Gitter in the Sand.

On my Grandmothers mantle piece sat a glass bottle containing layers of multi coloured sand. This little bottle was a souvenir gift from the Isle of wight (Alum bay). The sands are made of three minerals – quartz, felspar and mica. In their pure state these minerals are white with other colours being produced through contamination by other minerals.
As a child I would repeatedly ask my grandmother if I could remove the cork from the bottle of layered sand. I wanted to mix the coloured layers, to move them from order into a place of multicoloured chaos.
To pour the layered colours into a shallow bowl. Creating and uncovering unsymmetrical patterns in the coloured sand. To run the textured colours of history through my hands.
Somewhere in my loft wrapped in newspaper this little glass bottle of coloured sand is waiting to be rediscovered.
A static hour glass sitting out time. The separated colours  never changing.  The sand holds firmly to the stories of the past, tells of traditions and cultures of our ancestors.
We look to the past to discover lessons for the present.
What happens when we change the lens which we see the sand. When we see it’s true uncontaminated colours.

I don’t feel any desire to rummage into the depths of my loft to find the bottle of sand and mix it.
I am learning to see beyond the coloured layers to look at the individual grains, to the true colours/ true self.
During this past year I have started to learn how to see these true colours. To see the sparkle and glitter in each treasured grain ( person ). I’ve learnt the remarkable power of story. The value of spending time just listening.  Discerning the gifts of the spirit working in each of us .
I’ve come to realise and acknowledge that I have gifts too. To not underestimate the gift of being myself. The importance understanding my true colours . I’ve discovered how these gifts are working within me, how they relate to my context .

The gifts of the Spirit are being poured out upon us . I’m beginning to understand that these gifts don’t come in coloured uniformed patterns. We don’t have to comprehend them, but we do need to see them as actual, making them real.
I’m learning to see that it takes bravely and courage to mix the coloured grains of sand. Learning how essential it is to hold onto my true colours. I’m becoming more robust in my thinking and actions. Discovering how exhausting life can be when the landscape try’s to fade and erode my colours.

The colourful bottle of sand holds thousands of years of heritage and history. Its colours and traditions alone are not enough to hold the our future foundations.
God pours out the gift of the Spirit upon us, not as the historic re-enactment of static sand trapped in a bottle, but as the lived reality of the revelation of God, who is ever present and ever new.
It is our joy and privilege, not simply to share in those gifts, but to realise them, to see them sparkle, making them real in our lives, and for our time.
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A salty unity.

Simone Weil was a French Jew who died of hunger during World War Two.
Simone was extremely well educated and came from a wealthy family.
She worked in the factories and lived on tinned rations. Simone was so affected by what was happening to others she decided to live as they lived.
Simone was drawn strongly to the sacramental life of the church . Her desire to be baptised became overwhelming to her.
Yet she declined, and spent the rest of her short life regarding the bread and wine of holy communion without ever eating them.
Regarding them was enough for her, determination to stay hungry gave her strength.

During this time of lockdown I’ve been hungry too.
Experiencing those familiar unsettled feelings often felt during the first few weeks of a new diet. The longing to find chocolate and cheese in the fridge . Only to find precooked jacket potatoes and a withered salad .
After a while you start to understand the answer to satisfying your hunger cannot be found in the fridge.
It’s about a change of attitude.
As the world endures the worst imaginable suffering . The hunger I feel pierces a bright light in this dark storm.
It’s from these pains of hunger that I take a new fresh bearing. Discovering worship in a different timeless dimension. Worship that does not start at 9.15 on a Sunday morning. Nor does it end after 45 minutes.
Worship is barren of rules, no dress code, no words. A sacred intimate place of mystery. Time stands still as struggle with the pain and sorrow . Tears roll uncontrollably as I find joy in this creative hunger.
An empty glass move my thoughts from hunger to freedom. I become more aware of my own personal rhythms of prayer. Awareness of the frailness and pain of the earth.
It’s taken me back to the story of Simone Weil. I am reminded that is important and ok to be deeply affected by what’s happening around us.
To weep each day does little to ease the pain. The tears have an energy of their own. A salty unity that partners with a overflowing love for each other.
During lockdown we have literately fed each other. Prepared meals for neighbours and friends.

Our combined hunger is woven and twisted into a strong soft blanket. A blanket that hugs me into Gods waiting arms, sharing sorrows of the world.

