Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year

 I find it fascinating that New Year's Eve is just one day out of 365, and yet it can potentially be a real watershed in our lives. It's a time to review the year that has passed. A time to take stock. And a time to look forward with hope. This is especially true in the northern hemisphere, where the date falls in the shortest, darkest days of the year and we look forward with hope to longer, brighter days and (eventually) the joys of spring.
It's a watershed.  And it can be a kairos time.  So let's celebrate all that's been good about the last year, make peace with all that wasn't so good, and look forward with hope to 2013.

And what of New Year's resolutions?  Will you be making one?  Mine is: to allow more of  Jesus, who is in me, to live through me   ...   not by 'trying harder' to be like him (for he is already in each one of us)   ...   but by asking the Holy Spirit to help me surrender to that possibility and to strip away all that holds me back from letting it happen. 

"Jesus, live through me" will be my New Year prayer. 

How about you?

Happy New Year to all my readers: may the grace of God be with you in all that lies ahead.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Gathered Around a Manger

Gathered around a manger, high on a Cumbrian hillside, in a barn lit only by flickering torches, the truth of the stark reality of the birth - and death - of Jesus came alive for me this week.  Along with fellow travellers on the Windermere Centre Advent Retreat, seated on straw bales, surrounded by muffled sounds and pungent scents of cattle stirring, I was privileged to share in a most moving silent communion. The bread, reminding us of the Bread of Life, rested in the manger, swaddled in a simple white cloth   ...  and as the wine was poured, it dripped over a simple wooden cross and crown of thorns beside the feeding trough.  The setting was atmospheric, the symbolism profound. 

The truth of the Christmas story, and its full realisation in the Easter story, has never before impacted me so powerfully.

As we inevitably race headlong towards Christmas, in the busyness of the coming days, may we all have 'Advent Moments'   ...   spaces to pause and to pray ...  and to ponder the wonder and truth and incredible beauty of the incarnation.

If you are seeking some simple advent reflections, I have recently added some to my poetry pages.

May God bless and sustain you all at this Christmas time. 


Saturday, 27 October 2012

Autumn Leaves

As the autumn leaves put on fabulous displays of colour, here in the UK, I am reminded of creation's in-built rhythms of rest.  The leaves change colour as the trees prepare for winter rest.  And we too will have natural seasons when we need to rest, in order to be more fruitful in a future season.

I am now well rested after a much longer than expected sabbatical.  It has been easy, at times, to feel 'guilty' at a sense of 'doing nothing' during this time   ...   but, on reflection, how can "giving oneself the opportunity to heal" and "going deeper into prayer" be classed as nothing?  I know it has all been preparation for what is to come.

Thank you to the many people, know and unknown, who have supported me prayerfully, financially and in many other ways thoughout this time.  You have helped me more than you know.

I am beginning to consider retreat leading invitations for next year, but hope to concentrate primarily on writing new materials for publication.  I recently saw the early drafts of the artwork for my new book, Deeper, and I am thrilled.  Mary Fleeson is doing a beautiful job and it is a huge privilege to be working together on this.  We are aiming for publication in autumn 2013.  Please pray for Mary, both in her own ministry and in this specific collaboration.

Healthwise, I am now undergoing some intensive treatment for my lymphatic system.  This is expected to continue weekly for approximately 6 months.  Already, there are positive indications, but the regular treatments leave my body feeling exhausted, so I will be continuing to go gently during this period.  Please pray that my body will continue to respond well and that my energy will soon return.

Once again, thank you all for your continuing interest in my ministry.  

May God be with you all.


Saturday, 30 June 2012

An Online Shop

I'm pleased to share with you that you can now buy my books and cards directly from the link on the top right of this page.  At last I have an online shop! Please do point potential customers to this link.  I look forward to receiving lots of orders!

Many thanks to you all for your prayerful support in recent times.  I'm happy to report that my health is now much restored. When I look back over the last nine months, quoting Dickens, 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.'  But it has brought me to a place of unexpected blessings. When there was no other way to heal, there was nothing to do but to go deeper into God.   My ill-health forced me to evaluate whether I was living in the most appropriate way to enable my ministry.  And the Retreat Association Conference proved to be a kairos time in my thinking.  As a result, I have now settled into quiet contemplative rhythms which are helping me, as a friend prayed recently, to 'grow strong in the Lord'.

I shall be continuing to take Sabbath time whilst I consolidate these rhythms and try to discern what God calls me to next. Please pray for protection on this special time, for sustained good health and for the gift of discernment and wisdom to know when to step back into ministry.  Creative writing is starting to flow again and I am confident that further time in quiet prayer and reflective reading will bear fruit in future days.

I will be making myself available to lead a limited number of retreats in 2013.

My thanks again for your continuing support.

May the Lord meet you in all of your needs, whatever they may be.


Sunday, 6 May 2012

A New Book!

Thank you to you all for the immense love, support and encouragement which has flowed to me in so many different forms throughout my recent health struggles.  I shall be continuing to take Sabbath space for a little while longer and have currently laid aside all ministry commitments whilst I settle into rhythms that are life-giving and health-enhancing for me.  Please pray for me as I journey towards a full restoration of my health.

I have not been completely inactive though and am thrilled to share with you the news that I am partnering with Mary Fleeson of the Lindisfarne Scriptorium to produce a book which will be a resource for meditation and prayer.  I have long been an admirer of Mary's hugely anointed Christian artwork and it is an enormous privilege to be invited to collaborate with her.  The book will be a special combination of my words and Mary's artwork and we expect it to be available before the end of the year.  Please pray for Mary as she undertakes the final design work on this project.  And please pray blessings on her own very gifted ministry.  Mary's beautiful artwork can be viewed online here.

The publication of the Christmas book is on the back-burner for a little while, as are various other writing projects and dreams   ...   ...   but I feel as if I am moving forwards again and a recent time of refreshment on the Northumbrian coast has helped enormously.

Health permitting, I hope to attend two events in the coming weeks: Written by the Spirit and the Retreat Association Conference.  Please pray for spirit-filled blessings from these events and for the health to enjoy them.

My continuing thanks to you all for your prayerful support.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

A Sabbath Pause

My year begins with a sabbath pause ...

Following a recent period of ill-health, I shall be continuing to take a break from retreat leading whilst I concentrate on restoring my health. This will require me to have a mix of rest and relaxation (to restore myself mentally), alongside the need for a disciplined regime of exercise and massage (to restore my lymphatic system to health). This could be a tricky balance to achieve and your prayers would be appreciated.

One thing that I will be investigating during this time is how mindfulness meditation can help people to heal. I am hopeful that this will be beneficial not only to myself but to others whom I work alongside in the future.

Hopefully, as I step aside from retreat leading, there may be more time to write. I am currently close to completing a book of meditations for the Christmas season. Please pray that a mainstream Christian publisher will be willing to take on the publication of this.

Thank you for your support through your love, prayers and encouragement during my recent health struggles. I have valued your love enormously and hope to be able to share positive news about my health when I next write.