As I write we are just a few days before Monday 17th May when people with 2 households or 6 people will be allowed to meet inside and you can hug your friends and relatives once more. This is an exciting time after over a year of restrictions. In this moment, there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel! The Family Project is cautiously optimistic about what this means for activities in the summer.
Messy Church is having its first meet up in person on the 6th June at 3pm. This will take place on the Glebe Field ( near Ruskin’s View) and we invite you to bring a picnic along for the event too. Our theme is ‘Good things coming out of difficult times’. There will be several activities to enjoy plus our Messy story. For more information please email me : email@example.com
At the end of July and throughout August there will be a summer trail around the Graveyard at St. Mary’s Church. We hope this will be a fun thing to complete on family walks for locals and any visitors you have to the area. Please let us know if you enjoy this trail or if you can think of anything that might improve this as we welcome feedback.
On July 10th at 2pm on the Glebe Field ( next to Ruskin’s View) we will be hosting a Muddy Church. Together we will be exploring the Glebe, creating something that can be used in the community and exploring the idea of God being found in nature and the past, present and future. Please do come along. You will need to sign up using Eventbrite so please email me for a link: firstname.lastname@example.org
We look forward to seeing you at some point during the summer months!
This was the title of one of the courses I attended during a lay ministry day shortly after Easter. The timing could not have been more perfect for me! It came nine days after Easter, which is one of the most exciting seasons for the Family Project, with an Easter play, an Easter Trail, Messy Easter and an Easter Tree being a few of the the things that the Family Project was connected to during this Easter season. Nine days after Easter, I was just beginning to need some time to rest before rethinking what new initiatives or projects we could commence whilst also continuing our current projects that have translated well online: See and Know Drop-in, St. Mary’s Drop-in and St. Patrick’s Youth Group.
I had booked onto this course months before and arrived, via zoom, to meet my fellow lay ministry colleagues. It was led by Edel McClean. In one of my previous posts, Edel had been my spiritual director. Someone I had gone to to share my thoughts about ministry, life and my big questions about faith. As soon as I realised that she was leading this course I knew it would be good. I was also aware that I would come away taking at least ‘five minutes of wisdom’ from Edel which would mean that that the whole day would feel worthwhile.
The five ways to support your well-being are based on the NHS’ suggestions and a quick google brings up the key 5 steps. I found hearing them explained in more detail, with a pastoral tone rather than a medical one, gave me a deeper insight into what the five ways are, so I shall try to do similarly here for you!
Connect. Look for moments of connection. These connections do not have to be big. They can be things ranging from a walk with a friend to a text message or even an emoji text sent by someone who cares for you. Connection too can be found in all circumstances from a quiet moment of prayer to a rave.
Be active. When we hear “ be active” many of us think of that athletic friend or colleague and that in itself can make us feel defeated. What counts as active ranges from person to person. Yet they all count. That is key to realise! Active for one person might be sitting up in bed. It could be gardening for some time. For another it might going on that quick dog walk or a wild swim.
Take notice. The NHS often suggests mindfulness here, which is often helpful for many people, as it does train you to notice things. However, mindfulness doesn’t work for everyone or it can just feel too intimidating. Taking notice is just that. It can be about noticing anything. One thing I have found helpful is washing up. Taking time to notice the temperature of the washing up water, looking at the colour and shape of any bubbles created and how the water feels against your skin. You might want to think about: What helps you pay attention? When do you pay attention? These might give clues as to when you want to practise taking notice further.
Keep Learning. The key thing for this one is to remember little things count. When I hear the term ‘learning’ I am transported back to school/college/university times. This shows how learning has too often been limited to mean study. Learning can be studying something you enjoy but it could also be trying out a new recipe each week or finding out a cool fact that may one day come in handy at a pub quiz.
Give. Research has shown that people who do things for others tend to have a positive outlook. However, with this one we have to be careful. I know many people reading this will be the doers of this world! Give can also mean giving yourself permission to say no to something and give yourself that extra time to do something for you. If giving yourself the gift of time feels too hard right now, look for a compromise. Find something that relaxes you but perhaps ends up benefiting someone else incidentally, such as baking! Give but as Edel said ‘don’t give everything.’