The alters maybe naked, the candles extinguished and the church doors locked. My spiritual diet has changed.
I’m hungry; the hunger pains are real essential and fruitful.
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Trust is visible.

Back in the early 1990’s a Uk animal laboratory went into liquidation.
The beagles they used for their research needed to be rescued. This was to be a massive undertaking, with the beagles being transported to RSPCA animal shelters across the uk.

These dogs had never seen the outside world, never walked on a lead. They had spent all of their lives in living kennels. They where regarded as a product, one that produced puppies as part of a profitable business.
Although not badly treated the dogs lacked any life skills and had no idea what a dogs life was all about.

Some of these beagles both young and old came into my care ( I was working at a RSPCA animal shelter) .
The puppies took well to their new environment.
As with most puppies they responded to human interactions. They learnt quickly from each other, finding huge joy in playtime and meal times.
The older breeding bitches, many of which arrived in pup had a long difficult journey of adjustment ahead of them.
As time moved on they slowly allowed me to love them.
To be with them as they gave birth to their puppies . Very Slowly they started to trust me.
They learnt to bark and loved the sound of their own voices. Their individual cheeky personality’s started to shine.
With a lot of patience they leant to walk on a lead, Soon they where enjoying lunch time walks along the river bank.
The beagles that arrived cowering and petrified soon started to greet meet with excitement, tails wagging.
The time came when not only did they TRUST me but I started to trust them.
All but one. LIBBY.
Libby found all this trust thing hard, she refused to walk on the lead. She was deeply sad and traumatised . The stress of the move from the laboratory kennels to the animal shelter had caused her to loose the litter of puppies she was carrying .
I often wondered if Libby could / should be rehomed. I wondered if the world even had that special family for her.

Libby was liberated from the kennels that robbed her confidence and released her into a life she could not understand.

Reflecting on the word TRUST this morning I thought of Libby and her beagle friends. The image of her sad pale face came to mind.

Reminding me how trust transformed the lives of these traumatised beagles. How their confused and dull faces, become colourful expressions of playfulness.

Trust not only transforms, but it’s visible.

When we come to know the trust of living with Jesus the changes in us can also be visible. The trust we put in Jesus enables and equips us to get through the hard times.
In the midst of this pandemic. I find myself speaking to God full of worry. I’m worried for the families that have lost loved ones. Worried about going out in a world that is full of anxiety and fear.

I’m afraid of losing our friends and family , afraid that our business won’t survive.

The moment is fearful, but in this fear their is hope for the future. The world no longer seems safe, it’s drowning and struggling to breathe. I feel it’s been struggling long before the pandemic started. The world is confused insecure and frightened .

The breathless world is still to be trusted. God still loves us. This love liberates us to live as God’s gifts to others, bringing refreshment and relief to those who suffer. And we are freed to welcome others as God’s gifts to us, receiving all the richness they can bring into our lives.

It was magical moment when Libby trusted enough to hide behind me while I introduced her to a wonderful family that would love and care for her. Except her just the way she was.

Trust is visible, we experience a joy so great that our tails wag. As we overcome our fears we learn to live out our faith to draw on the strength that comes from trusting in Jesus.


Psalm 27:5 Good News Translation

In times of trouble he will shelter me;
he will keep me safe in his Temple
and make me secure on a high rock.

Songs From The Heart.

Soil and soul.

The circle is broken and I cannot raise a tune
The fairies have left and they will not return
When the fairies danced on the land the circle was whole
And then you could raise a tune.

Words from a Gaelic song translated into English and published in Alistair Mcintoshs book soil and soul.

There’s a deep well of love that connects the tunes of the heart to our souls.
Our hearts have the capacity to feel vision, to write poetry, to raise a tune so powerful that it must be sung.
When we sing these tunes we do so with an energetic unashamed joy.
It’s so natural that I do not doubt the acoustic rhythms of my soul.
I find this fusion of heart formed notes when I cycle. The rhythm of pedalling, infuses with the seasons of my life, until a tune overflows into fully formed words.
These songs are different to the tunes we sing in church, different to the music that is played on the radio.
A tune so unique that doesn’t conform to the rhythms of life.  The songs of the heart are so much more than musical notes.
You don’t sing these notes; you embrace them, you ride into them, you feel them in your hair. They give you balance, stability and freedom.

