;

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.

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?

Holy Week Compline

All you will need is a comfortable spot and a little over 15 minutes. Feel free to bring a cup of tea and just let the words wash over you, or join in with the words on the screen.

“Before the ending of the day, Creator of the world we pray…”

Holy Week Compline

All you will need is a comfortable spot and a little over 15 minutes. Feel free to bring a cup of tea and just let the words wash over you, or join in with the words on the screen.

“Before the ending of the day, Creator of the world we pray…”

Holy Week Compline

All you will need is a comfortable spot and a little over 15 minutes. Feel free to bring a cup of tea and just let the words wash over you, or join in with the words on the screen.

“Before the ending of the day, Creator of the world we pray…”

Gathering…

How do we gather the people we love together, to share, to lament and to laugh with one another? Over the last few weeks we’ve been video-calling those we love, sharing coffee together as well as laughing and crying about the highs and lows of lock-down. This gathering, or drawing together as community, as family is more important than ever! God is a God of relationship, of community; God works through each of us for each of us. Gathering in creative ways is more important than ever…and it is a powerful form of prayer!

Fire gazing…

This evening I’ve been fire-gazing…in my view one of the most ancient forms of prayer! I invite you to get lost in your own thoughts with God our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer at your side as you gaze into a fire, sit with a cup of tea or just watch the sun goes down….

Glory to God, Source of all Being, Eternal Word and Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and shall be for ever. Amen.

#Grateful…

Grateful for tea!

For some reason today has been difficult…I feel like I’m really struggling with aspects of the lockdown, and trying to work as normal. I think this is inevitable, it perhaps just hit me later than it has others. I also think that’s what prayer is about; owning how we feel in this moment, and just ‘being with’ God. This was so much easier with a cup of tea in my hand, and I came out of that time feeling grateful for tea and time with God!

My nature and my name…

Give me a candle of the Spirit, O God, as I go down into the deeps of my being. Show me the hidden things, the creatures of my dreams, the storehouse of forgotten memories and hurts. Take me down to the spring of my life, and tell me my nature and my name. Give me freedom to grow; so that I may become that self, the seed of which you planted in me at my making. Out of the deep I cry to you, O God. Amen.

George Appleton (1902-93), adapted by Jim Cotter (b. 1942)
This loved toy, left behind in my neighbourhood today, will be known by a child somewhere. The child will know the toy’s nature and name with real fervour…remember that feeling – that is how God knows you!

After a week of ‘lock-down’ my way of life as ministering from home is becoming the new ‘normal’. No doubt for many of us, the novelty (if there was one) has well and truly worn off as the tensions of more than one adult needing a space to work, home education causes stress, the internet slows because we all need it, we are becoming increasingly worried about money and security as for some ‘working’ will soon cease to be an option, as job roles become redundant under these conditions…I could go on.

In conversation with a colleague this afternoon though I was pointed in the direction of the George Appleton prayer, quoted above. We had been talking about where we find our energy, and what the current circumstances reveal to us about ourselves. I invite you in the cool of this evening to spend time with these words, and ask that God “tell me my nature and my name”…. Ponder your responses to this new ‘normal’, your emotional responses. Notice where you are getting your energy. Notice where you are being drained. Hold them before God and ask that God would show you how to use your God given nature for the glory of God and God’s Kingdom…. Amen.

The Weekly Examen

The Examen Prayer is an ancient way of meditating on the day or week that is past, and nurturing an attitude of gratitude for the blessings that God has granted, as well as acknowledging those people or situations that weigh heavily on our hearts.

I invite you to find a comfortable place to sit, and move inwards with your breath. Ask God that you would feel that constant peaceful presence of God-with-us as you breathe in the Holy Spirit and breathe out anything causing you anxiety. Focus on your breaths for a few moments, and remain present in the sacredness or holiness of right ‘now’….

Move on to remember before God any moments which you feel grateful this week; an unexpected phone call from someone, a smile from a neighbour, a letter, someone’s gratitude to you after you had helped ease their burden in some way…even the stillness, calm, rest of this moment.

From this place of gratitude, replay before God your week, noticing those people or situations that weigh heavily on your heart. Pay particular attention to those, and hold them out in your hands before God in your minds eye. Allow yourself to ponder, ‘what is it about this person/situation which particularly concerns me?’ Again, in your minds eye, letting God know exactly what it is that concerns you, put the person/situation into God’s hands, watching as God tenderly holds them….

Go back over the week, asking that God draw your attention to those times or situations where you harbour a sense of regret or remorse for how you responded or handled things…ask for God’s forgiveness and mercy….

Finally, allow yourself to think over the coming week before God, pondering on what you expect to be coming up, or what you are worried about as it approaches. Trusting that God is always with you, ask for God’s guidance and peace in the coming week. Know that with God:

“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

Julian of Norwich

Finish your time of prayer with these or other familiar words:

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, evermore. Amen.

“Simply spiffing!”