New Normal

 In a recent online 'Pray as you go' I was reminded that I was made to praise God and challenged to surrender everything to Him. How counter cultural is that? What does it mean?

As we emerge from an unprecedented period of personal and social restrictions, I delight in the thought of returning to normal but at the same time question how normal 'normal' was anyway.

If I was created to praise God then I became the mistress of being sidetracked. Something I've had to recognise during the endless lockdowns is that my former life was full of distractions. Some helped me avoid what I didn't want to do (like decluttering); others blocked deep reflection; many were short term fixes and indulgences.

But I'm not beating myself up because experience has taught me it doesn't do any good. Perhaps the 'stick' works better than the 'carrot' for some, but I respond best to 'carrots' – like our ageing spaniel whose bottom is parked permanently below the fridge, where she knows her favourite delicacy lives.

My spiritual director has encouraged me to see 'waiting' as a valid phase in the spiritual life. God is beauty, God is good, God is joy. I look through the window to be lifted out of myself, to see the early light, the ecstatic pattern of sun dancing through beech leaves, to feel the woody breeze.

The new normal. Emerging from a time of waiting to praise God for His crazy creativity. He made Henrietta, our fourteen year old Sulcata tortoise, who is rapidly developing her own fan club on Facebook. She is the reason we know God has a sense of humour. How could you possibly dream up a reptile-inhabited-armour-plated-tank fuelled by grass unless you were God?

Not only that, Henri has emerged this summer as a teenage delinquent, perhaps her version of new normal after wintering indoors. It's always good when it hots up enough to leave her in the garden 24/7 – but not to return to mayhem with garden furniture upended and newly potted conifer trashed!

Our resident wrecker has a lot to teach us. There is mystery about what is motivating her new found energy, apart from the sun. She was created to be herself and seems to be developing a distinct personality.

I am created to praise God. I would love to think I can do that through writing. Me, I want to write something to amaze the world.

But over recent years I have become increasingly aware of the gentle, permeating influence of God in ordinary, everyday life. I am passionate about finding ways to convey this through words, which I attempt to do on my blog, mostly in relation to my prayer shawl ministry.

So the New Normal challenge for me is to listen, observe, be wise in my perceptions and develop new ways of writing it all down.

Eileen Padmore retired some time ago from health care and academia with a vow to indulge in writing more creatively and less academically. Her background in Africa, Eire, Northern Ireland (in the troubles) as well as inner city Birmingham and Leeds provides plenty of copy. She has had articles published by Woman Alive, Christian Writer and contributed to the popular ACW Lent book

Eileen operates a dynamic prayer shawl ministry under the name of Tabitha. You can read all about it here.

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