Introducing our new Spiritual Director

Dear Cursillistas,

I am writing to introduce myself to you as your new Spiritual Director. My name is Caroline Friswell and I had expected to be introduced to you by Martin Luxon at one of our forthcoming events but, with everything on hold, I have decided to post on our website instead. For those who do not know me, I have been part of Durham Cursillo since it first began. I was a pilgrim on Durham #1 in the autumn of 2003 and joined the Secretariat soon afterwards. I was ordained in 2009 and, from 2012-2019, was Priest in Charge of Byers Green, near Spennymoor. Since my retirement in October my husband, Antony, and I returned to our house in Durham. In recent years I have served as SA on several Cursillo weekends and have also led retreats for Cursillistas at Shepherds Dene.

I don’t need to tell you that we are living through challenging times. Yet this is also a good moment to revisit the three key elements of our Christian life: prayer, study and action. With so much time on our hands, now, we have an ideal opportunity to revisit and renew our rhythms of prayer and study and also to think about new ways of living out our Christian life through action within the constraints imposed upon us at present. The news has been full of examples of how people – of all faiths and none – have been supporting the isolated and vulnerable in our communities. Telephone and video calls to family, friends and church members can be such an encouragement to others, especially those who are living on their own. Perhaps there are creative ways in which you can keep in contact with your reunion group through modern technology via a conference call style app on your smart phone or tablet. If you are missing your grandchildren, how about doing what I am doing – reading them stories via FaceTime and sending them a short, daily and age appropriate quiz via email.

The Secretariat are very aware of the fact that a great many Cursillistas are no longer receiving information about what is happening within Durham Cursillo. This is because, for whatever reason, only a relatively small number of people have returned the GDPR (Data Protection) permission forms to our Secretary, Craig Davies. If you know of any Cursillista who is not getting the information, and who would like to, please could you ask them to email Craig Davies at dac.secretary@live.co.uk.

In conclusion, a dear friend of mine recently sent me the following poems which I hope that you will find inspirational.

Ultreya and shalom, Caroline
The Rev Dr Caroline Friswell


Pandemic

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Centre down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

Lynn Ungar 11/03/2020
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Lockdown

Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
But...
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.

So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,
Sing.

Brother Richard Hendrick, Franciscan in Ireland
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