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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Princess and the Phoenix

We believe that love is a action that comes from God.
Radiant love informed by our past.
A relational love of creativity.
Simultaneously connecting tears, laughter and deep joy.
A love that is seen when we hold what we feel in our hearts.

We believe that growth comes from a spirited change.
A rooted way of doing. A creative way of being .
We believe as our seeds are carried by the strongest winds.
Passed though the deepest waters. We will not be overwhelmed.
When our homeland is destroyed by fire.
The flame will not consume us.
Through God the father we can regrow .

Rapidly growing, seed dispersing, story telling.
Soil enhancing , shade giver, disciple facilitator.
We are the paulownia family.
Pioneer Princess trees.

Under our wings of dark green leaves .
Woven into our being sits KHOL the Phoenix bird.
A renewed life, symbol of the resurrection and the redemptive power of Christ and eternal life in heaven.
When her time is fulfilled KHOL builds a spiced nest of frankincense and, myrrh.
She enters the fires dies and rises again .

We believe Gods love is sending us to the most unexpected of places.
We call this place home.
A place discovered in shared memories. A shared hope for the future.
Our dispersed seeds will carry the stories of land in which we live and love.
Nibbled leaves, snapped branches, exposed roots, an outward sign of our inward brokenness.
We have the courage to make home in these unexpected places.
Be the first to grow something new.
We are upward growing, challenging, risk takers.
Seekers with Questions.
We look for and find God at work in the most strangest of places.
Jesus offers us an upside down inside out back to front world of love and grace.
We dwell and grow together in this alternative beautiful reality.

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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

Should we risk Creating?

God birthed creation, birthed breath-taking beauty of earth and sky. Some of this beauty we may never get to see. The fish that swim in our deepest oceans or the flower of Queen of Andes  that blooms every 100 years. Yet we can be blind to the beauty that’s right in front of us.
It takes only a little effort to see Gods creative beauty that surrounds us ; dazzling metallic colours of the dragon fly , ewes nursing their lambs, sticky horse chestnut buds in springtime .
Creativity is the ability to make new things, to reflect God’s love in all we do.
Creativeness takes time; a dragon fly life cycle completes in six short months . The ewe carries her lamb for 145 days . The horse chestnut tree takes 20 years to grow just 8 meters.
We can stop this process of growth, but it’s so obvious that we should never stop this beautiful expression of God’s love for us and creation.
It would be unjust to kill the dragon fly Larva, to stop this insect before it could dazzle us with its beauty.
It would be inhumane to stop a newly born lamb from bonding and suckling from its mother.
It would be nothing short of vandalism to deliberately up root a horse chestnut sapling. We know its wrong.
Equally why would we want to restrict someone from learning? Supporting a loved one through grief and pain. Is it right to find ways to restrict their creativity ?
When I share and cook a meal, pray, dance or write poetry. When I paddle in the sea or plant a seed: I create.
All of us create or think new things.
Creativity is risky, uncertain, open-ended, painful and extremely uncomfortable, possibly hurting or costing more than we could imagine.
Yet I don’t stop.
I trust in God; listen and discover the journey with all the twists turns and dead ends that happen to all of us.
Gods Creativity reveals more than I will ever know or imagine about the world and myself. New concepts, perceptions, and knowledge, giving love, life, hope and meaning.
I need time to create and to be creative. To pay attention to my passions, to grow my relationship with Jesus. To connect with creation, to connect  with the mud ( earth ) it stirs and awakens me. It sparks my imagination.
I am always improvising making this connection possible where ever God sends me. Touching the leaves of a growing sapling on a busy road. Wrapping my arms around a large mature tree in a national trust park. I use what’s available . Constantly changing my direction, morphing new ideas, each encounter is unique . It’s my prayer time.
Connecting God through my passions creates and awakens me to a world of hope and unlimited possibilities .
Protecting this creative space is costly and risky. It’s this space that reflects God. Helping broaden and expand the world and myself.
We all require a space so we can hear the whispers of our creator. Our personal journey’s and stories are revealed when we risk creating.

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Romans 8:28
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.

Getting ready.

