Space to stop and breathe

A bridge between…

Space to breathe and rest is so important, yet it feels so difficult to find in these times…weekends or rest days have taken a very different shape!

Glimmers of God…

Blue bells seeking out the sun

Where have you seen glimmers of God today or this week? In the raindrops which quench the thirst of plants and flowers perhaps? Seeing an arid field begin to produce? A rainbow amidst the sun and rain…God’s reminder that God is faithful….

The heaven espy…

“[One] that looks on glass, on it may stay [their] eye; or if [they] pleaseth, through it pass, and then the heaven espy.”

George Herbert

Book Club

The escapism of reading…

Today was Book Club, which I love! I have always enjoyed reading, and I regularly get lost in a book. I’m really struck by how difficult it is at the moment to concentrate long enough to actually pick up the thread of a book – both fiction and non-fiction!

Reading poetry has been a little easier, but I’m wondering whether anyone has any short-story recommendations? #booksofhope

The Bread of Love

The Old Testament reading for Morning Prayer today was about God providing manna for the Israelites in the wilderness. We are also going to be thinking about the road to Emmaus on Sunday. These two pieces of scripture originally sparked me to write this, but I’ve put some photographs round it now…a bit of a sneak preview of something I will be thinking about more on Sunday. What are we doing when we break bread together?

A blessed Holy Saturday in lockdown…

Whispers of the hope of Easter

It has struck me over the Triduum (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday) that our emotions in this current state of lockdown are perhaps heightened to something more like that of the disciples as they watched Jesus, and all of their hopes, crucified all of those years ago. So often, in the midst of modern life, it is so difficult to even begin to grasp at that despair, that fear, yet this year…the fear feels close, the despair of the unknown feels close. As we learn from the story of Jesus, their was indeed light and hope ahead. That light and hope did not explode on the first Easter Day with the disciples saying to one another, ‘See, I knew it would be alright!’ Rather, it was Mary Magdalen and Mary who first discovered the empty tomb, and the reasons for that. They went to the disciples to tell them, but telling them wasn’t enough, they had to see for themselves. They did not believe these rumours straight away – why should they, it seems so unbelievable?! Gradually these rumours spread, as more people met the risen Christ, the whispers of Easter became jubilant exclamations! The time for that will come, and where it is sometime after Easter, it perhaps gives us greater insight into that first despair.

Join us tonight at Up All Night as we tell the story of our history!

An Altar in your World…

“Whoever you are, you are human. Wherever you are, you live in the world, which is just waiting for you to notice the holiness in it.”

Barbara Brown Taylor: An Altar in the World
‘Let my prayer rise before you as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Psalm 141’

Inspired by the call for church to change, and by Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, An Altar in the World, I have been pondering what an altar in the world might look like. This morning I saw a gorgeous robin stood on our patio table just surveying the space; it felt like beautifully hallowed ground! This morning has been somewhat cooler, but the other day I was sat in the garden praying, and the birdsongs took my attention – it was like they were providing the heavenly worship as I communed with God. It was one of those moments that I would love to put in a bottle and cherish.

This morning as I spoke with a parishioner on the phone, I asked her about how she was. She said that she was lamenting ‘church’ which for her is dedicated time to commune with God and fellow Christians. In the next breath she told me, ‘of course I have an altar at home,’ and went on to describe what that looked like, and how she used it. She was so animated when speaking about the space which for her was ‘holy ground’.

What does your altar look like? Is it a space in your home which you have dedicated to spending time with God, or somewhere you came across completely by accident? How do you use this space?

Last summer I was at a conference where the middle of the chapel had a huge square of sand. The sand was blessed, and we used it in various ways for each time of worship we shared in. At one point we were asked to take a jar of the ‘holy ground’ and spread it around…I found sand all over my suitcase when I got home, but there was something poignant about that holy ground seeping into everyday life. How does holy ground make its way into each part of our lives? How do we make sure all that we do takes place on holy ground?

Sunday’s Homily

Hold on to the Hope of Christ

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John

Glory to you O Lord

Gospel reading John 11:1-45

This is the Gospel of the Lord

Praise to you O Christ

Homily

The Rev’d Morna Simpson

A final prayer and blessing:

God of compassion, you call us out of the bindings of death on this, our resurrection day: make us ready to surrender the fear in which we hide to step into your future alive and unashamed; through Jesus Christ, the life of the world. Amen.

