This week in Public House…

by Dave on March 10, 2014

Lent in a bar! It’s kinda ‘Holy Joes’ Mk II – bit of input, lots of open debate, chance to explore, no pre-packed answers. Anyone welcome – ideal for non-churchgoers. Come and join in the discussion – or just listen.
public house 4.003



by Dave on March 7, 2014

ash cross

A couple of days ago on Ash Wednesday, I got to do one of the weirdest things I ever get to do as a priest. It’s an ancient ritual called ‘ashing’, which involves me making a smudged mark of the cross with ash on the forehead of every person in the congregation. And while making the mark I repeat a little mantra that says ‘remember you are dust, to dust you shall return….remember you are dust, to dust you shall return.’

It probably seems morbid in this day and age – macabre even – to remind people so blatantly of their mortality. But the message I want to convey in these words is not so much about death as life. What I hear them saying is: ‘Relax! You’re only human!’ And in today’s world, when it can feel like so much is expected of you, that’s pretty good news, because one of the greatest temptations we need to resist is biting off more than we can chew.

Ash Wednesday was the start of Lent – 40 days when people traditionally try to give up some bad habits before Easter. But I think the best way to look at Lent is to see it as an opportunity to be kinder to ourselves – to accept that we’re only human!

Now this might mean giving our bodies a break from some of our more excessive indulgences, or reducing our stress levels by taking a few more walks in the country or in the park. But I think the real temptation we have to overcome is the temptation to expect too much of ourselves when we don’t need to.

So here are a few of the temptations I recommend you try to get the better of between now and Easter:

- give up trying to be perfect when good enough will do
- give up trying to meet everyone’s needs when you really should be looking after some of your own
- give up feeling you have to win all the time when taking part and having some fun along the way would be more than sufficient
- stop trying to be happy all the time when what you really need to do is face up to some pain that you’ve been ignoring
- stop trying to be in control and ask someone for a bit of help
- stop being so blinking accommodating and find out what it is that you really want to do

‘Remember you are dust’ isn’t meant to be a crushing reminder that life is short – goodness knows, we all know that already.

‘Remember you are dust’ is a reminder that you don’t have to live as if you are Mother Teresa, Pope Francis and Nelson Mandela rolled into one.

Be kind to yourself!

Relax! You’re only human!

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