Glimmer of God

Scent of God

I haven’t felt so inspired to go out with my camera recently, I think continued lockdown life has sapped something of my creativity. As measures were eased in Leicester a little, I was working with a colleague to gather a variety of photographs. I love this one as a small glimmer of God…a reminder of the hope that is constant, perhaps especially in the midst of struggle. For me it expresses all that I want to say in prayer, but cannot find the words…. Amen.

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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.

#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!

S.E.E. God

This week I’ve been thinking about how we see God; that is how we STRUGGLE alone, before having some sort of EPIPHANY which allows space to ENCOUNTER God.

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A few weeks ago I wrote about the art of encounter and the need to look into the eyes of the person we are speaking with. This week I’m inclined to take that idea even further – when we actually look into the eyes of the other, that is when we actually see God. God works through each of us in unique and special ways.

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“Christ has no body but yours; no hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which his compassion looks out upon the world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world.”

St Teresa of Avila

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I photographed the eyes of each person I encountered in one day – well over 30 people. I saw so much beauty in the eyes of each person, with so many stories to tell, so much wisdom. Some lacked that wisdom, but had that youthful determination which is so admirable. Our eyes tell so much about us. They sometimes communicate things that we don’t want them to.

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Looking into the eyes of another can make each of us vulnerable, but it can also be where growth happens.

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Some months ago I met a woman in a petrol station, as she struggled to put air in her tyres. I went to help her, but it was a good five minutes before I actually saw her. And it was a few minutes later still before she saw me.

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That encounter was one not just with each other, but with God through one another, as the poem below further explores.

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So often I find myself struggling alone, not wanting to ask for help. A recent BBC news article shows how little we as a nation know those who live closest to us, and how unwilling we are to ask for help from them.

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I wonder what would happen if we did begin asking for help more freely…

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Would neighbours get annoyed with one another?

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Or would we find something new in the experience?

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Would it lead to an epiphany whereby we discover that our neighbours are quite nice people really?

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Might it in turn lead to us encountering God in one another, as we look into each others eyes?

The Faceless Woman

Saturday afternoon. Miserably bleak.
Incomplete mundane tasks creep upon me;
fuel gauge beeps, warning lights flash.
Fuel station! Reluctantly I pull in.
Frustration looms and I wait,
as she stops me in my tracks.

I fail to see this faceless woman in my hotheadedness.
At least I don’t really see her and her need;
the pain and upset which she bears are also invisible.
Do I even want to see such brokenness?
Much easier to ignore, or rather simply not address.
Yet, as if prompted, I get out of the car
to draw closer to the bereavement of which we never speak.

Her agitation is plain. That I see.
Yet I don’t see, she is faceless to me.
Or perhaps my eyes distort.
Exaggerated facial contortion
mixed with masked humanity –
I fail to look as I ought.

Indeed something is wrong, it needs fixing…
It takes time to see that is me not her
‘It won’t work,’ cries her despair.
Temporary success seems lost on her
’I must be off to London.’
Expressionless, listless stare.

Finished I bid ’take care and drive safely.’
And then I see her, this faceless woman;
old, frail, weary and distressed.
Embodiment of human brokenness,
and yet beautiful in her
vulnerability, exposed.

For this faceless woman, her unnamed grief, I feel compassion
as never before – it brings me to my knees.
Evident in my eyes, she seeks to claim it for her own;
she flings her arms around me and we embrace.
This moment, as a sacrament, shows us God’s unending grace.
On release, we look at each other anew
God’s love brims over for the other, we turn and leave transformed.

With thanks to all who were willing to allow their eyes to be photographed!

Here and now

#574 I’ve struggled to #liveinthemoment for the past few days, with various reminders that my time at theological college is #finite, and the end point is in sight. Each of us for whom this is the case are responding to this reality in different ways. I am very aware of the pain of losing those who I had grown so close to last year, and want to #cherish each moment I have here before leaving all of those who I have grown close to. I have struggled to focus on my current essay, or the person who I am having a conversation with now, as I feel my head is being turned and my attention taken. Indeed there is much to think about surrounding the changes which will occur over the next few months such as clergy shirts and robes to order, housing to finalise, final reports to write and consult over as well as a consideration of how to make all that I have learned and thought about at college count in my future ministry. These things have been swimming around my head and keeping me awake well into the wee small hours of late, but it seems pointless to worry about these things – easier said than done! How difficult it is to focus on today, to live in the here and now, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t bring its benefits though. What is on your heart to think about or do today? #seizethemoment

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Light a candle

#513 #morningprayer #lightacandle for those who #strugglingtoday and over the Christmas period. May they know the #peaceandloveofchrist Amen.