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Contemplative Fire Post

JULY 2022 – no.59

Welcome to your latest copy of The Contemplative Fire Post where we look back at the what's been and forward to what will come!

Please share this newsletter, invite others to sign up to it, share the facebook group, share the website and the forum, share our community out - and as importantly share into our community too, for only together do we grow into the living flame that is Contemplative Fire!

This newsletter is a little late getting out and I could blame Covid and recuperating, but then that would be a bit of an excuse - you see the truth is I'm just really good at procrastination thanks to a touch of neurodiversity - now this is at once a nuisance but also at times a blessing, because that touch of difference makes for the ability to do many things I perhaps wouldn't otherwise do - sadly it also sometimes means I miss a deadline I didn't mean to.
Now this isn't just an apology for the fact that your 'July' edition of the post didn't happen until August, but rather its a way of me trying to highlight the nuisance and blessing being part of a differently ordered community can be - after all we are a dispersed community and an active contemplative one at that - so that means we may sometimes see things a little differently, and it may even seem that we may not have all the usual channels of being that other faith communities do, afyer all we are largely miles and miles apart - but what we do have is a living flame kindled in us, we have a network of people with different ways of being, different rythmns of life, different outlooks that get fed back into the whole eventually - and that's beautiful, really beautiful because it means that here everyone can be as they are, who they are, and that they can journey together firm in the realisation that their difference is the very thing that they are embaced for, their flame part of the fire, their style of contemplative action welcomed - just as a fire flickers and dances so too do we dispersed companions flame brightly where we are and dance as embers and sparks released into the vast wide world... 
One of my joys as editor of the post is to get to be able to share so many of these sparks and embers and stories of difference, companionship and creativity out from the central fire and to disperse them wider so they can kindle again the companions fire, so I want to thank you all for the sharing of your being and creativity and experiences that are gathered here in this edition of the CFPost, and I'd exhort you to share with each other, and others, as you can and please for who knows what little embers you may light or seed in others and do remember that I am always looking for things of interest for inclusion, so please email me your contributions (poems, images, questions, reflections, resources, prayers - anything!) ready for the next edition by the 25th of September please - emails to: lincolnforestchurch@gmail.com

Many thanks! Melanie
Melanie Carroll C.F.  -  CFPost Editor
 
…..A few thoughts from The Chair
 
I am writing these few thoughts in the cool of the kitchen at Corner Cottage, as outside the sun is beating down and the mercury is rising, in fact the highest temperatures ever recorded are predicted. As well as a challenge for us to keep cool our wild life in temperate Britain is struggling to adjust to the climate crisis we now find ourselves in. Although much of our native wild life is struggling, I invite you to consider our butterfly population for a few moments. We have 58 species of butterfly in Britain, and the Butterfly Conservation charity, has determined that 24 of these are now threatened. This downward trend in numbers is long term, initially beginning with intensive farming methods introduced after the second world war, but now extreme weather patterns such as we are current experiencing has made their plight desperate.
 
Butterflies are the tip of the iceberg, a small window onto what the biologist Prof Dave Goulson has called the “insect apocalypse”
 
We need insects…. They are pollinators for our food chain, and part of the food ecosystem for other animals and birds. They are in integral part of the worlds functioning.
 
Some of us recently we fortunate to go on retreat to Foxhills, near Chester, for five days “out of time” which we beautifully held and resourced by Tess Ward. The retreat house is wrapped on all sides by a wide variety of trees, planted largely by the late Laurence Pilkington before the house was gifted to the Church. As we were surrounded by the waving trees, the sound of the wind in their branches, the buzz of bees and the fleeting glimpses of birds singing in the dawn, the sense of oneness, of connection to the whole of the natural world was hard to miss. As butterflies and insects are a part of the very fabric of the natural, so are we. It is because that this deep connection with the natural world is not fully appreciated that we find ourselves sleepwalking deeper into ecological disaster, that does not provoke serious governmental action to address the issues; I find it telling that in all the political jostling taking place in the UK at the moment, there seems to be little or no mention of the climate crisis we are facing.
 
It is not for nothing that the ancient Greek word for the insect is psyche….. which literally translated means “soul”
 
There is a soul connection with the natural world which need to be nourished. So many indigenous peoples recognise this soul connection as integral to understanding their place in the natural world, and from which flows a deep respect for it. The more we contemplate our oneness with all the natural world, the clearer the invitation becomes to cherish it, to love it and ultimately to begin healing it where it is not too late.
 