At the end we were advised to rate ourselves between 1-5 for each step so we could see which ones we might naturally be drawn to and which ones we perhaps need to prioritise more for our own well-being. Ask yourself : Which needs your most attention? Which of these is manageable to focus on this week and/or which one feel manageable to focus on for a longer period of time, such as a month or three months.
Wellbeing is something that many in our community are keen to promote and enable so that everyone can find what will be beneficial and helpful to them personally. Wellbeing is something that the Family Project is also keen to explore and enable too. Keep an eye out for further opportunities that perhaps help you do one of these five steps above. Take care of yourself this month.
The Family Project has had a busy February. We launched our Muddy Church challenge to find all the different stones we had placed around Kirkby Lonsdale. Each stone had a pair of wellington boots painted on it and if you picked up the stone, with sanitized hands of course, you would find a secret quote. We gave you all a set of cryptic clues to help you find the 20 stones hidden around the town. I wonder if you managed to find them? If you are reading this and wondering how you missed this, please take a look on Twitter, Instagram of Facebook using the #klmuddychurch for more information. The stones may be a bit worn but are hopefully still findable for some time. We have asked you to also make your own stones with muddy wellington boots and add them to around town with your own clue that you can share on our Facebook page. If you can, pop a positive quote on the back of the stone you make, to hopefully make someone’s day as they search for the stones on a walk.
Drop-In is back!
Drop-In was an initiative we began two years ago at St. Mary’s School. It was held in a room at St. Mary’s School and parents could drop-in for a cup of tea, refreshments and chat before pick-up on a Monday afternoon. We had hoped to be back in that space by now but the pandemic had other ideas! However, we are going to start Drop-In online from the 1st March. Every Monday at 2pm for 30 mins or more, we will be online, ready for chat. If you are a parent who is looking for a thirty-minute breather why not make yourself a cuppa, grab a snack and join us? Feel free to bring along knitting or crafting if that makes the time out more relaxing for you! Just like old Drop-In, if young people are around playing whilst you are talking that is great- we have missed hearing how you are all doing and look forward to catching up after our longer than predicted break. Email : email@example.com to get the zoom code!
Throughout January the Family Project has been enjoying catching up with some of our community after the Christmas break.
St. Patrick’s Youth Group has restarted, with a core group of young people who join us online every Tuesday 7-8pm to play games, do different activities and have a catch-up about how each other’s weeks have been. Since moving online we have had new people join us but we would love for some more young people to join too! If you are Years 5-Years 8 you are very welcome to come along and try out Youth Group for a week. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. It is a fun easy-going group who attend and they would make anyone most welcome!
Messy Church has also restarted with a Messy Church on Sunday 24th at 2pm on our Kirkby Lonsdale Messy Church Facebook Page. We watched and listened to a retelling of Noah’s Ark, with great animation and storytelling that helped us imagine the dilemma God must have been in when He flooded the whole earth. God’s care for the environment and wildlife also shone through this depiction. Next, we had two of our Messy Church family leading us in a great activity of making bird cakes! It was really good to start the New Year thinking about how we can continue to care and be a steward for the wonderful wildlife that has become an increasing focal point for many of us during lockdown. We hope you will join us for our next online Messy Church on March 21st.
I know that for many people January can feel like a bit of a low point after the Christmas decorations have come down and the daylight hours are still shorter. To try and combat this the Family Project produced a January Calendar where each day a question would be posed for people to chat about. Throughout the days different people across our communities have joined in the conversation. Thanks to everyone who has responded and potentially shone a bit of light into the darkness for many a reader.
December is a month that is packed with excitement and expectation. This year the build up to Christmas has felt more desired and needed than other years. I unpacked decorations early, starting planning Christmas meals in October and began listening to Christmas carols in early September. I seemed to be trying to bring the excitement and sense of expectation that I associate with December and Advent earlier into the year to mask or perhaps help me temporarily forget that the world feels so different to previous years. I wonder if anyone else has done anything similar?
