making waves

PositureWaving is a funny thing if you think about it. Why do we choose to flap our hands around in order to signal something? And it can mean many different things.

A wave can mean ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’. It can say, “I’m over here”. It can be a call for help. When the Queen does her wrist rotation I think it is saying, “One is grateful that you have come out to see one.” We have Mexican Waves at sporting events, which I think either means ‘We’re really bored’ or ‘We’re really enjoying ourselves’. And deaf people applaud by waving their hands.

Of course it’s really important to know what sort of wave is happening to you in order to respond appropriately. I was recently on a boat with a friend and as we passed other boats there were gentle waves that acknowledged that we too were on a boat. But as we were approaching our mooring we saw a couple of people clinging to an upturned sailing dinghy who were waving frantically at us to attract our attention and get some help because they were being taken out to sea on the tide. If we had simply waved back in acknowledgement it would not have been good (we tried to help for a while but then the lifeboat arrived so we left it to the professionals).

In just over a week’s time I am going to be speaking in a church for their Harvest Festival and I have decided to focus on waving. Why? One of the ways in which people in Biblical days celebrated harvest was by waving some of the produce that they had gathered. People would bring the items with them to a celebration and then at a given moment would all wave them in the air. I have come across different explanations for what they were doing (and how they waved them) but in short it seems to me that they were waving them in acknowledgement that God had once again provided for them, that he was faithful in the reliable rotation of the seasons he had programmed into our annual journey around the sun, and to express gratitude to him for all that they had received. Doing it on your own would not feel very impressive, but imagine being in a big crowd where everyone was waving a sheaf of corn, for example. It would be a spectacular reminder of just how many people were feeling blessed and grateful.

Few of us nowadays harvest our own crops but harvest festivals persist as reminders that we should be grateful to God for our planet and the way in which it provides nourishment for us. And we can be grateful too for those who do grow and harvest on our behalf, and even for those who transport them and who sell them to us. It’s a moment when our attitude of gratitude gets a boost and we are reminded to be grateful 24/7.

So what would you take to a Harvest festival to wave in order to show gratitude to God?

Be blessed, be a blessing

Green with envy

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Not somewhere I have visited yet

So here’s the thing. The surgery on my shoulder went well and, while painful, I do have some freedom of movement as it’s not in a sling or anything like that. I have been told to keep my arm movements within certain parameters and not to do any heavy lifting but I am able to do some things.

One of those things is to check out what my friends are posting on Facebook and other social media sites and in doing so I have noticed a phenomenon. I don’t know whether it has always been like this or I have noticed it more because of my being confined to home but there seem to be lots and lots of postings of photos from holidays.

My initial reaction (if I am honest) was one of jealousy. I felt envious of all of the travelling, laughing, visiting, relaxing and all the rest of the holidaying that I could see on my tablet screen while I was unable to enjoy any of it. I even felt myself thinking, “It’s not fair, we’re not getting a holiday this year.”

And then, very rapidly, I metaphorically slapped myself around the face with a fish. What was I thinking? It may have been the after-effects of the anasthetic and the pain-killing drugs. But it was more likely just good old-fashioned self-pity and selfishness. I am SO privileged. I have SO much to be thankful for. It’s ridiculous to be envious of others and covet their donkey. So I prayed to regain an attitude of gratitude.

I decided that when I saw pictures from my friends’ holidays I would pray a prayer of thanks that they were having a good time away (and pray for more of it for them). When I saw pictures of places I would like to visit I would pray thankfully that such places exist. When I saw posts from people who were unable to go away on holiday I would be praying that they would find things to be thankful for in their own circumstances.

And that has changed the way that I am looking at my friends’ holidays. Instead of resenting them I am rejoicing in them. Keep them coming, I say, so I can enjoy them with you.

One final thought: an attitude of gratitude works best when you have Someone to be grateful to.

Be blessed, be a blessing

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