On the retreat I was introduced to the poet, Joy Harjo who was the first Native American to serve as Poet Laureate. I would like to share with you her poem “Remember”, which speaks of our soul connection…
 
Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the origin of the universe.
Remember you are all people and all people are you
Remember you are this universe and this universe is you
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.
Remember.
 
Tread Wonderfully on this Earth
Jeremy
 

WhatsApp with Contemplative Fire! 

A few months back a What’s App group was started so Companions can more easily communicate together. 
If you would like to join the What’s Group do make contact via email and we will add you.

Hopefully these small on line groups will offer us another way of connecting together as community : )

Many Kind Regards

Caroline ( on behalf of fellow Companions)

Recently we spent a rich morning considering how we might connect with the Divine through the beauty of needs. Our Companions' WhatsApp thread has been buzzing since with energy and ideas flowing out of our morning together.
 
We were facilitated by Jenny Tipping, who is both a Quaker and a certified Non Violent Communication Trainer. If you think you'd be interested in more such training / explorations in NVC, or are part of another group that could benefit from this, please do explore her website: jennytipping.co.uk
 
Below are the Feelings and Needs lists, particularly for those who took part and found the exercises of identifying their feelings and needs useful.

We made a recording of the event, which you can view (but not download) here:
 
https://www.dropbox.com/s/zwyu8o4bl98y6ai/WotWThe%20Divine%20through%20the%20beauty%20of%20needs.mp4?dl=0
 
Here's to exploring wisdom from across the threshold together...
List of need
List of feelings

It was also very lovely to receive this from Jenny Cuff who attended the session:

"Dear friends and companions

Thank you for an excellent exploration with Jenny Tipping. It got me thinking much wider than my preconceived ideas and opened up greater understanding of personal needs when communicating with others. the handouts are useful to put together with my notes.

Also thanks to Ali who very skillfully managed the technical side. It was very smooth which added to the enjoyment and appreciation of the morning.

In Lighted Companionship,

Jenny"

Mystical Christianity session 4 will take place on  the 3rd August 

Dear Companions and Friends of Contemplative Fire,

The fourth of our series of 6 sessions exploring Mystical Christianity is coming up Wed 3rd August 6:45 for 7pm - 8:15pm on Zoom. Scroll down for the Zoom link below. The catalysts for this session are attached. You might want to print them off beforehand, though they will also be displayed on the screen. We hope to see you there...: 

Wednesday evenings 7-8:15pm: 3rd August, 

On Zoom

People are very welcome to come along to just one or two sessions, to dip their toe in, or to take the plunge and come along to all of the sessions, diving deep into the well of mystical Christianity. We hope to encounter you there…

Contemplative Fire is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Contemplative Fire: Mystical Christianity 4

Time: Aug 3, 2022 06:45 PM London

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82759226036?pwd=K25GbWZrS3JFcG40RTJyVnUrdWV6QT09

 

Meeting ID: 827 5922 6036

Passcode: 203001

Dwelling Deep with

Mystical Christianity

Philip Roderick (the Founder of Contemplative Fire) is offering six online sessions of guided engagement for us to wrestle deeply and prayerfully with various texts (“catalysts”) drawn from the writings of different Christian mystics and mentors, both ancient and modern. This is the second of the six sessions, which will each last just over an hour. The meetings will be open to all who are intrigued by the mystical dimension of Christianity(not just to Companions of Contemplative Fire). Two or three catalysts will be circulated for people to ponder before the session (along with the Zoom link), and in each session, Philip will introduce a context for each catalyst. The dynamic of these meetings will encourage a deep engagement and wrestling with the texts from everyone. The discussion will engage both heart and head – a profound and prayerful exploration of the mystical Christianity in which Contemplative Fire is rooted.

CONTEMPLATIVE FIRE COMMUNITY WEEKEND

SEPTEMBER 30TH- OCTOBER 2ND

HIGH LEIGH CONFERENCE CENTRE
HODDESDON, HERTS


After the past few difficult years, we are excited to announce details of our Community Weekend, where we as Companions and friends will gather to reconnect with each other and share our stories. Finally, we have the opportunity to be present with each other, and your presence will bring real energy to our time together, so we would encourage you to note the dates and reflect upon whether you can join us.

Details of the programme will be circulated later, but our theme is ‘Sparks of Loving Kindness’ and will include space for community sharing, singing, gathering round a fire, community business, reflection and stillness. 