Luckily, a lot of The Family Project’s plans and projects enabled me to engage in the Advent excitement and expectation too. On Sunday 29th November at 2pm we will have our Messy Gingerbread Nativity baking session and story. This can be found on the Kirkby Lonsdale Messy Facebook Page. The opportunity to gather together, bake and hear a retelling of the Nativity story is for me a perfect start to Advent. The fact that we have partnered with the Zero Pantry to purchase local plastic free ingredients for our baking session is a welcome bonus to our baking activity too. We can engage in a Christmas spirit filling activity without having environmental anxiety regarding the amount of plastic these activities often involve.
Heather Sattin and I have enjoyed organising The Kirkby Lonsdale Living Advent Calendar these last few months. We are thankful that so many people were keen to take part in this adventure. We do hope people will be able to spend time during Advent, going around Kirkby Lonsdale and seeing all the different carols portrayed in the window displays. Please pick up a map showing which windows are taking part from The Tourist Information Centre or St. Mary’s Porch. Alternatively, print off a map and see pictures of the windows on our Facebook Group which is called Kirkby Lonsdale Living Advent Calendar 2020. A new window is being unveiled each night at 6pm and the maps will show which windows will be unveiled and when. If you do go along to an unveiling, please ensure you stay 2m apart. All windows that are already unveiled will be ready for viewing from dusk until 9pm every night during December. Enjoy and feel free to share images of these windows with those you love and care for during this Christmas period. We hope they will bring joy to many people.
One of the things I love doing during December is putting up my Christmas Tree. If you are like me, a lot of different decorations hold specific treasured memories of perhaps a person or a place. This year, Pauline, Annie and I have created Jesse Tree decorations that you can print off and use to make your own Jesse Tree filled with decorations and scrolls. What is a Jesse Tree? A Jesse Tree is a tree that uses decorations and stories ( we have popped these into scrolls for you) that help you prepare for the coming of Jesus on Christmas day. Each decoration and story helps us remember a different member of Jesus’ family. In total we have created 16 stories to accompany 16 decorations. You could print them off all at once to pop them onto your own Jesse Tree or perhaps make decorating your Jesse tree a bit like a countdown to Christmas by printing 4 stories and the matching 4 decorations each week. To find these decorations and stories please join the Facebook group kl.church Jesse Tree. If you are not on Facebook please email me and I will send you them to you: email@example.com
I wonder what new traditions we will all start this year after living during such strange times? I wonder what new discoveries about ourselves and what we value at Christmas will we find? However this Christmas is for you, I hope you can find some element of peace and hope in the Nativity story;a story which can seem so familiar yet if we look at it closely nearly always surprises us with a new thought or reflection. Have fun reflecting and have a Merry Christmas.
The change from Summer- Autumn seems to have been more noticeable to me this year. I am not sure if this is because the changes have happened more sharply or simply because I have spent more time noticing this year. Either way, I have enjoyed being aware of the seasonal changes and have begun to get excited about the festivities of Christmas too. As some of you may have seen, Heather from See & Know and I are organising Kirkby Lonsdale Living Advent Calendar. People sign up to create a window display based around a Carol of their choice. During December, every evening a window display will be unveiled at 6pm somewhere around Kirkby Lonsdale. We are producing a map detailing all the windows that are taking part in this calendar so that people can go and see them. Thanks to all those who are already taking part. If you would like to participate too do email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
St. Patrick’s Youth Group have enjoyed various activities on zoom including baking bread, making oat-based cookies, tie-dying t shirts and lots of games. The young people have impressed me with their dedication to this group, appearing eagerly on zoom to join in with the latest activity. Their positivity and energy are infectious, blowing away any feelings of zoom fatigue some of the leaders may have as soon as the sessions begin.
