Alumni Interview: Ashlea Davies

Alumni Interview: Ashlea Davies

Ashlea Davies completed the Venn Internship (now Fellowship) in 2017. She is a bookkeeper and is heavily involved in her church’s Children and Youth programme. Here she answers a few of our questions about what life looks like in lockdown.


 

How do you spend your time and what has changed/adapted given the Lockdown?
My life doesn’t look all that different during lockdown. I am one of the many people that live with chronic illness, mine being Classical Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. I go through seasons in my life when I am much more active, but I was home a lot over this past year. I do some bookkeeping work, I also make sure I learn something each day—read a good book or listen to a podcast. One big difference is that I have very limited access to the healthcare I need right now. Being house bound for weeks on end is very familiar to me, but it is a whole new experience doing it collectively as a country.

Where are you living and with whom?
I am staying at my parent’s house in Karaka for the duration of the lockdown. My boyfriend Tim is also here.

What are you looking forward to during this period?
I normally live alone in a south-facing studio under my landlord’s house, so I’m really enjoying sunshine and light! I have been spending a lot of time sitting outside and noticing the world go by. I love watching all the different birds and seeing how many insects crawl past me; there is so much happening in each moment, so much that has absolutely nothing to do with me. It’s so easy to just be thinking about my perspective and forget that I’m so small and this world is so intricate and beautiful.

What are some of the challenges you’re anticipating or have already experienced?
What I’m finding the hardest is sifting through all the information and experiences that have hit me over the past few weeks, to ask hard questions and stay present with the discomfort. I am very much an introvert, and I’ve noticed that when in stress I just want to retreat into the safety of my own company and thoughts.

I have been feeling super irritable the past few days, but I was listening to a podcast this morning that reminded me to pay attention to my irritation. Often big feelings––irritation, anger, joy––can be our biggest guides and teachers. My natural tendency is to numb or push the feeling away, but when I allow myself to feel it, I realise that I’m feeling sad or feeling grief for what is happening in the world. I’m feeling helpless when I see a friend uncertain if her visa will come through in the next month or if she will have to leave Aotearoa in the middle of this pandemic. I’m feeling the weight of my friend at home with her young child, not having the support she needs. I attempt, in my small way, to lament with God, willing to feel the pain and not just avoid and distract.

What passages of Scripture have you found helpful and encouraging?
I have been following along with Holy Week and reading in John the events that happened before Jesus’s crucifixion. I was reading this morning John 14-17, where Jesus starts to earnestly prepare his friends for what is about to happen and help them understand the bigger picture. He provides them with comfort and images of what it means to be with him always. Then finally, in chapter 17, Jesus prays over them.  Now this was spoken in a different time and place and to specific people, but it has me thinking about what God is speaking to us now. In the midst of this pandemic, what is God reminding us of? How is God comforting us by revealing a bigger picture?

In John 17:20, Jesus prays, “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message, I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you”. Now this is a prayer of hope!

We’ve all got a bit more time on our hands, tell us about your favourite podcast, movie, or book, and why you like them

Podcasts:

Poetry Unbound
Poetry Unbound features an immersive exploration of a single poem, guided by Pádraig Ó Tuama. Short and unhurried; contemplative and energising. (I’d write my own description but could I really come up with anything more inspired?)

The Eternal Current
I am especially loving the Practices for Pandemic episodes. I find the embodied practices are exactly what I need right now. There is also a sense that I am connected to all the other people who I am listening alongside.

Books:

The Blue Castle by L.M.Montgomery
This is a comforting story, which feels appropriate right now. The Blue Castle is a brave story of a woman who begins to question family and societal expectations. This story was written 100 years ago, but makes me curious as to what norms are blinding me from loving people who are different to me.

Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr
One of my all-time favourite authors, Doerr is an incredibly beautiful writer. He guides us to be present to ordinary life. Also, it looks like none of us will be travelling to Rome for a while, so here is your chance!