Just a Cup

A few thoughts/theological reflections around ‘cup’

This is a piece of spoken word I wrote a few years ago in anticipation of being ordained priest – I’m using it to help reflect on the elements of bread and wine within Spirit Space today, so this is a bit of a sneak preview!

Marking the spot!

I met with God here…

Part of my theological reflection over the last few weeks has been around buildings, and how they came to be so important as ‘God encounter’ spaces. That has taken me to conversations about tents (as ‘Tent of meeting’) and stones. The Old Testament practice seemed to encourage people to mark a place where they had encountered God in some way…it’s strange and lovely that I was reminded of just that as I was out walking over the weekend, and powerfully and wonderfully met with, and walked with, God – amazing that there was a stone placed already for me to ‘mark the spot!’

Signs of ‘normality’

New life

I have loved walking in our local area each day over the last few months, and watching spring bloom before our very eyes. These young Canada geese, swimming so close to their mother, reminded me of the huge dependence we have on others – especially in infancy and childhood. We tend to think that in adulthood this ‘dependency’ disappears.

What I am seeing from our lives in lockdown is that a sense of ‘dependency’ within our communities and close relationships very much remains – but the shape of it changes. I’ve spoken with many people recently about us as ‘relational beings’, very much mirroring the image of God in this, and thriving best when we are able to share things with others.

My hope and my prayer is that we do not lose sight of this need for community, for different types of relationship, as life begins to take over once again.

IDAHoBiT

Posting this a few days after IDAHoBiT on Sunday 17th May, as some people had expected to see this here. It was just a short reflection and time of prayer to remember that we are ALL God’s people in all of our diversity! #BreaktheSilence

;

Is this the end of the line…is it time?

They say it doesn’t have to be this way…

Here lies a moment to pause, to think and reflect as I try to work out whether it is a full stop or semi-colon moment – is this the end of the line…is it time? I’m not like everyone else, see. I don’t have the confidence to be the success I dreamed of in my infancy…I don’t even have the motivation to try anymore. I have lost my fight, and certainly don’t have the right to claim any position or status here.

Is this the end of the line…is it time?

They say it doesn’t have to be this way…

It doesn’t have to be this way…but how can it all be okay? I feel overwhelmed and ashamed of all that has gone before. I’m not like everyone else, see. I don’t have the strength to fight…I’d much rather take flight. Running though, as I have learned, fails to reach resolve – everything seems to find a way of catching up in the end. Those other semi-colon moments wreak regret, see…

Is this the end of the line…is it time?

They say it doesn’t have to be this way…

Is it time to change, to become more long-range? To look beyond, rather than remain trapped within…crushed and submerged by all that is negative in me. I want to change, to move outside of myself, but it’s so hard…it takes such courage, and impossible to do alone. I’m not like everyone else, see. I’m not strong enough to be me amidst a sea of thee…capable, confident and in control.

Is this the end of the line…is it time?

They say it doesn’t have to be this way…

I’m not like everyone else…who is this everyone else? These people who have it all sorted, who fall into the life they desired and dreamed of? The perfect people with perfect parents, perfect places and perfect prospects…I thought they were everywhere but as I tentatively reach out from this hole, this pit of despair, there are a few more who understand; they get it…

Is this the end of the line…is it time?

They say it doesn’t have to be this way…

It doesn’t have to be this way…

It’s a semi-colon, not a full stop

As it is Mental Health Awareness Week, I have been praying for those who are struggling at the moment, particularly with our semi-lockdown state. This is a piece I wrote a while ago in relation to the symbolism of the semi-colon.

Community Snake

Signs of hope and building community

We were quite intrigued to hear that a snake had been put in the wood where we regularly walk…I almost tried to find somewhere else to walk, as for a few seconds I wasn’t quite sure whether it was real and alive! When we came across Samson the snake, though, it seemed to be such a message of hope and solidarity. That was even more keenly felt as we passed a young boy with his mum, clutching a newly painted stone, and excited to add this to the snake.

I had meant to post about this yesterday, after we had found the snake, but we were both saddened to hear that the beautiful head of the snake and some other stones had been taken away. The original artist had been very quick to create another ‘head’ and this evening that was again found to be missing, with other stones strewn around. Samson has now been moved to another, less prominent, location, where I hope that he will remain for others’ enjoyment for longer.

It is difficult not to feel jaded about these unpleasant developments, but to avoid losing heart, I want to focus on the thought that inspired, and the spirit that perseveres in, building community and bringing shared joy. Long live Samson; in spirit, if not in body!

A Hidden Community

Tree of life

Some time ago now I was really inspired by Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees within which he explains what happens out of sight, how trees form community, how the stronger look after the weaker trees – even when they are different species.

I find myself drawn back to some of these ideas as I observe quieter streets, towns and cities. A foodbank operates in my local area, and is working so hard behind the scenes to source food for, and distribute it to, those who cannot, or should not be making themselves more vulnerable by going to the shops.

The question I am left with is how this sense of community continues into the new issues many face around being forced or ‘encouraged’ to return to work yet have no one to look after their children. They are called to use their ‘common sense’ but I am unsure how helpful that is when there is an expectation that people return to work and, despite there being no childcare arrangements, failure to do so will result in them not being paid, or worse losing their jobs…?

Surely ‘common sense’ would bring people to an understanding that our economy, or wealth, has a higher importance than our wellbeing. This realisation alone does nothing to help this situation though. For some, this time of lockdown has brought opportunities to reconnect, to slow down, to live more simply. I’ve had many conversations, or read articles, where people are hoping that these benefits will shape our futures as we move out of lockdown; how can they when economic division, and power, shape those ‘baby steps’ out of lockdown? It seems that we are more likely to leave some to stand alone, as this tree appears to, with no others around who are able to offer support.

Eye for detail…

I am really loving how a shift in focus is revealing so much beauty in ways that I would usually ignore completely…I am practising the art, or discipline, of attentiveness and am finding it truly gratifying. #TheSacramentofNow

Balance

The visibility of ‘Church’

I’ve read and watched with interest as so many have grappled with, or tried to make sense of, this season of lockdown, where we are absent from our churches. I’ve very much felt the presence of pray-ers in the walls in some churches, and have loved the sense of God’s presence that that has brought. I’ve also been really encouraged by the inventive ways that the people of God have found to be ‘church’ or the ‘body of Christ’ in their communities over these last weeks. I’ve loved the ‘shop window’ opportunity that has come from an internet/social media presence, and I’m encouraged by the ways in which people have engaged. I’ve even been surprised by how energising I have found ‘creating’ worship, or God encounter opportunities.

I’ve also heard snippets of dialogue about how much easier and cheaper it would be to have more people work from home, even after the lockdown is lifted. Some people would welcome the idea and some would really not. I’ve been working from home since I became a curate, but I currently miss getting out of the house, and away from the screen, and having people to bounce ideas off. I was sent an article this week by Roger Cohen, who was musing on what moving away from the ‘old dispensation’ might begin to look like. He refreshingly called for ‘balance’ in the ‘something new’…how do we get more balance as Church so that the ‘shop window’ approach continues, as do worship possibilities for those who are housebound?

Looking back

What insights do looking back offer?

“Life can only be understood backwards, but must be lived forwards.”

Søren Kierkegaard