Increasingly these and other young people’s prayers have been filled with concern for the sick or for the world and the climate crisis we are facing. Their prioritization of what they deem matters is good to listen to as an adult. Many young people cannot understand why more is not being done to prevent the climate emergency or to help those who are so sick. Their lack of need or desire to know the financial side of these issues could be seen as naïve. However, I wonder if this may give them a clearer insight into what our priorities should be. Often our view is clouded when we realise life is more complicated because everything has to be financed. Yet, I have been reflecting that their prayers and eagerness for change to happen, for us all to do our bit, whether that be preventing the spread of Covid or campaigning for the climate crisis to be taken seriously, shows wisdom not naivety. Their generation, Generation Z, seems to be a generation that cares for the community and the world first and foremost. That is what matters to them. The means to do that financially will be something I believe they will work out because their depth of care is such a core part of this generation. It has brought me a lot of hope during these odd times to realise our future cannot be as bleak with these young people in it.
During this strange time of ever-changing government regulations, we would still like to invite you to join us in trying out Muddy Church. Muddy Church is for anybody with a love of nature or someone who simply enjoys being outside. Our aim is to spend time exploring the Glebe field together, looking at what is living and growing there and considering how God is part of what we see. There will be a time where we make or do something, a pause moment for a story followed by time by a firepit, eating and reflecting together. It is for families, single people, people who are retired, couples, people who know a lot about the environment or gardening and those who know nothing. All are welcome to come and explore together.
Our first Muddy Church will be on Saturday 24th October at 2pm. We will meet in Kirkby Lonsdale at the Glebe Field (next to Ruskin’s view). Please let me know if you would like to come or simply want to know more information by emailing me, Lol Wood, at email@example.com We hope to see you! We advise you wear wellies and be prepared to get Muddy! We will inform anyone, via email, if this event must be postponed due to Covid-19.
Like many of you, the Family Project is getting to know and working with all the new rules and regulations. Any event we are running has been risked assessed and will be compliant with the current government regulations at the time of the event.
I have found these last few months have left me changing the way I plan my social life. Before Covid-19 I was someone who had weekends booked in advance for months on end. Now I tend to look a couple of weeks ahead at a time. Some of this is because I have slowed down as life has, in some ways, got more complicated and in other ways become simpler. I also do not miss the life I had where my weekends were completely booked up with me travelling large distances to see friends and family. I am enjoying quieter and more locally based weekends. It has given me a new appreciation of the place I live and the people I live near too. I wonder if you also have felt the same?
Planning for events with the Family Project has also been tricky because I am aware that others are feeling like I am; that they do not want to or can’t plan too far in advance. That is why the event we are offering this September is one which we hope you can come to easily. It is local and has the aim of being relaxing, simple and hopefully energy giving. It is for everyone; although this event is under the Family Project banner, it is for single folk, families, retired people, tired folk, energetic people, those feeling lost and those who are feeling more centred. All are welcome. Telling us a few days before, via email, is fine. We recognise that planning in advance may be difficult for some. Letting us know you are coming is merely so we can communicate to you if an event is cancelled due to poor weather, Covid regulation changes or if the spaces are already filled for the event.
This September we hope to offer the local community in and around Kirkby Lonsdale a Messy Church Picnic . It will take place on the Glebe Field, which is near Ruskin’s view.
Messy Church will be held at 4pm on Sunday 20th September. Please bring your own seating, food and drink. This will be an opportunity to gather as a Messy Family once more. We shall have socially distanced spaces pre-arranged so on arrival we will direct you to a space to set up! There will also be a QR code scanning trail to follow so you may wish to download a QR code app before you come. If you would like to book a place at this event email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. All are welcome.
Looking further ahead, you may remember in my last article I mentioned Muddy Church! We have now moved this to October so please keep an eye open next month for more information.
I hope to see some of you at the picnic. If I don’t, I hope you are well and doing whatever helps you feel joy, love and connected to yourself, humanity and maybe even God.