We have reserved 40 places at High Leigh which would be wonderful to fill, and to support Companions and friends we are offering the weekend for £99 which subsidises the full cost of £156. If anyone feels that they would like to pay the full amount, we will receive anything over £99 as a donation to community funds (and be able to claim gift aid on this). If on the other hand £99 is more than you can find then we invite you to apply for a subsidised place. We do have a bursary fund available for Companions, and a development fund for friends to support them to attend. Companion Helen Fitch-Hunter shares her thoughts on this “The bursary fund is there to support all Companions where there is any reason for financial hesitancy in joining in any of our Community’s events and being a part of the life of it. It is a useful pot of money for everyone who needs it - I have previously had to apply to the bursary fund even though I didn’t consider myself to be among the poorest of this country. 

We can often make choices in our finances and rule out things we consider to be “extras” - even more so now in these difficult times of rising living costs. But being a part of our community shouldn’t be considered an “extra” - anyone considering NOT attending for a financial reason should feel very welcome to apply. I would like others to know that when we have no available funds as individuals we have Companions willing to help us, and when we have more money available we are willing to donate to this pot and give others the opportunity to join retreats and events.”

To request a place at the Community Weekend please complete the google form which can be found here;


   https://forms.gle/V1F2Qq65DznuuojM7


If you have any questions do email us at info@contemplativefire.org.

 

We do hope that you will be able to join our Contemplative Fire Community as we gather together to experience Sparks of Loving Kindness
Kindling The Fire!

Pull up a seat and come warm yourself by the fire of shared story and experience.
black and white image of sparks from a fire


Amanda O'Shaughnessy has very graciously shared this with us:
I have felt drawn to the contemplative way of praying for a couple of years now. 

When I am in that contemplative place, in stillness, that is when I feel most connected to God. 

My desire is to draw on my love of the contemplative way of being and prayer to help me discern where God wants me to be and what that looks like, and to use that as a way of reaching out to people, as a way of showing them love and helping them to discover their true selves

Amanda

Amanda has also shared the beautiful Poem and image below. 
 

Poem from Amanda O'Shaughnessy
Kindling The Fire!

Stay a while longer and warm yourself by the fire of shared story and experience again.
black and white image of sparks from a fire

 

I struggle to find the right preposition (especially, as in my native language we don’t have them!) to describe my relationship with Contemplative Fire up to this point when I finally take the step to join as a companion – My journey with CF? in CF? to join the companionship?

My first encounter with Contemplative Fire was actually about 12 years ago when I first moved to Sheffield, leaving my job/career and seeking what God might lay ahead of me in life. I found my safe space in Whirlow Grange when Philip Roderick was the chaplain at the time, a space that helped me feel more grounded when the sense of rootlessness dominated. From there, I came across Contemplative Fire and joined a few contemplative walks. I remember being invited to walk slowly with full attention of the movement, to gaze the running streams with no rush of time, to be free in silence and yet also be a part of a group. These are the moments that stand out when I recall the highlights of my ‘homeward journey’, the journey of seeking closeness to God.

The online Time of Togetherness in the last year or so, again, has deep meaning in my spiritual journey when I was hit by a strong sense of homelessness and yet counting on God’s grace to have a homecoming experience. The joy to see the fruits from a bramble bush which has been thorny and bare for the majority of the year!

Looking back, without me noticing at the time, I have trod through a difficult path by weaving together the strands of praying, studying and taking actions. So, somehow CF has been an essential part of my growth journey, especially during my time in Sheffield. That is my journey in CF. However, I struggle to fully commit. It is almost a fear to belong when I need to belong. So, I have not been totally IN CF. Having disconnected with CF for a long period of time, I cannot claim I have journeyed WITH CF all the way through either. However, the strange thing is, every time I made a bold appearance, through physical attendance or online, I feel I am in the right place. The trinitarian correlation of Still Waters, a Learning Journey and Across the Threshold hold me in a comfortable place with God’s loving kindliness. I have not aimed TO join the companionship, at least till this point. Now, I genuinely feel it’s time to make this step. I feel the readiness to accompany others as well as to be accompanied, to deepen the love for still waters and to participate in building a compassionate community that resembles God’s calling to enter His Kingdom.

Connie Chapman

19.6.2022

Connie also shared the image below. 

We'd love for others to share their experiences with us too! 
 

