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Essay: January

2021 essay january

“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”

Luke 5: 16

The world is so noisy right now. Platforms, apologies, righteous anger and sinfulness.

And I have withdrawn to lonely places and prayed.

Amid these awkward desert places, I have questioned what answers can be found in a culture that seems to be splitting at the seams. How can we recover from a year where everything changed?

And, I don’t have any answers, really. When I try to fix all the broken pieces together, my brain struggles to comprehend the complexity of it all.

But He does.

He calls freedom in the desert places. He shouts purpose amid loss. He draws us to lonely places, to remember the sacrifice that changed this tidal surge.

Freedom shouts at the doorways of hope beckoning a listening ear, but can we perceive its call. Can we hear its song?

Freedom whispers at the school gates and in the council office corners. Can we understand the beauty of its surrender?

The sound of freedom is a voice that is emancipated, a story free to be told. Friendships that remember the best in one another and bounty shared across each divide. The sound of freedom is seeking out the truth, rather than sharing another conspiracy theory. The sound of freedom is children singing, unaware of the cacophony of hatred being spun around their playgrounds.

What does it mean to withdraw and pray?

Each night there is a liturgy that draws me to questions that help refine the noise that bombards our modern life, called the Daily Examen

It is a place of safety and quiet, that brings perspective and peace. It is where I feel most known, understood and cared for. This serenity is hard to explain and is often mocked by those who misunderstand my intention. It is where answers come quickly some days and others feel like they slowly unravel across a lifetime.

It is a dance filled with playful desire and longing.(It feels naughty to write that out loud.) Who made desire a sinful thing?

The one who made the deepest parts of our hearts, created our longing to be the missing puzzle in finding peace and solitude. Rather than a place to feel shame and misrepresentation. Playful surrender in the way that we pray and live in relationship with a spirituality birthed in pain, pleasure and satisfaction.

This dance that calls me towards those quiet places, moments where time stands still. Remembering the beauty of humanity and the grounded-ness we all seek.

What if I told you there was another way?

There is a new rhythm emerging that laughs in the face of hustle culture. To Embrace Slow as a lifestyle, where we honour the everyday moments, right in the middle of the muddle. The messy, ordinary moments of being human. To notice those who swim alongside us in the pool. To breathe deeply, when comparison becomes our only measure of success. To find friendship with the most unlikely of companion and smile deeply at the gap between both our lived experiences.

What about living in a new story?

A quiet revolution is happening, as there is an unmuzzling of voices, who are determined to sing their song. A growing company of women and men, who are discontent to live the way their childhood held them captive, rewriting the story of their lives. Living wide AWAKE.

I learnt throughout January, the beauty of living a quiet life of contemplation and prayer. Learning that living a life of success and surrender often means the most satisfying things we experience don’t need to be broadcast to the world.

My Journalling prompt for January:

What does success in 2021 feel like for you?

“The most convincing sign that someone is truly living their best life, is their lack of desire to show the world that they’re living their best life. Your best life won’t need validation”

Steven Bartlett.

So this year, 2021, from my writing desk, it is going to be a little quieter. I will be publishing one essay per month, emailed out to my inner circle email list only. I will be hosting very limited, private events and for the first time since the advent of social media, I have made all my pages private.

My word for the year is PLAYFUL and my scripture from the process I did through REFLECT is…

1 Thess 4: 11.

Tell me in the comments below, what is your word for the year or a scripture/ quote that has inspired you from the reflect process?

9 thoughts on “Essay: January

  1. This is so beautiful. Some of your best writing ever! ??? I’m excited to see the twelve essays that will come out of this.

    You are building something intentional, spiritual, and inspirational. Love it so much! xxx????????

    1. The comment was love hearts not ?????. I think formatting overrode the icons.

  2. Just wow, and thanks. I love that quote by Steven Bartlett, so poignant. “There is a new rhythm emerging that laughs in the face of hustle culture”. Yes I have been laughing for a little while now at this culture, under the guise of “that’s just mum life for you”, and trying so hard not to be caught up and part of it. More learning to do, more leaning in to the Source. I hope you keep dancing through this year, as described in this post. Thank you for sharing your reflections, and for your Examen practice shared. Here is to an amazing 2021!

  3. I agree.
    Time to slow down and go Deeper.
    Thank you ?

  4. Your gentle writing brings a smile to my face as I too have drawn into a quieter, contemplative space, enjoying the rhythms of family life, creativity, friends and aspirations as they flux and merge as one journey …I look forward to following along in 2021 xx

  5. Instead of the desire for control resulting in more chaos within. RESTORATION of GODLY ORDER in my life.

  6. Love the Bartlett quote. My Scripture I am holding onto in 2021 is Isaiah 26 “People with their minds set on you, you keep completely whole. Steady on their feet, because they keep at it and don’t quit. Depend on God and keep at it because in the Lord God you have a sure thing.” I look forward to reading your monthly essays, Amanda.

  7. Amanda, I too find myself needing to withdraw to a quiet place, becoming more contemplative, seeking to listen more to the Holy Spirit and to watch, wait and notice where God is at work. I am reading through Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton. Thank you for honestly shari g your heart.

  8. Loving the peace of this quiet corner…thanks Amanda….just what my heart needed today x

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