As I write it is the week before Messy Church in July. This week is filled with preparing, editing and compiling all the Messy Videos. Huge thanks to everyone who sent in videos for Messy Church. It feels much more like a gathering of friends or community when there is more than one person appearing on our screens during Messy Time. As I edit it, it feels likes interacting briefly with friends, something that is bringing me joy. I hope it makes Messy Church easier to engage with online for those who will come to Messy Church this Sunday.
I know many of us are experiencing online fatigue. Lockdown has meant we have become more reliant on the internet than ever. As a result, there seems to be an increase in outdoor activities now the government has relaxed the rules slightly. As a wild swimmer I have returned to old haunts to find new folk trying outdoor swimming for the first time. This is great to see! We are lucky to live in such a beautiful place where finding spots to swim in clean water or walk amongst greenery is not hard to do.
The desire to be outside more has meant the Family Project has been considering offering a gathering outdoors in the future. Hopefully, in September we will be able to offer you the opportunity to gather for a short walk, time to be/play and eat food together all outside. We will call this event Muddy Church. Muddy Church has no real aim or purpose other than to allow people to explore, play and be in Creation and in turn maybe wonder about the Creator. It is for those who don’t ‘do’ Church. It is for the 70 year old gardener as much as the 2 year old mud maker. If this is something you would be interested in coming along to or if you fancy being part of the Muddy Team , to help set up the area we will use, then drop me an email on email@example.com Keep an eye out for more information over the next few months.
As I write it is mid-June and the Family Project has started preparing for the Messy Church in July. With our Messy Family we are exploring the story of Jesus calming the storm. This seemed rather apt as we are still in the midst of Covid-19 pandemic. The Government has indicated restrictions will begin to ease further soon, but for many of us it has felt, at times, as though we are in a never-ending, unmanageable storm.
As a child I always found the concept of Jesus managing to sleep through this storm fascinating. I would often watch the sky change from my bedroom window, or downstairs with my parents and simply wonder at the loudness of it all. You can see why the idea of Jesus sleeping through a storm still seems somewhat impossible to me. I suspect though Jesus slept because he was simply exhausted. Many of us may be able to relate to that bone-tired feeling. When I speak to friends now, particularly those with children, they speak of a deep tiredness that is not their norm. At the start of the story, we hear that Jesus was leaving a crowd behind when he boarded the boat. He had been spending time teaching them but also being with them, listening to them, perhaps soaking in the emotions of many different people. It makes sense why he was so tired and why he asked the disciples to accompany him on the boat, away from the crowd, to the other side of the water. The human need to escape and rest were present in Jesus.
Yet I still struggle to understand how he slept so soundly. His sleep was deep enough that the disciples had to wake him during the storm. Filled with fear they said ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’. These disciples were fishermen and used to storms. They may even have seen one was brewing. Yet this storm made them so scared they were fearful for their life. Jesus’ response at this point is bemusing. He does not immediately address the disciples. Instead he turns to the winds and the waves; the nature that has brought so much fear and says ‘Quiet! Be still!’. The winds and waves calm down immediately. The fact Jesus has authority over nature must have been incredible to witness. I find it compelling that he turns first to the centre of the storm and communicates with it directly. Something about that statement gives me hope. Even if Jesus does not calm our current storms, the knowledge that he can communicate with and be present with us through a storm is important for me. I also find it moving to ponder how Jesus asked the disciples to go to the other side of the lake. He chose to enter a storm.
Next he turns to the disciples and says: ‘“Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”’. I always wish I could determine the tone of these questions. Were they said in despair or with a caring tone? We will never know. It may well have been a mixture of the two. At first these questions seem harsh. The disciples had been deeply unsettled by the storm; their fear is a human response. Yet, Jesus’ questions seem to have been rhetorical. He wanted to make them pause and think. Jesus recognised storms can be terrifying but they can also change us and shape us in new ways. Storms can give us different perspectives. Storms can lead us to faith. I wonder if during the time of lockdown you found yourself changing. How do you think differently than before? What is newly important to you? I hope most of all you feel that Jesus, or at least the sense of peace he caused to the wind and waves, is with you in whatever storm you are entering, enduring or exiting.