Train tickets purchased, overnight accommodation booked. Reading material has been sourced and journal purchased. A large selection of coloured pens are displayed on the coffee table.
Supplies are plentiful, tea, biscuits and a glass of wine for the evening. Best of all I have time to read, make notes and prepare for the one day pioneer selection panel (Pioneers are people called by God who are the first to see and creatively respond to the Holy Spirit’s initiatives with those outside the church; gathering others around them as they seek to establish new contextual Christian community).
I’ve made colourful notes comprising of an individual mix of badly drawn pictures and mispelt words.
I’m doing what I feel is expected of me. To study, gaining knowledge before I attend the panel . What I am reading is far from dull, the text is rich bold and exciting. My chosen method to study is dull and unimaginative. The typed text that I read remain as words that move from text book to my journal.
So over nourished with Christmas I find myself curled up on the sofa reading and writing. It’s easy to stay in my pjs and fluffy festive socks, it’s comfortable and warm.
I crave this warmth that the inside brings. It’s the inside that’s blurring my vision, it’s being inside that’s consuming my energy an dulling the imagination.
It’s time to squeeze my feet into Wellington boots (which seemed unusually tight due to my reluctance to remove my fluffy festive socks) and spend some time in the garden .
Outside my colourful notes become fully formed pictures. The energy that had been locked way was released into the space that is my garden. On a cold winters day this space is full of warmth and love.
A horticulturalists winter garden is full of anticipation of what’s to come. Impatient excitement holds God’s garden in this time of preparation and waiting.
The garden is waiting for the days to lengthen and the sun to warm the sleeping bulbs. The surface is littered with decaying leaves and a few hardy plants some of these plants could be called weeds.
You see weeds are just plants that don’t fit in.
People are not weeds but can be treated as if they were; pulled up, displaced never being given the opportunity to get their roots down.
I am not called to the fruitful, or the colourful, but to those that live on the edges of our community’s. Those that feel unvalued and misunderstood. Those that hold onto life in the most unusual places. Living in extreme conditions unable to grow.

As a gardener we remove the weeds in favour of plants we want to grow. It’s us controlling what grows in our gardens. What happens if we listen to God and start to grow Gods garden?( you might like to call what we grow a church).
When I imagine God growing my garden it changes shape, colour and direction. It becomes a garden with no boundaries a living breathing community full of mystery that some might even describe as chaos. Beautiful chaos that is diverse, a chaos with a sense of humour, a chaos that loves unconditionally, allows us the freedom to explore who we are, love that allows us to question . The garden would be and expression of God’s love for us, expressed through things like forgiveness, kindness, mercy, and gentleness.

When we garden with God we create the right conditions to grow a community that shows someone they belong and matter, not just to God but belong to one another.
In these conditions we grow and Flower.

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Looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross…”
Hebrews 12:2

Marcescence.

 
Marcescence.

I’m stuck in a season.
A muddled dimension of a shifted lifetime.
Growing in a space that’s confused by its place.
I’m lost and visible chronology misplaced.
Papery texture of my withered leaves brings to the landscape, a different me.
I am the unnamed tree that’s forgotten to drop its leaves.

Tucked away colours.
Red, oranges and sad shades of Green.
Mixed hues that confuse.
Whispering and rustling all through my leaves.
Blurred memories.
They scare me.

Leaves cling to their branches waiting for the first winter snow.
It’s not a choice, I have forgotten how to let go.
Embarrassed and afraid.
Theirs no where to hide.
It’s only summer that I feel deep inside.

I can’t see the frost that crystallises and grows.
I can’t feel the cold on my roots in the snow.
It’s a time of change in this world I can’t share.
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ITS RUDE TO STARE.

Woodland crunching, deafening sounds.
Unknown faces with a warm winter glow.
Standing in my long ago.
They struggle to except I have forgotten how to grow.
They tell me I am a majestic beach tree.
Standing tall and strong for the world to see.

I am the tree that’s forgotten to drop its leaves.
Do not despair .
Touch me gently, whisper through the winter wind.
I am listening.

Call me by name.
Talk to me.
I am grateful for your company.
Loved knowing
My beloved believes in me.

marcescence the name given when tress retention their leaves in the winter. From the Latin meaning to shrivel ( withering without falling ) no one can say with any certainty why it happens. most agree it has something to do with protecting the trees

Doing things different.

This picture was taken in 1976, a 5 year old little girl presenting the lord mayor with a flower button hole. The occasion was the grand opening of the church’s Christmas sale .
The picture is staged for the local press. Everyone smiling and the little girl is doing just what is expected of her. The newspaper cutting shows us how life has changed. Lord mayors opening the Christmas fete is surely something only happen in years gone by.
The little girl at the front is me .

I had forgotten until recently about this photo. I can’t remember the day of the church sale. I can’t even remember the photo being taken. But I do know I was a member of a church community that loved me.
The photo shows me before I started school, before the education system started to erode the person that I longed to be. I was painfully shy and that made me different. Struggling with school work, daydreaming, instead of engaging with the written word.
I was told I was not good enough, told I did try.
These comments shaped me, shyness slowly developed into fear, and lack of confidence .The fear of words and shyness would start to rule over me.

I have been reconnecting with my childhood journey of faith. The child that still lives strongly within me is taking me back. Showing me that God has always been with me .
We are each called for a particular purpose, we’re supposed to be wildly different. We are called to show God’s love for us. Show this love in our actions / doing things different, the way we spend our money, the TV we choose to watch, the conversations we have.
The coolest thing is when the Holy Spirit lives within us we connect to our creative child within ourselves. We never lose our sense of wonder our world just gets bigger and more full of love.

