Acceptance and Change

There is a prayer by Rheinhold Niebuhr written in the 1930s which begins: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I have tried to remember this good advice for many years now, first asking for help with the things I cannot change and then more recently learning about acceptance. However, here is an idea I have been exploring in the last month or so: that acceptance is sometimes the way to effect change. This is particularly in relation to situations that you know are not the way you want them to be, but can’t seem to change no matter how much time and effort and energy you throw at it.

I once read of someone who never unpacked their things when they moved into a flat because they didn’t plan to stay long, Five years later they were still there, living out of boxes, still looking for the ‘right’ place. It was suggested to them that maybe they needed to accept this place and ‘prove’ they could make a home anywhere, and within a month of unpacking they had found the perfect place.

We have lived with an open hanging rail for clothes for about seventeen years, always saying we would get a fitted wardrobe in our new bedroom so there was no point in doing more. I never liked it from the start, but seeing the sense of it went along with the situation; it was somewhat low down in my priority list for much of that time. But then one day earlier this year I looked at it and decided I had had enough of dusty, light-affected clothes and didn’t want to live with it any longer. Accepting that it was going to have to be there for a few more years, I bought some very cheap gauzy fabric and made some curtains to go around it, and found some plain polyester fabric to make a ‘roof’. Within a month of me doing this we had found someone to build our wardrobe, at a price we could afford. We did the finishing inside (as mentioned in an earlier blog post on ‘Trust’) and this month we moved in. The curtains never did get fitted and all but a very short section of hanging rail has now been removed. (I’m sure I can reuse them for something else!)

So how does this work? I can only presume it comes back to accepting What Is, fully, and then dreaming a new reality into existence. This is what I believe we need to do for the Earth. Accept, love everything on Earth as it is now, and from that point dream a new reality. Where there is connectedness not separation, where we recognise her divinity and that of everyone and everything on the Earth, where we stop trying to destroy that which supports us. We need a new way of seeing. But I am finding acceptance brings love and then wonders may happen.

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Moving Kitchens

Some people are really organised. They make plans for their home, carry them out, and finish the job all within a few months. We don’t seem to manage that. We make plans, then discover something else that has to be done first, then find something that has to be fixed, then escalate the plans, then circumstances change and the plans have to be put on hold, eventually we return to the plans to find we have to remake them… you get the picture!

Today we moved into our new kitchen. We drew up the plans for it in around 1998. We have had the kitchen units in our shed since about 1999, thanks to a salesman who said (when we wanted advice on plumbings and electric points) we could order the kitchen and they would store it for us until the room was ready…

The outer shell for the kitchen was completed in 2001 – the two year delay being caused by the realisation we had to build the garage / workshop first because what was there was completely unsound. We had some help for both of those major undertakings, thank goodness! Since then we have done almost everything ourselves, including bricklaying, repointing, plastering, plumbing, electrics… I won’t go into all that has happened in the past decade, but a boundary wall got built in the garden, a chimney got rebuilt, the living room got stripped to bare brick and wood floor and then was redone in true Edwardian style, and the garden, garage and workshop all got some attention as well as many other smaller jobs. We planned to get to the kitchen some day, but lets face it, ours worked, sort of, and there were only the two of us. Finishing the extension was not the highest priority in our lives.

Then I got pregnant, and we knew we had to sort the house out. I got people in to get the room plastered and floored, then the fitting of the kitchen was started the week before M was born. Plans had to be remade slightly along the way (luckily we still loved the units and worktops!) and M accompanied us to tile shops as a tiny baby asleep in her car seat. Finally another year on it nears completion and we have had the grand move into the new space. Not finished, the old sink and drains had to come out before the new cabinets could be fitted on the other side of the wall, some painting and tiling needs finishing, there isn’t a bin under the sink yet, but it’s good enough to move into.

So what have I learned through this long process? Above all, how to hold onto a dream. That it is possible to rekindle the energy and enthusiasm for a project and complete it with love. Acceptance that we are only human and not everything can be done at once. Learning not to blame anyone else for what I cannot do myself. Forgiveness for when we fall short of the high standards that we set ourselves. That beauty is possible everywhere and is eternal; it doesn’t matter how delayed it is, the beauty is still there to be found and is what lasts. Even in a kitchen, especially where my stained glass is reflected onto the wall late afternoon in winter. I’ll try and get a photo of it when it returns in a month or so.