friday, 12 February 2010

News from New Zealand

I am now well settled into Vaughan Park, and it really is the most idyllic and enabling space to be in. Through this scholarship opportunity, the Lord has blessed me beyond my wildest dreams. Give thanks for safe travelling and safe arriving.

The friendship and welcome of my hosts is outstanding and I have very quickly begun to feel at home here. It is a very relaxed, yet enabling, environment. The Vaughan Park complex overlooks a most beautiful beach and regional park, and from my studio I can both see and hear the Pacific Ocean lapping the shore. Who could fail to write well in this setting?

The chapel is a very 'thin' place and architecturally iconic, and adjacent to it is a well thought out research centre where I am spending a large proportion of my time. Slowly I am beginning to evolve rhythms that work for me. My biggest problem is the heat and humidity, which I find very strength-sapping [yes, I know it's cold at home - sorry!], but words are beginning to flow and the project is beginning to take shape in my mind.

I so appreciate the sense of being held in prayer by you all.
Please pray for continued blessings and Spirit-led inspiration.

Thank you.


Monday, 18 January 2010

New Zealand sunshine

A week ago, walking in crisp white snow, it was hard to imagine stepping off a plane into warm New Zealand sunshine. Today, with my suitcases packed and just over a week to go, it feels as if it's really going to happen.

On January 31st I'll be leaving behind our British winter to begin my three month writing time in Aotearoa ... land of beautiful scenery and Maori legend. I am looking forward immensely to being the guest of the Vaughan Park Anglican Retreat Centre. It's a huge enormous privilege to have this gift of time and space in which to study, reflect and write and I'm looking forward to the challenge of writing materials to facilitate healing. It will be good too to share worship and fellowship with Christians from a different culture and continent and I look forward to learning from them.

Please pray for me. Please pray for safe travelling, good health, relaxation, inspiration and the ability to be open to God.

My own prayer is that I will be open to whatever God wants to unfold in and through me during this time.

Thank you. God bless. I'll keep you posted ...