As I write, ‘A’, one of our two residents, is kindly cooking Sunday lunch for the community and two guests – chicken and chorizo paella followed by gluten-free red velvet cake, with our gluten-free guest in mind. He was proudly sending us photo updates of the cake-making in progress yesterday! Monthly Sunday lunch has become part of the rhythm for our house that we are calling 8SC (8 Stretton Close), along with cooking and eating dinner together on Wednesdays, and community breakfast and prayer each Friday. Shared meals are definitely a high point of community life! Alex and I love these times together, but also appreciate having our own space – living in rented accommodation nearby is working out really well for us.
Amidst a work-in-progress and developing weekly schedule, one of the elements we have implemented consistently since opening has been morning prayer. Alex and I go round to the house at 8.30 each morning (Monday – Friday) to pray with the guys, which has become a really special time and great way to start the day together. Alex has been teaching us ways to pray contemplatively, and we’re now up to 15 minutes of silence at a time (which I still find a challenge!). Prayer is a really central part of who we are, and helps us all to remain grounded in God as well as be united as a community.
On top of praying and eating, our residents have been getting involved with some of Yellow Ribbon’s activities and courses during the week (for example, emotional wellbeing groups which I lead and music therapy groups), Bible studies led by Alex and local church contacts, decorating our garage which we’re converting into a chapel, and gardening. Moving forward, we are really keen to ensure the community is outward looking and rooted and involved in the local neighbourhood as well as a place of hospitality.
A highlight last week was being able to invite a friend (who Alex and I met at a Shropshire 20s, 30s and 40s MeetUp Christmas social event) round for dinner at 8SC on Wednesday. He is not a Christian, but has a real interest in and knowledge of spirituality and religions, and is very personable and interested in hearing people’s stories. He got stuck in with the food prep which was a team effort, and ended up staying for evening prayer using the Lectio365 app, and even some sung worship in the sitting room. The guys were very welcoming and natural with him, gently sharing how important their faith was in their own journeys of recovery from addiction and lives of crime. He said what a special night it had been.
- Thanks to God that we are now up and running at 8SC and things are generally going really well so far
- For the health of our two residents – both have had some physical health issues, which also affects their mental health – for continued motivation and resolve to get through difficult times
- For ‘C’, who is due to join us straight from HMP Featherstone this Friday (18th March) – that he would settle in to the house really well; for protection over the house and relationships within it; for strength when temptations arise, especially to drink or use drugs
- For wisdom for Alex and me as we continue to develop the programme and work with Yellow Ribbon
Thank you so much as always for your support, interest and prayers. As I’ve said before, do let us know if you’d like to visit any time!
Love and blessings,