Our minister in association, Bruce, invited us (Wesley Uniting, Canberra), to consider the various ways in which we nurture our connection to the Sacred, in his reflection this past week. I spent quite some time on Sunday morning examining how the actions of my senses, the language of my love, and the means by which I learn, are helping me not only to stay connected with the Sacred, but to deepen that connection, through this pandemic season.



Friends have been sharing their photographs on social media. Chris’s close-ups of tree trunks inspire awe and gratitude for creation. Jules shares black and white snapshots of her days, Hannah the flowers and sights from her walks through Edinburgh, and my sister her adventures with my niece and nephew, and I am with them, though we are apart.
Sometimes I colour mandalas, not thinking too much about the colours, but choosing them on instinct. On reflection, I consider what the colours show me about how I am feeling and praying. Orange is friendship, yellow is joy, blue is usually the various shades of sadness …
coloured mandala


I am finding podcasts helpful for connection and reflection. Here’s three I’ve found in this season.
The Squiz is a nice bite-size overview of news, especially helpful for staying informed without being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information on Covid-19.
By the Well is conversation on the lectionary portions for the week, with a view to the sorts of questions and insights preachers might glean from the stories for our times.
Life and Faith has stories of people through the lens of spirituality, from the Centre for Public Christianity.
Music, of course: old favourites, Vivaldi adagios and the Pride and Prejudice (BBC 1996) soundtrack; new friends, Palisander recorder quartet, and Anonymous 4 singing Hildegard of Bingen.


Is a love language for me – hugs, reaching a hand to a shoulder … without that physical connection to other humans, I have found caressing the leaves of the ferns in my indoor garden, tending to the rose bushes, potting and repotting getting my hands in the earth to be a physical connection to other living things.
Getting outside to feel the sunshine and the breeze is another physical connection to life I cherish most days. Connecting to life is connecting to the Source of life.

Touch & Smell

Opening the container of ground coffee not only evokes delight for the senses, but gratitude for the friend who bought it for me on hearing my coffee grinder was on the blink and all I had was beans or instant. It’s the little joys, a good – good – cup of coffee … that remind one of the Sacred.

The Language of Love


While touch is one way I speak love, presence is a way I speak and hear ‘love’. It’s really hard for me at the moment, with Chronic Fatigue making being in the presence of others more tiring than usual; and with Covid-19 restricting even the limited occasions of company and community that nurture my well-being.
So the playing board games with sister and niece and ‘sitting at the table’ with family for Mothers’ Day by Skype approximate presence enough. The food on the doorstep which when I eat it holds the giver in my heart is presence enough.
I give the gift of presence with the Sacred to Holy One and to me when I sit on my porch gazing into the vast blue sky, soaking in the green, sitting still, listening, being. Time, attention: presence, and more deeply and more often than I had been managing before the pandemic.


flowers in vase

It is not my love language to give gifts – to do practical things to help and to fix. But I have received the love spoken by gifts from a sister who sent me a t-shirt, a friend who brought me flowers, my adopted family who gave me a gift-a-day for a fortnight, and from a number of people who cook and bake. In a way, this too, is something like presence, for the time you have been on the mind and heart of the one preparing and sending a gift, and their lingering with you as you enjoy the gift.


We learn in many ways, by doing, by seeing, by listening, by moving.

Doing and moving

I like to walk, and have in the past written poems and sermons as I’ve walked. I learn stories for telling best when I stand and let my body move. I learned for a Greek exam by rehearsing the stories in Greek and English while riding a bike.
I can’t go for walks these days: yep, Chronic Fatigue again. I swim, and sometimes I find understanding as I move through the water, of a problem or a story. The rhythm is calming, meditative; being in water gives me joy; the warmth of the water is healing and therapeutic. So I am present, attentive, and connecting to life.
The meditative rhythm of cross stitch is calming, brings me deeper into myself, and thus closer to Holy One. It connects me to loved ones when, as now, the piece I’m creating is for another (perhaps I do gift giving after all); and because I’m listening to Stephen Fry read the Harry Potter novels, the joy of which I share with various family members.


You’ll not be surprised, I think, to discover I also learn by reading. Some reading gifts of this season include:
Phosphorescence, by Julia Baird. In which she illuminates signs and practices of hope for dark times. I wrote a poem in response and gratitude.
Woven, by Joel McKerrow. A poet, Joel tells his story of faith, of finding his own expression of Christian spirituality that is authentic and life-giving.
Cadfael Mysteries, by Ellis Peters. I do enjoy (not all, but some) stories of clergy or monastic characters. I find I resonate with those whose sense of God is generous, kind, broad; who are committed to justice and love; who are committed to nurturing community and connection to the Sacred. Story is a more profound invitation to ‘theology’ than systematics and philosophy, for me.

How are you encountering God through your senses and the ways you love and learn?
How will you tell and show the hope such encounters nurture within you, a witness to the Holy, an invitation to others to find hope?