During this huge time of uncertainty and stress we must look for the songs that unite us. To the tunes that build communities, the melodies of Gods grace .
To equip our hearts and voices our first duty is to STOP and listen to the whispering earth.

A Hungry Heart.

What is poverty?

The common definition of poverty is:  the state or condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support; condition of being poor.
It seems that by lacking in desirable ingredients we are deficient in the qualities that make us socially acceptable.
Poverty is nearly always viewed as a negative, by admitting our own poverty we are admitting that we are failures.
So because of being on a low income the dictionary along with Government statistics would label many as poor.
But for some living in poverty is not a label they would give themselves .
As a child my father lost his job, many would have seen us as poor.
This was never obvious to me until I needed a new winter’s coat for school. The one I chose was beyond my parents means. I remember the teenage me in floods of tears as I was told I could not have a new school coat as it was not available to purchase with the school uniform vouchers supplied to my mum.
Poverty, in and of itself, is only a bad thing if it keeps someone from obtaining things that they truly need. For example, not having a winter coat.
Poverty forces us to prioritise what is necessary, desirable or luxurious. It forces the luxuries and desires to be appreciated for the luxury they truly are. In a very real way, it eliminates non-essential distractions and shows you to value the simple things in life.
You value the potato harvest from the allotment, the abundance of the apple harvest. All these gifts are seen as the gift they truly are.
It eliminates the non essential in our life, forcing us to live by what we need as a minimum rather than to live to what we want.
Of course this is not the way for many living in poverty and to some life has become so dark their is no joy in the harvest. Debt and poverty become a dark desperate way of living and seeing often with no hope of away out.

We are all called to live simply and in freedom with respect to the riches we have—whether they are in the form of material possessions, talents, time, or love.
Giving our time, sharing God’s love frees us from our own poverty. You become aware of the lack of value money can hold.

We become less captivated by the shinny things that delight the eye as we know in our hearts they are beyond our reach.
In poverty there is helplessness and dependence of our own lives in which we learn lean on Christ.
We reach to only what’s within our reach, we stretch out deep prayers that echo our deep sighs of hunger.
Each time we reach out to God theirs a reshaping a invisible prioritising of the true values of a hungry heart. We look to hidden parts of our lives, to those ordinary, ignored, forgotten and hidden parts of our lives. This is where we find God patiently for us to kneel, walk and journey with the richness of knowing “God is with us”.

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Emotional Nesting.

My life has become filled with Nine different journals, coloured pens, books, leaves twigs and wool. Journaling, painting leaves, cutting and sticking are all outlets for an emotional creative energy. An energy that’s remarkably intertwined with cleaning!
I’m preparing and waiting for something new.

I’m behaving totally out of character. One strange behaviour this week is ironing. I’ve surprised myself at how much time, care and love I can put into ironing .
My clothes remain creased, possibly more creased than before they where ironed. BUT I have ironed my clothes, Un-neatly folded them and placed them carefully away.

It’s not just the iron that has been subjected to this emotional energy. I’ve cleaned parts of the cooker my cleaning cloth has never reached before. Extreme vacuuming has become the norm .

The Emotions flying I around my body are so overwhelming I clean, cook, write, create and crochet. In preparation for something new: ‘ I’m nesting ‘.

This nesting instinct is preparing a nest for what every God has planned for me.

Nesting is also for learning to embrace the gifts God has given me today and learning to understand the decisions that have and will been made.

Nesting is learning to trust that God is at work behind the scenes birthing and creating something new in my heart even when I don’t yet see it.

Nesting is calming.. as a draw crochet and create my mind wonders to prayer.

Fear can drive me to some very unhelpful places, but faith waits and this journey takes time.
It takes time to build an emotional nest.

Learning it’s limitations, finding a space to creatively ponder with the new before it even arrives .
I am rooted and grounded in Gods love and I know that what ever decisions are made this month ‘ I am loved’.
I am turning the page to a new chapter and finding the space to nest and rest… I need this time!

Paul says, “Consider your own call”.
1 Corinthians 1:26
“Brothers and sisters, God chose you to be his. Think about that! Not many of you were wise in the way the world judges wisdom. Not many of you had great influence, and not many of you came from important families”.

