Tag: identity

I Have Found My Way

I have found my way 

and it is a different way to the world’s way  

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A way that leads to life through death 

a way of grace and reconciliation 

humility, obedience and self-renunciation  

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I have found my way 

I have found a new identity  

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Now I can begin again 

to live and work 

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to write and sing 

I can begin again  

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And I can now be understood 

by love of one known greater than myself 

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Who gave his life for love of me 

his life and love now newly understood  

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Renouncing all his pleasures 

all the comforts of his soul 

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Relinquished all in the death of hell 

he felt upon the cross  

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In the dark a single cry 

‘Why – O my God – why?’  

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Forsaken,  not gone astray like us  

punished for all our wanderings  

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The Jews had forty years – I had twenty 

in the desert before he gave me plenty 

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Of grace, of love, of fellowship 

with others, sisters, brothers newly found 

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Discovered and recovered from the grave  

a flock and then a kingdom saved 

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To serve their lord and shepherd

Faithfully  

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And now we come to live together 

to meet the world and serve forever 

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The king

Of all the heavens  

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Having fellowship with the light 

fighting still the endless fight  

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The darkness that surrounds us 

that will not quickly leave us  

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Shining like stars despite our sin 

struggling still to let him in  

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I have found my way 

and it is a different way from the world’s way  

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I have found my God

My feast 

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And now I bear the yoke 

that brings at last my peace. 

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Spiritual Reflection: Beyond the Here and Now

Spiritual Reflection: Beyond the Here and Now

Identity is a spiritual matter to my mind, as my spirituality is an intrinsic aspect of who I am.

T.S. Eliot wrote that “here and now cease to matter” – and I wonder if one of the problems with modern concerns about identity are about an obsession with the “here and now”.

“What am I thinking and feeling here and now?” might be the preoccupation of an anxious person – whereas the idea that thoughts and feelings are temporary and fleeting gives us a sense of perspective and the reassurance that existence embraces much longer periods of time.

This led me to consider how we construct our identities beyond the here and now – with reference to the past, and to the future.

It is obvious that we are shaped by our pasts. Some have had traumatic pasts which leave a present which is problematic because of things that happened years and years ago.

Many of us learn valuable lessons because of past experiences we have been through. Some of us have been lucky to have had inspiring families, role-models, teachers and leaders, who have nurtured us and provided us with principles and practical coaching in various character strengths.

But we are also influenced by more distant pasts, whether or not we are aware of it. The culture we are born into was shaped by hundreds and thousands of years.

Our genes have been shaped by thousands, perhaps millions of years. What we read may have been written by people who died many years before we were born.

For myself, I think of books by my “inspirers”, and others: writings by wise leaders, on spirituality, philosophical and ethical ideas by the great thinkers of history, of passages in the greatest world poetry and literature.

These treasured contributions to culture have shaped my identity. I go back to them time and time again, and they continue to shape and form my identity. They are a wellspring of inspiration and guidance. My identity is forged well beyond the here and now by these thought leaders of the past.

And then there is the future: the contribution that our own goals, ambitions and hopes make to our sense of identity. I have been much influenced by Stephen Covey’s book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” – he demonstrates how each of us has the power of decision-making, regardless of our past and present circumstances. It is a challenging idea, as it does not allow us to look upon ourselves as victims of circumstance. We have to own our reactions. There is always a gap – as he says – between stimulus and our response to it.

This means that every decision I make in the present about the future is my own free choice. My future identity is in my hands. I am choosing whether I become a better person each day, or the opposite. My thoughts about the future – optimistic or gloomy, hopeful or depressing – play a huge part in influencing my beliefs about myself and my identity.

Identity turns out to be very complex : a merging of the past and the future with the present.

Identity is a journey – a fascinating journey – perhaps one of the quintessential journeys we make as human beings.

And many of the answers are to be found beyond the here and now.

“Time present and time past

Are both perhaps present in time future

And time future contained in time past.”

(T.S.Eliot, Four Quartets)

You Were With Me

You were

With me

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In my grief

The heart’s

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Right response

To a violation

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And you were

With me

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In the only

Defence of the spirit

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The soul’s castle

To shield

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The developing

Self’s identity

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And now

You are with me

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In my pain

And in my elation

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And you are with me

As I learn again

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The soul’s deeper

Deepest true vocation.

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Image by Renata Ap from Pixabay

Inspiring Poems: “As kingfishers catch fire”

If you’ve ever seen a kingfisher fly past, you’ll know that flash of bright blue, so you’ll probably be able to imagine the excitement that Hopkins puts in the opening line to this wonderful poem:

“As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame”

dragonflyflame

But this poem turns out to be more than being inspired by nature.  It turns out, firstly, to be about the uniqueness of each living thing:

“Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:

Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;

Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,

Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.”

whatIdoisme HOPKINS

But there is still more.  Human beings, he says, do not merely go around “being themselves”.  That could mean anything!  He turns to consider goodness and virtue:

“I say móre: the just man justices;

Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;

Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —”

And the poem ends with this idea that each person is the divine image.  Hopkins was a Christian, and for him, he sees Christ, God’s image, in each person:

“Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —

Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,

Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his

To the Father through the features of men’s faces.”

lovelyineyes HOPKINS

You can read the whole poem here.