Week 4: Respect and Motivate #leaner4lent by Alanna-Jayne Williams

Chaplaincy at Canterbury Christ Church

Week 4: Respect and Motivate #leaner4lent by Alanna-Jayne Williams

Hey, I am Alanna-Jayne, one of your Lay Chaplains here at the Canterbury campus of Christ Church. During Lent our campaign that we’ve been promoting has been #leaner4lent. A catchy little slogan that encompasses so much more that can be covered in any 5 minute video or blog that we try to achieve each week. This week will simply be a blog so you can work through it at your own pace. This week the theme that I have to work with is of; Respect and Motivate.

How do they bear any relation to that of #leaner4lent when we’re considering trimming down on the sugary processed food or taking up walking 10,000 steps a day. Well we know it’s tough- one of the biggest motivators for giving something up for lent however hard it may be, is knowing that there’s a time limit clearly marked on how long this self discipline is to last for. Maybe there are other motivations; to lose some weight to be fitter, maybe a daily walk to improve your mental health I think finding your motivation is the first step- and by doing this the respect follows. Let me tell you of a story that I’ve been told since I was a child- it happened before I was born in a country a little ways off from here in Belfast, Northern Ireland. My dad’s housemate had moved out and left a pair of trainers behind. So my dad took those trainers and went and ran the Belfast marathon; as you do; without any preparation. Now his motivation was there, and at that point in his life he was fit enough to know he could more than likely achieve that. However, it is not like that for everyone, respect what you’re attempting to do. There’s a phrase, Rome wasn’t built in a day. As with anything, respect your limits. Today is my one year anniversary of my last normal day in my workspace on campus. So today is monumental in reflecting upon the changes that the last 365 days have brought.

As with many who may read this, you may have taken up new hobbies during the first lockdown. My motivation was that the weather was already beautiful this time last year and suddenly I had lots of time at home. I took up four hobbies as I had the luxury of having the time and space to do so. Let me tell you about what I have learnt along the way.

Learning how to play the guitar: I bought an acoustic guitar and set to teaching myself with some help from my musical husband. My motivation was that I wanted to be able to play alongside him. I learnt respect for the talent that it takes to get to a level of even being able to play bar chords- which I’m still not fluent at. But being able to pick up an instrument and create sweet tunes is such a joy.

I returned to knitting and invested in some more needles: quite quickly I heard of the local maternity wards needing coloured hats for babies and I was able to help by creating a few. During this time I joined the Canterbury Creatives group as an absolute beginner. Something that I’ve learnt, that whatever you’re attempting, it helps to have support and encouragement in those endeavours. Like with anything, others who have the same goals will be able to motivate you on your journey. There’s a respect that comes with seeing how others have been doing things for a longer period and the skill they now have and how they now share their gifts, talents and experience in teaching beginners.

Gardening: My mother in law sent us a bunch of seeds, and as I was home more often we were spending more time in the garden. It takes patience to grow things. The motivation was to be able to eat the produce, which it was a means to an end, but I thoroughly enjoyed my mornings watering my plants. The garden became a colourful place that was peaceful to sit amongst.

Sourdough: If you could get your hands of flour and baking supplies then who wasn’t in the kitchen baking? Is it even a real lockdown if there wasn’t baking banana bread? I created a sourdough starter and fell down that rabbit hole. It took patience and perseverance. What gulled me was that a loaf I spent the best part of 24 hours making was consumed in the space of 6 hours. In the end my motivation to make sourdough was outweighed by how much bread we were consuming.

Now, the sad reality is that while I had the luxury of trying all those things. The majority didn’t last, partly due to motivation, but also time. Respecting the rest of the areas of my life that just needed peace in the middle of a global pandemic. Like so many others, it was then a case of well we’re surviving through it just getting out to do our daily walks and working from home. I paused the taking on of new things, and began enjoying that which I already had. And now I know someone else who spoke into that, that rings true and such a time as this…

I couldn’t let today pass without paying some homage to Saint Patrick – as today is St Patrick’s Day.

Saint Patrick in my humble opinion is one of the most popular Saints; we can thank the Americans for that, and for the Irish that migrated there and wanted part of their culture to be represented. Now the 17th of March is a day to seemingly celebrate all things Irish. How much do you know about Saint Patrick? You know he wasn’t Irish right? No, he was British and kidnapped by what some would call pirates, but really Irish Pagans. They brought Patrick, whose name at the time wasn’t even Patrick, but Maewyn Succat. And they kept him as a slave back in Ireland. After 6 years he escaped home and was trained at a monastery. There he had a vision calling him to return to Ireland to tell the natives about the God that he loved.

If we take time to consider what motivated St. Patrick, initially we see relationships- he risked his life to return home  to his family and then risked it again to return to Ireland to return to the people burdening his heart. The second motivation that we see is the power of purpose in his life that history shows us.  He had a strong commitment to his faith and values. He did not take a passive role in his life, nor did he see himself as a victim. Instead, his beliefs and values gave him an active role to play in the world. He did not let fear keep him from living. He changed the nations and left a legacy. As Lin-Manuel Miranda nicely summed it up, 

“Legacy. What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.” (The World Was Wide Enough, Hamilton) 

These two qualities, valuing family and living out a purpose. That’s a person that knows who they are and where they are going.

There’s a quote attributed to Saint Patrick that goes like this:

Be still and know that I am. 

Be still and know. 

Be still. 

Be. 

Sometimes it’s enough to just be. As we approach the anniversary of the first lockdown approaches, take some time to just be. During Lent as we rattle on about #leaner4lent it’s enough to get through the day.

You may already know this, but as you think about #leaner4lent you’re already motivated by something but what is it?

When people hear ‘motivation,’ they often think of classic incentives like bonuses, extra paid time off, and maybe the occasional pep talk. In truth motivation is elusive, because it so often depends on the individual and what makes them tick at any given moment. I remember a few years ago I heard a talk at a CU christmas event and I took this away from it- that you can show what your heart is consumed with; or essentially what motivates you by where you spend your 5 T’s

Time: what do you do when you have free time; or do you spend your time at work- do you work to the best of your ability?

Talk: What do you chat to your colleagues, family, friends about- what are they learning about you from your conversations- your hobbies, what you spend your time doing, what annoys you about whatever tv show you’re watching?

Talents: What are you good at or what are your hobbies? Do you use your talents  like baking to gift others, could you take your piano playing skill to nursing homes when allowed to do and play for the residents there?

Treasure: This relates to your money; what are you spending your cash on. Is there a particular charity that you give money to?

Thoughts: What do you spend your time day dreaming about or planning? For me I would be planning a holiday- for my husband a musician, it’s endless thinking of different gear setups, and now recently he’s building a pc and I get to hear all his thoughts as he’s been working from home and thinking out loud- If I didn’t know him better it would look as though these are the thoughts that consume him- the motivation to make the best kind of set up he can that sounds the best or runs the best- yet that’s only a fraction, but if I was a colleague that he was talking to for 5 mins in the day it may seem that that’s the thing that makes him tick.

These questions can help us answer the question; what motivates us. It may be a surprise. Wherever you find yourself today may you find the motivation you need and kind enough to realise it’s a journey and respect your limits as a human.

Feel free to light a candle, leave a message, say a prayer or simply write the name in loving memory of those whom we have loved and lost but whose memory we cherish. Light a candle