Friday, 27 February 2015

The capacity to be alone

Peace Prayer

The Peace Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love. 
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in self-forgetting that we find;
And it is in dying to ourselves that we are born to eternal life.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Coming in out of the wind

I don't know about you but often when I wake up in the morning all the busy thoughts of the day come rushing into my head. Immediately I'm thinking about what I have to achieve or do before I get to bed that night. Rushing headlong into the day isn't necessarily the best move.

C S Lewis in 'Mere Christianity' describes an alternative approach:-

"The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning.

All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.

And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind."

I love that phrase 'coming in out of the wind'. If we feel that we are being buffeted about day by day we too can come in out of the wind.

To pause, to stop, to switch off. 

To take time to just be. 

To be still. 

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Snow globes of hope

Who doesn't love a snow globe? They have a magical quality to them that touches young and old. We start off with the still scene, give the globe a shake and hundreds of snowflakes bounce around. Then they gradually settle back down creating a new snowy carpeted scene. 

Our lives too have changing scenes. Well-being becomes a barometer altered by the shifting tides of failing health and healing. Relationships can grow or break down, blossom or fade, heralding emotional fluctuations. A family's dynamics shift when a member dies or leaves, for whatever reason. They also alter when there is a birth or a new person joins the family. People's roles or jobs in life can change bringing new senses of identity and have financial implications. Moving house, relocating, emigrating or working abroad bring with them altering parameters to familiar routines.

Like a snow globe we are caught in a maelstrom that requires our response. And for those of faith, our relationship with God can affect how we respond. We can bring God into the equation. We can be like the wise man who built his house on the rock. We can rebuild our lives using the roots of our faith as foundation stones. The rebuilding may be slow. It may only evolve one brick at a time. We may not even be able to envisage what the final build will look like. But, that is ok. We don’t need to know. We just need to trust that we will get there.

Then, when the snow eventually settles, we will find a new shape has been created. It won’t be the same as the one before. Life has changed. But, it will have the unspoken tenets of faith built in to it. Those building blocks of love, trust and peace enabling us to look to the future again with a sprinkling of hope.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Rainbow through the rain

Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, Scotland

Our country is bracing itself for a severe storm today. There is word of road and rail disruptions, bridge closures and ferry cancellations. I feel for anyone working outside or caught up in the turbulent weather today and hope that they all keep safe. Hope is of course what we carry into all kinds of storms. The storms of life that can hit us all at various times: bereavement, illness, redundancy, family troubles, life changes.

Hope is what can carry us through the eye of the storm and back out to the other side. Hope that the sadness will ease, that we will feel better, that a job will be found, that the family will settle, that we can cope with the shifting rugs beneath our feet.

Hope is often symbolised by the rainbow. That spectrum of beauty and colour that emerges as the rain meets the sun. It appears just when we fear the storm will prevail and we will be overwhelmed. Its upward arch reminding us that we too can be lifted up and out of the turbulence. A spiritual symbol of God's relationship with us bringing with it the rays of hope of faith.

Whatever storms loom overhead for you today, may the glimmer of a rainbow carry you forward in hope.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Green heart of the snowdrop

Green heart of the snowdropKate McIlhagga

Into a dark world
a snow-drop comes.
a benison of hope and peace
carrying within it a green heart
a symbol of God's renewing love
Come and inhabit our darkness
Lord Jesus Christ,
for dark and light
are alike to you.
May natures white candles of hope
remind us of your birth
and light our journey
through life and beyond.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Squirrelling nuggets of wisdom

You just never know who is going to visit your garden. This little guy (I think we should call him Ruairi - translates as red-haired king in Gaelic) has been paying regular visits to our bird table and enjoying the spoils that he finds there.

I watched him this morning in the act of burying the nuts in the earth in the flower-pot! He went on to bury them in random places in the middle of the grass.

I have to admire his faith. Wherever he buries the nuts he has the belief that at some time in the future he will be able to come back and find his hidden store.

As he left that morning I could only step back and admire his simple faith. Perhaps we try too hard. 

Sunday, 3 February 2013

The day Thou gavest Lord hast ended

For some reason this just spoke to me today.

I thought, is is about:

rest at life's end?


an angel whose work is done?

Why was it speaking to me?

Then I read its' title.

It is called 'Angel of Grief'.

Today is the 3rd February. A year ago today I lost my best friend.

Angel of grief - yes.

But, I think of my friend - a woman, a minister, whose work here on earth was done.

And I am glad that I knew her.

Glad that I shared such a wonderful, sparkling, journey with her.

Glad that she is now at rest at life's end, in the company of God and all the hosts of angels.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Those that truly love

Captain Corelli's MandolinLouis de Bernieres

Love is a temporary madness,
it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides.
And when it subsides you have to make a decision.
You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together
that it is inconceivable that you should ever part.
Because this is what love is.
Love is not breathlessness,
it is not excitement,
it is not the promulgation of eternal passion.
That is just being "in love" which any fool can do.
Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away,
and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.
Those that truly love, have roots that grow towards each other underground,
and when all the pretty blossom have fallen from their branches,
they find that they are one tree and not two.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Snow Geese at Night

Google Image from Audubon 

I can hear them
 I can’t see them
Snow geese that fly at night
They seem infinite in their numbers
Every night the past month I heard them call
This time when they are elsewhere
I will remember selfless calls
Their perfect V’s
Unseen to those who fly

I will remember
The perfection of their V
Silhouetted above the street lights
Generated by the air that we can not see
Explained by the geese that can only feel
When they are in the right place
Singing with the ecstasy
Of remembering
Their home


By John Miller 

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Like a feather

When you pray lay aside thoughts
that peck at the body and dive after souls
fears that give birth to needs
concerns that lay ambush to the future
mistakes that make poison of the past
When you pray lay aside thoughts
Of where you are and what you are doing
of your struggle to walk the Chosen Path
even your hopes to leave behind
a few final steps in the sand
Then pull from under you
what little ground you stand on
and fall
like a feather
into the hand of God
Rest there 
so lightly 
so very very lightly
that when you think about it
you will feel no longer where you end
and God begins.
 Centering Prayer Magazine from Snowmass Benedictine Monastery

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Stormy weather

Harbour wall at Arbroath, Scotland

Yesterday, heavy rain descended causing problems with our rivers and on our roads. Today the sea battered against the shoreline in Arbroath causing unwary bystanders to be soaked.

Stormy times batter our days.

The words of this hymn turn us in the direction of God's presence in the storms:-

God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

God hath not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, trouble and woe;
He hath not told us we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.

God hath not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain rocky and steep,
Never a river turbid and deep.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.