At the end of next month I will turn 40. I have been inspired in recent years by Sally Clarkson’s posts about wanting to finish well; and so, on the approach to this milestone, I wanted to take some time to seek God’s perspective on my life and make sure that I am focussing on the best things.
With all that in mind, about 10 days ago I began 40 days of prayer before I’m 40; taking a little time each night to pray about my priorities and seek what God wants of me in each of those areas.
I’ve been writing out my prayers; praying this way helps me to pray from a deeper place. With a physical action to do I am less distracted and better able to stay in communion with Jesus, and so it was wonderful last week to receive news of Vinita’s spiritual writing retreat. It started today and I’m planning to write along with her prompts all of this week as part of my 40 days.
I thought I’d share my writing today, and see if any of you might be inspired to have a go too. I knew pretty quickly what item I would write about but I wasn’t really sure what I would write, so if you feel like that too don’t let it put you off. Once I got started the words flowed easily.
I remember the day I got my Emma Bridgewater JOY mug. It was November, and I had just enjoyed lunch with Emma, a old school friend. We were finally catching up after a year or so of being out of touch. It felt so familiar to sit with her again over lunch, as though it were only a week since we had last spoken. It was wonderful to catch up with tales of our lives, our work, our homes, our children and husbands; to be comfortable together; to know that we share similar joys and similar struggles; and to feel comfort that we are not alone in any of these! I could have sat chatting with her all afternoon, but I was on my lunch-break, we only had an hour together.
Emma invited me to go with her to the Bridgewater shop and choose a mug for my birthday. Yay, I love birthdays, I love presents, I love those mugs and they are way too expensive to buy for yourself! I chose my mug almost immediately – the Christmas mug with the word JOY printed on it. Not too Christmassy for year round use, and a word that is not just for Christmas but for all year round. A word that I want to fully embrace; to live wholeheartedly; to be.
It has a hint of Christmas, the cream background is decorated in traditional red and green. It has a top border of solid red hearts; below this the word JOY repeated around the mug, a row of decorative green hearts, and finally a row of upside down solid red hearts. But I don’t notice this level of detail as I use it day by day. I had to look at the mug to write this paragraph (according to Vinita’s instructions) and it feels a slight burden to go into this detail. These are the not the things that matter to me about this mug, these are not the reasons why it is my chosen item to write about today. The word JOY is important, the weight is important, the solid feel of the mug in my hands, and against my lips is significant, the overall beauty and quality. All these things contribute to the ritual and experience of drinking from it; but the detail of the pattern itself does not feel so significant to me.
I love drinking from this mug. It is big, and heavy. It feels weighty, and I think this has a grounding effect on me. Anchoring me to the earth. Anchoring me to home. Reminding me of Emma, of the joy of friendship, especially old friendships that have stood the test of time, that have grown along with you into new phases of life.
Most importantly sipping hot coffee from this mug reminds me to seek joy, pursue it, make a point of noticing it, for surely it is all around me. And I just need to slow down and take the time to notice, and to give thanks. Then, joy will follow.
I really hope you might have a go too, and share in the comments what’s meaningful to you. For me today, what has stood out is the importance of friendship, and focussing on taking time to see joy.