Brambles 2 years apart
Selection of the view
Mark and Tessa Holland write.
Dear friends and fellow Companions, 
Back in October 2020, we shared with the Community the next stage of our journey as we closed the Wild Fortune Quiet Garden at our home in West Sussex and embarked on realising our vision for Hirfron, the redundant smallholding we had recently purchased in Mid-Wales. We moved permanently to Hirfron in March 2021, and we have since completed the restoration and conversion of the barns. After 15 months of having builders on site we are relishing the quiet!
We are affiliated to the Quiet Garden movement as a place of prayer, creativity and welcome. Our ‘garden’ is five and a half acres of woodland and pasture, with a kitchen garden, a courtyard garden and a recently planted orchard. There are quiet sitting places indoors and outside with views over the Dulas valley and longer walks in the surrounding hills. We will be joined by a small herd of alpacas in September.
Our way of life combines our work of prayer with our stewardship of Hirfron, through a rhythm that balances everyday tasks with the prayer offices, contemplative prayer, reading and creativity. You are most welcome to come and stay for quiet retreat, (Monday to Friday, for 2-5 days), in one of our two small, restored barns. The smaller Stable Barn has a twin bedroom; the larger Hay Barn has a twin bedroom and a double bedroom. Both barns are self-contained with a kitchenette and ensuite facilities. 
The invitation is to step aside and join us in our contemplative rhythm of life. That might be for times of prayer and meditation, working in the kitchen garden or the art studio, with us or in solitude. Our life here is always enriched by those who join us! In addition to personal quiet retreat times, we hope to hold separate “Working Together” weekends every few months, combining time spent in prayer and meditation with work tending the land and of course, eating together.
Whilst the vision continues to evolve, we are not a holiday let business and we don’t have a “tariff”, but we do invite financial contributions. We have a suggested level, although this is indicative. We would not want this to stop anyone from coming to stay. 
If you would like to spend a few days here (Monday-Friday) for quiet space or would like to register your interest in a Working Together weekend, please do be in touch with us via email at tessaandmark123@gmail.com
 .

Quotes to Ponder and Reflect upon.

Image of looking up at a tree
" Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, "Stay awhile."
The light flows from their branches.
 
And they call again, "It's simple," they say,
"and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine."
 
Mary Oliver
Feet standing around a firepit
"Don't ask what the world need. Ask what makes you come alive and go out and do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive" - Howard Thurman

 

We offer prayers for Companions and Friends of our community in all situations and the places they find themselves in this time on the journey of their lives.

We offer thanks for those that have known prayer and that their prayers have been heard.

We pray for comfort for those bereaved or whose loss is great at this time, those whose names we know and those we don't.

We prayer for healing for those named and unnamed in our community and communities at this time and for their needs.

Finally we pray welcome and a blessing over and for all those new to Contemplative Fire.

 
Inflame us with compassion so we nurture ourselves and others with healing and forgiveness!
Empower us with wisdom and knowledge that we might bring forth the Divine Plan!
And let us recognise the Truth that clear vision might unfold.
 
 
Nan Merrill: Psalms for Praying, 144

Whether there is a need or not, we should pray and give thanks to God.🙏🏼


Please remember we do have a prayer list that you are invited to send your personal requests to.
 
Event List

Wisdom on the Way.In our online offer we are in the process of planning online Wisdom on the Way sessions, led by people from different walks of life but who have insights to share. We will share details of WOW’s with you as they occur and hope that as an online resourcing people from far and wide may join in.

 

Times of TogethernessYou are warmly welcome to join us on the 3rd Sunday of the month for our Community Time of Togetherness.
These opportunities to share a reflective time of stillness together are held on Zoom. The room opens at 4.45 and we start at 5 pm for approx 45 minutes.
Each month has a different flavour to it. We mix in ‘Many voices’ sessions when we reflect on a short phrase together and the floor is open to anybody to share their thoughts, with times when we are led by on member of the Community .

If any member of the community would like to lead one of these shared times together, do let us know at info@contemplativefire.org.

Listening Three's... We have several members of the community interested in joining a Listening Three. Many members of the community find being part of a Listening Three to be of significant benefit and the back bone of their relationship with others in the community. With the possibility of meeting online the opportunity to be part of a Three is open to everybody regardless of your physical location.

