‘He makes me lie down in green pastures…’

I’m not sure whether this is just me, but I have began this week so weary, tired beyond that which sleep can remedy. Earlier in the week I picked up my camera and put on my wellies to walk, pray and meet God, in need of a refreshment which only comes from God. I felt I needed the extra encouragement of somehow seeing God.

God is so gracious and God allowed me to see that Divine, holy presence with me, with us….

‘Presented to Denton village by Edwin and Iris Cawley 2000’

…In the gift of a bench which so many sit on and gaze out to the beautiful view across the fields, alone or with others.

…Within the complexity of creativity, where spider’s webs house the refreshment of the early morning dew.

…Within the refreshing nourishment which God provides for all creatures.

…Peeking through the fog as rays of sun bringing warmth to the day.

…And in the colours of the changing, falling, leaves highlighted by the sun reminding me of the beauty to be found in endings as well as beginnings.

It was a truly wonderful walk with God, and has sustained me well since. I realised that I had not made time to walk with God for a number of months!

How about you? In the difficulties of our daily lives amidst a pandemic, when did you last walk with God? Or where have you encountered God over the last few days?

“He leads me beside still waters; He restores my soul.”

Psalm 23

Under the Branches

I found myself visualising something the other day, around trees bearing witness to the absences caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. I tried to put it to words, but am probably still playing with it. Still, it remains a piece which acknowledges the huge loss which has resulted from the pandemic….

“…yet we see we know we ache”

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!

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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!

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

We’re in this together!

Sense of community!

Loneliness and its effects upon individuals is always significant, but it feels like it is so much more at the moment. It seems to creep up in some way on most of my encounters and conversations. COVID-19 has had a significant impact on every aspect of our lives, and it can be anxiety inducing to think too much about that. I read an interesting article in The Guardian today which explores the effects of isolation on our bodies as well as the social body which we belong to. It ends with a call to remind ourselves of what it means to be human…together.

“Let’s embrace the complexity of what it means to be human in this time of sorrow as we think and feel our way to come out of this, wiser, humbler and more connected.”

Susie Orbach, The Guardian: The Long Read, Patterns of Pain: What COVID-19 can teach us about how to be human, Thurs 7th May, 2020.

Broken beauty

Broken…

I had a really interesting discussion around beauty recently. It’s something that I often wonder about, with regards to photography. I find it so much easier to ‘receive’ photographs in the natural environment, and find myself feeling less inspired in urban areas. I think so much of this is down to perceptions of beauty…yet what I appreciate in the photography of others is that which makes you think, or question, justice, ethics or morality. Thinking in a theological way, it is absolutely within the images of brokenness that I see Christ, and they take on a sort of ‘beauty’ which is very different from our more worldly understandings. It is in those images, spaces, and cases where we least expect to see Christ, that Christ is revealed….

“Once I can recognise the divine image where I don’t want to see the divine image, then I have learned how to see. It’s really that simple. And here’s the rub: I’m not the one that is doing the seeing. It’s like there is another pair of eyes inside of me seeing through me, seeing with me, seeing in me. God can see God everywhere, and God in me can see God everywhere.”

Richard Rohr

Simplicity

Simplicity of life…

In a meeting today I became aware of the importance of simplicity. These are difficult times and many of us are expected, or expecting of ourselves, to be operating at full capacity; that ‘self-actualisation’ as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need terms it. A colleague reminded me though, that we are seeking to survive a pandemic, and actually, rather than even trying to meet our self-fulfilment needs, we should really only be focusing on our basic needs: food, water, warmth, rest, security and safety. Many of the people I have spoken to, and I myself, have been struggling with ‘rest’ out of all of these. A phrase often repeated to me through theological college keeps coming back; “be kind to yourself.” It doesn’t always feel possible, especially with multiple competing pressures, and yet it feels important to try….

Restore my soul…

What does this image make you think of? Words? Poetry? A feeling perhaps? For me this speaks of contentment and restoration…I find it so settling. What images settle you?