Reminding me that my calling is unique, my gifts are unique. My calling is uniquely me.
I’m building my own colourful emotional nest. Constructed of pens. paper, words and wool.
I’m going to stay here a while taking the time to rest and create something uniquely beautiful while preparing for others to consider my calling…..

My nest is seasonal
When it’s time to fly…. I will leave my nest behind.
I might fly in the wrong direction.
I might even fall.
But..
God is faithful and will guide me.

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Involucrata nutlet of hope

Our bracts of mystic dove wings weep deeply.
Stirred by the beauty of nature.
An earthly unquestioning belief.
Of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

We believe in the involucrata nutlet of hope.
Stratification of music, poetry and love.
Dormancy broken by a whispered Bible verse.
That sudden pain of love sparking germination.
A new hope, new growth.
An awakening.

Augustine Henry saw handkerchiefs.
Wang Zhaojun saw doves.
when we leave the heard and seen.
Slip out into the garden of grace.
Our heart shaped leaves become evergreen.
No decay, no sound, no colour.
But only a tearful essence .
It’s in this moment we see God
God who weeps with us.

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Space To Sing.

Standing transfixed I watch the song thrush. She’s so purposeful in her actions, so sure of what will happen next. In her mouth she bashes a snail against the rock edge of the garden pond.
I smiled at her cleverness and her boldness. I allowed myself the time to ponder, drifting into a place of prayer.
A prayer of thanks for the wondrous bird that’s hoping only feet away from me.
I rarely see a song thrush in the garden. Never before had I had the privilege or delight in watching so much skill used to consume a garden snail.
As my prayers drifted I focused on the Great Tit skilfully picking out caterpillars from the large leafed Verbascuum.
Nature is so harmoniously amazing . Just a few feet from my kitchen window I witness the struggles of life, held in the space of a few minutes during sunrise.
So immersed in my wonderings the tasks of the day seemed unimportant.
I smiled at the boldness of the birds on the patio. Wondering why these birds where so close to the house. My joy quickly turned to concern for the safety of the birds. Worried they would become a plaything for my cat .
Seven years ago we invited a black fluffy kitten ( Grimalkin ) into our lives. She’s grown into a handsome black killer: hunting, birds, rats, mice.
Cats are so inquisitive they have a wonderful scene of exploring all things new.
Why did Grimalkin not hear the thrush tap tap tapping the snail against the rock? Why did her curiosity not wake her morning slumber?
Actually more to the point where was the cat this beautiful morning?
Our faithful friend and companion was involved in a fatal road traffic accident a few hours before I woke.
The song thrush was safe to sing in our garden. The space that was once occupied by Grimalkin was this morning filled with garden birds.
Birds eating and socialising right in front of the kitchen window.

 

It’s 24 hours since the song thrush appeared. This morning I was again sat watching this beautiful bird enjoying its breakfast on the patio.

Before I was even aware of my cats death the birds moved into her space.
I no longer have my friend in the garden but I do have a safe place for the birds. Something beautiful happened when the space she held was no longer hers.
My cats space has been filled with a space that will sing. It will be awhile before the space inside of me will sing, but it will.
Grimalkin has helped me understand why spaces are not ours to hold.
When we hold spaces for anger and pain. We have no space for love. When we hold onto words that need to be said. We have no room for forgiveness.
Gods love transforms us. But we need a space for that love to grow.

Theirs beauty in Grimalkins empty space – quite simply because it’s not empty. When I look to the empty cross I see Jesus love. It’s beautiful because Jesus rose from the dead and left the tomb empty. If the tomb was not empty, then the cross would have remained a symbol of execution. If the tomb were not empty, the cross would have been the supreme symbol of cruelty and despair and not love and hope. It is the empty tomb and makes the empty cross a thing of beauty.

My encounter with the song thrush has shown me that no space is mine. By saying ‘yes’ to Jesus I need to give all my spaces not only the physical spaces, but the spaces in my heart too.

I offer the spaces in my heart to be filled with love. So much love that God’s light and life and love might dwell in me.

