Sunday, 16 September 2018

Let Your God Love You


Warmth flooded through me, drenched my body, held me in the moment.  From the crown of my head to the soles of my feet, it poured itself into me. It was a powerful, visceral, physical sensation.  It was a cleansing, it was a healing; it was Love.  
 
Sitting before the cross, the beautiful cross which was shaped out of brokenness, I knew; I knew that the shattered fragments of my own wounds were falling away.  I knew what the woman with bleeding experienced as she touched the hem of His cloak. (Mark 6.25-29). And it was gift; pure, unearned, radical gift.
 
That was a month ago.  And here I was last weekend, listening to Edwina Gateley speaking about the transformative power of love; speaking of the importance of knowing, truly knowing, that we are deeply loved by God, whoever we are, whatever we've done or not done, whatever wounds life has inflicted on us.  We are loved; loved beyond measure.  And sharing this love courageously was the way to change the world. These were no empty words, but the words of a woman whose sacrificial ministry to the homeless and the prostitutes in Chicago has transformed lives; has literally raised them from the gutter.  

My experience before the pottery cross came midway through a silent retreat, a whole week with the absence of words, absence of conversation, absence of technological noise and stimulus.  And Edwina's life changing ministry was forged and birthed in the silent desert times of her life. Considerably longer and deeper than my experience, three months alone in the Sahara desert and later nine months of prayer and silence in the woods of Illinois had led her to the street people.  It had given her the courage to step beyond her comfort zone and just love, simply love, those who didn't know the meaning of the word.

'Why?', my friend had asked.  'Why do you go away to be silent?  Can't you do that at home?'   No.  No, you can't.  Not in the same way.  There's something significant about intentionally stepping aside from life in order to simply 'be', to simply be with God; to open yourself to hear His voice.  Few of us can do this for nine months in a hermitage in the woods, but all of us can carve out some time for silence, however brief. 

Silence.  Love.  Transformation.  The essence of God.  

It's rarely an easy journey, but it can shape you in life-changing ways.

In the words of Edwina's poem, try taking the time to 'Let your God love you'.

.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

God of surprises

Don't you just love it when God brings into your path just exactly the right thing that you didn't even know you needed?  As a long recovery from major surgery stretched out ahead of me, I had no idea what was about to unfold.  I certainly had no idea that God was about to write another book through me.
 
In the early days of my convalescence, when I began to reflect and write with a psalm a day, I had no thoughts of where it might lead. And now, as psalm 150 creeps towards me, I have a strange sense of completion; as if I'm close to finishing a task that I didn't even know I needed to do.  I have been hugely challenged but also deeply blessed by wrestling with the psalms and there's a kind of wistful fondness that this season is nearing its end.  It feels not unlike when I looked on my sons and recognised that my task was done: they were about to find their own way in the world and my calling had simply been to birth them and nurture them.  That's how it feels.  But, as any author will tell you, the hard work of getting this writing published now lies before me.  I'd appreciate your prayers through the process!  If it's what God wants, it will happen!
 
On the health front, my recovery is progressing well and it's now time to consider when to have the second operation.  I am keeping on keeping on! Thank you for your prayers throughout this time.
.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Every Step a Prayer


Carrie Newcomer has a song entitled, "A Shovel is a Prayer".  In writing about it she says -
“I believe that prayer is very personal and intimate. It happens in small, private moments, in songs and whispers, in humor, grace and the conversations that can only be had at the quiet end of the table."
The song contains some beautiful lyrics, among them:  "a baby is a prayer / when it's finally asleep / a whispered, 'Amen' / at the end of the day"  and  "a friend is a prayer / when they bring over soup".

Recovering, as I am, from a knee replacement operation just over two weeks ago, I have thought of those words often.  In the early days, post-operatively, I felt quite unable to pray in my usual ways and yet was deeply aware that, in a very real sense, every step and every moment was a prayer; every visitor and every card a prayer too.  Feeling powerfully upheld by the prayers of others, I also came to realise how important it is to have people 'standing in the gap' prayerfully for us at particular times in our lives.  My thanks go out to all those who have prayed me through this time and are continuing to do so: you are making such a difference!
 
As I settle now into the rhythms of my convalescence I am beginning to pray my way through the psalms each morning, inspired by Ian Stackhouse's book, "Praying Psalms".  Reflecting and writing with each psalm, I'm  finding it a powerful way to start the day.  And who knows? ... this might become another book  ...  every step, every stroke of the pen, every tap of the keyboard ... a prayer.

What might be an unexpected prayer for you today?
.


Saturday, 16 December 2017

Rumours of Joy


On my poetry page, you'll find some new poems for the season.  Do go and read them and enjoy.  One of the poems, 'Ragamuffin Rumours', attempts to capture something of the rumours which must have rippled around Bethlehem when a bunch of excited shepherds started to share the news of what they'd seen.  The story, told and re-told in scripture and through our annual nativity plays, is now so familiar to us that sometimes it hardly makes an impact.  But to the folks of Bethlehem it must have seemed beyond belief, questionable gossip of the highest order.

The poem ends with the words, "can't possibly be true".  I wonder how many shoppers in our Christmas markets would make the same response; how many people today feel the reality of Jesus seems beyond belief? 

