Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Going where we'd rather not be

Been struggling for some time with discernment - or imagining that I was. But its slowly beginning to dawn on me that I know God's will - the problem is I don't particulalrly like it because its so difficult - a hard path to follow. So, all this time when I've been imploring God - give me a sign- the signs have been all around. They are just not the ones I want to follow. Remember that bit in Bruce Almighty , where Bruce cries - OK - you're in charge - give me a sign? The roadside sign flashes: caution ahead - and then a huge lorry drives past him carrying a shed load of road direction signs. He either can't or won't see them. I can see the signs, I just don't want to obey them. So, what now? Will acceptance or resignation makes things different?

I'll keep you posted!

Monday, 29 October 2007

Prayer floating

Hosted our first Cre:ate event last night, an opportunity for folks to explore spirituality. Its amazing what some soft lighting and music can do to create atmosphere in an otherwise bleak and dingy church hall. Creatively, we explored prayer, setting the scene by relaxing with music and some beautiful projected images of creation. We made prayer chains from old buttons and created prayer groups out of clay. But my favourite bit was the creation of these prayer flowers. Most adults like to colour in, so they were quite happy putting some silent thoughts and prayers and reflections into their colouring. We then folded all the petals into the centre of the flower and, as part of our closing meditation, floated these folded petals onto water. They all opened out and floated serenely around, jostling each other. Thanks to Tune in, chill out by Baker and Ratnayake and Proost for this simple but effective idea.

Its always good to get the first of something out of the way, so last night ended with a sense of relief. But also with the desire for more. More opportunity to engage in this gentle interactive way with things of the Spirit, and the affirmation that deep within all of us lies a creativity that's struggling to escape from the place to which we have banished it in favour of more cerebral pursuits. Already looking forward to putting together the next Cre:ate.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Striding out

9 years old - walking off into the sunset. Determination in every step.
Oblivious to cold, enjoying the ocean lapping at her feet.
Can we ever regain that sense of abandonment?
That confidence that life won't overwhelm us.
That sense of playfulness that makes us tear off our shoes and socks and feel sand between our toes - simply because we can.
All of that - and more - is ours for the taking.
If we will only stop being adult, stop carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders.
Let go, live, love and laugh.
Then life becomes a joy instead of the chore that we have made it.
And the whole world becomes an adventure to reach into.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Taking a leap

Tree-lined avenue,
inviting gate,
prompting a journey of discovery.
Each journey begins with one little step
and a heartbeat of courage.
Dare we risk the unknown?
Dare we abandon the safe and familiar?

For what?
If we knew the answers,
we could make an informed choice - to pass through the gate or not.
But then we'd lose the sense of mystery,
the notion of possibility and a whole lot else besides.
To get from here to there
involves an element of abandonment,
of giving up one thing to reach for the other.
So will we put one foot in front of the other
to reach the gate,
open it and pass through
or will we remain trapped and frozen
in the comfort and safety that we know.
There are lots of reasons to remain on this side of the gate
and even more to take a running leap at it
and discover
the other side.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Reflected glory

I blogged some time ago about a double rainbow. There were quite a few of those where we were last week. But a friend helpfully pointed out that we're not actually seeing two rainbows. We're seeing one rainbow and its reflection. Sure enough, if you look at the pic you'll see that the colours go in opposite directions. One rainbow is a mirror image of the other. While I was taken with the idea of a double rainbow symbolising double the hope and double the blessing, I quite like the idea of the beauty being reflected too. Take your pick - science or imagination? Both have much to offer.

Rainbows through the rain

Tarbert, Loch Fyne in Argyllshire on the west coast of Scotland was dazzling last week. A short ferry trip took us to this wee fishing village. A day of beautiful sunshine and heavy showers also brought a few rainbows, fair compensation. We saw many rainbows last week and, luckily, we always had time to stop and marvel. Creation deserves our awe for all its distractions. Its the days that we fail to be distracted by the wonder of the world around us that we need to wake up to ourselves and recognise our need to slow down and take in the scenery.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Sight for sore eyes

How about this for an outlook? This was the scene that greeted me every morning last week. Autumn in all its glory. And glorious it was. Surrounded by nature's beauty, by good friends, by good food and fine wine, how could a girl do anything other than heal? The week was everything I'd hoped for - and more.
From the shabby chic of the grand house we had rented to the therapy of cooking on a placid aga to the side splitting laughter at the antics of seniors who should know better playing on the huge trampoline, rest and relaxation seem far too calm to describe the essence of a week in the wilderness. Finding the space to engage with the wild was effortless despite the buzz. Iain pointed out that there is a whole universe in each wild flower and fallen leaf. I was able to engage with countless universes and, hopefully, the spirit breath I indulged on will keep on blowing refreshment, keep on inspiring, keep on wreaking havoc.
As the fallen leaves sink back into the ground
from whence they came
nourishing the soil that birthed them
may the laughing, dancing wind
whip up a stooshie
teasing here
tearing there
until all is displaced
and nothing is left unmoved.
Then, may a gentle settling begin
with jostling and shoogling.
And may love be in that settling
as it was in the stirring.
And may the autumn ochre and bronze and gold
seep into the soul
balm and beauty
blessing and binding
curing the sores
caressing and healing
swaddling with love.