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John 20:11-15 The Message (MSG)
But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. As she wept, she knelt to look into the tomb and saw two angels sitting there, dressed in white, one at the head, the other at the foot of where Jesus’ body had been laid. They said to her, “Woman, why do you weep?” “They took my Master,” she said, “and I don’t know where they put him.” After she said this, she turned away and saw Jesus standing there. But she didn’t recognize him.
Jesus spoke to her, “Woman, why do you weep? Who are you looking for?”
She, thinking that he was the gardener, said, “Mister, if you took him, tell me where you put him so I can care for him.”

Take risks. Be vulnerable

My silent scream in Asda today went unnoticed. I screamed a painful frustration of mixed emotions. Brokenness released into a haze full of love.
A intimate brokenness that is fully understood without a word ever being spoken. My unspoken words are heard, my brokenness is soothed by tears so full of love.“ I know I’m loved”.
God has transformed my heart, opened my whole body to listen to silent conversations within myself. Conversations so complex they become knitted into my being. Unspoken words that are so rich in love they become visible. These are my conversations with God.
Gods word is so beautiful when unwritten. It becomes void of differences, it becomes one spiritual language of love.
I’m stood nervously listening to God on the blurred edges of the vocation journey. Discerning Gods call for me but also asking; what does that call means for my husband and family?
The path that God has called us to walk along is a bumpy one . I can’t walk on this path alone, in life my husband and I walk together, we choose together, we discuss together.
We choose the paths that we know. We walk together trying to support each other.
This journey is challenging us both to walk a different path in ways we do not know or understand. It’s a path that is not of our choosing it’s a path that I trust .
I expect my husband to walk with me. Yet these paths seem so ridiculously difficult for those closest to us .
I’m asking my husband to step out in faith with me, for his steps to parallel my enthusiasm for this unknown journey.
This journey grows anxiety from what we don’t know and can’t know, especially what will happen. Fearing uncertainty, focusing on what knowledge we have as something to grasp.
Holding so tightly to the person he used to know theirs a fear in the reality of knowing the person that God knows.
In all my sadness their is love, in all my pain their is hope, in my brokenness theirs a hunger for knowledge. God invites us together to step out in faith.

I’m hurting today, the pain between us is real and possibly avoidable. “ it’s ok not to be ok”.
We both seemed trapped in non stop questioning, endless conversations of reasoning. The rights and wrongs, the what ifs in our quest for certainty.
Together we can’t see a way through these questions alone. What excites me, scares him.
I’m so happy to wonder in the blurred haze and delight in the unknown. Act with freedom and inhibition, unconcerned about what others may think. Get down low and get up close to look at all I have yet to see. Try it out. Take risks. Be vulnerable.

I am taking risks with our relationship, pushing what’s familiar, journeying together discovering what unfolds. Keeping it simple being gentle with ourselves. Today just being is enough. Just being together with the God who is mystery.

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Isaiah 30:18 The Message (MSG)
But God’s not finished. He’s waiting around to be gracious to you.
He’s gathering strength to show mercy to you.
God takes the time to do everything right—everything.
Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones

The Creed Of Quercus.

We are a family.
The family of divine guidance.
Robust deciduous and evergreen.

In the beginning, I weep for Deborah.
Holding her body beneath my roots.
Final resting place.
Breath renewer, death keeper.
Created, planted.
Humble Servant, creation holder, life giver
Forest maker.
Through  renewed growth, through robust strength
I make things new.

Isaiah speaks my name “ayil”  strength and power.
Pillar-like my twisted frame holds wisdom and life.
Catching whispered conversations that blow on soft warm winds.
Yet I am strong enough to carry you through the toughest storm.
Tall enough to cast rooted sunlit shadows.

In death, I follow the sunrise.
Brine waters cling to my uprooted oar.
Carved into a reimagining, I am renewed.
Journey maker, power giver, communicator.
In the midst of the seas, my wisdom is not lost.
In the depth of the oceans, I will be with you.

I plant acorns of hope ploughed into Gods creative garden. Cups of treasured potential rooted and grounded in love.

We believe our family differences are a gift. Growing in a rich substrate of equality and inclusion.
We believe our canopy is a place of shelter and rest for all of creation.
We honour all those that have cast colourful shadows before us.
We take joy from the stories and legends that carry our name.

We believe in the wilderness, our roots will reach water. We believe when we grow on the margins we will be nourished.
We acknowledge that growing is painful. We acknowledge this pain breathes Gods generous gifts across the landscape.
We look to the ruler that shares it’s bounty of acorns amongst the kingdom.

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