Wednesday, 29 July 2009

A feast for the eyes

A sight that never fails to cheer.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Which way is up?

I took some time out this week to write. I have quite a few things coming up, different contributions that I'll be making to various projects and I really need to get some thoughts down on paper. But that's never the way it works for me. Creativity, for me, flows better in snatched moments here and there, not in space carefully carved out.
Once I'd acknowledged this I decided simply to enjoy. I was surrounded by the beauty of creation and by some stunning natural reflections, reflections that made it difficult to tell which way my photographs should be rotated. Hopefully the nourishment of that enjoyment will feed into my musings as deadlines loom.It seemed like a plan but plan B worked better - simply to enjoy the moment.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Keeping the faith

Had a great conversation today with a woman who, for some time, has been turned off religion. It doesn't happen so often in the parish but, as a hospital chaplain I frequently encountered folk who had become disillusioned with religion and had many difficult questions that they wanted to put before a so-called loving God. I always find this in many ways refreshing. And I don't feel I have to defend the faith in any way. Faith - and the God of faith - is big enough to stand up for itself. But what I think is important is that I, as a representative of faith, do not turn away. While I don't feel the need to defend - or even promote faith in many instances, it is important that I keep faith. On occasion when folk for all sorts of reasons, cannot embrace faith, it becomes even more important that I hold out enough faith to shelter them too. And that holding out faith comes with no strings attached and no hidden agenda. It is merely an act of love, an act seen or unseen that helps another traveller on the journey though life.
Bidden or not bidden, God is present. (Erasmus)

Monday, 20 July 2009

Alongside ministry

Today, I attended a memorial service for a colleague's husband. Beautiful tributes were paid and a life tragically cut short in its prime was celebrated. I was particularly moved, however, by the words of a seaport chaplain who addressed the family by saying simply: "Thank you for allowing me to be there for you."
For me, that sums up ministry. We are allowed, for a time, to be there for others. Some encounters are fleeting. Others may be sustained over a period of time. All are an immense privilege. I am constantly grateful for all those who allow us "to be there".

Sunday, 19 July 2009


At worship this morning, we shared our favourite ideas of retreat. They were many and varied. Taking time out to relax and be refreshed is important to all of life. Maybe it can't be escape to an island like Iona but there are ways that we can experience retreat wherever we are. It's important to our wellbeing to discover and to cultivate those in our daily life.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Creating some beach in our everyday

Looking ahead to Sunday... In the gospel, we find Jesus trying to carve out some retreat time with his disciples. For me, that would have to involve the beach.
No matter how hectic life gets, as long as we can create that feeling of sand between the toes and inhale the freshness of sea breezes, (in the words of Julian of Norwich), all shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Coping mechanism

Often, when things are tense and situations call for solemnity, I find myself focussing on inappropriate things, simply to ease the situation. At our friend's funeral last week, the driver of the hearse bore an uncanny resemblance to Father Jack from the Father Ted series. And islanders claim that that was him "tidied up". As funeral directors neither he nor his colleague could direct their way out of a paper bag but, for entertainment value and for adding a surreal air, they were a triumph. Certainly worked for me.

Good to be back

Last night, as we headed back from two weeks away, it was good to feel butterflies stir and contentment nestle in on the home stretch. Its been good to be elsewhere. There has been healing and creativity and rest. But it is reassuring, almost a year on in this place to know that wash of excitement as we return to what is, for now, home.

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