As I begin this letter on New Year's Eve I am considering what the appropriate stance is regarding the passing of the old year and the birth of the new one.  I think it is a moment to look steadily in both directions, like the Roman god Janus, with his two faces, after whom the coming month is named.  There is a lot to be harvested from 2020 and much to be seeded in 2021.  As an elderly person I have come to realize how important all our experiences are and that once they have been committed to memory they may take on different perspectives altogether.

It would be interesting to hear from you about any particular insights you have gained in the last twelve months which could be shared with others.  I have been fortunate in that, because of 'Lockdown',  I have been able to give a lot of time to the further development of our game "Staging Posts on the Journey of Life".  The 12 booklets of poetry and prose have now been compiled and I am grateful to those of you who sent contributions.  This has considerably enriched the contents.  I am also grateful to Ann Baeppler, one of our FSNS trustees, who has proofread them all.

The prototype game has now been handed over for editing and preparing for publication to Bryan Tully, a Community Psychologist and Humanist Celebrant and Pastoral Support Worker whom I came across in a remarkable way.  During inter-faith week in November, David and I were invited to partner up with an inter-faith buddy with whom we had two encounters by zoom.  Our "buddy", Joanna, was a Humanist Chaplain in Sheffield and our dialogues were very fruitful and inspiring.  Jo was very interested in our work and particularly in our new game.  She mentioned Bryan's book "Raising the Human Spirit" - an anthology of poems, prose and songs, for people of all philosophies, living in a modern, diverse, secular society.  When I contacted Bryan to acquire a copy, I discovered that we were working along similar lines though coming from different directions.  He was, in fact, also exploring developing a game, particularly for the elderly, to encourage "enlightened eldering" and " spiritual harvest time".  Reminiscence in later life can be very fruitful and therapeutic, especially with persons in early stage dementia.  So our paths came together in a very timely way.  We have set up an FSNS editorial team to support him and act as a sounding board.  The next stage of development may take some time so meanwhile I hope to share a poem or two from each staging post with you.

This feels a very appropriate poem for today

from Staging Post One - Heritage

The Dawn of Eternity
Listen to the Salutation of the Dawn
Look to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life,
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence
The bliss of growth
The glory of action
The splendour of beauty,
For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow only a vision,
But today well lived makes every yesterday
a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope. 
Look well, therefore to this day!
Such is the Salutation of the Dawn.

Kalidasa, Indian Mystical Poet 4th/5th century AD

As we move into 2021, FSNS will take the opportunities which arise within our restricted lifestyles to strengthen our relationships as best we can.  I will be continuing to study the spirituality of older people and would welcome any insights you can offer.  I am also interested in exploring a thesis that we may be stifling the spirituality of the young by the structures and systems we impose on them.

One of the insights I have gained during the past few months is a better understanding of Ubuntu.  I have come across this African interpretation of 'community'  on various occasions including on Radio 4 this morning and the concept is echoed in Native American, Maori and Aborigine and other cultures.  This understanding of community has been diminished  in our society and we have a great opportunity to recover it, particularly with the help of immigrant cultures.

We have just created a social media network within "nextdoor"called  Faith and Spirituality Network Suffolk to make it easier for members to communicate with each other.  This seems a more democratic pathway forward, but it does rely on people making contributions themselves!

Unless you tell us otherwise we will assume that you wish to continue as a member of this email group and we would encourage you to join us within "Next Door".

I am wondering whether this might be an appropriate moment to consider whether to invite people to become formal associates and to make a donation to help with expenses as we have no income!   What do you think?

With very best wishes

Cynthia Capey,
Co-ordinator of the Faiths and Spirituality Network (Suffolk)
Inter-Faith Consultant to
The East of England Faiths Agency CIC