Friday, 18 January 2019

Mary Oliver

It’s with much fondness and a deep appreciation of her gift to the world that I learned this morning that Mary Oliver died yesterday.  A fellow poet, though so much more accomplished at her craft than I, she gave us poems that explored the simple wonders of the natural world in ways that left you in awe of the Creator.  You knew, beyond all doubt, when you read her words that she understood the meaning of 'the gift of the present moment'; indeed, she brought that present moment vibrantly alive.

In her poem, The Summer Day, she writes, 'I don't know exactly what a prayer is', and yet through her writing she leads us to the answer.  If the ability to observe the world with such reverent awe is not the deepest of prayers, then I don’t know what is.  A joyful celebration of nature, her work is infused with a deep spirituality, whilst remaining beautifully simple and very accessible.  She has left a wonderful legacy.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
For me, her words capture the importance of fully living each moment in this wonderful, amazing universe that we are privileged to exist within. They inspire me, they help me to pause before creation, and they return me again and again to her question:
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Mary Oliver;
headed home, like her beloved wild geese, January 17th 2019

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Accidental Grace

I'm thrilled to share with you the news that I've just signed a contract with Kevin Mayhew.  My book of reflections on the psalms will be published in the autumn.  

This is a book I never intended to write but which, curiously, seemed to write me as I prayed my way through the psalms. I wonder if God sometimes does His best work when we ourselves think we have nothing to give?  Accidental grace and unexpected blessings characterised what looked as if it would be an otherwise fallow year.

Nothing could have prepared me for how my convalescence would change me.  It's impossible to pray the Book of Psalms from start to finish without being significantly impacted by the experience.  I mined the depths of these ancient scriptures and unearthed their treasures. And I revisited the whole of my life along the way.  I worked through incredible heartache and immense joy, through deep angst and profound gratitude, and through every possible emotion in between.
I wrestled many times with mystery, struggled often with unanswerable questions, and pondered on the awesome, but often elusive, love at the heart of this messy, broken world. The process was profoundly moving and deeply healing and I look forward to being able to share the fruits of this time through this new book.

Accidental grace. 

Unexpected blessings. 

God can use all things - yes, all things - for good.

So this is my New Year prayer for you: however hard or challenging life might be feeling right now, may God weave his awesome grace and unexpected blessings into the year that lies ahead for you.