Friday, 25 May 2018

On goldfish, writing addiction and Ignatius of Loyola - by Eileen Padmore

Hallo blog readers.  I felt bashful about volunteering for this vacancy, mindful of the skilled professional posts that pop up with scary regularity.  I could stretch the truth by claiming to be an award winning writer - for at the age of eight I was given first prize in a church story writing competition.  Hand written in faded pencil on scraps of lined exercise paper  (sewn together with cotton) - it was a true account of a deceased goldfish who jumped out of his bowl to be discovered on the kitchen floor next day.

My default position still seems to be writing about real events, despite an imagination that constantly plays host to a rich variety of flamboyant characters who get up to all sorts.  Somehow they resist capture onto the page.  Perhaps this is because a former life in health care required me to churn out evidence based stuff for various publications - where any urge to use words creatively had to be suppressed.

More recently, I have been drawn towards the 'new monasticism' - unlikely in view of an evangelical background with leanings towards the charismatic.  But then, we're the ones who use labels, put things into neat boxes and try to control where they fit - not God.  He is all seeing, all knowing and loves to surprise.

Now in the final term of a two year course at St Bede's Pastoral Centre (in association with the Community of Jesus at the Bar Convent in York),  Ignatian prayer exercises have prompted greater spiritual freedom and increased my awareness of the presence of God in everyday life.  They have also influenced my writing.

On silent retreat last month, I found myself at a window overlooking the harbour of Whitby.  Raindrops assaulted the glass.  Some sat like jewelled blobs whilst others joined to trace crooked lines in an untidy race to reach the window sill.  Through the distorted view, huge waves crashed roar upon roar onto the shore below.  The faint ruins of St Hilda's Abbey could be seen on the distant cliff.

The moment was mine.  I was not hurrying to do anything or get anywhere - nor avoiding tasks.  Doing 'nothing' was legitimate.  There was no need to measure time.  The 'here and now' was brim full of possibilities - suffused with praise, joy, love, demands ........

Last February, encouraged by a writer friend, I had launched into a spell of uninhibited writing with unexpected result.  To be exact, 65,000 words in two months!  Ignatius suggests we note what energises us and what saps our strength.  Ha, a clue?  Friends commented on the new dynamic in me and asked for some of whatever I was on!

The main reason for the retreat was to stand back and look for direction.  There was no loud voice from heaven or handwriting on the wall.  Not even any dreams.  Instead, a sense of presence and purpose that has encouraged me to continue.  Thanks you so much for reading.  I'll do my best to keep up.

Eileen Padmore has retired from a life spent in health care and academia, having worked in Sierra Leone, Zambia, Eire and Northern Ireland (in the troubles) as well as inner city Birmingham and Leeds.  She has had articles published in 'Woman Alive' and recently contributed to the popular ACW Lent Book.  Married for forty years to a professional musician, the family includes a feisty springer spaniel and a large African tortoise.


  1. Welcome to the blog, Eileen! I enjoyed reading about how your spiritual journey has influenced your writing.

    1. The influence for my compulsive writing episode came from you - of course! I was so inspired by the talk you gave at your book launch. It encouraged me to have a go.

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  2. Welcome Eileen! A really enjoyable first post. My childhood goldfish met a similar fate but I didn't think to immortalise it in writing! 🤣

  3. A great first post Eileen. I was the same, I worked for social services 20+ years and really struggled to make things up, not cos my imagination was empty, but because I felt so bad about it!! I also like new monasticism but usually go to the baptist church with my husband. I love our ancient parish church though, its the only place to go for xmas/easter, right in the centre of cirencester. The thought that people have stood/sat there for centuries worshipping is amazing! :)

  4. Very atmospheric description of being at Whitby, a town I love and would like to return to. It worked for Bram Stoker in terms of inspiring writing, after all!