Minister


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Rev Michael Dadson

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Let's see now …


… whether you think that Old Chapel is 'Hyggelig'?

Reading the lovely card we recently received from Pam and Vic Mason, with their news of settling and beginning to make a house into a home, I was reminded to share with you some of the insights in a book I received for Christmas: "the book of Hygge" (the Danish art of living well), by Louisa Thomsen Brits.

(The connection is, of course, Vic's great love for things Danish, and the notion of 'Hygge' actually cropping up – unexpectedly – during a service a few months ago.)

The author describes Hygge (pronounced hue-gah) thusly:-

"A quality of presence and an experience of togetherness. A feeling of being safe, warm, comforted, and sheltered. An experience of selfhood and communion – with people and with place – that anchors and affirms us, giving us courage and consolation. An invitation to intimacy and connection, to engagement and relatedness. A sense of belonging, to the moment and to one another. Hygge is a sense of abundance and contentment; about being, not having."

The aims and values of Hygge seem to me to resonate strongly with the way we approach our life in our spiritual community, and I thought I would share a few more excerpts from the book to see whether you agree:-

"There is an element of serenity in the recognition that we cannot quite grasp the mysterious character of the world, but rather choose to let go and simply let things be as they are."

"Hygge involves our awareness of the scale of our existence in contrast to the immensity of life. It awakens our sense of intimacy and encounter with each other, and with the creaturely world around us."

"Hygge helps us to create an environment that supports the needs of our hearts and provides room for human experience. It is particularly important to hygge around someone who is sad; creating a setting in which we can explore the subtlety of empathy."

"Hygge is a theme that can be lived in the middle of all the other elements of an engaged life. It's not the absence of challenge or discomfort, but a way of dealing with them. When we Hygge, we are not ignoring difficulty but putting it down for a while. Pain and shadow still exist at the edge of our awareness; we acknowledge their presence, and prepare ourselves to address them by pausing together – with intention – in order to regain momentum and cope with life with equanimity in the future."

"Achieving the serenity and freedom of feeling that we belong to ourselves, wherever we are, is a common concern in our (increasingly) mobile lives. Hygge relies on us finding a balance between self-containment and whole-hearted participation, personal liberty and awareness of the needs of others. It connotes a caring, civilised mode of behaviour that builds companionable ease and trust."

If you do feel, like me, that we have something in common with the Danish art of Hygge, then let me end by wishing you "Hyg dig" … or 'Have Hygge'!

Love, Michael