Saturday, 28 January 2012

The Gathering

The more "formal" educational part of this trip begins today when we meet up with some of the other Revgals - for some continuing Ed with Jenee Woodward of Textweek. From facebook, we have gleaned that a lot of them are already here, having flown in to New Orleans yesterday. It is strange to think that we might bump into them on the street - there is a sense of forces "gathering". And, of course there are many whom we have never met before and would not recognise even if we did meet before we are together on the ship.
And so we move on today, (as we do every day, but rarely acknowledge) to new opportunities, to new relationships, to new learning, with a great sense of trepidation and anticipation. And, of course, with the assurance that God is with us and goes before us. Thanks be to God.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Masked communication

Far from home and unable to communicate with family by phone, it was suggested that we might be visible on a nearby webcam. So, donning Mardi Gras masks, my friend and I located the camera and hung around for a few minutes, not knowing whether or not we would be in the right place at the right time and be recognised. The wonderful thing is that schedules DID manage to collide and our families saw behind the masks. How exciting it was to discover that our attempt at communication  had succeeded and how good it felt to have made our families smile.
God's schedule collides with ours every moment, unrecognised or not,  and God's smile is never far away. We are beloved children of God, with or without our masks!

Day and Night

It has been a day of contrasts:
We arrived in the French Quarter of New Orleans last night and, it would be fair to say, witnessed some of the seedier night life. The same area looked decidedly different in the daylight.
We met an American in shorts, playing Scotland the Brave on the bagpipes to celebrate Burns night.
And, we ate Gumbo and poboys instead of haggis, neeps and tatties.
Above all there is a wonderful slowing of pace - necessary for winding down and finding a new energy for creativity.
It has also been an emotional day, a letting go of many of the burdens that we tend to carry for others as well as an incredible awareness of the nearness of the spirit of loved ones for whom the experiences I am enjoying right now were never an option.
Exhausting, exhilarating, stimulating, invigorating - a day of contrasts indeed.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Out of the box

Off on study leave - meeting up with some amazing RevGals and, hopefully, writing some worship material - as well as networking, planking, Kindling... Often, in the lead up to time away, there comes a point when I start to wonder: Is all the hassle of sorting things out and organising things so that I can be away worth the effort? But the knowledge that I'll return refreshed physically and spiritually dictates that it is more than worth it.
The study is deliberately timed so that we can all be back in our parishes in time for the start of the season of Lent and the journey to Easter, a time when there is so much scope for Creativity in the church. So, a full tank is required. Looking forward to topping up over these next couple of weeks.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Spirit of Adventure

As a new colleague was ordained to ministry of word and sacrament tonight, there was a real sense of anticipation and excitement. Who knows what the future will bring or where the journey will lead? As I reflected on the joy of beginnings, I was also giving thanks for that stage on the journey that is not just as scary but is still a challenge. That stage where the terrain is slightly more familiar yet also full of surprises. And, as we traverse familiar paths and embrace new horizons, we are carried aloft by the unpredictable Spirit of God, blowing where she will, creating mischief, encouraging playfulness, remaining dependable in every changing landscape. Thanks be to God.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

In the gloaming...

The cows stand in the gloaming
unconcerned about the scudding clouds
enjoying the moment
as the sky turns purple
and the noise of the day recedes.
That liminal time
as afternoon bleeds into evening
a time to draw breath,
to pause and reflect - 
a threshold of  opportunity
to be seized or lost forever.
Silhouetted for a moment
before darkness descends
and shapes become indistinguishable
blending back in
to the pastoral landscape
becoming unremarkable once more.
To grasp that moment of definition
is to be struck with the timing of God
in tune with the creator
who, in every moment,
provides beauty
continually painting new landscapes
enjoying the task so much
that it matters not
whether anyone notices
Such fulfillment is internal
and not dependent
on others' approval - 
and that is real freedom.

Saturday, 14 January 2012


Tomorrow, in church, we'll be thinking about Jesus encouraging people to look at things differently and calling some unlikely people to "Come and see". Philip and Nathanael responded to that summons and their lives were changed for ever.
(John 1:43-51)
I've altered some of the images with which folk are familiar around the church to see if they still recognise them. The image above is a detail of the cross that sits on top of the church tower, a modern (50s-60s) interpretation of the crown of thorns.

Stepping back and taking a fresh look at life and at faith may lead to us being surprised and enriched by a different view.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Leaving a trail

One of the beaches we walked on Arran last week was littered with dead starfish. This seems to be a phenomenon that, according to google, is fairly common on beaches the world over, most likely caused, in this case, by recent severe storms.
They were very pretty but no less dead!
The sight led me to think about how nothing is without consequence - for good or ill. And some events set up amazing chain reactions that we would never envisage. While the philosophy of cause and effect can lead to deplorable evil, equally, something apparently insignificant can lead to untold good.
Or, as Jesus once said: Whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones...
May we be encouraged to keep on performing unseen acts of kindness, trusting in disproportionate growth and the potential for good in the world.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Holding on

20 years ago today, my father in law died after a long, wearying and debilitating sojourn with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
We'd intended to take down our Christmas tree that night, it being 12th night but, with everything being thrown into disarray, it was well into February before we got around to that. In the midst of grief it was comforting to have such a visible reminder of the Light that came into the world - Light that darkness has never overcome. The Incarnation cannot be packed away in the attic or in the cupboard under the stairs. Thanks be to God - it goes on making a difference in all of life - and death.

Seeing the light

We can't be sure there were three of them
We can't be sure they were men
And they don't seem to have been particularly wise
stirring up a political storm
causing havoc in their wake
and untold grief
at the slaughter of innocents.
Condemning the Holy family
to life as refugees
their gift about which we rarely speak
choosing to focus instead
on the gold, frankincense and myrrh.
And yet perhaps that gift of flight
was as significant as any other
in determining the affinity
that God laid down
with suffering, oppressed humanity
unlocking the way
that all might see
that God was - and is
one of us.
Liz Crumlish Epiphany 2012

Monday, 2 January 2012

Home by another way

A "wee walk" intended to slough off some of the excess of the season turned out to be a bit more than we'd anticipated. Not wanting to retrace our steps, we kept going until we found an alternative way back. However, the scenery and the bracing air made the tramp worthwhile.
New year seems like a good time to veer from the familiar, perhaps even tried and tested ways, to open ourselves to the possibility of exploring the new.
Faced with the luxury of such choice, it would be a shame to squander the opportunity.
May this new year be, for you, one of such opportunity and discovery and one in which you are open to and enriched by new experience.

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