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