Wednesday, 7 April 2021

A new take on Discernment

 

I tend to think of discernment as demanding

And it is

It is also invitational 

Drawing us into a space

of wonder and creative imagination

A space that is not a void

but filled with potential

A space that is large enough

to allow us to dwell

Contemplatively

for as long as it takes 

A space hollowed out

to contain our fear

as well as our anticipation 

and to host our wildness

along with our reason

A space conducive to dreaming and plotting

and envisioning and conceiving

A space uncluttered by barriers

that encourages innovation

Discernment demands...

that we gather courage

to respond 

to the invitation that it offers.

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Noli me tangere (Do not hold on to me)


 John 20:16-17

Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ”

It’s the most natural thing in the world
to want to hold on...
To hold on 
to whatever is in front of us
because who knows
what the future will bring
To hold on
to what we know
because we fear the unknown
To hold on
to what feels good
and to what brings challenge
because alternatives 
cause us to be anxious.
Jesus’ encounter with Mary
reminds us
that only by letting go
will we experience
whatever God offers next.
Only by letting go
will we be enabled
to follow
where Christ has gone
and experience
a new way of being
that comes from letting go.
God, enable me
to be present in every moment
To take my cues from you
To discern what is mine to do
and to let go of those things
that do not further your kingdom
And, in the releasing
or relinquishing
may I know 
growth not loss
peace and not yearning
and the sheer joy of assurance
that I continue to do your will
becoming exactly 
who you created me to be
For that is enough
I am enough
Noli me tangere

Sunday, 4 April 2021

Witnesses to Resurrection today

 


Mark 16:8

So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.


This

This is the account

that speaks most piercingly today

Not the tender moment in the garden

Or the women’s “idle tales”

But the flight

and the silence 

Our usual

“The Lord is Risen

He is Risen indeed

Alleluia!”

Still rings true

Of course it does

But the terror 

and amazement

are the emotions that linger

in this year of pandemic

when, it seems, for us

there may be a kind of emerging

into a changed future

For who are we -

the ones called

to witness and proclaim

resurrection today?

When so much has been lost

and lives have been forever changed?

When it seems insensitive

to speak of new discoveries 

of joy in things found

in our forced isolation 

Who are we called to be?

As we face the uncertainty

of life beyond pandemic?

In the midst

of grief and trauma

of austerity and oppression

of loneliness

or lingering illness

of growing awareness

of systemic global injustice

to which we have contributed

How are we being called

to bring resurrection light?

With trumpet fanfares

or subdued whispers

of love in action?

I believe

that living in Resurrection today

demands more of us

than ever before

It’s easier to loudly proclaim our faith

than it is to quietly live

with the anxiety

and the uncertainty

of emergence

to which we are called today

When we can no longer rely 

on all that we’ve known

when there’s no going back

to the tried and tested

but are called

to follow the Risen Christ

into a new dawn

of dismantling empires

and institutions

designed to control and oppress

and into a new era

of release for the captives

freedom for the oppressed

healing and wholeness

for all of creation

Emerging with the risen Christ

with wounds still fresh

to transform the world in love

.witnesses to resurrection 

for these days.

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Holy Saturday Living

 

Waiting for resurrection

in the midst of uncertainty and despair

For once not knowing

how the story might end

Waiting it out on Holy Saturday - 

normally a minor inconvenience

that stops us getting straight onto the Alleluias

takes on a different hue

when the loss and fear is ours

when the stench of death lingers

when the silence of the tomb looms large

and hopelessness threatens

all that we know

invading the present

no longer confined 

to the experience of others

in a bygone age

but a reality that besets us today

as we linger by the tomb

forced to stay with the liminality 

desperate for signs

of resurrection.

When we cannot set the clock back

or be confident about the future

how are we called to be

in this moment?

To live in the confines of Holy Saturday today

demands not so much courage as the honesty

to admit that none of us knows

how this story will end

And to be prepared to look and to listen

for signs of resurrection

not in the places of noise and power

but in the forgotten and the vulnerable

in those who have suffered

yet who know that love

continues to make a difference.

Waiting for resurrection 

with those on the edges

living in that liminal space

with those who show us 

who God calls us to be

 as Holy Saturday people

in this hour.

Friday, 26 March 2021

Feisty women at the feast




As I take and tear bread

passing it around those who are gathered

Just then is the moment

Just there is the place

that I connect most deeply

with that great communion of saints

I see them in every corner

peering over the heads of the gathered worshippers

keeking through the spaces between couples

snuggled up beside those who are on their own

I see them gossiping in the aisles

nudging one another 

all crowding in to get a better look

And that’s when it hits me

My cloud of witnesses is comprised entirely of women

And these are the women I long to break bread with:

Shiphrah and Puah, the Hebrew midwives

who birthed a nation

Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tizzah, the daughters of Zelophehad

who changed the law

Jael, skilled with a tent peg and mallet

Bathsheba and Michal, inveigled by the same man

Photini, the woman at the well - who gave as good as she got

I’m sure you get the drift

I want to feast with the badass women

the ones who refused to conform 

who persisted

who made a difference

With that kind of line up leading the way

Why oh why do we still have to fight for a place at the table

Patriarchy is such a bitch!


 

Thursday, 25 March 2021

Misinformed consent


 Luke 1:38

Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.


The angel departed from her

But I wonder...

After he’d delivered his message

that would surely turn a life upside down

did he wish he could take it back?

Did he really believe that her grace would be a blessing?

When he saw the herald star over Bethlehem

did he remember that night

that the virgin said yes?

Was he part of the chorus

that sang peace on earth

as she gave birth to God?

How often did he ponder

what became of her?

Did he get to witness

how the courage she mustered for consent

would be tested time and again

as God grew up in human form?

Did he see her despair

as her firstborn’s life was extinguished,

 a pawn in political power games?

How apt it would be

if he were the one

who met her on the third day with the greeting

“He is not here. He is risen”

Completing the circle

of Annunciation

Hail Mary, full of grace

Blessed are you among women

Sunday, 21 March 2021

One year on

 



Reflecting on a year of COVID restrictions in Scotland


Remembering 

the wave of disbelief

and the stunned silence

The grief 

and lament

The resignation

and helplessness

The shock of furlough

- surplus to requirement

in an institution

focused on survival


Remembering 

the mounting fear

as death tolls rose

The longing to be able to do more

than make a difference

by staying home

and the low grade anxiety

that began low in the belly on waking

and lodged in the throat on sleeping


Remembering 

the deniers

and the conspiracists

the pontificators

and the optimists

all of whom made the work of  scientists 

and out of their depth governments

all the more difficult


Remembering

the hope snatched away

by a second wave

crushing already beleaguered services

affecting a less compliant populous 

being rekindled

by the whisper

of vaccine potential 

into a hope reborn 


Oh to share the indictment of Maya Angelou

When we know better, we do better”

Sadly, I wonder...

What have we learned?

And will our learning make any difference?

Will it make a difference 

to the marginalised

to those on the edges

to “the least of these” 

whom we are called to love and to serve?

Or, as is often the way,

Will those in power

tell the story

through rose tinted glasses

of a nation that fought

and won the fight

papering over the cracks

of dissension and division

of incompetence and pride

ignoring the long shadows that remain

trumpeting resilience 

and “building back better”

as the tools with which to move forward?


Remembering...

And sitting with the grief

so that the loss and sacrifice

of so many

and the ongoing trauma and suffering

is not swept aside

as we move forward

but is carefully woven 

into the fabric

of our communities

not only as dark threads

but also as bright and vivid streaks

startling reminders

held aloft

carried with us

into the compassionate future

that we craft together.

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