Question 6 – The silent Wow – part 1

When I discover beautiful views, walk behind a waterfall, when I sit in the stillness of the garden the vastness and hugeness that comes from God is beyond words. It’s the moment when you just stop and feel that wow factor.
I’ve tried to blog about that wow moment, take the wow beyond three simple letters, give that silence space some meaning so that others can understand, but nothing comes close to sharing how I feel inside.
Exploring my vocation is very much in that vastness moment. It’s that wow with no words. Stopping in that wow to write what I feel I just find tears and no words.
This has been frustrating as during this discerning process of exploring my vocation I need to talk to others about what I am feeling in these wow moments.
Praying about it is great, it’s easy and natural to do. After all these are Gods plans not mine. God also knows what going on in my wordless silent wow moments. But for the past year these wows have manly stayed just between me and God.
Last month the frustrations of not being able to find the words all got too much. I wanted to run away from the whole process. Go and hide somewhere where the words Priest, Deacon, ordination, vocation and discernment do not exist. But obviously you can’t run from God, this too has also been very frustrating.
Where ever I go this hugeness comes with me. It’s like a nagging little earworm that whispers and keeps whispering. When I am completely quite its whispers are sometimes the only thing I hear.
It’s no longer avoidable, I need to think about the bigger picture. I am required to answer question 6 on the BAP registration form (Bishops advisory panel form )
Which ministry are you a candidate? 1. Deacon ( distinctive) 2. Priest
All I need to do is tick one box . Deep down and for a long time I have known which box to tick. Ticking and acknowledging this is harder than I thought.
It seems wrong to give the answer to something so big by simply putting biro tick in a box. It’s so huge, one little tick in a box and then onto question 7 !!
I felt the question was not mine to answer. It felt presumptuous giving so much certainty to such a question. It’s a not promised path, It’s another step on the journey of exploring my vocation. Another step along an unknowing path trusting God.
I am sure many have filled out this huge form and boldly ticked the box. Feeling confident in their calling. But for me these two little boxes have been consuming my thoughts.
It feels such a huge relief to have faced this, to no longer feel quite so scared of what I am feeling. The last few months I have been nudged, loved, prayed for and gently coaxed to find the words that are etched in my heart.

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Acts 6 The Message (MSG)

6 1-4 During this time, as the disciples were increasing in numbers by leaps and bounds, hard feelings developed among the Greek-speaking believers—“Hellenists”—toward the Hebrew-speaking believers because their widows were being discriminated against in the daily food lines. So the Twelve called a meeting of the disciples. They said, “It wouldn’t be right for us to abandon our responsibilities for preaching and teaching the Word of God to help with the care of the poor. So, friends, choose seven men from among you whom everyone trusts, men full of the Holy Spirit and good sense, and we’ll assign them this task. Meanwhile, we’ll stick to our assigned tasks of prayer and speaking God’s Word.”

My Secret Garden .

I have a fully formed vision of my garden in its mature years. It’s my vision, it’s not committed to paper, It’s not something I share, it’s my secret garden fantasy. It’s a vision that includes my favourite trees all grown to maturity.
I imagine my Bramley apple tree, a mirror image of the one that once grew in my grandmothers garden. I picture my grandchildren climbing this tree ( grandchildren yet to be conceived !!! ). Taking the same joys and pleasures from this enormous tree as I did in my childhood.
I visualise myself padding in the steam that will flow through the garden. The stream blending into the landscape as if it had always been a there.
I see the wet footprints I leave behind as I exit the stream via a network of stepping stones. There are cold frames and glass houses full of pelargoniums, all beautifully displayed in clay pots on gravel benches.
My vision has no space for failure. In my mind the apple tree will reach maturity, The plants that I grow will not succumb to drought or disease.

The reality is gardening does not happen like this. Our lives are the same, we think we are going one way but God has different plans for us.
Meeting Jesus four years ago was the start of the most beautiful journey. My life plan changed overnight. My heart was suddenly aware of not being alone. The dark lonely path ahead was lit with love. My faith allows me to fall and stumble over and over again. I continue to stumble, each and every time I am picked up by God.
I have been changed from the inside, my world has been turned totally upside down. New words and a language unique to the church have wiggled their way into my world.
Discernment, vocation, are just some of the words that are shaping my journey today. My world is changing it’s getting bigger and every so slightly bolder. I am starting to see myself as the unique individual that God created and loves.
The word discernment has encouraged me to I reach into myself, to discover what lies in the deaths of my heart. This journey of exploring my vocation is emotionally draining but at the same time transforming and exciting. It’s ( This journey is on God’s time scale, not my timescale ) giving me a new direction to slowly grow into the person God created me to be.
It’s a journey with the vision that comes from God.

My six this Saturday shows my gardens journey over the last 4 four years.

Picture one is approx 4 years ago – Picture two is the present day.

Jeremiah 29:11
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.