John Betjeman puts the question beautifully, in a verse from his 'Christmas' poem:


And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window's hue,
A Baby in an ox's stall ?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Became a Child on earth for me?

 
Let's take a pause in our preparations to dwell in the incredible nature of those questions and in the truth of the answer. And as we rejoice in our Christmas celebrations, may we let the wonder of that truth ripple out in love to others, especially those for whom this season is a painful time.

Have a deeply Happy Christmas - one that's full of love and laughter and a host of holy moments.
.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Pathways to Healing CD - Available now!

 

 
I am pleased to announce that the first CD in my new Pathways to Healing series
is now available!

 
Not so much a CD to be listened to as a CD to be experienced,
this meditative recording has the possibility of taking you  
to a profound healing encounter with Jesus;
providing a truly immersive experience.
 
Based on scripture, it combines
narrative poetry and guided meditation
with prayerful questioning and relaxing ambient music,
bringing the gospel story alive for each individual.

It is a CD to be experienced: quietly, expectantly, deeply,
a CD to take your time with;
a CD to pray with;
a CD which is in itself a prayer.

A valuable resource for individuals, churches and other groups.
 
 
Please do share this news and order your copy here
 
.
 

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Surrendering to the Spirit


I've been thinking a lot about 'surrender' recently, since I led a retreat on that theme for the local Franciscans.  And on this Pentecost weekend, I am reminded of a poem that I wrote several years ago when I led a retreat for the lovely folks of Twydall.   You can read it on my poetry page here.  What an amazing, empowering experience Pentecost must have been for all those early disciples, to have power coming upon them and flowing through them in such visible, obvious ways.

It's not always so easy for us to harness the power of God, is it.  And sometimes it flows in gentler, less obvious ways. But notice how others are blessed by the small things you say and do; be aware of those times when you feel given the right words for the conversation you're in; or recognise with thankfulness unexpected moments of peace that indwell you, in spite of the turbulence of your life.  In all those, and a myriad other ways, the Spirit still lives through us today.
 
One of my prayers, day by day, is that I won't frustrate the work of the Holy Spirit.  I'm sure that I do, countless times, but I'm trying to surrender more and more and to say, "not my will, but yours be done".
 
One of the ways that helps me to develop that attitude of surrender is to immerse myself in stillness. And when I'm drawn into busyness, into seasons when I feel there just aren't enough hours in the day, or chaotic times when a sense of overwhelm threatens to engulf me; it's exactly then, when I feel there is no time for stillness, that I need to prioritise silence and to ring fence it.  And then I seem to be able to free up the channel for the Spirit to flow.
 
So I make no apologies for the silence on this web page in recent months.  It's been a season of challenges and I have needed the space.  Sorry if you've missed me.

I'm delighted to announce though, that one of the fruits of that time has been the bringing to completion of the first CD in my new Pathways to Healing series.  That CD will soon be available through this website, and hopefully other outlets too. It brings together prayers, narrative poetry and imaginative contemplation; all very much in the style of my retreat leading and all enhanced by the beautiful music of Sally Hosken.  I hope it will be a valuable resource for anyone seeking to know the healing Jesus in a deeper, personal way.

Thank you to you all for your amazing support, both prayerful and financial; that too, is the work of the Spirit.
 
May the Spirit of Pentecost bless you all and stir new dreams and new possibilities in your heart. 
 .

Friday, 3 February 2017

God's Jigsaw


I sometimes think that discerning what God is up to is a bit like being given just a few pieces of a complicated jigsaw, and no straight bits!   At the home were I stayed last week, a huge unfinished jigsaw lay on a table in the lounge, challenging people to put the next piece in. Over the course of the weekend, it became for me a metaphor of the Body of Christ.
 
 
Let me explain.  Along with Sally, a gifted musician, and Julian, an experienced sound recordist, I was down in Cornwall recording the first of my meditation CDs.  It was a rich and rewarding experience and the project taught me a lot about the Body of Christ.  It was a perfect example of how we all have different gifts which, when we work together, can produce something so much bigger than the sum of the individual parts; just as, when the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle are the perfect fit for each other we begin to see a bigger, more vibrant picture.
 
So the CD recordings are underway!  I am in awe of how God brought together such talented and Christ-centred people to support me. The recording of the first CD was completed during three days in Truro.  It's been a busy month, during which I've slept in 6 different beds and travelled well over 1,000 miles.  And having sat behind a microphone for the best part of three days, I now have a very healthy respect for radio and recording artists!
 
Thank you - to all who prayed us through the recording process - to Sally for her anointed playing, her very hard work, and for her determination to make the recording the best that it can be - to Julian for his generosity, his immense technical skills and for keeping us all calm under pressure - to Fenella for keeping us well fed and well rested - to Audri for her creative ideas and enthusiasm for the related artwork - and to an anonymous supporter who blessed me with a relaxing stay in a top notch hotel afterwards.
 
Please continue to pray for Julian, as he now performs the complex technical task of editing all that we've recorded.  Please pray for Audri, as she goes into hospital for a planned operation.  And please pray for me as I now change focus for a while and turn my attention to preparing some retreats.  My next event will be a retreat for a group of Franciscans, at the end of the month.
 
And in the meantime, if you come across any jigsaws, just remember  ...   we're each a unique and important piece in God's Grand Jigsaw and the Kingdom comes closer when we all fit our different gifts together!
.