Listening Threes are essentially a structured time of silence, personal story-telling and deep listening in a safe context. They are countercultural in that they are not about dialogue and discussion, but about listening. In essence, Listening Threes are spaces where each person is listened to without judgment, and with compassion, whatever they want to say, and where the Divine is also listened to deeply. Threes meet as often as the group chooses to meet, and can meet in the same physical space or online. Sometimes, particularly in the first session, the group might focus on a particular topic, for example, "Being listened to". Or people can share whatever they want to share from their own personal journey. They follow a simple structure where time is held in silence and time is also held for each person to share, or remain in silence, whatever they choose. Typically a Listening Three lasts for two hours, but this can be adapted by the group should they wish.

If you would like to consider joining a group, you are welcome to form one yourself. Members of groups can be Companions or Friends of CF, but equally non-CF members are welcome to join a Listening Three.

​In the past, people have found it helpful to agree to meet initially for 2-or 3-times and then to review how they all are finding it.   

Do contact me if you would like any support forming your own group. Alternatively, if you feel you would find it helpful to be connected to others interested in being part of a Listening 3 then do email me at info@contemplativefire.org and I will connect you. 

 
 
For a full listing of events please visit:
https://contemplativefire.org/events/
If you are not a companion, or perhaps are a new companion, of CF and are interested in journeying deeper and understanding our rhythm of life together, we have begun running some « Intro to CF » short Zoom sessions.

If you are interested in joining one then please do make contact with us.
https://contemplativefire.org/contact-us/
Some Information and resources from our friends...
 
OutoftheBox
Are you interested in being trained in a contemplative approach to sharing stories?
Kathryn Lord is a Companion of Contemplative Fire and has offered OutoftheBox stories in both her Journeying Together Group and at one of our  Wisdom on the Way gatherings. She co-leads OutoftheBox Training and already two other Companions of Contemplative Fire have been trained in this approach to storytelling. 

OutoftheBox is a movement promoting personal and community wellbeing through the power of story and play. We tell carefully selected and scripted stories in an atmosphere of contemplation that is both light and deep. Our way of being creates a safe and brave space that encourages a playful, creative and reflective response and brings benefit to people of all ages and worldviews.

OutoftheBox stories are in use in a range of settings, including schools, care homes, workplaces, community groups, families, therapeutic settings and faith communities.

For an online 60 minute OutoftheBox Experience please go to https://www.outoftheboxtraining.org/support

For more details please go to https://www.outoftheboxtraining.org/ or contact  kathryn@outoftheboxtraining.org
--

Whirlow Spirituality Centre is again open and has a very special place in the hearts and minds of many in the Contemplative Fire Community. A listing of their events and a link to their mailing list can be found here: https://www.whirlowspiritualitycentre.org/whats-on
Any companions and friends in the Sheffield area might be interested in some contemplative walks that Jacky Stride will be leading on the first Thursday of the month from June to September starting at 7.0pm, as part of the Whirlow programme. The first one is meet at Whirlow - later ones may start somewhere else - not sure yet.
They will be like our Pilgrimages to NowHere but shorter as finishing by 8.30. Walking in silence and sharing reflections afterwards.
 
The Living Spirituality Connections site has some very good resources on it that may help engage and interest you too.
http://www.livingspirit.org.uk/
They do have a very active Events listing that is often worth scanning.

The Contemplative Society may be helpful for anyone new to Contemplative Fire and the Contemplative practices, especially the pages on Contemplative Practice: https://www.contemplative.org/contemplative-practice/

The Quiet Garden Movement nurtures access to outdoor space for prayer, reflection and rest in a variety of settings, such as private homes, churches, schools and hospitals, and creates opportunities for people to experience silence, restfulness and contemplative practices
please do also engage with them through their blog, email listTwitterFacebook and Instagram.

 
Finally a reminder to join the Contemplative Fire Facebook group if you are on Facebook as it is a wonderful place of shared community and is there for all.
Also do remember our own Community Forum too on Contemplativefire.org.
Finally again we would invite you to share this newsletter, and get others to sign up to it too, do share the facebook group, share the website, share our community out - and as importantly share into our community too, for only together do we grow inot that living flame that is Contemplative Fire!

Remember please do send us your inclusions for the Contemplative Fire Post - This is your space to share to our wider community and there is nothing too small or too big to share that will not be welcomed by your fellow companions and our friends!

We really are looking for things of interest for inclusion, so please do share by emailing your contributions (poems, images, questions, reflections, resources, prayers - anything!) ready for next months edition by the 25th of the month - emails to Melanie at lincolnforestchurch@gmail.com
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