Steven Shakespeare, Prayers for an Inclusive Church: Year A Collects, Lent 5

Further information which may be of interest…

The Guardian: A letter from the UK to Italy

Lemn Sissay: Some things I like

Beauty is….

So far, summer has not afforded me as much opportunity to get out and get lost in photography as I would like. That said, I have recently been thinking through what beauty is…what it really is, not what we see it as from so many areas of society which wish to control what we want and how we look.

A few months ago I spent a week in Portugal and had the privilege of getting lost behind my camera, which was so refreshing. As well as the obligatory holiday snaps though, I wanted to capture a different view of beauty…

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This was the view from our hotel room…I found it bizarre that each day these were the items which were hung to dry, and yet I saw something of beauty in the simplicity of this display.

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We met a couple who were making their living through this art; one would paint the rocks the other would arrange them. Their messages were simple. For me the beauty was in the way they were seeking to challenge and their understated way of offering this to the world.

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I had never been so close up to even one peacock, let alone whole families of them. Here the beauty was in what had not been previously seen, as well as in their inquisitive charm!

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We had not been aware that it was PRIDE on our first day in Lisbon. Watching the parade come through the city was incredibly moving though. Again the beauty was in the simple sentiments, such as ‘Love has no limits’.

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Beauty as attraction! In the square bubbles were being blown and flying off in all directions due to the wind. It was so simple, and yet fascinating to watch them, wondering how long they would last, where they would land, when they would burst.

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Beauty in the simple solutions, in that which is old, or distorted by rust, beauty in that which many would not notice, or is the beauty in the blue backdrop?

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Beauty in the warmth of the evening, beauty in the sunset glow.

Whilst I am not sure I managed to capture a different view of beauty, I see this as the beginning of a conversation, which I invite you to join in with. A conversation where we capture beauty in all of its awe and wonder, beauty as breath-taking because of its freshness, not as perfection but rather as imperfection, beauty as that which is not known, beauty as something which allows us to glimpse the Divine in the everyday.

Please share your images of this kind of beauty in the comments section to enable us collectively to rewrite the meaning of beauty, so that our sons and daughters, nieces and nephews and grandchildren can grow up being released and liberated by its definition, rather than constrained or imprisoned by it, afraid to go out, to wear what they really like, or to be truly and wonderfully who they are!

Stop the Clock

Stop the clock give me a moment just to be
to breathe and catch up with myself
to be still and remember who I am and what is important
what I hold dear and want to protect
It is so easy to lose sight of these things
in our ‘dog eat dog’ sort of world
Stepping out for some fresh air risks being left behind
overtaken or performance managed out of position

Stop the clock get off the treadmill take a moment just to be without the rest of the world overtaking!

I look around to see that EVERYTHING has stopped
everyone frozen at a particular point in time
except me who is present and able to move to see and be
In this moment I have no idea what to do
Should I stay amongst people who work against me
Would it help or hurt to know
what they think who they are emailing what about
Better to break away take time without losing

Stop the clock get off the treadmill take a moment just to be without the rest of the world overtaking!

So out I go wondering how long this freedom will last
Who is in control and to whom do I plead for more
I walk out of my office out of the building into the street
Everything and everyone has stopped
even traffic is frozen at this one point in time 
The flow of coffee is at a standstill
Never before have I been so alone in an experience
unable to reach out to anyone to share the burden

Stop the clock get off the treadmill take a moment just to be without the rest of the world overtaking!

As I draw close to faces fixated on what was
lines of pain the drain of life are plain
Tiredness and overwhelming desperation are etched
where laughter lines once were
Eyes give way to souls worn away by demand
No matter how hard we try
it has never and will never be enough in our world
of instant gratification and hedonistic existence

Stop the clock get off the treadmill take a moment just to be without the rest of the world overtaking!

This becomes one of those defining moments
a time when you realise there is more
so much more to be experienced and to give than this
Nothing is worth selling your soul
There will come a stage when effort and time
will be insignificant it will be finished
Living to work is admirable but what comes next
Is any job really worth the sacrifice of life itself

Start the clock get off the treadmill take this lifetime henceforth to be and let the rest of the world overtake!