Saturday, 13 October 2007


This week has been even more frenetic than usual. And emotionally, its been a real roller coaster ride. Professional detachment? What's that? No chance of downtime this week. However, the good news is that Sabbath is just around the corner. Schools are closed for a week, so we're off to the wilderness. To wide open space. Very few people. Come hell or high water, this will be a week of R and R. And while I don't want to sound alarmist (or defeatist) the return to work will see the beginning of the great slide and then the headlong rush into Christmas. So this sabbath time is vital. I'm hoping for a release of much of the tension that tightens my gut just now. For a freeing of the emotions that still hold me in their grip - even if that means a bucket load of tears. And I'm hoping to be bathed in love - love of family and friends, a soothing balm. I know I'm asking a lot. And expecting too much perhaps invites disappointment. But there is too much at stake for this wilderness time not to weave its magic caress around the chafing of the last few weeks. Returning less than restored is unthinkable. Running on pretty much empty just now so refuelling is essential.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Death no longer taboo?

Participated in an interesting discussion today about death rituals and customs. The seminar was presented by a palliative care doctor, from a very out of date Roman Catholic position. I think he was trying to maintain that death has gone from being visible in community to being invisible, very much a private affair. And he seemed to suggest that where death does become public as, for instance, in the death of Diana, Princess of Wales that the mourning and the rituals surrounding it have become sentimental. I wanted to suggest that he look at the coverage of the last Pope's funeral to see that that is not the case but that what we are witnessing is the liberation of emotions where folk are free to express grief and participate in mourning rituals. Our experience in this community over the last few weeks bears that out. It wasn't thick, sugary sentiment that led teenagers to congregating on street corners shedding tears. Or to posting tributes on a web site set up to honour their school friend. This was a healthy display of grief and of participating in the tasks of mourning rather than burying their grief deep inside and not being allowed or enabled to confront it. I see this as a healthy state of affairs from whatever religious or denominational stance or, indeed non religious stance one comes. Supporting one another through joys and sorrows is a healthy sign of any community.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Never a complete failure

Inverkip Power Station is one of the biggest white elephants of its time. It never reached its full capacity because, by the time construction was completed, the cost of oil was too prohbitive to make it a viable proposition. It was useful, briefly, during the coal miners strike in the 80s but has spent most of its career mothballed. However, it continues to prove a useful landmark for navigation purposes.

I wonder how often we find ourselves diverted from the path we set out on, but manage to prove ourselves useful in a completely different way.

One of my favourite sayings is: You are never a complete failure. You can always serve as a bad example. Each of us has a value well beyond our own calculation and a purpose we can only dream of.

Friday, 5 October 2007

Some kind of overview

Looking at the big picture is important. Often, I'm caught up in the clouds. Or sometimes, but not often enough, basking in the blue skies. At times I'm surrounded by people. Other times, in splendid isolation. From the top of a steep climb its not easy to see the bottom. And in the gold of autumn its easy to forget the green of summer. Its good to stand apart for a while and just survey the landscape. Trying to gain a different measure, a new perspective. Something more healthy than the glimpse from the thick of things. It doesn't make the slog any easier but it does give it more meaning and its easier to understand the place that I'm at when I can look around and see where it all fits. And holding it all together? Is love. Love in the gaps. Love in the graft. Love in the raw. Love providing the links and the spaces. Love encircling the whole. Never too much love. I just pray for enough.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Words, words, words

After a day of meetings my brain is weary. So many words to-ing and fro-ing. My throat is parched because lots of the words were mine. Perhaps it would be better to drown in the sea of apathy that seems to be the alternative to trying to motivate. It would certainly be less exhausting.

"Mortal man, can these bones come back to life?"

I often feel like Ezekiel in the valley of the dry bones, knowing that the breath of life is not mine to give. But God breathed into those bones, brought them to life - and what life. What keeps me from drowning is the hope that God will breathe into our situation and create the kind of havoc that only God's spirit can wreak. Then we'll be able to see signs of new life, not just the starkness of death.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

The compassion of the young

The past few months have seen tragic loss of the lives of several young folk in this community and in our neighbouring community. The ripple effect for each of these deaths has been immense. It affects all parts of the community, the schools, the churches, the neighbourhood.

But what has touched me more than anything else is the compassion of these lads' contemporaries. These young people have demonstrated grief in a way unprecedented when I was at school. I can recall at least two of my peer group dying and their deaths were hushed up, not for public mourning. However, these past weeks, young folk have gotten together to grieve. They have supported one another. Schools and communities have allowed them space and time to reflect and to mourn. And they have greatly supported the bereaved families by their tributes and their love and their concern. In an age when young folk get such a bad press, these young folk have love in their hearts and are not afraid to show it.

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