Brave enough to begin

About a month ago, I listened to a podcast interview with Alastair Humphreys, adventurer extraordinaire. In the closing moments, he uttered a phrase that has held me absolutely captivated:

“I’m obsessed with the idea of trying to make myself brave enough to begin things.”

I cannot tell you how often I’ve been turning that over (and over, and over) in my mind this last month or so.

There are dreams that have lain silent in my heart for some time. Dreams I thought long dead are making rumblings again, like a dormant volcano reminding the environment not to get too settled.

Eight years ago, I did a gap year that changed my life. I got to spend twelve months telling stories about the devastation poverty causes, and walking alongside people to show them how they could bring change into those situations. One of the great privileges of that year was the friendships I made.

One of those women, Jen, has played the role of confidant, encourager and mischief-maker in my life since then. Over the last few years her job has taken her to places well off the beaten track, and she’s discovered that her unique gifts line up perfectly with a job we could never have imagined of as kids – the kind that seems so tailor made you’d think we dreamt it up.

It has brought me great joy to see her discover that what she has to offer is not only enough, it is essential.

She was brave enough to begin, and she makes me braver by her inspiration.

Bravery is a strange word. Just the mention of it conjures up images of warriors and windswept landscapes. I am more interested, though, in the silent, unseen kind of bravery. The kind that of bravery that notices a change in a friend and points it out in love. The kind that sees an opportunity and doesn’t shrink back from it, even if it might unbalance the scales. I want to be more like that kind of person; to have the kind of bravery Jen exhibits. I want to be brave enough to begin.

Pause & Ponder // Reading in Jan

I finally realised that my fear was boring.

I made a decision a long time ago that if I want creativity in my life – and I do – then I will have to make space for fear, too. Plenty of space.

It has taken me years to learn this, but it does seem to be the case that if I am not actively creating something, then I am probably actively destroying something (myself, a relationship, or my own peace of mind).

What do you love doing so much that the words failure and success essentially become irrelevant? What do you love even more than you love your own ego?

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear – Elizabeth Gilbert

“A bookshop is not like a railway booking-office which one approaches knowing what one wants. One should enter it vaguely, almost in a dream, and allow what is there freely to attract and influence the eye. To walk the rounds of the bookshops, dipping in as curiosity dictates, should be an afternoon’s entertainment.” John Maynard Keynes

The title of Ward’s blog is borrowed from a saying of Andy Warhol’s: ‘I like boring things’. Warhol took he most boring and ubiquitous object he could think of – a tin of soup – and made millions of people see it anew. Ward says that when he refers to boring things he is thinking of things that only seem boring, because we’re not paying attention to them… “The transformative power of attention”.

Curiosity is a life force. If depression involves a turning inwards, a feeling that there’s nothing in the world that is worthy of our attention (or that nothing we pay attention to is worthy) then it is curiosity which takes us the other way, that reminds us that the world is an inexhaustibly diverting, inspiring, fascinating place.

Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends on It – Ian Leslie

The climax of God’s creative work is not the creation of humanity (or the satisfaction of human desires exclusively defined) but the experience of Sabbath. Sabbath is not an optional reprieve in the midst of an otherwise frantic or obsessive life. It is the goal of all existence because it is in Sabbath, creation becomes what it fully ought to be.

God the gardener is a striking image. It helps us understand that the divine creative activity is fundamentally about ‘making room’ for others to be and to flourish.

All along the way decisions have to be made about how people relate to the land (agriculture) and each other (culture). These decisions reflect more or less appropriate forms of abiding: bread can be consumed in ways that respect and honour fields, farm workers, and bakers, but it can also be consumed as a produce in which relations to land and others have been degraded. Food production and consumption, in other words, embody a logos. What we eat and how we eat it reflect whether or not we think we need to abide with others at all.

Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating – Norman Wirzba