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Chaplaincy and spiritual wellbeing

Welcome to the chaplaincy and spiritual wellbeing page.

This page offers resources for nurturing our spiritual side - you are welcome to use these resources whether or not you would consider yourself religious. 

If a resource applies only to a particular faith tradition, this will be indicated, and may be a good way to learn about a tradition you're less familiar with. You're very welcome to dip in - I'll aim to replenish these resources every so often, and especially with the changing of the seasons and the evolving context in which we find ourselves.

Please do contact me if you'd like to chat about anything to do with spiritual wellbeing, as well as general wellbeing  - as part of the welfare team I'm here to support all students, staff and Fellows, of any faith or none. 

Rev'd Ally Barrett

Lent 2021

In the Christian tradition, Lent is a time of reflection, repentance and fasting, often framed in terms of ‘giving things up’ or ‘taking things on’. This year, though, it may feel as if we have been living a Lent-like existence for almost a year already: many of the things we enjoy most in life have been out of reach, or we’ve intentionally and sacrificially given them up for the sake of keeping one another safe. And for many of us the pandemic has brought with it additional burdens already. Anyone wanting to observe Lent will need to find their own way of doing so (and if you’d like to talk this over, whether from a faith perspective or not, please do get in touch with me) but in the meantime ordinands (ministry students) and I would like to share with you our own approach: we’ve decided to spend Lent looking for signs of hope in unexpected places, and we’re aiming to gather enough hopeful stories to be able to offer you one for each day of Lent.  Some of them are very simple signs of hope that we’ve observed, some are traditional stories, others are more serious stories of hope springing from really challenging situations in history and across the globe.  You can read them here.

Thoughts for the week

Psalm 139 Retold

(uploaded here for Transgender awareness week and day of Remembrance, but worth reading at any time)
This reflection is based on one of the Psalms, which is a sacred text for both Jews and Christians.

Events in the University and beyond

  • The Faraday Institute of Science and Religion offers a rage of resources and events around the public understanding of science and religion. Their current programme is all online, and free. 


Practical activities

  • Decorate a pebble - pick up a pebble from the ground, and decorate it with acrylic paint, or even just pens - use images that remind you of your self worth, your value as a human being, and keep it on your desk as a reminder, or put it in your pocket so the weight and shape of it is always with you.  You could also make one for a friend.  
  • Go for a walk - there are some walking routes, of varying lengths, on the welfare hub, with maps and photos if you'd like to do them on your own.  You can make a walk into something spiritual by taking time to breathe, pay attention to the wonder of creation around you, pause and ask a blessing on the people you pass, and reflect on your own spiritual journey as you undertake a physical journey.  Once conditions allow, the Chaplain will advertise the termly 'Long Walk' to Ely (18 miles, and you'll need decent boots, but it is flat!), which ends with the option to go into the Cathedral and let Evensong wash over you. This article explores the idea of turning a walk into a pilgrimage (which needn't be tied to a particular religion), and introduces some tradition pilgrimage routes that you might want to put on your 'wish list' for after the pandemic. 
  • Get your hands dirty - get some pot plants or plant some seeds, and nurture them. If you're in Cambridge at the moment, maybe even join the College gardening club, which has its own allotment.  Getting mud on your hands, and having the satisfaction of growing things you can eat, is wonderful for physical and spiritual wellbeing. 
  • Love your food - consider developing a practice of being thankful for food - think about who made it, where the ingredients may have come from, and who served it to you, and before you eat, send up a thought or prayer of thanks for all that sustains us. And if you'd like to send a thank you card to our amazing kitchen staff every so often, that would make their day :-)
  • Go green - some people experience the need to be more sustainable as a spiritual matter as well as a moral and practical imperative.  There are loads of ways to get involved in sustainability work at Catz, and I'm always very happy to talk green with anyone who shows any interest in this! 
    • If you are interested in the relationship between the Christian faith and caring for the earth, you may like to read some of the articles from the John Ray Initiative or A Rocha, or Green Christian
    • If you are interested in the relationship between Islam and sustainability, check out the MCB Sustainability and Climate Change project
    • Many other faiths also have their own sustainability projects and resources, and take part in interfaith ecology work - if you'd like to find out more within your own tradition, I would be happy to help you find some contacts and organisations. 

Prayers in the Christian tradition

  • 'Topical prayers' connecting with living in the world, live events, etc. from the Church of England
  • Daily Prayer from the Church of England - this page offers links to a set of short services, updated daily, that you can use alone or with a friend.

Prayers from other faith traditions

I haven't included prayers from other traditions here yet, because they are not mine to offer, and each prayer comes with its own meanings and values.  If you would like to suggest a favourite prayer, prayerful practice, or spiritual quotation from your own tradition that you think others might find helpful, please contact the Chaplain.  

Meanwhile, to find out more about various faith traditions, including prayer and spirituality, or to find a place of worship in your own tradition, follow this links on this page, or contact the Chaplain for more suggestions.