Unfolding Every Day

James Cathcart May 12, 2023 2 1
Unfolding Every Day

James Cathcart from the team blogs about asking God the same two questions every morning for a week.


In our recent Sunday Live service Unfolding Days (23/04/23) we invited everyone to ask God two questions every morning of the following week:


Q1. What is unfolding in my life today that you would like to me see?

Q2. What is unfolding in your world today that you would like me to see?


In the service we reflected on the metaphor of ‘unfolding’ as being a helpful way of thinking about our spirituality over the years. A process of gentle opening up to ourselves and the world around us. We drew a parallel with the disciples on the road to Emmaus who moved gradually from dejection to understanding, understanding to insight, and insight to action (see Luke 24: 13-35).

In so many aspects of life we focus on accumulating, adding, developing, building and acquiring. We want to continually add skills, resources or experiences. It can be all too easy to think of discipleship as a syllabus or a course with achievement milestones along the way — things we have to gain to level up. While it’s important to move with God and not feel stuck in one place, our frequent emphasis on development and progress — that already dominate the spheres of education and work — might make us miss something important.

I do not believe Jesus chose the first disciples because of their innate leadership qualities, raw talent and relevant work experience. I don’t think there were a list of competencies to fulfil or qualifications to verify. I think it’s more likely that they were called because they were beloved children of God, profoundly human, who were willing to extend their arms, and open their hands wide to what came next. And as contemporary disciples Jesus does not invite us along because of our leadership qualities, raw talent and relevant work experience either. He doesn’t require a cover letter or references. He just requires us — with our open hearts and hands. We are not headhunted for our abilities, rather we are welcomed as friends.

When we think about our spirituality, our lives of discipleship, as something that unfolds we are perhaps saying that we don’t have the answers but we’re open to the questions. That we don’t have the ability to suss it all out and solve the world’s problems on our own strength, but we are opening up in compassion (like a flower in the sunlight) to the world round about us.

In the service we talked about how we literally unfold and stretch in the mornings, unfolding our limbs and eyes to take in what, where and who we are. Perhaps we unfold clothes, newspapers, maps, letters or schedules as we make tentative plans for the day unspooling before us. And, maybe, we take time to see the flowers unfolding to the new day too.

So to weave these thoughts into the week ahead I thought it would be useful to spend a week intentionally asking God each morning those two questions: 1) What is unfolding in my life today that you would like to me see? 2) What is unfolding in your world today that you would like me to see?

How did I get on?

Well on the first day I promptly forgot to do it entirely.

Not an auspicious start.

But as we said in the service, our lives are not necessarily one straight line of unfolding. There will be times of unfolding and folding away in our lives. Monday was a folded up day.

But from Tuesday - Sunday I asked God those two questions every morning. Usually I blearily remembered while making my toast. Standing there, round-shouldered and groggy, clinging on to the counter.

And a funny thing happened.

Every time I asked God these questions I stood a little straighter. I realised I could unfold my spine a little, plant my feet a bit more, loosen my limbs.

And this new awareness of my body carried throughout the week. I did a little bit of yoga spontaneously here and there which I’ve been meaning to get back to for months but keep not getting round to. I would adjust my posture when working at my desk. I threw myself into games with my toddler with added elasticity. Her and I already enjoy tumbling about playing imaginative games, but I found myself thinking of new ways of adding physicality to our playing.

Despite asking the questions every day I didn’t find myself overwhelmed with particular answers to put into words… in fact I had very little to show for the questions about what was unfolding in my life and the world around me, but I increasingly enjoyed asking the questions and having the reminder to consciously inhabit my body a bit more. I was surprised that my reflections tended to be so abstract and not about specific situations. I had predicted that my mind would run to applying the metaphor, but instead I stuck firmly to literal act of unfolding. Traditionally I love an extended metaphor, but this metaphor wouldn’t extend, I think God was keen I literally unfold instead.

Wiser people than me have — long before me — advocated the importance of asking questions over and above getting answers themselves. Some answers take time, or are only understood in part, or remain a mystery — but the time spent carrying questions, being open to yourself, others and the world, is rewarding anyway. Our outlook and the questions we ask are not just about seeing the world, they’re about how we are in the world, what we choose to value and take an interest in.

I stopped asking the questions when on holiday the following week and I’m already missing the more flexible me from the previous week. I did however continue to have a fairly active time with my daughter, niece and nephew. And a couple of days ago I saw my wonderful little girl stand on one leg ‘Like a flamingo!’ with the other leg across her knee and gleefully find her balance for a few seconds at a time, arms flapping, grin uncontainably wide.

One of the things that is unfolding in God’s world are amazing generations of humans who contain within them the skills and passion and ingenuity we are going to need in the coming years with all the challenges we face. And as we all contribute in all kinds of ways to raise those people — we have to remember that it is on us to unfold too! To unfold with God, with compassion and kindness to them and the world they are coming into.

Thanks for reading and I hope you are able to find a moment today to draw breath and unfold.

James Cathcart